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London and Midlands Diving Chambers
I know me t'interweb two point nowt and I want me chuffin' Big Fat Feed of RSS fed to me.
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Ha ha, I Kick him out of Home
Walking in a Waddle Wonderland.







If there's one thing I learned from teaching my first course in Russian, it's that all prejudices are always correct all the time. Actually they were very nice, despite not understanding a single word I said, it's just that one of them had a penchant for peculiar antics with clownfish. At first I thought he was having buoyancy issues, then I realised he was using his pendulous fins to kick at the anemones in such a fashion as to create a massive current which the clownfish had to try to swim against alarmingly and which made the anemone itself resemble a complicated haircut caught in a gale.

They had amusing turns of phrase though, as previously mentioned. I asked Vlad at one point if he was hungry (Vlad spoke about fifteen words of English, Edvard, the other one, spoke none) and he replied "like wolf". He was also forced to interrupt me again, when I was teaching them how to use a compass: "We work in Russian air force", he said, "Edvard is navigate expert." He was, too.

They've left now, as has Larry, luckily, because someone was sure to punch him before long, most likely Sharon. She's a tiny Malay girl that manages the place and was forced out of professional customer respect to listen to his Cozumel whitterings for 45 minutes on the boat the other day.

Larry was obviously quite upset that he didn't get asked to teach anything, to the point where he claimed Sharon was clearly about to ask him first but he interrupted her by saying "I'm leaving in two days", so she asked me instead. I'll outline how that conversation must have gone, to save you the bother of having to think about it:

Sharon: Hi, Larry.

Larry: I'm leaving in two days.

Anyway, as always with Larry, this just made me feel more sorry for him. You'd see him alone in the restaurant and join him out of pity, then instantly regret it when he opens with something like:

"Hey, you should really stop smoking. It's bad for you" and then embarks on a thirty minute lecture on how smoking increases the risk of lung-overexpansion injury that you've already heard in your Divemaster course and, in turn, had to explain yourself to every Trainee Divemaster you've ever had. In this particular instance I actually stopped him by slapping his belly overexpansion and pointing out that obesity also increases your risk of the bends. He responded to that by tearily (I'm not making that up. Well, not much, anyway) outlining an operation he'd had on his hip a few years ago that left him less active than he wanted to be. Yes, I'll miss the laughs.

Sadly, Marina has also abandoned me for some obscure continent on the other side of the planet. I'm now condemned to three more weeks in Asia whilst she flounces about in Melbourne, having a good time opening bank accounts for me and trying to find us somewhere to live whilst I rot here, being forced to dive all day and drink beer every night. Hopefully she'll be able to see past her selfish ways for long enough to at least find me a job.

The worst part of it all, of course, is that she's been so concerned with herself all the time, she's failed to do anything about the spider that remains ominously at large in the room. I've spoken to Chris Waddle (our gecko, well, my gecko) about resolving the issue in a satisfactory way for all involved (except the spider, unless it has some weird masochistic urge to be eaten; he probably does actually, the freak) but he remains unmoved. Shame he's not Russian really: he'd at least devour a leg or two just for the amusement value.

Come to think of it, I missed an excellent chance to restart Cold War hostilities amongst Vlad, Edvard and Larrold. Bollocks.

Rob
London and Midlands Diving Chambers

For an even better blog than this... Read the Battersea Blog

 
Russia Wins Cold War








I was enlisted to teach an Open Water course today, thanks to the fragile ears of the dive staff in these parts. Larry's attempts to shout over everything I said this morning were thwarted, unfortunately for him, as my students are Russian and barely understand a word he, or I, say.

The highlight so far would have to be when I was explaining the dangers of cold water to them.

"Although 20 degrees might seem warm in air", I began, "It's actually quite cold in water-"

Vlad (I haven't made that up, it's actually his name) interrupted me at this point by simply stating, with a very stony face: "We are from Siberia".

"OK then, let's move on to the next question..."

