A FORK LIFT IN THE ROAD

Back again.

Back in The Florrie.

Back from the dead.

Fifty five days previously, Toxteth Day Of The Dead was read its last rites by K2 Plant Hire Ltd and a rebranding, to Get Laid Day was proposed. Thirty two days later, with just twenty three days to go, a screeching, handbrake enhanced U-turn was announced, the Foundation Stone rolled away and Toxteth Day Of The Dead was resurrected, as if nothing had ever happened.

Maybe it hadn’t. Maybe it had.

What was clear was there had been another Mutation. The Bounds had been beaten. The K2 Works Kanteen was in storage. The Ice Kream Van was in the garage. WAKE 8 and THE HEREAFTER PARTY were replaced by a traditional call to all pile down the pub.

But there are many developing traditions that are starting to stick. The dress code remains STRICTLY HI VIS (or HI VIZ depending on which way the wind is blowing).The Luton Van Tail Lift as a dramatic, levitating stage. A SingalongaWylie session to fill the heart and stir the soul. And heavy plant machinery for Gimpo to play with.

The absence of a Bounds Beating meander around the streets of L8 or a ramble up to a Victorian folly meant that the start time a lot more comfortable for most and my afternoon appointment in Derby got me a forty six minute head start, from yet another address forcing itself into the mythology.

Arriving in L8, in the last few minutes of sunny daylight, an hour later saw dusk starting to envelop the Toxteth streets, that were adorned by a few new signs.

My route to The Florrie took me past the wasteland around the back, where Bill, Gimpo and People’s Pyramid Architect Paul Sullivan were applying some finishing touches. Three wooden poles formed the frame of a pyramid and an empty gas bottle hung from its apex. The day’s on and off rain showers ensured that the wasteland had a top layer of mud.

In the area around the back of The Florrie, a freshly engraved Foundation Stone carried its heavy burden of three dozen of The MuMuFied, while Jimmy surveyed the Hi Vizziness of the early arrivals.

Inside the main hall of The Florrie, the merch tables groaned under the weight of the increasingly building-trade influenced offerings.

As six o’clock approached, Tom Calderbank began his customary, rebel rousing blend of poetry, bonhomie and snug room singalongs.

Since 2017, my Jobs 4 Da JAMZ have been Hardcore Badger Kull Fan, Emboldener, Dead Perch Fly Poster, Great Spirit Bearer, Withy Bearer, Tocky Tart Distributor, and Buxton Steward. This year, along with representatives from Butterfly Effect Records and the Gloucester Reds, I was a Pole Holder, in command of twenty three metres of yellow and black hazard taped poles that were essentially all that stood between the attendees and the rubber discs of death that were the forklift trucks tyres.

Dan Dares Photography 2022

The People’s Pyramid is now too big for its boots and definitely too heavy to be dragged around by Gimpo. Last year, it was eventually transported to the brick laying site in its own, bespoke shipping container, complete with K2 livery. This year it travelled the short distance from The Florrie on the front of a JCB Forklift Truck.

Dan Dare Photography

Shortly after leaving The Florrie, the procession passed the temporary K2 Brick Fulfilment Centre, as Bill and Jimmy appeared out of nowhere to dispense the MuMuFied Bricks to their loved ones.

The route was along Mill Street, left up Moses Street, left across Grace Street and then down Beresford Road to the locked gates of the wasteland.

Dan Dares Photography 2022
Dan Dares Photography
🤔

At this point, some high theatrics were introduced via Gimpo’s angle grinder as the locks were sliced away and the procession broke new ground as we gathered around the aforementioned Luton Van with tail lift and suspended gas bottle that fulfilled the ceremonial gong duties, previously undertaken by a car wheel and a steel bucket. Bill struck the gas bottle with a mallet after every brick was added to the People’s Pyramid.

Dan Dares Photography 2022

Once the eleven new bricks had been cemented in place by Daisy and Pete, the People’s Pyramid was lifted high into the night sky by the forklift and Pete Wylie performed a song.

Then it was back to The Florrie for a catch-up and the launch of the Toxteth Day Of The Dead LP, compiled by Lisa and released in a limited edition of sixty nine by Butterfly Effect Records. Each of the customised sleeves contained a specially commissioned artwork from Jimmy, of the The Leif Erikson high above the Liver Building. My own contribution to this was a re-recording of my FIVE YEARS, by REACTOR23, Buff Primer and The Massed Moorland Choirs Of The Great Unbaked.

Another year, another dozen or so of The MuMuFied added to the People’s Pyramid.

This year felt transitional. A fork in the road after the remotely experienced Alone Together in 2020 and Toxteth On The Moors last year. The regular group of mourners/celebrants were there, pretty much intact, along with more recent recruits and , of course, the families and friends of the deceased. Everyone looked spectacular in the two-tone, yellow and orange outfits, essential workwear when walking the streets of L8 in pursuit of a meandering forklift, with Gimpo at the wheel.

Dan Dares Photography 2022

So the fork in the road of Toxteth Day Of The Dead has been successfully negotiated at 2mph by a a four tonne plant vehicle. Shorter in time, but as ambitious and heartwarming as ever.

The Toxteth Day Of The Dead is very much alive.

Dan Dares Photography 2022

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