by Gar Cole
The weekend of the Gloucester show was now upon me and I had failed miserably in my attempts to get both my booked display vehicles to the show. The Minor was off the road with a snapped leaf spring and burst tyre, despite my best efforts the classic 59 caravan I'm restoring also wasn't completed, needing a full repaint. I resigned myself to taking the modern car and caravan and our new Gazebo, but more of that later.
I arrived at RAF South Cerney around 7.30pm in howling wind and rain, the miserable and unhappy security officer with water droplets dripping off her nose refused to let me and others in as they were overwhelmed by new arrivals, but after half an hour of traffic chaos we were finally allowed into the car club camping area.
I set up pitch not far from Fat Bloke and organiser Mike Peake, Kev Thompson and a work mate of Mikes who had managed to pitch together. After pleasantries were exchanged we headed off for a circuit of the show arena to see what was there. It took the best part of an hour in the darkness but it soon dawned on us this was going to be a whopper of a show.
FREAKY FRIDAY 😱
Friday started off normal enough, I was awoken by a knock on the caravan door to say breakfast was cooking in Mikes abode. Very nice it was too, and the 4 of us made our way over to the group pitch to set up the gazebo and cars before the Muggles " sorry Public" started to arrive.
This was easier said than done as within 10 mins we were distracted by tractors, lorrys, military giants, vintage race cars and steam engines all heading for their respective areas. Finally we got our old 10ft smokey gazebo erected, but what of the posh new red 20ft gazebo I'd told you about before, I hear you ask? Well despite it being ordered from Germany 2 weeks beforehand, it's delivery date was between the Wednesday and Friday just before this show. It hadn't come by Thursday afternoon so I had to take our old one which isn't much good - in fact it was swaying ominously in the breeze from the start.
We had been joined by Mike's 2 daughters Sophie and Emily and we walked a tour of the show with them, via the bar tent of course, well it was 12pm at this point! Friday is the quietest day of the 3 and it became obvious with our extra members arriving that evening our wee gazebo wasn't upto the job. I'd received a text from my sister to say the new gazebo had been delivered that morning so with it only being just over an hour back to Birmingham I decided to go and fetch it while Mike and the others "manned the stand".
Did I say an hour? 3 hours later I arrived home after getting stuck in horrendous Friday afternoon M5 traffic. Pleased to be out of the car I bounded into the house to grab the gazebo before trying to get back to the show before others arrived around 6pm. My sister Sue then proceeds to hand me the box that had been delivered; it was no more than 20 inches square and weighed about the same as pair of shoes! I took a deep breath and exclaimed. "Are you seriously telling me you think this small box contains over 20ft of canvas and 16 metal poles, feet and pegs? " 'Hmmm' she replied, 'Have you ordered something else as well then?' " Does it matter if I've ordered 50 other items, it's pretty bloody obvious this isn't a full size gazebo" I wailed. Upon opening the box it turned out to be the small portable toilet I'd ordered for the 59 caravan.
Feeling my hands starting to form the "Strangle" position I contemplated 20 years in prison for murder on the grounds of temporary insanity, but instead I settled for calling her a 'Dozy mare ' and drove back to Gloucester in another 3 hours of traffic minus a gazebo and grinding my teeth the whole way. A 160 mile round trip for nowt! I arrived back on site and relayed my tale of woe several times to much laughter.
At this point Ian Woodward and Bernard Owen had arrived and my spirits were immediately lifted as Ian gave me a klaxton horn for my Moggy, then a drink was placed in my hand and I started to calm down as everything would be quiet now I was on site ... wouldnt it?
Now parked next to Mikes caravan were a couple in their tent, with a modern Mondeo with a trailer that was carrying their lovely blue MGB. They had unloaded it and parked it between the Mondeo and Mikes caravan. I had chatted briefly with them and they seemed nice enough, they jumped into the MGB and went for a ride to the local supermarket to get supplies.
No more than 5 mins later Phil Allin and Paul Cheetham arrived, Paul in his Mini and Phil pulling his modern caravan with his P5B, before I could say anything Phil pulled into the smallish gap left by the MGB, I pointed out to him and Mike that a car was there previously and the returning campers might not be happy. This was met with a coordinated shrug of shoulders so I piped down but I could hear that old song in my head " There may be trouble ahead, but while there's moonlight and music, and love and romance, lets face the music, and dance ".
just as the Merlot was starying to flow freely the MGB couple returned and the wife transformed into Cruella DeVille, saw Phils caravan and loudly shouted out the window " What T*** has parked in OUR space? " Now Phil is an easy going gent and calmly said it was his van but there was no need for unpleasantness as there was loads of room at the front or back of their tent to park the MG.
She was having none of it and continued to berate Phil for his selfishness at parking so close to their Mondeo that she couldnt even open the door to get in it (exaggeration ). Now at this point a remarkable transformation took place, even more impressive than Clark Kent into Superman. Mike lept to his feet and transformed into Jack Reagan. I've never seen Mike angry before but the Sarfff London accent came to the surface as he said " Oiiiiii, shut up, I'm a fat bloke and I can fit between the caravan and your Mondeo, give me the keys and I'll move it for you".
Now the husband who had remained quiet in the MG until now shouted out the window "You couldnt get a fag paper down that gap " to which Reagan ( sorry I mean Mike ) responded with a stern "Shut it!". The husband did as he was told and kept quiet, but not before Cruella rounded on Mike and got in his face saying " Dont underestimate me cause I'm a woman and small. I'll put you on your ar*e sunshine" somewhat bemused Mike walked off saying " anytime, I look forward to it " .
The rest of us watched all this drama unfold almost with our hands over our eyes, she stormed off to her tent loudly threatening to bash her car door into Phils caravan, after a few minutes an uneasy calm and silence decended as the adrenaline started to wear off. It seemed a good a time as any so I loudly exclaimed in a sarcastic voice to the rest of the guys, " I TOLD YOU SO ".
Cruella wasnt quite finished with us yet and continued to rant in a loud voice from her side of Phils caravan that we must be a car club and thats why they dont join them because its full of idiots, but her quote of the day was "They must be used to being crammed together in close proximity, bloody council estate scum". This reduced us to fits of laughter which rather took the wind out of her sails and she remained quiet for the rest of the evening, however her insult has now stuck with the group and we took great delight in calling each other Council estate scumbags at every opportunity. Her snobbery was so blatant you couldnt take the old battle axe seriously.
Part 2 " Slightly soggy Saturday and Superb Sunday " to follow soon.
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