As Chuffer considers the ‘relentless negativity’ of his site inspection report, Tubby suggests that it might be time to consider other options, such as turning Woodstock Plus into a jazz festival
The postman stuffed Chuffer’s site inspection report through his letterbox this morning. Chuffer read it to Tubby and me solemnly over lunch at the Glamper’s Retreat, struggling to make himself heard over my hoots of delight at its relentless negativity. I apologised immediately, unreservedly: “Sorry, Chuffer, my schadenfreude was a bit off.” The following extract gives a flavour of the document.
Inspection Report #4, Nov 2016
Summary of Infringements, page 1 of 20
Applicant: ‘Chuffer’ Donaldson
Author: Cuthbert Clark (Chief Inspector)
The following issues arose:
Article #86 ‘Boiler maintenance’
On closer inspection, what had at first looked like a replica of the Lusitania’s main boiler turned out to be the real McCoy – the Lusitania’s main boiler, whose last known safety certificate was issued in 1914.
Article #133 ‘Keep vegetation cut back’
Leakage of surplus heat from the woefully under-insulated site laundry has given rise to a Sumatran style micro-ecosystem. During our inspection we discovered six rare orchids, a Venus Flytrap larger than Audrey Two in Little Shop of Horrors, and vines from which we expected to find Tarzan of the Apes swinging. In addition there was an as yet unconfirmed treetop sighting of Sir David Attenborough.
Article #88 ‘Laundry room maintenance’
Attracted by the unnatural heat, a colony of Malaysian fruit bats has invaded the main site’s tumble drier and refuses to budge despite having been served an eviction notice. Neither the bats nor Mr Donaldson may be legally removed from the site save under conditions set down in the Endangered Species Act; the bats because they are protected by law, and Mr Donaldson, since he is considered in the upper echelons of the glamping community, to be a living fossil of the Glamping Management Old School.
Article #52(b) ‘Conflicting site usage’
Badly conceived footpaths haphazardly criss-cross the site, vaguely connecting an area housing faux Neolithic megastructures, with a hot tub complex and a tabernacle of biblical dimension. These render the site as ‘functionally balanced as a two legged milking stool’.
A conclusion on page 96 stated: ‘In our opinion, we would not leave Mr Donaldson in charge of a composting bin. However, our report must go before the full Accreditation Committee next month. You will receive our final judgement then.
While Chuffer sulked, Tubby suggested I consider turning Woodstock Plus into a jazz festival. You could tap into the beatnik scene, he told me. Was there a beatnik scene I wondered? I called Ms Flowers on my mobile to check. She sarcastically asserted that, in her opinion, the last beatnik died in captivity at Whipsnade Zoo in 1958 and that I should, “Get over it and move on!”.
I coached Chuffer out of his funk to get his opinion. He wasn’t a beatnik – never had been to my knowledge – but he did have a black polo neck and sometimes sported a goatee beard, and as such was more qualified than anyone I knew to pontificate on jazz matters.
Chuffer said that the raison d’être of all jazz concert attendees was to run from the auditorium as fast as their legs would carry them, and as far away as was necessary to be out of earshot when the drummer launched into the emotional black hole of his obligatory 20-minute solo. To be spared the sound and fury of a jazz drummer self-indulgently thrashing his arms about at random like a drowning man in a whirlpool was, according to Chuffer anyway, one of life’s greatest pleasures.
The phone rang again. It was Ms Flowers. She apologised for her previous sarcasm and offered an olive branch; her endorsement of a jazz quintet called Bivouac Bill and the Backpackers whom she assured me were ‘the dog’s’.
I Googled them; Bivouac Bill and the Backpackers that is, not the dog’s! Hmm… Mixed reviews. One critic said that the title of their only album – ‘Nowheresville Daddio’ – was less of a title per se than a description of their current standing in the jazz world. Yet another review simply gushed – Bivouac Bill and the Backpackers Dazzle In Dunstable; this one appeared in the The Tent Peg Whacker’s Quarterly, August 2013, penned by Demi ‘Semi-Quaver’ Duggan, best-selling author of The Syncopated Yurt:
“The moment I heard that Bivouac Bill and the Backpackers were back on the road, a vibe in this old jazz critic’s bones told me that something crazy was about to go down in Dunstable. Was I right Daddio, or was I right?
“Stanley’s fusion of Scottish dance band music and 60s jazz really razzed my berries, producing a two-part set as finely delineated as Lord Snooty’s centre parting. Were mistakes made? For sure; 12 bars into Green Ham Blues and well into his eighth reefer of the gig, Stanley realised that the double bass he thought he had been playing for over two hours, was still in the van.
“A mistake, yes, but what a recovery! Despite being in a fug of profound stupefaction brought on by power smoking skunkweed, Stanley improvised the syncopated 13-minute double bass solo of the piece on a backing singer’s suspender belt. I raise a glass to you Stan. Come back to Dunstable soon.”
Wow. Great review. Ms Meadows confirmed the booking; as luck would have it, they had nothing in their events diary for the next five years.
Well, that’s almost it for now, although I’ve kept more good news until last. Tubby bid successfully for a mystery lot at a charity auction in Cambridge and for his trouble bagged an aeroplane that had last taken to the skies during the Spanish Civil War, a 1952 Bunty Annual and a 5kg jar of ‘Vajazzling’ glitter. He plans to hang the aeroplane from a crane and rent it out as accommodation, presumably while he works out what to do with the sparkly stuff.