Friday: We arrived at Stanford Hall at around 7.30pm
after a very pleasant drive. By a strange twist of the average colon,
we again find ourselves camped on the union street and this time
with the drum major at the end where AJ’s tent should have been.
Now last year this was a mistake, although quite frankly this is
my 3rd trip to this venue and we have always been on this spot!
This event is not Cassandra’s favourite and also used to coincide with
her birthday, so just for the hell of it we told BJ that Cassandra was
not going to be there. We also told her that the croquet set was
at home…hee…hee. While BJ stressed about croquet we pulled Cassandra
out of Lazarus’s top hat to amazed gasps of the street!!!
Saturday: Just after breakfast a most eccentric individual
wandered into our street looking for Prof. Grymm. This was Joshua
Norton, better known to those who have heard of him as Norton
1st Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico. My
interest in this incredible individual was triggered by a throw-away
comment in CSI, this in turn triggered a somewhat dusty memory and
this then lead me to write an article for the Alamo on Norton I.
If that is not enough synchronicity for you, I started the article
on 8th January without realising that Norton died on 8th January
1880!!! I was channelling a wonderful Victorian who also bore enough
resemblance to Laz for me to convince him, in that convincing charming
way I have, that he really should play the Emperor. And play him
he did in the most amazing manner. And so ACWS had an emperor. When
we went to see Stuart at the hospital his eyes almost popped at
the similarity between Laz and Norton – it really is uncanny. In
fact the whole thing was so uncanny that it went over the Board’s
head like the ghost of a giraffe’s bottom cough.
The Emperor inspected the troops; made AJ the Duke of Texas and
then I escorted him for the day. It was really wonderful to do something
different for a change. After our wander, during which West
Point Sutlers became a ‘by Royal appointment’ establishment
after presenting Norton I with another walking stick, we went over
for Colours; that ancient institution during which things are said,
unsaid, reorganised and a man shall lose his hammer and the thingee
that fits…while Norton was standing in plain view of the Board,
he was oddly invisible to them.
In the afternoon we had a game of croquet;
‘we’ as in Cassandra, Jackie, the Emperor and yours truly. Like
so many people, my knowledge of this enigmatic game is taken from
‘Alice’ and I can now say from experience that it is a very enjoyable
and competitive sport. Mind you we were also playing on a ‘lawn’
where the ball was slowed, or even stopped in the mini equivalent
of the Pampas. Jackie played very well, even though she kept forgetting
her extra shot, Norton played heroically and won, as royalty should,
while Cassandra and the Prof battled for 3rd and 4th places.
After the match Jackie had a brilliant idea that would solve the
rough grass problem once and for all: Kyle and Firebug were handed
a pair of scissors each and set lawn mowing duties by Montana…What
a sight as the grumbling lads clipped at the rough grass with their
pathetic blades! Well done, lads!
While we sat and enjoyed a well earned rest – tough game, croquet
– BJ arrived with a parcel from our surgeon, who is on leave this
weekend. The package was for Cassandra and was her birthday present.
Big Mick, as Lord Tiberius De’Ath, had been very secretive
this weekend about a prize trophy. I couldn’t get any info out of
him but it was at last revealed. Lord De’Ath had shot a moose of
such utter cuteness and fluffocity that it was almost a shame that
it had met such an end! It is rather strange where we can have a
cuddly animal skin for a kid’s room but not the real thing, no matter
how hard we try we just can’t get away from that hunter gatherer
ancestor – funny old world innit! At one point Mick draped the thing
over his head and shoulders and in the firelight seemed to take
on the persona of some ancient woodland god – complete with fluffy
At last the moment so many people had waited for arrived – The
Grymm Tooms Picture Co presented another successful magic lantern
show which included ‘The Beast of Berkeley’. Great fun was
had by all and it was really great to see so many people lugging
their chairs over to watch that show. And what was the Beast of
Berkeley?? You’ll just have to watch the show to find out…..
Sunday: It was hot early on and the day got progressively
hotter as it went on until you could fry a moose in a biscuit tin…speaking
of which…Mick brought out his trophy, so we took lots of pictures
of it attacking our camp.
I set up my stuff but I must say I wasn’t going to hold my breath
for the punters to turn up, but I persevered in the searing heat.
The American photographer who we met last year wanted to interview
me but “because the light was wrong…” wanted me to move my stuff
and I didn’t want to – fame doesn’t have the same appeal to me as
it did years ago. Nia came up with a new name for ‘The Club that
Killed Captain Cook’ – ‘The Club that Dude who Got Hit on
the Head With’.
All in all the only real heat damage was to a member on Saturday
and poor Andy had to spend most of his day at the hospital with
the guy. It was also great that Stuart went around with lots of
Gatorade glucose stuff. It was also Firebug’s first battle and he
did a damn good job with the battle flag – well done.
Postscript: Just as we reached the M11 the car gave a wobble
and a lurch and Lazarus pulled over to the hard shoulder, I got
out and had a look around. The right front tyre was flatter than
a road kill, and we had just had a bloody lucky escape! I didn’t
particularly want to think what the consequences could have been
had we been in the middle lane. As it was we were still in a very
dangerous position, having pulled up not far from a bend. Fortunately
Lazarus had a hazard sign which he set up well behind us so that
on coming traffic would see us. And then the waiting began. Finally
about an hour later, we were rescued and towed off the motorway
by the motorway rescue guys, only this was not the homeward journey
that we were hoping for.
We were taken to the Chigwell Works Unit, there the J
B Hood was looked over and then we were taken to a waiting room,
a plain white porta-cabin type thing with a table, some chairs and
a bug zapper. We had to explain to the engineer that Lazarus was
not drunk and always walked like that. After the paper work we were
left to contemplate our surroundings. The windows were wired over,
and apart from a few magazines that included Woman’s Weekly – how
surreal is that – and the odd dead, or crippled moth that was about
it. I couldn’t help thinking that we were in an interrogation room
from an alien abduction scenario and I wondered how quickly I could
cut an exit with my Swiss Army Knife.
Another hour passed, at last the
AA turned up but he was just checking things over. We opted
to sit in the car; none of us could face that cabin again, at least
this way we could get some shut eye. We didn’t have a clue where
we were, the place looked like some sort of government research
unit. Trucks with lots of flashing amber lights came and went, in
fact the whole place had an X-Files/Man in Black feel to it and
no doubt tomorrow we would wake up naked in the Atacama Desert holding
Our rescuer finally turned up at nearly 2.30am; even he had problems
trying to find the place. Getting Lazarus up into the cab was interesting.
Having survived the motorway and acute boredom I was now at risk
of being crushed by my friend as I helped him up the steep steps.
We finally arrived home at 03.00 and not 21.30 as we had hoped!
Post-post-script: Lazarus’s car was named the J B Hood,
not so much from sentiment but for the fact that over the years
it has cost him ‘an arm and a leg’ in repairs…as they say!
Post-post-post script: The Atacama
Desert is in South America and is possibly the hottest, most
bum searing place on earth.
This is Professor Leonidas Grymm...signing out...