Monday 11 May 2009
This is it. Game over. Stick a fork in ATP for another year, its done. And with it comes a certain sense of relief, as things do appear to have so unfortunately fallen flat on proceedings this year. Have we changed or has it? Have we been correct in our cynicism or are we now just grumpy old fun sponges?
It is with a painful back that I awaken this morning. Last night was another uncomfortable one spent lying on top of the duvet rather than inside it with Racton.
There appears to be a real urgency to getting the hell out of dodge this year. As is strange tradition people begin to set about cleaning the chalet before evacuating it. I have never been able to quite understand this ATP ritual. Surely Butlins are about to send in their foreign workforce to sterilize all the chalets so why risk insulting these people by doing their job for them? Surely by cleaning and tidying up our chalet before leaving we are basically sending out the message to the cleaners that “we can do your job better than you.”
As clear out the cupboards an entire unopened crate of Carlsberg cans appears. Jesus, was this the one that I bought from the Christmas ATP that was never touched then either? Suddenly it occurs to me that I barely touched the booze this weekend, what happened to me? When did I become such a lightweight fanny?
After exchanging hugs and saying our goodbyes we get out of Butlins just after 9AM – a new world record for us. It is another glorious and sunny day and the hope is that this will spur us onto a quick journey home and victory.
The first chink in the armour is how unbelievably the Tesco petrol station is not open this morning. The opposite of an influx is about to occur at the Butlins mere minutes away and they aren’t open for business? This is true local petrol for local people mentality in action.
Eventually a few miles down the road I manage to find a backwater petrol station. God only knows how much over the pound I paying for the fuel but today it feels essential. As I rummage through my pockets it is to discover that I have lost all the pound notes I thought I had and suddenly I am badgering Racton and Martin for money as the local approaches our car. If I don’t have any money for petrol is he going to murder us Deliverance style?
Soon our transaction is made and when he asks me if I need a VAT receipt and I respond “no” the man looks elated to be placing the pounds into his pocket rather than the till. One for you, one for me.
The journey out of dodge feels an urgent and essential one this year. Get as far away from ATP as possible. And this isn’t so easy when Somerset appears to last forever and there is no sign of any motorways on the horizon.
Eventually after what feels like over an hour we are eventually back on a real road driving at a real speed. Despite the subdued fear of never escaping the wrath of ATP spirits in the car are amazingly high and with Martin heading to the Sony Awards this evening for the Answer Me This best podcast nomination it feels like our lives are more exciting back in civilisation.
As the overpriced crude oil petrol begins to dwindle our bellies begin to rumble and the premise of breakfast suddenly represents a genius concept. After already passing a number of services signs we eventually plump for the Leigh Delamere services.
This place is heaven at this time and after looking around at the healthy options on offer we all end up plumping for Burger King for breakfast. Not for the first time in my life I head for Texican and wind up spending almost £8 on something not quite gourmet but no less tasty. That said I do feel that I am currently experiencing diminishing returns each time I chew and swallow one of these burgers as with each step closer to heart complications it is inevitably causing, satisfaction is no longer guaranteed as the foodgasm gets smaller.
While eating we suddenly spot Henry Owings of Chunklet turn up at the same services along with the guitar player from Part Chimp. After we being followed by rockstars, stalked in reverse?
As I flick through the Daily Sport just before hitting the road it doesn’t really amuse anyone when I suggest the lady in the newspaper looks like my mum.
Already preparing to pay a horribly inflated price for petrol I make the schoolboy error of picking a super unleaded pump. Undaunted I stick some of that fucking stuff in my tank with view to it helping us get home that much quicker. While I stand in the shop waiting to pay I look over at my car to witness some impatient twat already trying to get fuel from the pump we’re at. His efforts prove futile and when I get into my Focus I take great joy/delight in taking me time in pulling away.
The drive home is a good one, this year we are doing motorways all the way and the mistakes of the Christmas ATP and the loser route of back roads is soon forgotten about. On the journey we discuss the entire A to Z of the London comedy scene.
Just after midday we reach Caterham and I drop Racton and Martin off. Even though it is a true relief to get this weekend out of the way, this is always a solemn moment as I take up the remainder of the journey on my own.
Despite my general distaste for driving I do really enjoy tearing loose on motorways and playing the game of judgement of the road and taking pleasure in breaking the 100mph barrier whenever it is possible. Every year after ATP now I seem to do the final leg from the M25 to home on my own. As the journey heads towards Dartford now annually I panic about having money for the toll (the tunnel heading home), cheer when I see the sign marking Essex and by the time I am leaving the M25 to get on the A12 thoughts of home always begin to feel within grasp.
The A12 presents something of an obstacle today, for some reason after a relative clear run of proceedings despite the road having the reputation of being the domain/home of nutter drivers today I am the person being held up. Are there speed traps? I don’t see any.
Eventually I pull into Colchester around 2.30PM. On the way I pop into the Sainsburys at Stanway to pick up some essentials and comfort food – the post ATP blues are now royally kicking in as everything begins to get quiet as sobriety and clarity returns.
As I perform the most minimal and male of shopping – chocolate cereal, The Sun, milk and fizzy drinks I see an “old flame” in the form of a girl called Jackie. This is the girl that once blew me out for a date to go see Forrest Gump (I said old flame) and who also later blew me out the day that I smashed my car up listening to “Father To A Sister Of Thought” by Pavement on the week before Christmas. The last time I saw her I believe was when I was unemployed and then too was just before Christmas as she showed me her idiot/devil spawn along with her dense husband (also an accountant). At such a delicate time for me emotionally, this is not what I want to be seeing and these are not the memories I want to be feeding on. Luckily she doesn’t see or recognise me or if she does she opts out of acknowledgment. Then again I do do a pretty astounding job of keeping my head down.
It is bliss getting back to Bohemian Grove today. Outside the sun is still shining and when I pull into our complex car park it is dread and truly/genuinely peaceful. I really wish I spent more time at this place during the day, even if the places are a bit too small the court in general is a nice quiet place to be.
During the journey home Tropic Thunder came up in conversation and this afternoon I have it recommended to me that I should watch it in order to keep out of the mind funk. I do so and find myself unmoved. The movie is OK but not outstanding. Everyone raves about Tom Cruise’s performance and it is good, especially for him acting so out of character, but again it’s not great. The true excitement for me in the movie lies in the appearance of Bill Hader from Saturday Night Live. Ultimately I barely pay it the minimal of mind.
In the evening I head over to the olds at Balkerne Heights to snag some dinner and for the dog to cheer me up. There my parents ask me about the weekend but what happens at ATP stays at ATP and they can tell from my motions that it wasn’t a great one.
Just before heading home I watch a Halloween episode of South Park in which Cartman’s costume is Hitler! This is still some really funny stuff.
Eventually when I get home I sleep easy.