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Offaly Good

Today’s blog contains mild peril, scenes of mild terror and sections that may cause nausea, oh, and some other stuff about things. Please don’t eat whilst reading today’s entry unless of course you like offal.

Driving around the country over the last three months has felt like a really slow road trip, masses of miles at the weekend with almost a full working week crammed in then its zombieville for Monday and Tuesday whilst we recover. Wednesday and Thursday is trying to cram everything in you would normally spend a week doing then Friday is getting ready for the weekend again. It all sounds like it should be simpler but this far down the line and after well over two hundred appearances you treat it more like a military operation even though the event are immense fun and you get to meet some great people.

So with only three left and the prospect of no Impossimals for a while and no appearances for the foreseeable future planned I’m sat this morning reflecting on the weekend and holding back the urge to lavishly upchuck. Let me explain.

We visited Reading and Chelmsford, both long runs racking up nearly six hundred miles in two days and requiring 4am starts, wearily we got out of bed and stumbled in to the bathroom. Staring back at me was an unshared brute of a man with droopy eyes, it was going to be a long day. 7:01 am found us thundering down the M1 and already it was busy when the Satnav suddenly awoke and alerted us that there would be a 45 minute delay on our route, normally we wouldn’t worry too much about this only we were going to Reading, a very busy place especially near Christmas so we knew that if we didn’t get to the car park early enough we would spend many a happy time trundling around looking for a space, it also had the added concern that Reading were playing at home so the football traffic would add to the misery if we were too late arriving.

Happily the satnav suggested an alternative route which returned us back to our original arrival time, things were looking good all we had to do was take the next exit, it couldn’t be more simple.

Oh my.

As we approached the junction the car in front of us started to behave erratically, we could see they were using a similar satnav so we assumed they had received the same instructions. As we both left the motorway we saw that the slip road ended at a big roundabout and I do mean a big roundabout with six lanes but the satnav had remained tight lipped at what to do about it, logically we needed to go right so I positioned myself roughly central so I could see the road markings. The other car had decided that the best course of action was to stay tucked away on the left until further instructions. We trundled on at speed when ahead we saw what looked like a bin bag sprawled across one of the lanes, Jayne was quicker than I was an spotted that it was an unfortunate animal victim of the traffic and from the looks of it had been there a long time indeed. These things always make me a little unhappy at the best of times so I moved to a different lane to avoid it.

Just then the satnav burst into life, ‘take the first exit on the left’, left?, left? That can’t be right, the satnav display was showing third exit on the right but the voice was insistent otherwise. Whilst my brain wrestled with this unique instruction and came to the conclusion quite quickly that it was talking bollards the other car had obviously received similar information and wavered slightly. Then like a bullet decided that indeed it was incorrect and the best way to correct it was to veer across four lanes into ours.

Well, I braked hard, they accelerated and hit the thing I was trying to avoid. Bugger.

For the sake of decency I will not describe the noise as the long time expired but grim looking carcass we saw earlier from a distance flipped up from their wheels and hit our car with the sound of a trifle hitting a wall, neither will I describe the slippy mess that sprawled down the passenger side as we both started to gag uncontrollably, the smell as it penetrated the air con was indeed memorable for its potency and my eyes started to water. The other car trundled away merrily unaware that it had just flipped up an entire ribcage and contents that had now disgorged itself over our bonnet.

I’m squeamish and like some sick version of the twilight zone we had just entered the automatic windscreen wipers kicked in and made sure that we saw plenty more before I finally pulled in our stomachs heaving.

It was not pleasant, using bottles of water we managed to remove most of it between doubling up, dry retching and many other yoga like positions that avoided us spectacularly adding to the mess.

Right, let’s leave that there shall we and move on to the next awfulness.

We arrived in Reading, parked and sat in the car, dutifully we took our carpark picnic photo and started to tuck in to our usual picnic trying to put behind us and think of happy things. The smell still hung in the air a little making it a tad difficult to concentrate. Just as I lifted the first morsel up to my mouth I turned an looked at Jayne.

‘Oh my god.’

‘What is it?’ said Jayne.

‘Oh my god, oh my god.’


‘Look!’ I pointed to Jaynes wing mirror.

Dangling away, obviously dislodged when the mirror folded in was some kind of, and it makes me gag even now, some kind of entrail, red and bloated swinging in the wind like some grim decoration.

I gagged. A big hulking gag that hurt my tummy. Why oh why do these things happen to us? I couldn’t eat anything with that dangling away in my eyeline, Jayne was even closer to it and I saw her change to a pale shade of green.

