- You react impulsively by swinging your arm. Lashing out blindly, and with the co-ordination of a stoned chimp, you slap yourself around the face, knocking out two teeth. If you weren't awake 5 seconds ago, you bloody well are now!
- You reach around for the light switch, only to hit the snooze button on your alarm clock. A jet of cold cat piss shoots into your face. F*cking alarm clock!
- After wiping your eyes on your pillow case, you fumble around some more and finally locate the light switch. The room lights up, blinding you like a rabbit caught in headlights. With blurry eyes you glance around, as if expecting Dracula to be standing by your bed with a big smirk on his face and a small trickle of blood running down his chin. He's not there. Shit... this is going to be more difficult than you thought.
- You engage in a game of insect hide and seek. However, you're at a disadvantage because mosquitos are masters of disguise - they are the chameleon ninjas of the insect world. You try to hunt him out, but he's craftily transformed into a lamp, a sock or the March 2012 issue of Playboy. As a result you can't find him. Feeling wearier by the minute, you slump into a chair and wait for him to make the next move.
- An hour passes and he hasn't made an appearance. In a desperate attempt to resume your slumber, you stumble around the room randomly hitting and moving things, hoping for some movement. He, in the meantime, is having a good old giggle at your pathetic attempt to find him. It's a complete mismatch in size terms, but the little bastard is beating you.
- After a further hour of searching, and having enlisted the help of binoculars, you spot him clinging to a cupboard by the far wall. Grabbing something substantial (the February 2012 issue of Playboy), you tiptoe slowly towards him. As you reach striking range you take a big swing and... bang!!!! A colossal chunk of plaster falls to the floor. Sadly for you, the mosquito isn't under it - he flew off a millisecond before Miss February's ample cleavage had a chance to make contact with his tiny head. You're now faced with a new challenge - focussing your eyes on where he goes next. You go cross-eyed as he does three circuits of the lampshade before heading towards the dark bookcase and then... he's vanished again.
- You repeat steps 4, 5 and 6 endlessly until you collapse onto the floor with exhaustion. Beaten.
- A big, hairy man with tattoos on his knuckles; spelling out the words 'bad ass muva'.
- A tourettes sufferer.
- An Abba tribute band. It might consist of them walking up and down my back for an hour singing the greatest hits of Abba. Painful - too painful!
Let me ask you a question: Why don’t they make alarm clocks with a mosquito sound? I can’t think of anything guaranteed to get you out of bed swifter than that irritating, high-pitched whine… with the possible exception of your cat peeing on your head. However, I would speculate that alarm clock sales might decline with a cat urine spray as the featured wake-up call. One can only speculate on the consequences of hitting ‘snooze’ - perhaps you might be awakened 10 minutes later with a vomit-soaked fur ball.
Following on from that bizarre introduction, let me tell you a story about how one clever little mosquito’s big appetite ended up costing him dearly. If I was a super-villain then this would be a most timely moment to include an evil laugh. Oh what the hell… MUHAHAHAAAAAA!!!
For the purposes of this tale I have taken the decision to name the mosquito Colin, if only to add personality and dramatic effect when I kill him off at the end. I agree that ‘Colin’ doesn’t seem like a very ferocious name for a supremely despised, blood-sucking creature. But then you haven’t met my bank manager.
On the right is a picture of Colin - to add additional persona to his character. Obviously the picture isn’t actually of Colin. I didn’t have time to ask him to pose for a series of candid portrait drawings before sending him on his way to mosquito heaven. With forethought I’d have perhaps considered taking ‘before’ and ‘after’ photographs to publish on billboards as a warning to other mosquitos not to mess with me. Kind-of like the ‘Don’t Drink And Drive’ campaigns. A possible slogan off the top of my head: ‘Don’t Whine And Dine!’ I think it’s got legs… which is more than can be said for Colin - one of his legs is still dangling limply from my curtain. I’m leaving it there as a trophy.
Allow me to set the scene a little. It was a warm Wednesday night and I had just returned from a night of drinking, singing and merriment in a local Cancun bar… with the added entertainment of watching one particular young lady (Christine) chase cockroaches around the room with a mop, in a mild state of hysteria. Cockroaches are said to be the only creatures capable of surviving a nuclear holocaust - they’re “hard bastards” - so I can’t think that being chased by a stick with a wig (poor Christine needs to put on some weight) would have them particularly quaking in their little boots.
