Return From The Dark Side
of The Moon
Imagine the scene. All other pitches in the market area have packed up and gone leaving mounds of discarded rubbish strewn across the whole area. Marauding, menacing looking gangs reminiscent of some sci-fi nuclear holocaust movie picking over every pile searching for scraps of food or anything of any value. Richard, Rosie and Arsewipe (the 3 “R”s?) sitting in an extremely overloaded van that’s going nowhere in the middle of this desolation. The sound system and the majority of the catering equipment have left the exhaust literally millimetres from the ground.
Prior to the departure of the rest of the crew a call has been made to the AA using a Bendy membership card and secure in the knowledge that they are going to attend everyone leaves at staggered intervals with cheery goodbyes and a “see you back in the bubble”.
2 hours later a mechanic arrives in a truck obviously far too small to transport the groaning Mercedes and declares that the problem cannot be resolved in situ. Rosie breaks down in tears for the first of many occasions to follow over the next 2 days. The AA man looks a trifle embarrassed and reassures her that the Bendy yellow card she holds in her newly acquired role as Miss Reckitt (hope she spells the name right when she has to sign)will get us all home when he has arranged for a suitable sized transporter to come and tow us off. After calling base and describing the load to be collected, including the state of the suspension he departs leaving the 3 of us sitting in the van in the rain wondering what to do next.
We have the added problem of a shortage of battery life on all three mobiles we have in our possession but Arsewipe discovers a bonus number of credits on a SIM from a phone that had been left in the Café and it fits his phone. We settle for a long wait and Arsewipe goes on a recce for coffee and food leaving myself and Rosie to contemplate our situation and wonder how far the others have managed to travel and whether it has occurred to anyone that we might have been better off if someone had waited to ensure that we got away OK.
Arsewipe returns with three pints of coffee in Budweiser cups minus sugar so we search for the pot of honey that we remember packing near the end. No joy finding it though so those that like their coffee sweet have to take it bitter on this occasion. The least of our worries really. Meanwhile Rosie had stumbled across our till, empty bar receipts, that had been stolen from our K hole the previous night momentarily brightening an otherwise indescribably dark mood that had settled upon us.
After a couple of miserable hours sitting in the rain watching the litter pickers and the dismantling of the massive marquees that stood at either end of the arena we at last get a call from the AA which Rosie answers as Miss Reckitt. As soon as the call is over she is in tears again. Between sobs she manages to tell us that the AA have refused to transport our van as it is far too overloaded. Things are going from bad to worse, or as Paul put it in a later phone call, “turning from a complete nightmare into a daymare”.
We sit, all of us in post festival come down, pondering our next move. I think it must have taken us over 5 hours to come up with a possible solution in that we unload the van to the point where it is no longer over capacity, get the AA back to take us in a legal condition and get a fresh (blissfully ignorant) driver from Kent to brave the Cornish traffic and come to fetch Arsewipe and the remaining equipment (Rosie and myself gallantly offering to travel with the sound system thus ensuring its safe passage). This decided we duly call the AA who assure us that if they return and the van remains overloaded they will immediately turn around and leave us again. We find an abandoned mobile home and proceed to unload all the catering equipment until the van ceases to resemble a sitting dog.
Another call comes through on the AA hotline informing us that they will not be attending until the following morning resulting in another flood of tears from our Bendy impersonator. We try to settle for the night with Rosie on the bed in the mobile home, Arsewipe across the front seats of the van and me on a makeshift bed constructed from the box of leads, a couple of wet pillows from the ground outside the caravan and backdrops forming substitute sheets and blankets in the back of the van, all of us determined that the rig will not meet the same fate as the till the night before.
During the night, at roughly the same staggered intervals at which they had departed, calls came through from the people who had successfully navigated the horrendous traffic out of Cornwall and arrived at their respective destinations. Everyone expressed their commiserations at our predicament but tones of unwillingness were detected from all with regards to exerting any effort after their arduous journeys to undertake any determined effort to alleviate our situation. Presumably they all settled for the night at home and safe in their own beds.
The allotted time for the AA mechanic to arrive (8.00 am) arrives and passes without any sign of a recovery vehicle and Rosie is getting very close to hysterical. At about 9.10am we receive a confused call from him saying that he can’t find us where he left us. This is because we had managed to drive the van (stuck in 3rd gear) near to the exit in order to unload into the caravan. After finding him and directing him to our new location he says that he his only there to tow us off the site and it will be that evening before we even attempt to leave Cornwall. Cue floods more tears from Rosie who appears to be teetering on the edge of a complete breakdown. A call from Paul in the middle of trying to hook up the van to the winch gives me the perfect opportunity to hand the job of support worker/mental crutch over to
him by giving the phone to Rosie.
We discover that Shaun, having only landed back in Kent the previous night, proposes the return journey to The Lizard in order to retrieve Arsewipe and the hired equipment which is due back to the hirers on the Monday. We marvel at his commitment to the cause and pray that he will make it OK. The van successfully loaded on the back of the transporter we bid Arsewipe our goodbyes leaving him with our entire stock of bread rolls and honey and set off in the cab of the lorry to sunny Falmouth for a 2 and 1/2 hour wait for it to be loaded on the vehicle which will be journeying to Kent via Salisbury to drop off a Metro with collapsed suspension. After departing at around 1.00pm we pick our way through the tiny country lanes of Cornwall in an attempt to avoid the worst of the traffic until we finally arrive at a country mansion on the edge of the New Forest with a teenage party in full swing to drop off the Metro and our four young travelling companions.
11 Hours after our departure from the recovery depot we eventually arrive back at the Mansions at around midnight hardly able to believe the endurance of our driver who is readying himself to return to Cornwall to collect another unfortunate breakdown victim and ferry him safely home to Liverpool. We unload the equipment then at last we are able to make our weary way to sleep in comfort for the first time in well over a week. Cabbaged Café was a blast, the return journey a fucking nightmare but how glad are we that we undertook what we now realise was a vastly ambitious project. Love and respect to all who came together to make it possible.