The Saddleworth Beer Walk: some two thousand people walking some eleven miles over about six hours, with a can of beer offered at ten points along the way. (This event – 2010's was the 37th – follows the day after the long-established Saddleworth Whit Friday Band Contests.) Please note, to save misunderstandings, that I have nothing whatsoever to do with running the Beer Walk: I'm not an organiser, not a member of the Round Table, not a source of information or registration forms. I'm just one of those two thousand-odd (two thousand, odd?) walkers. Click here for the official Beerwalk site. [Sad news Xmas 2011: Beer Walk 2012 scrapped.] Most walkers wear fancy dress – our lot generally does 'Art' of some sort – and each team raises money for its favoured charity. Ours has always been Christie's.
What we've done over the years:
2010: Hung Parliament parliament photos (new page) Hung Parl't – the Movie 2009: T' Flash Mob flash photos (new page) 2008: Antony Gormless, Another Plaice plaice photos (new page) 2007: It's a Scream scream photos (new page) 2005: Christo for Christie's wrap photos (new page) 2003: Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys 2002: Laughing Cavaliers cavalier photos 2001: Lowry that Walked Lowry photos 2000: Monet's water lilies water-lily photos 1999: Load of Pollocks Pollock photos Pollock show 1998: Van Gogh & sunflowers sunflower photos 1997: Surfing the net surfer photos 1996: Absent-minded profs prof photos Fundraising
In 2010, staying with Art as usual, we tried to be a bit more topical. With pictures of the Houses of Parliament by Brauker, Donaldson, André Derain, Robert King, Monet (×2), John Pester, Robbins, Turner hung round our necks, we were ... a Hung Parliament. (Despite this, someone actually asked me why we weren't doing Art this year (!), no doubt because of the rather deplorable but attention-grabbing sign foisted on us by certain members of the team – none of them male.) Some of us wore brown overalls as assistants to The Auctioneer – Tom, of course. Tom soon worked up a fine, ludicrous patter in the busier villages as he flogged our pictures to the highest bidder (click here to see and hear Hung Parliament – the Movie). The weather was rather typical for the Beer Walk: lots of rain at the start in Greenfield and Uppermill, drying off after that, and clearing up nicely by the end.
We hadn't had much opportunity to get sponsorship. We did get some generous offers, though. As one of my colleagues wrote: "As somebody who has benefitted hugely from Christie's I am very happy to donate to them, and if it means sending you round Saddleworth Moor on a
wet day, even better." We seemed to do very well indeed collecting on the day, sometimes as recognition of a good theme, mostly because "Christie's" is such a green light for giving; we must particularly thank Clive Mingham and Elwyn Watkins for very generous donations. Certainly the collecting pots filled up very fast, and this year I felt it much more in my arms than my legs. And not just my arms. Martin and I created a great Laurel & Hardy moment walking side by side down Platt Lane. I told him that his hat had just blown off ...
Martin (carrying the sign on his shoulder, looking back over other shoulder): "Where?"
David (as sign thwacked him on the nose): "[Unprintable]!"
We all made it up Lark Hill (which gets longer and steeper every year), and most made it to the end of the walk. The full team of hangers-on was Tom and Helen Campbell, Jackie Barrow, Peter Durbin, Trish Tyler, Martin Loughlin, Chris Foley, Elizabeth (Biz) Price and David Denison. Neil Barrow was indefatigable roadie.
Photos: click here for album (opens in new tab or page); pictures by Trish Tyler, Helen Campbell, Simone Pika and Neil Barrow.
Video: click here for Hung Parliament – the Movie (HC).
Good photos always appreciated for use on this page (with acknowledgement, of course): please email them to David Denison. Pics last updated 31 May 2010.
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In 2009 we were . (I'm cheesed off that T-Mobile didn't come up with sponsorship.) Probably our main achievement was to baffle people with layers of puns. The name T' Flash Mob came out of the famous Liverpool Street Station ad – hence the adapted T logo. The T' was to be pronounced, however, in our best cod Yorkshire. And then the Flash bit morphed into the dirty-old-man kind of flashing, our grubby raincoats whipped open to reveal yet more terrible puns and some rather explicit ...
ART. So we showed our usual artistic selves in the end. Viewers of a sensitive disposition ... shouldn't.
