Sunday, 27 June 2010

The Fabulous Life of Cal's Mother

Perhaps I should rename this blog since every post recently has been moreso about her than me. This post will be no different.

Lee and I sat in the back of the car after a long drive to Malaga listening to my parents talk about football.

"What was the score of the game today?" my Dad asked.
"How would I know?"
"Well didn't you watch it?"
"Of course not. Why would I watch it?"
"Well didn't you find out the score on the news?"
"No, why would I?"
"The whole world knows the score, you're the only person who doesn't."
"You don't."
"I was 45,000 feet in the air."
"Only men care about the score."
"Women too."
"What women?"
"All the women at my office, they walk around all day wearing England shirts."
"That's because they're all lesbians."


Señor Wapa

After Spiderman had been burned and we'd succesfully washed away our sins, we headed up the beach towards the bar, the general consensus was that we were in search of dances to dance, people to mock, and gin to drink. Mother soon found the dancers and the gays soon found the bar. After being told what the word 'Wapa' meant in Spanish (beautiful/sexy/fit) accompanied by a fictional anecdote of a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend who stands outside pet shops shouting 'Wapa wapa' at any Spanish man who passes by, one of the barmen was quickly named Señor Wapa. The gays then continued to harass the man, and Lee got out his iPod to film him. (a suspicious growing trend after what happened at the steak house) He was busy making drinks for people, and we waved away any other barman/wench who attempted to serve us. "Call him over for us Anna!" Lee shouted to my mother, bemused by all the dancing she replied. "I'm not getting involved." she turned back to watching the dancing. I watched the dancers for a moment, it took me the best part of three minutes to realise they were doing the same box step over and over to different music. "Please Anna." Lee repeated.
"I don't have any more money." she announced showing us her empty purse.
"You don't have to order a drink just shout him over for a photo."
"Okay, what's his name again?"
"Señor Wapa." we chorused.
"Señor Wapa" she waved with a smile and he came running over so that Lee could pretend to take a photo whilst secretly filming him. "So where are you from?" Señor Wapa asked, mother had already turned away and was clapping along to the dancing. He looked at the five gay men stood in front of him, shook all of our hands awkwardly, and then slinked away back behind the bar.


Saturday, 26 June 2010

Spanish Measures

Lee and I sat at the extremely picturesque, charming and expensive bar at the steak house in the polo fields discussing the meal we had just consumed whilst eyeing up the barman. Lee and I agreed that the steak was not the only lean cut piece of Argentinian meat in that particular restaraunt and Lee secretly decided to film him with his multi-purpose iPod. I'll upload the film here soon as it's probably rather entertaining. As we watched him making drinks our jaws fell open as we witnessed the sheer ammount of Ameretto he added to four cocktails. We knew Spanish measures were ridiculously large, and cost the same as English measures, we even knew that my mother got told she could put her own gin in her drink by a Spanish barman once, but these measures were there own breed. He opened a fresh bottle of Ameretto and began pouring it into one of the four large glasses, he had nearly emptied the bottle by the time he got to the fourth glass, there was about half a shot left in the bottle; about the ammount you would get charged £4.50 for in an English bar, he held it up to the light examining the remnants and tossed it over his shoulder into the bin before going to retrieve another bottle to top the fourth drink up with. He then tipped a thimble of grenadine syrup over the top and called it a cocktail. He can call it what he likes, i'll take two.

The Price of Fireworks and Palm Trees

Mother arrived at the San Juan festival in a Spanish town, that I can't spell and am not going to attempt to try spelling, donning the new nick name fag bangle and for very good reason too. Our designated driver repeatedly told her what BMW stood for, in the way an eight year old might tell you, as she screamed at him for reversing out of a very tight parking space into an angry Spaniard. We parked and got out, greeting more of mother's homosexually inclined friends. It didn't take long for me to realise that she was out on the town with five gay men and no real adult supervision, which she seems to need more than me at the worst of times.

