Thursday, September 29, 2005


Not being in possession of a laptop abroad can be a problem when combined with the dearth of internet cafés in small Croatian coastal towns and an impatient desire to know the result of the Watford match; not to mention a somewhat niggling suspicion that the video sections of some of the less puritanical sites I have been known to peruse may have been updated during my absence.

This situation, perforce, entailed a daily post-breakfast constitutional into the centre of Vodice and it wasn't until Wednesday morning that the Sunday papers hit the kiosks and I was able, at last, to learn of the fightback to victory from 2-0 down at Vicarage Road.

Such is the depth (in this case, probably more an indication of shallowness than anything else) of my emotion regarding the team, the elemental connection to which I inherited from my father, that there was, throughout the jollity of the previous evening's rather raucous bevy-up, a recurring, albeit brief, synaptic flash of anxiety combined with guilt in equal measure that I might just be celebrating when all manner of misfortune had befallen and that our unbeaten start to the season had gone, as some say, tits up.

A rather odd little phrase that one, wouldn't you say? I'd be interested, from a purely liguistic point of view, in any explanations as to its etymology but it occurs to me that, and please correct me if I'm wrong, in the case of tits being up, there is an unavoidable collocation with such wonderful little adjectives as 'pert' and 'perky' which, if dwelt on for any longer than, let's say, three tenths of a second, will also conjure up images of rowdy young buttocks punching against seams of jeans. All in all, quite a deliciously positive mental picture in fact.

I realise it is rather difficult not to be tittist about the whole thing, but from a purely aesthetic consideration, I am sure that most tits themselves, if asked, would express a preference for the ever so slightly upward over those which have already begun the long and somewhat inevitable, great journey south.

Anyway, my fears having been proven happily to be unfounded, I returned to the hotel with a much lightened conscience and was pleasantly surprised to find how remarkably easy it was to persuade all those whose wish it was not to spend the day rotating themselves on the beach barbie, that is to say all those over 18 and possessant of dangly genitalia, to join me in the bar for a wee celebration.

And so it was that the consumption of the previous evening, prodigious by any standards, was exceeded nay, dwarfed by that which was to follow.

I guess we were fortunate in that the circumstances were perfect. The weather was hot and the proximity of the bar to both restaurant and swimming pool meant that meals were taken and cold plunges endured throughout the day with the result that come the evening, we had drunk ourselves into a state that can probably best be described as fully functioning intoxication.

Shortly after the evening meal, when we were joined by those of far less dangly genitalia than our own, we actually worked out that all things considered, our holiday venture was now in profit which brought smiles all round and another pile of rounds with which to celebrate our joint investment. There was an easy clarity, a rarely achieved state, sober or otherwise, of being totally who you are and where you are in the moment when you are. Our consortium was such that there were groups within the group which knew other groups but there was no communality as a whole until this night. All our natural social reticence seemed to disappear and the dynamic was such that everyone was swept along on a wave the riding of which brought out all which was the best in each of us; without thought, without analysis or any self-consciousness, we were carried beyond ourselves to a place which seemed outside of time itself and where the sound of the gently lapping waves on the shore was punctuated with that of joyous laughter.

Someone had had the foresight to bring with them several bottles of home distilled pálinka which enabled us to continue the party on the beach long after last orders and, lying flat out on the pebbles below a vast and starry night sky, not even the mosquitoes could pierce my mood.


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