Rob
London and Midlands Diving Chambers
Comments on this post:
03/08/2009

Vlad has clearly forgotten the winters we spent nestling in the Urals. His teeth used to chatter uncontrollably into my thickly feathered royal robes. (The thermal properties of the Altai snow cock are well known in my father's kingdom.)

Please remind him of this the next time he starts trying to be hard about the water temperature.

And if you could prise from him the sixty rubles he owes me, I will consider not impaling him on an oiled spike which my brother lent me.

Perestroika!

Ivan the Second, Prince of Wallachia
Blue O Two

For an even better blog than this... Read the Battersea Blog

 
Spider Scores 5.0
Probably running away from our spider.







Things have taken a tragic turn here in Perhentian Kecil for two reasons.

Firstly, I was asked today to lead a dive and possibly teach an Open Water course as the majority of the dive staff here are unable to equalise, due to ear infections you get from being near hippies for too long. Larry is also a dive instructor but Larry wasn’t asked. I put it to him that this (amongst many, many other things) might be because he doesn’t pay any attention to any other human being on a dive except for himself. “Hey, I pay plenny o’ attention to you guys”, was his response.

“But what about your buddy on that last dive?”, I countered, “The dive we just came up from about three minutes ago”.

“What about her?” This from the Big Man.

“Well, she said she almost panicked when we entered the wreck because she couldn’t find you”.

“So?”

“Well, you left her. Alone. For 45 minutes of the 47 minute dive. And didn’t tell her you were going anywhere.”

“Hey, I had to take pictures.” Declared the Septic, before embarking on a thirty six minute lecture on underwater photography and visibility, specifically with regard to the lack of it compared to Cozumel.

So, the dive I lead, along with events leading up to and preceding it, was very much like series 2 of The Office where Neil, who used to be David Brent’s contemporary, becomes his boss and Brent doesn’t deal with it too well. In this case, Larry dealt with it by giving me advice before the dive on things like making sure people don’t run out of air (I’d thought of that already, to be honest, having done this sort of thing once or twice before but I told him I’d make an exception in his case). During the dive he kept signalling suggested directions to me from the back of the group (to throw me off, I think: it was a “go that way for half the planned time then come back for the other half” type of dive to navigate) and pointing out shortcomings in the abilities of other divers. Since then, he’s dedicated himself to the task of contradicting everything I say. This is a good thing, though because I no longer feel guilty about yesterday when we went on a big dive trip over some reasonably rough waters. Larry, beforehand, kept asking Marina and I if we’d taken sea-sickness tablets and kept saying “uh-oh” when we admitted we hadn’t. Then when things got choppy he actually shut up for the first time in history and took to staring straight ahead with an obviously false grin fixed to his face. All this time, just one thought was rather uncharitably circulating my vicious little brain: “Spew, you bastard, spew”. But he didn’t, sadly.

All this pales in comparison to the second tragedy though: Marina. We are afflicted by a spider in our room and her attempts to deal with it are entirely effeminate and laughable. Firstly, she attempted to trap it by pathetically and inaccurately throwing a bucket at it. Subsequent, equally ludicrous efforts have mainly involved the ineffective use of a broom. I can’t help, of course, because it’s a really big one (possibly it won’t fit into a bucket at all, and it’s hairy, as Marina keeps pointing out) and whenever it appears I have to run outside, squealing manfully whilst brushing invisible arachnids off myself.

We should ask Larry to deal with it because he’s not scared of anything and although it’s not relevant, he got excellent scores during his Instructor Development Course (his Course Director, the best Course Director there has ever been, took him aside to tell him this on several occasions. I imagine he received some sort of trophy as well, or at least a kiss). With any luck the spider will be a venomous one and in a particularly vicious mood due to all the brooming he’s had to put up with recently.

Rob
Halcyon Eclipse Infinity

For an even better blog than this... Read the Battersea Blog

 
Like Forever
Larry.







We are in dire need of a Larrectomy.

