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…

Hotel Breakfast Madness

The hotel breakfast experience can be an uncomfortable, tense affair – especially if you’re in a foreign country. Does this story ring true with you?

The hotel buffet breakfast

Bleary eyed, wearing your shirt back to front, and with your hair looking like you were assaulted by a troop of wig-stealing monkeys on your way in, you fumble your way through the door of the hotel’s breakfast room. It’s a buffet breakfast; all you can bloat. You chuckle to yourself as you imagine the fat American man you bumped into yesterday (the one with the enormous boobs) jumping up and down with joy at the potential calories on offer. Let’s hope he’s wearing his sports bra…

As the Maitre d’ greets you by the door, it becomes obvious that he speaks no English. So, you try to hint that you want a table for one without inadvertently giving him ‘the bird.’

Following a period of mis-communication, during which you seriously considered punching the Maitre d’ in the face, as he stood between your hungry stomach and the eggs and bacon, he sits you down at a table of his choice. Frustratingly, he’s chosen the table furthest away from the buffet, meaning that you have to undertake a small marathon to reach the food. The realisation passes through your mind that you will probably burn off more calories getting to and from the buffet area than are actually contained within the food. Oh, why can’t they supply golf carts?

The waiter walks over. He, at least, speaks a little more English…

Waiter: “Tea? Coffeeeee?”
You: “What… err, tea… yes, I’ll have tea. Thank you”

Then comes the list…

Waiter: “What tea you like? Engresh breekfast, caamomile, greeen tea, mint tea, eeerl grey…?”
You: “Err, I don’t know. Tea. Just tea. I don’t want help sleeping, I don’t have prostate issues… ordinary tea!”
Waiter: “Ah, ok………… juice, what juice you like?”

Finally, the waiter leaves… he’s gone to get your strawberry tea and asparagus and wheatgrass juice (you won’t have a problem with constipation today, that’s for sure!). As you sit at your table, staring blankly into the distance, your eyes focus for a brief second on a woman struggling back to her table, supporting an enormous mound of breakfast goodies with both arms. Her head is tilted to the side of her plate to see where she is going. Forget the golf carts, how about a forklift truck?

Now slumped over your table, struggling to wake yourself, you glance at your watch. It’s 10.29am. Breakfast finishes at 10.30am, so there’s little time to loose. You’re going to have to act like a contestant on the television gameshow, Supermarket Sweep – without the bright, very gay clothing and without the over-exaggerated enthusiasm. It’s too early for that. You jump up from your table, like a startled deer. Well, ok, more like a wounded wildebeest…

As you reach the food area, panting from your exhaustive journey, you notice several groups of people wandering around with their heads down and arms out, reminiscent of extras from an episode of the Walking Dead. It’s the hangover crowd. You decide it’s best to stay away from them incase they walk into you or, worse, projectile vomit over your shoulder as you inspect the pastries and cakes.

It’s time to make your first big decision: how to begin the breakfast debauchery? Being that it’s the morning, you really don’t want to have a guilt trip for the rest of the day about what you’ve eaten at breakfast. So, the best option is to start with something healthy; fruit. You pick up a piece of melon with your spoon and carefully place it on your plate… that’ll do. It’s amazing how this one piece of fruit, measuring approximately a square centimetre, can change your perspective and make you feel so much better about the mound of unhealthy eggs, bacon, sausages, toast, pastries and cakes that will inevitably follow. Afterall, your breakfast won’t have been *all* unhealthy, right?

And, let’s be honest, you are “health conscious.” Yesterday, you walked all the way up the hotel stairs to your room on the ninth floor… having taken the lift to the eighth floor first.

