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» Ignorance

Anybody that knows me knows that I have a thing about American tourists....
....I have never, I repeat, NEVER, met an American tourist that I have liked. I have American friends, I know some great American people, but I can't fathom why it is that it's the dumb ones that feel the need to spend six months of their lives on whistle-stop tours of great places without looking into what to expect when they are there. For example, THIS happened to me....

I was in Venice as part of my journey to Athens to see my friends getting married. Now, anybody that has travelled to Venice will probably know that there is a railway station there. It's a terminal type, otherwise the train would run into the sea. There's a long bridge that carries the trains over the water to the city of Venice from the mainland. Venice, as you know, is famous for it's canals. Of course there are canals, the place is built on a series of islands in a large lagoon.

Anyway, I came out of the station and paused on the plaza outside to take in the impressive view, the hustle and bustle of the tourists and to get my bearings before heading off to find a Cornetto salesman and so on. As I was stood there I overheard an angry voice. Now, I am like you when I hear an angry voice - I stop and do that 'nonchalantly listening' thing. It's a habit, probably a bad one, but it's always entertaining. The voice was American and was ranting in words of predominantly 4 letters about his late taxi. It had been booked for him. He was waiting. It should be here. It should be here, waiting for him. He's travelled too far to be f*** messed a motherf**g about by these f***g Italians. He hated the taxi company. He wanted his taxi.

It was glaringly obvious what his error was. I looked at him for a few seconds and I'm sorry to say, assuming you are still reading this, that I got annoyed. How dare he shout these profanities in the most beautiful of cities? I approached him, looking all helpful like, and asked him what was the matter. I knew what the matter was, I just wanted him to tell me to my face.

"I have a taxi booked and it hasn't arrived" (that's the Polite English translation)
"Ah. That's bad. I bet you haven't seen a single taxi go past, either, have you?" I helpfully antagonised.
"No. God-damn (etc) etc"
"You do know you are in Venice, don't you?" I offered him the chance to think. He failed to take it.
"Of course!"
"You do know that Venice is famous for long, wet, streets full of boats?" Sarcasm was setting in. This was building up to something big, thought I. Sod it, we'll never meet again, he can have it from both barrels.
"Of course I do"
"And that there are no cars, whatsoever, in the entire city? Nothing with wheels is of any use?"
"And you are waiting for your taxi? Does it have wheels?
Now, I thought the penny would have dropped at this point. I don't know if it was anger, frustration, my English vocabulary....whatever it was....he didn't get it.
"I booked a taxi for (whatever time it was - may have been 2pm) to be outside this station to take me to my hotel. It isn't here. I will sue/shoot/say God damn again because it isn't here. I'm an American and these God damn people are not treating me right!"
I looked at him like a small child seeing his mother buying sweets in a shop but trying unsuccessfully to hide the fact. I smiled a smug grin that even today I couldn't replicate.
"Your taxi is there....*points to boat labelled "taxi" several feet in front of him*. It has been there all the time. It hasn't got wheels, it would sink. In a city of canals, EVERYTHING is done by boat. Even taxis. Had you read anything about this place, your details on your booking form, even reached back into the farthest recesses of your skull about the one major fact that everybody knows about Venice then you would or should have realised that you were looking for a boat."
"Do you know why they have this plaza outside the station?" Asked I.
"...no...."bumbled Sir Think-a-not.
"They have this plaza here to stop idiots like you from getting straight off the train and falling straight into the fucking water!"
*walks away in triumph*

Sorry about the length. If I'd have kept the word count closer to his IQ we'd never have got past the subject line....
(Sun 2nd Sep 2012, 19:44, More)


This is one of those times where manning up was the only option available....
Every few weeks, myself and the neighbours, along with a few friends, elect a place to go for a day or night out and we all go and have a good time together doing whatever is suggested. There's normally about 12 of us that form the main group but there can be more, depending on the event/available funds. We've hired canal boats for the day, gone to some gigs, drank in strange towns - that sort of thing.

Anyway, it was the school holidays and, as some of us have kids, it was decided that a day out including them would be fun. We'd spend the day at a place called the Crocky Trail, near Chester in Cheshire. This is a place where all the activities are home made and a place where Health and Safety very rarely make an appearance. It's a lot safer now than it ever was, but it's not a place for the heavily pregnant or sufferers of Osteoporosis and the like.

The place has things to swing from, climb up, slide down - usual physical activity stuff - that is big enough for kids and adults to play on together, and we had been on a few things and survived. But that's not what this story is about.

On the way around the site, there are a few 'objects' that have been placed around for you to look at in wonder, rather than climb, and one such thing is Gulliver's Chair - it looks like a normal chair except that it's made of telegraph poles, so you can imagine the size of it. The seat, we reckoned afterwards, was about 5m up....a great place to get everybody up onto for a group photo. We happily ignored the "Do Not Climb" sign and set about spending a good half hour or so helping eachother, and the kids, aloft this monster piece of furniture. I know....responsible parenting was exchanged for the chance of adventure and a great photo!

Anyway, all went well and those that were able to make the climb did so, while those that couldn't took the photos. It was lovely up there, as long as you didn't rock about too much or go near the rotten poles...