I believe I alluded to The Man Who Invented PADI somewhere in the vomiting monologues. His name is Larry. He is, as the name suggests, American. Imagine Bob Fossil from The Mighty Boosh (if you can’t imagine it, Google it) except wearing one of three t-shirts depicting option a) a stingray, option b) a turtle, or option c) Bob The Fish: the fish with attitude. The t-shirts are badly faded and the former two bear corporate-sounding logos like “Mastering others is power, mastering yourself is true strength”. He had them made himself. He didn’t make Bob The Fish, though. Bob The Fish is the fault of another human being entirely. Bob wears sunglasses. Because he has attitude.

Larry, unfortunately, decided to accompany us on the long train, taxi and boat journey to the Perhentian Islands in Malaysia. He has some sort of fixation with Cozumel and specifically, the underwater visibility in Cozumel, which, he has led us to believe, is quite good. A sample conversation, which took place whilst waiting for the boat in Koh Tao, at the beginning of the long, long journey, follows:

Larry (flicking through photos on his iPod): See this guy over here: he’s at least a hundred feet away.

Rob: Yes.

Larry: But you can still see him really clearly.

Rob: Yes.

Larry: Because the visibility is so good.

Rob: Yes.

Larry: The visibility was SO good that in my logbook, where it asks you: “visibility”, I just put “forever”.

Rob: Yes.

Larry: See this one?

Rob: Yes.

Larry: See that rock over there?

Rob: Yes.

Larry: That rock is probably a hundred twenty, hundred thirty feet away.

Rob: Yes.

Larry: But you can see it really clearly.

Rob: Yes.

Larry: Because the visibility is so good.

Rob: Yes.

Larry: The visibility was SO good that in my logbook, where it asks you: “visibility”, I just put “forever”.

Rob: Yes.

Larry: Look at this one. You see that bommie over there?

At this point I will afford you the luxury that we don’t have by writing “etc.”

Larry informed us on several occasions on that long, long, long journey that his philosophy is basically just to “mellow out: I’m a mellow guy, you know, anything that’s mellow? That’s me right there. Mellow”. Unfortunately, some of his actions have given us recourse to question this. For example, the aforementioned boat from Koh Tao was three hours late which meant we were in danger of missing the train. Larry spent most of the three hours that he wasn’t telling us about the visibility in Cozumel, hectoring the Thai staff in the boat office. Grilling them for information, which they didn’t have and then returning to report the bad news to us and anybody else within earshot of his loud, urgent, Californian voice. He has a habit of helpfully punctuating these pieces of news by reminding you that the boat was due three hours ago and that you have a train to catch. Then he revises his plans in the face of any contingency, but not in his head of course; no, he does it out loud. To be honest, I don’t think he’s used to travelling in Asia. He often appends footnotes to the above observations, helpfully explaining how things work differently in the US and that this sort of thing wouldn’t happen there. I feel that might be because it’s the US, and not Asia, but I’m only guessing. Then he’ll sit down and tell you he’ll just deal with it, because that’s the way things go and he can’t do anything about it so he’ll just be mellow. Moments later he’ll be back in the office.

When the boat did arrive, he seemed to spend most of his time asking fellow passengers what train they were hoping to catch and pointing out that they might be out of luck because the boat was three hours late and it was supposed to be here at four. But it didn’t arrive until seven. Because it was three hours late.

We missed the train. Fortunately, there was one two hours later. We had to pay £15 extra each to get a ticket, but Larry was able to deal with it. Because he’s mellow. Around this point Marina berated me for smoking too much and my standard response that in fact it is she that is smoking too little didn’t cut it as well as usual, so I pointed out that I was hoping that if I smoked enough, I’d be dead from cancer before the night was through. She seemed to sympathise with that.

In truth, I was also slightly nervous as Marina had made the mistake of checking the Australian Foreign Office website for travel info in southern Thailand and northern Malaysia. The British one is excellent, suggesting things like “Probably shouldn’t head into Kabul just now, old chap. Give it a day or two for Johnny Foreigner to calm down a bit and go for a jaunt then”, doubtless whilst wearing a Panama hat and tucking into a G&T. The Australian one, as Marina pointed out, is a bit more along the lines of “Do not open your front door under any circumstances: there are terrorists out there waiting to kill you”. The trip itself was fine though, obviously, and it’s always calming to share a carriage with a teenager in uniform, snoozing on the barrel of his machine gun. I asked him if I could borrow it at one point to shoot Larry forty-seven times (he wouldn’t mind, because he’s mellow), but I think he’d already tried and discovered it wasn’t loaded.