At the end of the evening, and having had rather enough of insects, I made my way home and into bed. All was peaceful. And then a few minutes later it happened… a whining sound coming from behind my ear. Being that I’m not married, I immediately twigged that I had a mosquito problem.
What happened next? Well I’m sure you’ve all been in this position yourselves, so I will quickly summarise the principles involved with solving a nighttime mosquito situation…
Back to my story now and, after waking to the sound of Colin’s dulcet tones, I discovered that he had cheekily tucked into an appetiser. He’d bitten me on my chin. Of all the delicious parts of me that he could have chosen to start with, he chose my chin. I deduced from this fact that he was either incredibly bright or incredibly stupid. Here’s the logic behind my thinking:
Incredibly bright - he lands on my chin, I go to hit him and knock myself out. He then continues to invite all his friends over for an all-you-can-eat buffet.
Incredibly stupid - of all the places to chow down into, the chin is surely the least appetising. It’s a bit like me killing a cow and then chomping on his buttocks. I’ve never eaten cow buttock, so I really don’t know how it tastes. However, I suspect that if it was truly delicious then cow buttock would feature prominently on steak restaurant menus. I feel I should point out that I’m not comparing my face to a cow’s arse and any resemblance is purely coincidental (and a little cruel if you ask me).
So what did I do next? Well I was tired, half-drunk and I couldn’t be bothered to start searching around for the little sod. Instead I sprayed myself with insect repellent and hid under the covers. I didn’t hear from Colin for the rest of the night. But, if I thought that that would be the last I heard of him then I was wrong…
Colin re-appeared the next evening. I can only think that he got a bad case of the munchies (having only sampled my chin the previous night) because he attacked me when the light was on. I saw his approach from a mile off, moving off the bed and goading him with a confident demeanour of someone who knew the game had changed in his favour. I waited for him to land on the curtain next to me and then, as he settled, I was all over him like a fat kid on a cupcake. Revenge was mine… MUHAHAHAAAAAA!!! (I’m beginning to enjoy these evil laughs!)
So it transpires that Colin wasn’t particularly bright after all. He certainly won’t be renewing his Mensa membership next year, let alone his Playboy subscription…
Having had fun with origami money boats two days ago, today I took the opportunity to jump into a boat of my own. Thankfully this particular boat was not crafted out of paper, which I think is a fairly good thing when you’re cruising across a crocodile-infested lagoon. I haven’t studied crocodiles a lot (I can’t bloody find one for a start - they’re clearly afraid of cameras), but I suspect that if I stood in front of Mr Croc whilst holding a beautifully crafted paper swan, he wouldn’t be admiring the quality of my paper folding.
We had booked in for a one hour Jungle Tour as a group of four people; Christian, Sarah, Christine and myself. Arriving at dockside in the late afternoon, our first task was to read and sign their disclaimer form. It was the usual arrangement; in the event of death as a result of turning the boat over, hitting a tree or being eaten by a crocodile they lay claim to your house, children and priceless collection of Justin Bieber memorabilia.
I must point out that it was only after initially signing their disclaimer form that we were given our safety equipment. There appeared to be good reason for this, as having donned my life jacket I felt about as safe as a man walking into a cage of hungry lions dressed as a pork chop. I can only presume that the purpose of our life jackets was to make us slightly more chewy when being masticated by a crocodile. The safety equipment in our boats wasn’t much better, consisting mostly of four inflatable plastic tampons attached to the boat sides as buoyancy, two of which had more holes than a colander.
Having inspected the ‘safety equipment,’ we were introduced to our guide Martinez. Now, its very important I get his name right as he did say to us that if we enjoyed ourselves we should make sure “not to forget” him. I realise that in some parts of the world this can be a hint to leave a big tip. But I got the impression that on this occasion he just felt unloved, the poor guy.
So let me introduce our guide Manuel to you - approximately 5ft 6 tall, 41 years old, Mexican, dark hair, fat, with a medium-sized moustache, Gemini with a hairy back and mild halitosis.