So, she was deemed a fag bangle, Lee linked arms with her to demonstrate how the fag bangle worked and how it was a must have accessory for any gay man. The gays swarmed her and one G&T turned to 12, which in Spanish measures is about 152. We wandered down the beach to watch the main event, the burning of the efigy. We had read up on the festival before we came. We knew it was the celebration of the shortest night of the year, we knew we had to jump over the waves in the sea three times, run around the bonfire then throw a piece of paper with our sins written on it into the bonfire to cleanse our sins, and we knew that an efigy of an important part of Spanish culture was burned as part of the celebration. We knew that, what we didn't understand though, was how The Hulk and Spiderman fit into all of this.

We watched The Hulk and Spiderman, sat atop the large wooden ornate building that some Spanish artist had dedicated six months of his life to building, get consumed by flames within seconds. The crowd that had pushed and prodded at us to make sure they could get to the front then fled the beach in a stampede as the whole thing went up in flames a little too quickly for their liking. The wind carried burning embers from the fire to the surrounding palm trees and lifeguard watch towers. We watched and cheered with the British love of things going wrong, and sighed with disapointment as the runaway fires were put out with buckets of water. Mother, nursing her gin, told us how much the palm trees cost and how much the fireworks that followed cost, despite the few comments on how pretty they were, all she could say was "No wonder there are holes in the roads and the pipes don't work, the Spanish government spend all their money on fireworks and palm trees."

She's probably right on the money too - that's mother.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Judy Garland's Dog is Named After a What!?

Judy Garland's dog is in danger of offending the Spanish should they decide to sit down and watch the English classic: The Wizard of Oz. Amidst the endless gossip funneled through me in my mother's Spanish garden I discovered the worst swear word of all in Spanish. Toto, meaning, and having the same affect on the Spanish as See You Next Tuesday does in English. Clearly side stepping this fact, the dog in The Wizard of Oz, bounding along next to Judy Garland's Dorothy whilst she sang Somewhere Over The Rainbow, was named after a lady garden. That's good writing.

As far as I know, there's been no uproar about it, no real acknowledgement either. It's such a cute word and if I didn't know better I might have paused for a moment and named my own dog Toto. I once thought Tonto would be a nice name for a dog, meaning silly in Spanish, and Toto isn't that far off.

There was uproar however over the children's programme In The Night Garden, the nonesence named characters were named at random, but unknowingly one of them was named "Go fuck yourself" in the Chinese/Japanese language. Uh-oh. Go Fuck Yourself was playing with Iggle Piggle in the garden when Go Fuck Yourself told Iggle Piggle he'd had enough of him and beat his head in with a brick.

Enjoy kids, I know I will.

Thursday, 17 June 2010


She looked into her shopping bag whimsically, "Oo! What's in here, it smells so nice!" she rumaged through the bag and then asked to see what was in mine. "What is it? It smells so... fresh... like... olives!" Lee looked at my mother for a moment, then burst out laughing and asked her to turn around. She was standing at an olive bar. Oh mother, what will you do next.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010


Results day is a bit like Christmas, that is if you knew that when you opened one of your presents there was a definate chance of failure and despair. It's an exciting day, and it brings class mates together to complain about how long it's taking for them to recieve their results and how everyone thinks they're going to fail.

I wonder though, how many people actually think they are going to fail. I have my doubts about one of my modules after I accidently did my third year dissertation instead of the much simpler, easier, form we had to fill out for our second year. Clinging onto the work I had done I was reluctant to let it all go, some of it got forced into the form and some of it just got sent to the recycle bin. Due to the circumstances I feel I have right to announce to my friends that I think i've failed that module.

The other three though, petty nerves aside, I'm quite confident I've passed. I'm anxious and worried about what i'll get though and I just know I won't get the 4 A's I wanted. The 4 A's I needed to apply for the just out of reach fellowship I covet with all the want I can muster. That's not to say I won't be happy with lesser grades, I just won't be bouncing off the walls with excitement, screaming 4 A's down the phone to any relative/friend/telemarketer that will listen.

