Road To Nowhere

Or: Mr. Spinneyhead drives the Bogle
It’s nearly Bogle time again. I’m going to try and blog Bogle in surreal time this year, with photos if I can borrow a digital camera. In the meantime, this is a little reminisce from Bogle ’99 (or maybe 2000, it’s all a blur)
You’ve got to have traditions. Everyone needs some traditions. Something you can reminisce about (and bore/ confuse the spouses and partners gained in the intervening period) when you all meet up years later. Bogle is one of my traditions.
The Bogle itself started some thirty five years ago as a pub crawl of epic proportions for Manchester students. The late twentieth century nannying instincts overcame it and it devolved into merely a sponsored walk of epic proportions. (Fifty five miles and hundreds of walkers, making it one of the largest events of its type.) My first contact with the beast was in 1990, when I was stupid enough to walk it and finish it. The experience taught me an important lesson, and ever since I’ve been involved in the support operations but not the slog.
I collected one of the minibuses- Playbus 2- on Friday afternoon and immediately used it to do my shopping. Upon return to UMIST Students Association, home base for the exercise, I did my first bit of waiting. Months of planning go into this thing and then on the day everything is in place by five PM. Which is annoying, as the walkers don’t set off until nine. I wandered around the building.
Downstairs, Tim was playing records and putting together a Stroll selection. Over the following day it would encompass Walking On Sunshine, Road To Nowhere, These Boots Were Made For Walking, Walk On By, Stuck In The Middle With You and Step On.
Upstairs, Ickle Paul and Louise were playing Battle of Britain, with a great big map of the route and markers for all the vehicles and the first and last walkers. Later in the night they donned the tin helmets and handlebar moustaches and were heard sending messages with a few too many ‘What Ho’s and ‘Old Chap’s in them. I set up the coffee maker and became a temporary hero.
More of the old school arrived, then left again because their names weren’t yet on the van or minibus insurance. And finally I was sent out, at ten o’clock. I moaned a lot about being a driver who was stuck on checkpoint two going nowhere, but secretly I enjoyed being in the middle of nowhere with Vicki, Louise and Emily (or was it Louise, Vicki and Emily?), comparing torches and size of Leathermen.
Walkers started arriving at eleven o’clock and stopped at two AM. We left someone else to shut down the checkpoint and I took the girls back to base. There was a tearful goodbye (well, I was sad to see them go) as they were bussed to another checkpoint, then I was sent for pizzas. At this point tiredness takes over and I can’t quite remember what happened. I know I was sent to another checkpoint, I think I drove through Stockport, I may have dreamt the giant Digestive I saw as we went past the McVities factory. I got to lie down on a bench in the bar at half past four. I’m informed that I got some sleep, because Penny was driven out of the building by my snoring.
I awoke, perhaps not refreshed, but certainly less likely to sleep at the wheel, at eight. I still had the keys to the minibus, and was becoming possessive. It would be mine for the rest of the Stroll. The old school had returned, having slept in proper beds (bastards!) and the tag team of Jukes, Sims and Pattinson reduced the youngsters to tears of laughter with our witty reminiscences about The Good Old Days. For some reason, the children decided we should do some pointless driving.
I went to checkpoint nine, which was in a pub carpark. But the pub was closed. Then I went to checkpoint ten, which turned out to be checkpoint eleven, so I went back to checkpoint ten via a short cut down a cul-de-sac. Other drivers pointed at me and laughed. At checkpoint ten, another pub carpark, I listened to crap radio and began my fruitless quest for the remaining iced doughnuts. Damian turned up, talked really fast, and went away again. One day I may understand what he was on about. After a while I got bored and made up an excuse to go back to nine.
After this I wasn’t really needed to transport marshals around anymore, so I didn’t get to meet the girls again- and just when they were beginning to put up with me- so I became the Playbus 2 taxi service. By now the radios were being used as much for jokes and insults as anything else. Damian said something about my age which might have been insulting if he still had all his hair.
The last walkers hobbled in at half past six. The bar opened at seven. We made work in the intervening period, then went to get drunk. Quite how I managed to down four pints in my knackered state I don’t know. Bogle was over for another year. There was the return of all the vans and minibuses the next day, through a St. Patrick’s Day traffic jam, but that’s another story.


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