Wish You Were Here?

beach beach chairs beach hut blue
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It’s Easter. I thought I might remind you of what you are missing…

Snapped awake to sound of shrieking smoke alarm.

Also snapped bedside lamp e.g. dodgy 25 watt light bulb suspended from short length of unsheathed electric cable hooked through small piece dog-eared hardboard attached to attractive eau-de-nil leather-look nylonette lamp shade with embossed Greek God motives illustrating a range of physically impossible practices (at least for mortals) from some sort of mythological Hellenic Olympian Kama Sutra (Greek Gods appear to have three arms… I think. Greek Goddesses appear to approve) – covering bed in a million shards of paper-thin glass and electrifying bed-head.

Did not notice smoke alarm in room before sliding into ouzo induced slumber, having discovered that only practical method of tackling virulent gastric eructations is by using short length of gardener’s hose-pipe wedged into bidet with partially disembowelled travel bag.


Not first interruption to sleep this p.m. First occasion involved very large lorry crawling past window, high revs, low gear, megaphone where exhaust should be, at 11pm by my watch (although is always 11 by my watch since testing state-of-the-art diving function in 3 inches of lukewarm water yesterday). Rushed to window to witness scene. Fortunate not to bang shins on strategically sharpened coffee table or equally disposed bed leg; unfortunate to rupture spleen on long-abandoned broom handle, discarded after broom-head missed mosquito size of International Space Station. Eventually managed to hop through newly opened door, having removed lock with tin opener, gripping shin tightly in strangely coloured dishcloth to minimise bleeding, only to find lorry long gone. Replaced by boy with suitcase on wheels and cobbled path.

Also wild cat eating tattered remains of Mickey Mouse beach towel…

Closed window carefully owing to difficulty encountered earlier when refixing ill-fitting pane of glass with 4 bent paper-clips, two previously-owned best quality Chinese belt buckles (belts having dissolved in wear) and a 1947 street map of Calais, and returned to what remained of bed after 4 hours of nocturnal spiralling in emery-board sheets laced with holes, darns and enough stains to keep an avid collector guessing for hours. Listened to romantic sound of cicada in distance. Except not in distance. Call of cicada not so romantic when made from balcony. Calling to mate, possibly 300 miles away. At least.


Interruption Mark II featured couple talking through megaphones on balcony above. Also walking on stilts. I think. In near distance an adenoidal woman sang a selection from Andrew Lloyd Webber. Or maybe not. Could have been Rogers and Hammerstein. Or Radiohead. Could have been radio with speakers on the blink or re-enactment of mediaeval torture. Overhead, open-air discussion turned to whispered argument. Still through megaphone. After much banging, overhead argument eventually turned to….. Why people always do that after argument?

Arose, spurred on by sound of running water, and picked my way to bathroom. Did not turn on light. Did not want to disturb wife. Did not want to startle children. Did not want to wake 37,000 (app.) mozzies hanging from lamp-shade. Found wardrobe in main bedroom. Found broom cupboard in kitchen. Found little light did not work when fridge door opened. Found door to corridor. Did not find door to bathroom. Perhaps bathroom had been stolen whilst I slept. Also all light switches. Also bed (why bed not where I left it?). Held hands ahead like 1940’s Dracula and staggered forward like Bela Lugosi wearing wife’s flip-flops. Shin-height coffee table and ankle-height dresser corner had not disappeared. May have been sharpened. Where Scully and Mulder when needed? Clinically bright American T.V. Studio – that’s where. Un-bruised shins, non-lacerated ankles, pristine spleens, within easy reach of well-lit lavatory. No help to me. The truth may be out there, but it does not save me from having to wee into convenient saucepan. Colander actually. Have probably drowned several hundred cockroaches or similar. Decide to sleep standing-up. Lean gently on wall. Wall now missing. Bathroom door returned. And open. Conscious of sound of skull hitting bidet rim… Then unconscious.


