Sunday, September 24, 2006

Chips are not Salad

Well that's week one done and dusted.

Dornoch, Kinlochbervie, Thurso, Wick and Golspie out of the way. 7 shows down fourtysomething to go.

One of the things I rediscover while touring is that, after a few days, I start to look at this place I live in like a total stranger. I become a tourist in my own country. And a very strange place it is too. For instance, I find the bizarre practice of table wetting really weird. It seems to happen in every place you sit down to eat these days (well any place that hasn't got tablecloths - and itinerant TIE actors can't afford to eat in places with fripperies like that). You walk, in sit down at the only available table, move the two empty cups and a plate with a half-eaten meal, left by the previous occupants, to the edge where the harrased staff can most easily get at it. You start perusing the menu. Don't care. As long as the coffee is OK anything with chips will do me.

Everyone has just about made up their mind what they want when one of the harrased staff comes and removes the dirty crockery, disappears without taking the order, then returns a few seconds later with a damp cloth. Everyone at the table picks up their newspapers, mobile phones or whatevers and the the harrased staffer wets the table. Just wipes the wet cloth over the table and disappears again. If you are unlucky they have a spray of noxious table steralising gunge that they sray on the table first which leaves a punge that lingers well into your meal and makes everything taste of hospital. And no one says a fucking thing. We just sit there and let them do it. Every time. Over the last week I have stared at more damp formica waiting for it to get dry enough to put my elbows back down than I think is good for any man. So fuck it. Next time I'm going to say 'No'. I don't want my table wetting. I don't mind having a few crumbs and a thin smear of, what I hope is, tomato ketchup on the table. Just go get me food.

Ballachulish is a wonderful place. I love it to bits but sometimes I regret not having moved somewhere more remote. Then I go there and change my mind. Don't get me wrong. I'm sure Kinlochbervie is a great place to live but I don't think I could handle the remoteness. I don't understand Kinlochbervie. It's a small cove in the middle of nowhere with a HUGE quay lined with sheds and vast numbers of refridgerated lorries outside. I guess they land fish there. The only other building is the brand spanking new High School (2nd worst acoustics of the tour) and that's it apart from a small hotel, a local shop for local people, and about 3 houses. Where do all the kids come from? Maybe they live in the sheds, or comute in by trawler, I don't know. The Fisherman's Mission does a good fish and chips though.

From there it was a 3 hour drive to Thurso along the worst A Road in Britain. 95% of it is single track with passing places and ocassional flocks of sheep and carloads of oncoming tourists. The sheep were usually smarter. Then onto Wick.

Wick wasn't as bad as last year but is still a depressing dump, and, after been stung by a wasp in the only pub in town that doesn't go quiet when strangers walk in or make you think of An American Werewolf In London and The Wicker Man, I was in my bed at 8pm sipping a cup of tea made on one of those stupidly small, 3 watt kettles that British hotels laughingly describe as 'tea making facilities' I lay there in a damp bed, half-reading trying not to listening to the boy racers mowing down pedestrians outside. Bob meanwhile watched some cop show on a 4" TV bolted to the far wall of our room with the sound down and the subtitles on. Life on the road is just great.

Next day Bob got stung by a (different) wasp during the show.

The weather was nice though.

Came home to find it had been bucketing down all week and there had been a huge landslide in the hill behind our house. So much rain that part of our neighbour's garden went for a walk.

More next week.

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