Brats Tent of Sheffield laughing in lockdown
JOHN BURTON reports
With lockdown measures being relaxed and our meeting venue re-opening the Brats Tent were in a quandary as to what to to do in terms of our July meeting.
We had hosted a watch party in April, followed by Zoom meetings in June (a Tent meeting, and one to celebrate Stan’s 130th Birthday on the 16th) and were gearing up for another Zoom meeting.
However, Pete and Liz from our meeting venue The Harlequin pub in Sheffield, contacted us to advise that they had re-opened and were willing to close the pub to the general public for the night to allow us to meet and screen films in the main bar. (Our meetings are usually held in a separate room upstairs which would not allow for distancing practices to be applied.) They re-assured us that strict distancing and hygiene measures would be in place to ensure that the safety of Tent members and staff would be paramount.
Conscious that some members are currently shielding and others simply do not wish to venture into public places at present, we approached Tent member to gauge interest, and advised that we had agreed with the pub that the meeting would only go ahead if more than 12 members wanted to attend, however there would also be a strict attendance limit of 20.
As expected, several members advised that they would be unable to attend, and to our surprise, 20 members indicated that they would be happy to attend and to comply with the regulations in place within the pub.
We therefore opted to host two Tent meetings on the same night - one in the pub, and the other online via Zoom, which would run in tandem.
John Burton Snr and John Burton Jnr hosted the meeting at the Harlequin whilst Bev and Mark Johnson hosted the Zoom meeting.
The zoom meeting was attended by both regular Tent members and by fellow Sons from around the UK and lasted around 40 minutes including a selection of films and banter.
We were also able to uniquely join both meetings together as John Burton Snr joined the Zoom meeting, to enable everyone on the Zoom meeting to join the meeting at the Harlequin and for those at the Harlequin to say hello to the Zoom meeting too.
As far as the Tent meeting at the Harlequin is concerned, the pub had a list of names of those who would be attending, and had arranged seating to allow spacing between seats in line with guidelines. Liz and Pete welcomed members upon arrival and escorted them to an allocated table. Once seated restrictions applied with members only allowed out of their seats to visit the (One in, one out) WC or to leave.
Liz and Pete took orders and delivered drinks directly to the tables and collected empty glasses, and with hand sanitiser in abundance around the pub too, the environment felt safe.
Restrictions would not allow us to hold a raffle, distribute newsletters, nor join together to sing the Sons Anthem, however the atmosphere in the room was great and with home made chip butties, the loyal toast and a strange non-contact rendition of the Sons anthem, combined with The Finishing Touch, Our Relations and The Hoosegow being screened, we had a fantastic night under the circumstances.
The meeting was a success and hopefully by the time of the August meeting restrictions may have been lifted further and more of us will be able to meet up to enjoy an evening dedicated to Messrs Laurel and Hardy.
We are looking forward to being able to meet up with Sons again in person, both from the Brats Tent and from around the world, however for the time being Zoom meetings and restricted attendance Tent meetings held in venues may be the norm for a little while yet. The Coronavirus can stop us from meeting our friends from the family of 'Sons' but it can't stop us from laughing at the timeless humour of Stan and Babe!
There are more photos and also videos of the 'Lockdown Sons Anthem' and the 'Lockdown Loyal Toast' on the Brats Tent Facebook page Laurel and Hardy Brats Tent - Sheffield UK