Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Fresh Strawberries; Get 'em While They're 'ot!

Well, I can tell you, that was one of the more bizarre moments of my life up to that point. After such exertions it was quite obvious that I was going to require alcohol to calm the nerves. That or valium. In the absense of the latter, alcohol was going to have to suffice.

I love the smell of large sea going vessels. It's a mixture of diesel, fresh sea air, cheap scent from the duty free and cleaning products. I have no idea in which quantities. Perhaps I could get the olfactory talents of Giuseppe Baldini (so well played by Dustin Hoffman) from the film 'Perfume' to sprinkle some on a kerchief and diagnose. I love also the anticipation of going somewhere, a feeling of movement exemplified and accentuated by the gentle roll of an unstabilized ferry leaving port. I now had the task of settling down to a 10 hour boat trip. Once in the bar, looking fairly conspicuously different from many of my fellow travellers, I camouflaged myself behind a pint and began breathing sighs of relief.

Before too long, similar questions to those experienced on the train journey were asked. The groggy moggies were slowly beginning to stir once in a while. One of the people who was asking was a woman, about twenty-something. We chatted for a bit before we were rudely interrupted by the eeyuk-eeyuk sound of vomiting from one of the baskets. Oh yeah, just my luck! A seasick cat! I excused myself and went off to the toilet to cope admirably. Easier said than done. I had to clean up the puke from the cat blanket, simultaneously holding the cat now attempting somnambulistic escape. Everytime another passenger came into the loo, all this had to be conducted with soothing go-back-to-sleep voice spoken through a fixed grin resembling a donkey looking over a whitewashed paling fence. I am nothing if not a resourceful cat juggler, and thus I extricated myself from this predicament with a modicum of self respect still intact and no regurgitated Whiskas on my shirt. It was touch and go for a while.

Once back at the bar, surely I could relax into a conversation. The bar was filling slowly with a compliment of amused bystanders all with that look of 'I'm glad I'm not in his shoes' about them. The young woman I had been talking to was still there looking after the other cat basket. We'll call this woman Kate so as
a) not to reveal her true identity and
b) not to reveal my lack of memory.

Kate lived in Wales on the Gower Peninsular. We chatted about that, some inconsequentialities, some places we'd both been and what I should do with the nineteen tabs still stashed in my boot. I was tired, getting a tiny bit drunk, and beginning to stress up. My mind began working on silly 'What If' scenarios such as 'What if the coppers in Swansea were having second thoughts or were strategically letting me on the boat to catch me off my guard?'
'What if they've phoned Irish Customs and tipped them off as to their obvious suspicions?' Oh how the addled brain began working paranoic overtime. It was time to hatch a cunning plan. And so I contrived to wrap the contraband with whatever I could find to make them as water tight as possible, and neck the lot just before disembarking on Irish soil. Sound thinking, Dude! Hey, the worst thing that could happen is that they open up and I'm Zapped beyong Zargon, Munted to Mergatroid. A week long excursion to Pallookaville to converse with the tiny people whilst up a mountain in Ireland. Could be worse. So I wrapped them in a sticky label from a previous airline tag and waited til a short distance from the Coast before knocking them back. I bought some duty free vodka so I could drink that neat to help make myself vomit once past customs.

Irish customs on this day consisted of one diminutive chap, no moustache, in a wonky hat looking more tired than I did. He largely ignored everybody, including me.

Aha! It began to dawn on me that I had perhaps been somewhat over-zealous regarding my original plan of extreme furtiveness. Such obsession with covert behavior was less than required. In short, downright unnecessary. So off to the port dunny I went for a quick voddy and vomit. Could I regurgitate anything? Empirically, could I feck! I tried fingers down the throat, thinking of Margaret Thatchers sweaty arse, more vodka, imagining I was eating mouldy cheese and pickle sandwiches, more fingers for longer periods of time, more vodka but no more Tory arses cos once in a lifetime is enough for any sane human.

Nothing. Nil. Nowt.

"Great Scott!" I exclaimed most perturbed. How remiss to not have a contingency plan. I had arranged to get picked up at port by my ex/girlfriend and anyone she could coax into driving as she never learnt. They were late. This was pre-mobile days. I'd have to wait. As I'd promised her a lift to the interior somewhere, Kate patiently waited with me and the cats, who were now fully awake, hungry, and occasionally mewling in tones of increasing ire. An hour passed. Where the feck were the useless hippy wasters? They turned up in, wait for it, a Citroen 2CV. For those not familiar with the 'je-ne-sais-quoi' appearence of a 2CV, imagine a large corrugated rusty baked bean can with a small spindly wheel at each corner. Were there just two occupants? No! Not on your Nelly were there. Already four. FOUR!! How many hippies does it take to drive this tin crate? Do we have to pedal it or run like the Flintstones?

So here we all were at a deserted ferry port, two pathetic caged malkins, my ex, three of her 'just along for the ride' mates (all stoned which is why they were late), a very bemused Kate now probably wishing she wasn't putting her safety in our collective grubby hands, me, paranoid that I can feel the ground turning more marshmallow by the minute somehow combining a slur with a gibber the vague subject being chemists and syrup of figs, and a clapped out French car of dubious design and minuscule proportion to squeeze every last one of this exceedingly motley crew into.

We set off in milky sunshine, faces pushed up against windows, this poor old charabang straining in low gears across Ireland's rural south. For those of you who have never been to The Emerald Isle, the roads resemble Moon Base Alpha, a bit bumpy to say the least.
As planned, we shopped for strong laxatives along the way. Everybody knew why, so I was encouraged to take a dose. I did. Now, I don't know about you, dear reader, but my digestive/bowel system works quite well without help. With herbal encouragement, like a dream. Or actually more akin to a nightmare. Well nobody told me what dosage was enough, so I may have approached it with some largess. We arrived at the mountain just in time. My stomach was tightening like a duck's arse in a force ten gale. Toilets? Oh no! Just a quiet spot on a mountain river bank. A pleasant place to shit out the entire contents of ones bowels. And there, in the middle of the midden, encased in gelatinous syrup of figs coloured goo, were nineteen wrapped strawberry acid tabs.


I sold them all, one of them immediately to a member of the 2CV crew, others purveyed around the scattered mountainside collection of self-exiled English travellers and hippies. I probably made enough profit to cover the laxatives and the vodka. I've never possessed much in the way of business acumen, but life isn't always about an emolument. It's just memories once the events have taken place.