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Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Forty Years On: Night Boat to Palma

The final instalment in the 'Forty Years On' saga, continuing the story from A Spanish Bee in your Bonnet:

The bee sting brought an end to sunbathing and we set off back to the hotel, with Kev in an increasing state of panic.  Fortunately, we spotted our tour reps coming in the opposite direction.  Less fortunately, they were determined to sell us tickets for a forthcoming night out in Palma.  As Kev swayed fitfully, they plunged into their hard sell until I finally got through to them that, interested as we were in their proposition; there was a good chance that my friend would be crashing to the floor at any minute.  Mortified (but not so mortified that they didn’t make the sale anyway) they escorted us to the nearest pharmacy and, armed with a cream of some sort, we returned to the hotel.

Rubbing cream into your mate’s scalp is not the best way of spending a holiday, but it did seem to do the trick and the following evening we reported to the harbour to catch a boat to Palma.  The outing, as sold to us by the Tour Reps, involved a trip across the bay (with free drinks), an evening in a nightclub (with another free drink) and then the boat home again.  As each of the guests boarded, they were handed a plastic cup filled with Cava.  Presumably because the Reps were feeling guilty about selling tickets to a mortally wounded Kev (a look that he had perfected), we were handed a bottle each.  This continued throughout the trip, which meant that we were not feeling a great deal of pain when we disembarked.  We were told to keep a careful note of where the boat was moored for our return, but by this time I really didn’t know if I was on this Earth or Fuller’s (as mum used to say).

I have vague memories of the nightclub itself (the free drink on arrival was probably a poor move).  For some unknown reason, we spent most of the night with a young French couple who (if my schoolboy French was correct) were on honeymoon, but who were accompanied by the wife’s mother.  Quite how I finished up dancing with the husband, whilst Kev boogied with the wife and mother, goodness knows.  I do remember attempting a fancy set of steps that involved me shuffling backward but which resulted in a fall over a small ornamental wall, thus ruining the effect. 

At the end of the night, we said our goodbyes to our companions and headed off in the general direction of the boat.  This was, however, foolish for two reasons (1) We had no idea where the boat was, and (2) It would have left an hour earlier anyway.  Realising that we were on a wild goose chase, and had no money with us at all for a taxi, Kev determined that we would walk back to the hotel.  Stumbling into a Spanish Military Post for directions was probably not a good idea, as the rifles pointing at us indicated (this was the time of Franco).  They did, however, give us the general direction to go in (‘away’ seemed to form the crux of what they were saying).

We trudged for hours along the Majorcan equivalent of the M1, with dawn breaking on the horizon.  A ‘back of a fag packet’ calculation revealed that we had a 10 mile walk on our hands. Drunk and despondent, we attempted to kip down on some benches outside a petrol station, until the owner arrived ten minutes later and kicked us back out onto the road.  Finally, we reached the next village to Arenal, Ca’an Pastilla, and figured that we just about had enough money between us to flag down a taxi.

We crawled back to the floor of our hotel.  Literally, because the hotel’s lift had an idiosyncratic approach to its job and regarded floor numbers as a broad objective rather than a specific target, leaving passengers to haul themselves up onto their chosen floor. 

The sun was shining and people were heading off to the beach.  We slumped into our beds with the well worn cry of ‘never again’.

You can find more stories from The Slightly Odd World of Phil Whiteland in e-book format - Steady Past Your Granny's - Kindle Edition (UK) or Steady Past Your Granny's - Kindle Edition (USA)