Peter Bromhead: Damp campers are such wet blankets sometimes

'I ended up drying myself with a damp towel normally kept for rubbing down the dog.' Illustration / Peter Bromhead
'I ended up drying myself with a damp towel normally kept for rubbing down the dog.' Illustration / Peter Bromhead

While listening to the sound of torrential rain recently, from the sanctuary of a warm, cosy bathtub, the phone rang. I immediately leapt from the water like a startled penguin dodging killer whales; "Don't answer it," I cried.

"But it might be important," my caregiver responded anxiously, reminding me that we are connected to the outside world for a number of reasons.

"It'll be refugees seeking shelter from the weather," I warned. "Have you forgotten all those sodden campers who descended on us from the nearby camping grounds last year?

"Turning our holiday home into a emergency disaster station, with their smelly, wet sleeping bags and other ghastly canvas paraphernalia, it was chaos - plus they polished off my entire stock of liquor," I darkly scowled.

"Come on!" she replied - "I thought you rather enjoyed hosting everyone caught by the awful weather."

At this point the unanswered phone rang again and the caregiver swiftly picked up the receiver.

"It could be a real emergency," she insisted.

It was.

It turned out to be a media pal of mine, desperately wanting to speak to me.

"Thank God! You're home," he cried.

"Look mate," he continued tersely, "I don't want to impose on you, but could we come down and dry out for a few hours? We're absolutely saturated down at the camping grounds, tent's leaking, kids crying, wife's had enough, it's just awful!"

Having viewed the continuous heavy rain - from the comfort of my air-conditioned, double-glazed lounge window, I whole-heartedly agreed about the ghastly weather over the New Year.

"Unfortunately the forecast suggests it's going to continue for the rest of the week - probably best to cut your losses and head home," I suggested, hopefully.

"Don't be so inhospitable," the caregiver muttered, grabbing the phone and taking over the situation. "Of course you're welcome, I'll have hot soup ready when you arrive."

Being the Uber-Lieutenant in charge of the house, she immediately turned domestic tranquillity into something resembling an emergency front-line MASH unit for receiving casualties.

"Take the cars out of the garage and put them out on the road, they'll need the space to dry out their tents and gear," she ordered.

"But I'll get drowned in this downpour," I whined, reluctant to step outside.

"You'll also need to move the boat and trailer from the drive, give our visitors plenty of space to park their cars close to the house while they're unloading."

I spent the next hour clearing the drive for the benefit of the incoming refugees.

Expecting comfort for my sacrifice, I was surprised to be denied access back into the house because I was sopping wet.

My cosy, warm bath seemed like a thousand years ago.

"I don't want you dripping wet clothes all over the floors, with visitors expected.

I was told firmly. "Get undressed in the garage and I'll throw down some dry clothes."

"I'd like a hot shower first," I suggested, shivering with cold.

"Not now," she responded. "We need to keep our hot water supply for our guests - the poor devils will be on the brink of hypothermia in this weather."

I ended up drying myself with a damp towel normally kept for rubbing down the dog. All our stock of warm towels had been requisitioned for the benefit of the expected campers.

Once allowed back into the house I carefully removed the phone off the hook - not needing further holidaymakers seeking refuge - as had happened on previous years.

Oddly, some hours later, nobody had arrived.

I was then instructed to make a trip to the camping ground to determine the cause of the delay.

The site was almost empty, except for a few hardy souls wallowing in mud.

Inquiring at the office, it seemed my mates had pulled out hours ago.

"How come you smell of wet dog?" the camp manager asked curiously.

Arriving home - dripping wet again, I broke the news to the Uber-Lieutenant. She insisted on phoning our expected refugees, believing they'd got lost.

"We tried to call you," was the response. "Your phone was engaged. We decided to take your advice. Bugger camping. Checked the weather forecast and we're now heading back to the comfort of our home. Thanks for the offer."

After wearily putting the boat trailer and cars back into their rightful area at the expense of another drenching, I decided to take another hot bath.

While submerged with a warm sponge on my head, the phone rang again. This time it was my wife's friends, calling from a coastal camping ground, also desperately seeking refuge from the never-ending rain.

This left me with two options, stay submerged in the tub, or go and clear the drive again. Either way, I was going to stay very wet.

- NZ Herald

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