CHARITY EVENT - THE BATH OF PEAS.

            In the mid 1990ís, I got involved in an unusual sponsored event for the BBC Children In Need charity events. I ended up taking a fully clothed bath in hot mushy peas, followed by a shave.

            It started when I visited the Dean Brook Inn, in Moston, Manchester, near to where I live. It was my regular pub at the time. The pub DJ, Dave Brock, asked me if I would be willing to have my then quite bushy beard trimmed as part of the pubís Children In Need fund-raising activity. Various people were doing things there to help raise money for this worthy cause. I was wary of being shaved by a group of drunken friends. My immediate answer was not just a polite no, I rather flippantly quipped, Ďand Iíd rather have a bath in mushy peas that do thatí. Dave Brockís eyes lit up. He rushed over to the landlord and told him what I had agreed to (as if I had already committed myself).

            I reasoned that with barely a week to go to the event, they couldnít find a bathtub or enough peas to make it work anyway. I was wrong. The pub served lots of food during the day and they had several 55-kilo sacks of peas in storage. The bath was provided by one of the regular customers, who used old bathtubs in his construction site business. Bathtubs make ideal concrete mixing points.  I knew that I was doomed now.

            Iíd seen people take a bath in jelly, beans, custard, etc, on TV, and dismissed them as eccentric buffoons. I appreciate the money they could raise for charity, but on the whole I had never imagined getting involved myself.

            In the last few days leading up to the big night, I decided to get as much sponsorship as possible. I approached my then employers, J. D. Williams (Fulfilment Logistics) and asked if it was all right to seek sponsorship among the staff. The bosses were happy to let me, and in fact, they offered to double up on any money raised in the event. They even provided me with a company tee shirt, specially designed for the event. They decided to also send their own photographer to capture the event on camera.

            I rushed around getting sponsors at work, among family and friends, and even at he pub on the big night. I raised just under £500.00. When J. D. Williams double don this, the money was just short of £1,000.

            The big Friday arrived. Though we had no TV coverage, we did have the sense of doing something momentous. The bath was already out when I arrived, but not yet full of peas. I could hear hem being heated up in the kitchens. The stench was horrendous. I have to say here, that I donít eat peas. I canít stand the taste of them. I find that I am deterred from even eating other food that has peas on the same plate. Some friends who dislike peas will eat the chips and meats, etc, and just fish out the peas. Tome, the addition of peas just means that an otherwise lovely meal is utterly ruined. I was now beginning to wish I had mentioned beans or some other gunge to take my bath in.

            The landlady produced the hot peas at last. As she and her husband started to fill the bathtub, the steam and bubbling mush told everyone that she hadnít just warmed up the peas Ė she had boiled them. . She had decided to warm them up so I wouldnít get cold, but in going over the top she had put me at risk of a martyrís death. I had no choice but to wait for them to cool down. The photographer from work, who came late to take shots of me for the staff magazine, further delayed us.

            Finally, it was time to accept my fate. I felt like Edward Woodward at the end of The Wicker man film. I made some light of the event by putting a plastic toy duck in the bath, and wearing the armbands of a non-swimmer. (I can swim in fact). I stepped into the heated quicksand tub, and found the base very slippery. I sat down, and then lay back. Once in, it was actually quite comfortable. More peas were added to top me up.

          I stayed there for about an hour, but after that the peas were cooling down, and the stench was beginning to permeate the whole pub. It was time to get out.

            The landlord and Landlady let me use their shower, and getting the peas out of my body was to take about thirty minutes. My ears were still clogged a little even day later.  I had a change of clothes with me. The ones soaked in peas proved surprisingly easy to salvage in the washing machine later on. The best of it is, I can't stand the taste of peas. 

            Now it was time for phase two. The beard trimming. Being shaved by a group of drunken ladies, wielding clippers, electric razors and even scissors was quite nerve wracking. One girl almost took an eye out on me, and the landlord insisted that she stop. It was like being shaved by a committee.   

            There were a few other entertainments. Some of the barmaids, and the landlady, took part in a wet tee-shirt contest.  Now I had only to collect the money from the bar, and from work. I was very grateful to everyone for his or her support for the project. Sadly, a change of management, and decline in customers meant that such an event could not be repeated in later years, but I am happy to be considered for such fund-raising stunts again, should anyone require a willing sacrifice, but if food is involved, please make it anything but peas.

  Arthur Chappell