Back when I was in secondary school I was a pretty cool customer. I had long hair (rebel rebel) and I played tuba in a brass band. I couldn’t keep the ladies away (my hobbies did it for me, wahey!).
The brass band kinda dominated my school years, it was super serious! We were national champions and world champions! I’m still very proud of my achievements as part of that group, but as you can imagine it takes a lot of effort to get to that standard. I kid you not, at one point I had rehearsals every night of the week and almost certainly a concert at weekend (my poor dad was the resident taxi driver). It turns you into a very disciplined determined person when your routine is so intense at such a young age (don’t know where all thats gone!).
It wasn’t all hard work though (we work hard, we play hard), one of the amazing things about being in the brass band is that every summer we would tour a country. We toured New Zealand, Holland and America twice! I have a lot of fond memories, it always kinda felt like an amazing holiday with your mateys!
One story I love to tell (its a spoooooky one) was from our first trip to America, we were touring the bible belt in southern America in North Carolina and Western Virginia (oh lordy lord). I was 14 at the time. At every town we stopped at you would stay with a host family, basically a group of complete strangers, it was very hit and miss. Well when we rocked into about the fourth town on the tour, you could smell the money, it could be described as incredibly affluent. Well when assigning host families they called my name and three of my best mateys, we were to be looked after by a nice looking elderly couple (or so we thought).
We pulled up to the house at quite a late hour after our first gig in the town. I couldn’t make out much but you could tell the house was huge. As we got closer it started to look like something out of Scooby bloody Do. I remember having a late dinner in a big hall, that echoed like a mutha-flipper. Then they took us for a whirlwind mini tour round the house. This is when the weirdness started, It became clear very quickly that they were what could be described as ‘hoarders’. There were piles of random stuff everywhere, a pile of globes, a pile of picnic baskets, a pile of wooden tennis racquets, you name it there was a bloody pile of it!
They split the group up and showed us to our respective rooms (you should always stick together!). My room was huge and had an awesome en-suite, as they showed me in I noticed a cot in the corner of the room. It just struck me as odd straight away. I said goodnight to the old couple and as soon as they disappeared down the hallway I went to investigate the cot. It had a weird cover over the top of it. I pulled it off… in the cot there was a doll, it was face down… I turned it over and lifted it up, it had a huge frickin scar across its face! Needless to say I put the fucker back, turned him over and put the bloody cover back on!
I got in to bed. I was just calming down when I heard a knock on my door. It was my mateys. It turns out another one of my mates rooms was even more messed up than mine. I walked into his room, the wall across from his bed was full of shelves of flipping golliwogs! I’m talking about a hundred dolls easy and as dolls go, I can tell ya, golliwogs are bloody creepy (and I think possibly a little racist?).
I went back to my room and got into bed, I was creeped out big time. It took me ages to fall asleep… a few hours later I was woken up by a rattling noise in the room behind mine. It sounded like a pre programmed air conditioning unit, that seemed to be all the rage in America. I tried to go back to sleep to no avail, then it dawned on me that I didn’t remember there actually being a room behind mine… The corridor ended at my room.
I got up, I couldn’t see a door leading anywhere in my room, there was a cupboard door though, maybe there was something inside the cupboard making the noise. I opened it… this wasn’t a cupboard, it was more like the Tardis, bloody massive on the inside. I couldn’t see a thing, so I fumbled around for a light switch… I finally found a cord, I pulled it and the light came on… slowly.
It became clear that this was quite a big room, I could make out a few shapes, but just I assumed it was just going to be more piles of random stuff. I started to make out the outline of about ten miniature tables. They had little chairs propped up next to them. The chairs were occupied by bizarre looking stuffed animals. It was the weirdest teddy bears picnic I’ve ever seen and on a grand scale!
“Won’t you join us for a spot of tea Philip?”
“We have forrrreverrrr…”
If it was an episode of goosebumps I would have mysteriously disappeared that night, but if you’d looked closer there would have been a new addition to the picnic… a skinny ragdoll with long hair playing the tuba.