We had got just about everybody down again safely and (as far as I can remember) I was the last (or nearly last) to come down. I don't really know what happened but I remember my foot not connecting with anything solid and then a very, VERY, rapid descent sideways onto the concrete below....

Now....I hit the ground from the bar below the seat, so it was only about 2m high but in that fall I knew I had landed hard as nothing in my body seemed to belong to me any more. There wasn't any pain but I was winded and breathing like a fat kid running to a buffet. I lay there for a minute or so and then looked around at the entire group looking at me as if I was dead. Ambulances were mentioned so at that point I felt I had to get up and show I was OK. I was told not to stand, of course, but I had to man up and get to my feet. As I did, I hit my head on the crossbar that I had slipped from and fell back down like a sack of shit,.

I had to laugh that one off - that was just a dumb thing that happened - so I rose again, more carefully this time, and gave myself a quick check over. I felt a little drunk and unsteady, but otherwise ok. My hand hurt a bit, my chest was sore, my leg was numb and I was a little dazed, but had to put on a brave face as the kids were starting to cry!

We hadn't actually been at the place for very long so I said I would walk off the pain for ten minutes and see how I go - if I need medical help, I promised I would let everybody know and then go to be checked. Of course, we'd been looking forward to this day for weeks and I wasn't going to let them down. I gritted my teeth, dragged my sorry ass around that place for the rest of the day, pretending everything was ok but just bruised or something. I even joked about how I'll "feel it in the morning!".

After the day out at the trail, it was planned that we'd go for a pub dinner - I'd driven to the trail so jumped straight into the driver's seat and set off. I used to own a VW Transporter and can honestly say that the clutch was easier to use in that than the Ford Escort I was driving. My left leg was agony to use! Of course, again, I had to keep a brave face, after all, I had promised to say if I felt the need for hospital....

So we arrived at the pub, managed to eat a meal despite finding it hard to breathe, swallow, hold anything in my right hand or even raise enough energy to join in the banter. I couldn't even face a drink. It was THE most miserable, painful pub meal I had ever had.

After any of our days out, we head home to the neighbour's house. I live next door of course so my kids were able to run around and I could get a beer. That beer, I think, got me through the next couple of hours as by now my body was hating me and wanting to curl up into a ball and die somewhere. I knew that in a few hours, once my wife was home from work and able to take over the looking after of the kids, I could go for help. The end was in sight....

So she duly arrived, the kids were placed into bed and kissed goodnight and, as they chattered between themselves about how great a day they had had, and how happy they were and how amazing we'd all been to them, I slid slowly down the stairs and into my friend's car, where I was taken to the nearest A&E.

Turned out I had done more than a little damage. I'd broken my right wrist in two places, broken one rib at both ends and two ribs at one end each. I had torn a muscle in my right thigh, severely bruised my left shoulder, damaged a tendon in my right foot and had some internal bruising in the kidney area (I won't tell you how difficult it was to piss for about 2 weeks after. Oh.....I just did...). They were amazed I'd lasted the 12 hours or so since the injury and thought I was an idiot not only for climbing that chair thing in the first place, for falling off it but for not getting an ambulance. I kinda agreed at that point....

So there it was.....to avoid upsetting the kids and ruining a day out with my best friends and neighbours, I carried on with a broken body around a kids play park, eaten a pub lunch, driven and partied, all while looking after the 4 kids I had taken. I can, hand on heart, say that I "Manned Up" on this occasion, right?
(Sun 4th Aug 2013, 20:14, More)

» The best thing I've built

I'm always making things....
I suppose the best has to be awarded to the item that received the biggest smiles upon completion. A petrol engined trike made from the front of a Ketlar pedal go-kart and the rear end of a petrol powered scooter. My 3 year old son loved that machine - it could go faster than anyone I know could run, as we found when my boy opened her up on a field and went off into the distance. If that hedge hadn't have been there, I dread to think where he would have ended up...

Another thing I am still proud of is the party house/shed that I made for a neighbour from scrap fence poles and telegraph poles. Imagine a suburban log cabin for the middle class socialite, with built in sound system, lighting and feature patio!

may as well stick a third thing in here...my kit car. I loved that car, but I was young and poor so in the end it had to go. If anybody has seen it, I want it back.

If anybody wants to see photos then ask nicely and i may post some in the replies. Up to you, really.

Aside from those things, I have made a multitude of other items....props for films (currently building a stone tomb!), things for houses (Scooby-Doo bookcase is planned for my house!) and things for cars (I once had a hot and cold drinks machine built into the dashboard of my old Ford Fiesta - there was a choice of beverages available, all at the press of a button!)
(Tue 16th Oct 2012, 17:02, More)

» Unreasonable Cruelty

A friend of mine brought a BB gun to a party...
you can probably imagine what happened once a pair of drunken idiots got hold of it, but just in case there is any doubt, we took it off him, threatened him with it over the course of 2 hours and then emptied the chamber into his arse at ridiculously close range. He never brought the gun to a party again. To this day, I can hear his crying....
(Thu 18th Jul 2013, 21:06, More)