Monday, December 11, 2017

Final day and I read up on Scott of the Antarctic as I prepare myself for flight cancellations, icy roads and war stories. At least we didn’t get those here in Morocco, though it did rain all afternoon. Now it’s off to the loo. If you want to know why (though I’m sure you’ve guessed – that’s right ice in a drink) read on

Morocco – Day Five (or Six, I’ve lost count): Marrakesh

You might have heard, and perhaps you are interested, but I suspect you have neither heard and nor are you particularly interested. But Manchester United – my team – lost 1-2 to Manchester City this afternoon. OK, I’m supposed to say City beat United, but given the state of the Premier League table, United have blown a very good chance to be realistic challengers to City for the title.

They began the day just eight points behind and a win would have cut the lead to five. Now they are 11 points behind and catching up doesn’t just mean they must carry on playing well, but, crucially, City must lose at least four games (or draw even more) and that, dear friends is as unlikely as me being named in the starting line-up for United.

One consolation is that Chelsea who are breathing down United’s neck for the challengers spot only drew today and are still three points behind United, they could well have done with three points rather than one. But if United lose one and Chelsea play well, that lead can be cut in 90 minutes. Liverpool in fourth place and five points behind United also drew their match against city rivals Everton, and they, too, will be kicking themselves that the dropped two potential points. But enough about football.

. . .

Back in Marrakesh and at the same hotel (so that means more football tomorrow, but nuff about that as I promised). The trip from Casablanca was painless really and driving out it struck me what a rather scruffy city Casablanca is where much of Marrakesh is smarter. But as my brother-in-law’s sister (which makes her my Schwippschwägerin – the Germans really do have a word for everything) pointed out pretty much every port city is scruffy, even Hamburg, in the north of a country which is largely not scruffy.

We are promised that night of ‘folklore’ tonight and as the occasion doubles up as supper, I think I shall have to go along. Our first stop once we had reached Marrakesh was a trip to the Kasbah to an authentic (well, I suppose it is, and I have no way of knowing) Morrocan chemist. The emphasis is on herbs and after a long rundown on what different mixtures of herbs do, medically, cosmetically and in the kitchen, the hard sell began. And I rather suspect that that was the point of it all.

Then it was inspected the nearby ‘Saadian Tombs’ (the inverted commas are intended to convey that I had never before heard of them and wish to avoid any suggestion that I am showing off). After lunch (a beer in my case, alcohols being available but certainly not readily, mainly in hotels and some restaurants and many cafes don’t sell it at all) it was off to view the Bahia Palace which we were told was intended to be the greatest palace of all time. Then it was back to the hotel and the, er, football. I rather miscalculated and only saw the end of the first half and the second half as I thought the game was staring at five. It wasn’t it was four.
. . .
We have a very good Moroccan tour guide who speaks excellent German, though he says he learnt his German in Morocco and has never even been to Germany, and I – we, I suppose – picked up one or two obscure facts. For example, although it is a quite conservative country and most Moroccans are practising Muslims, it isn’t half as hardline as other Islamic countries. So, for example, many Moroccans tend to get rat-arsed on homemade fig liquor and will climb into their cars pissed out of their heads and drive home (or even drive their lorries while pissed).

The police, though, turn something of a blind eye and only intervene if a drunk driver is involved in a crash. They drink by sitting in cafes apparently enjoying litre of two of lemonade. It is, however, laced with the homemade hooch and everyone – I’m told, I am only repeating what the guide told us – knows. The point about seeming to drink lemonade is not just once of discretion, but so that children don’t know what they are up to and are set a good example. At closing time, they roll off home and are left undisturbed by the police unless they make trouble and the police are called.

Day Seven: Marrakesh

I’ve rather lost count of what day it is but does it matter? Does it fuck. The evening of folklore was as authentic as I suspected, although the musicians were good. The food was, more or less for the first time in a week of euro-tourist cuisine Moroccan and very tasty too. Our two waitresses were not at all to pleased to see us, scowling doesn’t begin to describe it and at one point one literally threw a fork on the table. But I really can’t blame her: one of the guys sitting at our table made a hell of a fuss when he was brought the wrong wine and insisted on returning it for the one he ordered.

OK, you might say, but I don’t. We are guests in their country and guests have just as many obligations as hosts if not one or two more. I have already described the troops of German, French, Spanish and South Korean tourists trailing around getting in everyone’s way, pointing their cameras and clicking off at pretty much everyone and everything with any regard for the nicety we were all told about that Moroccans, and Muslims as well, especially the womenfolk just don’t like having their picture taken. I felt embarrassed to be part of such a troop, but then I’ve been banging that drum for the past few entries already so maybe I should just shut up.

We might sometimes have been a tad chilly here, it is December after all, and it might have pissed with rain all afternoon, but things are worse in Old Blighty and although I have checked into my BA flight from Düsseldorf to Heathrow tomorrow, I might find it will be cancelled. But what the hell, I’m not due back at work until next
Sunday. My brother and I did bow out of this morning’s jollities. I had a great lie-in and then did fuck-all else for the rest of the day and feel all the better for it. My sister and I have latterly suffered a little from a gyppy tummy, and I think I caught a bug because I forgot to order a whisky without ice. And ice is, of course, not made from bottled water. Who would do such a thing?

. . .

I have been asking myself just why I am so antipathetic to gangs of Germans as opposed to the many excellent and very pleasant individuals I know and cherish. I think it has something to do with their insistence that everything must be schőn and the continuous welter of platitudes they are apt to spout. I smile and say nothing, but it does get very wearing. I know the Brits have similar irritating traits, though I shan’t list them here and spoil my evening.

So there you have it. As I say there is still excitement on the horizon in that I really don’t know whether I shall make North Cornwall and home as planned by lunchtime on Wednesday or not. And even if I am not obliged through a cancellation or extreme delay to suffer a night at Düsseldorf airport, I shall still be obliged to negotiate four hours of icy roads and motorways. And there, my stomach has rumbled again, signalling that things are still not all over in the tummy department. But thankfully I am just minutes from a gents, so I think it’s time for another whisky, only 50 dirham (£4), good value in that the measures here, as pretty much everywhere else in the world don’t consists as in Britain of enough spirits barely to wet the bottom of your glass.

I was going to indulge in a little gentle character assassination of my dear younger brother, but as he isn’t here to defend himself, I shall only note that in his old age (60 next June 10) he is becoming a tad eccentric. You wouldn’t notice anything if you met him, but I have known him for almost 60 years so, well, I do. Pip, pip.

PS Just read this in the Guardian:

Astronomers are to use one of the world’s largest telescopes to check a mysterious object that is speeding through the solar system for signs of alien technology. The Green Bank telescope in West Virginia will listen for radio signals being broadcast from a cigar-shaped body which was first spotted in the solar system in October. The body arrived from interstellar space and reached a peak speed of 196,000 mph as it swept past the sun.

Less of it in my next entry, I promise.

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