I almost got my face smashed in at a children’s attraction this week. Mrs C, myself and the small child we have to take around with us – aka our daughter Mary – were on holiday in a caravan.
It rained non-stop and in a bid to break up the monotonous days we went on as many trips out as possible.
One of these was to a farm, which was very muddy and visitors were advised to wear wellies, which fortunately we had in the back of the car (that’s one advantage of regularly holidaying in the UK, you are fully prepared for crap weather).
We stuck on our wellingtons and plodded around, looking at animals, taking a tractor ride with a dozen or so other glum-looking parents, expressing surprise at just how pungent a cow pat is.
At the end of all this fun (I use fun in the loosest sense of the word), we headed to an area called Welly Wash, which, as the sharper ones among you may be able to deduce, is where you use a hosepipe and a brush to remove dirt from your footwear.
Mrs C went first and when she’d finished washing and scraping, for reasons unknown – and despite the fact she knew I was next in the queue – handed the hose to a middle-aged bloke, who had a child called Jemima.
To be fair to Mrs C, she did this because the bloke had barged past me and stood right next to her in slightly intimidating fashion – clearly not aware of the etiquette of waiting one’s turn.
This chap grabbed the hose and spent around 12 minutes cleaning every last atom’s worth of dirt from his wellingtons before his wife, who could see me looking at him as I though I wanted to if not kill him then at least heavily maim him, said, ‘there is a queue Toby, this gentleman’s been waiting a while now. In fact I think he may have been here before you’.
Toby turned his gormless-looking face towards mine, pretended to see me for the first time, and said ‘ah well, good things come to those who wait’ and then – and this, I believe, is the worst trait anyone can ever have in life – laughed manically at his own remark.
Another four or five minutes passed, by which time his boots were cleaner than when he’d first purchased them, before he finally handed me the hose.
What happened next was, I absolutely swear, a complete accident but in the circumstances I can see why it might not have looked like it.
I bent down to pick up the brush but forgot the hose was in my other hand and in the act of moving, sent a jet of water looping into the air which hit Toby square in the face.
If he hadn’t been 6ft 2in and built like a Slovenian cage fighter I’d have taken great pleasure from it, but as it was I was suddenly fearful for my own life.
He stopped, stiffened, and turned to glare at me. I apologised profusely (and genuinely – I didn’t mean to do it) while his wife said, ‘oh, no harm done’ in an attempt to diffuse the situation.
Noting the way he had clenched his suddenly massive-looking fists, I said weakly ‘I’m so so sorry’ four or five times.
Thankfully at that very moment Jemima – always said that was a lovely name – piped up, ‘daddy, can I have an ice-cream?’ and he suddenly realised, though somewhat reluctantly, that it wouldn’t be the done thing to start beating another man to a pulp in front of his own child.
If I could have picked Jemima up and kissed her I would have – though as she was aged seven and not my child, this too might not have been a good idea.
Toby marched off chunnering a word which sounded like ‘tickhead’ and I continued washing my wellies, though taking a little more care about where I directed the hose.
A close shave, but with a bit of luck Toby had a wet face all day and was in a bad mood for the remainder of the week.