Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Hop Swiss Part Three - Confidence and Paranoia

It's fair to say that a sense of paranoia and boredom gripped the travelling party by the time we had returned from the Alps. The fall out from my snow fall had been relatively minor, I lost my chance to winch Elaine, but I realised there wasn't much interest in me within the group, which was probably just as bad as there being fall out to my social standing. In fairness, conversation between anyone had become scarce, the perils of dividing the year group into two school trips meaning that most people had turned up in Switzerland without their best friend. The group was paranoid anyway, since most of the hotel staff had taken against us since the custard diplomacy incident and our less than raucous laughter at the skiing stories of Urs meant that we weren't quite as welcomed as other guests in the hotel - our daily meals seemed to be dwindling in quality from expansive topping drenched fattening deserts all the way down to night 5ives disastrous scoop your own fruit out of a big vat treat. I was out of the table tennis tournament as well, beaten by a muscular balding PE Teacher who hit two shots with the bat in his mouth and still beat me, so I didn't have that to keep me interested. Paranoid and exhausted, my daily walks to the chocolate shop were all that was keeping me sane, but on one particular return armed with whatever the hell the creamy red bar that was amazing was called, I returned to find Elaine and girls much hotter than her sitting together on the front step having been thrown out of the hotel for throwing bread rolls off the balcony. I had a go at them for wasting food to be honest, I'd have killed for a bread roll instead of stewed apple in a steam vat. They didn't even look up, and then I realised that even though they had been thrown out they weren't moving at all, they were exhausted and sunken and suspicious of each other. I couldn't believe that in the middle of one of the worlds most beautiful place we had ended up having such a lousy time. It was a beautiful sunny day, the cows were again unavailable for comment, and yet everyone was moping about the hotel lobby either evicted for the waste of bread related products or because they had crashed out of the table tennis tournament. Some Germans were milling around the lobby judging us adding to the sense of pure paranoia we were all feeling, one of whom looked like a plump Hilary Duff, and in a desperate bid to reclaim my holiday from the force of bad luck that had gripped it, and in trying to impress at least one of the travelling girls, even if it was just Elaine and her crazy eyes, I tried to throw a stray bread roll at the plump Duff. Needless to say, it went about one foot, it was a terrible throw, and it trickled to a halt in a leaf filled gutter. Worse, no girl was watching, so I slunk off to go and talk to the cows, for although they were quiet, they weren't judgemental...they would listen to my fascinating Joey Scarbury stories, oh yes they would...

Of course, my own mood was fading fast by the minute, not just due to my embarrassment and my burst ear drum, but because I was robbed in the centre of Lucerne. Now, when I say robbed, it was my own stupid fault. I had bought my Mum two ornate antique dolls from Tourists R Us that, in my haste to take a photo of a fountain, I left behind and when I turned around to get them they were long gone. I didn't have much money left having bought myself an expensive Swiss Army knife that could prize open the most stubborn bottle. With my remaining Francs I desperately bought some replacement presents, a small but perfectly formed jewellery box with a cat on it that actually was a box for pills for Mum, and a Toblerone out of Manchester airport and a German football magazine (cheerfully described by my Dad as "well thumbed" and less cheerfully as "shite"), in German, that I had bought for myself for Dad. These presents were later the form of much family grief, but I was always able to buy sympathy for myself as a victim of crime and stop about 43% of the jokes. It was quite a traumatic experience being robbed even if it was my own fault, and when the photo of the fountain didn't turn out right, I felt even more gypped. My story over that nights badly made jello - a story in itself as it was made in moulds of what was allegedly Swiss things as a special treat according to the build up given in a speech by trainee chef Hans but the circle, square and 1/2 hexagon are scarcely uniquely Swiss - was at least taken up by the group and given a sympathetic ear, but my friend Scott stole the Brownie points because he got punched. Not for looking like a junior Gene Hackman, but because he was playing a game where he would call non English speaking people a wanker and let hilarity ensue, but he misjudged and called an Australian tourist a wanker thinking he wouldn't know what the word meant and he got punched right in the Hackmans. I couldn't compete with a groinal injury no matter how bad my ear was, but over my shoulder, about three feet from me was a staff member, listening, watching...he was trying to pretend that he was cleaning a table, but he wasn't, he was, as we say in Scotland, lugging in. I realised at this point what was happening - they were looking for desert feedback. After we had publically dissed the custard, they had been especially difficult about what they had served to us, and I realised that with every meal, not just the deserts, someone had been in our proximity to check what we liked. On the last night we stayed there, a child who's name is lost to the margins of terrible anecdote history had loudly declared that that nights chicken was, quote, rank, and I hate to think of the possible repercussions for such slander had we been there any longer. We'd have been eating rat by week three if Fredrik had his way. In the midst of this feast of wobbly shaped jello and a hovering food critic checking on the jello, our PE teacher, the one who beat me so badly at table tennis with trick shots, decided that if Urs could make a speech, he could make a speech...he proceeded to make one of those embarrassing teacher speeches full of Dad jokes but he got a round of applause for mentioning the table tennis tournament...yes, very clever I thought, but I know you're having relations with a fifteen year old you bald head...anyway, as he wrapped up his hilarious speech, I looked up from my metal bus boy table in time to see one staff member mouth the word wanker to another staff member (so they knew what it meant) and, to be honest, someone was singing a song about a Honky Tonk, and it was definitely time to leave...

