193. Rumble thy bellyful…

Your Honour, I can certainly attest that there was cake.  Much much cake.

What’s that? Attest?  Yes, good word isn’t it?  Truth is, since coming home early from camp on Wednesday, on account of a vicious bout of tonsillitis, I’ve been basically living in St Mary Mead or thereabouts, binge-watching Miss Marple.  There are few things more soothing than Joan Hickson: head slightly tilting, hands still knitting, blue eyes kindly twinkling as she explains whodunnit.  And, of course, there are people attesting to things left, right and centre.  Attesting is the new black.

Sorry, no that doesn’t make much sense, I agree.  It’s probably the penicillin.  Did I mention the tonsillitis?  Oh, right.  Anyway.  There was cake.

No, this is not just hearsay, for I personally made six of the cakes.  Yes, I did wash my hands thoroughly.  No, I made the cakes well before I got the tonsillitis, even allowing for an incubation period.   No, the cakes didn’t dry out: they were thoroughly wrapped and then frozen and then cool-boxed  down to Dorset.  Maybe someone is eating one of them right now.  But not me.  Sad face.

Not only was there cake, we actually had a Cake Committee whereby five retired schoolmistresses  freed up a whole afternoon in their busy schedules to decide who would make which cakes.  It was tough work, looking at all those cake recipes but I tell you, your Honour, meticulous planning like this would have averted the Great Excess of Madeira Disaster of 1803.  Sorry, lost it again.  Probably time for my medication.

So I can personally attest having seen with my own varifocals that there was cake.  Actually, the ratio of cake to person was skewed considerably towards cake.  Which is as it should be.

On your second point, I can confirm and indeed attest, that there was, definitely and for sure, rain.  Much, much rain.  In fact, on the Monday – our second day at camp – the only time it was not drizzling was when it was pouring down.  Fortunately, we have an enormous mess tent to sit in, so were able to chat or read or knit or all three, whilst eating Date and Walnut or, in some cases, Sultana cake.  All very congenial.

Nothing like Ma and Pa’s brief foray into camping.  (Bought tent, went to Wales, watched rain for two days, came home, sold tent.)

Looking over to our tent, borrowed from Mrs Berry and nicknamed ‘The Croissant’ on account of looking from the side like… yes, sorry, I’ll get to the point … I did wonder whether we should have tightened the guy ropes a bit more, as the outer tent might be a little loose in places; might even be touching the inner tent.  But we ate cake and it got dark and the winds were blowing and cracking their cheeks, so in the end ActorLaddie and I simply donned wellies and head-torches, traipsed over to the toilet tents – all right, too much information – and then made our way to the Croissant to turn in for the night.

The Croissant is a spacious number with three sleeping compartments. We’d got the airbed in one and filled the others with bits and bobs.   As it turned out, I was right about the guy ropes, because rain had seeped through a bit and already dampened the edges of the pillows and under-sheet.  We shoved things round a little, then tried to get to sleep while the tempest raged outside.

It is one of the great pleasures of camping, as our companion BevelMan is fond of saying, listening to the rain pattering on the canvas while you are inside the tent all cosywarm.  But there comes a point when pattering turns to pounding and then is joined by the galest of force winds, when one starts wondering whether the tent will stay cosywarm or whether you might just all be blown over the rainbow.

We reached that point, and subsequently moved way beyond, into blasted heath territory.  Then, at three in the morning, the sound of the elements outside the tent was joined by voices.  Then, car-engine noises.  That wasn’t right: we had the field to ourselves – well, just us and the cowpats.  So I struggled out of the sleeping bag, out of the inner tent, out of The Croissant to find that the wind had huffed and puffed, puffed and huffed and behold, down had come the tent next door leaving bits of pole and tent strewn amongst the cow-pats.  Which is not as romantic as it sounds.

Others were already helping Mandy bundle her belongings and remnants of tent through the rain into the back of her car and her daughter, Knightley, had been billeted in with another little pig.  We started to make space for Mandy in The Croissant while someone else hunted out dry sleepwear.  Then, just as I was considering whether to go straight back to bed or to move directly onto Hot-Drink-And-Cake, RuggerMan noticed that the big, bad wind had now turned its attention to G&J’s tent and had darned nearly wrenched that one from its moorings.  G&J eventually took refuge in the mess-tent which, luckily, stood firm against all huffing and puffing.

So you see, your Honour, I can most solemnly confirm and swear, attest even, that there was rain.  And, as we have established, cake.

However, as to who, if anyone, might have left the cake out in the rain: there I cannot help you.  If it did happen, I was not on the spot.  Had to come home early from camp – did I mention my tonsillitis?  It seems unlikely to me, given the veneration in which cake is held in our community.  But there was an awful lot of rain.

Oh, much better now, thanks: penicillin really kicked in.  Eating again today. Could just fancy a bit of cake, in fact.

***

Listen, if you are able to get to the Edinburgh Festival this year, do check out ‘This Evil Thing’ which is on at the New Town Theatre.  We saw the preview and it was a fantastic piece of work.  Link is here.

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