A chuffin' good rally.
14th - 16th March. 2008
Ten years ago we moved our rally from the Cheshire border down to the banks of the River Severn. Just like the ten years previous, we were sitting there on the Thursday night before the rally planning, or as near to planning as we ever get, the coming weekend's events. It was in the midst of this that we got the phone call. Not a phone call we were expecting. It seemed our long time friend, and ex club member, Bucka, had been found dead. Bucka was one of those who was there when we first moved to our current rally site, and he liked the place as much the rest of us did.
Ah - happy times.
Friday saw me loading the dog kennel up all ready for the off. Most of the rally equipment had been picked up by John and Wendy earlier in the week. I suppose one of the snags with my new job is the smaller van - I couldn't fit the bits and bobs we needed in it. The weather, although a tad on the grey side, was surprisingly mild. I didn't even bother with hat or gloves on the way down. With precise timing, I got there just as most of the work had been done - so nothing new there then, I hear you say.
The road from the pub to the field had grown a few larger speed bumps. Large enough to catch my brake servo on the way in. I really must do something about that one of the days - the servo that is, not the speed bumps. In normal Moonshiner fashion, we had the free tea and coffee making facilities on the go, along with our monster cobs, available in ham, and cheese and onion. We're too good to you lot sometimes. In another wonderful piece of timing, the Severn Valley Railway had only just got the line back open as far as Bridgnorth, following the tracks being washed away in the torrential rain of last Summer. I took a wander up the pub later in the evening, and noticed there was a tribute to Bucka in the lounge. This took the form of the English flag, with a few choice words and a rather dodgy photograph of the fellow himself. Most fitting, if I may say so.
Having almost fainted at the price of the beer - can't you just tell I don't drink very often these days - I made my way back to the control tent and proceeded to inflict awful acoustic torture on all those who came within earshot. A Ukulele can be a dangerous thing, should it fall into the wrong hands who knows what might happen ? John and Adam seemed to be intent on getting a red hot stick from the fire - I had a horrible feeling they were planning on sticking it somewhere I wouldn't like 'em to stick it . . . . . but despite that, I kept on playing. ( Then crept off to bed ).
Most folks took advantage of the re-opened railway on the Saturday morning, and headed off into Bridgnorth. I suppose it's one of the things that make our rally "different". A real live steam train, that goes to a town full of pubs that sell real ale. More like a recipe for disaster than a rally attraction. I headed off in a different direction, with the words of the nice man on the radio ringing in my ears. To sum it up, he said "Make the best of this morning, because it's going to rain this afternoon." " Rain with a vengeance, until at least Sunday dinnertime." and do you know what ? The bugger was right. Before the vengeful rain descended, I had managed to pick up a passenger on the trike. A fellow who managed to set his bike on fire earlier in the day. This person will remain nameless, but just for now, we'll call him "Andy". Andy and myself got back to the rally site just as the rain started, which was rather fortunate, 'cos it never stopped until late Sunday morning.
Of course, with all the rain, we just had to have some nice mud.
Come rain, mud, Hell and High Water - nothing stops a determined Moonshiner. Once again I tormented people in the control tent. This time, my weapon of choice was the Banjo. What a terrible dilemma - do you stay in the warm, dry tent and suffer my version of "Whiskey in the jar" - or do you risk going out into the cold, dark, wet night ? A suitable compromise would have been to throw me out into the cold, dark, wet night, and huddle round the now cheerfully blazing Banjo, but folks can't think straight when they are drunk. If nothing else, the rain appreciated my music for it came down by the bucketful, just to hear me play. Even the pub wasn't safe. By that I don't mean that I went and played there, I mean the rain found its way in through various holes in the roof. Quite a few tents leaked in, and quite a few bikes didn't want to start in the morning. One particular bike didn't want to start, but not because of the rain, it was due to the rider losing his keys. Of course, it just had to be a bloody Moonshiner didn't it ? Don't worry, your secret's safe with us. After applying the universal ignition key - which oddly enough is hammer shaped, with a kind of screwdriver shaped bit, we got the bike started. What's the betting the keys turn up - probably packed away somewhere ? Speaking of packing away - that's all that was now left to do. We'd already been round the field with our "tidy bags", like an army of rather damp, squelchy Wombles, and no litter survived our mass onslaught. The next victim was the control tent - at least the rain had now stopped.
I'm afraid I can't comment on who won what, regarding both trophies and raffle prizes, for the simple reason I never ventured into the pub on Saturday night, but that's me - a miserable old bugger at the best of times . . . . and with that comforting thought, I'll bid you farewell, until the next time.