Music was 'You make me want to SHOUT!', sung by Lulu (the singer, not Helen's dog) with help from us, as our sound system was a bit rubbish. Singing and dancing flashers were Jackie Barrow (Beryl Cook, Anyone for a Whipping?), Peter Durbin (Botero, Homage to Bonnard), Chris Foley (Magritte, The Eternal Evidence), Frances Foley (Ursula Martinez, second half of My Stories, Your Emails), Theo Wheatley (Bruce Bellas, Muscle Beach), Alison Brittle (Botticelli, Birth of Venus), Helen Sweet (the middle one of Rubens, The Three Graces), Tom Campbell (Degas, Little Dancer Aged Fourteen), Elizabeth Price (Lucian Freud, Sleeping by the Lion Carpet [the Benefit Supervisor]), David Denison (Michelangelo's David – I really earned my sponsorship this year). Unfortunately Simone Pika (Magritte, The Rape) was unwell and couldn't take part. Many thanks to Pete Berrisford for the superb colour printing (and cutting-out) of the figures. For a change Martin Loughlin didn't walk but tried to be supportive.
The weather was dire right up to the start but then not too bad. Our raincoats and flat caps were quite useful early on. Considering that it wasn't at all warm, attendance was good, and the crowds showed appreciation and (mock) shock at our shows in the villages. On the road, too, where we asked for "cash for a flash", people were amazingly generous. (Some very sensibly paid us not to flash.) Some of our prints had lost an arm or a leg by the end, but they all survived, just about. As did we, just about.
Photos: wear your peril-sensitive sunglasses and click here for album (opens in new tab or page), including a video of our first practice in the garden; pictures from Helen and David and Graham McAnally. Click here for a YouTube slideshow of the beer walk going past Dobcross, with us about 70 seconds in (thanks to Steve Sankey).
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In 2008 we were inspired by Antony Gormley's wonderful Another Place on Crosby Beach. We, however, were "Antony Gormless's Another Plaice". Our slogans were just as groanworthy, or else plain rude: Whale Meat Again; Life's a Beach; I Could've Been the Angel of the North; Not waving or drowning; Sand where the sun don't shine, etc. Our statuesque (ahem), boiler-suited bodies were also decorated with mussel shells, bird droppings, real seaweed, a seagull. The 'sea' – a large blue tarpaulin – rose and fell around us at each performance, bubbles materialised, and a 'foghorn' sounded. We got the usual mixture of appreciative smiles (thank you) and blank incomprehension (definitely the majority, especially when we were just walking along without the 'sea'); suggestions as to what we might be included 'whales' and 'an environmental disaster'. But there were also walkers who didn't get it at first and then suddenly realised – to their and our delight – that they'd seen the figures on Crosby Sands and now knew what we were. I see that Antony Gormley, according to the biography here, is just one week older than me, grew up in the same part of London, and overlapped with me at university. After this latest crime against Art, it's probably just as well that we're now unlikely to meet.
After a fortnight's glorious weather, Saturday was cold, grey and drizzly, though a watery sun came out just as we were climbing up to the Church Inn, to remind us just how beautiful Saddleworth can be. And it was Cup Final day. Plaice-men were Tom Campbell and Helen Sweet (and Lulu), Jackie Barrow, Peter Durbin, David, Alison and Mary Brittle, Pat Fraser, Bill Thomas, David Denison and Elizabeth (Biz) Price, with Neil Barrow as roadie and Simone Pika as guest photographer.
Photos: click here for album (opens in new tab or page; pictures by Simone Pika, Helen Sweet, Steve Sankey, Neil Barrow, David Denison).
Videos: click here for a YouTube video with us at the start (thanks to Steve Sankey), and here for a slideshow (woof!).
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In 2007 it was Art again, in fact, It's a Scream . We were dressed in black, each wearing a mask with its own hands and sleeves. There was a backdrop to perform a tableau against, not entirely dissimilar to Munch's effort. But much bigger. After a hesitant start, we decided the tableaux shouldn't be silent, and several of us developed a worrying fondness for getting into that slightly kinked posture and screaming as loud as we could, whether in ones, twos or threes. (After all, Munch painted the same single figure several times. We just put them all in the same picture.) We wore the usual appalling puns on our backs: The Scream of Munch-ester, I Can't Beer It, Not Only But Oslo, and so on. The masks were a brilliant visual effort (mainly by Elizabeth Price) – from the outside, that is. From the inside it was a little tricky to see where we were going. I think I trampled several small children underfoot. Stumblers and walkers were Alison, David and Mary Brittle, Martin Loughlin, Chris, Frances and Beth Foley, Nick Rees, Pam Foley and Ellen Foley-Williams, Jackie Barrow, Tom Campbell, Helen Sweet (and Lulu), Elizabeth Price, Guillaume Rome and David Denison. David Johnson was unable to take part because of illness. Neil Barrow was our stalwart roadie. After a horrible week the weather was perfect throughout, the crowds were generous with coins – buckets and collecting tins filled up noticeably quickly – the organisers were generous with beer tokens and, this year, cans of beer (we didn't attempt our full allocation), and most of us finished a lovely walk in the setting sun.
