98 Museums at Night : The museum awakens – 27th October 2017

Troop Icons Ghostbuster 2015Location
Paisley Museum, Paisley 19:00 – 21:00

Mission Report
Somewhere in Paisley there’s possibly a foreign student from the local university who was at a loose end on Friday night and her and her friend decided to immerse themselves in the culture of the area by attending the Halloween-themed late night opening of the nearby museum. Not only is she perhaps still vainly looking in the wrong part of the building for the wooden object associated with the Titanic to complete the scavenger hunt from that night, but she’s of the firm belief that the museum hires a paranormal investigator once a year to ensure that the artefacts on display don’t react to the build-up of psychic energy caused by visitors. This level of deception is something I should feel bad about. But I don’t.

Instead I feel really good about this event. I have to admit, even leaving aside the couple of hours I had mixed this up with the alcohol fuelled student event at the town hall the same night, I wasn’t expecting much from this troop. It hadn’t been heavily promoted on our boards to encourage anyone to sign up, the organisers weren’t expecting much of a crowd and I was wary that those who did turn up would be local mehoos just in out the cold. Indeed the first two teens I encountered fell exactly into this category, nearly prompting me to about turn and head back to the changing area to de-kit. Fortunately walking in the opposite direction brought me into the main exhibit hall was stowed to the rafters with families who had actually made an effort to embrace the spirit of the event by making costumes and taking part in the activities on offer.

While the TK drew the initial crowd (mostly thanks to the showboating way he slowly descended in the wheelchair lift while I took the stairs) I was left to wander round the display cases and framed paintings scanning them with my PKE meter, which 12 hours later when I could finally recall what the abbreviation stood for I was kicking myself, poking at the headless and armless torsos dressed in vintage clothing to ensure they were indeed solid and not Focussed, Full torso class III apparitions and receiving occasional encouragement that “[I] should check the paintings, it’s always the paintings” and reports of sightings at the opposite end of the museum, the opposite direction of which I always most assuredly made a beeline for.

I much preferred this event to the equivalent at the Science Centre as the museum lacked the constant blaring music of the former allowing much more scope for interaction with the public that simply standing still for a photo. The younger boys of one extended family, spent a substantial amount of time telling me quite seriously of the ghost they had seen recently and asking how to deal with it while their sister, older by two or three years, saw right through my façade and confidentially whispered in my ear that they were big fans of Ghostbusters.

If there were to be downsides, well… it felt kind of off for the staff to nominate myself and the Stormtrooper to be the ones to pick the costume competition winners, I’m kind of glad this didn’t crop up till the very end as there could only be seven winners and there were A LOT of kids who were going to be disappointed.

It’s a rare troop that I would say was too short by half, but this definitely was. Unfortunately the museum will shortly close for the best part of four years so the opportunity to repeat it isn’t going to come along again anytime soon.

89 May the Toys be with you – 18th March 2017

Troop Icons Spotter 2015Location
Paisley Museum, Paisley 11:00 – 13:00

Mission Report
It’s odd how sometimes the best events take place in facilities most unsuited for trooping.  Case in point, the Paisley Museum, something of a warren of display halls, stairs and multiple levels as befits a building of its age designed and built before the word “accessibility” entered our lexicon.

On arrival, slipping and sliding up a treacherously wet and slimy ramp we were given a brief tour of the Star Wars toy exhibit before our host literally led us up the garden path (and multiple sets of steps) towards the Coates Observatory staff room proposed as our changing area.  The space was somewhat small and would probably have required splitting the attendees, but our time in the building did offer the opportunity to view the newly restored orrery being unveiled to the public and (for those able to deal with the height) a chance to see the 19th century telescopes the building houses.

Following this diversion we returned to museum itself, ultimately settling on an admin office for our uses and after a brief emotional moment, we set about the business of the day.

The first task was to navigate the afore mentioned wet ramp with the less stair-capable troopers for the press photos of the opening of the exhibit at the front of the building.  Professional photographers are clearly invulnerable judging by the way the one in attendance bounced across the main road, crouching admits oncoming traffic for the sake of framing his ideal shot of the costume competition winner declaring the event open.  A fair crowd had already assembled at the front of the building for this and our presence attracted additional passers-by camera phones held aloft.

