Shithouse Door Rally

29th April 1983 - East Durham MCC

It was a particularly dull weekend, if I recall correctly. I don't remember seeing the sun all weekend and the rain was never far away, when it wasn't actually falling.

The ride to Sherburn Hill, only five miles or so from Durham, seemed to take forever and I didn't arrive at the site, just next to a children's playground, until late afternoon by when, it appeared, most people were up the street, (up quite a gradient, as well), at the nearest pub.

While putting my tent up, I happened to say something to a girl a few yards away, probably about the weather, and, instead of answering me, she called to a nearby friend, “Ee, don't ee talk funnee”. This seemed to presage the rest of the weekend. Most people were from this area or further north or west and I was the only southerner there. Luckily, in the pub, I met a couple of rallyists that I knew from these strange lands and I could talk to them without an interpreter. Through some of them I found an ex-Londoner who immigrated to these parts a year or so earlier, and I latched onto him and his friends for the rest of the weekend.

The Friday evening was mostly spent in the pub, transferring to the Community Hall, just opposite the camping area, towards the end. I was extremely tired after my journey, and crashed out not long after the transfer.

On Saturday, I located the ex-Londoner and his club and managed to get myself invited out on a run with them. This just seemed to be a trip to a different pub a few miles away and a café under some viaduct. When we came back, people were larking about on the playground equipment, as one would expect. There were some silly games going on as well, although we missed the start of them while we were out.

The larking about in the playground continued for a while after the games, until the hall was open for us. The music was fine, not so much a disco as a record deck or two up on the stage area. The floor was filled with tables and chairs for us, so there was not much chance of mass dancing. The liquid refreshment was pretty much of the canned variety, with a small amount of draught stuff.

Although this was the most northerly mainland rally I had been to, I failed to get long distance, as there was a guy from Kinloss, in the north of Scotland, who beat me by ten miles. (When they announced the prizes, I thought they said he was from Kinross, which is only 150 miles away, compared to my 280!)

When Sunday arrived, the fog, which seemed to have been our constant companion all weekend, had lifted only slightly, meaning wet-weather gear was recommended for the trip home, even though there was no actual rain about. This had lifted entirely by the time I got back to civilisation and the rest of the trip was quite pleasant, if a little longer than most weekends.

- Phil (the Spill) Drackley

Post Script: The Hall that hosted the party is still there and still in use, but the playground/camping area is now under houses. I have not been able to locate the pub we used during the day. In fact, there seems only to be two shops of any kind in the entire village.