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» My Saviour

TLDR: I saved a small girl from downing while on holiday
When I was 18, I was lucky enough to find myself on the Balearic Island of Gran Canaria.

I'd managed to get into a tight nightlife posse during my first week and our drill went like this: sunbathe off the hangover at the beach in the morning, swimming pool in the day and hit the bars and clubs at night. Rinse and repeat.

During the swimming pool sessions I'd muck around, dunk some girls, show off some dives, anything to catch the eye of a sun-baking-beauty...I was 18 remember ;)

I was also aware that this was a family pool, so there's no sordid takes here. In fact, I'd race against all the little kids in the pool and this quickly became their daily entertainment.

One little girl no older than six, a confident swimmer, would always be the first to take me on. Of course, I always let her win. This was her domain, she was in that pool when the sun came up and was still in when it went to bed, I would not spoil her fun.

Entering the night part of my routine, I met up with all my new-found pals and headed towards the hotel's bar, near the pool. The place was fairly deserted, many out for the night already, the rest in bed, but there was one familiar face: the little girl. She was still splashing away, while her parents went inside for another drink.

That's when it happened. I still see it as I saw it then. Hasslehoff Baywatch-style slo-mo vision. The little girl was visibly tired, scrambling desperately towards the edge of the pool under the weight of her own exhaustion. Her head bobbed above the water, then below, above the water, then below, above the water, then nothing. She was drowning and no-one had noticed.

Here I was in all my splendour: my slick gelled hair, my chino pants, my pulling shirt, beer in hand...all forgotten...as I dived into that pool and scooped her up from the bottom.

I put her on the side, no breaths coming from her tiny frame, so I gave her CPR, and she spluttered into life, just like TV.

I looked up, suddenly aware of a crowd. Her parents were there, my friends too. There was no applause, celebration, no fist-pumping, no high-fives. I had just saved a little girl's life.

I headeed into town soaking wet but the generous climate of the island dried me out.

The next morning I skipped the beach and started my hangover/tanning/sleeping duties next to the pool. I didn't get to complete any of those tasks though as I was visited by my new best friend: Sophie.

Not only was Sophie a great little swimmer but she was pretty acomplished climber too: hanging from my legs and on my back, like a little chimp, for the rest of the holiday.

It probably didn't help my chances with the sun-baked-beauties but I didn't mind one bit.

The most amazing thing was that very day - Sophie got back in the pool and kept her head above water - while she raced me for the 100th time. She beat me once again, of course ;)
(Fri 10th May 2013, 2:48, More)

» Shops and Supermarkets

she probably thought it was funny...
One year I was so desperate for cash that I actually went and got a job during the summer break from university. I know, I’m a disgrace to all students, such a sell-out.

I joined the local supermarket crew and got placed in the dairy section. This meant I got a spiffy white trench coat and a dapper white hat. My responsibilities were i) take the milk delivery in the morning ii) put dairy products on shelves iii) re-price anything coming up to the sell by date.

One day whilst effecting iii), a nice woman came up to me and asked where the yoghurts could be found. I escorted her to the correct shelf space and I toddled back to the steaks that I was reducing to 10p and hiding away for later self-purchasing.

Caught in my dastardly mastermind musings I was again interrupted by the young yoghurt wanting woman. She had 2 types of yoghurt in her hands and asked if it was live yoghurt. I didn’t know the answer but ventured a reply: “Why, are you making a fruit salad?”

Her immediate response was: “No, I’ve got thrush and need live yoghurt.”

I stopped in my tracks and said I would check in the warehouse to see if anyone knew…which in translation meant: “If I don’t get behind the safety of those dangling PVC curtains -I’m going to actually wet myself with laughter.”

I went into the back of the warehouse, doubled over, let out a blustering raspberry of a laugh – complete with projectile spittle. I regained power over my bladder before returning to the woman and apologising for taking so long and not finding an answer.

She was clearly not impressed so I offered her a little bit of humour by saying: “Sorry for not knowing if it was live yoghurt or not - it’s all Greek to me”.

She didn't show it on her face but deep down I think she probably thought it was funny.
(Mon 14th May 2012, 4:32, More)

» Travel

TLDR: Got hassled at U.S. customs, twice.
I've told this story plenty of times but never here.

It was after 9/11 when the rules of travel and security were in a state of flux. You could get a metal fork on a Lufthansa flight but not a knife. You had to take your shoes off at Heathrow but not in Frankfurt. You had to put all liquids in a tiny clear plastic bag unless it was copious amounts of alcohol from duty free.

I was in the process of moving my whole life from England to New Zealand. My route was Heathrow - Los Angeles - Los Angeles - Auckland - Wellington.

I'd done this flight before and prepared for all the date jiggery pokery by staying awake for almost 24 hours. It worked, I got on the plane at Heathrow sat in the middle of the three seats on the left side, and slept all the way to Los Angeles (looking back I feel sorry for the person trapped by the window).

I got off the plane and headed to baggage to claim my suitcase that contained my entire life. NOTE: Prior to 9/11 you didn't have to claim your baggage at Los Angeles if you were on a connecting flight.

As I took my bag of the carousel two chaps in uniforms approached me and asked if I'd follow them to an interview room for a random check. Okay, nothing out of the ordinary here - just proceed.

I was left with the jolly John Goodman while the skinny Steve Buscemi departed for more routine tasks. I was wrong John wasn't jolly.