Once this duty was discharged we returned to the main atrium via my rampy-nemesis for a few additional official photos, before the public were admitted stopping for their own picture opportunities before making their way to the exhibit.
While the costumers separated into two groups after half an hour or so, my group and I remained in the same area for the duration as the building in general was very hot and the open side door allowed something of a no-doubt welcome cooling chill to permeate the reception area.

The short event was brought to a close with final visit to the front of the building, this time negotiating the main stairs to allow a film crew to capture some promotional material before our return to the changing area to allow everyone to de-kit.

Our presence had been very popular, in conjunction with the exhibit itself, bringing an estimated ten times the usual weekend visitor numbers through the door and we were looked after very well by the staff.  If only all our event refreshments were catered by an outside company!

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80 UWS Star Wars Week – Promotional Video – 13th April 2016

Troop Icons TB 2015Location
UWS Paisley Campus, Paisley 18:00 – 21:30

Mission Report
Goodness me, that was a lot of fun.

The possibility of this even to shoot a promotional video for University of the West of Scotland to tie in with their screenings of The Force Awakens on across the campuses next month had been mentioned back in the middle of March so it was quite disappointing that it hadn’t been posted for discussion on our boards to allow more of the ISS to attend.  Fortunately our friends over at the Rebel legion seem a lot better organised and were able to field a reasonable number of cannon fodder for the Imperial forces in attendance to mow down.

Much mirth is made of the fact that Stormtroopers can’t shoot straight so it was with no small sense of satisfaction that our Fleet Trooper and X-Wing pilot on the night had problems coordinating the basics of walking.

It’s also somewhat surprising the galaxy hasn’t fallen under the heel of Imperial tyranny about 20 minutes into Star Wars having also witnessed the Rebellions inability to follow their cue resulting in multiple takes in an attempt to get them to close a book.  You begin to understand why George Lucas favoured CGI characters in later years… 😉

As always with these video shoots, with their long periods of standing about waiting for 30 seconds of action, it’s the banter and interplay between the folk present in-between takes that never makes it onto screen which makes the occasion enjoyable and memorable.  In this instance I couldn’t have asked for a more fantastic, ridiculous, fun and silly group to partake in this event with.
Oh.  And once again, I apologise Gordy for kicking your corpse harder than intended after your heroic death scene.

Play us out guys…

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58 Kersland School Art Exhibition Fundraiser – 21st June 2013

Five Years SpotterLocation
Kersland School, Paisley 18:00 – 20:30

Mission Report
Since I hadn’t taken a turn at it since October last year, I thought I’d try to squeeze in a session of spotting at this event.  My first instinct was that the event would be too small to warrant three of us, but despite the compact venue, there was a sizable crowd and with Troopers propensity to wander off away from the troop, it would have been unmanageable to try it with any less.

Having had to move from a position adjacent to the main road because a number of cars were trying to exit through the area where we were standing, the troop was initially fairly slow going, although the guys were kept busy with photo opportunities with a steady stream of arriving guests.

One passerby, a small lad in a yellow t-shirt, stood across the road outside the gates for some 30 minutes before plucking up the courage to wander over to ask what was going on.  According to him, he’d been walking home thinking about watching Star Wars when he spied the TKs in attendance and thinking it must be pretty boring for them to get paid to stand about doing nothing for ages.  After clueing him in as to who we were and what we did, he seemed genuinely impressed, but unfortunately didn’t have a phone or a camera to hand to get his picture, and somewhat ironically given how long he’d stood observing, didn’t think he’d have time to go and get one and return before we left.  I advised him we’d be around for a while yet and he trotted off, returning some ten minutes later with his mothers phone and asking if I’d mind taking his photo.  After a couple of snaps he proffered a pound coin, to give to the charity in return for having his picture taken…

Moving the squad through to the playground area where the stalls were set out showed just how many people were actually in attendance though.  There were a large number of folk in the fairly confined space keeping the man at the hotdog and burger stall constantly busy, while the woman at the crepe stand was largely ignored, which given that we were in Paisley was only right and proper.  Maybe if she’d tried deep-frying the crepes..?
A slight downside with all the fast food being available was the abundance of ketchup and mustardy finger prints appearing each time the troopers got hugged while posing for photos.

Slightly disappointing that our attendant Sandtrooper failed to capitalise on the presence of the sand-pit at any point, but in the end they raised some £2000 for the school and we did get to witness Gordon swear-off any roundabout related bravado at events in future…

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