Friends, Foes, Frankenstein, Fish Casserole…



Pathetic fallacy, signposting, being a little bit trite. Sometimes life is like that; cliché.


The weekend had been a blur on the bikes with a wonderful ride followed by a horrendous one that actually made me swear out loud at the scenery, which was somewhat not so magnificent, as my buddy had taken me up a demented climb on a glass-strewn road with the temperature rising with each torturous turn of the peddles. The proverbial ‘bollocks’ leapt forth from my gob after being told to don a helmet by one little fascist peloton and then being finger-wagged by a mountain-biker who informed me that that road was not suitable for a road bike. I agreed and said it was my own personal challenge and secret hell. My friend was up ahead somewhere ‘beasting’ himself with the bike as a form of self-flagellation.


I was about to swear again when a German family asked me to take a group photo of them with the far below sea as a backdrop. Sweat was leaping out of me like the veritable vermin from a sinking ship. They thanked me and I tried to smile. They drove off down the hideously steep incline and I expleted to my heart’s content. Such a rage hadn’t descended on me for many months, but there was something reassuring about it, a certain normality that was welcomed after the drug encouraged calm of the previous half year.


My mum had reached eighty a couple of days earlier and a couple of chats to her had opened up a fresh wound of homesickness and desire to return to where I belonged. I was missing my wife and children and ISIS had carried out another atrocity in London. I was cheating those who I loved the most and ought to be back amongst them.

Just over three weeks and counting, Mr Bond.



In order to support my friend’s battle with his problems, I drank like a fish. I have since come to realise that I tend to drink a little too much in social situations; I think I know why. We changed roles and it was him who was able to support me on my way back from the bar. Mutual support is always the best ways to tackle a personal crisis. With enough residual alcohol in my system when the time for Songs of Praise had arrived, I was snoring into my own abyss.


Until two o’clock, when the sweet words of my friend teased me from my slumber.

This time, it was not some wayward monkey racing its way through some startled French campers but the approach of a very big storm from out at sea. The light show was spectacular and we watched it for quite some time. Prometheus would have been proud of this display. The sea was being lit up by each new bolt of God’s current and, for a short time, we just basked in its magnificence.


When I went to bed, the light show was continuing apace but I believed that it would have worn itself out by morning.


Never underestimate the power of nature. In the same way, never underestimate the madness of certain individuals.

“Just put the ball in the fucking hole, Chief.”

There is a cuckoo clock that acts as a bell in the school. It is broadcast over the PA and has a quaintness that befits an old-colonial-style British school that has chickens wandering its grounds and human cuckoos leading learning. One particular cuckoo was about to attempt to steal a little more of my sanity.


The morning started off badly and then the day went quietly downhill from there on.  

When I woke up, the rain was falling like cats and dogs, or a plague of frogs, or locusts. Anyway, it was heaving it down, absolutely pegging it down. For once, I donned my cycle helmet. If I were going to come off my bike, it would be today. I still had the remains of the weekend’s alcohol in my system. It may have well have been sailor’s grog for that matter as the streets and cycle paths had turned into raging torrents. I had a rain-proof jacket on as much for a placebo rather than an effective cure against getting completely sodden syndrome. I love that word, “sodden” as it sounds rather biblical and I like a bible reference. It took no time for me to become fully wet, especially as a Range Rover took pleasure in hitting a growing lake in the middle of the road so as to direct another torrent onto me.

“Thank you,” I shouted euphemistically. So, once in work I dragged my leaking carcass across my classroom and thanked my foresight that there were fresh, dry clothes for me to change into. My cycle shoes, cycle socks, cycle shorts, cycle top, cycle helmet, and cycle soul were all post-diluvium detritus and they dripped into growing pools beneath various classroom chairs.


“I don’t want to be here,” Claire stated. “I can’t stand the madness of it all. I was crying at the weekend. My mum and sister told me that they had never seen me like this before and that I should get out as soon as I could.”


It was to become the theme of the day, although at that stage I was able to console her with the fact that we only had to survive another three weeks…and counting, Mr Bond! Those three weeks were soon set to become endless prairies of time with the constant threat of attack from hostiles on all sides.

Hecate, the insane woman in the department, was planning things. Meetings were still taking place in her room, which she locked on every possible occasion. She waited until the last period of the day to tell me that she wasn’t going to do any of the assessments that I had planned. She told me that I was not her boss. She told me that she was a qualified teacher who had just received a PGCE on Saturday. She told me that the moon was a balloon and that it had been purchased for her next birthday by the seven foot rabbit who often came to visit her. She was going to tell me more but the cuckoo clock came onto the PA announcing the end of the session.

“Just put the ball in the fucking hole!”


This was the nest of cuckoos and the woman I was talking to was Nurse Catshit. That made me, Murphy. Ooooh, lobotomy do not take me.


By the end of the day, the sun had managed to usher the clouds off the set and I got a lift home with Brodie, though I am doubting that that is his real name, or that he is Scottish, or that he even exists. He talked on the way back about everything he knew and had done. Blessed are the cheesemakers!


My mate, the cycling mate, the one who has not met the entire Dutch Tour de France team (because they don’t exist). Neither did he chat with the team doctor about nutrition. No, my mate, the one who is real, the one who has thrown aside alcohol in order to sort his life out, was waiting. He had cooked a really decent meal, a fish casserole, and had left cloves of garlic and peanut shells strewn around the flat. I told him that it was too early for me to eat and that I just needed to read.


“Read? Why do you want to vegetate when you could be out with me on the bike?”


“Reading is not vegetating,” I protested before realising the futility of arguing my intellectual stance with this bike-riding Borg. Resistance was most certainly futile as my three hour bike excursion was soon to testify.


Oddly enough, I really enjoyed the ride. It was along a cycle path that ran parallel to the beach and it was sunny and we cycled all the way to Arenal which is best known as the German Magaluf. It didn’t disappoint. Lots of groups of twenty something Teutonic types meandering aimlessly across the various roads and cycle paths, singing, muttering, but not fighting. There were a couple of man-mountains in there that I wouldn’t even had let my friend fight on my behalf. We hushed our English accents until he informed me, at the side of a particularly verbose Bavarian bar, that he could speak German.

I was somewhat impressed until his right arm shot up into the air and he shouted, “Heil, Hitler!”

Our cadence increased dramatically after that and our journey back was only spoiled by a concerned driver who wanted to advise us both of the dangers of not wearing a cycling helmet. Indeed, he emphasised this by swerving into our path, whilst gesticulating with his right hand and pressing his horn with the other. I greeted him in similar manner and we rode home relatively unmolested or hassled.


His fish casserole was actually really very nice.

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