Robert Versus The Mosquito

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.

Colin The Mosquito

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

  1. 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!
  2. 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!
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. You repeat steps 4, 5 and 6 endlessly until you collapse onto the floor with exhaustion. Beaten.

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…

Speed Boating On The Lagoon

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.

Jungle Tour Speed Boats

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…

Floating My Boat

I chanced upon a website a few days ago called I Found Money Today. Owned by George Resch, the website is dedicated to his social experiment in anonymous giving. The premise is simple: he leaves small amounts of money in public places with the idea that someone will find the money. He has no control over who finds it or what they do with it. However, just by initiating this random act of kindness he makes a difference to the lives of other people – changing their mood, giving them a spike of emotion and maybe providing them with a sense that they’re not alone in the world. I think we can be sure that through his social experiments he has affected a number of people in a positive way, and who knows what might have happened as a result of that. It’s not just about George either, through his blog he has inspired other people to try it.

Creme Egg In Lift

As part of my fabulous life (something I count myself as fortunate for having) I like to engage in random acts of kindness. From simple things like leaving a Creme Egg in a lift at Easter to giving away bunches of flowers to random strangers, these acts always give me a sense of belonging. Having visited George’s website, I decided that I wanted to have a go of my own at anonymously leaving some money. So I did…

I spent last night brainstorming my plan. Rather than leaving a note hanging to a tree or attached to a building, I wanted to try something a little different. So I built a boat. Do you want to see it? Of course you do. Here it is…

The First Boat

Lovely isn’t it? Even though I say so myself. On the side of the boat I wrote ‘soy tuya‘ which, for those of you who don’t know Spanish, means “I’m yours.” I considered it a nicer message than “up yours.” Attached to the boat was a 100 Peso note (roughly about £5) and, for artistic effect, I crafted a sail out of a (non-used) cotton bud and some paper. So what was my plan for my little boat of money (HMS Ally)? Well my idea was to take it to the shopping village next door and place it in the water fountain in the middle of the main square. There it could be chanced upon by literally anyone. Although, saying that, the odds were slightly in favour of those people living in Mexico. It was highly unlikely that an eskimo would be finding it, for example.

This morning I set about constructing my boat. Everything went smoothly and as I finished attaching the sail I sat back to admire my creation. Just a quick photograph and I’d be ready to go… or so I thought…

I took the boat outside to photograph it next to the pool. The first photograph was good. But as I moved in to get another, a gust of wind hit the sail and sent the boat catapulting into the water in a scene slightly reminiscent of The Perfect Storm. It was a disaster. A maritime disaster.

Boat Capsized

After rescuing the money from the boat, and discarding the wet shipwreck into the bin, I grabbed another sheet of paper and began to build HMS Ally II. Once again I attached a sail and fastened my (now dry) note to the mast. All was good – my boat was in ship shape and ready to go. There was just time to get some photos by the pool, this time holding on to the boat. Here is the masterpiece…

The Second Boat

and from the other side…

The Second Boat - The Other Side

Boat in hand, I made my way to the shopping village with my friend Christian. Sitting down, we scoped out the location. As we did so, we noticed a security guard keeping a watchful gaze. Timing would be crucial in this attempt. As the security guard moved from his position, it was ‘go for launch.’ I went for it…

Setting Sail

The attempt was successful. HMS Ally II was afloat. It was time to retreat and leave my little boat to float on until some unsuspecting passer by saw it and took their opportunity. As I looked back, only the sail was visible…

From a Distance

So who ended up with the money? Well who knows? My only hope is that whoever picked it out of the water ended up with a smile on their face as well as 100 Pesos in their pocket. One thing’s for sure – by George, it was fun.