His name was Martin, of him we knew no more, he was posh, well spoken, came from a wealthy family, lived in a big old stone house, father collected old Rover cars – I don’t know how he ended up hanging out with a set of vagabonds like us, but he did.
Ultimately it was his downfall for as he was to discover posh kids just aren’t exposed to sufficient muck and germs to survive in the wild without washing your hands for two or three days.
We’d all gone away for HM The Queens Silver Jubilee Celebration weekend, May 1977, loads of us, a huge big gang of teenagers camping to The Lake District and a camp site in The Langdales that wasn’t a camp site at all but merely a farmers field who extracted a few quid off you to turn a blind eye and let you stay in his field with no facilities and sometimes with added cows.
Most of us slept in the one big tent wherever you could find space on the floor to lay down, no fancy camp beds or airbeds, just throw your sleeping bag in a space and it was yours.
Some of the crowd had brought smaller tents for themselves, especially those who were paired up in relationships with females, “the married couples” as we sneeringly called them for what good was a woman on a lads weekend to The Lakes when all they did was complain about the cow poo and stop you drinking quite so much beer in the pub so that you could at least walk back to your tent afterwards – useless indeed they were, an unnecessary hinderance.
The posh lad Martin was one of “the married couples”, and very nice his partner was too if I remember rightly, and he’d brought along his own posh tent which even had an airbed in it, not really camping at all then.
The days passed as all days do in The Lake District, it rained, and we ate almost raw but part-cooked bacon from open fires, we drank beer and ate cold baked beans straight from the tin, and on an evening ate ferociously from packets of salt and vinegar crisps – a perfect diet for a lads camping trip, it was in essence, a perfect lads camping trip, one of the best.
We washed in and drank water from a crystal clear, ice cold, tinglingly ice cold mountain stream than ran just ten feet away from our tents and when the cows pissed and shat in the same stream we cared not for what harm could an old cow do to us young, fit, healthy lads with a desire for drinking beer and climbing mountains in the afternoons after the pub lunchtime sessions ?
Quite a lot of harm apparently.
It started on the Sunday evening and the first of the moans from the posh tent.
“Ooh-err” we all whispered to each other, “are the married couple doing the dirty in there ?”
His rather gorgeous girlfriend who may or may not have had one eye on his family fortune appeared with a look of concern on her face, “Martin is not very well” she informed
“Martin ?” we all queried
“You know, the posh kid” she reminded us
“Ah yes, Martin the posh kid” we all replied, “ah well, never mind eh, will he be sending some money down to the pub for his round then ?”
“I’ll go ask him” she said, then we all left him in his tent to moan for the rest of the evening while we got drunk on his round, he was a most generous posh kid I have to say.
The following morning was the Bank Holiday Monday of HM The Queen’s Jubilee and our campsite dawned early with loud moans, not of ecstasy but of agony, poor old posh Martin was in terrible pain, so we had our breakfast of half burned bacon and cold beans and made plans to celebrate HM The Queens Jubilee down at the pub (again) and sent a runner across to the posh tent to see if posh Martin would be joining us.
“He’s really, really ill” his rather gorgeous girlfriend informed us, “in fact, I’m very worried about him”
“Did he say anything about some beer money” we asked tentatively
“No” she said, “I mean he really is ill, he looks like he’s dying”
So we all peeked in the door of the tent, all twenty of us
“Hey you’ve got it really nice in here posh Martin” we gleefully advised him, trying to cheer him up, “look lads, they’ve got an air bed and everything, its not like camping at all is it ?”
“Looks like he’s dying” we all confided to each other as we strolled back to our one size fits all tent.
“Will you ring for an ambulance” his very concerned but still rather gorgeous for all that girlfriend asked, “from the pub ?”
“Yes” one of us replied, probably Rod the Medic who at that time was a mere Medic Student and unwilling to get involved with a dying man just in case it didn’t look good on his CV at the end of his course, “we shall repair to the public house immediately and call for assistance”.
“Yes!” we all cried as one, “we shall all go, right now, and with all due speed” and so we did
Sometime later that day a call was placed to the emergency services to send up an ambulance to a field somewhere near Langdale, you know, just past the pub and up that narrow rocky lane a bit then into a field and through a wood, over a little bridge that the ambulance might be too wide for so you might have to drive through the stream, and then you’ll see the tents, there’s some cows there too, oh and a rather gorgeous girlfriend who’ll be pacing up and down the field.
All was in hand so we stayed in the pub, no point getting in the way was there ?
An hour or so later someone rushed into the pub to inform all that there must be a terrible climbing accident somewhere for he had just seen one of those big yellow RAF mountain rescue helicopters land in a field up the dale, “hmm” we all thought, “is there time for another beer ?”
Returning back to our field as dusk was falling, time for a nap, then a quick swill in the stream and out for the evening session at the pub, we came across the rather gorgeous girlfriend of posh Martin, out looking for us.
“Where’ve you been…etc, etc, etc” she gabbled, I’m sure those of you who are married will know the rest, its called “nagging”.
“Woah my proud beauty” we all cried, “and twice woah, for we are not married to you, more is the pity for you are rather gorgeous and all, but you have no legal right to nag us just because we are all drunk at 4 o’clock in the afternoon”
“Posh Martin has been airlifted to hospital in Carlisle” she wailed, “They think he’s dying of a burst appendix which has been made worse by not informing them sooner, like 36 hours ago maybe”
“Oh dear” we all replied, “did he say anything about some beer money before he left ?”
In the event he did not die, but he did have to spend several days in hospital, victim not of a burst appendix but of severe food poisoning, drinking untreated water from a stream that ran through a farmyard slurry pit first being the main culprit – none of us poor types suffered at all from drinking water that cows had shat in first of course, it was just the posh kid that had the delicate constitution.