Wednesday 18 October 2017

Rhodes Reflections - All Inclusivity 2

“All-inclusive,” they said. all-inclusive I thought.
“Here, wear this wristband so we know you’re all-inclusive,” they said.

“Can I use the safe in my room, please?”
“That’s fifteen euro.”
“I’m all-inclusive,”
“That’s not included.”

“Can I have an espresso, please?”
“You have to pay for that.”
“I’m all-inclusive,”
“That’s not included.”

“Can I have a Mythos beer?”
“That’s five euros.”
“I’m all-inclusive,”
“Ah, that’s not included.”

“Can I have a slice of lemon in my gin and tonic, please?”
“That’s only for paying customers.”
“I did pay, in advance, I’m all-inclusive,”
“That’s not included.”

“These complimentary peanuts are nice, but I see you also have mixed nuts.”
“That’s only for paying customers.”
“I have paid, quite a lot, in advance, I’m all-inclusive.”  
“Sorry, that’s not included.”

I didn’t like that wristband. It made me claustrophobic.

Monday 16 October 2017

Rhodes Review - All Inclusivity 1

The problem with all-inclusive holidays is how quickly you get institutionalised. You become wedded to the hotel, reliant on it for your every need. Right from the very first morning I found myself hurrying around my sightseeing tour just to be certain I got back to the hotel in time for lunch. Then, I didn’t want to go too far in the afternoon because dinner was at seven pm sharp and woe betide you if you miss it. In the evenings, I would go out for a walk but I had to be back to make sure I took full advantage of the all-inclusive booze, which was over by eleven. By the fourth day, I had made up my mind to skip the hotel dinner and go out for food. Normally a simple task for a seasoned traveller like me but I had the chills, the shakes, could I survive out there on my own? I am glad I went through with it. Oh the freedom, I felt like dancing naked in the streets. But on my return to the hotel, the Maitre D’ from the restaurant was waiting for me on the steps. 
    “We missed you at dinner,” he snarled. 
    “I’m sorry,” I shook. 
    “Is this all the thanks we get,” he said. “Look at you, staying out till all hours. We slaved over a hot stove for you and you don’t even come home, not even a telephone call. We were worried sick. Go straight to your room.”
    “Yes, it won’t happen again,” I said. But I already knew I was lying. Once I tasted freedom, I wanted more.
    The next night I climbed out of my window, shimmied down the drain pipe and was out into the wild Rhodes roads, running from the sheer exhilaration of it all. I’d escaped their clutches. I was free. Lamb chops had never tasted so good. But on getting back to the hotel it was not only the Maître D’ who met me. Two of his waiting friends were also, um waiting. I’d been caught red-handed and was to be punished for my sins. Grounded for the last day of my holiday. No more day release. 
    But the freedom had been captivating. I was addicted to the thrill of being on the outside. The pool bar, the pool, and the main bar were no longer exciting. I needed the wind in my hair. There was no way they were going to clip this bird’s wings. So, I dug, I dug all day, I worked through the tiredness and the pain. I took walks around the pool allowing the earth to fall from my trouser leg. I worked hour after hour until my tunnel could take me to the kebab place that I’d been eyeing up for the last three days. The taste of the gyros made the blisters worthwhile

Friday 13 October 2017

Yodelling in the wind.

Dear Yodel, 

Thank you very much for the card you delivered today. How thoughtful of you and how nice that you delivered it during the two-hour window that you promised to. It’s just such a shame that as you were in the area you didn’t actually deliver the package that the card informed me about. 
    The card said that you were sorry to miss me, but this has left me somewhat confused as I was sitting here all along and the doorbell didn’t ring and neither did my phone. So, how was it that our paths didn’t cross?
    Could it possibly be that your driver is a kampanaphobia sufferer and won't touch doorbells? Maybe she / he was standing at my door in the midst of a panic attack, hyper-ventilating, hoping I’d hear the heavy breathing and know that it was the driver.  If this was the case, then may I apologise for missing the signs. Had I heard them, I would not only have signed for the package but also offered the driver a cup of tea.  May I suggest, however, that deliver driver is perhaps not the best line of work for a kampanaphobic. 
    Could it be that I missed the smoke signals the driver sent to inform me of his/her impending arrivals? If so, again apologies for missing them but if you are communicating by this traditional technology, please could you at least send me a text to let me know the signals are on their way? 
    Maybe the driver was using telepathy to let me know he / she was on my doorstep, with my package under his /her arm, waiting to greet me with a cheery good day. If telepathy is your chosen means of communication, then let me apologise again for not being practised in the art and let me inform you that although telepathy is indeed a cheap way of communicating, it is not entirely reliable (although better than the Vodaphone signal in this area) so maybe you should the nationwide roll out on hold until more tests are done. 
    I am hoping that one of the explanations outlined above is true because I would hate to think that the driver on a zero hours’ contract is not delivering things on purpose to ensure that there is work for them the next day and thus ensuring  he / she could feed their family another meal. 
    So, to finish off let me offer some advice. When delivering a package, the conventional way to alert the customer to your presence is to ring the doorbell and I’d be grateful if you would employ those means when you attempt to deliver my package tomorrow.  Maybe then I will not be standing there like a eunuch like I was today. 

