Well, I hope you all had a happy Easter. And I hope it was happy for the right reasons, not just because you were whizzing your mammary glands off due to having eaten the GNP of Matabeleland in chocolate.
I had a pretty quiet long weekend; I ate merely a reasonable amount of chocolate, drank some wine and played an awful lot of Mass Effect. (an awful, awful, lot of Mass Effect if the snorts of loneliness coming from the memsahib were anything to go by.)
But that's not what we're here to talk about is it? You want to know why I'm wildly claiming to have killed a popular 80's comedian and impressionist who happens to have been born Robert Christopher Nankeville and is both the son of an Olympian and is an all 'round good guy (or so I've heard, I mean, I've never met him or anything - But he looks the sort, always smiling, not afraid to cross-dress for comedy purposes - You know what I mean.)
And there's something that you need to know before I continue - I don't much care for fairground rides - It's not that I'm easily scared by loud noises or quick changes of direction or anything... Honestly, it's because... Ah... It's just... Well... You see... Some of those noises really are rather loud though aren't they?
Just before the holidays, Mrs Dandy suggested that we do something nice for the children whilst I was away from work. I reminded her that I had just spent literally tens of fine, English pounds on less than two pounds worth of chocolate for them (And that was EACH, I'll have you know, not in total!) But I was informed that this was insufficient and that we would be 'Going somewhere' to have 'Fun' Then I was grabbed, unceremoniously by the collar, lifted bodily from the floor and reminded, more forcefully that I thought wholly necessary, that I would be having 'Fun' even if it killed me. I looked down at the cherubic face of the Mini-Dandy as she bent her younger sibling's fingers back almost to his wrists until he sobbingly cried 'Peanuts!' and agreed, 'Yes Dear, let us do something nice for our delightful children.'
So, Good Friday came and we stuffed our young into the Yew-panelled steerage compartment of the MkII Dandymobile, Stoked the gargantuan engine into life, and set sail for the heart of the Sun (or Drayton Manor Park and Zoo as I understand the hoi-palloi call it.) Our plan was to arrive at our destination as it opened, and therefore 'beat the rush'. Luckily, only twenty or so thousand people had had exactly the same idea. We left our vehicle in a grassy field that was masquerading as a car-park, and instructed Heckmondswycke, our faithful native bearer, to guard her with his life.
We then joined the queue for entry and wondered at the many wonderful ways that one could pay to enter the Pleasureopolis itself. I was shocked to find that, if we had merely 'turned up' at our destination, it would have cost us £141 ($232) to get in. The irony of this being more than I had recently sold the MKI Dandymobile for was not entirely lost on me. Luckily, along with almost everyone in the queue it seemed, I was in possession of a 'BOGOF' voucher which cleanly cut the price in half.
As we entered the garden of Earthly delights, we were informed that 'The rides didn't actually open until 10:30.' And as we had 45 minutes to kill, we decided to split up, the girls went to go and queue for an hour for a 30 second ride on a frankly flimsy looking, ramshackle collection of ironwork. Whilst we boys decided to repair to the amusement arcade to, as my father once described it, 'Throw good money after bad.' However, on the way to the Perfidious Pachinko Palace we were accosted by a pretty young lady holding a basketball,
"Psst!" She Pssted, and beckoned us over, "You look like someone who'd be good at this. One basket wins any prize." Then she looked at the Micro-Dandy, "You'd like your Dad to win you one of these wouldn't you?"
My son stepped back to look at my athletic physique, struggling to be contained by my XXL Darth Vader T-Shirt and rolled his eyes. "Yes, I'd love my Dad to be able to do that.' He replied, then he shrugged, as if to say 'But whaddya gonna do?'
"Well, I tell you what, it's normally £3 for one shot or £5 for three. But we've got a special on today where, if you give me a fiver you can play until you win." She winked conspiratorially as if to say 'No, it's not just so that other punters see you carrying a prize around and think that it's possible for a normal, overweight, human being to win one and then have a go themselves.'
Needless to say, I passed over the required fee and stood there for a good fifteen minutes, abortively bouncing my balls off her rim until, against all of the assembled laws of physics, my spherical plaything entered her waiting aperture with a rubbery 'Thunnnggg'.
"OK," she breathed in relief, wiping the sheen of sweat from her brow, "What prize would you like?"
My son pointed at one prize, which she inspected. "Ah, it looks like the stitching's going on that one."
He pointed at another. "I can't actually reach that one, sorry." She stretched up to show that she was a good foot too short. 'How about this one?' She hefted a large, red, fluffy bean-bag at him. Which he happily accepted as tribute and then gave to me... And then I had the honour of carrying it around the park, for the next six hours, along with the two ducks (One with, and one without a humorous pink mohawk) and a camel with a pink hump and a shock of pale-blue hair.
The rest of the day passed in a similar fashion, whereby the girls would spend a vast proportion of their time queueing to feel sick, queueing to get wet or queueing to close their eyes as noisy things happened around them whilst we boys had a ride on a train and visited the arcade, or giftshop, or hook-a-duck emporium over and over again. There was a break for lunch at 'The Grill', which was very nice. And in the afternoon the jollity continued, up until the point where the MiniDandy convinced her brother to go on the Pirate Ship.
I have had emails from my friends in America to say that they could hear him screaming, at one point he reached the frequency required to loosen the bolts that held the ride together, flecks of paint and surface rust fell to the ground like the fallout from an exploding scrapyard - Obviously we were asked to leave, which we did.
All in all, it was a good day, apart from the life-time ban from all UK-based theme parks that is. My son even won enough tickets in the amusement arcade to purchase a radio-controlled car for himself, which is absolutely splendid for tormenting the dog with.
I missed out the Bobby Davro bit didn't I?
The MiniDandy and myself were sat outside some water-based Pirate ride (which was billed as an 'Experience' and therefore interested me not one little bit.) waiting for the other members of our party when suddenly, from out of nowhere, a flying caterpillar hoved into view. Well, I say flying, it was actually dropping from the tree above us on a silk line. It was duly caught and forced to race across various parts of my anatomy by my dear daughter which was about as entertaining as it sounds. My repeated attempts to put it back into the undergrowth all failed until I felt a tickle on the back of my neck. I reached around, expecting to find another, similar creature, but instead found a tiny spider.
"I wonder if they'll fight?" asked my somewhat bloodthirsty daughter, moving the mini-beasts closer to each other.
"No! He might eat Bobby Davro!"
She looked at me as if I had just suffered a major psychotic episode and said, "What?"
"Bobby Davro?' I held up the small caterpillar, "I panicked, it was the first name that I thought of."
She shook her head and put the spider in my other hand. I lowered both of my hands, until first the spider and then the caterpillar disappeared into the nearby shrubbery.
"The spider will hunt down Bobby Davro and eat him you know, he's got his scent now.' She grinned.
"And it's all your fault..." At this point she raised her voice so that the surrounding families and their children could hear and called, "Dad! You killed Bobby Davro!"
One wonders if everyone's family days out are like this?