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Friday, April 16

Not A Mistake

I fancy writing a blog entry about mistakes I have made. This, is not really a very positive thing to write about. So instead, I'm going to tell a story. Perhaps I'll look at my past errors another time, since you should always be able to laugh at stuff that went wrong, which is all I want to do... well, not ALL, but a lot.

So, here's a story about something which happened way back when. In fact you can find the original story here. It happened nearly 6 years ago.

I was gigging with my friend Barry. We were off somewhere in Scotland, starting out in the North East. Barry and I gigged a lot together in those days. He was living in Gateshead and had a problem with insomnia. The problem was that he couldn't sleep at night at home. He was perfectly capable of sleeping in my car on the way back from gigs. The way I see it is that his insomnia was a bad case because it effectively prevented him from sleeping when he needed to recuperate for work the next day and it was a bad case of insomnia because it didn't work reliably enough to keep him awake when I wanted some non-snoring company on the journey home.

I've, many a time, told the story on stage of how he used to request that I played Classic FM while we drove home on the red eye and he slept. This was excellent training for my staying awake skills. And on one occasion he insisted that we stop off at the most haunted castle in Europe on the way home. Not only were we ghosthunting at 3am, we were also gatecrashing.

But, I've gone off topic.

This story relates to what happened when we saw a couple of hitchhikers on the roadside of the A1 with a sign that read "Edimbur". I picked them up, I believe, partly because their sign was incorrectly spelled and I wanted to correct them. It was a couple of students - one male and one female. They spoke very limited English with a heavy accent. They claimed to be Czech and explained that they were going somewhere near Dundee to pick Raspberries. According to my original blog post, they said that they were going to Birmingham, near Dundee. I started to suspect that they were taking the piss and were in fact comedy UK students, just pretending to have an accent. It sounded like a wind up.

Then I saw, in the rear view mirror, a genuine look of slight concern about being trapped in some stranger's car when you didn't really know them. They were real.

We tried to engage them in conversation. We wanted to tell them why we were driving to Scotland. What's the Czech for comedian? No idea. They didn't know the word. So we said "We are people who make you go HaHAHAHAH" - this caused them to laugh nervously and I said "yes, that's it". I think that happened, though perhaps I made a little of that up to make the story funny. No, I'm sure it happened like that.

We couldn't communicate with them, so just chatted in the front while they sat in the back looking at the road. Barry talks in a fairly gruff voice when he's speaking quietly. He sounded almost conspiratorial. With his accent and speed of talking, it was quite possible that our friends in the back might have read his words as meaning something other than "So Ash, when are we going to get to Edinburgh" and more like "So Ash, when are we going to pull over, murder them and bury the bodies?".

Then I got a flat tyre.

So I had to pull off the road. I also had to try to explain why I was doing this and why I had to pull the hitchers' bags out of the boot. What's Czech for "No, I'm not pulling out your bags so I can bury them with you?". Well, luckily, some man-instincts kicked in with the man of the duo. I pointed out the flat tyre and the fact that I was going into the boot as a result of it. He understood and immediately set about getting involved in the tyre change. We had just body language, pointing and grunting to work with. We managed to both cooperate in changing the tyre and have an argument about the best way to do it. All just in the universal language of "bloke".

And so our hitchhiker's got a free ride and I even bought them drinks while we were refilling the tyre in the petrol station en route. I assume they got to Dundee and picked some raspberries. I later found out that this is a genuine thing that happens in Dundee.


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