Before we jumped in our speed boats, we were taken through the in-depth safety briefing and important safety signals. Being in Mexico, we were unsurprised by the amount of thought and effort they’d put into their set of safety signals; one arm in the air moving up and down for ‘slow down’, a lasso motion for ‘speed up’, two arms waving in the air for us to signal “help!!!!” and one arm in the air with ‘v for victory’ sign for “I’ve just successfully thrown my passenger out of the boat and she’s currently having her leg chewed off by a large croc.”
After our 10 second safety briefing, we clambered into our boats. I was with Christine - approximately 5ft 3, American, brown and purple hair, slim, slight moustache and with a mild kamikaze attitude. She didn’t ask me “not to forget” her - God, I only wish I could - I’m just getting into the swing of describing people.
We set off at speed - our guide Mauricio in the lead boat, Christine and I in the second boat and Christian and Sarah in the third. And when I say “set off at speed,” I mean just that. Our guide Malcolm sped off into the distance like he was late for his appointment at the local whore house. Perhaps if I’d seen more of him during the trip, rather than just as a speck in the distance, remembering him wouldn’t be such a problem. We stuck the throttle fully down and set off after him. I tried my very best to be as unsafe as possible with some kamikaze steering in order to cut the distance to our guide and generally increase the risk of Christine losing her Justin Bieber collection.
Now, at the very beginning of this story you may remember that I said that we were on the ‘Jungle Tour.’ In all honesty they might as well have called it the Tour De France, such was the amount of actual jungle in the ‘Jungle Tour.’ It was only after about 25 minutes of wave jumping, salt-water-in-the-face, mental driving that we actually reached anything that could be described as ‘jungle.’ A row of trees on either side of a winding strip of water and a single stork bird standing to attention like a guard at the entrance. The stork - approximately 2.7ft tall, slim, thin legs, Capricorn, bipolar - seemed quite happy to stand in the crocodile-infested water and watch us sail on by. I suspect there was a reason why there was only one stork - his friends had been eaten by crocodiles, with their legs used as post-meal cocktail sticks.
Having made our way through the (3.4) trees, we were now approaching half way. There was just time to drive slowly past an area with adults and children swimming (which we nicknamed the crocodile ‘cafeteria’) and a bridge with people on it, all staring down at us wondering what we were doing. I’m pretty sure that some of them had never seen a boat before, such was their reaction. Perhaps the bridge wasn’t connected to any land. They certainly looked miserable, so I stood up and gave them a big two-handed wave to try to cheer them up. Just as I did so, our guide Matthew screeched to a halt, executed a very swift 180 degree turn and began speeding back towards us. It became apparent that, in my over-exuberance to wave at the miserable bastards on the bridge, I had inadvertently given the ‘SOS, emergency, holy shit! Help!!’ signal. Oops!
After apologising for the ‘SOS’ incident, we sped on to the half way point. It was now time to turn around and head home, traveling back past the ‘cafeteria’, underneath the bridge (remembering not to wave), past the pile of stork bones and back across the second section of the lagoon. We did so with no more incidents, mostly thanks to some more sensible piloting by Captain Christine.
Arriving back at the dock we clambered off the boats. It had been a really fun trip - one that would live long in the memory, along with our guide… errr… Bill. No, shit… what was it?
Having finished our Jungle Tour, I felt it timely that I re-assured our guide Margaret that I would remember him for eternity (someone needed to boost his self-esteem, the poor bloke). I took his photo and told him that I would frame it and hang it on my lounge wall. As he stood with his hands out, palms facing the heavens, and staring at me with sad looking eyes, I felt for him. I ran towards him and embraced him with a big squeezy hug - one that would provide him with enough love to last a very long time. As I stood back and stared into his (now rather shocked looking) eyes, I could tell he appreciated the gesture. In fact, he continued standing there in the same position with the same expression for a very long time as we strolled away…
The morning of my hot stone massage arrived. Having awoken late, and with the massage due to start at 11am, I thought it best not to go overboard with breakfast. One full English breakfast, a mound of toast and fifteen pastries later, I was questioning whether I’d overdone it, as the waiter wheeled me out of the restaurant in a wheelbarrow. I was soon to find out - my massage was due to begin in 30 minutes.