Awoke covered in blood. No, not blood, at least not entirely. Must have hit bidet tap in fall. Bathroom ankle-deep in possible non-potable water/blood cocktail. Attempted to turn off bidet tap. Could not turn off bidet tap: bidet tap not turned on. Groped for bathroom light switch, dimly aware of possible consequences viz ankle-deep water/dodgy electrical appliance situation, but desperate to shed some light on possible ebbing away of life-type experience. Attempted to operate switch with elbow. Attempted to operate switch with nose. Attempted to operate switch with chin, after shave bottle, wife’s toothbrush, wife’s toothbrush handle… Finally accepted probable fatal repercussions and decided to use finger. No flash, no bang, no tell-tale odour of semi-singed eyebrows. Just light. Am pleased to report that ankle-depth liquid is not blood. Also, is not water issuing from mal-plumbed bidet, fractured in collision with speeding cranium, e.g. mine. Is not, in fact water. At least, not entirely. Is bubbling up through toilet pan. I trust I do not need to draw pictures, we are people of the world you and I. Carefully closed bathroom door and jammed all available apartment towels into gaps. If door holds until tide reaches height of bath then deluge may drain down plug-hole. Perhaps.

Some of it…

Climbed back into bed, now partially occupied by wife’s spread-eagled body, one child’s shoe (explain in not more than your own words) and 37,000 mosquitoes fed up with hanging from ceiling. Drifted off to sleep as only a man with concussion, ruptured spleen and effluent-filled bathroom can. Until smoke alarm went off. Really cannot remember smoke alarm in room. Cannot remember smoke alarm in entire apartment block. Possibly wife’s rape alarm gone wossname again. Doolally. Occasionally set off by impure thoughts or heavy breathing. Wife by now also awake. She too set off by impure thoughts or heavy breathing. Also rape alarm going off in small room at 3 a.m. Except did not bring rape alarm in case set off by x-rays at airport, security guard with over-zealous scanner action, or over-close air steward.

Truth dawns. As indeed does dawn. Noise is not smoke alarm. Is not rape alarm. Is not even cicada on balcony. Is cicada behind `fridge. Sprayed only available aerosol beneath fridge door. Please God, do not let duty-free anti-perspirant drive out any other native wildlife e.g. extra-large cockroach, lizard, spider, rat, estate agent etc. Stand on chair and watch cicada hop out. Place clear plastic box on cicada and watch from distance. Cicada even noisier in plastic box than behind fridge. And very fierce-looking. Wife and children (standing on bed) want it evicting. I (standing on wardrobe) want somebody else to do it. Want anybody else to do it. Perhaps wild-cat would like animate kitty-crunch instead of beach towel. Invite possibly rabid moggy into room. Moggy eats tomorrow’s lunch. Moggy craps in corner. Moggy falls asleep under bed and snarls at anyone that goes near it…

Snapped awake.

Also snapped shoe-lace attempting to crawl inside own shoe. Prise open eyes and stare at marbelette-tiled floor. Closely. Cannot remember moving from wardrobe to floor under bed. Cannot remember placing right ankle behind left ear. Cannot remember swallowing something hairy. Attempt to adjust to morning noises. Things always brighter in morning. Things always being done e.g. handyman dredging bathroom with tooth mug, wife’s epilator and 3 foot length of dental floss; wife cooking breakfast on electric ring which may achieve tepid given enough notice (or possibly not); children feeding best shorts, passport and wallet, to wild-cat. Cicada is dead. Or sleeping. Not certain how to check vital signs of hemiptera. Could hold mirror up to tiny mouth I suppose, but have no idea where to find it; if, indeed, it has one. Have no idea how to administer CPR to a bug. Anyway, how can I be certain that cicada is not playing possum. Might make a dash for wardrobe as soon as plastic box is lifted. Might send out mighty distress call to millions of chirruping cicadidae. Might hide in shoe. Do they sting? My entomological knowledge does not stretch to toxicity of invertebrate venom. Cover plastic container with large metal saucepan weighed down with upturned coffee table in case of mass celeoptera rescue attempt.

Attempt to yawn without dislocating hip. Without dislocating jaw. Without trapping ear in bed springs. Count to three. Breathe in Hellenic air. Swallow lung-full of Hellenic under-bed crud. Inhale large colony of Hellenic cat fleas. Cough up Hellenic corn plaster. Sing one verse of God Save the Queen and feel myself unwinding. Needed this holiday. Needed to relax. Booked fourteen nights this year. One week of rest is never enough…..

5 thoughts on “Wish You Were Here?

  1. Moral? Shit happens, on holiday or at home. It sounds… memorable, even allowing for the concussion. Again, I like the self-deprecating style. Keep smiling, these is strange days.

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