This story is linked from Party mix too… and is written by guest contributor, Richard ” Zippy” Thorns
Gimmie Shelter (or the spare key to the front door).
‘The Warren,’ in the leafy town of Crowborough, East Sussex, is the sort of paradise where your average Russian oligarch might want to end up: the only stipulations for living there being that you’d need considerably more money than your average Russian oligarch, and rather less affability. And it was here that we find a family unit indeed from near that part of the European community: a German family whom we shall call the Von Trapp family. Mr Von Trapp may or may not have made his fortune in: as Robert Harris observed “Sausages, beer and engines: Germany’s three gifts to the world!” Such things are lost to history and we may never know. What we do know however, is that due to some spectacular twist of fate, Mr Von Trapp found himself living next door to four hippies, one of which owned an extensive Whitesnake and Pink Floyd collection and a petrol-driven chainsaw. Indeed, just as the Queen’s presence at Becknam Pellis (pronounced, I believe as: ‘Buckingham Palace’) is indicated by the Union Flag, so too were Mr Von Trapp’s neighbours’ presence at home indicated by huge plumes of smoke emanating from the chimney; sometimes there was even a fire in the grate. It was a sad state of affairs that the tipsy and rather cleaner-living Zippy (who was ‘Mike’ to the flat’s other Rick, Vivian and Neil-like occupants) found himself standing outside his own flat in dismay at 11:30pm on a wet Friday night, with no front-door key after a good session down at the Wheatsheaf: soaked to the skin and having to work the next morning. Mindful of his flatmates’ habit of going down to a large country house on the outskirts of Crowborough of an evening / morning, Zippy left the darkened exterior of the flat, tiptoed up the path, dodging the dripping rhododendrons for the two mile walk to said country house. When he finally arrived, Zip was delighted to find his hunch correct; the lucid, siren-like noises of the Rolling Stones at Altamont wafted from the golden, warmly-lit interior of the large house, but sadly there seemed no way of getting anyone to hear the bell, probably due either to the fact that the bell was situated a long way from the drawing-room, or perhaps (and more likely) everyone was too shitfaced to bother doing anything about it, if indeed the notion that ringing was real ever came into it. And so it was that Zippy made the error (and you only have to do these things once in life, it seems) of trying to move a bit closer to the action by trying to get to the rear of the house. It all seemed so simple; just hop over the wire fence at the rear of the garden, go up to the window where the music was coming from and give the window a knock. The fence was a little high and would be best transversed, Zippy reasoned, by taking a jog and, placing a hand on the post, launching oneself over. What Zippy didn’t quite realise on this occasion was that the house was built in the period from the turn of the century to the 1920s, and as such was (as was a common architectural feature of the times), built up high on an island plateau, with deep, cavernous shady gravel walks beneath, along which one led one’s fancy to arbours cool. In short, a sickening drop lay the other side, with the location of the gravel paths something of a mystery in the pitch-darkness. It’s enough to say Zippy re-enacted Gandalf’s death-fall with the fire-ogre some thirty years too soon and his exact words are lost to history, although ‘Oh, shit’ could be assumed a fair assumption. The resulting, thumping encounter with the gravel path was loud enough to be heard from inside the house over the TV, and the fact that the collision succeeded where the doorbell failed is a testament perhaps to the force of the impact; an impact sufficient to dislocate Zippy’s arm and give Rick Wakeman an idea for his next album: ‘Journey to the Centre of the Crowborough Orthopaedic Ward.’ Two hours later, Zippy was still locked out – and lucked out, it seemed – as the final return to the country house this time resulted in getting in, and it’s a testament to the times (and everyone’s long-departed stamina) that the party was still going on. Again, it can’t be verified, but it seems to be the general consensus that Zippy’s opening words were something along the lines of: “You bastards!’ as the door was finally opened. Of course, if this were a cartoon, it would no doubt end with everyone seeing the funny side, and the final frame would end with everyone laughing at the misunderstanding. But as this tale enters the mists of folklore, such memory is somewhat misplaced. It does, however, make the point of just how bad for you clean-living can sometimes be.