Who doesn’t love an outdoor event? Add in music, ‘a bring your own picnic’ and a summer’s evensong and I’m there! Many moons ago was my first go… ‘Jools Holland & friend’s’ (which frankly included me!) at Attingham Park drew me in like a bluebottle on jam. My sister and our respective husbands were extremely excited and spent much time beg, borrowing and stealing (ok, mainly stealing) lots of outdoor comfort furniture. We had a super little fold-out table with mini-benches either side. Blankets for knees (I was envisaging myself sipping a cheeky ‘Lambrusco’ under the stars listening to a slow number; my other half holding me tight as Jools’s masterful fingers caresses the keys and in turn my heart…), citronella candles and sparklers for some high jinx and tomfoolery at the end of the night! Next food; all the old faves, Scotch eggs, Pepperami, cheese and silverskin onions. All packed into a borrowed, vast and expensive Cool Box. Several bottles of wine and beers for the boys completed the ridiculous haul we then attempted to carry across a huge field on the evening in question.
My late Father was kind enough to ferry us there and back. I can only imagine what he thought as all four of us staggered away under the weight of seven shades of shit. No matter! The atmosphere was electric and we soon felt quite at home amongst seasoned outdoor eventers who had erected mini-gazebo’s; strewn with bunting and topiary trees framing the entrance. Finding a place to pitch ‘ourselves’ was not easy given that the place was already heaving with the squiffy well-to-do’s and their micro Yurt’s! Squashing ourselves centre stage; halfway between the action and the outdoor bogs, the lads then spent an inordinate amount of time attempting to ‘unfold’ our compact and very complex seating for the night. My sister and I did what we could to help; supped wine, laughed heartily when fingers got trapped or the top of buttocks exposed, offered pointers and secretly wished they’d hurry the fuck up. Eventually it was done, slightly askew and not quite what we’d imagined, but who cares we’ve got our little plot for the evening and after dressing the table with booze and food we were ready for partayyyyy!
Getting all of us sat at the table was a feat of contortion and endurance. Feeling determined we eventually manage it but are painfully aware we look like hippo’s hunched over a pre-school desk. No matter! The drink is flowing and the opening act is just kicking off. So as the sun begins to disappear behind the pines, we light the candles and the excess drinking begins in earnest! A short time passes and it appears that everything is now funny! Stuff that’s normally not funny at all; is now hilarious on a scale I’d never imagined. Glancing down; through my good eye, I’m a little shocked to see that 2 bottles of wine are empty, and the one I’m currently sloshing on the table as I refill everyone’s plastic cup is also nearly done. Food! The lovingly packed picnic is now being upended unceremoniously onto the wet table top and we descend upon it like a pack of hyenea’s on a lamb shank. Time appears to have speeded up; it’s now dark, Jools is still hammering on the ‘old Joanna’ and our party of four is ‘trollied’. Oops!
At this point I’m suddenly aware of a pressing feeling in my nether regions, so with our arms linked me and my equally twatted sister set sail across the field in the direction of the demountable toilets. Wow our little plot for the evening has grown; we now have a vast space around our rickety seating, WTH? Could it be that our neighbours are giving us a wide berth? Fuck ’em. Casting a raised eyebrow around the field I’m suddenly feeling ‘hot-to-trot’ and brimming with an alcohol-induced confidence. Sashaying in time to a radical Sax solo we begin connecting with the posh bastards in the marquee’s. Waving and calling out; all teeth and hair it’s clearly time to bring me back down to earth. So as my foot connects with an unexpected rut in the grass I find myself on my ‘ass’. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anyone laugh as hard as my sister at this point. Pretty sure she didn’t need to use the facilities after. The ‘ladies’ were at this point utterly rammed, with post-menopausal Range Rover driver’s bearing jaunty silk scarves and riding boots. So holding our breath we enter the men’s domain. Empty. Good old cock-wielding, crop spraying menfolk, no mess, no fuss, no bother! With my sister holding the door to the vast, square room on bricks I then pick a trough and squat. In no time at all we’re out and heading back to the boys!
It’s pretty dark now; dark enough for us not to see the contempt on the faces of those who are sitting relaxing in canvas chairs watching the show. Staggering through the crowd we find the ‘boys’ in a vast clearing, lit by candles ‘pogo’ing’ for all their worth (only vaguely in time to the music). Look at all this space! We enter the fray and join in, pausing only to ingest yet more booze and the occasional cocktail sausage; I don’t remember bringing those? Soon it is over. Time to clear up, ship out, bugger off home. We’re totally drunken and it’s dark. Quick as a flash the field is deserted; we then attempt to re-fold the picnic seating and pack up what’s left into the Cool Box, the lid of which is ‘MIA’. Weaving back across the field we spot Dad sitting and waiting patiently on the side of the road, ‘tutting’ he puts all of our sullied crap in the boot and drives us home.
The next morning like four extra’s from ‘Waking The Dead’ we surveyed the damage. The fold-up table is buggered; coated in candle wax and bearing several black holes where someone (we’ve) stubbed our fags out and the expensive Cool Box is lid-less. We sit staring at the selection of ‘borrowed’ items whilst double-dipping unrefridgerated prawns in mayonnaise and literally taking our life in our hands. Still we agreed upon one thing; ‘what a crack-a-lacking night that was’!