Yours sincerely, 

Tuesday 3 October 2017

Rhodes Diary Part 1

I quite like that few minutes before sleep when you are surrounded by darkness and quiet, when you have time to put your affairs in order. A chance to reflect on the day and plan for tomorrow before the comfort of the pillows and the tiredness in your eyes sends you off. I smiled, three people had wished me a happy holiday today, all three thinking I was leaving tomorrow despite the fact I wasn’t leaving until the early hours of the day after tomorrow.
What if they were right and you are wrong? What if you are leaving in four hours’ time?
            “Don’t be daft,” I said to myself. I closed my eyes. I started making a mental note of what I had to do tomorrow. Pay phonebill, buy some suntan lotion, iron, pack, send a couple of emails.
What if they are right? What if you are leaving tomorrow.  
“Don’t be daft,” I said again.
You’re right. It’s definitely Wednesday, but why did they think it was Tuesday? Maybe you told them Tuesday. Why would you tell them Tuesday if it was Wednesday? Unless it was Tuesday.  Maybe because it is early hours in the morning, you’ve got yourself all confused.
“Shut the fuck up and go to sleep. It’s Wednesday.”
Okay, okay,  It’s certainly Wednesday. But wouldn’t it be a shame if you missed your holiday because you were too stubborn to get up and check. It’ll only take two minutes”
“Shut up,” I said.
            You’ve still got time. It’s midnight. Plenty of time to iron and pack and turn off the water. Ha, you will look like a right cretin getting to the airport on Wednesday only for the check-in person to tell you that the ticket was for Tuesday.
            “Okay, you win,” I said and switched the lamp on. “You know we’re going on Wednesday,” I said as I went into the living room. I found the envelope with all the holiday information in it. “We could be asleep by now. But oh no, you wouldn’t let it lie.”
Better to be safe than sorry.
I opened the envelope, knowing full well what I’d find. I stared at the date for ages and checked my phone just to make sure then just before I put it back in the envelope, I checked it again.
“Happy now?” I said and turned the light off and pulled the duvet around me. I could hear the fridge humming like it did every night.
Hey, is that the normal fridge sound?  Have you left it open?

“Shut up.”

Wednesday 27 September 2017

Looking a gift horse in the mouth

Dear Tesco,
Thank you very much for the gift voucher I received with my shopping in store today. It really was very kind of you. It shows that as well as being a hard-nosed multinational shopping chain, you do have a heart of gold. Now please don’t think I am looking a gift horse in the mouth, three pounds off my next in-store shop of over twenty pounds really is a most generous gift and I really am most grateful.
Except it isn’t that generous, is it? Because you know I will never, ever use it.
Thanks to the Tesco Clubcard, the little loyalty card I bleep each time I shop, you know more about me than I do myself. Your online shopping recommendations, suggest you know exactly how many eggs I use a month, how much honey I like on my porridge and exactly how often I wipe my bum. And the email offering my Tesco life insurance and money off gym membership suggests you know just how unhealthy my diet is.
Therefore, you also must know that I haven’t spent twenty pounds or more in-store for over a year and the likelihood of me doing so is as remote as the chances of Theresa May being remembered as a fine stateswoman. But you already know that because you know I use your wonderful delivery service. Therefore, your offer of three pounds off my next twenty quid shop is somewhat of an empty gesture.
But maybe there was a way to take advantage of your wonderful offer.
My first thought was to give it to my sister who, with two kids and a car, would probably be able to make use of it, but no, my own generosity was scuppered by the small print, this coupon must be used by the Clubcard owner.
I thought, I shall use your wonderful gift for my online shopping, but no, the small print again, only for in-store purchases.
Ah, I thought, I shall buy a bottle of Welsh whisky, but the small print says no alcohol.
Eureka, I exclaimed while lying in the bath. I shall buy a twenty-pound gift card for seventeen pounds so I can use it over several shops. But I hadn’t got it at all, you guessed it, no gift cards.
In fact, the small print is rather lengthy, no infant milk, clothing, prescriptions, stamps, phone top-ups, fuel, lottery, travel money, opticians, milk, cheese, bread, fruit, tinned goods, and cereals. (I may have exaggerated a little, but as the small print also forbids me from publishing the token, you will never know.)
Maybe, I thought, as I am such a valued customer, Tesco will give me a similar offer when I check out of my online shopping, but no, no offer, no three pound off your next online shop, just a thank you for shopping at Tesco.

So, thank you Tesco for your gift, I am off to buy twenty pounds worth of potatoes for seventeen quid. (Oh no, just checked the small print and potatoes are on the banned list.)


Don't forget, my two novels, Maggie's Milkman and Extraordinary Rendition are both available to buy as physical books  So, if you fancy owning one of my novels, click on the links below and get your credit card out :-). Signed copies available from the author. 

Maggie's Milkman

Extraordinary Rendition.

I wonder if Tesco could stock them :-)