Friday, September 4, 2009

Blessing Blackburn ~ The Sequel ~ Installment 4

“A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, and a word spoken in due season, how good it is!” (Proverbs 15:23)

Friday, 9/4/09
11:30 pm in Blackburn, Scotland

When Marie returned from her Bathgate errand on Thursday afternoon, I was still working on my blog post. Although writing about our Blackburn adventures is enjoyable and free-flowing, it takes time. We had arranged with Stevieboy49 – who lives near Blackburn and skillfully participates on the fan site – to meet us at the Happy Valley Pub at 7:00 on Thursday evening. Due to the rain, he gallantly stopped by the Burnview instead, in order to give us a ride. I had just a few more sentences to write and post, so he patiently waited and chatted without complaint, knowing that some interested fans were waiting for the next morsels of news about anything related to Susan.

As soon as we walked into the Happy Valley, Jock the pool player greeted us with a big smile and a quick hug, and then asked about Del, saying he was so brilliant, such a great guy! Even that morning, he had worn the knit cap with the USA emblem that Del had given to him back in June. Jock came over to our table to talk for several minutes later on, and we were happy to tell him about the car full of ladies in Brooklyn breaking into cheers when they heard Susan’s voice radiating from Del’s van as he played the CD of Susan’s songs that Jock had given to us.

Stevieboy is such a dedicated fan of Susan’s, and he even remembers seeing her in a karaoke competition in the 1990s. A history teacher by profession, now allegedly retired, Stevieboy loves to share interesting facts about the local area. What a blessing for us, that he is willing to be our unofficial tour guide and organizer par excellence, accompanying us to places outside of Blackburn in the next couple of days. He had already picked up several brochures and made some fabulous connections – and strongly suggested that we study carefully in advance. More on that as events unfold!

Delizia, the tireless pub owner, soon joined us in animated conversation, and it was amazing to hear her and Stevieboy swapping stories about education the way it used to be provided in the tough schools that they had attended. I hijacked the thread for a moment, asking Delizia if the Happy Valley had ever served food. She noted that bed and breakfast guests would of course have morning meals upstairs, but that regular patrons were not expecting to eat and so it did not make business sense to offer food in the pub. I encouraged her to think about the possibility that some Susafans might stop by now and then, wanting a bite to eat along with their lemonade… You never know…

After a few hours of fascinating discussion, Marie and I walked home in the light rain, processing the things we had learned and preparing for our big day on Friday. Every day in little Blackburn is a big day for a Susan supporter, but some things are beyond predicting (and I’m not just talking about the weather)!

Our Scottish breakfast on Friday morning included a soft slab of tasty sausage and a more American-seeming style of bacon than we had devoured yesterday. We knew we would be well fortified for the day! Marie went off to visit Susan’s church and make arrangements for presenting the framed song score, while I checked the latest news about Susan and the fan site quilt/afghan/album project that now involves at least 135 participants from 25 countries on 6 continents, and 45 states of the USA. Just the facts, ma’am, to share with any interested people that we might encounter during the day. And, of course, I just had to see that amazing Susan Boyle CD, Amazon Number 1, statistic again!

Marie and I each wore the Susan Boyle fan shirts that we had designed and then printed up at a mall shop in Brooklyn. (They’re not for sale, by the way – we just put something together for our own use.) The lovely scarves that Gulia had made completed our fan apparel. Carrying a big bag of dozens of Del-crafted Susan buttons, I raced off to the small mall while Marie finished packing up some Harper’s Bazaars. The Japanese TV team was already there – along with STV Scottish TV, Deadline News TV, and other journalists, photographers and crews that we had not expected! They were all very nice and professional, and we hope each one will produce positive and accurate representations of Susan and her global support!

Area fans had been invited to join in the filming, and it was so fun to see people waiting or catching up all along the route of the informal tour of Susan sights. Two young men delighted the Japanese crew by bringing the stuffed animal mascot and T-shirt of the Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) – their channel! How in the world did a kid from Blackburn and his pal from a neighboring town find not one but two NHK fan items? Another lady tracked us down near Susan’s church, and said that she had so enjoyed reading the Blessing Blackburn book of fan messages that Del and I had brought to the village back in June! Other people gladly seized our Susan buttons and spoke of their appreciation for her. By the time we reached Susan’s street, a reporter and cameraman from the BBC British Broadcasting Corporation had caught up with us, and soon there we all were in front of Susan’s house, as in times gone by – where two uniformed girls from the local academy met us to show their support for Susan. And, somewhere along the route, the rain clouds had given way to blue sky and bright sunshine – not at all what the weather forecasters had predicted! God answers prayer!

Marie and I addressed several questions and expressed – on behalf of fans everywhere – our love and support for Susan and Blackburn. As we walked back to the Happy Valley, we had a lovely conversation with some neighbor ladies who were delighted to see Susan’s spread in Harper’s Bazaar. We gave them their very own copy, knowing they would share it widely with their friends and families. The Japanese TV staffers, ever the professionals, had arranged for filming inside of the Happy Valley Pub, and many of Susan’s fans were waiting there – more than the usual crowd that we had seen at that time of day.

After a sit-down interview with the Japanese team, we went off with them to the small mall, in search of lunch. The café was just closing, so we took our tasty Scottish pies, chips and coffee into the conference room at the library – graciously permitted by the library staff. And, as has often happened in Blackburn, in the mall we ran into people that we had met previously – this time, some of the great kids who attend Susan’s elementary school! As before, they all wanted buttons, and I had some new ones for them – the last of the dozens of buttons we had brought with us in the morning. One librarian cheerfully noted that the kids were acting a little silly – and a young lad later said, “No, we’re just showing our support for Susan!” And he was right!

As we were leaving the small mall, having finished our wonderful few hours with the Japanese TV crew and all of the others, a shy young girl came up to Marie and me and said that she had written a poem. In fact, she has written 70 poems. This one, by Kiera of Blackburn, age 11, is about Susan Boyle:

Growing up in Blackburn
Such a simple lass
No frills no fancies
No obvious class
Far from glamour
I’m such a humble lass
I’m not pretty
I’m not fast
I’ve just stuck to my class
So humble
So simple
I’m just a lass
I look to the stars
So far away
Elaine Page sings and makes my day
I love my church
My religion is free
I love to sing this pleases me
Doing Karaoke in the Happy Valley
Is such a pleasure to me
How do I go forward
I think to myself
TV could be the answer and my cat agrees
Piers what a honey you look good to me
Simon, oh, Simon will you see the voice that is in me
My day in Britain’s Got Talent
Has made me shine
It’s made the stars so much closer to me
Thank you Britain
Thank you Demi
You’ve made me a star
For the world to see
No frill no fancy
No obvious class
But sing I’ll sing
With such panache
The stars they are now closer
So much closer to me
Just a simple lass from Blackburn West Lothian and that’s such a blast.

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