Posted: July 1, 2012 in Chawn, The World Needs More Canada


Chawnstock. Chawnstock is an amazing word! The weekend the Chawn Youth goes camping. Camping! With the youth! A wonderful, potential-for-bruises cocktail! Which is why I went last time. And bad things happened. Well. Bad thing happened. I had an iPod.


I no longer have an iPod.


It’s Chawnstock time again, and I’ve been asked to accompany the youth, which is great! But it was with the youth that my replacement iPod picked up a terminal fracture, and that a stranger nicked my beautiful Avalon acoustic guitar. The combo of Chawnstock and the youth is deadly! but too exciting to pass up! And I am committed. Fully engaged in the power vacuum left by the emotional upheaval of former youth kingpin Pilgrim. I agree to go, and grab my borrowed acoustic guitar replacement.


It’ll probably be fine.


I join Malcolm’s family for some tender pork as he heads up the table, doing some Malcolm Business (or ‘Malcsness’) on his phone. This is quality meat, and a quality start to the weekend. I smile. It’s going to be fine. Absolutely fine.


Who was that, dear?”


That was Milla. He’s setting up the marquis and can’t find the pegs. They’re holding it together with rope; it’ll probably be fine.”


We finish tea and get into the car. Malcolm tunes into a hilarious radio show and we have a great drive. This weekend’s going to be brilliant.



Evening arrives, and the youth are watching a film in the marquis while I play my acoustic by the campfire. Old Boy Cris joins me, and sits in possibly mocking awe as I perform my new songs. Old Boy Cris smiles, and shows me his iPhone. He’s been recording the entire set. I smile, and play for another 4 hours. This weekend is class.



It is tomorrow, and I have just emerged from the youth marquis. It’s morning, and the weather’s a fantasy.


A good fantasy.


A slightly less good fantasy. Like having a curry with Jennifer Aniston in a swimming pool when you suddenly realise the water is John Terry. And that this isn’t a goal-line-clearance kind of curry.


Waking up in a hot tent’s my favourite thing about camping, and this is superb. The sun’s getting a tan and I’ve managed to successfully wear shorts. It’s a great start to any morning. Even a Thursday. We’ve had our morning session and I’ve played my guitar in the hilariously superfluous Sam Fryatt sound system. Now it’s doss time and Malcolm’s running a game. This is ace! I check out the HD panoramic midland vista as England’s hills roll with it. I take my time. The sky’s blue. Except for one cloud. One small cloud. The size of a mouse’s ashes. If mice played cricket. Which they may not.


There are some blurry streaming lines underneath it.


Have you seen that cloud, Dan?”


Malcolm’s clocked the cloud, and warns me that it’s nearly rain on. I thank him, and check my tent. The wind picks up, and I recall our lack of Pilgrimage. I decide to scout the youth marquis and ensure its’ rainproofness. I don’t mind the storm. This weekend’s going brilliantly, and without a bit of rain, well. Well, it just wouldn’t be British.


I reach the marquis, and my brain automatically pulls my phone out of my pocket. It seems to think that checking for texts is the most important thing at all times. Which of course it is. I have no new messages.








Someone’s thrown a marquis at my face! When they could have texted it! Hang on… they’re still throwing it. Wait, no! The marquis has lashed out at me! It has commenced violence! I fight the marquis with my face for a couple of seconds before my brain lets me put my phone away and use my hands instead. I’m confused! I didn’t expect any unexpected violence! This isn’t even the BRIT awards!


The marquis relaxes a bit. And I remember that a marquis is the most peaceful of all campsite creatures. This…. this was the wind’s doing!Which means… oh no!


I run inside, and open some wall flaps to relieve the pressure, and for just a moment the tent is stationary. I cast a cursory glance. And it is bad. John Terry is celebrating. I survey the superfluous Sam Fryatt sound system scrapyard and sigh. A speaker has been Ryu’d way downtown onto some folders, a guitar and a photograph of Richard Moss.


The photograph is unharmed.


I smile. And am not surprised. But the folders are everywhere! And the guitar is… hang on… the guitar… my guitar… my borrowed guitar…! is… decapitated! The wind picks up again, and the photograph of Richard Moss shakes like Scrappy Doo. I have to act now to save the rest of the equipment!


It is…. rain on.


I activate my emergency default action settings and conscript an army of youth to hold the marquis in place as the wind turns Canadian. Katie is thrilled. I don’t think she knows there isn’t a laundromat in this field.


Dan, it’s just like in Stoughton!”


I wince. The poor girl is probably picturing an ocean of laundromats all around us, playing poker with stolen statues or other not-like-Chawn-youth things. I am in emergency default action mode, and don’t appreciate the comparison, as I probably couldn’t cope with too many tornadoes right now. There aren’t even any dogs.


Freddie Mercury arrives with spare tent pegs, and finishes the Malcsness. I sigh. We’ve done it. The wind picks up, and the marquis blows around like a load of philosophical answers upset at becoming such an uncool folk song. It’s angry. And kicking off. Like some kind of British smoke monster. There must have been a lot of potassium on that island. I guess that wouldn’t have made a good last episode. Donkey Kong ate a lot of bananas. He must have had an electrolyte imbalance. Maybe Diddy was a hallucination. And Diddy Kong Racing a mistake. Especially without including P Diddy as a bonus character.


A tent leg comes undone, and falls down! The wind is now underneath the tent, lifting it off its’ pegged down legs! I immediately re-marshall the gang. We now have to disassemble the tent, and remove 10 legs simultaneously in a storm. We pull out 8, but 2 are stuck. The team hold the 8 in place and Malcolm asks if he can borrow some 6 foot 8. I move over, and push with all of my strength. I push up the entire tent. It is futile.


But feels ace!


I carry on, and deliberately make loud grunting sounds. Oh yeah. I am so ace. Danosaur decides to stand on the leg to increase the weight pulling down. I push up. And take him with me. And smile. A lot. Finally the whole team pushes up and I push down and the leg comes loose. We lay the marquis down and weigh it down with its’ own legs. It is defeated. And mocked. And blustery. We are just in time.


I sit down and breathe as the highlights replay in my head. Gary Lineker isn’t there, but Mark Blake is, and is upset at the in-body smoking ban. I remember the marquis starting on my face. And the lack of new messages. And the damaged guitar.


Oh yeah.


Oh no!


My borrowed Tanglewood bleeds before me with half its’ head hanging loose like a cross between that Japanese guy with half a head in The Pacific and August Rush.


I sigh.



The weekend continues, and I am cold and soaked.


I sigh.




I love it.



  1. Simon Platt says:

    Hi Dan,

    Just to let you know that the half empty bottle of water you left behind the monitors when you finished at HA is still there – I rediscovered it today. Bizarrely there seems to be no deterioration of the water quality or growth of mould in the bottle despite the nearly two years that have elapsed since you left – still crystal clear! I feel some sort of congratulations are in order, so well done you lucky devil!


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