Saturday, 15 September 2012

Cricket, Curry and the Crackheads

Dear Reader,

Recently, myself and a couple of compatriots decided to travel to Nottingham (UK) to watch some cricket. These compatriots were not the recently discussed Twinnies, they would never be seen at a cricket match. Actually, that is not strictly true, if I sold the concept of a cricket match as an afternoon in the sun with unlimited access to reasonable wine they might come, as long as I didn't mention the word cricket. Back to the plot, such as it is.

This is not a cricket blog and it is also not a photography blog, so let's start with the cricket. We, (England) lost. We had already achieved a cricketing objective, to win on this day would have been ruthless, a trait that, well, just isn't cricket.

Onto photography. I have a camera that has switches and settings and lenses, none of which I understand. It also has a mode labelled P, which I presume stands for Philistine, designed for the likes of me. This setting, which I never venture from, except by accident, allows me to take acceptable photos. Occasionally, entirely by accident, I manage to capture an image that might be better than acceptable, well, to me, anyway.

During the day, image too bright, typical me photo.
Same(ish) shot in the evening, actually looks OK, fluke, pure fluke.
Not only is it by chance, it is under the influence of alcohol. I was unaffected by the demon drink when I took the first one. Enough about photography, I have already written more about it than I can claim to understand. I nearly bought Photography for Dummies, but realised it was too high-brow. So, to the pulsating plot again.

Having observed the cricket, our next task is to return to our hotel to freshen / sober up before the evening festivities begin. Our transition to Trent Bridge just involved a taxi, our return journey would not be so straight-forward. There was walking, there was wailing, there were hills, curses and threats of imminent death to anyone who asked "are we nearly there yet?" 1.4 miles later we are back at the hotel.

Suitably refreshed, we venture out into the night. A bar we passed with a piano had attracted out attention. We entered and ordered drinks. I am fan of a decent gin and tonic, but had never been served one of these.

The vegetable matter in the glass is cucumber. This may sound odd, it did to me, but try it, you won't regret it. Chewing all those cucumber slices gave us an appetite, so, regrettably, we returned to the night. A curry was required, and the options were few, well, one in fact.

So good they named it once.
We sat, pleased to see we were not the only people dining, a first big tick for the establishment. It was at this point that the big ticks sort of ran dry. Drinks were requested, and duly delivered. Then we came to order, which was a rather unusual experience. Having recently returned from a foreign clime, I was used to having to point at menus to get someone to understand what I desired. 

I was a little surprised to go through the same process with an extremely pleasant English girl who understood my sounds perfectly but had clearly never been to an Indian restaurant in her life. I was (for a change) pronouncing things perfectly, but she had no way of mapping this to the words on the menu as she had never heard most of them spoken. Apparently, I was speaking in a foreign language, which threw me a little. Eventually, some food arrived, which looked at least a little bit like what we asked for, complete with Pilau rice (delightfully pronounced pillow rice by our waitress). Thence to bed.

The following morning, I awake, intending to drive from Nottingham to a business meeting. This didn't turn out as planned. Approaching the car I note something odd. All of the detritus that normally resides in the passenger foot-well of my car (sandwich wrappers, empty water bottles etc) has mysteriously found its way onto the passenger seat. Has there been a hurricane, no, my car has been broken into, passenger window smashed and that side of the car generally examined for booty.

On the upside, there was no booty of any value. Also, I didn't have to make the business meeting. Most importantly, I got to meet representatives of Nottinghamshire Police Force. Minutes after reporting the offence they arrived in a nice squad car. Two strapping members of the force emerged and began to examine the area. 

Conversation ensues. Whenever faced with authority, no matter how innocent the encounter, my mind attempts to get me in trouble, constantly responding inappropriately during conversation. These responses fight with the correct responses, in short I have to concentrate. The conversation, along with the suppressed comebacks follow:

Policeman 1 (P1) stepping out of the patrol car: So, you have been broken into?
Evil me whose voice must be suppressed: Ah, so you listened to the radio in your car then?
Me, smiling sweetly: Indeed I have.
Policeman 2 (P2) also stepping out from the patrol car: Where did they get in?
Evil me whose voice must be suppressed: Perhaps you might want to deploy all those years of police training and work this one out for yourself.
Me, smiling sweetly: passenger front window, they smashed it and then rooted around in that part of the car.
P1, waving a torch with some importance: they were looking for whatever attaches to the sucker mount on your windscreen.
Me: Oh.
P2: You should never leave anything of any value visible.
Evil me whose voice must be suppressed: The sucker mount cost me 0.99, it is of no value.
Me: Nothing of any value was visible, there was nothing of any value in the car, that statement actually includes the car.
P1, noting I have left the area untouched: We can't do forensics, as there is no blood.
Evil me whose voice must be suppressed: You want blood, I can give you blood.
Me: That's a shame.
P2: We will get them though, it's the Crackheads.
Evil me whose voice must be suppressed: Would this be the Crackheads of 24 Acacia Avenue? In which case go and arrest them.
Me: Oh.
P1: When we do get them, they will get a good kicking.
Evil me whose voice must be suppressed: Oh, yippee.
Me: Oh.

