Which side of me will win?

Metalcamp 2011: Bad Ash

There are two Ashes. So far in this story we have only met Good Ash. Even on Monday night, when much booze was drunk, I don’t recall Bad Ash coming out. But earlier today we bought vodka, and Ash has been working his way through it at a fair lick. He can feel Bad Ash on his way, and he tells me so.

I meet these warnings with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. On the one hand, Bad Ash might do something that embarrasses and humiliates me by association, and possibly even puts a bit of a downer on the rest of the week. On the other hand, there could be blackmail money to be made. I weigh up the pros and cons for a bit, then start making attempts to speed up Bad Ash’s arrival. This mainly consists of hyping Bad Ash up to anyone that’s listening, which is just Nina basically, and I’m not even sure if she is listening. She’d better be. She could be in danger.

So Legion Of The Damned take to the stage and Ash starts headbanging and playing air guitar. At least that’s what outward appearances would suggest he’s doing. But I know the truth. He’s wrestling with the demon inside. His struggle is in vain however, for it has been foretold – Bad Ash shall emerge on this night.

Watching Good Ash turning into Bad Ash is like that scene at the end of Terminator 2 when the T-1000 melts its way through all the different people it has mimicked over the preceding two hours.

I told Nina that if she knew of a hand gesture that could be used to ward off evil, then now would be a good time to use it…

…so she did.

All three of us (four if you count Good Ash and Bad Ash as two separate entities) very much enjoy Legion Of The Damned, Ash once again disregarding his rule about being able to hear the words. They’re very formulaic, but their performance is tight and the songs are all headbanging-tastic. When they’re done, Ash points out that my hat is emitting an ominous looking red aura, so I head back to the campsite to leave it in my tent where hopefully it won’t do anyone any harm.

Earlier in the day Croatian Guy had asked me if Ash and myself would go with him when he went to tell the noisy Germans not to be so noisy again. He said he’d gone alone to tell another group to keep it down late/early the previous night, and they had done as they were told. But he thought the noisy German group was probably bigger (and had clearly been behaving much more obnoxiously), so it might be better if the other four Croats plus me and Ash went over with him.

He’d said, “I’ll tell them not to do it again and if they don’t listen I smash their equipment. I don’t care, they can sue me.”

I’d agreed on behalf of myself and Ash, suspecting we’d really have very little to do, having realised during this conversation just how intimidating Croatian Guy really was. He was being so totally matter-of-fact about it, with absolutely no bravado or machismo, that I felt absolutely no doubt that he meant what he was saying and was 100% confident that he would not be stopped should he decide to take drastic measures.

He’s not really that big a guy, and he doesn’t project a tough image – no tattoos or piercings or anything like that. He doesn’t even have a tough sounding voice – it’s quite high pitched. He just has a calm self-assuredness that I remember had me thinking, “Sure I’ll come and back you up, Croatian Guy. I’ll just be so, so glad to be on your side. Thank you, sir.” while I was trying to appear all cool about the whole thing.

It didn’t happen though, what with everyone coming and going from camp at different times. And when I come back to camp to dispose of my possessed hat, Croatian Guy is there and tells me in the end he just went alone. As I suspected, he didn’t really need backing up anyway, and those Germans were much better behaved for the remainder of the week. They even built themselves a castle should they need to defend their gigantic stereo from Croatian attack…

There’s no way in the world that would have held him at bay.


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