Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Zen and the Art of Custard Pies

Greetings Earthmen. It's now Tuesday again in your Earth calendar and so I guess it's story day. Not so many votes this week. Had a few phone calls from people last night saying alternatively that they had a good excuse for not voting ( I believe you) or (being very honest) couldn't be arsed. So 66% of you went for Custard pies. I would have chosen that myself. It's one of my favourite stories. And of course it's absolutely true, ask anyone who went to the Wendover carnival that year. Bet you can't wait. So here it is...........

Zen and the Art of Custard Pies

It was the summer of ’76 the hottest driest summer I can remember and Wendover carnival was getting close. Dave the youth leader at our youth club announced that we’d been invited to organise something for the carnival in the main arena. Anything. It was all part of the community spirit, everyone coming together to have a good time. Dave asked for ideas. We sat there not being able to think of a thing that we could do. We were just a youth club. It was not as if we were some themed club that could demonstrate out amazing abilities at the martial arts, or gymnastics or such like. Just a bunch of guys and girls from the estate. Suddenly I had an idea. “How about a custard pie battle?”
“What?”
“A custard pie battle. It’ll be great, we get a load of custard pies and throw them at each other.”
Dave was not convinced but it seemed to strike a chord with everyone else.
“Yeah yeah Yeah. Lets have a custard pie fight.”
“Where do we get the custard?” asked Dave.
“No problem.” I said.
Well readers who pay attention will by now know, due to a recent comment, that I used to live in a Transport café, I could get more custard than you can shake a stick at. I got my mother to obtain from cash and carry a huge catering pack of dry mix custard. Just add water.
The night before the carnival Dougal (Dougal is a girl, her real name is Denise) and I spent hours making up gallons and gallons of custard in the café kitchens. You see no one told me that custard pies are not really made of custard. I was young. How was I to know? The next morning with help we carried it all down to the carnival along with paper plates. Loads of them.
The carnival was great fun with carnival floats driving up and down the street, a fun fair and all the novelty stalls you can imagine. It was really well organised. Finally toward the end of the afternoon just after the police dog demonstration, the tannoy speakers announced “The Wendover youth club custard pie battle”.
We arranged two pasting tables 20 feet apart and loaded then up with the plates of custard. We had two teams each standing next to one of the tables. Dave the youth leader blew his whistle let the battle commence.
We hadn’t thought of any rules or if anyone would win or not. It was just a matter of chucking custard pies at each other. Which was great. Except it caught the imagination of a lot of other kids, who ducked under the rope fence and joined in. Then they were nicking the pies and running into the crowd with them throwing custard pies at their friends and anyone else who got in the way. It was getting out of hand and there was still loads of pies unthrown. Custard was going everywhere. Dave blew his whistle to stop the fight, but it was futile. We had cried "havoc" and let slip the dogs of war. Little old ladies sitting behind the ropes on their fold up chairs, were getting one right in their freshly blue rinsed perms. Mother with babies in pushchairs, splattered. The organisers came running over to take control they got splattered. Oh the joy! The total anarchy of the situation. We just watched in disbelief as the fight slipped from our hands. Dogs were running around excitedly joining in the game. No one within throwing distance was spared. The plates were thrown and still it carried on with kids scraping custard off the grass by the handful and smearing it all over each other.
Then the aweful realisation. It was hot, the custard was drying on our clothes and in our hair. It wouldn’t just wipe off. It stuck like glue. We were getting crusty.
Then came the complaints. The elderly, covered in custard marching up to the organisers tent. Mothers, complaining that their childrens best clothes were ruined, and dragging their kids off for an early bath. That evening there was a steady stream of people walking home with crusty hair and crusty clothes.
Do I regret it? Am I sorry for the little old ladies with the blue rinses? Am I remorseful that it got out of hand and escalated into mass hysteria? Do I worry that Wendovers highly organised traditional summer carnival, had descended into a slapstick? Naah! It’s a whole new meaning to a pie in the face of authority.

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