The girl from Otley

Wednesday 23 May

I kid you not, the night terror and fear I experienced between 11pm and 11am was among the worst I’ve ever endured.  I was waking up screaming, sweating, shaking and convinced I was going to die.  My dreams were deep, powerful, violent and truly disturbing.  I was literally running out of breath in my sleep and gasping for air.  One of those nights where you don’t think you slept at all.  I blame the altidude and not the copious amounts of cigarettes and alcohol over the weekend.  Still, with nothing much to do but try to recover, it gave me a chance to reflect on someone, or at least an ideology, that I still hold dear.

I was in my mid teens when I went to my first music festival, with long hair a spotty face and no clue about girls.  I followed a few friends around, not really sure what decent music was, but trying desperately to find that out while being subtle about my obvious lack of knowledge, and drinking cans of Oranjeboom  To this day I’m still limited, music wise, with a more extensive background in film, but that’s beside the point.  There I was in a crowd of party goers and band fans, not really sure what I was doing.  I’d also just begun to learn to play the drums to try and be cool.  It was this that led me to a night I’ll never forget.

After the sun had long gone down and the live acts had turned off the amps, myself and a few friends found ourselves sitting with a group of similar age at the tents next to ours.  Someone had lit some kind of empty beer can box fire, while obviously there was the dude that could play guitar.  I think I’d had a few drinks, and I was drumming avidley on two pringle tins, and anything else I could get my hands on.  For some reason, the beautiful young brunette in a red hoodie across from me kept catching my eye, and flashing that ‘girl-next-door’ smile.  Remember the film Stand By Me?  It felt like, and still feels like one of those coming of age moments.  It wasn’t long before we were the only two awake, huddled side by side, putting the world to rights.

I’d never kissed a girl up until that point, and I’ve no idea what we talk about, but in my memory it was beautiful.  It would have been music, film, life, love and God.  All I could see was the occasional flash of her bright eyes from behind that red hood, and that smile.  I lived in a little town called Wetherby, while she came from Otley, a dales town a little further away.  I knew it well because they had an excellent model shop dad used to take me to.  I’d like to say when I was a kid, but he probably did still at 17.  I didn’t tell her this of course.  Then again, I probably did.  She might have liked me that little bit more for it.  Especially if she knew what Tamiya was.

As the sun came up, I decided to call it a night.  I rose, extended my hand, shook hers, thanked her for a lovely evening, and retired to my tent.  A friend afterwards said he respected me so much more when I said “I didn’t want to kiss her; it would have spoiled the moment.”  Every time I think about it though I wish I did.  I’d probably have wanted to marry her.  I never saw her again, and I can’t even remember her name.  I’m not sure we ever exchanged them.  Anyway dear reader, you might get my point.  She is for me forever that girl.  The one that got away.  The hopeless romantic notion you spill the shopping of, then bump heads to retrieve an apple.  The girl you’d do anything for.  including re-tiling the bathroom.

I often think about her, especially in lonely times like today when I’m left to my own devices, pondering on times gone by, nursing a hangover while taking an imodium-alka seltzer combo and feeling sorry for myself.  I think she’s popped in there this time however, because after nine months on the road, well, the possibility is she could become very real, and she’s no longer sitting across from me in a field when I was 17
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Go, go, go

Tuesday 22 May

As you would expect, today is a total write off.  I spend much of it planning my escape, avoiding the knowing nods and smiles and nursing myself back to health.  Day one of operation ‘get-out-of-Cusco is a go.

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Quiz night

Monday 21 May

Shortly after my ex girlfriend finished with me I walked to the local pub quiz night with a few bob in my pocket and the will to win.  I was alone, upset and frustrated, sitting on a bar stool in the dark by the exit.  These quizzes were always well attended, with the student population coming out in force to try and win money and beer.  They didn’t, because I did.   The single most astounding thing I’ve ever managed to pull off, apart from scraping into drama school, was to win a quiz on my own.  It’s a shame I was awake just three questions before then end of The Wild Rover one.

I know I must be boring you by now, either that or making some very jealous, but the crowd drags me out again for what was quite possibly the best club night I’ve experienced.  The place wasn’t that busy, yet we we’re rocking the show.  Most of the staff and punters where there, all good craic, and we tore the place up, mainly due to the fact that every single tune was an absolute stonker.  He was jumping from every massive hit from every decade since the year dot.  Just when Hey Jude finished, he’d launch into Smells Like Teen Spirit.  When he popped it up with Friday I’m in Love, he’s smash into Killing In The Name Of; which by the way was, excuse my French; fucking mental.  I literally danced for five hours none stop, including when we all took it in turns to stage dive off the bar.  This wearing the kilt again was a risky maneuver.

