Every year at the beginning of summer, the Morris dancers and Marching bands meet at the seaside town of Paralytic-in-the-Wardrobe to have a running battle. They have been bitter rivals for years. There is often violence and, always, fairly iffy music.
Once I got caught in the middle of it all, whist I was waiting under the pier for the tide to come in. I was lucky to escape with my musical taste intact. I guess the moral of the story is don't get caught sleeping under a good book. Or a bad book for that matter. Look, it really doesn't matter what sort of book, just don't get caught sleeping under it.
It's important to remember that Paralytic-in-the-Wardrobe is not your classic seaside town. Being more than 30 miles from the sea really does put paid to that. The tide is not just out, it has never come in. None of this has prevented the local government from building a pier, complete with hotdog stands, ice cream parlours and putting up miles of fancy railings and calling it a seafront promenade. Most believe they should have spent their time and effort on a really good lunatic asylum.
The beach is a grassy field. The Morris men approached from the Marina end. The Marching bands from the site of the planned west pier.
A lump came up in my throat. There was no way I could get out from between them. I was at the meeting point. The epicentre. I couldn't hide either, there was simply nothing taller than a cow-pat in this field.
It was then I heard a cry of "We'll save you young lady, never fear!"
There in front of me was Slobbering-under-the-Bed's very own superhero Off-his-Head-Man. There were few problems that couldn't be made a lot worse with his intervention.
"You have your mask on backwards."
"Oh, I thought it was getting dark early."
"Where's your trusty sidekick Blotto-Boy?"
"Don't worry, he's stopped off to have a pee."
The Marching bands and Morris Men got ever closer. The sound of banging sticks, bells and various instruments was extraordinary. You'd have thought they'd have decided what to play before starting out. The Morris men were playing something authentically rustic, but the marching bands, well, whoops boys! The Birdie Song and Stairway to Heaven just don't go.
Blotto-Boy arrived and fell over. "Hi, you're very pretty," he said.
"Look," I said, nodding in the direction of the waring factions, "We're trapped. They'll be here in minutes. Help."
"Don't worry young lady," said Off-his-Head-Man.
"I'm a man. Look, six days of designer stubble!!" I pointed at my face.
"Doesn't mean a thing, so had my first wife!"
"By the way, what are you doing over in Paralytic, you're normally fighting crime boozing in Slobbering?"
"Pub crawl went wrong. Neither the lad or I can use the sat-nav," he paused for a moment, bent down, wobbled and fell over sideways. He had taken his golden boot off and was pointing to a hole in his sock. "Hey, we could escape through this?"
I slapped my head with my hand, "Look that might have worked on The Goons, but this is real life! For goodness sake what have you been drinking? Shoe polish?"
Blotto-Boy piped up, "I really like dark tan. With an olive."
At this very moment I spied something very familiar poking out of the very turf just a few feet away. It rotated and a single lens locked onto me. I hoped the torpedo auto-fire was switched off or this could be a short reunion. I bid a quick wave to my superhero friends and ran towards the lens. When I arrived the ground bulged upwards and a hatch opened. Indigo Roth looked upwards. "Hope you don't mind, I borrowed your submarine," he said cheerfully.
"Did you know you're 30 miles inland?"
"Bloody sat-nav's buggered again! Told me I was going past a speed camera at 40 knots just now."
"Thanks for the rescue mate, but you can pay the speeding fine!" I followed Roth and climbed carefully through the hatch and slammed it behind me.