Monday, 20 December 2010

I'm Cold, So Here's a Little Story About a Summers Night in 1982

Let me take you back to the summer of 1982, an average sort of british summer, raging hot days mixed up with bouts of torrential rain.  Sarah was not born until December 1985, we had no children, we had no encumbrances, we were still young...ish,  and we were trying to make a living selling our wares at festivals and any other event we could hustle our way into.

Thats the background, now for the specifics...  the date was most likely 31st July, it may have been the day before, but that doesn't really matter. The place was Port Elliot, a stately home in St Germans in Cornwall.  The event was The Elephant Fayre, held in the grounds of said stately home. Headlining were Siouxie and the Banshees, John Cooper Clarke and the Albion Band  but that is irrelevant.  We were selling wooden badges and mobiles made by our own fair hands with designs relating to rainbows, clouds and raindrops and were trading under the name of Heavens Above.

Here, check out the prices!

Thats enough detail, I'm sure you've got the picture, just another early 80's music/arts festival attended by the usual suspects.  So we roll up there in our old Morris van, set out our stall and pitch our tent ready for a weekend of hopefully good trade. Port Elliot is a lovely spot on the River Tiddy...which is tidal, and we are set up on a slightly raised piece of ground on the edge of what was called the 'events area' along with quite a few other diverse traders. We were there for four days and we remember it as being busy because we were pretty much tied to the stall and didn't get about and see too much of the festival beyond our little space, not that you'd want to since when the tide came in the events area tended to get a bit damper than was comfortable and it was apt to get an ethereal sort of mist wafting over it from the river at dawn and dusk.

On the night that this story is about it was particularly damp probably because it had been raining most of the previous day. We had closed the stall down and gone to find food and drink and then settled down for the night in our tent which as I said was pitched on a bit of higher ground, next to a path which lead up to the main camping area but close to stall and van. Every good festival in those days was frequented by one chapter of another of Hells Angels, a few yards up the path from us were the Windsor Chapter with quite a nice bonfire lighting up the night. All in all, it was a quiet, uneventful night, until at about 3.00am when we heard a voice coming from the direction of the events area, at first a plaintive little cry of 'I'm cold' repeated a few times. Fair to say, 3.00am in the morning in a damp field in the mist at the end of July is probably going to feel a bit chilly. Well this twerp really wanted us to know about it, by 4.00am there were a few of us beginning to get the message loud and clear since he turned up the volume and the frequency of his mantra.  He was by now getting a few muted responses from various disgruntled campers. Then we heard the distinct sound of a tent being unzipped and the sounds of rummaging followed by heavy booted footsteps stomping past our tent accompanied by  grumbling along the lines of 'So you're cold are you.'

Spurred on by the prospect of an event in the 'events area' we ventured outside of our tent and into the mist. We couldn't see anything very clearly, it was still quite dark and the mist was pretty thick, but we could see a figure making it's way down toward the sound of the cold complainer and hear the heavy biker booted footsteps accompanied by the sloshing sound of fluid in a container. There is no denying it was cold, we got back into the tent. The cries of 'I'm cold' were still hanging in the air, accompanied by a lot of grumbly mutterings and the sound of fluid splashing on the ground. Shortly after that we became aware of a rather bright and flickery glow emanating from the events area, then more muttering and some more cries of 'I'm cold', then some slightly more irritated mutterings and a thump. After a short silence came the last utterance from the event area that night... 'I'm hurt'. Then we could hear the heavy biker booted footsteps and sloshing fluid in a container sound accompanied by chuckles returning to the campsite. A small ripple of applause could be heard from nearby tents and quiet laughter from the Angels camp fire.

Later on the sun rose, so did the mist, so did we come to that, and the Angels, and the few others that had been witness to the shenanigans in the night and there for all to see in the event area was a large circle of burned grass, at least 15 feet across. It attracted a surprising amount of attention through the course of the day. We denied all knowledge of its origins and listened to various theories of ancient pagan ritual around and within rings of fire which bought to mind events two years earlier which I will write about some other time, I only wrote this because whenever anyone says 'I'm cold' this is what I think of, you have no idea where a burning ring of fire will take me! Later that day we had a cup of campfire tea with the Angels who really were a nice bunch of chaps and as bad as it sounded, the hapless cold caller was never in any real danger, he just chose the wrong part of the event area if he was looking for sympathy, and was keeping the only Hells Angel that wanted to sleep awake! To my knowledge that was the only event to take place in the event area and quite a few people were a bit cheesed off that they must have missed something quite spectacular, as I said, we pleaded ignorance and all things considered we had a good weekends trading and some good free entertainment, albeit at 400am.

That's your lot, a little story with no politics, disability, carers, cuts, Xmas or autism. Normal service will be resumed soon, so make the most of it while I can only bring myself to write about my dodgy past...



  1. Oh Irene thank you for that! It's almost midnight as I write this and J's on the verge of settling aided with a dose of melatonin. Your story served to remind me that like you, I too once had a life. I'm not knocking the one I have as I love my boys to bits, simply heaving a sigh at things I used to have, a person I used to be. I'm also chuckling at your Hells Angels. My diminutive (and long since departed) Mum used to ride a motor bike in her twenties and never had any fear of stopping to chat to the aforementioned chaps in her later years! They were always very friendly and enjoyed chatting with her despite my best efforts to drag her away!

  2. 1982 - wow takes you back!
    Dont pop over to my blog as its all the things you mentioned yours isnt!!