Weekend in hell: Why the hack will not be back

20:40, Jun 04 2014

I spent last weekend growing apart from my mentor - the Old Hack.

He read last year's report on Irishman's Creek Rally and decided it was exactly the sort of event he and I should do together.

I've taken him to a few events in the past but his modus operandi is to get drunk and obnoxious. I was hoping at this event he could slip under the radar.

It didn't start well. When we picked him up on Friday he was angry because of what I'd said about his dog - Roger - in last week's column.

"You can say what you want about me, I'm a big boy, but be careful what you write about a man's dog. For those of us whose kids have grown up and moved overseas - and never call, I might add - a dog is like having a three-year-old again. They always want to do something when you feel like it. "

He'd decided to bring Roger along so that I could say sorry. From there the trip degenerated. His prostate was the only thing in worse nick than Glen's Brooklands Chrysler, which was out of the rally before Templeton..


We arrived after dark. I had explained that it was a rustic weekend. A friend's cabin in a pine forest, no power, no toilet, a fire pit outside and little else.

Most of all I stressed that it gets cold down in Fairlie. He said cold didn't scare him. He used to sleep in the woolsheds back in the day. He could tell me a story or two about sleeping in the cold.

Sure enough he brought his hopeless sleeping bag from the 1970s and spent the first night lying miserably on the cold floor looking more and more waxen and corpse-like. Everybody gave him blankets for the remaining nights but he took them ungraciously.

The whole weekend continued with him complaining. He couldn't get more sherry. He needed a few hours on Saturday afternoon to proof-read The Press.

His bowels were bad. He told inappropriate jokes. When we were leaving he didn't lift a finger to help clean up. On and on it went.

It made me realise that sometimes relationships are best kept in the box they're in. Just because you have a relationship with someone doesn't mean it's a good idea to go vintage motoring with them.

We drove back to Christchurch in silence. The Old Hack was looking his age and Roger was feeling sick from the vomit he had eaten off the forest floor for breakfast.

The Old Hack agreed that the trip had been a bad idea. He's got a good way of damning things with faint praise. When I dropped him at his gate he said: "I'll tell you something, John. That was a once in a lifetime experience."

I won't say it was all bad. Just mostly bad. We did have a nice chat about how sad it is that the apostrophe has been removed from signposts and his dog was a star.

I sincerely take back anything mean I've ever said about Roger. I really feel he was robbed of a trophy which should have been awarded for doing what many people have thought of doing since the 1970s and crapping all over the interior of my dad's car.

The Press