Thinking back to past results days, the nerves have been similar. Awaiting a phone call from my Grandma, whilst sat atop the rock of Gibraltar, walking across the park in the sun, opening a letter that revealed I had failed music with flying colours. UNGRADED, that eight letter word abrieviated down to a capital U, mocking me from the over complicated form. The eight letter word that stopped me going to Uni to study music (which I'm quite glad of now), the eight letter word which threw all of my two years hard work in the bin. The eight letter word that stomped on the theory that if you try your hardest you will pass. The eight letter word which temporarily thwarted my attempts to get onto the Creative Writing course even though I had an UNCONDITIONAL offer. I was still a whopping 140 UCAS points over the required ammount yet the fact that I failed music meant I was no longer welcome on the course. The Uni got a quick bollocking from my music teacher, who later recieved incense and a lavender scented bear as a thank you -(Yes, i'm gay, do you not understand how this works yet?)- and I was re-accepted. Thankfully.

Last year I sat in my room, much like I am now, hitting refresh on the page over and over and over until my fingers bleed and I damage my wrists with RSI. Although I'm doing this, and writing a very wordy blog, I just don't have the time, I should be finishing my packing. You see, this results day is even more like Christmas for me, not only do I recieve my results, I get my pay cheque and I fly out to Spain in a few hours, so at least if I fail everything, I can mourn it on the beach with a bit of money to splash around rather than within the grey walls and traffic of city life.

My mind has been boggling as of late, with what to write. So many anedotes, thoughts and stories have been deemed UNBLOGWORTHY but suddenly i'm overwhelmed with thoughts and ideas that I feel the need to spout out ASAP. Perhaps I should review Sommerstrum or Presque Rien, or the book I'm currently reading Dumbfounded or even perhaps a review for the book store where I bought it... or perhaps i'll go onto the Uni website again, hit refresh a few more times, cross my fingers and hope.

Sunday, 13 June 2010


As much as I would like to tell you I have been very patriotic, waving my England flag and singing the national anthem whilst watching the football, that would be a lie. You see, I’m not sure I care for it at all. Our local gay bar hole has covered itself in red and white flags; it's even replaced the high flying rainbow flag in the hand of a naked male statue with an England flag. I don't know if it's a good thing. I suppose they are reaching out and breaking down barriers that suggest all gays hate football, I suppose, but the fact that it has more flags than any other pub/bar in town raises some suspicions.

It's not that I don't care at all, I did check the scores after the match ended, but I just find it hard to find the fascination. For me, I think it is down to the angle, the bird's eye view, it just doesn't appeal. In films like... (I'm going to get slated for this), Bend it Like Beckham and She's The Man (Okay wait! Just bear with me! I know they're about girls playing football but they're the only two football films that I think I've seen!)... in these films the football scenes are somewhat exciting. We are down there with the footballers, we can their faces, their reactions, we can see everything that is happening. I do realise that it would be near impossible to show an entire real life football game like that, but if it were possible, wouldn't it be far more interesting..?

So, what did I do instead of watching the match? I watched a German film with terrible English subtitles... Controversial? No, I don't think so. But maybe I shouldn't advertise that if it were an England v Germany match, that may cause a little uproar.

I wondered what real football fans thought to all the hooliganism that surrounds the sport. I know my Dad is quite a big football fan, especially when it comes to his team or the world cup and he hates the hooliganism. In fact, he refuses to believe it exists; but it does. A friend directed me to this blog and I couldn't agree with him more. Assuming you didn't click the link and read it, the bottom line of his post states that middle aged men are using football and patriotism as a guise for violent, obnoxious and childish behaviour in public. It's true; it makes me feel sick, so much that I would never venture into town on a match day.

I do believe that footballers are paid far too much for what they do, i think even the most avid fans would agree with that. I also think Pop Stars, Comedians and Actors are paid far too much. Doctors, Police and Firemen should be the ones with the ridiculously high salary, but unfortunately, several million people don't rally together to watch doctors from different countries compete to carry out the best surgical procedure.