Photos: click here for album (pictures by Helen, Frances and Neil and Fergus Wilde).
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In 2006 for various reasons most of us didn't enter (e.g. DD was away in France).
In 2005 we returned to Art – in the footsteps of Christo and Jeanne-Claude, who wrap big things like the Reichstag , the Pont-Neuf, a stretch of coastline, ... Well, we went as The Wrappers (alternatively, Christo for Christie's). We were each individually wrapped (Martin in the only surviving Pollock suit). We performed a rap: Can't Touch This, suddenly changing to Let's Wrap This, upon which we would swoop on people in the crowd and wrap them. We left the Ammon Wrigley statue in Uppermill and the Ramsden memorial in Dobcross in a state of wrapture (see photos below), which they were still enjoying at the end of the day. We had a giant tarpaulin for wrapping – and trapping – any cars that were foolish enough to get stuck in the procession, and on one occasion, a police scooterist. The weather was showery at first but very wet indeed around Diggle – we got drenched. The afternoon of the Beer Walk was also when Manchester United were losing to Arsenal in the Cup Final, so all in all, it was surprising how many people turned out to watch the Beer Walk. Those who 'got' our theme – a select few? – were really appreciative. The team was Chris and Frances Foley, Martin Loughlin, Jackie Barrow, Peter Durbin, Helen Sweet, Tom Campbell, Elizabeth Price, David and Rosie Denison, and Rachael Mallalieu.
Photos mainly by Helen Sweet, plus some of David's: click here for album.
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In 2004 our group of friends sat it out and watched.
In 2003 we took a break from Art. We had monkey masks and tails, French berets, cheese cartons, and white flags. What were we? Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys. (Don't ask. Or try the nearly 9000 hits on Google.) I doubt that more than a handful of spectators realised what we were. Still, it was fun and easy to do, the weather was great, and we collected a lot of coins. Only problems were my tail, which had a life of its own and seemed to like goosing other walkers, and my mask, which made one little spectator burst into tears. CESMs were Helen and Michael Sweet, Jackie Barrow, Chris and Frances Foley, David, Alice and Rosie Denison, Elizabeth Price, Jeremy Gatti, David, Alison and Sarah Brittle, Laura Pickett, Katie Wild, and Rebecca 'Five-vodkas' Wallis. Neil Barrow and Tom Campbell were in support.
Photos welcome. Here's one:(David D, Frances, David B, Helen).
In 2002 we were The Laughing Cavaliers. We were all dressed in black, with cuffs, ruff and a hat, moustache and goatee beard, and we each carried our own picture frame. Tom Campbell was The Laughing Cavalier, Alice Denison was The Laughing Chandelier, Rosie Denison was The Girlie Cavalier, Frances Foley was The Mosha Cavalier, Helen Sweet was The Naff Cavalier (with fluffy dice and a nodding dog), Peter Durbin was The Cabbie Cavalier, Nigel Clarke was The Clapped-Out Cavalier, complete with rusty exhaust pipe, Jackie Barrow was The Cavalier GTi (with wing mirrors on her frame and shiny exhaust pipes behind), Susan Clarke was The Cavalier PMT, Jeremy Gatti was The Grimacing Cavalier, Rebecca Wilcox was The Reluctant Cavalier, Beth Foley was The Laughing Vectra, Chris Foley was The "One-Careful-Lady-Owner" Cavalier, Elizabeth (Biz) Price was The "We-Are-Not-Amused" Cavalier, David Denison was The Turner Prize Cavalier (thanks to Tom, with light at the top of his frame which went on and off, on and off, ...), Martin Loughlin was The "Only-Here-For-The-Beer" Cavalier, John Murphy was a very camp – and pink be-tighted – "Glad-To-Be-Gay" Cavalier, best printable line: "Give us some money or I'll criticise your curtains!". Tom worked the crowd, and this year, for a change, we had a chance to laugh at the onlookers – surprisingly easy to the accompaniment of the Laughing Policeman. The rain held off till Delph, when we got soaked, but then it cleared up again. Some of our hats had rather lost their pizzazz, though. There was brilliant support from Neil Barrow (roadie) and Alison and David Brittle (post-match catering).
