2012 Park Hill Tour to North Devon – ‘Part 3 1/3’ by Dave Symons

Wednesday 20th June 2012 – Hatherleigh

After awaking from the personal trauma of a second night of Worrell’s snoring (seriously, it was like a grizzly bear with pertussis) there was another greasy fry up to start another morning of sluggish activity and an early secret mission for Dave Lawn. They say policemen make excellent criminals, which was evidenced almost instantaneously as Sock Barford foolishly did not take the fines money for a shower with him and crook Lawn was out the door in a flash to secure another mission accomplished.

A free morning saw us head in different directions. My own exploits saw a trip to the leisure facilities of the Barnstaple Hotel, accompanied by Adam, Dan, Milky, PaedoPhil and the Snore-atron 3000. Whilst enjoying a sauna and delighting the crowds with the amusing line of “it’s like a sauna in here”, we were joined by a friendly naked gentleman (not Phil) with what can be bluntly described as appendage that looked like God had taken a shrink ray to an acorn. Rumours that Webber had arrived early in a mask were quashed – praise the lord Dave Cluer is in a distant land or the poor chap would’ve been on suicide watch.

A couple of hours later we were safely in Hatherleigh, bellies rumbling at the prospect of another glorious tea…a tea that became light at the end of a tunnel when I lost the toss and we were callously sent out to field. The game may have been in some danger had the Hatherleigh skipper not found two colts practicing in the nets prior to the toss. We thought little of the recruitment these whippersnappers until they took to the crease, the first clubbing his way to a hideous hundred exclusively over the leg-side boundary. The second despatched tour skipper Symons three times into the famous gas works. 277 off 33 overs before a late but merciful declaration, with a blinding catch from the Sock (at the expense of a large piece of outfield) and a wicket for Milky the only highlights.

After shamelessly stuffing ourselves with sandwiches, pasties, rolls, scones, cake and more Lawn was called upon for his annual opening of the innings. Incredibly, fuelled by the food, he battled his way to a fine 23. Major clubbed a large six (purely so he could tell everyone about it later) before the fun really began. Enter Milky to face the bowling of a man who, in twelve years at Hatherleigh, had never, ever taken a wicket. You know the rest. A double bounce ball. A swing. A miss. Back to the pavilion with a solid tracksuit nomination in the bag.

However, after Symons Senior eclipsed his top score of 1 with a gritty 3no, the heavens opened again and that was that. This was when the fun began with Webs, who’d abandoned his girlfriend with his own family on a different holiday, only to keep wicket (badly…5 off the helmet) and score 6 with the bat, deciding on an ill-advised prank on the Sock. With the rain still beating down and Tom indulging in a shower, Webber relocated his clothes to the middle of the wicket…only to be more of a bottle job than a Sting song and bring them back in cowardly fashion. This stunt earned Webs the tracksuit after he was ruthlessly grassed on, stealing it from under Milky’s rhinoplastied nose.

The evening saw us divide into two groups for dinner – Pizza Express for the kids and a Vietnamese for the grown-ups. My group consisted of Senior, Andy, the Major, Jamie and Lawny. Now there have been many justifiably famous speeches in history – Martin Luther King, Winston Churchill and Nelson Mandela have all delivered powerful orations, but none of them had a patch on Andy Clarke’s moving piece on why he should not be nominated by Lawny for that evening’s Pablo. Hours later when we’re all eagerly congregated and nervously awaiting Dave’s decision, the victim…Andy Clarke!

With ‘Seasick’ Steve the barman concocting Andy’s drink of doom, there was only one potential outcome. However, the pint chaser, followed by the double whisky and coke chaser chaser was something out of the ordinary…as was the sheer volume of vomit that ensued as everything (Vietnamese included) ended up in a wine cooler. Brilliant!

As a reward our empty hero was given the choice of the rest of the team to designate a Molotov cocktail. In a somewhat surprising turn of events, he opted for his own roommate – the Major, who held his shot admirably before the pair returned to their abode for what would most likely be an evening fighting for use of the bathroom.

The evening continued with several more drinks – mostly red wine, and mostly consumed by Martin Williams…until he drank the vino dry and staggered home, his last words of the night something about there not being enough red wine. A statement I’m not sure he would still stand by…? Anyway, his story was by no means over…