Go to a ball. You know a full-on crystal chandelier under canvas, chequer-board dance floor with groovy local jazz band ball. One where I’ll not only be raising money (thus guaranteeing a potential photograph in the local glossy magazine) but also indulging my inner Princess. I’ll get to hire a long, bejewelled dress, dig out that uncomfortable strapless bra and buy the cheap supermarket version of ‘Spanks’ in nude. Next I’ll book a spray tan, a ‘hair up’; potentially involving a fishtail plait and lots of grips and buy over-the-top fake eyelashes from Boots. I’ll borrow a friend’s ‘bestest’ fancy clutch, use Dylon to match up the Bridesmaid shoes I wore 11 years ago and as the date get’s closer start the Cambridge Diet. In readiness I’ll have sorted the kids out for a two-day stay at The Mother’s as that’s how long it’ll take to prep, attend and get over said event. I’ll even bear an entire day ‘fannying’ around in several ‘salon’s’. Here I’ll endure long-winded and at times painful primping in order to find my inner Princess who is currently very well hidden under a stressed singleton who currently isn’t arsed with body maintenance; I’ll wash obviously, I’m not an animal! I’ll silently allow hot wax to be put in places I’d forgotten I have then pray to retain what I was born with and pretend my sniffles are caused by a summer cold. I’ll risk yet another cornflake adorning each side of my mouth to remove my stubborn ‘Burt Reynolds’. And take care whilst painting my toenails and ‘pumicing’ my dinosaur heels. With the ‘carriage’ (taxi or Jim next door if he’s visiting his Dad in hospital whose having his piles tied) due I’ll enlist a ‘very’ good friend (for what has seen cannot be unseen) to help me dress. This may or may not include positioning chicken fillets to produce the best possible ‘top bollocks’ to suit the frock or squeezing anything that’s appeared overnight. Finally the good friend and I will sip Prosecco and check my clutch for essentials. Money, phone, ticket, lippie, emergency sanitary pad, tweezers (seriously shit grows quick post-45), a couple of Rennie, Paracetamol and a miniature sewing kit (I won’t risk another wardrobe malfunction after tripping over the hem of my trousers whilst trying to quietly follow the bride up the aisle after fucking Jim was late dropping me off). So there it is…I wanna go to a Ball; any offers and I’ll polish off my tiara.
So, it’s been a while since I’ve updated you on my fitness journey; a journey I’ve been reassured will have to go on forever and ever into infinity and beyond if I wish to remain ‘fit’. Which I think should be a firm lesson to those debating purchasing Lycra, and those little socks that don’t show over your supermarket trainers, to not fucking bother. I mean if you never start; you’ll not feel coerced and guilt-mongered into continuing. You see that’s what I’m up against. I attend the same four classes every week. At those classes I see relatively the same faces. Pale and tired at 6:30am, then purple and swollen by 7am. I’d like to say I’m not judging them but that would be a massive, shitty lie. I am judging and noting. I note new leggings or water bottle, deeper lunges and increased weights. I judge speed, form, the curve of the buttock and cinch of the waist. I see the journey on their faces too.
I see the determination that we set our alarm for the ungodly hour of 5:45am, we rolled out of bed and into chilly fabrics with little of no comfort. I know we’ve debated cleaning our teeth then didn’t bother because we don’t want to wake the kids. We’ve also debated whether or not to brush our hair or dab concealer on the more unpleasant looking spots that have reared their ugly head’s overnight (I don’t bother). We’ve crept around the house like ‘Wee Willie Winkie’ in a cast-iron sports bra and breathable Polypropelene. Then we’ve headed out, at certain times of the year, into the cold and dark; had to piss around, scraping the windscreen of the car with an old CD case, wondering if we’ll regain the feeling in our fingers in time to pick up a 5kg plate. Then we’ll drive with zero visibility because we haven’t the time to wait for the condensation on the inside of the car to clear. Hoping against hope the ratio of exercise and fitness to accidents in difficult driving conditions is weighing in our favour.
Finally arriving with ten minutes to spare.
