Thursday; the day before Morocco, a few days before the world went insane and imploded up its own arse, unprecedented, unrecognisable today from yesterday. The Shit Got Real, to use a phrase provided by someone with more clout than I do, (pretty much everyone) in the movie industry.
10 would eventually leave, the day after a funnily sunny day in the UK, childcare debates, parent debates, would everyone cope if we didn’t get back on the Monday, could it be ok to come back on the Tuesday, wouldn’t it be ace if we could maybe stretch it out till the Wednesday, and then Thursday, Friday or Saturday; we could land on Sunday (Oooh David). We all had our worries, we are all getting on, some more than others, but all heading in the same ultimate direction. It was the 50th Birthday of Mrs T, remember this is an anonymous blog, so the full names will be omitted, and replaced with a cunning code, solved by coming to the Kingdom of Shrawley, pinning me down, buying me a pint and asking me; maybe in 6 months though, eh?
Luton Airport has a fabulous bar, remember that, theres IPA on the wall behind the bar, its pretty well hidden and the staff couldn’t care less about what you’re drinking, imagine any where else, more depressing to work than in a bar in an airport. Most people are having a fine old time, drinking to forget the flight, drinking to celebrate, both, riding in a cigar tidy for 3 1/2 hours isn’t the sort of thing anyone would volunteer to do I suspect unless theres a big carrot at the other end; in this case the carrot was Marrakech. Riad Zahir, a splendid traditional guest house, down a street untouched by the thick rubber of the motor car; buzzing, with the abandon of the moped. A courtyard with small plunge pool of crystal waters surrounded by 3 floors of windows, stone walls and roof terrace, all to ourselves, 10 people in a 14 person hotel, the run of the place, thankfully no one else joined us to spoil the special 50th birthday vibes.
Tagine for supper was novel, but by the end of the weekend, not so, meat of various types and of various grading, all cooked on the clay pot and scattered in some cases, not all with a liberal sprinkling of veg, bread and pancakes for breakfast until the last day where we were served chocolate cake, needless to say I have not lost any weight over this weekend, the waistline was suitably stuffed with Moroccan lager, sold from the hotel at a mystery price until we thought on the last day it may be an idea to ask, a) how much for the Casablanca and b) how many we had had. Because of the nature of where we spent our time, mainly on the roof terrace at nights, down by the pool during the day, the beer was mostly spilt on the terrace, so one man (pretty much always the men) went down to replenish the drink and came back with the beer and wine statistics, first how much 4 or 5 euros per little 25cl can (I know, its mad) and wine well you’re looking at 25euros+ per bottle, but us being no longer young professionals, some of us in the 50+ tick box now, the cost and amount was barely important, at least in front of our fellow protagonists. We did what every self respecting group of drunk late forty early fifty year olds would do: we held a quiz. How many and how much, the answer was loads and loads, if you’re asking.
But in the soothing glow of no Brexit to discuss unlike the last holiday, and the Corona Virus but a buffering BBC page on my hardly functioning iPhone, which all these photos came from, the business of mucking about without kids and sneaking off for crafty Marlboros and Winstons on the lookout roof, far above the terrace was an absolute joy.
