Sunday, September 04, 2011
The Deepdale Cowboy
Some months ago I went on a walk in Norfolk, from Burnham Deepdale. My current blog portrait is from that weekend, so perhaps you can see where the 'cowboy' reference comes from. I did also have my stetson from Arizona with me, in case it rained. So, the Deepdale cowboy it is (or I am)!
At last night's party, where so addressed as the Deepdale cowboy, I was in fact dressed in a pilot's uniform, complete with hat, gold be-ribboned sleeves, shirt and tie. Oh, and high heel boots. What decent pilot wouldn't wear high heeled boots, whilst stumbling about in a field with guitar and wine in hand.
To explain a little further - I was invited, along with some friends, to a nautically themed party. Now maybe being a pilot wasn't exactly very nautical, but as my three friends were dressed as jellyfish, we attended as 'Captain Birdseye and her amazing dancing jellyfish'. In the end I announced that I was in fact Captain Smith of the Titanic and that no one should panic, she's unsinkable.
The jellyfish costumes were see-through umbrellas with bits of bubble wrap and other colourful threads hanging from them, and looked a lot of fun. Other costumes at the party included someone dressed as a lifeboat, a few pirates, quite a few seamen/women, a couple more jellyfish and some folks dressed ready for the beach - complete with inflatables.
To reach our destination we headed, four of us (the jellyfish and the captain) in a Ford KA to deepest darkest Bedfordshire. Along a main road, then a village road, then a side road, and eventually down a dirt track (which tickled the belly of the poor little car) to a huge farm house. We parked in a field where other guests were cavorting - setting up tents, getting out costumes and generally congregating. Once unloaded, which included jellyfish umbrellas, wine and four fold-up chairs, we headed into the grounds around the farm.
By now it was dark, but not cold. There was not a lot of light, but some tea light lanterns led us into the party venue which was the grounds around the house. It was a garden party with a difference. Amongst the trees, on bumpy grassy ground (eveyr now and then I would sink into the earth), were some marquees. One was open sided and had a small stage, food and drink all laid out. As it got darker, you just had to take a guess at what the food was as you ladled it on to your plate.
One marquee was very low and lit like a gypsy boudoir (or as one might be, I imagine), another had sheets of hanging pale blue gossamer like fabric that was the 'undersea adventure', with hanging glass fish and other decorations. From the trees hung nets, shells and very possibly things like sharks and whales - but you really couldn't see.
We set up camp next to the beach. Now you may not be aware of many beaches in the middle of Bedfordshire, but this one was very special. There was water, a sandy shore and, at the far end, a cocktail bar. To acquire a cocktail, one had to either brave the small inflatable boat (which 'Jack' from the Titanic did, but alas - as per the movie - resulted in a very wet and bedraggled individual) or wade out in your bare feet. The bar was stewarded by Batman's arch rival, the Penguin.
Now just in case this wasn't surreal enough for you, the main attraction in the food/drink/music marquee was a rather handsome pirate with gold lamee trousers and an assortment of squeezeboxes. He was a mighty fine player and a good singer, and some sea shanties were duly delivered. I played along on my guitar - with his consent.
So picture this - a cool balmy Bedfordshire evening in the grounds of a farm house, the quacking of annoyed ducks in the distance, a singing pirate accompanied by a playing pilot surrounded by dancing mermaids, sailors and variously otherwise designated nautical individuals. And it being quite dark as well.
If we met people we knew, it was by chance. You couldn't really see who people were until you were right up close, unless you were in one of the better lit marquees. But it was much more fun outside anyway.
We set up camp next to the shore (where one of our jellyfish decided to make some sandcastles) was also next to a huge pile of wood ready for a late night camp fire. As the evening progressed, the fire was lit and people came around to enjoy the glow. Guitar in hand I played some songs and had different people join in at different times. One young lady pirate (bemoaning the loss of her partner, who was dressed as an ice cream), insisted I play some Abba. I gave it my best shot. Which was, alas, rather far off the mark. I had earlier played American Pie and one of our dancers had been the ice cream. Though my folk songs are not exactly campfire material, I managed to belt out a few joiny-inny things and had a terrific time. One day I will buy myself an appropriate songbook to take with me to such events.
When at last our designated jellyfish decided it was time to go, I wandered ahead to escape a very persistent individual who wanted me to sing more (and who had earlier grabbed my bum and scared the life out of me as I was packing up). Only I got lost. I wandered up and down amongst the trees and couldn't work out where the car park was. I was rescued by a nice looking man who, it turned out, was actually the Penguin in mufti. Rather cute, lovely voice, but a tad too young for me.
I regained the car (via some cow poop) to find two out of three jellyfish ready for the off. The other had gone to look for me - trying to find a pilot with a guitar and a fold up chair. Luckily she returned in good time, realising I had been found.
The road home was conversely the dirt track, the side road, the village road, main road and then back to jellyfish number one's house. After a relaxing natter, I slid into the guest bed and pondered what had been a very strange and highly enjoyable evening. A most excellent adventure!