Once over the border, Larry’s lack of communication skills delayed us again. The ATM machine claimed he’d typed in the wrong PIN so he couldn’t get cash and opted to see if he could make a counter withdrawal. However, instead of walking into the bank and presenting the limited-English-speaking Malays with the card, smiling gormlessly and saying something like “Can I get money?” he said “Yeah, I just tried my card in the teller machine outside and it’s telling me that I typed in the incorrect PIN, which I did not, so I’m wondering if there’s maybe any way I can use this card or one of my others, because I have a couple, to get some money over the counter here or whether I need to change some US dollars in notes because I got some of those as well.” The clerk pointed in a random direction and said “other bank”, then carried on taking 45 minutes to cash my traveller’s cheques.

When we finally got here, it seemed there was not a room on the island spare. I know this because I spent half an hour looking after the bags on the taxi boat, sitting on the engine fuel and smoking cigarettes, watching Larry storm from guest house to guest house, gesticulating wildly whilst Marina wandered in his wake. We were lucky though and got the last two rooms going.

It would have been far easier in the US but Larry wasn’t worried, even though the vis is better in Cozumel, because he’s mellow.

Rob
Denney Diving
Comments on this post:
28/07/2009

I am enjoying the story so far.

LOoking forward to the next instalmen. Oh damn my spelling s going silly I need DRINK.

Is Larry for real or is he a figment of your drunken brain?

Rob's mum (3 bottles of wine)
e-med Arabic
01/08/2009

Sadly, mum, Larry, the face of America, is indeed real.

I'm trying to recruit him for the photostory, mainly because he has no sense of humour. I know this because he thought I was taking the p*ss out of him the other day (amazingly, and despite all the odds, at that particular moment I wasn't) and he said:

"We're you ragging on me? 'Cos if you were that's totally OK because I have a great sense of humour."

He wasn't smiling.

Rob
e-med Arabic

For an even better blog than this... Read the Battersea Blog

 
Tysontanic Hangover
Clean my sink, you bastard.







“Triggerfish blocked my sink”, Meryl Streep, A Cry In The Dark.

My lack of cooking skills was sadly highlighted on Marina’s Advanced Open Water Deep Dive yesterday when I was required to crack an egg at 26m so that we might all observe the effects of pressure on poultry. I had a Rubik’s cube with me and I believe that Marina and the Dutchman (another student) expected me to use that in lieu of a frying pan to release the contents. Instead I tried to use my thumbs and crushed it with my stupid moron hands.

So, the thing to do was ignore their looks of incredulity and get on with the dive. We were in a sandy area about 50m from the Green Rock that gives the site its name and I rather cleverly (using a compass) guided us to it. I then spent a couple of minutes trying to find something of interest to look at on the rock (which is green), without realising that I had inadvertently led us into the ghetto. I didn’t notice this fact until I received what felt like a solid punch to the top of my skull. At first I assumed I had rather cleverly (using a compass) swam into the rock (green) but when I looked up I saw a frankly massive specimen of the titan triggerfish species chewing on a piece of my scalp and looking somewhat agitated.

I took the usual evasive action (ie. trying to kick him in the face whilst he tried to bite my fins / legs / nuts etc.) and gestured frantically at Marina and the Dutchman to swim away from the sand and over the coral mount behind them. They did this both commendably and quickly, possibly due to the fact that Tyson’s missus, Angel, had joined in the fun and was trying to take chunks out of them too. This was the main impetus behind the post-dive decision to purchase some proper fins for Marina, since the comedy ones she was hiring have the propulsive power of damp paper and make it very difficult to kick the heads off animals.

