It’s Sunday night, and due to my immense lack of resolve when it comes to standing up for what I truly believe in, I find myself camping.
We are in a remote part of the Yorkshire Dales. Our tent pitched in dense woodland, far, far away from civilisation. It’s dark, windy and foreboding. I lay awake – desperate for a wee – staring at the canvas walls. Thankfully, this soul-crushing tedium is interrupted by the noise of someone being murdered outside.
I poke my wife. “What’s that noise?” I whisper.
“You do realise,” she says, “that you’ll enjoy camping much more if you can just ignore the sound of people being murdered.”
“Do you think it’s an owl?” I say.
“Yes,” she agrees. “An owl being murdered. Just relax. Camping is something that’s totally out of our comfort zone. We’re going native. Just go with the flow.”
I hate going with the flow; I’m a stick in the mud. The last time I went with the flow I ended up buying a pair of lemon-coloured flares. Since then I’ve vowed to stay away from anything dangerous or risky, such as freeform jazz.
The ghoulish noise draws closer. To defend myself, I pull the sleeping bag over my face. I poke my wife and whisper, “I don’t want to die surrounded by this much Gore-tex.”
“Sssshhh,” she says. “Someone’s coming towards the tent.” My wife’s acknowledgement that something really was happening sent a tingle of fear down my spine. A feeling I’ve come to refer to as… The Fear of Dread. A sensation I usually experince when it’s my turn to cook and we’ve run out of fish fingers.
We can now clearly hear footsteps. We look at each other. Our faces contort into a mixture of bewilderment and shock. The footsteps fall silent as they reach the front of the tent. My wife gives me the stink-eye. I take this as a subtle hint that I should go out and confront the owl.
I unzip the flap.
I can see the outline of a young man, somewhere in his mid-twenties. He looks at me and says: “Did someone order pizza?”
“Yoo-hoo,” shouts my wife. “That was me. Half pepperoni – half mushroom?”