On Fridays we usually have our church house group here in the evening, so Friday is allocated a non-packing day. However this last Friday the house group was cancelled as the inter-church youth group had their fund-raising variety night. In the past this has been held in the Community Church hall, but it's been crowded and hot, so they decided this year to have it outside on the basketball court.
Richard was providing and running the PA system, so he had to be there by about 4.30:
Since the PA system is sharing Daniel's room with our ever-increasing packing, Richard did tidy up some of the bits and pieces still lying on the floor, and we threw out some junk (yes, real junk like empty boxes which once contained computer software, now defunct...) that we found in Dan's sofa. But we didn't do any real packing on Friday.
Tim was involved (on keyboard) in about half the acts, and singing in three. For some reason his keyboard didn't work properly half an hour before the show started, but (thankfully) began working again eventually. Possibly a problem with one of the cables.
Tim also spent most of the week trying to get the floodlights to work, since it gets dark here shortly after 8pm, even at this time of year, and the event was supposed to start around 7pm with a two-hour programme. The floodlights use halogen bulbs, and last time they were replaced they only lasted about two weeks. Richard thought that perhaps the electrician had touched them with his fingers (even the smallest amount of body oil is apparently death to halogen bulbs) rather than installing them carefully using the wrappings, and tissues to hold them.
Since several requests from other groups to have them fixed got nowhere, Tim got permission to change them himself. He bought one bulb (they're about £3 each so he did want to check that it was the right size before buying six of them) and tried to arrange to meet people who had agreed to help him. The floodlights have to be lowered before they can be changed, and of course it's never a good idea to do electrical work on one's own.
One person had to work unexpectedly, another had to look after a younger sibling, another had to go out... in the end Richard went with Tim on Thursday afternoon, to attempt to change the bulb. By this stage, Tim was very stressed, since the variety night relied on having outdoor lighting available!
Alas, they could not get the cover off the lights. It appeared that the screws were cross-threaded, or perhaps rusted in place. Tim phoned one of the Community Church elders, who said he would get the electrician there to replace the bulbs on Friday morning. The electrician, after all, was the person who should have done them months previously.
By the time the electrician arrived on Friday, it was nearly 5pm. Two hours before the show was due to start. He said the main problem was with the switches, so he replaced some of them. Then he replaced one of the bulbs, and it worked. Alleluia! It wasn't fast, but at least there would be something. He got down the second light. By then it was about 6.30, and he kept stopping to chat to friends. He replaced that bulb too. The show started about 7.15 (which is, of course, 7pm Cyprus time) and the second light was up shortly afterwards.
Then during one of the acts, a third floodlight was lowered, only just missing the backs of some of the audience. Richard watched in bemusement as the electrician put a new bulb in, correctly holding it with some tissues, but WITHOUT switching the electricity off. It lit up and burnt his finger. He noticed that it wasn't in quite correctly. But instead of switching the light off, the electrician grabbed the nearest item to hold the bulb with to move it. Unfortunately, what he grabbed was the plastic that it had been wrapped in. As the bulb was on, and very hot, the plastic melted onto the bulb. So he removed it, and when it had cooled down, started scraping at the plastic with his fingernail!! For some reason he thought that it was only when connected that halogen lights should not be touched....
Around 8pm there was a break for refreshments (in the church hall). We assumed the electrician would lift the third light back when the audience were not around. But no... he came into the hall too and enjoyed sandwiches and cake too. Fair enough, but then he carried on chatting and had to be asked to put the light back and switch them all on since by about 8.20 it was almost pitch dark.
Still, despite all this, the show went extremely well and raised nearly £300 in donations towards the youth camp. There is a lot of emerging talent in the group, who are from 12-18 in age, and from quite a mixture of backgrounds.