Here genuine salutations and pleasantries are exchanged as only women can; “Crickey, it’s cold.” “Ooh I struggled with the alarm this morning.” Or “Shit I’m fucked; I literally can’t be arsed today…” (that’s me, lowering the tone.) Lining up sensibly we await the arrival of ‘her’. ‘Her’ that pushes us (ok, motivates), that dreams up evil, painful movements holding heavy shit that must be repeated over and over. ‘Her’ that stands before us, barely breaking into a sweat, like a Sargent major in a hoodie driving us forward (ok, encouraging) and generally forcing us to be uncomfortable. ‘Her’ whose levels of induration and strength I’m not jealous of in the slightest. Who’s fancy leggings I’ve not yet found; even after a thorough rummage in TK Maxx and ‘her’ that barks phrases like “Start your day right!” or “You’ve earned your breakfast ladies!”
Strangely one of these ‘hers’ I gave birth to, and that somehow makes it even more difficult, for I feel further coerced into impressing and astounding her with my fitness prowess. I find myself squatting lower, lunging further and reaching for a higher kg if she’s watching me. I also note the tiny raise of the eyebrow if she see’s me slacking or slowing down or daring to be out-of-breath. In short it’s not fun. But on the other hand, it kind of is fun.
Like a constant battle to be won. A daily (almost) reminder of our grit and determination; and that’s just to get out of bed. Our fortitude and strength of character to leave the home, get in the car, drive, get out, sweat our wobbly arses off, then get back and let’s fucking face it ‘START ALL OVER AGAIN’.
In most cases there are children who still need coercing out of bed, washing, breakfasting and dressing. We’ll squeeze in a short shower and complete transformation into whatever the hell we’re expected to be that day. Then collate book bags, PE bags, lunch bags and water bottles. Re-brush hair, scrabble round for clips, sign slips and stuff yet more money into all brown envelopes. Then gather our brood at the door in readiness for the school run and then, yes, only then our actual job.
With beautiful timing and the kids are now ‘handed over’ we’ll switch on Radio 4 and drive to work or wherever we’re needed next. We’ll take a deep breath (the first one in seemingly 2 hours) and the rear-view mirror will reflect a really fucking smug smile! A smile dripping in super-smugness, a smile we’ve earned, in sweat, will power and resolve. And for that short period of time; whilst it’s quiet enough to think clearly, ENJOY and rejoice in how utterly fabulous we are for we’re winning; one work-out at a time!
Incidentally for those faces I see most morning’s, I call Thursday’s class ‘Shit 30’! “Ssh; don’t tell ‘her’.”
It hits you like a wave, smothering sensibility, filling you, like the surf; fizzing and tingling, glorious pictures in HD, stereo sound, filling mind and body with mind-blowing, evocative images of yester-year, beautiful days-gone-by with those no longer here, at least, not in the way they were, you’re no longer that person, senses pricked, emotions heightened, you must swallow down the memory and look on.
New days are here; comparatively better perhaps, yet rose-coloured glass, reflects perfection from the past, don’t try and hide from it, for it’s insidious in it’s approach, and the soundtrack to your life is playing, each track, taking you back, or a sight or a smell, a small snippet of news, nostalgia is here to incite and confuse, but those days are gone and no matter what is left, you must look on.
Don’t look back, just look on.
Cutting to the chase; it’s ace. The car-park is vast and has afforded way more than the average number of minority spaces with additional square footage. The pointless ‘turnstile’ doors have been replaced with a vast opening to allow quick and easy passage for the bargain-hunting thrifty. Through the doors and immediately right and there it is. Invariably quiet; plenty of empty tables, bright and fresh paintwork with padded chairs in faux-Farrow & Ball colours and several friendly hobo’s enjoying a chippie tea. We’re well versed. Hell we love it here! Grabbing a tray we prepare to load up with carton’s of juice, fruit bags, hot beverages and a red number; proof of our hot food order! The Mother usually likes scampi though of late has had a hankering for sausage (leave it there), I only ever want the fish & chips with ‘mushies’, then pizza and nuggets with chips and beans. At this point we’ll hand over under a tenner. That’s fucking right; ‘under a tenner’! It’s daylight robbery but in this case quite refreshingly I feel like the consumer is ‘doing over’ the conglomerate giant!
