The Dart team’s out of season trip to Southport
There was 15 of us, all looking forward hopefully to sampling the Lancashire ales and lassies, as we climbed into the battered old AEC Regal coach – and set out for the ‘Gladstone Pub’ Darts Team Annual Outing – this year, a weekend stay at Southport.
As seemed traditional, we got lost on the way there, and our ETA of 1800hrs, was actually 2100hrs at the hotel on the seafront road.
The place was deserted, not a single person in sight, apart from our motley crew, as we exited the warmth of the bus, out into the, oh so cold wind blowing in from the sea, and we each grabbed our luggage and ran into the hotel foyer.
We were dispersed in three bedrooms, five beds in each, and were soon washed, changed, and back down to meet the others in the foyer, ready and eager for the quenching of our need for ale, as we hurriedly (it was getting late, and the pubs there closed at eleven) walked into the centre of the city, to find a pub to sample.
After my fifth pint, I think our group were playing dominoes, or trying to, things get a bit fuzzy memory-wise, and the next clear but painful recollection was of the next morning.
I awoke, and was gripped by a panic; I could not open my eyes! As I moved to find the edge of the bed, I hit my head on something solid – now I was really confused… then one of the lads said (over the cheering of the other lads) “Hang on, hang on, Christ I’m sorry Inchy, I thought it was a tube of shaving lather…”?)
It seemed that I had opened the door of the wardrobe, and got my head down with my feet sticking out the night before, and one of the lads thought it would be an amusing prank, if he covered my face in shaving lather, but in his inebriated state, he thought the tube of my toothpaste was Palmolive shaving cream, and he covered my face in it, thus I could not open my eyes this morning when it had dried like concrete!
They were now concerned for my predicament, despite their hangovers, and took me into the bathroom, and dipped my head in and out of some hot water, until the toothpaste was soft enough to be picked off in lumps, much to their amusement. They managed to take off a third of my moustache at the same time!
We all decided it would be a good idea, to go for a bracing walk along the seafront road to help clear our heads, and so in a short while there we were, fifteen of ambling along the centre of the road, shuddering in the wind, with me bringing up the rear – when I noticed the lads in front split up to either side of the road, to reveal this little dog, belting though them, only to stop at me, and decided to have a chew of my ankle, much to the merriment of the lads! I still cannot work out why this beast should run passed fourteen lads, and twenty-eight ankles, to get to mine for his breakfast?
That being the last night there, we set out to enjoy the amenities on offer at the ale providing hostelries of Southport, not at that time concerned that we had foolishly arranged for the coach to pick us up at 0500hrs in the morning!
We then entered an amusement complex; There was a massive new machine, that for 2/6d (12.5p), one could test ones skills at trying to land Concorde. There was if I remember right, controls for speed, left right, up, down, braking etc. And a crude map of London to guide you in. A read-out was produced after the game was over, with estimated damage caused in cost and casualties.
A few of the lads had a go, and really made a mess off it, nearly all of them crashing on the landing. This caused the usual gambling instinct among them to come to the fore, and about eight of us put 10/- in the kitty, to go to the lad who had the least number of casualties, we assumed none of us would actually get to land the thing! (And we were right)
I went last, feeling sure I could do no worse than the others had, they produced end figures like, Cost: £1m Casualties: Deaths 75 Injuries 102.
The map, I thought was the secret, I had to use it to guide myself near enough to any airport, (the scenario chosen for me by the machine, was that the plane had to land within so many minutes of the game starting)
I espied a ‘Greenwich sign location early in the game, and tried, even when it was taken off the map, to keep an eye out for it at all times.
As the plane descended, there at the bottom corner of the screen I could see the word Greenwich again, and moved hastily in its direction, turned, and made what I thought was a spot on landing on it!
It turned out to be Greenwich Power Station! (They tell me that even if it was the airport, the landing strips were too short for the plane to land on anyway)
So, with a read-out of Cost: £150 billion (The machine could not record anything higher) Casualties: Deaths 500,000 Injuries 901,808, I did not win the bet.
Afterwards we split into little groups, and again I lose many facts of what occurred after that, again until the morning.
With much effort and pain, we slowly got ourselves up, after the coach driver had been allowed to come up to our rooms to offer us verbal and physical encouragement for us to get up!
As we assembled a sorry looking bunch indeed, it came to light that we were short of two bodies… Clive, and Frank. It later transpired that Clive was in local nick, and Frank was in hospital with something broken, after he’d apparently in his intoxicated revelry thought it a good idea to nick a ladder and decorate Queen Victoria’s statue, with a beer filled condom, and a bottle of Mackeson. His leg was broken in two places as he lost his balance and fell to the ground. The fool!
All I had was a part-missing moustache, a bloodied ankle, and a massive headache. So compared to some of the lads, I’d done well.
That was until it came to alighting from the coach, as I missed my footing on the steps, and joined Frank with a broken leg.
Hey-ho, young and impulsive I was… nowadays I’m just old and repulsive!