Dont buy the Sun.

Dont buy the Sun.
Hillsborough Justice campaign - Remember the 96.

Friday, 2 August 2013


In the last chapter, I noted that Ride of Hope 3  (ROH3), in common with previous ROH's was, comfortingly characterised by disaster/and or chaos. That this pattern should feature was evident right form the inception. Following RHB's strict instructions, and teaming up with Skarra, I rode to Beverley (about 12km depending on route) to purchase a holiday via a travel agent. Neither self nor Skarra had ever done this before, but it seemed like the easiest way to get the process over and done. Online holiday booking can be, in my experience, a black hole. When I have attempted to do this in the past, it has led to some great holidays but only after hours, days, weeks of considering the multivarious options available. I usually compile an excel project  with seperate sheets on  every holiday within price range, accomodation options, preferences of holiday makers, travel time, onsite expense, political freedom in the destination (UK has often been ruled out as a holiday destination  because of this), distance to nearest airport, full UN reports on transmittable diseases in the locality, historical data, local transport sub-connections and full environmental report (I dont want to go somewhere they dont recycle, its very upsetting for some reason). Then I present the full report to my co-holidayers in brief report form which sometimes leads back to the drawing board and sometimes results in an even more complicated process of seperately booking planes, trains, automobiles and hotels. This time, we decided to make the process simpler.We would go to a travel agent, tell them we had 'x' pounds and our criteria were 1. hot 2. pool 3 baggage allowance and buy a holiday in the month of July.

Skarra and I found ourselves standing in front of bubbly, blond Kelly.

"We want to go on holiday" Skarra announced, with a degree of superfluity.

"What, the both of you?" Kelly sang back. [Note; "The both of you" is what many English people say when they mean "You" or in this context "Together"]

"Yes" we replied.

Kelly sat forward with apparently increased interest and said "Let me look at The System" for you. [Note "The System" is what travel agents and railway booking clerks call computers]. Kelly click furiously for a few seconds and said "Where do you want to go?". The screen display of  The System was turned away from us, but I noticed that a pink glow was reflecting onto Kelly's face.

"Er, we want to go with my wife" I said hastily.

Kelly looked at me, and clicked furiously and the pink glow disappeared.

"Where do you want to go? " she asked.

Skarra siezed the moment decisively "Somewhere hot" he said "With a pool. In July."

It is credit to Kelly that we actually ended up with a holiday at all, because this really was the only information we could provide her with. We reached agreement  and I paid with my card. As the transaction completed, my cellphone rang. It was RHB.

"Have you booked the holiday?" she asked

"Yes" I replied

"When" she asked

"In July" I answered

"Shit" she said

"What?" I asked

"Jody's coming" she said

"When?" I said

"In July" she exclaimed

"Oh" I said.

Ulitimately this Gordian knot was resolved with me on a  seperate flight than Skarra and RHB, four days after they left, albeit I had to arrange that flight independently so ended up with little idea of how I would get to them once I was "somewhere hot". In short what happened was  RHB travelled to Durham to work with CCP and Jodi four days before the start of her holiday then travelled back to Large Mansions with Jodi, stayed for a night then  flew out on holiday the next day with Skarra, Jodi meanwhile  flew out the day after (to Rome) and I travelled to Liverpool two days later, then back to Manchester then flew out.

I wont go into too many details today, because I want to get on to the ROH3/holiday tomorrow and I have run out of time because a paper is demanded of the joint second best academic in the UK, but while RHB was in Durham,I was looking after a nieghbour's cat while she (the neighbour, not the cat) was on holiday. At some point the cat got into a fight. This is normal for cats (Toshack is forever wandering home nonchalantly with battle wounds) and usually the best thing to do is let the wound heal, at most cleaning it with water. But Dave's wound wasnt healing. In fact, three days after he incurred it, it started to smell and turn black. [Two additional pieces of timing are relevant to note here: firstly, our own cats were due their annual booster shots and veterinary check up on the day that I would be alone in Large Mansions (ie the day after Jodi left and prior to my travelling to Liverpool). Also , the cats owner was due home on the day after that, in the morning which was ok because I was travelling to Liverpool in the evening. ] A decision was forced - Dave had to go to the vet, and it made sense to take him co-incident with my cats.

I dont know if you have ever placed a cat in a cat box. Some cats enter meekly, others with less willing. In this case, Tosh, Calli and Dave were all reluctant. Now 'reluctance' is quite a mild concept when applied, as a description, to humans. "Reluctance' however turns when it comes to cats and boxes. 'Reluctant' becomes a knock-em-down-and-they-get-back-up, brutish, noisy scrap. Tails, legs, paws and fangs appear from nowhere, forcing lids off and preventing the door of the cat box from shutting. At one point, my arm was in the cat cage under Tosh, trapped in the door while he gnawed my elbow, so i sprayed his face with water, he bit down hard but at least then retreated and I slammed the door shut.  I repeated the procedure with Calli, a smaller, more vicious version of the same fight. Then I went to my neighbours for Round Three with Dave.

The taxi driver I had called refused to take the cats, so I set off the half mile walk to the vets with three cats in three boxes. The boxes swung from the handles, the cats miaowed and hissed, striking out through the doors. My flip flops (I have no idea!) flipped and flopped. AT the vets, Calli and Tosh passed muster, but the vet looked at Dave's wound and said "That's nasty". Three hundred pounds later, I took my cats home, returning for Dave that evening  after his treatment, and packed.

I will eschew an account of the career crisis which was running parallel with these events, suffice to say it has now been resolved. I will also provide no details of the nightmare flight, other than asking the reader to appreciate that of 238 souls on board, 237 of them appeared to be  members of a fraternity or sorority loaded up with alcohol, hormones racing, overexcited about their first vacation without their parents. Except they were British. And the journey to "somewhere hot with a pool " from the airport in an unlicensed taxi at four am on cliff hugging roads need not be described here. Suffice to say, that at five am, four days after RHB and Skarra, I arrived. RHB had not wasted the four days, because as I settled on the ground floor balcony, exchanging news with RHB, slowly, from amid the vinyard opposite, there was movement in our direction, which eventually coalesced onto the balcony. RHB looked pleased.

"Oh yeah" she said to me " I've made some new friends"

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