We saw them again about ten minutes later. I thought it would be funny to give Tyson the finger. If you ever get set upon by thugs in the street and chance upon them later the same evening, I would suggest not crossing to their side of the road in order to make rude gestures at them, because what happens is they set upon you a second time. As I fought a running battle with Tyson, Angel went at the Dutchman again and took his fin as a trophy. At that point we all agreed we’d had enough fun for one dive and made our way to the anchor line for the ascent.

Years ago, I remember some snorkelers on a boat we were working on being attacked by triggerfish and receiving injuries so severe they had to be airlifted to hospital. The next day we returned to the site and a couple of the DMs tried to spear the offending hooligan. I felt sorry for the triggerfish since he was only defending his territory. Now I can see why Cousteau went about dynamiting reefs left right and centre. It’s terrific fun. Also all triggerfish must die.

Anyway, Marina finished the course and we went out to celebrate and get over the Tyson incident with a couple of beers, some margaritas, a few gin and tonics and a couple of buckets of Sangsom whiskey and red bull. There followed an incident which I haven’t dared tell Marina about, as I believe it best if she learns it here like everyone else. The evening became sketchy. I remember I couldn’t talk properly and was making good sport of falling over things; invisible things mostly. I spoke to a man who invented PADI. We got stuck on the beach, which was particularly treacherous that night because it was covered in sand. Then it rained on us and we made it back to the room, where Marina passed out with great skill. I brushed my teeth. I think I put the toothbrush too far into my mouth because I started vomiting copiously. The problem was that quite early on in this endeavour I blocked the sink, so I had to keep scraping shards of vom into the shower, which kept bringing on fresh attacks. Sadly, it soon transpired that the sink was irrevocably blocked. It was a problem that stretched beneath the plughole. But the thing is, you see, the sink was now full. I crept into the bedroom and found a small plastic bag which I used as a kind of excavation device to transport matter from sink to shower. It took a while. At one point I was sick on myself; on my pants, as it goes.

Marina tried to unblock the sink this morning (I told her she was the one that blocked it: “Don’t you remember?”). It didn’t work but it did make her spew in the shower.

F***ing triggerfish.

Rob
LDC Training

For an even better blog than this... Read the Battersea Blog

 
Tits
Extremely athletic deep water exit.







Oh, I forgot: Marina qualified as an Open Water Diver today, so well done her. Her main problem is that she doesn't use enough air, which makes me look bad.

Actually, the only two things that medical science knows about girls is that they use less air than boys and they have tits. Doubtless the two are related, but despite many theories, nobody really knows how.

Rob
Surf And Turf Safaris
Comments on this post:
28/07/2009

Congratulations to Marina, long may she keep

diving.

From an early age girls just whimper flutter their eyelashes get attention and so do not need to scream thus using a lot of air. boys however scream very loudly use a lot of air and deafen their mothers. this is why the mother of boys has the tv volume turned up.

Rob's mum (3 glasses of wine)
London and Midlands Diving Chambers

For an even better blog than this... Read the Battersea Blog

 
Peter Reid
Taken by Marina, who, unlike me, actually knows how to take photos.







Alright, I take it all back. Well, most of it: I think Instructor A is actually very helpful. I'm sure he's seedy, manipulative and evil as well, but he's a nice guy.

Instructor B still has a massive heid, however, there's nothing any of us can do about that. God knows, I'm sure he's tried.

I might just have to pick on the restaurant staff instead, who are shiftless and moody to a man, well, boy: I think they may be the victims of child labour. Which is good, because it will teach them not to be so lazy. For the most part they hang around in a pack (there can't be more than 160 of them) around the kitchen, giggling relentlessly and flicking each other with things. Then when you ask them to do something vaguely unreasonable, like prepare some food for you, they shuffle over, throw a menu at you and sulk whilst you make your order, doubtless berating you in Thai for your poor taste.

One of them is wearing a t-shirt that reads "Happy Girl" today. We can only assume it is ironic. A bit like Instructor B's Mekon-like heid.