And as for the countless bombardment of adverts, feigning patriotism to sell their Mars bars and god knows what. Give it a rest... Please.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Adam & Steve

So, boredom has temporarily unfolded right into my lap, I could tell you about the weather I suppose, but I'm sure you're not that desperate and the last time I checked I wasn't an old man at a bus stop. Saying that though, Lee and I did sit on a bench today, watching the ducks and complaining about how the prices of ice poles have sky-rocketed.

Anyway... since the last post about gay adverts was so popular - (how do i know? Statcounter told me several of you read it multiple times!) - I thought i'd do a follow up with three more.

First up, Levi's subtly gay advert managed to not get banned and made it to screens across the U.S in 2007.

Wow, if only my jeans had the same powers. Maybe I should buy some Levi's. The only question that lingers in my mind though is what happens when these two fellas make it to the bedroom and the jeans have to come off. It seems these two are destined for a life of celibacy.

Secondly we have Pepsi's advert that never managed to make it to the small screen, or the big screen for that matter, for the reason that it promoted the homosexual lifestyle...

If i was still a closet case I’d play this game with straight friends all the time to see their reaction. Usually though people know my orientation by the time I’ve said hello those jeans are just fabulous where did you get them?

Sadly this last one was banned too, I can't imagine why. We could get all pernickety and say it's offensive to gay people because we're not all camp raving queens, but when there’s a funny advert at stake there’s just no time to be politically correct. I love this ad I just don't really understand how it advertises insurance.


Sunday, 6 June 2010

Amsterdam VIII: Conclusion

Aside from the fact I came back with empty pockets from all the expensive cocktails and cakes we bought when Lee had the munchies, it was most definately worth it.

What was not worth it though was the 45 euro meal we had on our last night. We stopped by in a tapas bar and ordered a selection of food. It came out and it was vile. It seemed they had served us a selection of tesco value sandwich fillings. The waiter was rude to us throughout and when it came to paying the bill, and when Lee handed him his card, he took it and then pointed at the bill. "Where's my tip?"
Reluctantly Lee gave him a four euro tip. Cheeky bastard, he deserved nothing.

So, I hope you enjoyed my eight pronged attack at sharing my trip with you, I didn't feel one post would have been enough.

Nine days and i'll be in Spain, where i'm sure i'll find more things to share with you, afterall the last time I was there, the sixty year old neighbour danced with a rubber penis for everyone. What more could you ask for?

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Come As You Are

Okay, okay, okay. McDonalds have finally quite possibly won me over. Despite their questionable 'meat', chicken feet milkshakes, filet o' god knows what and the fact that they've poisoned half of America with cancer inducing shrek glasses...they've done this!

Do i want fries with this? Yes i bloody well do.

Maccie D's, I possibly now love you. McDonalds = French Gays.

Can I have a big mac please?

Unfortunately though, as the world goes, it's one step forward and two steps back. The top comment on the video:

"I don't give a fuck who likes to suck or get dick up the ass, just don't ask for rights or want special treatment because of your perverted behavior. Don't say you were born that way. Next thing there's going to be a scientific study proving pedophiles are born liking children, what then pedophile rights. Give me a fucking break."

Let's not forget the banned gay Heinz advert either.

and the D&G one.

More like these please!

Amsterdam VII: Old Timely Sex Aids

We had assumed the sex museum would be an entirely novelty experience, full of giant plastic penises and such. We were wrong. We were pleasently suprised to find that a lot of the items showcased were museum worthy, that's not to say the novelties weren't there. They were.

It was the BDSM exibit that really baffled me. A warning sign outside warning those of a faint heart not to enter. It wasn't overwhelmingly disgusting, it was just weird. I fail to see how a naked woman strapped to a heated towel rail, with a plunger on her face and mouse traps on her feet, is anything but weird. The fact that people feitsh for that is just downright bizarre. I'm not judging them, they can do what they like, I just don't understand! However, BDSM has one good quality - whoa, whoa, whoa, Cal. Did you just say what we think you just said I hear you cry.

Yes! But hold on a second, it's from an English student's perspective. BDSM is an incredibly clever abrieviation. It's ingenious! For those of you who don't know exactly what it stands for, fear not, neither did I.

