Andre Titcombe is an analogue fashion and portrait photographer. Stepping away from the camera for a day, Andre describes 24hrs of fun.
My mum comes into the room I am staying in. I sit up in bed as if I was already awake, I’m far from it! She tells me breakfast is being cooked and is almost ready. I find it strange sleeping in a house which is in the country side, it’s too quiet.
I’m down in the kitchen staring at a plate of a full English breakfast, I’m talking two sausages, bacon, black pudding eggs, beans the lot! Apart from toast… My mum and her partner are on some health kick and don’t eat bread. Come to think of it there isn’t any fun snacks at the house anymore. The weather is nice so we eat outside. I feel slightly hung over.
I catch the last few minutes of Jeremy Kyle. Lie detector test shows that the boyfriend didn’t cheat and the paranoid girlfriend is overjoyed. Not the outcome I was hoping for, need a bit of drama!
Showered and dressed. Even though the sun is shining I’m wearing all black. The weather changes fast so I’m stylishly prepped for all occasion (at least I think so).
After half hour of bumbling about everyone is ready to leave. We are going to a chilli festival on a farm not too far from Oxford. My mum has a sports car, I drive, which is surprising as two weeks prior I punctured both of the rear tyres.
- 20 –
We arrive at the farm hosting the chilli festival. I remember being here when I was 16 with my fist girlfriend; it’s a bit nostalgic. The farm is packed with people and stalls selling anything and everything to do with chilli. My mum tells me it’s a lot busier than last year. Obviously people like chilli. She insists on trying every available sample there is, even waited for one stall to refill the bowl of crisps. I’m embarrassed.
Whilst going from stall we are approached by a guy with a clipboard. He asks if we would be interested in entering the chilli chicken-eating contest. Obviously I am! Me and my mum’s partner both put our names down as well and there neighbour.
The neighbours meet us by the chilli beer stand. They have come with their daughter and 16-year-old son who recently came out as gay. The mother loves telling people this at any given opportunity; I think she is in denial about it.
We are still trying free samples! I over hear a guy lose his mind over an Indonesian stand. He has never tried Indonesian food. He asks the lady behind the table if she is Indonesian. She is not.
- 20 –
I find my mum talking to some one who is selling chilli nuts. He is telling her how he entered the chilli contest yesterday and the chicken was so spicy that he turned grey, some one else was sick. I’m starting to wonder if I might have made a bad choice by entering.
I find myself with my mums partner and neighbour standing either side of me behind a long table. All together there are 20 people in the contest. I’m extremely competitive so I really want to win. The prize is £25 voucher!
A large crowd has gathered around us to watch! I’m starting to feel nervous but all I can think about is beating everyone else. The judges explain the rules and give everybody cup of milk. There is a guy at the end of the table that looks like he has come from a trailer park. Track suite bottoms and a white vest decorated in sauce stains as if they where medals. The chicken is brought out and place in front of use. The chilli sauce is so dark that its almost black.
Everyone is ready and we are counted in!
The chicken is so spicy that you cant even taste the meat. Determined to win I power through. Takes me roughly 45 seconds to finish. I’m the first and in sight of victory at which point the judge tells me I’m supposed to eat the sauce of the plate something they didn’t mention at the start. My victory is stolen from me and I come 2nd.
The pain in my mouth and all over my face has kicked in. I’ve given up on drinking the milk from the cup and just gone for the whole bottle. Its almost like an apocalyptic movie scene. People look like they have been infected by some sort of virus and only cure is drinking milk like a mad man.
I’m queuing for ice cream that my mum insists on getting, she thinks I should have one and deserve an ice cream.
We live the chilli festival only to find the neighbour rolling around in the car park with stomach pains. The chilli was definitely to much for him. I get a txt from my friend saying to meet him at the river. He has a new engine for his boat.
I drop my family back at their house. I feel extremely full from the ice cream and all the milk.
I’m on route to meet my friend. The weather is amazing and I really enjoy my drive as I speed past a bunch of country manors.
I arrive at the riverbank but there is no one here. After a quick phone call I’m informed that everyone is on route. I start feeling a pain in my stomach.
I feel like my stomach is being ripped out of me!!!
My friends arrive to find my lying on the grass in a foetal position. I explain that I was in a chilli chicken-eating contest and right now I can not help unload and prep the boat.
I get back to the car. The pain keeps coming in waves! I call my mum to see if this is also happening to her partner. It is! To make things worse I just went to the toilet and obviously still had chilli on my hands. The pain is now in 2 places.
Luckily there is a small town near by. I drive to the shop to get yogurt to try and counter the chilli that is burning my stomach. In the shop I try my hardest no to give away that I’m in extreme pain both in my stomach and now my crotch. I drink 2 bottles of Yop. The pain starts to subside!
I drive back to the river to find that my friends have prepped the boat and it’s ready to go. They have a cooler full of beer.
We moor outside a lock as we don’t have to a license to go through and have to wait till the lock keeper leaves. The dogs are getting restless so we let them out.
I take a picture of the guys drinking beer and smoking in the boat. The lock keeper is gone so we proceed further down the river taking it in turns driving the boat.
The sun is starting to set and everything becomes a golden shade of orange. We start heading back to where we started. I can see the guys are starting to shiver as the temperature has dropped. I feel rather smug that I was over prepared earlier in the day and have my coat with me.
We hear police sirens in the direction of where we are going.
We are back at the car park. A police car has parked up near by and watches us as we load the boat in the back of the van.
We say our good byes and I drive back home much slower than I did earlier. I’m in no rush for the day to end as tomorrow I will be back in city sat at my computer editing.