Earlier this month I was given the opportunity to be a leader for the Gateway club's annual holiday to Devon. More than 200 Mencap members from across the UK get together each year at a holiday village for goodtimes and not a small amount of friendly competition... members of our group won the fancy dress, connect four and swimming amongst other things - Woking cleaned up!
I had so much fun with this group of lovely people and though I was left physically and emotionally exhausted at the end of the week, I also left with a more open heart and better understanding of the Mencap posse. One thing that left a strong impression on me was being around so many people who were themselves 24/7 and didn't care who thought they were cool or not. I could learn a thing or two about that.
Awesome bits that come to mind...
Nick getting wrapped up in tin foil like a chicken drumstick
Ian one of the group remarking to a leader that "half of them are faking you know" when we were out on a trip within earshot of members of the general public
Members of the group shouting "MY AGE!" at any number under 30 during bingo every night
The Elvis tribute act getting members of our group a bit excited
The Lady Gaga tribute act having a wardrobe malfunction and getting everyone a bit more excited
Watching small children get sprayed with water full in the face with no warning by a mechanical dinosaur
Any time that Jolyon gave a salute or made a farting noise or both
Sitting next to Linda whilst she heckled a sheep shearer
A leader with another group looking so much like Rob Bell I actually thought he was for a few days
Cutting shapes on the dancefloor with Pat my 70-something chalet-mate who turned out to be a natural and talented bodypopper
All of the guys who dressed up as women for the fancy dress (not including the man dressed as Wonderwoman, that made me want to poke my eyes out)
The disco every night was like being at successive wedding receptions - cheesy music and a floor full of people who just didn't give two hoots what anyone thought and were out to have a rollicking good time. I didn't think I still knew the dances to Tragedy and the Macarena. I did. So did they. Heaven.
If you see an opportunity to get involved with Mencap or something similar, do it. If you don't love it I will give you a thousand dollars*
*not true but do it anyway.
Fancy dress night featuring Linda as a hot air balloon
Brian the caveman
Our winners Jolyon the scarecrow, Zoe the lion, Pete the Dorothy and Nick the tinman
with my clown buddy Pat before we let loose on the dancefloor.
I wish I had a photo of that.
Elvis belting it out
And the leaky dinosaur...