The B&D, is Bondage and Discipline, the D&S is Dominance and Submission and the S&M (as we know) is Sadism and Masochism. That's incredibly clever, is it not? The 4 letter abrieviation constitutes 6 words.

Not impressed? Well, nevermind.

Lee and I thoroughly enjoyed the homo-erotic section, as small as it was. It featured the first gay porn on record, dated back to the 1800's. Which is pretty impressive. Well, it wasn't really porn, it could have been classified as art, but still, it was a risky thing to do, I hope those young boys weren't strung up for it.

The novelties were the best bits though, if i'm entirely honest. A 10 foot phallus,

(I'm happy to reveal I wrote about phalluses similar to these in my narratives essay this year.)

some erotic cakes

(Next Birthday in Amsterdam please)

and exhibits of old timely sex aids.


The best thing by far though, was the sheer ammount of pensioners wandering around the museum pointing and giggling, and the one bloke in a suit taking it all very seriously.

The best museum i've ever been in by far. Fun, fun, fun.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Amsterdam VI: Space Cakes

I recieved two pieces of solid advice before going to Amsterdam, both of which I shrugged off.

1. Watch out for the bikes
2. Don't have space cakes.

Watch out for the bikes? What an odd piece of advice to be given. Within minutes of being there about six bikes crashed into both me and Lee, we later realised, to make matters worse, that it was national bike week. Don't have space cakes? But that's what you do when you go to Amsterdam. When in Rome! If I went to Thailand i'd drink snakes blood, if i went to China i'd probably try a scorpion and if I went to Sardinia I might just try Casu Marzu, all of which are somewhat more adventurous than a space cake. I believe in trying everything once, I mostly got puzzled looks. "Why would you do it in Amsterdam, if you wouldn't do it in England?" Well, I'm strongly against smoking weed, or taking it any other way but this was my one exception.

We came out of the café somewhat disapointed. "Do you feel anything?"
"Nope. You?"
"Well that was a waste of time."

It was only two hours later, at the most inappropriate time where it kicked in. Standing outside the Ann Frank museum ready to go in. This Balls Of Steel and this Family Guy clip managed to find their way into my head

Balls of Steel:

Family Guy:

They're pretty bad quality, but you get the jist.

After reiterating them to Lee we laughed outside the museum for a good thirty minutes, it just got funnier, and funnier, and funnier. We didn't know why it was so funny, then it hit us. Space cakes. Whenever we sat down I kept having to collect my imaginary things, that I was sure were there, before getting up to leave and Lee kept asking me why a little girl was following us. There was no little girl.

We went back to the hotel, where my teeth went numb and Lee persistantly offered me a soft drink and had difficulty getting to the end of a sentence. "Do you remember that time when the, and, the, so, do you want a soft drink?"

I was so excited when my teeth first went numb, all I could think of was my old best friend from sixth form. "You always know when you're drunk because your teeth go numb." I never knew what she was talking about, but the effect of the space cakes gave me that feeling. The excitement fizzled away soon after though. I was terrified of breaking my teeth, I kept my little finger between my front teeth at all times to assure I didn't grind them together. I must have looked like a bloody fool. When it came to eating I ate so slowly, and I would judder with panic everytime I bit down on something remotely hard. It was awful.

It was a waste of time, if I wanted my teeth to go numb and wanted to be slightly paranoid that somebody was out to get me, I would go to the dentist. Now when I manage to get myself in the argument against drugs, they will no longer be able to draw the 'well you've never tried it' card. I'm sure it's probably different if you smoke it but I won't be doing that any time soon...

I was urged by a friend that if I was to have a space cake I should take a photo when the effect took place. A photo that would be mortifyingly embarrasing when I looked back at it. Well here it is, and to be honest, it's not that bad.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Amsterdam V: When I Met Kylie Minogue Justin Timberlake

I should have liked this post to be called When I Met Kylie Minogue, but as we approached Madame Tussauds I noticed they had her in the main window. Rightfully where she belongs, I agree, but sadly this meant I could not be photographed with her. I possibly could have done if I jumped over a barrier and wrestled with some Dutch security guards, but it wouldn’t have been worth it just to be photographed with a Kylie shaped candle. If it was the real Kylie I probably would have hopped over the aforementioned barrier and wrestled with the aforementioned security guards – however it was not.

