I was extremely angry. Possibly more angry than I have ever been before.
Actually that’s not true, I’ve been pretty angry before.
But, still, on this occasion I was REALLY FUCKING ANGRY.
And so it was that I arrived at Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens for the St Georges Day Festival to meet Ben and Grant. There was a fear in my mind that it was such a foul mood that had overcome me that all enjoyment would be impossible, and Ben and Grant would end up hating me for ruining their day.
Fortunately the very opposite is always the case – when with Ben and Grant it is impossible for me NOT to enjoy myself.
They took me straight to a pub.
This pub was a strange place in the middle of nowhere. Some weird desolate industrial zone with empty streets and oddly shaped architecture. The pub was a collapsing Victorian shell, which was near impossible to enter. But once within, inexplicably, we discovered it was a bustling German tavern. Filled to the brim with German clientele enjoying German beer and eating German cuisine. I loved it immediately.
We ordered some schnitzel and other stereotypical dishes, which came we free shots of rum, and guzzled pints of delicious German beer.
Within 30 minutes I was both very tipsy and very happy. Which could mean only one thing.
It was time for the medieval combat.
We returned to the Pleasure Gardens with a merry spring in our step.
One thing I didn’t mention earlier was that as part of the St George’s Day Festival they had live minstrels, falconry, and FUCKING MEDIEVAL COMBAT! There were literally men in full armour with blunted swords bashing the hell out of each other.
We of course got 100% involved – by grabbing a pint of ale then shouting as loud as we possibly could. There was Jim who got beaten by Daisy. Barney who punched the HELL out of Daisy. Everyone booed him to oblivion unsurprisingly, us very much included. For some reason she got support as the underdog though she was just as hardcore as the men – and much more hardcore than Jim.
I’m not joking though these guys were wearing full body armour with helmets and everything. And they were smashing the SHIT out of each other with proper metal beasts, slightly blunted at the edges. We were later to find out a set of armour set them back approximately £2000 each. It was pretty savage.
Next up we saw Tim against Badger.
This split the group somewhat. I, of course, was supporting Badger from the start. The man himself looked like a badger before putting the helmet on. Tim, however, looked like a helmet. Which is why Ben and Grant were supporting him.
The fight was big. We were shouting at the top of our voices:
COME ON TIM!
It was like we were on Henman Hill if Henman had ever been entertaining.
Halfway through the round I converted to Tim.
COME ON TIM!!!
Tim pulled a muscle in his leg, but he carried on. Then he broke Badger’s nose. But Badger got up anyway and insisted on carrying on. But sadly Tim was having none of it. He forfeited the match.
Between each match a really creepy long-haired man talked into a microphone and called himself the Wizard – he was meant to be a commentator or something but I really don’t know what the point of him was. Just to be creepy I guess.
There was also a medical lady dressed as a maid with a gravity-defying cleavage on show. Every ten minutes a combatant would pretend to have an injury and lie on the floor so she’d come and ‘see to’ him.
So finally it was the last match of the day. The decider of the tournament.
Barney vs the Fireman.
We shouted and cheered. Barney’s mum ran round the audience and told us it was her son in the ring, she was so proud.
Grant loudly shouted at the back of her had: COME ON FIREMAN!
She turned around with a look on her face I have never seen before. A combination of anger, disgust and betrayal, with a hint of crestfallen.
We cheered Fireman to victory, whereupon he was crowned by the creepy commentator.
During all this time we’d had a lot of takeaway beer from a great local pub, so we were happy with how the day had gone. But it was not finished yet, oh no. The creepy commentator had one more thing to say.
‘And now for the grand finale, grab yourself a beer and come back in 15 minutes for…….. THE MEAT GRINDER! 8 contestants in the ring for a last man standing battle to the death!’
We creamed ourselves, grabbed some more beers and waited.
And then there they were. All in the ring. There was Gruff with a sword and shield. There was Daisy, also with a sword and shield. There was Barney, with his punching fist. But then there was Badger, with his sword from hell. The Fireman, with his bastard sword. And there was Moose. With a two handed fucking axe.
The commentator introduced them all. One by one. When he got to Daisy she piped up in a man’s voice. It was JIM! The commentator apologised:
‘Sorry Jim, I thought you were Daisy with that delicate feminine stature of yours.’
Poor old Jim, that’s gotta knock your confidence before starting an all-vs-all full contact medieval combat extravaganza.
They started the round. Everyone was running about smashing each other. We cheered for Jim for about the two seconds it took him to get knocked out. Grant was still cheering for Tim, even though he wasn’t even in the arena. In fact his was sitting right in front of us with a forlorn look on his face. But Grant kept shouting until the whole world hated us, and Tim turned to sadly shout:
‘I’m right here!’
The combat was getting intense. Two fighters were right in front of us battling it out. When out of nowhere came moose with his two-handed axe. They hadn’t seen him as he strutted up behind Barney and raised the axe above his head with both hands.
BOSH he brought it down upon his head. Then up and again. Then up and again. Like he was chopping fucking wood. I felt the impact ricocheting through my frame.
But then there was a double team on Moose, he was clattered to the floor. And the final two ended in a world of fury. It was the end. I can’t even remember who won, and don’t even care to remember. I was exhausted.
We grabbed a beer and went to chat to the fighters. They showed us their armour and weapons and displayed their bloody wounds. There was also a small amount of propaganda in an attempt to recruit us.
To be honest before the day started I thought it would be a comical extravaganza. It was indeed pretty comical but I left with a massive amount of respect for these men. It was an extremely physical sport and they endured a lot of pain. I’m totally going to the World Chamionship in Russia one day.
COME ON TIM!
I realise I’ve already written a lot about this day, but really this was only the beginning. Fortunately, by this point we were so drunk that I can’t remember much of what happened later.
I think we got on a tube to somewhere Central. On the train we mugged Ben off so he went and sat next to a man with salmon trousers on. So for the next half hour we referred to Ben as ‘Salmon Trousers’.
We ended up having some drinks at a really posh place where we started debating politics. It got pretty heated so we decided this wasn’t the time to debate politics. Instead we ended up having an even bigger debate about whether the heads on Rapa Nui had bodies or not.
Alas finally the day came to an end. We walked along the Thames, singing ‘we love the river’ at the top of our voices.
I kicked Ben in the balls at the train station and Grant and I ran off in different directions.
I never saw them again.