We loaded the bus up with flagons, and left about quarter past seven; we stopped fourteen times between Neath and Bridgend, and were still in Glamorgan by ‘leven. No wait, that’s a lie -not to mention a shameless ripoff of Max Boyce- some of us didn’t even leave Swansea until five, because apparently there was some excitement over a piano. Don’t understand that; what good is a piano in a line fight! Anyway, happy bouncy victims on our way to our first show, we hit the M4 right in time for rush hour, and for a few brief moments no one thought we’d actually make it past Cardiff. That was to be the least of our problems though. After hammering through Britain’s road network at speeds which on occasion might have looked extreme on the Autobahns, stopping at a service station on a deserted M25!? that was bigger than Paphos airport, we were finally, after six hours travelling within twenty miles of the site. Yay. Brilliant. Bring it on. Right? Er no actually.
The first hint of trouble came when the temperature light on Pam’s dashboard came on. Immediately we slowed from the ninety plus mile an hour suicide rush we had been doing, and limped into a layby a mile down the road. On opening the bonnet we discovered a sauna, complete with five sweaty, naked Swede’s flogging themselves with birches. (this might be a slight exaggeration, but there was steam bloody everywhere!). When things cooled down, we brought out the uber-torch and Pam, the only driver, and consequently the only one with a blind clue about what might be going on opened the radiator. Cue more steam. And a desperate phone call. I’m sure Pam’s parental units were thrilled with that one at gone midnight on a Friday.
It went something like this:
“Did I wake you up?”
“Panic, flap, wasn’t my fault, what should I do?!”
“Stick some water in it, leave it for a bit and try to restart it.”
Water went it. Water came straight back out. Understandably, the poor little car didn’t start. More panicked phone calls, and a frantic search for breakdown policy details result in a lengthy wait and a tow back to Cambridge where the gracious all saving Parents de Pam put us up for the night. We finally make it to Fritton courtesy of Pam’s dad and a landy early evening on Saturday, about twenty-eight hours after we set off!
Somehow, when I wake up in the morning I still manage to be bouncy and enthusiastic and capable of making breakfast with the largest amount of flame possible. A gas stove AND a hexi burner on the go at the same time’s not that excessive, is it? Anyhow, I managed not to burn down the campsite!
Yet it seems that I was doomed to make a nuisance of myself for the remainder of the show. Even before I got down onto the LHE (on which, of course there were no cross dressed women at all ever) I had managed to end up engaged to Pam. Now, she’s a lovely girl, and I value her driving skills, but she’s not really my type! The situation continued until four o’clock, when in a public display, with the original fat bearded misogynist himself doing the commentary, it all got denied and OddWyn, identical twin brother of ArdWyn, scarily similar looking twin brother of Hann, got run out of the encampment. The look on his microphone-hogging-ness’ face was, I am told, priceless.
But Kim was by no means the only person I managed to annoy that day.
Steve “I’m a scruffy bastard, but you will wear what I say” Etheridge, detected a newbie and decided to take issue with the brightness of my yellow trousers, despite being stood not far from a member of the Liff with an even brighter cloak to whom he uttered not a word. I let him complain, and practice using the big words he’d just found in the fashion fascist’s first picture dictionary, like provenance and authenticity, until muttering got the material off Kate, and delighting at the speed with which he pissed off to harass the next poor victim, who was, of course Bod. “You’d make a better peasant,” my arse! Of course Bod wasn’t wearing shoes – he had ambitions to avoid getting his feet amputated by Kate’s fine shoe making skills! Bod looked down witheringly at Steve, as if to query why our maker had bothered to stack shit quite that high.
Paddy declared me battlefield safe, which is a landmark occasion. Imagine some one daring to put “ArdWyn” and “safe” in the same sentence! And finally we got to bounce all over the battlefield waving pointy sticks at each other. Hurrah! We fought bravely and were slaughtered, probably something to do with a load of new squishies being given the order to charge the Liff. Somewhat understandably this esrnt a great big “What the f*&k?!” off of anyone who had ever heard any of Kate’s almost never repeated tales about this intrepid band of warriors.
Apparently the second battle of the day was more competitive, but I wouldn’t know anything about that because I was felled early on by the friendly fire of everyone’s favourite American. To be fair, it wasn’t Brian’s fault and I was more concerned about the potential wait in A&E and the possibility of missing both that nights drinking–downing lemonade just isn’t the same!–and the next day’s fighting than the fact that I had probably broken my nose.
So, transport issues and minor concussion, my first show was going great, and to top it all off, on Sunday god got out the watering can, forcing battle hardened troops to seek refuge in the LHE,, once we discovered that playing lily pads on wet shields was at best a dubious proposition.
Previous to all this, I discovered, Sabrina had drawn Mr Nasty for a spear test, and been failed, legitimately under the watch full gaze of s/he who makes with the coordination. This, we were to discover later sent the aforementioned Kate into a bit of a tiz, because Colin, group nice guy, and all round sweetie, had purchased and had engraved two tankards engraved with name and place to commemorate Sabrina and Bod’s success. Luckily on the Saturday they both passed, with Will and Ig enjoying playing with the kamikaze unit so much that it seemed set to go on forever.
Oh yeah, and Richard claimed his rightful place as king of chunder, and Ana managed the double whammy of her usual level of annoyance together with the irony of falling asleep on the LHE in front of some public wearing beautifully crafted and lovingly embroidered kit which didn’t quite manage to disguise the modern socks peaking out of her footwear.
Brilliant fun. Can’t wait to do it again.