17-19 September 1999
Although there were supposed to be three of us going, Nev & Yvonne's imminent move down south required them to go house hunting, so I was on my own again. I had taken the day off from work, but when I got the info sheet with my ticket, it said the gates would not open until 6pm, so I didn't bother to leave until about 4pm. Despite the fact that I drove along the white lines, between the stationary vehicles for much of the M25 and quite a bit of the lower A1, the run up was fairly uneventful, apart from some quite heavy rain I passed through after joining on behind two other bikes. It looked like we were going to avoid it, as there were three obviously heavy rain patches to the left of us and one to the right with lightning in it! Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, the road soon wandered to the right and we entered the downpour. Luckily, we each had either waterproofs or fairings so, apart from taking account of the wet road surface, we didn't need to slow down much and we were soon back in the sunshine, alongside one of the brightest rainbows I have ever seen. We soon approached the showground and the two other bikes took the first signposted exit, following a group of outfits, but I knew of a shorter route and kept on the A1 a bit longer. I found my way to the site, different camping area this year and did a slow orbit of the field looking for familiar faces until I saw the other two riders arrive, so I parked up near to them.
As last year, only one bar was open on the Friday night and this one just had to be the one furthest from the camping field, didn't it? The camping area this year was in what is usually part of the showground and did not have the usual facilities. The nearby toilet blocks just about coped with the numbers, but there were hardly any washing facilities.
On Saturday the weather was overcast for most of the day. The stalls were not as plentiful as last year and there were some gaps where rides were supposed to have been. The 'Wall of Fear' (I'm sure it used to be called 'Wall of Death' - probably had to change it's name under trading standards regulations) was there as usual. But, despite being advertised on the application forms, the stuntman 'Jake Semtex' was not going to appear in the arena, so the stunt show had to go on twice. Not many people could be bothered to watch the second showing, as they were just repeating their act.
There did not appear to be any BMF discount in operation at any of the outlets. What puzzled me was that the same items were different prices on different stalls - my current jacket could have been bought for £30 at one stall, while it was up to £50 elsewhere. (The stallholders always used to check amongst themselves and even things out.) Although the choice was limited, I did manage to find a suitable new waterproof jacket, with lining and body armour inserts, for £50. It also has three times as many pockets as my old one, including a strange one on the sleeve, (it may be for keys, but I can't be sure).
The bands I wanted to see were at alternating ends of the site; 'Limehouse Lizzy' was at the lower end, 'Fred Zeppelin' was up at the top and 'AB/CD' were back down the bottom. I would have liked to see the other bands, but they clashed with these headliners. There was also an 'Outrageous Cabaret' stage in between the other two, but the only acts I saw bits of were a particularly non-outrageous singer, singing along to backing tapes (might as well have been a Karaoke) and later a Cher look-alike singer. ('Laurel & Hardy' were scheduled at some time - I have no idea what they were supposed to do.) This being the BMF, everything shut down abruptly at midnight, leaving us nowhere to shelter from the occasional rain. Even the funfair was closed. And so to bed.
I only had a quick wander round the stalls on Sunday and packed up rather early - just managing to finish as the rain started. By the time I reached the A1, (less than a mile), it had stopped again and the ride home was a lot quicker than the trip up. I got caught in another downpour in Ruislip, which was enough to penetrate my leather trousers - rather unpleasant!
- Phil (the Spill) Drackley