The Devil's Arse on Tour
Peak Cavern is one of the most astounding natural wonders of the Peak District. This filthy Derbyshire hole in the ground, also known as The Devil's Arse, Sticky Bishop's Demise and Mrs Trollop's Last Shred of Dignity on a Tuesday Night, is one of the most celebrated fissures in all the world, outclassed only by The Great Crack of Monmouth, King Falafel's Regal Trench and The Lincolnshire Crater. For while it is not the biggest, deepest, darkest, most splendiferous or most imposing cavity you're ever likely to come across, it is at least the most jaggedy, and that's got to be worth something. Specifically, it's worth £10.50 per head, since that's what you'll be charged for the privilege of plumbing its depths.
Those people who, astonishingly, have not had the pleasure of this experience, or even experienced this pleasure, will no doubt be delighted to learn that Peak Cavern will shortly be going on a nationwide tour of UK cities. "It's a little bit of the Peak District right there in your own town," says marketing director Katy Shovel as she holds up some promotional matter and points at the strapline. "Look, it says so right there."
Of course, moving a large hole around the country must present some unique logistical problems of its own.
"Of course," says Miss Shovel.
Well, of course.
"Well yes, indeed, of course," she says. "One of the first snags you come up against is trying to persuade the local council that it's a good idea. Usually, you rock up and say something like 'Hey, would you like a hole?' and they tend to reply 'No thanks, we've already got one.' Even if you do manage to win them over, you've then got to figure out where to put it. A hole needs a lot of space. Well, this one does anyway."
"Absolutely of course," she agrees. "So you end up considering car parks and market squares and memorial gardens, but wherever you stick it someone is bound to be unhappy."
"Indeedy-doody. Then you've got to get it plumbed in, which is a nightmare all on its own. But it's worth it, you know, it really is - just to see the looks on people's faces when they learn that all their bus routes have been diverted and the traffic has ground to a standstill."
But consequently -
"Oh consequently, I should say so."
Consequently the temporary removal of Peak Cavern from the spot that it has occupied for billions of years is going to have quite an impact on the landscape. Of course -
"Of course, what happens when you dig up a hole is you get another hole," says Miss Shovel. "A bigger, more impressive and altogether more marketable hole. One for which we can get away with doubling the entrance fee. Oh yes, one way or another we expect to do very well out of this."
Peak Cavern begins its three month tour of the UK in Manchester next week, before commencing an extended run as Wishy Washy in Aladdin at the Prince of Wales Theatre in the West End.