First photo: (Chris, Biz, Helen, Nigel, Frances and John – from the Oldham Evening Chronicle, miscaptioned). Some of Neil Barrow's photos: in our garden, Naff, GTi and PMT, Mosha and taxi, waiting to laugh?, glad to be gay, laughing chandelier with grimacing boyfriend, non-laughing policeman in Diggle, Vikings at a bus-stop (Freya Barrow and friends).
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In 2001 we were The Lowry that Walked[Going to the Match ©The Lowry Estate, Carol Ann Lowry]. Kitted out in dour 1930s clothes, with white faces and red-rimmed eyes, we took our props round with us: pram, baby Richard, iron railings, telegraph pole, lamp-post, factory chimneys, cloud. At several stops in each village we created what you might call a stereotypical L. S. Lowry tableau out of various team members: Tom Campbell, Helen and Mike Sweet, Hannah Windeatt, Jackie Barrow, Peter Durbin, Martin Loughlin, Chris, Beth and Frances Foley, David and Alison Brittle, Elizabeth Price, David, Alice and Rosie Denison, Rebecca Wilcox, and the dogs Jess and Sally. Tom sounded his deafening 'factory hooter' and announced the painting, while we walked slowly on stage and froze, careful to keep the props vertical and the figures slanting. When everything went smoothly, one of the factory chimneys started to belch thick (and rather smelly) smoke, and a self-raining umbrella provided what every Salford street scene needs. (Thanks again, Tom.) Another blast of the hooter and we unfroze. People seemed to appreciate it a lot and were very generous in their contributions. In fact the real rain mostly held off, despite some early showers and a dire forecast, and though the more elegant members of the team got chilly, those of us in tweed suits weren't complaining. When we returned to the Churchill playing fields we found we'd won 1st Prize: a fine commemorative plate and some terrible beer.
First photos, rather grainy. (And anyway none of the pictures really show us in action.) Rehearsing in our garden, before start – entirely the wrong setting for Lowry: matchstick men aslant, now with smoking chimney, David B with the self-raining umbrella, grim, pasty faces (Chris, Elizabeth, Tom, Jackie, Martin). On the road: David D and Martin, uphill to Dobcross. Individuals by the wayside: David D, Jackie and 'baby Richard'. Stripped-down versions of three of Iain Windeatt's great pictures: on the march, Tom shouting, chimney smoking. And finally, We won! (at end, with trophy – picture taken by Gordon Beverley's father – thank you, and many thanks to Mandy Thackray for sending us the first photos we saw.)
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In 2000 we were Monet's Water Lilies (a.k.a. A Spray of Lilies / French Impressionists / Piss Artists: we never quite agreed on a group name). A number of lilies walked the route: Elizabeth Price and Chris Foley ('Gilded Lily'), Helen Sweet and Jackie Barrow ('Tiger Lily'), Peter Durbin and Anthony Ogus ('Dennis Lily', the cricketer), Alice Denison and Beth Foley ('Lily the Pink'), Helen Owens ('Day Lily'), David Brittle ('Lily-bullero'), Martin Loughlin and David Denison ('picca-lily', complete with vegetables, and pickled), Rosie Denison and Frances Foley ('Lily-putian = pocket-Monet'), all suitably costumed and petalled. Mike Sweet was a Weeping Willow, and Tom Campbell was 'Frog One'. We were plastered (!) with appalling puns: We're only in it for the Monet, Give us your Monet, We're Impressionists, We've gone completely doo-lily [for local connoisseurs, that one], and so on. Fiona Owens came along to help, and Neil Barrow was our stalwart one-man support team, ferrying water by car as needed. Where there was a big crowd – or even just a group of friends – we performed our Art.
A very large blue tarpaulin was our pond, complete with green lily-pads, frogs and strategically engineered slits. Five or six 'lilies' at a time wore contraptions of small pipes coming up around their heads. They got themselves hooked up by lengths of hosepipe to our portable pump and 25-litre water tank, poked their heads through the tarpaulin, had their lily petals replaced over their heads by the remaining members of the team, and knelt down. The willow spread his branches. Then, after some patter from the Artiste himself, Frog One, the pièce de résistance was two fine sprays of water from each lily and willow and finally a third jet shooting to an impressive height. We sometimes got soaked, the crowd had the frisson of nearly but not really getting sprayed – not unwelcome on a hot day – and we got a great reaction each time: a triumph for Tom's engineering skills. No prizes for us from the organisers this time, but who cares? The weather was perfect, and after we'd slogged up Lark Hill – we confess that for that stint alone, the pump trolley travelled by car – the sunlit evening view towards Dobcross and Uppermill and a low full moon was just stunning. We made it to the finish, tired and happy. Most of our lily petals, though, looked extremely tired (if not emotional). Some of Neil Barrow's photos below:
lilies, getting ready, preparing Frog One, try-out, it works!, Uppermill, Frog One drums up business, Dobcross, Delph, and piping up, late spurt at Diggle.
