I am in the middle of a field. Except the field has rocks. Lots of rocks. Little and large pointy rocks. And I am participating in camping. With lots of middle aged men with high blood pressure. Why?
Yes, indeed, why? I agree. I am at the FAB-Racing championship, round one, at Rowrah. A place where said middle aged men with high blood pressure (MAMwHBP) dress as Power Rangers and half attach themselves to miniature motorbikes and sidecars then whizz (pootle) round a karting circuit a few times, thus producing a sweaty and slightly stiff MAMwHBP champion. Aforementioned champ and his sidecar sized belly are presented with an off the shelf trophy and leave with palpable ugg points and fully charged testosterone levels.
But, I hear you cry, why is TheChimp enveloped by such an event? I have asked the same question frequently in the run up to this weekend. TheManBoy is one such MAMwHBP. Except he’s not so much middle of age, nor of high blood pressure. Neither can he be misconstrued for a mishshapen toilet block.
But he does have a penchant for hanging off a fast (relatively) thing whilst negotiating tracks with many corners, head first. This allows him to vent his grunt, which can only be a good thing. And usually I’d leave him and his grunt to it. However, the kind people of FAB-Racing decided many humans would love to spend their bank holiday Monday venting and grunting. Especially the bank holiday Monday TheManBoy and I have booked a much needed four night holiday in a secluded log cabin in a far away land (Keldy forest). Thus I must endure…I mean enjoy a long weekend of THIS so that I may then be rewarded with THAT.
Now, on the plus side, TheManBoy passed his driving test last month and got a car, so we had a bit more room for ‘stuff’ than on a CBR600 motorbike. I also had a rather convenient birthday last month which prompted TheMotherChimp to throw a wad of currency my way big enough for a new tent. And so we purchased a tent. A big tent. A one bedroomed flat style big tent. It has long poles and many zips. And in the ‘I’ve got a bigger one than you’ competition we score lots of ugg points. My one bedroomed flat tent has good amenities: a blow up double mattress with duvet, blanket, wooly thing, and pillows; a gas cooker and heater; a table; kettle, pans, thermal mugs, cutlery, and *ahem* a bucket. Being in charge of erections, TheManBoy valiantly struggled with the wobbly poles against a biting northerly wind, bashed the crap out of some pegs with his mighty hammer, and thus behold, a Lichfield Mohawk 5 was born. A plastic blue and yellow home. My home for the next three days.
The other very slight concern regarding my plastic flat weekend is…oh, we’ll, it’s nothing really. Hardly worth….IT’S THE BLOODY SNOOKER FINAL!! The highlight of the snooking year. The only one I watch from beginning to end. And I’m in a field of rocks with nothing but the power of flatulent MAMwHBP (to be fair, given the correct equipment, that’s doable). So, TheManBoy, being equally in charge of technical erections, and with his geek god status in the balance, has pondered and postulated over this predicament for two whole weeks, acquiring various gadgets (approved by the guardian of stop-spending-money (me) through only sheer desperation), combining various thingywassits, to show his brilliance in the form of three options.
One: use iPad 3G signal and TVCatchUp – requires availability of 3G signal in middle of nowhere land – unlikely.
Two: use wifi on laptop to watch online – requires availability of wifi by circuit – unlikely.
Three: use little white box thing with magic telly inside that plugs into laptop – requires reliance on TV aerial faffing about and electricity connection to power laptop with OAP battery – more likely than TheManBoy eating fruit (TheManBoy only touches technological apples).
True to his homo-erectus status, TheManBoy succeeded, following much wire battling and swearing, to acquire a snooker shaped picture on the laptop. The next three hours were spent voltage checking, positioning, and aerial fondling, and after a long visit from Mr Pixel Face I sat with one finger on the metal bit of the aerial for four frames. Perfect picture. TheManBoy secured the use of a generator for recharging of the battery that would recharge the laptop battery, and thus his geek god cum ugg, me man, status was still fully charged.
