It was your classic first night of freedom which led to the horrific event.
Having set up camp, we installed ourselves on the porch and congratulated each other on the superb idea of choosing pods which faced the park. Just a wave away from the 4-to-6 year olds; enough distance to see them without really hearing them. Your perfect parenting scenario. Time to pull a cork.
Aaahhh bless them. There they were, hanging off the monkey bars, making friends with undesirables, learning to share and swear as they ate haribos out of the grubby hands of inbreds. Yes, we were all having a lovely time.
Falling silent we stared at each other as the darkness dawned on us. Camp chairs scraped back and glasses sloshed, eyes squinting to see them in the park. We cupped our ears for tell-tale squawks of "It's my turn" or "I'm telling over you" - but nothing. A quick glance inside our pods confirmed they hadn't snuck past us while we were mid-glug, either.
Shit shit shit shit shiiiiit.
My whole body prickled. I was drunk and NOT in charge of my four year old, totally cute, Madeleine-esque daughter. When had I last seen her? Actually, had we been watching the children at all? The truth was, we'd got pissed and sort-of forgotten about them.
Fear was building into hysteria as we dashed round all the tents "Have you seen a little girl? She's wearing a pink fleece and wellies..." "...a young girl, blonde hair, blue eyes..." "EMMA?" shouted the other children - silence.
Near the edge of the campsite was a gathering of about five families who'd pitched up around a central gazebo. I went bouldering in "Have you seen...". And there she was, happily munching the cuff of her fleece in a tent full of strangers.
I scooped her up, mortified but relieved - making a big show of gratitude, practically bowing as I backed out of the awning. I knew what they were thinking, but one of them kindly managed a cursory "We've all been there."
Straight back to the pods for cocoa and tucking-in, but after all the drama it was a fitful sleep. Acidic wine and receding adrenalin were not making for a calm intestine. The evenings events were taunting me. Had that guy in the gazebo looked a bit paedy?
At 5am I couldn't ignore the trembling need for an alcoplop any longer. But with the conveniences an inconvenient three minutes away, I was in a quandary. Could I just nip out while the children were flat out? I'd only be five minutes... But what if they woke and I wasn't there? Hadn't last night taught me anything?
There was only one thing for it – the biscuit box. I hurriedly tipped the bourbons into a pan and lined the tupperware with a sandwich bag. I could do the deed just outside the pod. But as I quietly unlocked the door, a shaft of light ruined my plan. Morning had broken and I couldn't risk the humiliation of the hi-de-hi's catching me lose control of my bowels as well as my children.
So it was plan C - back inside. Wedging the lilo between the wall and washing-up tub, I made a space and positioned the vessel - readying myself to let nature take its all-relieving course.
What happened next, in all honesty, cannot be shared without gipping. Let's just say the tupperware, liner and all it's contents were dispatched into a wheelie bin adjacent to the inconveniences asap; and by 0800, Sally, myself and the kids had packed up and shipped off.
Until now, this tale has remained firmly clipped and locked in it's Pandora's box. I can only hope the evil I've released hasn't put you off bourbons and camping for life.