Visiting the Championship theme park
The large man fiddles with his awkward, tilted claret and blue rosette. As he does so, he mutters to himself and even his whispers boom out like an announcement at a county fair. He cuts a strange figure, his face somehow as big as his head and his constant chattering providing a soundtrack to his every move.
“It wasn’t meant to be this way”, he says with a glance up at the wall. Of course, he tries not to look at the two pictures hanging there. They provide no inspiration, instead merely reminding him of what he could have been. On the left, a tanned, well-dressed man smiles and spreads his arms out among the trophies that surround him. On the right, much the same.
“I’ve always said I could work at those two big Spanish theme parks”, continues the large man. “Instead, I’m stuck here.” He looks around his office with disdain and carries on with his muttering, reassuring himself that he is doing a good job and that, frankly, he’s too good for this place and shouldn’t even be here at all.
He gets like this at lunchtime. With the glorious smell wafting through from the kitchen next door, who wouldn’t? Behind that door, the chef chops, dices and grates with remarkable efficiency. Given the job due to his uncanny resemblance to Heston Blumenthal, a method of appointment which contravened all international theme park employment laws, the chef does not mutter to himself. He just gets on with it, despite being forced to sell his two most expensive items of culinary equipment last summer. You could barely tell. The chef still produces food fit for kings and queens.
Some of the rides at the theme park have seen better days. Out near the river, a big red rollercoaster is falling into disrepair having won the top prize at the European rollercoaster awards for two consecutive years way back in the mists of time. There’s an even bigger ride, decked out in white from top to bottom, which controversially lost out in those same awards a few years previously. These days it grumbles along, with rising admission fees despite key parts being sold off for scrap metal at regular intervals by its eccentric bearded curator.
It seems that things are no better when money is spent at the theme park. The blue rollercoaster was dismantled in the summer and replaced with expensive parts from different corners of the globe, yet everyone who rides on it says it is exactly the same as before. The bespectacled Swedish designer is long gone.
The log flume ride, which runs along at high ground for a long period of time before plunging into the depths at the last moment, was built by Welshmen. The best theme park in the country also has a water feature constructed by the Welsh, a beautiful lake adorned by ornamental white birds which wows every visitor.
There are, nevertheless, some nice bits back in the second best theme park in the country. The boating lake down to the south of the park is surrounded by some lovely deckchairs, some in red and white stripes and others, slightly further down, in blue and white stripes. The stewards in high-visibility orange jackets – seasoned theme park experts – wander around amiably and talk nonsense to the visitors.
One ride, a blue one situated in the middle of the park, was carted off around Europe on a visit to lots of other theme parks earlier in the year but it remains popular with its usual visitors. Another blue ride, run by an Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman, was thought to be a joke when it opened last summer, but it is an entertaining and popular attraction which cost peanuts to build. There is yet another blue ride which no-one likes, but its attendant doesn’t seem to care.
The large man, however, is unimpressed.
“People don’t know what they’re talking about when they say this isn’t a good theme park to visit”, he scowls. “You could even say they’re deluded.”
It seems increasingly inevitable that the large man will be working at the theme park again next year.