This was the make or break point of the whole weekend for me, and I have never experienced joy like it before. I donned my Yay! face and attended the obligatory awning gathering of sidecar testosterone with TheManBoy, partially aided by Morgan’s Spiced and lemonade. This mainly involved sitting in the corner watching MAMwHPB stand round a dying BBQ with cans of lager, seeing who could get their belly closest without creating human pork scratchings. There was much farting. Fortunately TheManBoy’s sidecar driver is very lovely and I almost found myself amused sitting amongst the chorus of grunting, belching and arse trumping.
Then, amongst the snoring and nighttime terrors of our neighbours, came sleepy time. Or not. Yes, we had a comfy mattress with duvet, pillows and blankets, and a heater. But we also had a brisk northerly wind and minus one outdoor temperatures. Warmth tried its hardest, but failed, until sunrise when, wrapped in three layers, a wooly hat, and a face blanket I fell asleep. Only to be woken moments later by a loud man on a PA system that could be heard in the South of France and blinding sunlit yellow tent syndrome. I joined in the grunting and managed to splutter forth the word “coffee”. TheManBoy sprang into action. I continued with the futile face blanket until the call of the toilet block could no longer be ignored.
Having to move at all in the mornings is hard enough for this chimp. TheMotherChimp frequently quips about my lack of fondness for mornings even as a baby chimp. So, for this particular chimp it is a biological nightmare having to walk, outside, amongst people, BC (before coffee), for morning ablutions. The absolute worst thing that can happen in this situation is meeting a fellow chimp who has obvious morning time leanings and proceeds to ask questions requiring answers in an upbeat, generally sociable manner. I wish I had a sign that made it clear that in no way is it a good idea to approach me in the mornings, never mind speak to me, and if one does then one should expect nothing more than an inaudible grunt. Maybe I’ll draw up a Sheldon type contract for future such occurrences.
At this point I would like to extol the saviour that is Taylor’s Lazy Sunday fresh ground coffee. Even with cold milk and a plastic cup it is the best, nay, ONLY way to bring this chimp round to something closely resembling consciousness. On cup three, fag two, I left the tent to dutifully watch TheManBoy throw (pootle) himself round the race track once for a ‘practice’. Then thought sod this, and went back to the tent. It was snooker time. Brilliantly (as is his habit) TheManBoy managed to procure an extension lead long enough to reach a generator and here was born the indefinite TV via laptop snooker. Following much aerial faffing resulting in THE PERFECT POSITION WITHOUT FINGER POKING (double Yay!), me and my grin snuggled down immersed in Ronnie’s perfectly positioned balls and John Vergo’s comforting tones.
This looked promising. Even the sun dropped by for a May day visit and turned the tent into an afternoon oven. Bravely I ventured forth in the icy wind to watch TheManBoy and the other Power Rangers do their MAMwHBP thang. I aww-ed at the mini Power Rangers (children of MAMwHBP, some of the very smallest kind) on their mini bikes. All so mini. From the mini to the large, to the I-look-like-I’ve-got-arse-wheels large, I produced my bestest interested face and watched.
It was almost going well. However, the rest of the day was spent trying to conserve the limited battery power we had during the day with no generators switched on, and waiting till all the necessary race meet type pomp has finished before snooker time with electricity, which, due to mismatched battery failure mixed with Ronnie’s super quick excellence and bad timing resulted in a total of 46 minutes of snooker watching all day. I was becoming fed up. Lack of sleep, a long day, a lingering cold, the changing weather, boredom, constant engine loudness, petrol scented snot, and annoyance at missing the final frames of the snooker semifinals were catching up with me. I needed warmth, comfort, hot drinks, and lots of sleep. Unfortunately some band had turned up to play a few terrible cover songs to a dozen people at 37 minutes past 9pm. TheManBoy was pressured to socialise. With temperatures set to drop to minus five I feared sleep would only come to those chimps who passed out, so I sat quietly in the communal awning as per last night, drank two large Morgan’s Spiced from flower adorned plastic cups, smoked till one lung attacked the other, then did indeed do the passing out.