Arriving in the massage suite, I was greeted by a cheerful lady receptionist - a change from the man that was managing the place two days earlier. The lady handed me a disclaimer form - exactly the same one as I had filled out two days previous. I was able to re-assure her that my name was exactly as it was then and that my gender was also the same - I hadn’t had a sex change during those two days in between. Perhaps she had though - maybe this lady had been a man two days ago. I didn’t feel it was fitting to ask. I signed the form and placed it back into her hands - her big, hairy hands…
After completing the paperwork, I was led into the massage room and was, as last time, instructed to remove my outer layers and lay on the couch, covering myself over with the large brown towel. I did so, placing my suit of armour, sword and helmet on the appropriate wall hooks, and waiting for my masseuse to re-enter. She crept back into the room quietly, as if she was the tooth fairy coming in to remove a small pearly white from under my pillow and replace it with a large, silver coin.
As I was laying face down on the couch, with my head looking through the headrest at the floor, I could hear the sound of my masseuse heating up water in the background. I wondered whether she was making herself a Pot Noodle.
Now, thinking about food was probably not the best idea at that particular moment, laying on my full stomach. My regret for consuming that extra piece of toast (the one with the face resembling Lady Gaga) was growing by the minute. I checked out the masseuse’s shoes to decide whether they were expensive and would be ruined if I lost control and covered them in a full English breakfast (and fifteen pastries). I felt relieved - they looked cheap. Cheap and tacky, in fact. She clearly hadn’t made an effort…
And, then, suddenly, my back was on fire…
Wow, that’s hot. No wonder it’s called the ‘hot stone massage.'
My masseuse rubbed the oily, hot stones up and down my back in sweeping motions, before placing a stone near the bottom of my back. In the back of my mind, I feared that the stone might actually burn its way through my stomach. I had visions that I might be walking back to my room resembling a Polo mint.
The massage was relaxing - very relaxing - and I began to drift off, listening to the sound of Enya’s voice. Then, abruptly, the music stopped - mid-song. Enya had been cut off in her prime. She wouldn’t be too happy about that, I’m sure. The sound of silence remained for a few seconds, only to be broken by the noise of a frustrated man giving the music machine a good kicking out in the reception area. The guy clearly needed to chill and relax - perhaps a hot stone massage might help him? A minute or so later, the music resumed.
After my masseuse had finished on my back, I turned over. We were half way through and I was feeling very relaxed. So relaxed that even the sound of someone dragging a vacuum cleaner around in reception (perhaps vacuuming up pieces of music machine) hardly affected me much at all.
As she worked on my stiff legs, I could feel my leg muscles loosen. I can wholeheartedly recommend that if you’ve had a hard day playing sport, you place a couple of rocks into the microwave and massage them over your legs with some oil. Obviously, I’m joking about that - it’s dangerous to put rocks in the microwave. Put them in the toaster instead…
With the leg work over, my masseuse glided smoothly around the massage table and began working on my fingers; pulling each one. My mischievous side thought about letting out an enormous fart as she pulled my index finger. But, I just didn’t have it in me. Well, I did have it in me - eggs and sausages saw to that - I just didn’t want to spoil the atmosphere, so to speak.
After finishing with my arms and hands, my masseuse began prodding my stomach. Now, I don’t quite know what the point of it was, but I think she managed to find two sausages and two rashes of bacon. She was clearly a keen breakfast detective and was sniffing the scent of a major food crime. After the stomach prod, she moved on to my face. She added two small, warm stones onto my eyes. As she did this, a feeling of contentment washed over me. I was half way to achieving my life-long ambition to be a snowman. All I needed now was the carrot nose…
Fifteen minutes passed and we were in the latter stages of the massage. Throughout, she had been placing strategic pebbles on various points of my body (no, not on that one, before you ask. Cheeky!), By the end of my 80 minutes, I was beginning to resemble a pebbly beach. An oily, pebbly beach. I didn’t get the chance to dwell on how it felt to be a beach for too long before she began removing the stones. It was obviously time to start wrapping things up. Quite literally, in fact, as she wrapped a towel around my head.
