That's it then. Not another this millenium. And lots of you missed it. No more. Done and dusted. History. We'll all have to wait until August 2000 for the next Pilgrims Rally. Those of you that managed to get there will know that it was as good as ever-just quieter. Where was everyone? What did we say? Do wrong?
Next year will be different. The beer tent will be twice as large so as to accommodate the much increased range of ales. And there shall be entertainment. We have arranged for a third marquee very large for the Saturday evening concert. At present, only Madonna and Elton John are booked, but others are yet to confirm. And it's all free. I lie. The Saturday morning ritual was not without incident this year. For those of you that have an afternoon/early evening ritual, Friday would certainly have been trying. No loos until early evening. But, I'm not talking about that kind of ritual. It's the go out and fetch the paper ritual to which I refer.
The route through the woods to the 'Triangle' shops is a most pleasant walk. Do it every year. Love it. Why did I end up back on Lea Chapel Lane? I didn't even recognize it at first, came in from an odd angle you understand. Never mind, there was always the walk back. I'll get it right then. And so, the 'Triangle' shops. What's this? Closed? No, no. Can't be ? They can't do that ? All that is left is a chippy (that I didn't know existed) and a Chinese restaurant (I think) was about to open. Where do I buy my paper now? Onwards, ever onwards. There is bound to be a paper shop not too far away, after all, look at all of those chimney pots. Laindon railway station. Got to be a paper shop there. There is. A row of shops right opposite. Deep joy. I was on control at l pm, so couldn't hang about. On entering the newsagents, I was faced with a small vertical rack holding the papers. Sun, Mirror, Star, Sport. Wow? They had the lot? What a selection, not a broadsheet to be seen. I said to the Asian gentleman, 'Good morning. Have you The Times?'
'Oh yes. It is 11.15.' 'No, no, The Times.' 'Oh. The Times newspaper?' 'Yes.
'No. I've sold it.' It? It? You mean that that you only had one? Where am I?
Onwards, ever onwards. Eventually, I arrived at Laindon village centre. An arcade of dowdy 60's shops with a newsagent. Deep joy. This time, a standard sized, horizontal rack. Sun, Mirror, Star, Sport. Oh, not again. Then I spot my quarry. A lonely copy of The Times, on the top shelf. presumably to deter the prying eyes of youngsters. Don't want the little darlings to grow up maladjusted. I fetch it down and check that all supplements are present. I expect it all for my 60 pence you know? Waiting in the queue, I wonder whether the sales assistant shall ask 'Would you like a bag for that sir?' whilst giving me a knowing wink of an eye.
Time was short. Must be back by 1.00. At least I knew the route back. At the Methodists chapel, just below the 'Triangle' shops, a wedding was taking place. A coloured gentleman was there. Nice whistle. Very smart...topped by a scarlet baseball cap. Hello Basildon. The walk back through the woods (the proper route this time) was, as usual, very pleasant. Did you know that some of the 'Plotlands' were here? The plotlands were large farms that were sold off in 'plots' to those people from the east end of London that wanted to make a fresh start. Eventually, with the 'New Town Plan', these were abandoned. The nature reserve is what is left. Somewhere nearby, is a reconstructed Plot, complete with 'home' . This can be visited. Must do that one year. History in Basildon. And I made it back by 1.00 (ish).
I received my 'phone bill the other day. Another shock. Before standing charge and VAT, my bill for the quarter was 3l pence Over doing it again. BT are convinced that my friends and family have all died. Should I become another member of that elite set and joined the 'net, then I suppose that I would spend more on 'phone bills and I would have another 'address'. But would I know what to do with it? http://www.ericlane.prattco.sos.help.UK. Maybe not.
Another event happened recently. Again, the last of the millenium. The eclipse. Did you see it? I took the day off and traveled to south Devon. Left home at half past mid-night. Bugger all traffic. I remained on the old A30 (as opposed to the A303), very quiet until the junction of the A30/A303. More traffic than a normal day. All heading west, but moving swiftly. Gradually, I met more and more traffic and I still hadn't worked out exactly where I should go. Onwards, ever onwards. I decided on Hope Cove, a tiny place on Devons southern peninsula, well into the area of totality. Hadn't been there before by road. Arrive about 3.15. Sleep. Deep joy. Awoke to find that I had more company. Lots more company. Still, these experiences are to be shared, yes? Only an hour to go, I selected my spot and set up the camera on the tripod. Very overcast. No chance of seeing the sun/moon. What should I expect to see besides it getting dark? Not sure but found out. Wow? Who controls that big dimmer switch? So fast? An enigmatic experience if ever I had one.
Okay, that's it then. Go home. The traffic was unbelievable. Should have taken the bike after all. I shall know for the next one.