I have just returned from an entertaining night away camping with my work colleagues.
Camping, when I think of it means country side, waking to birdsong or perhaps a bubbling brook or gently breaking waves, not any more. Now when I think camping I'll think of the dawn chorus of the clattering old diesel engines of the resident labourers as they all go on their way at 6am, I'll also remember the constant and consistent roar of tyres on the M25 which was only a drive and a six-iron away.
This place looked like the last stand of the gypsies. Those silver streaked caravans with a transit van outside every one. Scrap iron and barking dogs. One, I assume he was the gypsy King, had a big articulated caravan called a Big Horn, I couldn't decide if he was parked next to a skip or it was his hot-tub. Still, once it got dark, and as long as we all faced the other way into the field opposite, the one with the buzzing pylons, then it wasn't so bad.
We built a fire, put someones carelessly insecure old wardrobe on it that burnt an attractive greeny blue flame which suggests it was dangerously toxic and sat around boozing and telling daft stories.
Best joke of the night goes to Miss Hardy-Annual (names have been changed to protect the innocent)
" There was this farmer with a talking sheepdog, he says to it, go out and round up the the sheep, it says rrr-ok then-rrr, an hour later its back and says to the farmer rrr-thats that done, there was 40 of them-rrr, thats funny says the farmer, this morning there was only 38, the dog says rrr-you told me to round them up-rr" Boom,Boom.
One of the activities was to go on off road Segways through a forest, organised gamely by Mrs Wall-Banger. First time on a Segway, I've got to say, their brilliant. Its the first machine I've ridden that actually feels like an extension of yourself, its intuitive, reactive, can be deceptively quick and seems like such a simple thing. Never mind for a moment the fact that the man that owned the company fatally drove one off a cliff, they must be hard to fall off considering none of us did.
The drive home was a nightmare only partly because I was navigating. My issue was the little blue ball on my phones google maps app was not keeping up with the car, therefore I kept missing turnings, still, its fun driving through Piccadilly Circus at the weekend. It did give us time for some interesting conversation.
Miss Hardy-Annual and I were having a discussion where we both concurred that the fossil record discovered to date only accounts for about 10% of beasts that were thought to exist in that time. Mr Marcus from Eldorado asked, fairly at first, "how do they know?", well they just do was my reply, a little pathetically. Well, its the like of you , he says, bandying about unfounded stats that accentuates our lack of understanding, or something like that anyway. First of all, I replied, I don't think me mentioning it to three friends in a VW Polo is bandying it about. Maybe if I'd painted it on the side of a big blimp and floated it through London, tethering it to the Natural History Museum, or perhaps even just borrowing a million or so pounds from the bank and commissioning my own radio show devoted to the 10 % of the fossil record discovered, I would call it, Hardly Any Fossils FM, that might have been bandying it about. I then apologised for not being more knowledgeable on the subject, and its unfortunate I did not do that degree in Paleontology that I almost certainly would have done if only I had anticipated this very discussion was to happen 25 years in the future. That seemed to settle that and we returned to playing Pub legs, which I won after spotting Horse and Hounds and The Three Famous Kings, only a little more than 10% of my smugness was evident.
Now, a reeking rant. What is undoubtedly the biggest risk to public civility the developed world has ever seen?
It has the where with all to turn the most mild mannered soul into a Michael Douglas Falling Down, Postal nut job capable of the most unspeakable tut tuts.
I am speaking of people wearing backpacks on public transport. Now, this is an environment where each lucky commuter in London has one square foot of floorspace to inhabit for the hellish duration of his journey, be it bus, tube, train or whatever.
Now imagine that, while the fellow next to you carries an aggressive little midget on his back, one that likes to kick and punch every passing thing, taking special delight in knocking your hot coffee, or bumping the book from your hand so that it falls on the floor and loses the page, not that that matters because you, the reader, is never going to be able to pick it up and see it again, oh no, not when your standing in an effectual one square foot, 6ft high box. These midget bearing bulldozers have the spatial awareness of a delusional bulimic bull in the proverbial china shop, they have no idea how much space they are hogging.
Now that I have saddled and successfully mounted a high horse, I have to say something about electric mobility scooters.
These are taking over our pavements, once a safe place to peruse and perambulate. I once got stopped by the police for riding my bike down Dunblane High Street, very gently and carefully on the pavement. Nowadays I could career down it at up to 12 mph in an electric vehicle about the same weight and pedestrian friendliness as an Aga oven.
The folks that drive them have mobility problems, though regular readers may remember a previous reek about them mostly being lazy, but if they do have mobility issues, its just as likely its a meagerness of mental mobility they suffer, hence the car keys being taken off them, as well as the remote control for the telly and any matches.
After a quick afternoon of research I discovered mobility scooters have caused one pedestrian casualty in the UK, a poor 90 year old woman gamely trying to walk somewhere on a pavement with her legs before being mowed down by a reckless young mobility scooterist in his 70s, probably high on Werthers.
Another case I read about was a little 2 year old being run over and caught up in the wheel arches as the criminally immobile pilot callously ploughed on towards the post office or wherever. The child, I expect, making the same whirring sounds we used to get when we shoved plastic cartons under the mudguards of our bikes to make them sound like TT Racers.
Last thing, its raining which means brolley wars will have begun. Remember the midgets on the backs of passengers in tube trains, well when it rains they climb on to peoples heads and try and jab peoples eyes out with knitting needles, having an erect umbrella these days is more a defense against this than anything weather related.
Lang may yer lum reek.