As the paranoia that we weren't welcome in the hotel continued to set in, and the activities seemed to get less and less grand (we went from seeing The Alps to seeing a stream...a Sodastream no less in a 50s style diner), the paranoia was exacerbated by dark tales from Andrew, a kid so unmemorable that to include him in an anecdote seems like a waste of typing effort, that he had seen a cat taken into the kitchen that was going to end up as our dinner. Some people even believed him, such was the depths of our imagination by this stage. Midway through dinner, my ear completely shut down to the point that Kim Wilde herself could have been chatting me up and I would have missed it, and it was genuinely terrifying, almost as terrifying as the prospect of a trip to the Hotel Schönbuhl medical lab with it's no doubt uber friendly German nurses. To be honest, my ear shutting down and sounding like tracking on a VHS tape (ask your Dad) made me go a little bit mad, but even in a fragile mental state (I wondered how I would get home to be honest, I surely couldn't fly) I was still aware of the fact that no one had seen Colin. Colin having been a little bit down for the past 24 hours by Colin standards was not at dinner and we figured he had an early night. Now, Colins later version of events were that he had swallowed a whole bunch of hallucinogenics that he smuggled past customs and he had to be talked off a ledge by a nubile Swiss maid who offered sex in return for his safe passage down from the roof of the Hotel Schönbuhl...the alternate version was that he ate some dodgy chocolate and was sick all day long, take your pick. I really admired Colins ability to just swagger back from any situation like a big kid that you couldn't really wound. However, on this particular night Colin was wounded, he had made up a story that even he couldn't possibly back up (and this is a guy who was utterly convinced he was teleporting out of his body at night) and he didn't want to be the kid who couldn't handle his chocolate. He lay down on his bed utterly silent as we all waited for the old Colin to surface and tell us again about the maid, but he let out a mournful sigh in his hotel issued bath robe and said something like ach I'm fed up...if Colin was down, you can be assured it was more than a general malaise. In fact, I'm reliably assured by The Gene Hackman that Colin ended up going a bit mad for the remaining two days of the holiday and had to be sedated to calm him down. As it all turned out according to TGH, the maid was actually quite real, but had rejected Colin over his theories on the ability to leave the body, and he took it quite badly. It certainly put my attempts to chat a young Swiss girl up who had big lungs and a quite gorgeous pony tail into perspective - I knew it could never be when she didn't know who the KLF were...she also seemed a little too keen on Extreme...

