Belfast Telegraph

Friday 31 October 2014

Camping beside family from hell left me like mad-haired zombie

Hair trouble: a few days in a tent could make you feel like Monica from Friends in Barbados

Hell is other people. I don't know if the writer Jean-Paul Sartre coined that phrase after enduring three nights in a tent on a rain-sodden campsite but it's possible. I discovered this week how familiarity breeds nothing but contempt. Hell is lying in a tent at 3am having to listen to a bunch of drunken bores drone on for five hours – at high decibel – while you're trying to sleep.

It was unfortunate timing that my first venture back into a tent in years coincided with being pitched beside a large family of rough oiks. I once lived in a small tent for four months so I'm not fussy about living a bit rough for a few days.

I can cope with relentless rain and sleeping on rock hard ground. I can cope with my hair going frizzy to the point of making me look demented (think Monica Geller in the Friends episode set in Barbados) or having to put on trainers and a raincoat to trek to the toilet in the middle of night. I swear I really don't mind drying my last pair of socks on the car heater, or sleeping on a damp pillow.

But I can't cope with a sleepless night and I couldn't believe it when, shortly after retiring for the first evening, my new neighbours started up a party.

I don't know why I was surprised, the five large bottles of vodka I spotted should have been a giveaway. I guess I didn't expect it to go on all night because they had young children themselves.

The noise cranked up at 10pm and so began a long slow descent into insanity as I lay trying to sleep just a few feet away with nothing but a thin sheet of canvas separating me from being the sober, reluctant guest at their party. I wouldn't have minded so much if they were actually having my kind of fun. But it was the most boring party I've ever gatecrashed. The conversation peaked with a discussion on types of cheese. By 2am, a sing-song had erupted and I fantasised about producing a gun when one woman delivered a shrieking rendition of Walking In the Air. It's a Christmas song in July, but that didn't stop rousing applause from her vodka-addled audience.

On she went with several more excruciating versions of chart-toppers while I tried to suffocate myself with a pillow. The numbers eventually dropped off, leaving just one loudmouth and a woman who laughed hysterically with every terrible joke he told. I'm not a violent person but I did think about punching him repeatedly in the face. That's what sleep deprivation does to the peaceful.

The volume eventually dropped at about 3am when I staggered out the front door of my tent and glared at them, no doubt resembling a banshee. (They had tattoos and shaven heads, so I daren't do anymore than glare).

Ah, peace and quiet at last, I thought, as I finally heard them go to bed. Until one of the drunks started to snore, loudly. And then another ... and another.

Being kept awake by the sound of three men snoring, none of whom is your husband, is slightly disturbing. The same goes for their flatulence.

And that set the pattern for our three nights on the campsite with a bit of my soul turning into a mad-haired zombie as each night passed.

There's no moral to this rant, no lesson to be learned. It would be churlish to say I'm never going camping again based on one family I hope I never see again.

But it was a hair-raising insight into how it's not the conditions you're in that can be miserable, but the people you find yourself in them with.

Cheryl shouldn’t get it in the neck

Cheryl Cole's not a bad spud so I hope she gets the happy ever after she's clearly been looking for for a long time.

Her wedding and marriage to Ashley Cole was a vulgar affair — flogged to OK! magazine for £1m, encrusted in diamonds, attended by an army of celebs and ended by his serial cheating.

So she's certainly made a different start with new hubby Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini, with a private, small family wedding (albeit remarkably quick).

Here's hoping she also resists the temptation to get her new name tattooed on her neck — I don't think Mrs Fernandez-Versini would fit.

Rory has it down to a tee on Nadia

Poor old Rory McIlroy just can't escape the questions over his private life when all he wants to do is golf.

As he tees off in pursuit of Open glory today, the Holywood golfer is taking questions about Dublin model — and his rumoured new ‘love interest' — Nadia Forde, who escaped a serious car crash.

“Obviously if anyone's in a car crash you're glad to see they're okay,” he said. “It was a pretty scary incident but everything's good.”

And so he successfully side-stepped the dilemma of not wanting to talk about his private life weighed against the risk of looking callous by refusing to comment.

Here's hoping his golf is as accurate.

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