Here & Now with S Sorrensen
Ye Olde Caboolture, Qld.
There's something incredibly irritating about the bloke facing us.
It's not that he's wearing a red and yellow medieval tunic with tights - despite the fact that it looks incongruous with his reef walker plastic sandals and sun-safe wide-brimmed hat.
It's not that he keeps waving a little yellow flag at us - even though I feel like taking that stick and placing it gently up his dark ages.
No. What's really annoying me as I await the start of another joust (yes, a joust) is that this bloke keeps urging me and all the others packed onto this makeshift grandstand to shout "Huzzah!"
"Huzzah!" we all yell at him. (Well, I don't. I hate this game. Even my granddaughter is sick of huzzahing.)
Anyway, what the hell does huzzah mean? (It's supposed to sound medieval but sounds as authentic as Tony Abbott's rewrite of Christ's message: "I needed shelter and you turned me back...")
Behind the irritating bloke is a horse with a long, flowing, purple saddle cloth. A rider clad in shining metal armour is having trouble controlling the steed which seems spooked. The rider pushes his visor up as the horse rears and shakes its head.
"I can't hear you..." the irritating bloke yells, his pallid face flushing with the rare excitement of being the centre of a thousand people's attention. His pallor and paunch indicate more a life in front of a computer screen than as a marshal in a medieval jousting tournament. He waves his arms (one with a flag) to elicit another 'huzzah' from the audience.
The kid next to me screams this out so loud my right ear rings. He raises his plastic sword in salute, clipping my ringing ear. I glare at him. He shouts "Huzzah!" again loudly in my face.
Frightened by the mass shouting, the horse rears again, the knight in shining armour glinting in the winter sun.
"Not loud enough!" Mr Irritation bellows again. "Louder for Ye Olde Knights," he cries, his flag rising like a conductor's baton poised to activate yet another deafening huzzah from the crowd.
If I hear the phrase 'ye olde' one more time, I'll spike someone and hang their head from the Fourex sign. I've already drunk Ye Olde Cafe Latte bought from Maid Marion with money from Ye Olde ATM.
The PA squeals into life.
"Lords and ladies," comes the announcement. "Welcome to Ye Olde Jousting Tournament."
The irritating bloke brings down both arms, bringing forth another "Huzzah!"
"Oh dear God, let me die now." I say to myself as a thousand huzzahs rise like methane into the sky.
Apparently, not quite to myself.
Seated in front of me is a Viking. He wears a hat with two plastic horns, a fur vest, huge fur boots and he carries a mace. The mace, a dangerous looking weapon consisting of a spiked ball on the end of a chain, was, as far as I can recall, never a Viking weapon but hey, I'm not going to argue. It may be a bit of loot from his last rape and pillage weekend.
The Viking turns to me and says, "Language mate. Me and the wife are here to have a good time..."
His wife is a rough-looking wench with a ring of dainty flowers in her bleached hair.
"If you don't like it why don't ya leave?"
Good question, really.
As the spooked horse is led away and another horse that isn't spooked is declared winner of Ye Olde Joust, I squash past the noisy kid, accidentally standing on his plastic sword, wave to granddaughter, and head for Ye Olde Exit.