As for me, my entire solace on the holiday, and again I'd like to stress none of the disasters that happened were attributable to Switzerland with the exception of the alleged local delicacy, was the Hotel Schönbuhl staff room, a big room with a bit desk and a big couch which was empty at night and full of cartons of Malboro cigarettes, pina coladas, a deck of cards, a big giant television and a door they never locked. It ended up being where I slept, mostly to avoid falling asleep and waking up with no eyebrows or my hand in a dish of hot water, but also to try and get some respite for my now hissing like a cobra ear. It even had a Nintendo with Goldeneye in it, so you can see the allure. I realise that things had to have gone horribly wrong for me to be huddling in a staff room playing Goldeneye at 3 in the morning instead of getting wildly drunk and sleeping with Bond Girls in natures paradise, but hey, at least I had my own eyebrows. However, there was one more strange occurence, which was every so often a security guard would flash a torch through the room. He had big clumpy boots and a Sgt Schulz gut, so he wasn't hard to hear or see coming, and I could usually just avoid the flashlight by hiding behind the couch. I figured breaking and entering and stealing cigarettes might earn me just a slight amount of disapproval so I was pretty alert and made sure I avoided him, at least, I was when I had my hearing. It was quite a close thing, as he made it all the way into the room before I realised he was in there. Had I been playing Goldeneye, I'd have been completely stuffed. It was only good fortune that I had tidied up otherwise I'd have been betrayed by the cans and the ashtray. There was a pretty easy escape route out of the staff room, a back door that lead down some stairs and outside, so once I realised he was snooping around I was able to get out of there (although had that door been alarmed...you know) and look through the glass hatch to check when he had gone. Slight problem was, he decided to stay in the staff room himself and play Goldeneye, which left me stranded outside. And of course, it rained just as I hit the bottom of the stairwell. Dejected and unable to hear, I had to walk soaked through the hotel lobby past a drunk baggage porter and a man who looked incredibly guilty...he was guilty, because it was my PE teacher, and we exchanged I won't tell if you don't glances as we headed in opposite directions. With very little to show for what should have been the trip of a lifetime other than wet clothes and illness, I was forced to climb into the room entirely made of varnished wood and sleep with my room-mates, none of whom had noticed I had gone, with Colin on his own on the balcony, except for The Gene Hackman, who in a demented giggling voice shouted up to the top of my bunk something that I couldn't quite make out, but it sounded like we've just put Andrews hand in a bowl of hot water...

And that's when things got really infected...

11 comments:

Pink Ink said...

Maybe you were really James Bond in a former life :-).

I hope to go to Switzerland someday soon. I have an aunt who lives there.

squib said...

I'm enjoying this. Come on, next instalment please

Kath Lockett said...

Two golden highlights today, Miles
1) plump Duff
2) getting punched in the Hackmans.

You are a diamond, my young scribe, even though my word verification below says 'cessed'??

Miles McClagan said...

More like James Pond, the computer game fish I'm afraid, although I look boss in a tux! As I said, Switzerland is a great country, it was all down to me this one!

I feel like I'm on a deadline now! More and more demanded!

Ah, Plump Duff, what became of thee...can I graduate one day to diamond geezer? I hope so!

Kris said...

James Pond is my wife's favourite computer game character.

Just thought that I'd mention that.

squib said...

Where is it? mush mush!

Jannie said...

have you ever woken up with no eyebrows??

You so crack me up!

Megan said...

I can't believe there's more. Oh wait, sure I can.

Brilliant.

Miles McClagan said...

I'm glad you did, I love James Pond...Robocod, I think, is still a million times a better game than anything the so called superior Xbox can dish up!

It's Mush Mush up now...it has tales of infection!

No, I haven't, but it was a big fear of mine that I would...everyone spoke about how that was what was done on school trips...I think the York trip was really bad for eyebrows and hot water...

One part up, one to go...I wish I could have stayed for 3 weeks, it could run forever!

Baino said...

What was it with bloody dolls. I have a suitcase full of dolls in national costume. People kept bringing them for me because after the first two, they assumed I was starting a 'collection'. I'm with Kath and I'm stealing 'punched in the Hackmans'

Miles McClagan said...

I don't know if I've mentioned, my Mum is the worst person to buy things for, she doesn't like anything, or at least, her Glaswegian upbringing means she can't be too excited by things. So dolls was worth a try. Didn't work. Nor did the pill box. Earned me a punch right in the Hackmans.