Thursday, June 25, 2009

I vant to suck your blood

Now, some regular readers have, from time to time, unfairly accused me of fabricating certain stories just to get a cheap laugh or two. Well, OK, not unfairly - I'll admit to exaggerating the odd fact or two here and there. But, dear readers, the following is, I swear, the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. The Titanium Princess was a witness, and she's a kindergarten teacher, so is incapable of mendacity.

Yesterday afternoon, here in Munich, we decided to catch a tram just to see where it would take us. We had no other motive than to simply see the sights, and get off at an interesting-looking Platz or two to take in a delightful Bavarian refreshment.

We caught the number 12 from Rotkreuzplatz, where we are staying, and headed off down wide boulevardes lined with substantial and sturdy (and expensive, no doubt) houses. It was sehr freundlich. Along the way, a woman got on and sat across from us. Noticing that we were chatting in Australian, she made her acquaintance, and we got to talking. She was a very nice woman who had spent some time in Australia a couple of years ago, working on a sheep station. "Where are you going today?" she asked.

"Nowhere in particular," I replied, "just seeing the sights."

"Oh, well, you must go and have a look at the Schloss Nymphenburg - it is Munich's most famous, and biggest, castle. I am getting off near there - I'll show you the way if you like."

We duly alighted, and were walking along the Notburgstrasse, chatting away, when a young man approached us. He was a singularly odd-looking fellow, with a very white, pasty complexion and jet-black hair which hung over the sides of his face. He had one of those man-bags hanging from his shoulder, and was holding a map in his hand. He asked me something in German, and I replied Entschuldigung, Ich spreche kaum Deutsch. He hesitated for a moment, then said in English

"I am from Transylvania, and I am looking for a castle."

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


I have stumbled across a terrific method for those of you who would like to give up the dreaded weed. It's a little bit expensive, but I guarantee it will, at the very least, give you pause for thought. Perhaps the best way to describe this procedure is to outline my own experience, which is as follows:

We took off from Singapore at 9.30 p.m. on a Boeing 777 - a very nice plane that, apparently, to its maker's credit, does not have the habit of falling out of the sky for no reason at all. Its only downside is that it tends to vibrate and emit high-pitched whistling noises inside the passenger compartment, playing havoc with anyone, such as myself, who suffers from industrial tinnitus.

As we took off, an older, Muslim woman sitting beside the Titanium Princess decided that the only way this creaking, whistling hulk would get into the air was if she began praying and keening as volubly and rapidly as possible. She began to execute that strange, up-and-down bowing of the head at which the faithfull are so adept, all the while giving the little set of prayer beads in her hand a fucking good shake. It was a most impressive performance, and, to my surprise, Allah must have been listening, because the 777 climbed into the air, albeit with the grace of a teenager climbing all over his girlfriend.

Next, we flew for seven hours in this thing, which was packed to the rafters, or gunwhales, or whatever the avionic equivalent is. As we approached Dubai, the pilot must have decided, right at the most critical moment (i.e., about four hundred feet above the landing-strip), that he had had it up to here with flying fucking aeroplanes, and obviously just threw up his hands and said "Fuck it, I'm sick of this shit, somebody get me a real job.", because the plane promptly dropped out of the sky like a brick onto the tarmac with an awful, terrifying 'BANG', did a couple of doughnuts, and slid to a stop with a gigantic groaning sound.

The intercom came on, and the pilot announced "Ladies and Gentlemen - you can stay in the plane or get out; I don't give a fuck - I'm outta here", (or something like it - I'm not good at taking in messages when I'm vomiting over Muslims). To no-one's surprise, there was a general exodus at a very sharp pace, and it wasn't long before we were safely ensconced in the terminal. I needed a smoke - badly.

Now, here's where it all gets interesting. Dubai airport is approximately two-thirds the size of the Republic of Ireland, and has a population of several million, all of whom smoke like chimneys. To accommodate these people's addiction, the airport has generously donated a room of precisely eight by four metres for anyone in the terminal who would like to enjoy a gaffer. And get this: it is the only room in the entire, palacious kingdom that is neither air-conditioned or sports an extraction fan. I walked into this room to light up, and immediately had the impression that I was being force-fed tar through every orifice in my body. Stupidly, I ignited a cigarette.

By the time I had staggered out of Dante's little shoe-box hell, my brain was reeling with the Turkish tobacco industry's yearly quota of nicotine. I resolved, then and there, to give the filthy habit away.

We got back on the plane, which had been hastily repaired (there was still a bit of wet epoxy around the tail-fin area), and to my horror, I realised I was walking behind the new pilot, who was obviously only twelve years old. I leant over to the TP and whispered "Let's help that old Muslim lady out, and pray like fuck as well."

Surprisingly, our new pilot turned out to be a gem, and we landed in Istanbul some five hours later with a touchdown like the kiss of a brand-new mother. All I can say is "Allah akh-something."

Gotta go - it's time for a fag.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Titanium Princess

The Titanium Princess was in no mood for argument. I had christened her the Titanium Princess (or TP for short) many years ago, after a car accident had left most of her skeleton unuseable, and which had consequently been almost completely replaced by titanium rods and plates. It now works fine, and looks pretty good, too; I've even got used to the grease nipples protruding from her knees and elbows. Remember that scene in Terminator where Big Arnie cuts open his forearm and rips the skin away? I have nightmares about that.

Anyway, the only downfall of being married to a cyborg is that she causes mayhem at airports. Every time she walks through a metal detector the thing starts wailing like a banshee, as if Rommel had just driven the 2nd Panzer division through the thing.

We had not even begun our trip to Europe - it was Saturday afternoon at the Sydney Aerodrome, and we were about to embark on a flight that would take us to Turkey. We had nine weeks of adventure in front of us - Turkey, Greece, Italy, Austria, Germany, Czeck Republic, Holland Belgium, Ireland, and the U.K. - (I was deliberately avoiding France this time, after the famous case of the Cyanide Croissant - but that's another story).

We checked in, laid our bags on the X-ray machine, and I walked through the metal detector. I waited on the other side as TP came through. As predicted, pandemonium ensued. It looked, and sounded, like Saturday night at an Oxford St. rave club. About a dozen airport staff came running over and surrounded TP, obviously of the view that - at last - Johnny Howard's malignant obsession thet the country was about to be invaded by terrorists had come true. They can be so sly, these malefactors - even mutating into middle-aged female schoolteachers when required. I stood by, a healthy twenty feet or so away, and bemusedly wondered how TP would handle what would be the first of many identical situations - or, more precisely, how the airport security staff were going to handle a woman whose vocabulary is, er, extensive when she wants it to be.

"Madam," enquired one of the security men, "do you have any metal objects on you?"

"No, but I've got plenty in me," she replied. The security guy asked her to step into a little room off to the side. "I don't think a strip-search is warranted," she objected reasonably. "I have a letter here from my doctor that will give you the run-down on exactly where all the metal is." She eyed him with a look that plainly said "Don't fuck with me, Sonny Jim."

He hesitated, then waved over a female officer, who passed something resembling a black, plastic cricket-bat all over TP's body. The thing made noises like R2D2 having a heart-attack, while the male officer read the doctor's letter.

"All good, he eventually conceded, "have a pleasant flight."

We got our seats on the plane, and TP leant across and whispered "That was close. No way I'm taking my clothes off for any of these bastards. Good thing the Glock sits comfortably over my left hip."