I instead settled for JT (Justin Timberlake for you oldies who don’t understand such abbreviations). Again if I was going to grope a good looking celebrity I would have liked it to have been Cristiano Ronaldo or Enrique Iglesias, but they were nowhere in sight so I settled for JT.

(Me and a not so convincing JT)

Some of the wax works were incredibly realistic, I got confused a few times. Waiting in a crowd of people, not really moving anywhere I got cross and said to Lee. “I wish this big fella would move he’s been stood here for ages!”
“You mean Pavarotti?” I had been stood behind a wax work of Pavorotti impatiently for a good five minutes. Others though were not so realistic. Although they got J-Lo’s posterior accurately the same couldn’t be said for her face.

(Left) Not my own photo - stolen from google images, we didn't bother to photograph such an atrocity. Okay, she doesn't look that bad, but she looks nothing like the real J-Lo! (Right)

I stumbled upon Nicolas Cage in some decaying corner somewhere, exactly where he belonged. I pondered for a moment on why they would waste good time and good money creating a wax work of such a talentless man. I then realised, it gave me the perfect opportunity for me to tell him exactly what I thought of his films. I begged him to stop making films, I told him how appalling his acting prowess was, and then I asked him for the 15 minutes of my time back that he wasted with Ghost Rider. (And yes it was a 2 hour film, I just couldn’t bare any more of it after 15 minutes.)

It was good fun though, Lee got to meet a very shiny B (Again oldies that's Beyoncé)

and I got to recreate the Mona Lisa to how it should have been painted.

Now all I have to do is find the real Nicolas Cage, Justin Timberlake and Kylie Minogue, i've had my practise run.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Amsterdam IV: YMCA at -20 degrees.

We had walked thirty seconds from the hotel when we stumbled upon the first rainbow flag, a second followed and then a third. "We're home!" Lee said joyously pointing out the flags. We started to notice them on coffee shop doors, hairdresser windows and of course flying high above bars, clubs and sex shops. "Are we in the gay district?" I asked Lee puzzled to the sheer amount of high flying pride flags.
"Maybe. I don't know." We ventured out a little and stumbled upon a flower market and a Christmas shop. "I guess there's something for everyone here." We wandered the streets and it wasn't long till we found another pocket of rainbow flags. Gay bar, gay bar, gay club, sex shop, gay bar, gay book shop. "Gay book shop!?" I said happily pausing outside it. "I thought they only existed in the films! Let's go in."
I dragged Lee inside and we began browsing. We passed the magazine rack as we went in, "Oh look Cal, there's the magazine you work for full time." I didn't correct him, the store owner looked impressed. I chose a book, bought it, and left.

We wandered for a little longer and ended up on a long winding street littered with coffee shops bars and clubs. Rainbow flags flying every which way you looked. I could hear Raining Men playing somewhere near by - (Weather Girls, not Halliwell)
It was at this point we realised that Amsterdam is possibly the best place we have ever visited. We entered one of the bars at random; we picked up the cocktail menu and browsed the large variety of drinks. I forget what we had now, but it was red, one of the nicest things that has ever passed my lips and cost 9 Euros each.

"We'll just have one, it's very expensive here". 10 minutes later we were ordering a second. Pornstar Martini. 10 Euros. The bar lady brought it over to our table, a glass of fruit licheur, a shot glass of prosecco and a slice of passion fruit in another shot glass. "What the hell do we do?"
"I have no idea..."
"Drink them separately?"
"I don't know!"

In the end we mixed them all together, and it was delicious. "Laziness! That's what it is, she couldn't be bothered to put it together herself!" The British pessimism began to take over. Nearly 40 Euros we managed to spend within the space of 15 minutes. "Shall we order thirds?" It was tempting, but we managed to leave with our pockets not entirely empty. The problem is, when I have a wad of Euros in my pocket, I forget that it is real money, it looks like monopoly money and I just can't take it seriously. If Britain ever decides to drop sterling and pick up the euro I think I will be a very, very poor man.