Rob
Denney Diving

For an even better blog than this... Read the Battersea Blog

 
Brad Thai
Knightsbridge







Finally made it to Bangkok and Khao San Road. People say things like this about Khao San Road: “Oh God, yeah, it’s just so Western, yeah, it makes me sick...” But before they can go any further you say: “And how much Thai do you speak, you godless hippy?” and then you tie their dreadlocks to their canvas pantaloons and thrash them with their own beads.

I love Khao San Road; there’s nowhere else like it on Earth. Sadly, its reputation will eventually eat itself. Already there are a couple of big hotels there, where presumably you can sample the authentic Khao San Road atmosphere in luxury. Soon, bars will open designed to look like what you’d expect to find in Khao San Road except much cleaner, like in tropical resorts (eg. the one I’m in now) where they remove all the tropical stuff because it’s inconvenient and replace it with fake tropical stuff intended to make it look like what people expect from the tropics (ie. tropical stuff). One only hopes that before it becomes a caricature of itself entirely, the Americans staying in such hotels will be provided with telescopic rifles to enable them to pick off hippies from their balconies.

We’re in Koh Tao now, which, if you’ve been here before, inevitably isn’t like what you remember (see above). I’m teaching Marina how to dive. The other instructors here (A and B) are exactly what you’d expect to the point of actually amazing me. Instructor A was very helpful when we were buying a mask and snorkel for Marina, mostly by dismissing everything I said on the subject and giving exactly the opposite advice. The same routine continued as we sized her up for rental equipment. It got to the point that I was finding it so amusing, I helped him out by suggesting giving her an extra-large wetsuit, despite the fact that she’s tiny, just so he could disagree whilst elbowing me aside.

Actually, we had an argument about wetsuits: she claimed vehemently that she didn’t need one, despite my advice. As she started turning blue during the Confined Water session, I suggested we go back in but she denied being remotely chilly, even though she did so through chattering teeth, so we persevered. When we returned to the dive school later, Instructor A came bounding [prancing] over saying “Oh, you must be SO cold. You really must wear a wetsuit next time” as he elbowed me aside. Sadly, she did. We’re on the boat with him tomorrow.

Instructor B has a massive head.

Marina, in her childlike, naive way thinks that Instructor A is just being helpful. I can’t properly explain why I know that not to be the case without disclosing some information about my Brad-shaped past that I’d rather remain secret. Not that it matters as Marina has said that at times, when I’m teaching her, I remind her of Brad. Sadly, though, one can’t help wondering if I’m just a fake Brad, designed to resemble exactly what you’d expect from the real thing, but cleaner for an American audience. Nice t**s.

Rob
50 Reasons to Hate the French

For an even better blog than this... Read the Battersea Blog

 
The Spirit of Sarf Landan
Debora







I think I mentioned somewhere before in this blog that one of the most endlessly fascinating things about diving, and indeed the world in general, is baggage: this is why the pages of dive forums are so rightly obsessed with it. As a result, I feel duty bound to mention that I was charged £175 in excess baggage fees by Qantas at Heathrow. Previously, I only hated Qantas for the same reason that everyone does: they appear to be missing a “u” from their name, but now I hate them because of Debora [sick]. This is how our conversation went at check-in:

Debora: That’s £350? [sic again. Debora said everything in a South London sort of way with appropriately aggressive rising inflection.]

Me: Sorry? (Also a rising inflection, but in this case acceptable as I was actually asking a question.)

Debora: £350?

Me: Erm, what for?

Debora: The excess on the baggage?

Me: You want me to pay £350 for the excess on the baggage. (No rising inflection required here as I was making a statement, albeit a moronic one.)

Debora: You’re 14 kilos overweight?

Me (in my head): So are you, you fat c***.

Me (in the real world): What’s the allowance?

Debora: 23 kilos? (she was suppressing a giggle at this point. I was suppressing panic.)

Me: Couldn’t you have advertised this at all? Like somewhere in the environs of my ticket perhaps?

Debora: And, you can’t fly to Bangkok with that ticket?

Me (quietly, close to tears): But it’s a ticket to Bangkok.

