Way back in the very late 1970s, when I was younger and probably a little more foolish that I am now, I got drunk, seriously drunk. Well, let’s just say it wasn’t entirely my fault, my drink was spiked but that’s no excuse really, I should have realised and stopped when I started to feel woozy, but I didn’t!
We were at a vintage rally somewhere in the the Somerset countryside, all day our vintage machinery exhibits had been pop-banging to themselves whilst we put on a good display for the punters. When I say we, I mean myself and a number of friends, I had the largest tent so a few of us bunked down in that. I could get three camp beds abreast comfortably and across the top was enough room for Stephen, the young son of one of my friends to sleep crosswise, actually on the back seat removed from his father’s Triumph 2000. This arrangement worked fine, it was usually only for one or two nights and any discomfort was put up with, we were young and madly keen on our eccentric hobby.
After the day’s exhibiting it was usually a quick meal prepared on the camp stove then off to the beer tent to meet up with the other exhibitors for an evening of socialising. At that time I liked a drop of whisky now and again so had one or two without realising that my friends had been mixing it with vodka. Very quickly I realised that I had gone over my usual limit but I guess by then I didn’t care and probably had a few more until I was well oiled.
Bedtime was a bit of a chore and I was feeling extremely unwell, the camp bed was spinning and threatening to throw me off and my stomach was churning. Some time in the early hours I knew I could no longer keep the contents of my stomach to myself and realised I was going to have to share it with everyone in the tent. Thankfully I managed to crawl out onto the field where violently the results of the evening’s drinking were thrust upon the unsuspecting grass. Even in my stupor I knew that I couldn’t just leave it there in case anyone stepped in it, but was far too ill to do anything about it so decided to cover it with my upturned washing-up bowl, then crawled back into my sleeping bag to pass out.
At some point I was disturbed by my friend who had to go out to answer a call of nature, I heard him bumbling about in the darkness followed by the sound of the bowl being kicked and then silence. When he returned he got back into his sleeping bag but there really was a horrendous smell of sick. Yes, you’ve guessed, he kicked the bowl in the darkness and trod in my stomach contents and then put on his shoes, what was worse though, he accused me of throwing up in his footwear and that tale is still told if I ever bump into any of my former rally friends; “Remember the night you were sick in Alan’s shoes?”
The following morning I was poorly, horribly poorly, and don’t remember very much at all about the day. Despite the intoxication I can recall every detail of that ghastly night but not much about the following day, it’s an event I shan’t ever forget and it was certainly the last time I was really, really drunk. My friends realised their foolishness and apologised for my predicament, especially when I lay comatose for much of the day. The hangover lasted about a week and you’ll be interested to know I’ve never touched a drop of whisky since!
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The first photograph shows my collection of vintage exhibits on the first day of the show mentioned in my story. As well as having a large collection of Lister stationary engines I also dabbled in other makes as well. Here we see a Petter M “cistern-top” engine in the foreground and behind that can be seen a 1936 tank-cooled Lister D-type driving an extremely rare “Woods & Cocksedge” roller mill. I know of only two such mills and I owned both of them. The lads operating the mill were sons of two friends of mine.
The photograph alongside shows young Stephen (in the cap and wellies, who is mentioned in the text) operating my hand-wound corn kibbler and just visible in the bottom left corner is an enclosed crank horizontal Bradford Gas Engine. All this was a real trailer-full but I believed in putting on a good show!