After our visit to the Amsterdam dungeon, and Madame Tussauds, (more on that later!) we were given a free ticket, with two drinks included, to the ice bar. It took some convincing, but Lee finally agreed we would go. We found a map and used a canal bike (that's a pedello to you and me) to travel. - Which by the way, I crashed three times and Lee manoeuvred suspiciously professionally. Even when we got stuck in the middle of a canal roundabout with a canal cruise boat heading towards us at top speed.

We eventually managed to reach the ice bar and a man explained that the next 'show' wasn't for another hour but we could sit at the normal bar till then. We did, and ordered yet another 10euro cocktail each. We watched the woman making them, and a camera man began to film her. She handed us our drinks to which we began arguing over who ordered what.

"No, you ordered the melon daiquiri, you said, shall i have a daiquiri and I said yes!"
"Noo. You ordered that. I wanted the strawberry mojito, you wanted the daiquiri!"
"No! That's not true! We can share them both if you like, but i did order the mojito."
"You didn't! The lady said what flavour and you said melon."
"Yes because you were sat looking blankly at her."

It was only at this point we noticed the camera man had turned his camera to us and had been filming our entire argument. I tried to wave him away but he only came closer to us. "What's this for?" I asked him, beginning to drink from the melon daiquiri (which I did not order). He pointed at the screens all around the bar. If you happen to be in the Amsterdam area, pop into the ice bar where you will see me and Lee arguing about cocktails on 18 plasma screens.

We sat in the bar sipping our unbelievably delicious cocktails until the relaxed chilled music cut off and was replaced by the exorcist theme tune, really, really loudly. "What's happening?" It was terrifying; they really could not have chosen a worse thing to play. Everybody was suddenly struck by panic; it's a song that strikes fear into everybody's heart. Why oh why did they chose the exorcist theme tune of all things. "It's time for us to go in!" Everybody started running about. It was surreal. I downed the remnants of my cocktail and rushed over to the ice bar entrance, Lee following at my heels. We were given enormous puffer coats, (I don't know what they're really called but I’m sure you know what i mean) and gloves. We were then ushered down a corridor and into what looked like a freezer. Inside everything was made of ice and it was bloody well cold. The bar was made of ice, the stools were made of ice, the walls were made of ice, and funnily enough the ice sculptures were made of ice. We were temporarily Eskimos.

I went to the bar to claim our free drinks, the lady pointed at several dozen already made up cocktails in glasses of ice. I picked one up in my gloved hand for Lee and then went to pick up one for myself. Instead of picking it up I managed to knock it, as well as twelve other glasses, over. Do you have any idea how hard it is to pick up a glass made of ice in padded gloves? The lady didn't look angry, she laughed at me and shook her head. She made me another drink and placed it in my hand. "Got it?" she said still laughing. I nodded and went to find Lee shivering in the corner. The music shortly followed. First, Cold As Ice, then Ice Ice Baby, then Frozen, I was wondering if they could manage to keep up the ice related songs for the whole thirty minutes. They couldn't. They played Ice Ice Baby a second time, then put on the YMCA. Trying to hold on to our ice glasses Lee and I attempted to do the YMCA. It's incredibly difficult at -20 degrees. To which a camera man appeared and took a photo of us.

(it cost me 11 euros for this photo and it came out all blurry. Daylight robbery is what that is)

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Amsterdam III: The Worst Hotel in Holland.

We arrived in Amsterdam and walked for about five minutes until we reached the 'budget hotel' (It was clearly a hostel). Lee and I looked around our group from the coach and tried to decide which four people we would most like to share a room with. We went and put our bags in a room where we assured they would be 'safe' and then went to sit in the bar and wait for our keys. A middle aged man watched us with a suspicious wary eye, shouting "No breakfast for you!" if anybody went near the food area. Our names were eventually called in groups of six in a schoolyard manner and we went to collect our keys. There was no guarantee Lee and I would be put together in the same room. Luckily we were, along with four other boys. We were relieved by who we were put with, it could have been far, far worse.