We were in room that looked just like the movies - four white walls with one of those cheeky two-way mirrors set in one of them. My suitcase was on the table in the middle.

He asked me a bunch of questions - this was a test I'd prepared for - his questions were pretty much the ones on the arrival card: am I terrorist? Have I been hanging out with terrorists? Am I drug user? Am I a drug dealer? Am I part of a drug cartel? Would I be a moron to confess to any of these things?

I gave short but polite answers.

Then he came out with the first startling piece of information: "You didn't eat your meal on the plane," said with a question mark of menace and suspicion.

Alarm bells: how the fuck did John Goodman know that and why the fuck does it matter?

"No, I didn't," was my simple and short answer.

"Why not?"

Because I haven't developed the talent for opening tin foil lids whilst maintaining REM sleep...is what I didn't say.

"Because I was asleep," is what I did say.

Goodman didn't say anything for a few minutes, probably a classic sweat'em tactic. I stayed quiet too - thinking of the Mancunican flight attendant that had ratted me out.

Then the non-jolly John Goodman started up again. He decided to get back to the topic of drug cartels, which is a shame because have an Irish name and thought he'd at least go the terrorist route for five more minutes.

"Let's talk about the contents of your suitcase," was the line he used to up the ante.

The whole reason for being in the room suddenly became clear.

You see, my Mom had decided that my Kiwi girlfriend should collect porcelain dolls. My Kiwi girlfriend thought this was quite an odd thing to be decided for her but went along with it. In my case was a porcelain doll. According to John Goodman, a clear sign that I was a drug mule.

He probably thought he had me at that point. I was sweating and starting to panic as my next flight was very soon.

Still, I managed to explain my situation.

He then explained his - that the initial x-rays were inconclusive. He was quite grumpy and said: "We'll just have to put your bag through our super-duper* machine and then we'll see if you story holds up". Fuck knows what it was really called.

Two minutes the result came in: no drugs, just a doll. I asked why he didn’t do that in the first place and he answered "9/11".

I was released. I checked in my bags at the desk and headed towards departures for security.

Before I even walked through the metal detector I got approached by a nice, smiley, chap that looked like Chris Tucker. He asked if I could come with him for a routine check.

As we entered the room I spied my suitcase on the table and chanced an opening gambit: "is this about the porcelain doll in my suitcase?"

"Yes", came Tucker's reply sans smile.

I explained the past hour spent with Goodman, asked him to check. He was dubious but agreed.

Tucker returned, disappointed that my story had checked out. But that wasn't going to ruin his chance of a big bust. He opened my suitcase and told me I had too many pairs of shoes (too many = dress shoes, trainers, football boots, flip-flops). I explained that i was moving my whole life in this suitcase and he left the shoe scenario alone.

Then he spied my hoody: FCUK. His face betrayed his thoughts 'Is it offensive? can I get him for this?'

"French Connection," I offered as a clue to the acronym.

In an instant i regretted it. Tucker perked up with: "You've got connections, you a made man, you think I’m scared, you think you're protected?".

...ten minutes of explaining the quirks of the UK fashion scene to him and I was on my way again. He apologised the only way these guys knew how: "9/11".

I arrived in New Zealand. Going through security I was stopped by an official - Tom Selleck – if you must know.

Tom assured me that this was just routine and asked if I had any apples in my bag. I didn't. He said enjoy your stay. I have ever since.

TLDR: Got hassled at U.S. customs, twice. Arrived in New Zealand and got asked about apples.
(Mon 22nd Apr 2013, 5:21, More)

» Anything For Money

Not so much what I did for money but more what I did when I had no money.
In the 2nd year at university a good chunk of time was supposed to be spent on a work experience placement. All 4 of my housemates had found placements on newspapers in their local town. I, stupidly, went for a placement in the next town over from my university. It meant a train journey but I really wanted to go work for South Yorkshire police for some reason.

The first couple of weeks went fine until I realised that I had no money for train fare and food. I decided that I'd buy a rail pass for the remainder of my placement and just eat whatever I could find in the house.

What I found was 10 boxes of sage and onion stuffing mix. For six weeks I lasted on what could colourfully be described as falafel.

My flatmates all returned from their placements looking jolly and positively rotund on the banquets they'd enjoyed living at home. I'd lost about 2 stone and had the pallor of a cancer patient with Aids.
(Fri 11th Jul 2014, 0:02, More)

» Trapped!

Massive drugs
One night I ventured to a grubby student flat to try some massive LSD drugs.
All was going well, a pleasant experience, until I went to the bathroom.
There was no light, other than what the slightly ajar door provided.
I could just make out the black and white chequered floor tiles.
Suddenly, the door closed. Pitch black engulfed me.
Then my eyes adjusted in the moonlight coming through the window and I could make out the chequered floor again.
Unfortunately my drug-addled brain kicked in. What was once a floor was now not quite.
I had fallen through the floor. The tiles now above me like a solid net. Like an optical illusion gone wrong.
Panic set in.
Then the door opened, someone else wanting to use the toilet.
Relief, rescue, reality returning.
Until the rescuer realised that they were disturbing me and politely closed the door.
Pitch black engulfed me.
Then my eyes adjusted in the moonlight coming through the window and I could make out the chequered floor again…
(Thu 6th Mar 2014, 23:37, More)
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