Nestling at our favourite table; by the window perusing several life forms picking out plants in a temporary ‘poly tunnel’ in the car park. Here we settle and the 8yo positively rejoices in the responsibility of collating the cutlery and ‘free’ condiments! Following suit to all responsible parents I’ll keep the 3yo amused by ‘flash carding’ and teaching her to count in French (aka watch Peppa Pig on my smart phone). At this point The Mother and I will take our first sip of latte. It’s a short-lived yet sublime moment usually punctured by the 8yo realising she needs a wee and the 3yo smelling somewhat-less-than-fresh. Still 10 minutes later after the usual debacle in the ‘disabled toilets’s’ we’re back, yes my latte is now only tepid but I’m safe in the knowledge that I can have another with pudding! The food arrives quickly enough to applaud but not so fast as to cause alarm. My fish is fresh from the surf as is The Mother’s scampi…the chips are adequate and the mushies to die for. I’ll decant at least 7 sachets of Tartare sauce which is in keeping with Piscean law then open a further 32 sachets of mayonnaise for the children. Whilst openly salivating I’ll then mop up the inevitable spillages of juice (‘ffs don’t squeeze’…) run back to the till to buy another whilst marvelling at how quickly a queue can build. Then return slightly out-of-breath to an unrecognisable 3yo coated liberally in bean juice. At this point I’ll think ‘fuck it’ and commence operation ‘chow down’ on my now lukewarm dinner. The best bit is still to come. Hang on to your hats…
After dinner we move on swiftly to pudding. And Morrisons do puddings; proper stodgy and ‘spongetastic’ served with non-lumpy, yellow custard. Hot ‘pud’s’ of yesteryear that leave The Mother and I with the grins of our 10yo-selves back in the day. ‘Roly Poly’, jam or syrup sponge, chocolate or bread & butter pudding, fruit pies or crumbles enough to make Greg Wallace cream in his Chino’s. These cost £1. Yes, you read that correctly. If you buy an adult meal with a FREE children’s meal and the FREE bloody drinks and fruit bags…you can also get a bowl-full of your sugary past for a quid! Seriously. What. The. Hell. Is. Not. Love??? The food is cheap and fresh; not unlike a school dinner, and served by similarly built women, wearing hair nets and bearing a greasy smile. I feel safe in Morrissons. It provides for all my family’s ‘belly-lining’ requirements on a budget. I can only assume now you’re informed I’ll see ya there!!
Oh these balmy warm evenings; how you make me feel like shit. The guilt I feel that I haven’t got the paddling pool out, haven’t barbequed the kids nuggets or toasted marshmallows over a (safe) firepit. Social media increasing the pressure, solidifying the guilt. The best I’m managing, within the constraints of a 24/7 three-year old with endless tantrums, is a pot of bubbles after school. I manage more at the weekend when I coerce my poor Mother into coming with me; essentially guilt-tripping her with my harassed and tear-stained face and pleading eyes. Then we’ll do a ‘lovely day at the park’, a ‘picnic by the river’ or sully the National Trust with my out-of-control toddler and her far-reaching scream. Everything starts with such good intentions; smiles and rose-coloured glasses firmly over my dark-circled eyes as I boil eggs and butter bread. Whilst contained within the house (i.e. on lock-down) the 3-year old will fake me into forgetting the depths of her tantrum capabilities by sitting quietly. I’ve come to realise this is merely ‘gathering strength’. Perhaps she should make the bloody picnic and I sit quietly and ‘gather’ the Herculean strength I’ll require later to haul her flailing four stone body off the floor and stagger back to the car.
Having some sense we usually pick a vast open space; a place she can run and jump and frollick, like the spring lamb on mind-altering drugs that she is. There’s always a moment. A moment in time when I watch her tumbling blonde curls as she runs and my heart swells at the sight of her huge ‘tic-tac’ grin and she proffers me a flower and says ‘for you Mama’. At this point I normally note the tell-tale brown stodge on the bottom of her sandal and know she’s walked through something she shouldn’t have. Then upon leaning down to remove the ‘shit-flop’ it’ll be obvious she’s curled one out herself which will also need dealing with. This will usually happen just as the picnic has been lovingly arranged onto the outdoor picnic door. Next she’ll not sit on the bench properly; simply refuse. Instead sitting precariously in a crouched position, refusing steadfastly to eat anything other than crisps or cake. Invariably I’ll not relax for the entire lunch; just waiting for her to tumble backwards onto the ground, so I forgo cake and instead have a two ‘Rennie’ chaser.
The sun also ruins my life. For children require sun-cream and sun-hats, glasses, visors over the car window, cotton-mix clothes that cover yet keep them cool. The 3-year old won’t wear a hat, or glasses, pulls the visor off the window and attempts to hurl it at me; whilst I’m driving. Sun-cream is usually accepted, then vigorously rubbed off; on whatever I’m wearing. Then there’s my constant UVA/B monitoring which kicks in at about 18 degrees; less if there’s no cloud cover. “Water? Drink some water, come on have a sip of water, why did you throw that? It’s all dirty now, right now I’ve got to wash it in Milton at home.” “She looks red Mum, do you think she’s overly red? Is she red because she’s hot, or is she burnt? Christ, she’s burnt, she’ll have sun-stroke too won’t she? Water? Come on darling. OI, DRINK SOME BLOODY WATER CHILD.”