With this they return to their car and drive off. I make a number of phone calls regarding insurance and replacement of glass and then go to the nearest pub. On my return I realise that my parking ticket has expired. I approach the machine which states quite clearly that once a ticket has been paid for, I have 15 minutes to exit the car park. I have been messing around for three hours. Hmmm.

I then do something I have never done before, which is press the button on the ticket machine which puts you through to a human. Astonishingly, someone answers straight-away, maybe no-one ever presses this button. I explain the situation, at this point the conversation continued as below:

Car Park Ticket Machine: You should have informed somebody.
Me: I did inform somebody. I informed several somebodies. I informed the police, my insurance company the company who is replacing the glass, my employers and my Dear Lady Wife. Did I miss somebody?
Car Park Ticket Machine: Yes, you should have informed us.
Me: Oh really, would that have helped?
Car Park Ticket Machine: No, but if you are going to need a new ticket issued you are going to need to contact us.
Me: I'm sorry, I have not had my car broken into in a car park before. I was not aware this was standard practice. I have added you to the list of people I must contact in the event of this occurring again.
Car Park Ticket Machine (sighing): Press the lost ticket button, use that ticket to exit the car park.

This exchange puts me in a much better mood. I leave the City of Nottingham to get my glass replaced,  which occurs without incident.

More soon Dear Reader, xxx.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Postcards from Tenerife - Twinnies and a Car Journey

Dear Reader,

In my last post, I began my experience of being with the Twinnies, AKA Dear Lady Wife and Colleague, in a foreign land. We flew, we arrived and we hired a car. At the end of the last post we had acquired a hire car and began our journey. In short, we had to get from the hire car depot to the motorway, facing in the right direction, drive for about an hour and a bit, and then follow a map scribbled on a piece of paper. Like all good pirate maps, our destination was marked with an X.

Sounds simple enough, but, we have no SatNav, we have a map which has no detail, we have in the car two of the most incompetent people in the world when it comes to navigation and me. Things didn't start well.

Our not particularly glamorous car rental garage, which is a cross between the warehouse where everyone dies in Reservoir Dogs and the dispatch area from cult 70's comedy Taxi, provided us with some instructions for our escape / car rental. "Leff, leff, leff again, straight, head to airport and then keep on going," I was reliably informed by our rental person.

Everyone dies, my Ford focus is just out of shot to the left.

Leff? Leff? Leff again? 
Having departed we go leff, leff, then leff again. In short order we are on a dirt road with vultures circling and coyotes looking eager, this is not the plan. I backtrack, eventually we return to where we started.

The Twinnies, (one in the front, one in the back), find all this highly amusing, this is like some big adventure. After all, once this little issue is solved we will be there in no time. At this point I feel like Thelma and Louises' driver.

Having tried leff, leff and leff for the second time my only choices are leff or straight on. I didn't choose this the first time as arrows make it quite clear that the only way to turn is right. Not wanting to revise the expectations of vulture dinner-time unfairly I plump for right. Shortly we are forced leff and see signs for the motorway. Could this small but obvious flaw in the instructions not have been made clear from the start? A mere thirty minutes after picking up the car we have made the one kilometre transition to the motorway.

Now, it should all be plain sailing and for a while, it is. A wrinkle occurs about forty minutes in, I am not sure what happens, but we are not on a motorway any more but find ourselves plunging into a city called Santa Cruz. Whilst pleading with the now sleepy and slightly grumpy Twinnies to look at maps and provide advice, I plunge on through the city, reasoning that we will pick up the motorway on the other side.

I have since discovered there is no motorway on the other side of Santa Cruz. There is, however an extremely long and windy mountain hugging road which leads to the middle of nowhere (Tenerife, Northern tip). This discovery took approximately forty-five minutes. Another forty-five minutes later I discover  that the extremely long and mountain hugging road looks very similar going the other way. On the upside, there is a traffic lane between me and the sea, several hundred feet below.

Below is a map with some lines drawn on it. The red line indicates where we should have gone, the blue squiggles are an artists impression of the way we actually went.

Back on track, uneventful motorway follows, we eventually reach a signpost which points to the region where our villa is located. Neither Twinny can make sense of the map. I pull off at the first exit and demand to see it. I note a number at the bottom which appears to indicate a junction number, not far from where we are. Shortly after this we arrive at our villa, a mere three and a half hours after picking up the hire car.

They say practice makes perfect. When it comes to car journeys in foreign climes with Twinnies, I can attest to the truth of this saying. The return journey to the car rental desk / warehouse took a mere one hour and seven minutes.

More soon Dear Reader