After removing all of the pebbles from the various parts of my anatomy, my masseuse whispered to me that my massage was over and that I should take my time in getting up and getting dressed. I did just that - slowly sitting up and putting my suit of armour back on. I then checked under the pillow to find no large shiny coin. She wasn’t the tooth fairy after all. Damn her for lulling me into a false sense of security on that one. Still, I felt slightly contented that it could have been worse - whilst I was laying with the towel around my head, she could have stolen the money from my wallet and replaced it with a load of teeth…
With my clothes back on, and feeling suitably relaxed, I took one final glance around the room and spotted the equipment she had been using to heat the rocks. Silly me, she hadn’t been using a microwave at all, or a toaster… it was a Tefal Steamer!
Yabba dabba doo…
I have been on holiday in Mexico for over a week now, and the rigorous sessions of ping pong have been taking their toll. When you’re representing your country against Americans, Mexicans, Koreans and a short, Spanish kid with big teeth and over-hairy eyebrows, you have to work through the pain barrier. That doesn’t mean to say that you don’t suffer the next day. And, wow, was I suffering. I felt stiffer than a corpse’s pencil. I don’t know why a corpse would have a pencil, but let’s just go with it. Perhaps he was a writer?
Yesterday morning, I decided that some relaxation was in order. I booked myself in for a Swedish massage…
Now, I will be honest. Leading up to the massage, I had my fears - the main one being that my relaxing massage would be given by one of the following:
I’m pleased to say that two of my fears were immediately allayed when I arrived at the massage suite. A quick look around re-assured me that there were no hairy masseuses and no people dressed in blonde wigs and 1970s retro gear.
I paid the receptionist some money and was handed a disclaimer form. I had to confirm that my death as a result of excess pain, suffocation with a towel or drowning in oil was at my choosing. After signing my name on the death sentence, I was taken into a little room by a small Mexican lady with smooth hands and a softly spoken voice. I felt like I would be taken care of - and not in a James Bond evil villain kind-of-way. I didn’t feel the need to check to see if she had a venom-laced blade in her shoe, or a knife-wielding dwarf in the cupboard. I felt safe.
After a short chat about oils, my masseuse advised me that she would leave the room for a minute to give me time to take off my clothes, do a little naked dance around the room (she didn’t actually mention that bit, I added it in for my own pleasure) and settle myself on to the couch, covering myself up with the towel. I hid myself well under that large towel. My inner child was hoping that she would walk back in, look around the room in a confused manner and say “Mr Hazell…? Where have you gone?”
She found me. Drat!
With everything in place, it was time to begin. The relaxing music started playing - it was Enya. I have to say that when it comes to background music, Enya is to massage what smooth jazz is to soft core pornography. It just sets the mood. It helps you drift off into another world; a better world where Abba doesn’t exist and death from towel suffocation is impossible.
The masseuse started on my feet. Now, I feel the need, at this point, to confess that I am slightly ticklish. So, I’m sure you can imagine the problem here. To stop myself from bursting out in fits of giggles, I desperately tried to take my mind off the sensations occurring in my tootsies…
‘Think of something non-ticklish, think of something non-ticklish…. feathers…. Bastard, I really hate my mind sometimes…'
Mercifully, the work on my feet lasted only a minute or so, and she began to work her way up my body. After massaging my back for a while, she whispered softly in my ear to turn over. We were half-way through already. I slowly wiped the dribble off my chin and turned myself over, like a beached whale trying to roll back towards the sea (but with less blubber). She moved some towels around a bit, and then placed one around my head. I reassured myself that although I had moved one step closer to suffocation, it was still fairly unlikely.
I settled onto my back, started to relax and was gently drifting off and then… ‘Oooooh no, not the feet again. Think of something non-ticklish, think of something non-ticklish…. feather duster… for Christ’s sake!!'
Again, thankfully, the torture was short-lived, as she put my feet down and moved on to my legs.
I must confess that from there onwards, I don’t remember an enormous amount. My mind drifted and my body relaxed, as Enya warbled gently in my ear.
And then that moment came. It was over, and it was time for me to depart. “Mr Hazell,” she said, “it’s time for me to finish now. If you would just like to take some time for yourself before dressing and meeting me outside.”
