Norman Conquerors


What happens on a stag weekend stays on a stag weekend. Although not in the case of my brother-in-law Steve whose recent stag jaunt to Normandy I recount in detail below.

The journey from the UK to our rented cottage in Northern France had been an absolute breeze with a door to door travelling time of a cool nine hours. We were greeted at the front gate by the owner accompanied by her pet poodle Poppy. They say dogs look like their owners and now I say that sometimes too as the dog did look quite like her owner. Both had white, curly hair and dark eyes. The main difference was the owner wore a thick knit jumper and cords while Poppy was completely naked. This was the first erotic moment in a weekend that was only going to get steamier. The owner led us inside with Poppy trotting brazenly ahead. Well, I didn’t know where to look quite honestly and I sensed the rest of the group were as embarrassed yet as excited as me.

Poppy. Dirty girl.

Poppy. Dirty girl.

The owner gave us a tour of the place and pointed out three toilets. One of these toilets was unable to take solids, the flush on another was temporarily broken while the final toilet didn’t contain a toilet and was just a small room with a sink. “Yes” I smiled to myself. “I think I’m gonna like it here”.

Despite growing stomach cramps we wandered into town to find something to eat, eventually settling on a restaurant called Chez Fanny. I’m unable to expand on this as can’t think of anything amusing to say about a restaurant called Chez Fanny.

Chez Fanny: not funny.

Chez Fanny: not funny.

We’d all had a few beers by the time we returned to the cottage that night when Paul “Mitch’ Mitcheson upped the stakes by pulling out two bottles of vodka. I no longer drink vodka due to incidents which occurred between 1992 and 1997 so politely declined. That said, I was immediately placed on the back foot when Paul retaliated with “go on, you might as well have a vodka”. I’m far too confident in who I am to succumb to peer pressure. However, I reasoned that if I did indulge then the group might like me and I could win their approval so had several large glasses. The rest of the evening passed in a blur of colourful anecdote and ribald tales. I was flying high as an eagle (a Golden one probably) and eventually stumbled away from the group to see if Poppy was around. No reason.

The next morning I awoke and lay still, mentally assessing the state of my body like a mechanic running diagnostics on a finely tuned Formula 1 car. Everything seemed fine so I sat up. This was my first mistake. Although my face was now 3ft from the pillow, my brain seemed to have remained nestled in the polyester bosom. This disconcerting disconnect caused a swooning nausea to gloop all over me. I sunk back and breathed slowly. There had to be some way I could remain horizontal with my eyes shut and still get through the days activities. There wasn’t. I eased downstairs and bid my annoyingly fresh faced companions a cheery good morning by blinking slowly once. Groping towards the sanctuary of the kitchen I fought to gain control of my heaving parts. This brave, some would say valiant (even though it means the same as brave) attempt failed the moment I was alone. The nearest toilet couldn’t take solids and I hesitated trying to work out if this situation qualified. Too late. I expelled directly into the kitchen sink, coating the discarded crockery with what can only be described as ‘sick’. Thinking back, I may have forgotten to mention this incident to my fellow stag attendees but if you’re reading this now don’t worry! I gave most of it a thorough quick rinse before breakfast. I chose to eat out that morning to gain an insight into the local culture.

Boules! No, I’m not using an expletive. This is in fact the name of a French game which literally translates as ‘balls’. We found a set lying around and thought we’d have a game. I won’t go into the rules here as they can be found online or by travelling to France or areas of Canada and questioning locals. I had rather let myself down at the last stag do I attended by being a bit girly at the shooting activity. Here was an opportunity to win back some Man Points and I was determined to stamp my macho authority on proceedings. Luckily my successful attempt has been immortalised as an animated gif.



Throwing small metal balls around was just the start of an action packed day. Next up was the Norman (place not person) equivalent to Go Ape – the forest adventure activity.

We were confident the safety gear would meet the rigorously exacting standards expected of rural France. (Add naked to pic of dog.

We were confident the safety gear would meet the rigorously exacting standards expected of rural France.

Having been fully kitted out we were given instructions that boiled down to “avoid serious head injury”. With this sage advice ringing in my ears like a helpful bell we set forth. The stars of the show were my bro-in-law Dave and Paul who attacked the first course like a couple of angry squirrels. There were 10 more courses to go which gradually increased in difficulty. Naturally we decided not to bother acclimatising ourselves steadily and chose to tackle the very hardest course next. This has been dubbed ‘The Course of Ultimate Horror’ by me in this sentence.

First to go were Dave and Paul who gave a little twitch of their noses and set off like a long, hard winter approached. Next up was Ian, a no-nonsense, funny, Mancunian playwright. He faced a series of ‘foot swings’ above a 20ft drop with a gap of about 10ft to the nearest ledge. Placing one foot in the first swing he pushed off and reached the next swing without a hitch. The third swing followed, then the fourth. You get the idea. All was going to plan until the sixth swing which he missed by an agonisingly close half metre. With his momentum stalled Ian found himself stranded halfway, unable to go forwards or backwards and with no way down. As the minutes ticked by strength drained from his arms and desperation etched his face. Surely things couldn’t get any worse. Just then a bunch of teenagers turned up. I’m afraid there was a certain amount of laughter and even some taunting. I’d like to apologise to Ian for my rowdy behaviour. I think I was still a bit drunk and not responsible for my actions. The teenagers on the other hand offered words of encouragement with one girl even climbing up to help. She was pretty, blonde, about 19 and concerned for Ian’s welfare. In other words, precisely the person you don’t want to see as a 40 year old man swinging helplessly on the end of a rope. She coaxed, advised and cajoled but to no avail. After a further 10 minutes Ian’s patience finally snapped and he roared “I WANT TO @#&^***ING GET *+$#**ING DOWN!” As this echoed across the forest, woodland creatures scampered to safety and Dave and Paul hurried for shelter in the highest treetops. This surge of blood seemed to do the trick though as with one mighty heave, Ian swung backwards then forwards, traversing the foot swings like a more macho Tarzan until he finally reached the starting ledge and freedom.

I'm a No-Nonsense, Funny, Mancunian Playwright… Get Me Out of Here! Coming soon to BBC4

I’m a No-Nonsense, Funny, Mancunian Playwright… Get Me Out of Here! Coming soon to BBC4

Having witnessed this agony the majority of the group decided to forgo the remaining courses. Personally, I completed all of them in record time, was given a prize and offered a job as an instructor. It’s my blog – if I say it happened it happened. Incredibly, Ian dusted himself down, regained his focus and set about tackling another course. After what he had just been through this resolve was heroic and won the admiration of us all. Regrettably he got stuck halfway round and is still up there as far as I know.


6 Responses to “Norman Conquerors”

  1. 1 Stuart Harrison

    Dave – great to have you back blogging. Hilarious!

  2. Thanks Stuart! Never know, may get some material this Sunday.

  3. 3 Paul "Mitch" Mitcheson

    Ooh Poppy….how I have missed you!

    DBN….time for a vodka rematch in Greenwich me thinks….

    • I think Poppy would stand more chance in a vodka rematch Paul. She looks the type.

      As of last week I’m no longer a Greenwicher. Moved to Whitstable to stuff myself with oysters. Ironically I don’t like oysters so it’s an awkward situation for everybody.

  4. 5 Ian Winterton

    Stuck up that fucking tree I felt like a Ricky Gervais character. Main problem was I didn’t know at that point we could just let go and hang by the clippy things.I thought I was going to die! And die in front of a hot German teenager.

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