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In 1999 our team consisted of Jackie Barrow and Peter
Durbin, Martin Loughlin and Chris and Frances Foley, Anthony Ogus, John Murphy,
André Knoerchen and Quentin de Bottini, Helen and Michael Sweet and Tom
Campbell, David Brittle, and Elizabeth Price and David, Alice and Rosie Denison.
[Eyes of Heat scanned by Mark
As intended, everyone thought we were A load of Pollocks(apart from the Chron, who got us wrong again). Continuing our commitment to serious Art History – see below – not to mention Performance Art, our team starred Tom as Jackson P and the rest of us as Art. Our street theatre efforts showed Tom off to excellent effect and allowed spectators – for £1 – to work out their artistic and/or aggressive tendencies with squeezy bottles of paint. We had started off in white boiler-suits artistically pre-dripped; by the end of the walk we were well and truly Pollocked. At our first stop Jackson himself went literally over the top in his painting: we hope no one suffered permanent ill effects. One couple hailed two of us in the street at around 9pm, as we were making our way to the finish, to show off a streak of bright yellow paint across the top of her head acquired some 5 hours previously. But rather than complaining, they surprised us by cheerfully and generously putting money in the collecting box. (An earlier instance of spectator sportingness was having a heavy collecting box returned to us at Diggle after we had unwittingly left it behind at Delph. Thanks again for that.) And then the organisers surprised us by giving us a commemorative plate for 'Best Fancy Dress, 2nd Place'. Some of Neil Barrow's photos below:
getting ready, group photo, the Beer Walk goes through Uppermill, "lie back and think of your country", aftermath, leaving the scene, a walk in the country, drinking at Diggle, instructing the artists, getting squirted.And one of André Knoerchen's, showing some of the team with their prize plate:
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In 1998 a bunch of friends, including on the day Martin Loughlin and Beth and Frances Foley, Jackie Barrow and Peter Durbin, Michael Sweet, Alison Brittle, and David and Rosie Denison, entered for the Beer Walk as van Gogh and the sunflowers (or as Monday's Oldham Evening Chronicle had it, 'Van Gough and his Sunflowers'): a very plausible Vincent van Gogh (Martin in appropriate clothing and the apparent aftermath of an auricular accident), eight walking sunflowers (the rest of us – four adult blossoms and four juvenile ones), and a contraption which we could (usually) unfold into a large picture frame for parading through each village en route. Amazingly, we won 2nd prize. Gruesome photos:
in my garden:
on the road:
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surfers + mouse, surfers + dog, surfing up a hill, and outside a pub.
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before starting, Martin, Neil, David, Jackie, Helen.
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We're collecting for Christie's, the appeal fund of the Christie Hospital, the region's major cancer treatment and research centre.
Most of us have sponsorship and we brandish collecting boxes on the walk itself. In 1996 we raised £139, in 1997 £95 + sponsorship, in 1998 ??. Total raised in 1999 was £601: £390 sponsorship + £211 collected on the day, including £18 raised by Freya Barrow and friends (38 Kb). (NB. Freya's team in 2000 (37 Kb).) In 2000 the amount we raised was £807: £639 sponsorship plus £168 cash collected on the walk. In 2001 we raised £702: sponsorship was £478, the collecting boxes and bucket raised £224, and The Lowry Centre kindly donated a free family pass to ArtWorks, which we have passed on to the Christie's fundraisers. In 2002 we raised rather less: £189 on the walk and £80 or so sponsorship. 2003: I never found out. 2005: £107.95 on the walk, plus over £200 sponsorship. 2007: £208 on the walk, plus £137 sponsorship. 2008: £135 on the walk, plus £335 in sponsorship, etc. 2009: £243 in sponsorship, £144 en route. 2010: at least £169 in sponsorship, £285 en route. Maybe a few readers of this web page will add some more to the cash raised.
If you want to give money to a very good cause, please send a contribution direct to the Christie Hospital:
or donate directly by secure credit card transaction on http://www.christies.org/makedonations.html.
Christie Hospital NHS Trust
Let us know if you have, and whether you saw us or read this. Thanks.
My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
This page first created in a hurry 23 May 1997 on a different fileserver, last updated 07-Aug-2015 14:32.
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official Beerwalk site
Bob Hindley's Whit Friday brass band contest site
Now back to the serious stuff ...
David Denison's home page
Elizabeth Price, ceramic sculptures