I wondered to myself, ‘how much time can I legitimately take? Would 7 hours seem excessive?’ I then raised myself from the couch, with a towel still wrapped roughly around my head, and prepared to get myself dressed. Now was definitely not the time to do another silly, naked dance around the room. It would be inappropriate. Oh, sod it…
I strolled out to meet my masseuse - walking a little bit like a spaceman who had just landed on the moon. She offered me some cold tea (it was supposed to be cold, they weren’t just lazy with their tea making) and I accepted. I then turned to her and said… “thank you for the massage… the words I’m singing. Thanks for all the joy they’re bringing. Who can live without it, I ask in all honesty?”
I have to say that I really enjoyed my massage. So much so, that, after looking through the list of other massages available, I’ve been tempted into trying another. My next massage is booked for tomorrow. The 80 minute Hot Stones Massage. Just leave my bloody feet alone!!
Rapport can be described as a state of harmony achieved when the people involved appreciate and understand each other’s feelings and ideas and communicate on the same wavelength. Here is a story of how I established rapport with a room maid during my stay in Cancun. I was feeling a little cut off and lonely at the time, so it meant a lot to me.
During my two-week hotel stay, I occupied a twin room all to myself. This meant that I received two of everything, or in the case of bath towels, four of everything. It seemed a little extreme.
My first few evenings in Cancun were spent outside of the hotel. However, on my fifth night at the hotel, I was enjoying a rest before dinner when there was a knock at the door. I opened the door to a maid, who presented me with a towel before wishing me a good evening (in Spanish). “This is ridiculous,” I thought, “what the bloody hell do I need ANOTHER towel for?” Despite this, deep down inside me I felt a tingling sense of increased security: if I should need to have 10 showers a day, I could! Furthermore, if I ran out of money, I could start my own laundry shop… ;)
Opportunities can appear when you least expect them to. As I stood there, towel in hand, a childish idea came into my head - ‘towel origami.’ I could have some fun with this towel and put it to good use. So, this is what I made…
Say “hello” to my towel man, Enrique; made from one bath towel and one hand towel (together with a few bits and pieces from the complimentary bathroom pack). I left Enrique sitting at the top of the second bed; to greet the maid the next day. Next morning, I went out for the day, returning in the evening. As I walked back into the room I spotted that Enrique had disappeared… to be replaced by Mariana (complete with flirty eyes)…
Mariana was to become a fixed guest in my hotel room - she stayed there for the rest of my holiday, accompanied by varying arrangements of flowers and adornments. After a few days, I concluded she might be lonely. So, I gave her a friend…
Meet Simon the swan, made from a single bath towel, together with a rose (made from a tissue). Ok, I admit it, my skills at origami towel creations are no match for the maid’s. However, I didn’t have all the elastic bands, stickers, flowers, etc, that she had.
Simon lasted only one morning. The room maid created her towel arrangements out of old towels, so they were allowed to remain. But, mine were made from in-use towels and were taken away to be washed. Hence, by the time I returned from breakfast, he had disappeared and Mariana was on her own again (albeit, accompanied by a mini bouquet of flowers).
The maid’s towel origami was in evidence elsewhere in the hotel too. Later that morning, as I went to get the lift down to the swimming pool, a new towel creation had appeared. Sitting on the table opposite the lift was a rather phallic work of art…
Is it supposed to be a snail? Answers on a postcard on that (and on what the flower is supposed to represent).
On my final morning, as a thank you to the maid for providing the towel entertainment and Mariana, my towel friend, I left her a tip. Not to be boring, I made her one final towel creation - Cyril and Celia, the cygnets, forming a heart…
I didn’t ever properly converse with the maid, as she didn’t speak more than a couple of words of English and I didn’t speak more than a few words of Spanish. However, it does go to show that communication is not all about words - it can take so many other forms. We had both shown parts of our personalities by way of a simple, everyday piece of cloth. The result - smiles, entertainment and a warm feeling of understanding.
Note: I would just like to add that despite all of the towel origami shenanigans, at no point was anyone in the hotel deprived of a towel… (so, there’s no excuse for that man in the lift to smell the way he did…)