Debora: Yeah, but you are staying there for over four weeks? And you can’t stay there for over four weeks?

Me (quiet, despairing): What can I do about my bags?

Debora: You can take them to the shipping company downstairs? They might be able to ship them for you?

Seeing I was being fobbed off, I leapt over the desk and punched Debora repeatedly in the face, smashing her head into a shattered, brain omelette whilst the good people of the airport cheered. Then I shuffled off to another desk where a nice lady helped me pretend I’d altered my ticket. As Debora was no more, ‘pon my return I had a different check-in agent who fetched me a bag and helped me move things around until my fatness was reduced to a mere 7 kilos and £175. Quite why I didn’t just throw 7 kilos of the tat I’m carrying into a bin is beyond me, but I blame Debora. It’s her fault I couldn’t get a vegetarian meal on the plane as well since she probably scoffed it?

Rob
Denney Diving

For an even better blog than this... Read the Battersea Blog

 
Te Gusta Supergrass?
Pete Doherty.







I don’t generally listen to any music less than 20 years old because it gives you a rash on your willy, but Marina and I were tempted into attending two days of the Bilbao BBK Festival last week, because it was cheap, and also because it didn’t cost very much. The headline acts were: Depeche Mode, Basement Jaxx, The Kaiser Chiefs, Placebo, Primal Scream and someone else; none of which we saw because we had to leave at 9pm on both days to get the train back to nice, quiet San Sebastian. Rock and roll. However, there follows for your delectation an account of the bands we did actually manage to see.

1) Vetusta Morla. For those of you who haven’t heard of them (ie. for anyone reading these words), VM are currently acclaimed as being the best band in Spain. They certainly were that day, although their lyrics seemed to be comprised of nonsense words or Spanish or something.

2) The Ting Tings. Marina told me the girl is quite young and the bloke is quite old and it is thus an odd relationship that they have. What I saw was a gay bloke and a girl dressed very inappropriately for a young lady, but I persevered and decided that her attire was agreeable, even though it was provocative.

3) The Editors. I had no idea who these chaps were before the gig, and have no idea now, but that’s hardly surprising given my knowledge of celebrity, as we shall see later. The festival guide listed their influences as Joy Division, REM and Echo and the Bunnymen, and as these are all bands that can be listened to without being be-rashed, I can confirm that their first song was exactly like a cover version of a Joy Division song and their second an exact replica of any REM track. Guess what their third song sounded like. Wrong: it was just boring so we left.

4) Supergrass. I wanted to enjoy this first band of the second day, but in the end you have to wonder whether even the band themselves actually like the music that they play.

5) Babyshambles. They came on stage and announced they were a man short. I asked Marina if the man they were missing was Pete Doherty. She said the man that made the announcement was Pete Doherty. I asked her if Kate Moss would be backstage. She said it was unlikely because they don't go out anymore and Kate Moss is seeing the lead singer of The Kills. I asked who The Kills were. She told me to shut up. She was probably expecting me to ask why Michael Jackson wasn't playing.

Anyway, I really enjoyed the band. Your man, Doherty, was playing guitar, which I'm not sure he usually does: he was either playing it quite badly or very well. It worked though.

6) The Dave Matthews Band. Utterly tawdry.

7) Some bloke. We left at this point.

We had to be up early the next day for the 6 hour journey back to Madrid, so we had a quiet night of tequila and beer and gin and tonic.

An old man accosted me in the bar and harangued me for half an hour in old man Spanish. I could tell that he had some very strong political opinions with regard to the Basque Country, but I couldn't understand enough to tell which way he was leaning. This is very much like finding yourself in a bar in Northern Ireland and talking to someone with extreme political views, but you don't know whether he's a Republican or a Loyalist. For some reason this seemed to wind him up.

His conversation with Marina when I excused myself to buy cigarettes was apparently much easier to understand, involving as it did a series of reasonably straightforward sexual mimes.

Marina wants me to make it clear at this point that he was the one miming, not her.

Rob
Denney Diving

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