Surprise trekking and a trip into the High Atlas Mountains was the first day’s activity, a complete (she says) surprise to Mrs T, along with a sweet cake, a couple of bottles of excruciatingly sweet coke and radioactively coloured orangeade. One of the group, i’ll call him B for the sake of anonymity, I know what my fans are like and I know you’ll seek him out, camp outside his house and doorstep him every time he steps out. Neither him nor I want that and wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy apart from the Lighthouse Family and Louis Walsh, in who’s case I would say “Crack on”. B’s got sore hips, clicky, the technical term for hips over 49, collectively nearly 100 years old. So getting on a camel was off the cards, he was happy to walk along beside us as we clung on, knuckles white as the beasts of burden, each ones nose tied a few inches from the one in fronts arse, and they lumbered away from the stables, into the rocky desert. We’d “trekked” which is whet it said on the ticket for about 300 metres, when we heard a gut wrenching primal scream, booming across the desert floor and cutting through the stillness, above the snorting of the camel train. B had gone over on his ankle, it was broken, no question, B knew. Within seconds Mrs B who I shall call L just to confuse and throw you off the scent, camel musk if thats relevant, was off the camel, by her husbands side, obviously in an enormous amount of pain. Within a couple of minutes B was carried up to the stables, lied down, given sweet mint tea, not Lucozade, and everyone stood around chatting progressively louder and louder and gesticulating ever wilder. We arrived back, a Taxi came, B&L shot down the mountains back to Marrakesh, to the hospital where he was plastered up, fixed up and sent back to the hotel, the insurance company being typically aloof, Ryanair being absent, the phone signal at best awful and meanwhile at home the Corona Virus rumbled on. Poor B, spoiler alert, he’s better now, not healed, broke his tibia, I think, the thin one, should be out for 6 weeks, which ironically is how long we will all be in for, the way things are shaping up. The summer holidays will be spent in this chair.
We travelled further in to the mountains along a few miles of hairy hairpins, through rusty coloured dusty villages, to the shadow of Morocco’s highest mountain Toubcal, I got the t-shirt, which proves nothing, but I did see the mountain through a gap between a couple of houses and thus is a justified expense. We climbed higher and higher, with B and L on our minds; was he ok, would they be at the hotel when we got back or on a plane back to Luton, with no way of knowing we decided to eat a massive tagine, soak it up with masses of bread and stuff in a couple of blood orange pieces like Monsieur Creosote. Did I mention the weight? The guide was awesome, showering us with rhetorical questions we had no time to answer peppered with facts we had no time to process and so I’m sorry but I can not recollect everything he said, much less make up some sort of quiz for the readers. Lets just say the Berbers, in the mountains have it pretty bad, its getting better, with the introduction of electricy (his words) and wifi, soon the streets will be awash with phone zombies with little time for verbal communication, and the King of the Internet will have done his job.
On the way back, minibus weary, we stopped at a Women’s co-operative where they made Argan oil, good for everything it seems, baldness, wrinkles, hair, skin, snoring, erectile dysfunction, everything, everything, everything. We bought some moisturiser, for my daughter, and we might have got a candle too, that usually happens.
L&B were sat at the Riad when we arrived back, patched up on the ground floor with crutches and his leg in a cast, full of pain killers and ready to go to what we found out was the most exclusive restaurant in the Marrakesh, not including the two above on Tripadvisor because they didn’t sell wine, we needed wine, and cocktails, beer and more wine then more cocktails and steak, the most incredible steak. The most amazing chocolate pudding I’ve ever had, everyone who had it agreed 9.5 out of 10, you can never give a perfect ten, thats the rules unless it’s gymnastics, but the rules are different there and slightly skewed towards the athlete. The head waiter or man in charge looked exactly like a thin version of the villain in Superman who was one of three, who were imprisoned in a glass pane spiralling through space, Emperor Zog was the leader, a foxy lady and the chap who looked like a fat version of the head waiter or man in charge. That night as the men became more and more relaxed we discussed such issues as the best songwriters are called Paul, much disagreements, then David, then James, then back to Paul, which then came crashing down in flames when we mentioned Paul Gadd, google him, and then wipe your browsing history. Turns out also that dry teeth are a symptom of Corona Virus, and you heard it here first. Barometre; that’s the place, the bar bill came to an enormous amount, turns out money doesn’t go quite as far as I though it would in Morocco. All through the evening which started at 6:30, I was sat next to B with the broken leg as he slid further and further down into his seat, like Jacob Rees Mogg in the houses of parliament, the difference being that B is a jolly fine chap and Jacob Rees Mogg is an utter cunt (sorry he winds me up). Did I forget to mention that you could smoke in the bar area too, thats the first time i’ve done that in 13 years, Christ on a Moped.