June is the month when we step very definitely into “real time” consciousness. Theoretical discussions about the what ifs, the nice to have and ideal situations are over and won’t be picked up again until we have put LRBHT 2015 to bed, and started planning for 2016. We are now “where we are”, for better or worse, and this seasoned tour bus of ours won’t stop until it’s all over again for another year.
This month is also about the time when I remind my team of a favourite (no doubt irritating) mantra of mine – are they white sheep, black sheep or black and white sheep? Absolute precision is what is needed now, whether we are up in the Park with our site steward discussing signage around the new fully seated West Grandstand, measuring out where the Medical HQ will be re-sited, marking up the new Reserved Parking area on the south side of the lake, or running our annual, and all important XC Area Stewards briefing in the relative discomfort (in our current heatwave) of a closed meeting room.
Meanwhile, the post tray is groaning with envelopes containing detailed instructions to all our stewards, our site team and officials. Of course, the members of this great, extended Burghley Family of ours all know their jobs so well they could probably do them blindfolded and with their arms tied behind their backs. But we inhabit an age which requires every possible, precautionary dotting of i’s and crossing of t’s – usually written – so sadly we have a long way to go before we could ever achieve a paperless office – a fact underlined by the literally hundreds of invitations, tickets and passes now being sent out from our office.
We are rattling through meeting upon meeting now, variously with the ever-popular Defence Animal Centre, our sponsors, our TV producer and media, checking copy after interviews, appointing tradestand judges for the coveted prizes given to the best retail offerings on Event and initiating discussions with the President of the Horse Trials on her itinerary and social requirements over the four days. Let’s say I can go from discussing canapés for the opening night’s Cocktail Party one moment to camera angles and hoists the next…
It’s warm out and in now, we don’t have air conditioning and office hours are getting longer… but I’m reminded of a phrase beloved of military folk, “if you can’t take a joke, you shouldn’t have joined up!” On the bright side, tempers haven’t frayed and waistlines are still trim, as no one has reached yet for a late night pizza takeout menu and a bottle of something cold left over from the 2014 Event.
Only a matter of time, of course, at which point I am also reminded of a particularly irritating catch phrase of our otherwise hugely personable site steward, Chris Barnett, who is wont to put his head around office doors (not mine, I hasten to add), from his first visit of the year in early spring, and proclaim helpfully, “not long now!” Thank you Chris – it is 63:15:28:27 according to our Rolex countdown clock to be precise (or black and white/piebald Jacobs, in this instance, as Chris doubles up as a rare breed sheep farmer!).