Well if there is anything I have done as an adult or child that has completely turned my usual routine and manner on its head I would struggle to come up with a better example than the weekend I’ve just had. And it was a real trek getting there in the first place. Being a Hertfordshire lad without a driving licence, it was only part and parcel that the taxi of mum & dad would come into play, although just like a cat who wants Dreamies I would do anything to have experiences that make me feel more at home. Time and distance won’t stop me.
The place in question was Powys in Wales, pretty close to the English border but not tangibly so. It was a great gathering, a ‘family’ of like-minded sceptics. It all kicked off on the Friday so I checked in shortly after half four and slowly got my bearings. Miraculously though it was after six when I really truly started to just switch off from normal life and began to feel as though I was in the shoes of a D-list celebrity with no history of disability or taking work too seriously. After a delayed commencement of the champagne reception after seven (see, this was the sort of thing that used to set me off on a fit of a rage as a young boy), we had our pictures taken. Two particularly striking ones, one with the organiser of the event, and the other with a recurring attendee, will find their way to my mantelpiece in due course. The mood and atmosphere of scepticism was palpable, but by the onset of the Michelin-starred nosh at half eight the world of Covidlore was off the table! It was fine dining at its finest, building up to the real climax of the scrumptious white chocolate mousse.
Although I’m not usually one to start conversations I became intensely caught in the moment, fascinated in the stories of the others and feeling moved, even slightly taken aback by the strengths of the others’ convictions. Perhaps unsurprisingly the drink left me heavy on my feet and I dreamt twice (!) that night about some of the people from the two lodges. I think it’s safe to say I knew from then on it was really my sort of thing.
The next morning was off, perhaps quite rightly, to a slow start. As my parents were lucky enough to catch places to stay nearby (albeit in a different place on the Friday to the other nights), they took me on a walk round the touristy town, followed by some grub at the café and a stop by the local museum. Quite regrettably, there was no shortage of locally born-and-bred sheeple, save for the museum caretaker who was a little more of a lion. But it’s all small fry in the long run as I was there to protest anyway and I knew what was coming that evening.
After heading back to the complex of lodges I exchanged a couple words with one of the like-minded who took interest in my neurodiverse disposition. Then I vented off some hard feelings about the trials and tribulations of the Covid panto with a roommate, and soon after, one of the others had just the right number of seats in their car to take most of us over to the nearby hotel for a two-course meal. I gathered many interesting things from the others and had a little bit of a story in return. The subject of my love life did come up, and I’m sure it will take off one day but only where loyalty reigns supreme. I also didn’t forget to mention my backstory (why I started this website) which you can read about by clicking here. Interestingly the very first time I was in correspondence with the organiser, which was in November last year, actually predates that experience.
Oh and that brings me onto the biggest and loudest event of the whole weekend, a full bodily assault of the senses, a leaf from Gove’s playbook. I was kitted out with a silly, but good attempt at the 70s era of garb. It was a night club, the very first I’d ever been to, blasting out 70s and early 80s tunes full whack from 8 through midnight. The drinks came thick and fast, and after a round or two of Carling I was caught in the trance. I found a good dance partner or two 😉 and, feeling the nature of such a rough and ready place, drank yet more. Bizarre and deranged though it was, one of the staff who obediently donned a muzzle when serving us at the hotel took to the gig maskless. We were packed like sardines in there, with shadowy figures zipping in and out. The opportunity presented itself for yet more piccies. To the surprise of some in our group, I lasted out the whole evening. Many different people from all walks of life were in the zone, bleating happiness and good vibes, and were glad to exchange hellos with me at the end. Soon enough it was time to head back to the lodge…
And I didn’t quite make it to the land of Z. I managed half a fried egg for breakfast 😂 and kept on standby for a puke through the night then into the morning some. But it was surreal to do this all with people who felt, and continue to feel just like me on the ‘rona. I guess you could say it wasn’t unlike an episode of Family Guy.
The others took off on Sunday afternoon, leaving just me and one other. My parents filled in the gap for the last night. It was a shame that the hot tubs were left without company for the longest time, but as I was one of the only to make it through to the final night I had the pleasure of one of them to myself. And the rest, well, you guessed it. The holiday, mind you, fell on pretty much the perfect time of year as it happens to be the case here in Britain that, time and time again, the weather starts to decline round about now.
Long story short, it was a week’s worth of fun jam-packed in three nights and I would absolutely look into this sort of thing, and all other kinds of cool sceptics-themed stuff in the future. Special shout out also to the Twitter profile of a good and strong lady with whom I have recently acquainted. No worries either about posting any more stories like this — I’ve got a really funny one about the complete hash of an excuse of a Southend-on-Sea trip with my pupil referral unit six years ago.