“Do ye like daags..?”
“Ye know, daags!”
Trudge, trudge, trudge…
“Why t’e fuck would I wana boiy a caravaan wit no wheels!?”
“Will you fucking shut up man! I proper don’t like this.
Murders happen in them caravans.”
We were on the road again bound for Paris, another weekend blitz planned two days beforehand by a quick shout round to whoever had nowt to do. MD was at the helm on this one, obviously feeling that the train tunnels of the Parisian metro system hadn’t had enough photographs taken of them and fancied another rules-free engagement with everyones favourite rapid transit network.
The north-west to Paris and back on a weekender is possible, but it requires some serious speed, and with the slapdash nature of arrangements we’d only just made it to Lille by 11pm. Our late start had made a cheeky bivvy somewhere pretty much a dead cert, deciding to have an easy Saturday rather than give it beans and make Paris for last service, so we picked the conveniently located TOP SEKRET ABANDONED UBBEX PRISON 15HDR as our hotel for the night. This particular site is a classic example of the kind of trendy abandonment you see pop up now and again on the forums, and inevitably ends up being photographed to death by hundreds of eager pillocks in gas masks hoping to recreate their post-apocalyptic fantasy by producing gigabytes of terrible photography to plaster all over flickr. The interesting twist with this place (and what seemed to be putting a few of said derpers off) was the family of travellers that had occupied the grounds surrounding said prison who apparently didn’t take kindly to middle-class white kids in funny outfits moving around their newly acquired turf.
It was only upon getting to the entrance of this 100 year old category-A fortress that we really saw the full scale of the pikey empire that had been founded in the surrounding fields and car parks, and i’ll tell you now: the totemic force of a well tuned caravan army truly is a sight to behold. They’d moved at least 4 giant boulders as big as Transits that should have been blocking the entrance to the place, pillaged all the surrounding buildings of anything close to useful and dug under the tarmac to borrow some water and leccy from the fire hydrant supply and national grid.
We’d not even been amongst this third world Burning Man for 2 minutes before the ‘Snatch’ pikey quotes started landing by the boatload, and one of us cut it short with a harsh whisper..
“`Fucking serious man, keep it down!..
“I’ll tell ye wha’, I’ll do it fer a caravan”
We actually made it though the camp without a single incident, and walked a well trodden path through the undergrowth to find a fine example of what a thousand pickaxe blows will do to a 3 foot thick prison wall. We crawled though and set about looking for a way in on the inner yard.
Eventually, we dropped through an open window into a shower block, tiptoeing in the pitch black into one the main lower corridors following the distant noise we could hear echoing off the concrete walls. We figured the shouting and hum of a genny was probably a party and our hopes we’re pretty high for some free booze and a night of laughs in our best drunken french, although we decided to play it safe and sneak up, just incase.
Now, there’s something about the sound of an angle grinder chopping through cable conduit that says ‘sorry, no party here today’, and as soon as we heard that go, we about turned, pegged it to the other side of the prison and barricaded ourselves in one of the cells.
We assumed the army of copper fairies would keep themselves to the main section they were currently dealing with so chilled out a bit. Howser lit some candles, and we passed round a few beers and drifted off to sleep, the air filled with the first birdsong of the day and the two or three angle grinders finishing off their nights haul.
I awoke to the sound of a massive bang, followed by some shouting in weird french. Fuck. They were very, very near.
Another one, slightly closer.
We all realised what was happening at about the same time. The pikelets had obviously finished their chores for the night and were either looking for us or were just up for a bit of fun, and moving down the row of cells we were sleeping in kicking in each door one by one.
They were getting really close, 3 or 4 cells away maybe. We’d already put a table against the door but it woundn’t have held up, and if they had found any resistance with their boot they would have just gotten a shoulder in and burst through anyway. We jumped out of our beds and I did my best to stuff my camera, wallet and phone in the end of my sleeping bag, blindly hoping that in the event of them probably winning the scrap we were about to have I would still have my stuff. I noticed a couple of the others had grabbed an empty beer bottle each and I did the same, and waited.
Here we were, 4 grown men stood in our underpants waiting for a bottle fight with a posse of tooled up pikies. I don’t know what we intended on doing, as we all knew that if it came to it, really, we’d probably get fucking decked.
One more massive slam, and we were sure it was us next. We were ready as we were ever going to be, white knuckles squeezing the necks of our improvised weapons and imaginations already smashing the face of one of these guys before they got the knife in. The wait for the next slam was murderous.
And thankfully, it never came.
We heard a bit of bent French and some bottles being thrown at the wall and then heavy footsteps walking up the corridor, away from our cell. Thank christ for that. We put our beer bottles down and returned to our sleeping bags to sleep, although I’m certain none of us got so much as a wink.
The morning came, along with more footsteps and French chatter outside the cell door, although the voices sounded different. The words were crisply enunciated and the steps lighter. They definitely didn’t belong to those door kicking gypos and our suspicions of who they might have belonged to were confirmed after one of us poked their head round the door.
The place was crawling with derpers.
Without being an elitist prick, I’d never seen so many mark-1 bodies, pylon tripods and gasmasks in one place at one time, even the later days of pyestock weren’t this bad. Each and every corridor, cell, rotunda and watch tower was occupied by at least one ruin enthusiast clocking up the shutter count with their next 10 stop HDR disasterpeice.
Kicking round abandonments for fun takes a suspension of disbelief. If you step back and think about the fact you’ve slept in prison (without the usual free hot meal) through choice, and that you’re now wondering round a building that was the source of abject misery and depression to thousands of men on your weekend you begin to feel a bit silly and start to act accordingly. A brief lecture from an angsty Belgian Darth Vader describing the beauty of the decay through his respirator did the trick, and brought our disdain for the whole place and the five dozen derping bedwetters that were roaming its corridors sharply into focus.
I can’t even repeat what happened next, UAV would probably disapprove.
We left that wretched hole dreaming of the night ahead. I could already feel the crunch of the ballast, the woosh of the trains and the warm dark smell of those magical tunnels awaiting us a couple of hours down the A1.