The Techies blend into the background as the festival circus leaves town - Susan Morrison

The circus is leaving town. You can still hear the sound of the wheelie suitcases thudding across the setts and streets. The actors, comedians, and contemporary dancers have gone home.
Techies are quick on the draw with gaffer tapeTechies are quick on the draw with gaffer tape
Techies are quick on the draw with gaffer tape

The venues have vanished, far more quickly than they were built. An unsung army of fey, delicate creatures makes this happen. They are hard to spot. They prefer dark backstages and even darker bars. They are The Techies, the sound and lighting crews who really make the magic happen.

Once you know what you are looking for, you can see them everywhere in August. They nearly always wear ninja black. They blend in that way and food stains don't show. You can sometimes spot them in daylight, usually as they go to feed. Greggs is good for wild techie-spotting.

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They're usually swathed in wires from headphones, walkie-talkies and microphones.

They habitually speak in code, but then they spend most of their lives talking in binary, barking ‘One, Two, One, Two’ down microphones.

They all have a cherished gadget. Usually it’s a multipurpose doo-hickey that can tighten screws, cut tape, open beer bottles and remove stones from horse hooves. Makes a Swiss army knife look as multitasking as a flint arrowhead.

Somewhere about their person will be a roll of gaffer tape. No performance space can function without copious amounts of the stuff. Back in 2018 there was a shortage and rumours ran hot that someone was stockpiling it.

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Gaffer tape really holds the fringe together. It’s used to secure cables, jury-rigg seams for onstage curtains and in an emergency functions as Elastoplast on a randomly bleeding digit.

Naturally this should be replaced as soon as the techie accesses medical treatment, which they won’t do because there are more important things to do than go get the First Aid Box. Does the injury prevent the lifting of a pint? No. Then why bother?

No-one gives them applause or cheers, but without them, we’re just shouting in the dark.

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