And then it was Sunday. 8am. Race day one. Snooker final day. Plus points: after insulating the bed with most of our clothing stock, the sleep fairy came. This aided morning matters greatly and I was able to do joined up talking after only one coffee. We celebrated by having breakfast in the cafe. It was all going so well. Then the weather decided it was bank holiday Sunday, and it was bored, so it got its toys out and began to play rain, sleet, hail, snow. (Note to self: never believe weather apps). We finished breakfast. It was still sleeting. We returned to the tent and congratulated it on its waterproofness. It was still sleeting. We made more coffee. It was raining hard.
It kindly stopped raining for the first race. I watched adoringly from the sidelines with my cough and thermal cup. Thanks to the laws of physics, gravity, inertia, and gaffatape TheManBoy won his first race and was hence adorned with copious amounts of man hormones by his fellow MAMwHBPs. Rinse and repeat for the second race.
And then it was snooker time. TheManBoy felt some ugg points slip away as a result of not providing snooker pictures yesterday and was therefore on a electrical current hunting mission for today’s final. Of course he was triumphant. I had perfect no finger signal and no OAP battery worries. I bathed in the baize of glory (sorry).
Score: 5-3 to Ronnie.
After finishing fourth in the third race and arriving second for the fourth TheManBoy and I visited his grandad. We had coffee in real cups and jammie dodgers (the correct ones with cream), and, luckily, he had the snooker on. We retuned after the final frame of the afternoon. We drank coffee. We ate steak. We put the snooker on. I set my hair on fire, killed an ant, then, with the help of Capt. Morgan, I settled in for an evening of shouting at the telly (laptop). Just before mid session it became apparent that somebody had neglected to tell the band from the previous evening that they were fired, and so a procession of off beat, bodged cover songs of boredom ensued for the next two very long hours. When they started with THAT Brian Adams song I seriously considered walking over there and pulling the plug out myself. Instead, I went to the facilities and expressed my disgust in my own little chimp way.
Score: 10-7 to Ronnie
The day of justice had arrived. Yes, there was some racing, yes the snooker final continued, but today was REWARD DAY! By the evening we’d be lost in a forest in a log cabin with wood burner, bath, hot tub, bed, and a real tellybox! Engines will be replaced by the twittering of birdies. Power Rangers swapped for squirrels. A sea of tents will become an ocean of trees *dreamy face*. We packed up in double quick time before the rain came. TheManBoy went into ugg mode and changed into his Power Ranger suit. He went off to listen intently to engine noises. He raced, he came third, then second, then first, then second. I took pictures. Then it rained. But that didn’t matter, cos it was leaving time!
As I fish out the last remaining blackened petrol snot from my rosy nose I gaze into the (unset) sun (rain) and ponder my reward with satisfaction. I did camping AND got to watch a good proportion of snooker. I lived with my cold and boredom and dealt with it. I managed to finish the weekend not feeling guilty for having a shit time, because comparatively it wasn’t. The trials and tribulations were grasped full throttle by my humour glands and strangled to the tune of you’re in a bloody tent sleeping on pointy rocks in minus five in the company of hundreds of future heart attack patients, what else can you do but laugh at such a predicament. I like that tune. It is the tune of solidarity. Not that much different to my festival organising days where it’s the people with a passion sharing a kinda ridiculous situation of their own creation and collectively questioning it all that makes something good, that keep you going, who are in it with you all the way. And I was in this all the way, cos he’s worth it. A good time won. TheManBoy made it so. My hero.
Learnings and conclusions:
When camping on rocks check for and remove large pointy ones BEFORE putting up the tent.
Try very hard not to achieve death by carbon monoxide poisoning (i.e. turn off the gas heater before dozing off).
Cubism was invented by someone lying within the creases of a virgin tent.
There is never enough blankets.
No matter how many things you take to ensure boredness is not an option, boredness will occur.
Always take a bucket, bog roll, and plastic bags.
Expect everything to take three times longer and require double the energy than usual.
Being naked in a tent is both liberating and a bloody stupid idea.
If you come across a toilet, use it.
It WILL be over soon.
Ronnie won. 18-11