Calming down I’ll apply more cream, then begin the soul-destroying ‘hat on-retrieve hat off the floor-hat on’ routine as we make our way to the park. The park is square and surrounded on all sides by a fence; I fucking love it! I can relax here; particularly if she’s sipping water and keeping her hat on…
It’s not even Summer yet; note to self – must pick up a gallon drum of ‘Kalms’…
I am a very lucky person. Not necessarily in the way most people would think. I’m not rich, don’t drive a fancy car, live in a biggish house but one which is soon to get much smaller. My career has never really taken off, I’ve not taken any ‘bucket list’ holidays and I’m on my second divorce. However my lucky resides in my ability to see ‘silver linings’ in virtually every situation. Obviously there are limits to this; and thank fuck I’ve never been tested in that regard. But I see myself as extremely lucky. I would give myself a 7 for looks; a good 8 when I’ve put in the effort for a night out (with a good wind behind me and at the most fortuitous time of the month). My body has never really let me down. It’s housed and nourished four babies, never required long-term medication and despite several diversions into ‘Anxiety Avenue’ I’ve managed to come through it with positivity and hope. Most of this I put down to ‘silver linings’.
When something goes wrong (not talking terminal illness or accidental death here…) there is always a ‘silver lining’; even if it’s simply a lesson learned. When fully ensconced in a two-year period of anxiety; where my body was literally taken over with a myriad of unpleasant and scary symptoms my silver lining was ‘but I’m thin’! I literally couldn’t eat; my throat was so constricted I found it difficult to swallow. I was hungry; I wanted to feed my body, I would then spend hours upon end, looking at a buttered piece of bread with the few tiny bites I’d managed with both sadness and fear. However I looked hot as hell in my skinny jeans! I was devoid of muffin top, my tummy flat, toned and my waist whittled down beautifully. That was my silver lining. Now pipe down any anorexics of bulemic’s, I understand and respect that your problem is different to mine but frankly I’ll not allow my story to be censored by every other mental health experience.
When I struggled to go out with the children; fear of extreme vertigo which would take me over at any given time I stayed in. We made a den with furniture and blankets and I’d go under there with them and play. I used focusing solely on them, in that moment to work through palpitations, muscle twitching and extreme fatigue. This was my silver lining. Each and every night of those two years was spent reading every self-help book the library could provide and sleeping. I was rested and well read; silver lining?!!!
As my journey progressed and I considered my progress to ‘solve my problem’ slow I upped the anti; taking up a Reiki course. During this I received free Reiki (silver lining…normally 30 quid-ish a pop!) and sat amongst and befriended people I would never usually come into contact with. I heard their experiences; refined my empathy and compassion whilst essentially still remaining me; light-hearted, irreverent and mischevious. I was empowered through taking this time to heal myself, learning a new skill and inviting in the Universal Life Force that runs through every single living thing. This course proved to be a marker in substantial improvement in my symptoms. To-date I still lay hands upon my heart and solar plexus chakra’s before sleep and recite the Reiki mantra as I remember it:
“Just for today; do not worry. Just for today; do not anger, Honour your parents, teachers and elders, Earn your living honestly and Show respect for every single living thing…”
A sterling psalm to live a good life by.
