World of Adventure

Yesterday we had a day out at Chessington. We’ve had mixed experiences of days out at various places in the past, so the bar is set fairly low. Chessington scored high early on, for us, yesterday with their sensible arrangements for families with disabled children.

Once you’ve provided paper proof that your child is disabled (yes really) alongside the child, you get given a card which allows you to go to the exit of each ride. A staff member lets you straight on the ride after writing down what time you can next use the card for a big ride (adding the equivalent of the queue time you’ve jumped).

This works well as you don’t have to walk past the glares and stares of the main queue, who have you pegged as liggers as your child “don’t look disabled”, and the time delay between being able to access big rides is fair enough. A good example of reasonable adjustment really, removing the difficult bit (queuing) for dudes like LB.

We started with the Rattlesnake. My first ever roller coaster. Tom and Rich in front, waving their arms in the air. Me and LB behind. I kept my eyes scrunched shut, gripping the handlebars and quietly whimpering.  LB sat quiet, composed and distant, seemingly oblivious to height, speed, excitement or terror.

“Fuck that,” he said to himself when we got off 90 seconds later.

The Killing

We started to watch The Killing last week, about 12 years after the rest of the country. On Monday morning, after 11 episodes over five nights, Rich realised he could do cracking impressions of the main characters.  Given that he only does two other impressions (Mick Jagger and Jeff Goldblum in The Fly) badly, it was very funny.

That evening, I was in the kitchen when I could hear some distant shouting outside. We live in a lively area at times, so I didn’t pay much attention to it.

Tom appeared in the kitchen doorway, hovering nervously.

“What is it?” I said.
“I think there’s someone at the door.”

I went into the hall and could see a very short figure shouting something through the letterbox in a very deep voice.

“EEEEEEK…” I thought, “Maybe someone’s been stabbed or something.”

I quickly shut the dogs and Tom in the living room and opened the front door.

It was Richy, bending over.

“Shouting “Troels!”* through the letterbox,”
“I thought you’d find it funny,” he said. “You laughed this morning.”

Shrek modelling my Sarasiobhan Lund Christmas jumper

*Troels Hartmann is the key murder suspect at the moment (no spoilers please).

The jinxed travel companion

Last Monday a few of us set off for a workshop on emotions in Prato, Italy.  I was viewed with suspicion by a colleague, aware of past exploits (for a taster, click here), as she had her hand luggage thoroughly searched at Gatwick.  This look intensified after she rinsed the gold ring, that she had worn for over 30 years, down the sink in the toilets near the boarding gate.

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The possibly sinister night

Once in West Africa, there was a comforting shift to green lushness, the odd elephant and unlimited advocados.  It was invigorating and the sleeping bags in the back of the truck disappeared as we sat up, enjoying the journey again. We stopped at Lome, the capital of Togo with the largest fetish/voodoo market in the world and spent an afternoon, browsing bones and skulls – many still decomposing – blood, wood, carvings, figurines, ringing bells, smells and strangeness. Continue reading

The border crossing and the camel spiders

From Tamanrasset we travelled South towards Mali. Relentlessly. It seems bizarre now, looking back, but the trip was tedious and boring. Mike-A was obsessively focused on getting the truck to the end point (Nairobi) and used every daylight hour on the road.  A few of us got into the habit of getting up for breakfast around 6.30am (stale baguettes, jam or peanut butter), then clambering back into sleeping bags in the back of the truck to snooze till lunchtime (stale baguettes…).  Passing slowly through miles and miles of Sahel with little changing scenery, hardly interacting with anyone off the truck, was an odd experience. Detached and unsettling.

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The terrorist, tagine and toilet

Here is a convoluted story. Checking in to Marrakech airport last Oct with Richy Rich (RR), I got a bit suspicious of a Moroccan guy in front of us (Red Fox). Just one of those funny instincts, confirmed about 20 minutes later when he passed the passport control matey some cash in his passport.  Had a tense wait at the gate wondering what to do. Board? Raise the alarm with staff? Warn all the passengers? Look a total numpty? RR went off “to tell a guard” about my suspicions . What a relief. He came back five minutes later and said he was joking. He’d been to toilet.

We boarded and sat a few rows behind Red Fox and his mate.  I nearly broke the skin on RR’s arm when the pair of them went to the toilet together. Red Fox was wearing a zipped up, very padded jacket. He waited in the kitchen area while his mate was in the toilet, then they swapped.  They returned to their seats and I scoobied to the toilet to look for a device. I went through the rubbish bin and did a finger tip search of the ceiling panels. Nothing.  I realised if they were going to blow up the plane, it would be over London.

I went back to my seat.  RR was so fed up with me he was feigning sleep so I made a plan.  We had to stop them returning to the toilet once we were over the Channel. There was a tagine in the luggage rack that looked like it could do some damage. RR could throw my coat over one of them and grapple him. We could block the aisle hopefully calling on the support of other passengers. It was a very, very long flight.

Three hours later we reached London and landed.  We shuffled off the plane but the doors into the airport were locked.  We stood in a line in a corridor, people muttering and getting a bit irate. After 20 minutes, the door opened and we walked through to a heavily policed passport area. Red Fox was taken away.