As I sit writing this, the final preparations are being made for the twelfth and final #VirtualPubCrawl. Over the course of the last 4 months, the airwaves of Radio Matlock have, on every other Saturday been filled with the best in Indie music courtesy of Redders.
If you stumbled upon this blog by any other means than twitter, you probably will wonder what on earth I am going on about, so here’s a brief summary.
#VirtualPubCrawl started out as the brainchild of Indie Rob as a way to cope with lockdown and spend a Saturday with your mates down the virtual pub. It quickly grew and once Redders was on board, the platform was set. Add in some awesome logo’s and merchandise from Russ (Brandsintheair) and everything was good to go. Saturday afternoon’s consisted of music, drinking (not essential but recommended to cope with the mayhem) and a whole army of twitter folk, commenting, sharing and liking posts.
I first stumbled across the crawl at the end of May courtesy of a selfie from the beautiful Shiner Sam. Sam posting selfies isn’t anything new, and to be honest with you, there are many MANY worse things to see on the internet aren’t there (even on a bad day with bed head she’s a solid 9.5)? However, this selfie was different. She was posing in a fancy tee and having a drink. I clicked on the hashtag and my screen filled with tweets from a whole host of people from different places. I had followed Sam on my old account and she just struck me as someone always smiling, obviously loved music (new and old) and just had something about her. So, I started following the crawl and whilst not joining in, I listened to the show. Sam later became a part of the team officially, and following the crawl will be hosting a regular show all about new music. Giving bands that wouldn’t get airtime much needed publicity. She really doesn’t see how valuable the tweets are for the artists she merely listens to, but she brings them to a wider audience and sends them on their way of reaching people they probably wouldn’t otherwise. It’s a wonderful thing she does without even realising and even better than that I get to message her most days and call her one of my very closest friends.
Back to the story, I saw that the next VPC was on the 6th June and made sure I wasn’t busy.. (jokes) Lockdown was in full swing and this community was not only making the most of the Saturdays, I also discovered that they were raising money for a little hospice in Hartlepool, (Rob’s home town). Alice House Hospice is a small hospice doing incredible things for those with loved ones affected by a life limiting illness. Ensuring people get the care and support they need at the most difficult of times. I think I am right in saying that Rob just wanted to raise £300 for them initially. As it stands right now, the VPC has just raised £8000. YES EIGHT THOUSAND POUNDS. I can’t imagine what that does for a small charity like this, but regardless, for a group of folk that just love music, it’s a pretty outstanding effort for just having a laugh every other Saturday. It’s what Rob intended the VPC to be about in the first place and has exceeded all expectations. What Rob didn’t realise, was by having this aim of raising a few quid for the hospice and having a laugh with some friends, something far greater was born.
Anyway, now you have the background, I’m gonna tell you about what the VPC means to me. It’s been an incredibly humbling experience. I get teased endlessly, but as often is remarked, I bring it on myself. It’s always in good spirits and full of affection. I remember being completely lost at first, not knowing anyone, like the new kid at school, and I will always be thankful to Al Burke for talking to me that first day and being my OG. She’s a brilliant young lady, a great writer and full of enthusiasm for new bands. I mean we won’t talk about the DM slide she received because of talking to me, but needless to say it set the tone for the hilarity of the VPC for me.
Throughout the VPC, my following has grown and grown and grown. I have spoken to so many people and now I even get followed by bands just because of my involvement. I really don’t think they know what they are letting themselves in for.
It’s the community that I don’t think Rob could have ever dreamed of being formed. I have already met 2 people purely because of the crawl and even without the VPC live event in Octber, I know that would have grown, because the crawl is about the people.
People supporting people, strangers bonding not only over music but just the strangest of things. Who can ever forget the Flamingo’s. Now, I am going to let you into a little secret. The flamingo pants were just an accident. I had ordered myself a VPC t shirt from Russ, and was excited at debuting it on the crawl. I tweeted that when I had finished work I was going to slip into something more comfortable. Meaning the tee. HOWEVER, the gaffer (ROB) picked up on this and tweeted about it. I panicked a bit as every fecker had worn the t shirts so it wasn’t nearly as exciting for anyone but me. I tried to blag Rob by saying I’d only show if I got something like 25 RT. (bear in mind Rob had thousands of followers but I’d never had even 5 retweets on a tweet so I though I was safe). OH NO. Rob made sure I wasn’t so I then had to think of something that would stand out. I’d done my washing (you know cos I am a house trained, clean conscientious bloke… form a queue ladies) and there were my flamingo boxers.So bingo, I have a decent arse (I know, I know) so i lay on my plush rug and took a couple of snaps and away we went. I didn’t think it would get any attention at all and would be forgotten about by the Sunday morning hangovers, yet here we are 2 months later, and it’s there in VPC folklore. The amount of love I got on my birthday, Chippy and Mrs.Chippy with Dave the flamingo. Jake and Kirst with their flamingo tribute on their new garden bar. I can never ever tell people how important that was for me.
Lockdown was shit, Like really shit, but thanks to everyone, it won’t be what I remember 2020 for. I’ll remember despite being alone for 12 gruelling weeks, unable to see my daughter or mum or sisters, I never once felt lonely. When I felt rejected in other parts of my life, I never felt anything but welcomed by the VPC crew. To think I have grown up in the same town as Gems and Matt but never crossed their path, but thanks to the VPC, I know I have friends for life in my home town. It’s hard to put into words how much everyone has been a shining star for me. Further afield there’s my Scottish pals Sarah, Robbie, Alan, and Kris. Sarah called me last week, and despite not being able to understand a word she said, (think Jimmy Crankee on acid) shes an absolute beaut. We have a shared love of Alan Partridge and again I know that we will be pals for life and see each other, whether in Wigan or Scotland.
Then there are the guys, like Gary, Danny, Richie, Mike, Rob and Ady. All legends in their own lunchtime. Gary took my VPC tweet up virginity and it was just the best. We sat and chatted like old friends, he was as nice in person as he seems on twitter (when he’s not being a tw4t) . Again another friend for life and a salt of the earth guy. Danny sent me a flamingo gift, just well, for nothing and it made my day. Richie always checks in and has a giggle, usually at my expense. Mike with his unending love of the Lathums and just the funniest dancing vids ever! Rob, I recently discovered lives near to me too, so that is another excuse for a pint. Then Ady, another one to get his own show soon, who always checks in, and gives you the most precious gift anyone can. their time.
Onto the ladies, Lelly who produced the amazing video for VPC and who along with SSC never lets up about my arse pic, when we speak, along with 3 beautiful women who will have the pleasure of my company in a few weeks. Andie who, despite me previoulsy often wondering if she actually likes me or tolerates me (tw4t), has shown herself to be one of the most beautiful people I know, inside and out. Then Paula another beaut with an accent to die for but who has the kindest biggest heart. The first person to send me anything and she just makes my wee face hurt from smiling. Finally Emma completes the terrible trio. Someone who I only started talking to properly recently, after she restarted a thread that blew up not long ago and I dmd her to tell her off. Again, a surprising connection that came from nowhere that I just cherish so much with the weird and wacky convos we have.
I could go on all night with bands like Revivalry immersing themselves in the community and just being amazing, and I know there are others I will have missed out but you are probably all bored now.
I am going to finish by saying thank you. I love you all incredibly. You have changed so many lives, not just mine, and the world is a much better place for the VPC. Rob you should be immensely proud mate. You have genuinely created something special that will never be forgotten. You have probably unwittingly connected people that may have saved each other, if not literally, mentally. You have given people a platform to create bonds and friendships that have literally changed lives. I just cannot express how much this means to so many.
Just Thank You….