Girls usually go out to have fun, guys go out to pick up girls.  Not this time.  As much as obviously I didn’t catch anyone’s eye, I didn’t really need to, considering I was totally and utterly done in from jumping around.  I kid you not my legs felt like I’d played 90 minutes without a warm up.  I walked home elated and alone.  If only I’d been in the bar for the start of the quiz it might have been a better day than Machu Picchu.

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Singing your heart out

Sunday 20 May

I’ve been stoatering around the hostel with sunglasses on and my hood up.  The problem with being in the vicinity with so many girls is it’s difficult to look your best all the time.  Especially if like me you have a face like a Badgers arse after a heavy night out.  Even when I’ve not had a heavy night out.  More like a Skunks arse.  Maybe an Otter if I’ve managed to have a shower.

It’s a matter of waiting until the sun starts to go down before I’m nursing a pint to death.  I’ve been staring at it for a good half an hour and smoking one cigarette in two.  This is accompanied by heaving and spluttering not unlike an Orc clearing his throat.  I look and feel like an organ donor.  So long as it’s not my liver or lungs.

Then the first pint blues turns into the second pint buzz.  The place is seriously kicking off in what Wild Rover staff dub the best night of the week; open mic.  That’s the only reason I’ve stayed, as I’ve not played in front of anyone since Nicaragua.  Apart from that unofficial night of lunacy in Quito.  I’m working up the Dutch courage to give this a go, considering the standard is pretty impressive.  It appears every single Irishman in the place can play or sing something.  I hate talented people.

I’ve squeezed out a couple of tunes, but as ever get the confidence to do more as the night is taken away.  Again as ever, more people come out of the woodwork the longer it goes on, entirely down to getting off their faces and growing the boozy balls to have a turn.  This includes a number of drunken Israeli’s intent on taking over.  Speaking of this, I know they travel a lot, but I’ve never seen so many in one place.  They out way Irish, English and anyone else for that matter by a significant margin.  Kudos to them for getting out into the world in packs, but you might as well call the ‘Rover ‘Little Israel’.

Things take a turn for the hilarious.  It’s mental.  Totally mental.  Rowan, the bar manager here, appears to have a talent for being something of a crowd pleaser, and is rattling through the hits with aplomb.  Towards the end nobody gets much of a look in, but it doesn’t really matter, considering the whole bar is belting out the tunes with no care for the state of their voices in the morning.  It’s like being at a football match and each fan has a megaphone.

For some reason after this marathon scream-a-thon I’m in my room swapping my stinky all day clothes for the kilt for the 5th night in a row.  It’s got to the point where I am relying on it to get the attention I crave when out at the dancing, or when I’m on the hunt for a pretty girl.  My check shirt/skinny tie combo just doesn’t cut it anymore.  Call it vanity, call it insecurity, call it what you will, on goes the tartan yet again, fumbling with the leather straps that are struggling to get around the waist with each passing day.  I remember little after that, save coming home with 150 soles in false bank notes from an ATM.  This after giving all my change to the homeless guys sleeping by the machines.  Karma eh?

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Winners and losers

Saturday 19 May

As utterly horrible as I feel, Paddy and myself are still getting pissed in the early afternoon watching the Champions League final.  A short word on that; you didn’t deserve it, Bayern were robbed, and you’re name needs to be on there five times to be real contenders.  Anyway there we were, my now ‘ex girlfriend’ soon to be leaving for pastures new, getting sauced at a ridiculously early hour, along with just about everyone else in the bar.

Paddy desperately wants to move on, and as do I, but by the time night has turned into day and back again, we’re in no fit state.  The girls have left, and I’m hanging around to play an open mic night tomorrow.  Tonight was a disappointment as a whole, with both my ‘ex girlfriend’ leaving, and standing next to a baby faced football moron on a bar listening to his moronic “Chwelsee, Chwelee, Chwelsee!” chanting.  He had a face like Pee Wee Herman crossed with the bottom lip of a Suri tribe member, with a curly blond pubic-hair head of the Gestapo.  His own mother would have smacked him.

I’m back to sleeping alone.  Pity me.  Some you win and some you lose.

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More of the same

Friday 18 May

Only this time with UV face paints.  As I’m writing this nearly a week behind I have no idea what happens today, but I do seem to remember Frauline Eins kissing a girl.  I may have forgot to mention that.  The entire day is sketchy at best, and as I’m penning this on the late side, I need to wait for other parties to confirm my whereabouts.  I’ll get back to you
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