There was nothing for it, I needed to get out and remove it. What should I use? All the water had been used earlier, all I had was coffee which I’m sure would add to the smell. Instead I opted for the only hard bit of plastic I had, something I’m sure would act as an adequate scraper, one of my disposable plastic contact lens cases. Ok, it was small but it had a nice hard edge which I knew I needed after removing the rest earlier.

I scraped away. I gagged. I scraped harder, it had really gone in every gap around the mirror. I doubled up and gagged again. The smell was horrid and I’m sure I popped something as I scraped, even worse now it was removed it was an inch from my fingers. I recoiled in horror and dropped the bit of plastic. With a woeful plop the goop landed squarely on my shoe.

I squealed, sorry if you were in the carpark and saw an aging flamboyantly dressed man flailing about like a fairy but really, it was called for.

Now here’s the thing, by reflex I kicked out, you know, like you are kicking a football but instead of the slimy gristle flying off my shoe it half released itself and the remaining sticky bit pulled it backwards towards me. I watched and shrieked as it flew in an arc towards my face. Stumbling backwards it missed my nose by inches and I smelt it as it flew by only to watch it land on my other shoe. I have to admit this was a low point, 154 miles from home, in a car park trying to avoid flying offal whilst holding back a torrent of fluid that would only add a whole new dimension to the situation.

Now, new readers of the blog will no doubt assume that all this is made up totally for the purpose of entertainment, I can assure you, it’s all entirely true, these things happen to me on an all too regular basis and whilst they make excellent blogging material I would have sooner been blogging about the nice weekend we have just had.

So, gingerly I tried to extract the gloop from my shoe laces, then using the emergency washing fluid water managed to remove the smell and also some of the finish from my shoes. It was then I noticed the wheel arch, it looked like we had hit a zombie.

It’s very difficult to explain in a very full car park why we had what looked like raw meat scattered around the car and even harder to explain away the smell so we did what we could to tidy it up and did the next best thing, we walked away. I had visions of returning to the car later to find either a full forensic team gathered around or at the very least an army of cats tucking away.

Walking around Reading we decided the best action was to pop in somewhere and have a bite to eat away from the smell and rancid memories so we decided on a place we had used before. Unfortunately days like this have a habit of carrying on in a similar vein, the establishment was busy, the only tables were upstairs and were seated in a room with possibly the loudest woman in history who insisted on regaling stories of board meetings, gossip about someone called Jocasta and tales of woe regarding a diet of tofu. Just then her phone rang so she could include us in her witty banter regarding a ‘bad day’ not being able to get ethically sourced toilet rolls whilst she informed her table friends in whispering tones that it was her stupid housekeepers fault.

I guffawed, which made her look my way with a disapproving look. From my own experience of a bad day I realised that I now knew where we should have stuffed the car rim offal and fought the impulse to batter her with the overtly large pepper pot whilst asking her if the best recipe for tofu is to oil it on one side and to lightly toss it in the bin.

Instead she got away lightly and I only pushed her out of the second story window.

Really, a bad day based around ethical toilet roll, I ask you.

The day got much better after that, we spent an exasperating ten minutes explaining what a food dehydrator was in Lakeland plastics, a product they sell many of to an assistant who’s only reply was ‘so you want a refrigerator?’ followed by a blank look that gave us the impression that this type of question didn’t come up in the training. ‘No young lady, I want to slam your head in a car door but we can’t all get what we want can we?’ Jayne sensing displeasure pulled me away and in her whispering tones told me basically to remain quiet, composed and above all not to resort to cartoon violence with members of staff not matter how trying they become. We came away instead with six foldable boot boxes which our new antagonist had placed awkwardly in a bag so they just touched and scraped along the floor as you walked no matter how you held them. Indeed, as days go it was not looking good.

So imagine our surprise when we reached the gallery and found this

A lovely fine Christmassy display which magically reversed the downward spiral day and instead gave us a great appearance, even better after a refreshing nights sleep the very next day we went to Chelmer Fine Art for our second great appearance of the week but what happened on our way there is a very different story indeed involving not one, but two hundred Santas, not something you get to say every day…

Tomorrow I have a request for this upcoming weekend, don’t worry, it doesn’t involve dehydrators, offal, loud people or irritating assistants, it’s just that we are visiting a new location and a new gallery for the very first time and maybe you can help us make it a little bit special.


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