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Thursday 15th June 2006

This was a long day. I woke up at 5.30am and then flew west which extended the usual 24 hour period to 29 hours. Last night I had been totally unable to find a suggested check in time in all the bumph I had. I assumed it would be 90 minutes, so I aimed to get there 2 hours before the flight to be safe. This morning, of course, I found the time accidentally within ten minutes of waking. It said I had to check in by 6am (three hours before the flight!) It was now quarter to six and I was in Shepherd's Bush and not Gatwick. I slightly panicked. Would my holiday be over before it had begun?
Of course not. This time was just put there to scare me. I got to the airport just before 9 and no-one said I wouldn't be allowed on the plane. As it turned out the pilot himself (called out on stand-by) was half an hour late.
The flight was cool. I got drunk for the first time today and then had a little nap.
I arrived at my hotel in Tabago with about 20 minutes of the England/Trinidad and Tobago game remaining. It was still 0-0, which I was a bit disappointed about, but as all the staff at the hotel were in the bar watching it I suggested we wait for the game to finish before I checked in. They were all very happy and excited by their team's progress. Though I did want England to win I felt it might be a bit of a sad start to the holiday if they won. The happy staff quickly ascertained that I was English and thus ostensibly supporting the land of my birth. It seemed we were playing badly and it took me about five minutes to spot that Rooney was on. Alas we ended up winning and the happy faces around me turned to ones creased with disappointment. I apologised, though I am sure as far as Tobago goes the English have more to apologise than this. "You're probably going to put me in the worst room possible now, aren't you?" I said to the receptionist. Perhaps illogically, but not unreasonably everyone seemed to blame me for the result. Until I had arrived Tobago were flying high (well were 0-0 which is just as good), then I turn up and England score twice and their team gets their late goal (correctly) disallowed. My room seemed fine, but doubtless there would be traps.
My befuddled and tired brain made it hard for me to relax and I knew I wanted to head to bed, but not until at least 9pm and I had six or seven hours to kill. I felt tense and strange, but tried to chill out in the sun with a beer.
Later I found a little secluded decking by the sea, above some black rocks with the sea crashing on to them. I sat there alone, looking at the waves and enjoying being alone (like a more elaborate and day-lit Chard island - you'll have to cf that yourself) The rocks were brown, but turned black when hit by the water as if a little oil tanker had sunk nearby some days ago. Suddenly I noticed that these rocks were alive. Or at least they appeared so as they were covered in crabs. The crabs perfectly matched the wet rocks in colour, but gave themselves away when they moved or were hit by the surf. They were of all shapes and sizes. No, scratch that. They were all crab shaped, but some of them were big and others small. It was one of those scenes that you would only notice on holiday (and not just because you only see crabs by the sea - because suddenly you have the time to notice things as well as nothing pressing to stop your observations). Some of the crabs were being buffeted by the waves, but hung on regardless, others seemed to be feeding by sucking black scum off the rocks that were their home, others seemed to be fighting, or embracing or making out (it was very hard to tell the difference). I thought that it was no life being a scum-eating, wave buffetted crab. OK, maybe you got to live all the year round in Tobago, which seems like a good place to be, but apart from that it's not much of a life. How strange the different paths that evolution have chosen for man and crab. I felt glad I had ended up as a man rather than a crab living on a rock eating black stuff. Mainly it felt good just to be here and being able to observe this thing that I would never have seen in Shepherd's Bush (rats eating scum perhaps, but I wouldn't bother to watch that, nor would the rats seem so cute - unless you're Grub Smith - or tragic). The two fighting/fucking crabs were hit by a wave and one of them nearly fell, but somehow they clung together either through love or hate or a mixture of both and their struggle continued. I hope they were fucking. I would be a bit tragic if they were fighting over who had the right to be on this particular bit of scum soaked rock.
The sun set. I managed to stay up long enough to have some over-grilled fish. I hadn't yet had the chance to acclimatise or appreciate where I was, but seeing those crabs was a start. I think I might spend all my sunsets with them.

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