There's this reality TV show in the UK called "I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here!". The premise is simple: a bunch of 'celebrities' are flown to a camp in the Australian outback (last year it took place in a castle in Wales because covid, innit), they're subjected to trials which involve necking mealworms, and the public votes for their favourites.
Honestly, it's a banger. And on one of my daily walks, I came to the realisation that one particular moment from last year's show lined up nicely with my thoughts on Elwynn Forest in World Of Warcraft. Let me explain…
In the clip below, you've got the key to all of this. It's BBC Radio 1 presenter Jordan North. He's a lovely Northern soul, and a very jittery lad who really, really doesn't like snakes and/or tight spaces. So what did the public do? That's right: they voted for him to take part in The Viper Vault, which involved being locked inside a coffin while snakes were gradually poured in on top of him
Jordan's task was to listen to another contestant (Shane Richie, ex-soap geezer) read out safe combinations, then unlock the safes, grab the stars inside, which counted as meals for camp, and blah blah blah, etc., you get it.
What I found most interesting was Jordan's frenetic repetition of "happy place, Turf Moor" which escalated over time. Other variations included "happy place, happy place, Turf Moor" in a glass-shattering squeal, or "happy plaaa- Turf MOOR" as if he short circuited for a second in the middle.
Turns out the lore behind this incantation, of sorts, lies in Jordan's family tree. His brother, a paratrooper, told him to imagine a happy place, somewhere which would transport him somewhere pleasant during a stressful time; Burnley FC's football ground, Turf Moor, was selected.
If we're talking games, I think my happy place has to be Elwynn Forest, the human starting area in World Of Warcraft. That is to say, if it were me in that Viper Vault, I'd be screaming "happy place, Elwynn Forest". Followed by some indecipherable shit about gathering a party to defeat Hogger, the king of Gnolls who resides there, as well as, like, turning in seven Kobold Candles.
Which is odd, because I haven't touched World Of Warcraft in years. I don't even know if Elwynn Forest looks the same anymore, at least in the non-Classic version of WoW. I do hope it's still kicking around. I wouldn't say it's a stunning, graphical tour de force or anything, but the forest I remember radiates this warm glow. There's this little village called Goldshire that's basked in a lazy, orange light. And I used to love trotting along the cobbled path that runs the length of the forest, soaking in the peaceful music.
I reckon I've got such fond memories of the place because this was back when WoW had first come out and I'd never experienced anything like it before. I was a teen whose only two concerns were how much Lynx Africa was still in the can and when Linkin Park's new album was coming out. I was a speck in this enormous fantasy world, but I could do all sorts! I could go dungeon-crawling with a band of orcs, or I could ride my ram across snowy fields. Logging on had never felt more transportative.
I suppose what I'm trying to say is that adult life can feel like the Viper Vault from I'm A Celeb. That's why I bang on the Elwynn Forest one hour ambient mix above and escape to my happy place sometimes. I'm too stingy to pay a subscription fee, you see.