A turning point was also investing time to study Homeopathy, Bach Flower remedies and even Health Kinesiology. I say ‘study’ in fact I just paid to see several practitioners who proffered their expertise; for a fee! Of these I can now confirm that Homeopathy is a giant pile of poo. Though the old chap I saw for many years and paid heartily to landscape his back garden including a very handsome Pergola was extremely kind and caring. However the tiny ‘pillules’ I took with such reverence did absolutely fuck all. Healthy Kinesiology was if nothing else, extremely funny. Well, apart from the 35 quid I forked out. And to be told I was ‘sensitive’ to Cod, Raspberries and a whole list of other weird and wonderful things, by a woman with a questionable hairstyle as she touched both a box of vile’s and a pulse-point under my knee. Yeah; totally not falling for that shit; and no I won’t pay to have your window seat upholstered in Laura Ashley fabric. Bach Flower’s the jury’s still out on. I’ll still turn to Rescue Remedy during times of stress to ‘comfort and reassure’; yes I know it’s probably just the drop of brandy…
I was nearly 18 months down the line and whilst the physical symptoms had practically gone I was left with something much worse. Intrusive thoughts. A particularly insidious and emotionally damaging pitter-patter of fear-based worry. Negative scenarios played out in glorious HD and at full volume in your head. Prescriptive fear; carefully cultivated to affect you most. I mean you thought of it; you know what will cut the deepest. Mine was death. Illness, both my own and more particularly my children’s. I only had to hear a news story that fitted. Or be told of another’s symptoms and my very clever body would immediately join the party. My Father being diagnosed with MND was particularly difficult in more ways than one. So I once more had to search for a different source of help. This time I turned to counselling. Yeah, this didn’t work for me; and I tried more than one. In fact I can honestly say I ended up judging the person sitting in front of me and thinking I could advise myself better than they could. I felt that way each time; not entirely sure what that says about me! Silver lining, I saved money and gained personal empowerment!
The final leg of my journey involved two things. A book which changed my life. And a lady Hypnotherapist I saw only twice. The book is by Dr Claire Weekes; Self-help For Your Nerves. In desperate times if provides a wealth of practical advice and guidance. When not so desperate; many a giggle at it’s war-time sensibility. “Do not startle a sensitive woman. If this occurs remedy with sugary tea and smelling salts…” Okay that’s heavily fabricated but you get the idea. Do not be put off. It’s an incredible book and her teachings regarding anxiety are invaluable and DO work. A chance conversation whilst washing my hands in a public convenience led me to contact a female Hypnotherapist and two sessions with her and I finally had an understanding of what triggered everything off. I can’t speak with any authority about Hypnotherapy only that I was relieved to be told I wouldn’t actually be hypnotised (I literally feared being coerced into humping her hearth rug then appearing on You Tube). Instead I sat comfortably on a chair and listened to her voice and she took me on a journey. During this journey she asked me questions and I answered with the first thing that came into my head. Don’t get me wrong whilst trying desperately to concentrate only on her voice my mind was still wandering and I constantly questioned if I was ‘doing it properly’.
Whilst on this journey from birth to the present day I became aware of many points in my life which were traumatic to me. Small things to others perhaps, but pertinent to me and the type of person I am. Little things blew me off course. Bigger things took me in different directions to those that might have been better suited to me. And so life goes on. We deal with each chunk at a time. We assume it’s done and dusted. We shelve trauma, file away little upsets and are unaware that at some point our messy cupboard of life experience will need a clear out. Perhaps anxiety is a way of doing that. We’re drifting too far off course. A tidal wave will then sweep in and toss us off the tranquil boat we were sailing on and we must battle to get back on board and trust that we’re now travelling in the best direction for us.
The ultimate silver lining to Anxiety; certainly in my experience, is that an ‘episode’ usually precedes an exciting life change and positive movement toward something better. As if the brain has to shake up the mind and body; toss in some upheaval, instability, fear and reawaken you in preparation for the next phase of life. I have learned to never turn Anxiety away; instead I welcome it in, see it as a meaningful test of my mettle and relax into it’s ‘trial by symptom’. With each and every Anxiety examination that I endure and pass fear has dwindled and what I came to realise was that Anxiety without fuel (fear) is merely a transient unpleasant bodily sensation or sudden intrusive thought. It’s ironic how since I’ve unlocked my secret to dealing with Anxiety; the knowledge that it’s an irksome irritation to be dealt with periodically, as opposed to a hideous monster of doom, that it seems to bother me less and less.
Though I can recall instantly my first encounters and how my desperation to rid myself of it played straight into the depths of Anxiety hell. For Anxiety is a slippery fish; you’ll feel the need to deal with each and every symptom separately; a battle to be won. And with each victory, a new adversary will present itself, always playing upon your worst fears and so it will begin again. Another symptom to be fought and defeated. My secret is this. Remove fear. Invite it in. Surrender yourself to the heart attack and untimely death you fear, goad it, stand up tall and say ‘come on then, hurry the fuck up I’m bored of waiting so get on with it, I’m ready, bring it on!’. With those words the fuel is removed. A fire cannot keep burning without fuel. Our bodies cannot function without fuel. And Anxiety cannot overtake us without fuel. Remove the fear.
I have no medical knowledge, my words will not resonate with everyone’s experiences. I’m simply sharing mine. Thanks for reading.
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’!