Monday, 20 July 2015

Four entertaining stories from my trip to Morocco.

ONE - Vicar in Ralph Lauren.

Thanks to it being the off season and me having a fundamental lack of responsibilty with money, we stayed at two rather nice hotels in Morocco. The first guests we met were a well to do couple in their late fifties from Gloucester. Whenever I meet someone, I can't help but try to impress them with my knowledge of where they're come from. It's a little bit of a twattish trait but at least I'm making an effort. As soon as they said Gloucester all my brain kept shouting was 'FRED WEST! FRED WEST!'.

I managed to avoid that subject by moving onto another of my conversational weapons and asking what they did for a living. Seriously guys, try it. Turns out she was a nurse and he a vicar. Here's the thing, they were dreadfully posh, staying in a relatively pricey hotel and wearing what looked to me like expensive clobber. In this country at least, I've always been under the impression that those are two of the worst paying professions. I decided that he must be a former stock broker who handily found God just before the last crash. Being the judgemental arsehole that I am, I delved deeper and asked how long he'd been in the 'old clergy game'. Twenty four years it turns out and before that? A CEO? A drug baron? A yacht salesman? No, a fucking teacher! There's something seriously fishy going on there and I can't prove it but I am dead certain that this couple in some way profited from the Fred and Rose West murders. IT. JUST. ADDS. UP.

TWO - The Branson Couple

Hot weather, laziness and a basic lack of curiosity about other cultures (not true, I've been to Epcot) meant that we spent a lot of our time by the pool. Our most common fellow pool dwellers were in their mid twenties and quickly became known as 'The Branson Couple'. That was because he always had a copy of Richard Branson's autobiography in his hand. Always. Even when he was in the pool, he leaned on the edge with 'Like A Virgin' in his hands. Here's the thing though, and this became an obsession of mine, he never seemed to be reading it. At the end of the four days in which we shared the same hotel it appeared as if he had read no more than ten pages. He just sat there, talking to his transfixed girlfriend about Richard Branson.

Here's something he actually said after reading his paragraph for the afternoon...

"Did you know that Richard Branson invented Times Square?"

I think you might want to see if you can get another source to verify that for you mate because it sounds like Branson might be telling you a bit of a porky there. Yes, it would seem that in one of Richard Branson's books he claims that Times Square, named 'Times Square' in 1904, was invented by Richard Branson.

THREE - Ramadam

Two things worried us before arriving in Morocco. We wondered whether we had been foolish to book a holiday in a place which was forecast to have 40 degree heat and which was going through the last week of Ramadam. That doesn't seem like a good combination. Between the hours of 6am and 7.45pm every healthy adult in the entire country was refraining from food and water. Literally everyone who served us on our entire trip was staring at us through a kind of giddy haze.

"What's that you want? Another Mojito? And a big bottle of still water? Of course. And a chicken sandwich? With fries? Yep. Sure. Sure. I'll just walk up those stairs to our furness of a kitchen and get that for you. No worries. You stay in the shade and surreptitiously listen to The Branson Couple with a view to mocking them in your shitty blog."

While we sat under our umbrellas and sipped on our cold drinks complaining how hot it was, we watched starving gardeners hard at work in the midday sun. It's amazing how quickly you can put guilt to one side.


On our first trip to the souks of Marrakech we got a little lost. No problem, I thought, for I am a seasoned traveller. Salt, pepper, herbs. The lot. Yes these souks have a reputation for hassle and ball ache-ery, but I think I know how to handle it thank you very much. My ability to fit in abroad is yet another reason why I am the natural successor to Michael Palin.

I thought about an old university friend who came back from Marrakech telling tales of being tricked, virtually kidknapped and cheated out of money. That won't happen to me. He was naive, whereas I am fucking Phileas Fogg up in this bitch.

Three minutes after having that thought someone offered us directions. Someone else had already given us some without any hassle so we figured this guy was the same. He saw that we weren't some weak ass Europeans he could mess with. But then rather than just pointing us the right way he insisted on leading us there. For ten full minutes. We sensed that this wasn't just a scout collecting a good deed badge. We would have to pay for his services.

Once he had dropped us near our destination he mumbled his price at us. It was, I thought, a high price. Enough money to get a black cab home on a Saturday night. We handed him something we considered more reasonable. Immediate anger.

"This is for small boy. You give this money to small boy. Not for me."

Like a dickhead, I showed him exactly where my credit card was by putting my hand in my pocket to hold it. He looked at my pocket and at me, letting me know he knew the score. He pointed at my girlfriend's handbag, implying we owed him the contents. There suddenly seemed to be a lot of dark corners around and not many people. Briefly, I pictured my rape.

As it happened, five minutes of firm insistence that he wasn't getting anymore, in the manner of my dad telling me I couldn't have an ice cream was enough for him to leave. It was that same kind of head mastery attitude that got Britain it's empire. Oh no, hang on. I've just checked. It was guns.