The six terrifying, angry looking people from the coach got a room together. We referred to them as 'the gangsters'. They really did look like they may pull out a gun and 'pop a cap in yo ass' at any moment. We left to go get our bags and see what our room was like. They pushed past us and went up the lift. We took the stairs and got to the 'safe room' where we had left our bags. The door was locked. We knocked. One of the gangsters answered the door. It was the room they had been assigned. We quickly gathered our bags and left, them watching us furiously the whole time.
"That's the least safe place they could have put our bags." Lee says as we scurry away to find our room. He was right, I would have rather left it with the crazy breakfast man.

We found our room and went inside, the four other boys were already in there, standing around awkwardly. We said hello politely and put our bags in our assigned lockers. They had already each chosen a bed, there was one bunk left for me and Lee. Lee took the top bunk, I took the bottom. I looked at my unmade bed with disgust, questionable brown stains covered the sheets, and it was damp underneath the pillow.
We left with haste. On leaving we noticed some of the hotel's advertisement posters. "The Worst Hotel in Holland", "Won the Worst Hotel in Holland award 3 years running." accompanied with pictures of socks used as toilet paper. - Lovely.

Every time we went back to the room to drop off, or pick something up we found all four boys sitting on their beds doing nothing. I swear they never left. In the evenings they used the rooms to socialise with all their friends, so to use the room to sleep was out of the question. Instead we sat in the bar and waited for them to leave.

(Me, unwashed, in the bar. It looks quite nice in this picture, looks can be deceiving)

The atmosphere in the bar was fascinating, a large mix of nationalities trying to socialise with each other. One boy approached and tried to talk to us. "Where you from?" he asked.
"Ah, England! Where abouts?"
"The Midlands."
"Umm..? Liverpool?". To avoid confusion we just said yes. To which he sang us a song about Stephen Gerrard whilst spinning around like a helicopter. He then rejoined his friends where they together sang what could only be described as the Wayne Rooney Winter Wonderland remix. Basically Winter Wonderland, with all the words changed to Wayne Rooney, except for 'walking in a winter wonderland'. It made no sense but was extremely entertaining to watch. They then sang in foreign, we tried to learn the foreign football songs but they were far to complicated.

We awoke the next morning, quickly showered and left. I say showered, the shower just dripped water. We went down for breakfast, which was included with our room.
We asked what we could have, the man looked at us with his still suspicious eyes and said. "You can't have this." he pointed at the bacon. "You can't have this." he pointed at the sausages. "You can't have this." he pointed at the eggs. "You can't have this." he pointed at the fruit and jam. "You can't have this." he pointed at the juice, tea and coffee. "You can't have this." he pointed at the cereal. "You can't have this." he pointed at the toast. We looked at him confused.
"Well, what can we have?"
"This." he pointed at some bread.
"Okay, we'll go somewhere else thanks." He looked at us confused.
"But it's 5 star breakfast sir." We left and as we went we noticed everyone was eating a dry piece of bread.

On our last night we went to sleep early ready to wake up for the coach the next morning. As I got into my bed I noticed a half smoked spliff broken up all over my covers. I pushed it onto the floor and went to sleep. In the middle of the night, the door flew open and in came one of the boys stumbling around the room. "I've had too many drugs, I’ve had too many drugs." We didn't know who he was talking to. He fell over, got back up and awoke his friend. "I've had too many drugs."
"Alright" his friend replied. "Just get me up in the morning okay?"
"I've had too many drugs." he stumbled back out of the room.

We got up the next day and went down for the coach, 15 minutes after we were suppose to leave we were asked who was in room 215. "We were." we answered.
"Do you know where the other boys in your room are?"

... we knew exactly where they were. Still asleep in their beds no doubt. They finally arrived, we got on the coach and left, unwashed, covered in bites, and for some reason bruises, vowing that should we ever return to Amsterdam, we would book our own hotel.

Oh, and, it sounds like we had an awful time in Amsterdam, we didn't I'm just getting the bad stuff out of the way first.