After devouring your fruit in three seconds, it’s time to move on to the cooked breakfast. Eggs, bacon, sausages, tomatoes and a mountain of toast. That brings us to one of the trickiest parts of the buffet breakfast…

The hotel breakfast toaster

Arriving at the toaster section, you’re confronted by a crowd of people with very perplexed faces, clutching pieces of bread. And they have every right to feel perplexed, for hotel toasters are always so incredibly over-complicated, with their vast array of buttons, dials and knobs (where-ever there’s a toaster, there’s always knobs). Moreover, the toasters always resemble torture devices with their mish-mash of metal spokes, prongs and cages. And why is there always one piece of ‘forgotten toast’ sitting on the exit tray; cold, getting in the way, but still optimistic of achieving fulfilment underneath a blanket of warm honey. It’s always perfectly toasted too – a miracle, in toasting terms. You can guarantee that your toast won’t turn out looking that good. ‘Hmm, you could just… no, it’s cold. Urgh.’

Having fought through the crowd, claiming to be the biggest toaster expert in the world, the torture device is finally revealed to you. Now, there’s an inevitability that the toaster will be one of two things:

  1. A time machine. Your bread will disappear for twenty minutes, only to re-appear looking exactly the same as it went in.
  2. A cremation furnace. You pop your bread in and, 10 seconds later, a pile of ash falls out onto the tray (the ash may or may not resemble the face of someone famous from history… possibly someone who was cremated)

Arriving back at your table with your mound of food, the waiter kindly presents you with a teapot of strawberry tea and a glass of asparagus and wheatgrass juice. Now, getting the tea from the little teapot into your cup should be easy. But, no, he’s given you the one teapot in the world with the dodgy lid and leaky spout. Consequently, when you go to pour it, the tea goes everywhere… everywhere except the cup, which remains as dry as an Arab’s flip flop. Seeing you in some distress, but clearly not understanding the gravitas of the situation, the waiter brings you a napkin. A single bloody napkin!

Although frustrated, part of you remains grateful that you’re not on board a boat with him. For, if it was to start taking on water he’d probably hand you a thimble to bail with…

At exactly 10.30am, events suddenly liven up. The lights in the buffet area are switched off, one by one. Breakfast is over… but the fight has only just begun. A mad scramble ensues, reminiscent of feeding time at the zoo. It’s a battle of wits between staff (starting to take things away) and people trying to desperately grab extra food for their breakfast. Everywhere you look, there’s chaos. Well, I say ‘everywhere’ – the fruit section remains incredibly peaceful.

You finish your breakfast and leave the restaurant. It’s all over. Behind you is a scene of carnage; bits of half-eaten food everywhere and tea-soaked table cloths as far as the eye can see. Although you arrived late, you feel contented that you aren’t the last to leave. That prize goes to a plump, married couple. There’s something not quite right though… the man has a strange muffin-shaped mound in his t-shirt and his wife is dragging a heavy handbag along the floor behind her. Forget the forklift truck – how about an articulated lorry?

Unexpected Idiot In Bagging Area…

Supermarket Checkout

I was using a supermarket self-checkout today, processing my items to the repetitive drone of “please place your item in the bagging area.” Next to me, an older couple were battling to put through their items of shopping, some (most) of which included bottles of alcohol. Most of you will be aware that when you buy alcohol at a self-checkout the attendant has to check your age. So, in this instance, their checkout light went red and a message popped up on their screen. Here is a transcript of the conversation that followed:

Lady: “Why is it telling us that we have to wait for assistance?”
Attendant: “We have to check your age to ensure you aren’t underage”
Lady: “Ah, ok. I suppose I should take it as a compliment, really? Ha ha ha…”

For some reason, I took umbrage at her stupid remark. I just about managed to hold back from vociferating in response:

“So, you think this piece of electronic equipment has a brain, do you? That’s mistake number one. Mistake number two is thinking that if it did have a brain, it would be stupid enough to think that you, a haggard old alcoholic woman who smells of musky piss and morning fresh, are actually a voluptuous 17-year-old woman with the face of an angel.”

“Oh, and, by the way, you should assume that the card payment machine thinks you’re trustworthy, that the supermarket’s automatic door likes you and that your trolley knows where your car is parked. Good luck!”

A Towel Too Far…

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…

Enrique - Towel Origami

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 - Towel Origami

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