Brief History lesson: (for those who don’t know me)I haven’t sailed in the Dart fleet for about 4 years concentrating on domesticity.
Well, after doing those household chores of laying laminate flooring I looked at the clocks and thought, “Its Saturday night, the Nationals are on, Dee is 1hr 30 mins away, What the hell am I doing at home”
Following the epiphany I ran upstairs grabbed some kit and legged it across the A50, avoided the traffic on the M6 and arrived at 8pm to see Lloydy in the car park, sniffing gelcoat or whatever he does whilst lurking around boats.
Some people don’t change at all…… or do they? (more on Mr Lloyd later) David then spent a very valuable 3 minutes lecturing me on why he hadn’t seen me, how I should do Aruba, was I going to get a boat?, where was I living these days?, why did I sell Ian Barrington my boat so cheap? (I have to admit he got me there!) I made excuses and went to the bar.
Got to the bar, didn’t recognise many, the coin started to drop: we used to go out to eat till about 9pm, arrive fashionably late and it starts from there. Aha! Saw Adrian, quick chat “are you getting a boat?” Etc etc. and the club starts to fill up.
Lots of youngsters (apparently that’s because of the Atkinson/Norman breeding programme) and I spy Sally “ah, lovely to see you (dart kisses), Are you buying a boat then?” I ask where Scott is and it seems these days he’s not happy just damaging boats but has taken one of the brood to A&E for chin bandaging. I spy Scott and see him walking towards me “so I hear you’re in the market for a new boat?” I’d been warned about these underhand Arthur Daily tactics but didn’t think Sally would be in on it too!
Back towards the Bar where I find Herve, huge hug, lots of kisses (well he is French) and …wait for it… “achetez-vous un bateau puis?”
What is it with you lot? I don’t think you need a distributor at all, the marketing is fine as far as I can see!
Lloydy calls from across the bar (the band aren’t on yet) “do you want a drink?” OH……MY…….GOD……, I pinch myself really hard and consider the enormous change in the fleet. I’m so shocked it takes me a while to realise three things. 1: My bottle is ¾ full 2: He wants me to do Aruba 3: I’m a potential for a new boat to beat.
I’ve forgotten something in the car and briefly go outside to see Geoff and Jenny returning from somewhere looking sheepish and Jenny blushing…. That’s the secret of their marriage sorted then and maybe a tip for the “Doddy’s”
>From there it’s the usual Dart party I’ve always known, fab friendly faces a great welcome, Jojo’s little shorts, Ali dancing like Tigger on speed (what is she on? and where do we get it?), Beryl with “Our Michelle, our Paul etc”, Herve telling me to stay over and I can sleep with him again (someday I’ll explain).
All of a sudden, like a parting in the clouds on a wet day, the one, the only, gorgeous Amanda Gadsby appears and the room goes quiet, jaws drop and hearts can be verbally heard to pick up pace. Herve and I drop to our knees in humble reverence and she acknowledges with a knowing smile and a wink.
I know atmosphere is normally accredited to the Dart fleet but there’s something very special about Dee and the people that run it. I’ve already decided on my home club “when I buy a boat”. In the short term I’ll fill in for anyone, next year watch out, Ginge is returning!
We were all sailing as twenty somethings in the fleet, we’ve all gone on to create the next generation of Dart sailors, bought camper vans and got a little older, **** we can still party though.