Cornwall literally does my head in

November 2012

Anyone who knows me will tell you I don’t like big cities. I’m very much like my parents in this respect. I hate large crowds, I dislike noise, I don’t like people invading my personal space, I detest the unnecessarily inflated prices for everything and I get very angry when I know I have to go within a few miles of a city or a big town. This is why I get an uncontrollable urge to commit murder whenever I visit London.

The roads are worse. I’ve never driven through London. Firstly I’ve never had a reason to. Secondly I don’t want to pay the congestion charge and thirdly, I know I would actually commit murder if I was forced to drive through the place. I once had to drive through Sheffield and the stupid one-way system I was forced to negotiate cost me almost as much in petrol as the journey up from Essex. More recently I negotiated Leicester city centre aided by a satnav and it kept trying to navigate me into buildings and down one-way streets.

I much prefer the country. I like being away from noise and close to nature and being at one with the world. I also like being as far away from idiots as possible. My wife also likes these quaint little villages and loves history so we decided to take a long weekend away to Cornwall. Despite picking the weekend where half the county was flooded, it was lovely to get away from it all and relax. After a busy year of racing, journalism, running a business and having to threaten stupid solicitors with physical violence to get them to do their job, a few days away in the middle of nowhere with the love of my life was most welcome.

We had a nice and easy trip down. There was virtually no traffic on the roads and we got there in plenty of time. We arrived in the lovely village of Tintagel, had a nice walk through the village and explored some of the local sights. I felt like a middle-aged man. It was wonderful.

I very much liked the fact that health and safety was non-existent. Being an olde worlde kind of place, there are no pavements through what passes for the high street. This means that you dice with death every time you want to nip down to the shops. It’s brilliant. People just accept the fact that they could get mowed down if they want a loaf of bread. We also visited the ruins of Tintagel castle which is right on the edge of a rocky cliff that falls into the sea. This is particularly hazardous in the rain because the rocks are slippery. I loved the fact that there were no signs warning people to stay away from the edge. I liked there not being any safety barriers because quite frankly if you are stupid enough to walk right to the edge of a slippery cliff in high winds then you deserve to fall and die. The rest of Britain could learn a thing or two from this place.

The cottage we rented for a few days was also very lovely. It was a bit like the Tardis; it looked tiny from the outside but inside it was like a palace. It had a nice open plan kitchen-diner-living room area downstairs, an en-suite bedroom, a spare room and more toilets than we could possibly need. What concerned me slightly was the notice on all the toilets that stated we could only dispose of toilet paper in the bog and nothing else. This left me slightly confused as to whether or not I could take a dump for the whole weekend.

That wasn’t the main problem with the cottage. No, the main problem was that it was an old cottage with wooden beams everywhere and built back in the days when the population were all midgets. I should point out that I am over 6 feet tall. You can see where this rant is going can’t you?

So I unlocked the front door and, being the gentleman that I am, I let my wife go in first. She was fine because she is only about 5ft 8. I had to duck to get in the front door. Because it was raining heavily and the cottage had wooden floor, I decided to take my shoes off in the doorway to avoid getting mud all over the nice clean floor. As you can imagine, when I stood up, I cracked my head on the doorway. I then walked in, dazed, and noticed the helpful sign informing me to mind my head.

I then helped beloved unpack all the things from the car and walked up stairs and battered my head on the archway between the lounge and the hallway. You would have thought that I would have learnt my lesson…

So after a lot of deliberation, I eventually decided the notice on the toilet couldn’t possibly mean I wasn’t allowed to poo so I sat down on the man-throne. Half an hour later I stood up… and bashed my head on the wooden rafter. By this time, I had developed a genuine haemorrhage and, not wanting to go out like Elvis, I escaped the toilet so I could die peacefully on the sofa.

The next day, having spent a few hours attempting to seek out John Hurt in Merlin’s cave and managing to not hit my head on the low rock ceiling once, we arrived back at the cottage. Remembering my error from my earlier experience, I ducked. I’m still not sure whether it was the fact it was dark or the abuse my head had already taken had given me double vision but I walked straight into the top of the doorframe and cracked by skull yet again.

Having head-butted pretty much every door frame in the cottage, I not only had a colossal headache but had to spend the whole weekend walking like a hunchback which needless to say gave me back ache and a stiff neck. So I was actually quite relieved to get out of the place and enjoy our last morning eating a greasy breakfast in the local pub. That was until I got up to pay and head-butted the bar.