Friday, February 8, 2013

Drink Aware

Dark Side of the Mind ©

My brother and I sat and drank our Guinness in the lounge bar of the pub.  Talk of girls and cars and bikes filled the time quite nicely.  Time itself was called but we didn’t hear it.

So engrossed in our talking we had not noticed everyone get up and leave.  We hadn’t noticed the large double doors had been left open letting in the cold damp night air.

The lights had been dimmed to a faint glow, the bar staff had gone and as I looked back at the door again I saw the outline of a large black dog.  It was foggy outside and the mist swirled around the black shape distorting and making it look menacing.

We stood to leave and immediately I felt the chilled air on my face.  The animal at the door bared its teeth and growled deeply and softly as if to dare me to pass it.
As it was the only exit we walked slowly toward the door and the dog slowly backed up and let us pass.

As we lived in opposite directions we parted and I started back.  It was a calm warm evening when I set out and so I hadn’t brought a jacket.  I now wished I had.  I moved purposefully across the car park, with the fog twisting around my legs not wanting to let me go.

The streetlights glowed in the fog and as I reached the corner I glanced back.  The hound was following me, slowly padding, 5 or 6 paces behind, not gaining nor falling behind.  It was a big dog, like a mastiff, huge head and a loping gate, its mouth open drooling and sucking in the damp night air.

I seemed to be walking in a small bubble of light, the reflection of the lamps off the mist was the only light around.   Everywhere else pitch-black, like the hound itself

The dog was beginning to bother me.  I had not seen such a large animal around here before.  What was it doing on its own?  I quickened my pace a little but it made no difference, still 5 or 6 behind me.

I was close to my usual short cut across the Gala field.  It was all in blackness ahead with no sight of the exit, no known centre point to gauge my progress.  The road around was much safer, and as I rounded the corner the last streetlight fell behind me.  The ones ahead were not on at all.

Quite why I crossed the unlit road I will never know and I found myself on the damp grass of the field and in heavy fog.  I was totally alone. In the darkness.

In that split second the dog had come level with me to my left. I glanced uneasily behind and I saw 2 more maybe 10 yards back.  The grass was very wet and unusually long.  I was sure when I walked over it earlier it had been cut?  My lightweight shoes were soaked thro and in my hurry to get along I was slipping as I struggled to grip the grassy field.

I had lost all sense of direction and time.  Glancing at my watch, it had stopped at midnight, exactly the time I entered the field and the bank of thick fog.
The leader was now ahead and the other two flanked me all just several paces away from me.

Now I was following.  I could smell them now, wet and with a rotten flesh type smell, my stomach turned.  They were the hounds of hell for sure….Now I was talking to myself.  The grass was now much longer, making it harder to walk and I struggled to keep my balance, then I fell.

Immediately they were on me, their mouths dripping saliva and nostrils flaring.  Then in a moment of total madness I swear I heard the lead animal talk to me.
“get up, get up you must rise master”

Startled beyond belief I looked at each in turn and then back to the lead.  Its eyes as black as pitch as it hissed again with such force that I shook inwardly as the beasts request forced itself into my mouth and then into my lungs.
Stunned I could not move, they started to drag me over the grass so strongly, that I could not help but stumble up onto my feet.  Then they were in a line in front of me, seconds later fanning out.

I stood wet through and covered in grass and mud, totally motionless and disoriented.  I looked around. Nothing.  I looked down at my feet.  Legs and shoes were bright red, stained in blood.  My blood.

In that split second the lead dog launched its attack and suddenly there were more people around me.  It all happened in seconds, the 2 other animals then joined in.  All I could hear was the sound of ripping flesh and the smell of animal anger.  I felt splashes on my face and blood curdling screams and then silence as a great weight pressed me down into the ground.

Then bright lights.

100 years ago to that very night, to that very time, a group of brigands and smugglers had wrecked a small ship off the treacherous coastline and were taking the stash of contraband Rum to the Inn at the top of the hill
They had come across a lone Officer of the Realm, returning home with his 3 English mastiffs.
The smugglers set upon the officer and a violent struggle ensued, with the mob slashing with their swords into the brave officer.
The dogs fought with skill and bravery to protect their master but there were too many of them.  All died brutally, slashed and cut, but not before the lead dog had bitten the throat out of one smuggler.

They were thrown over the dead body of the officer in the gully where the violence took place to hide the act.

The Medic shone the torch into my eyes.  No one could explain the blood on my clothes.  No one could explain why it was animal blood and why was there a strong smell of rum?  I hate rum.

I still go to the same pub, on the site of the old Inn at the top of the hill, but I never take a short cut, and I never drink rum!

Passage in India

A Passage in India
Apparently the most dangerous road in Britain is somewhere in the Peak District.  Really?  Dangerous is a relative word of course.  In the Peak District you could hit another car, a sheep maybe or even go off the road.
In India the order of magnitude of an “off” is quite “off” the scale. A live-killer-video game.  There are several factors at work here, and the first is etiquette.  You may think that there is none in India but in fact there is.  It’s just that as westerners we don’t know what it is, which makes for an interesting journey, and also it’s why I am not driving.
You can take your entire family for a day out, wife riding side saddle, babe asleep in arms and junior(s) astride the tank of your 125cc Honda Hero, and so long as you wear a helmet that’s ok.  No one else has to and no one even has to wear shoes.  It’s all ok and no one takes a blind bit of notice because it’s all they have, so it’s what they do.
Like Touch Rugby, getting about is all about anticipation, where will you go next and where do they want to go?  First in wins.  The critical thing here is that it’s expected.  It’s like trying to control a school of fish.  Impossible, so let them go.  If you swim into one you just get swallowed up, enveloped and disappear into the throng unnoticed.
Tolerance is the key.  We are meant to have it but we don’t.  If the Indian motoring fraternity didn’t have it then it would be the Khyber Pass conflict on every stretch of road, which oddly it isn’t.
When there is an accident, and of course there are plenty, lorries fold up or turn over, and people die, often.  Thousands of people gather round and argue as to who did what and when and whose fault it was  None of this is ever down to bad driving but just sheer numbers…of everything……Cars, bikes,  three wheeled Piaggio autos with 20 people crammed in, cows, bullocks, sheep and mopeds with gas canisters strapped to the sides, a modified motorcycle ridden by a man with no legs, and in one bizarre sighting a hog tied goat being taken astride a Honda Hero on its way to the Friday ritual slaughter along with the entire family.  So in other words chaos, but it’s the chaos theory that allows it to work.  Heaven forbid rules as that just would not work.
If it took the same amount of time for them to clear the road after an accident here in England it would create the mother of all jams and probable more deaths than there is now.  “Is that your tethered goat Stirling?”
In India they just use the other carriageway, with no one telling them.  Move a barrier and get on with it.  Job done.  Not saying it’s safe, clever or right but it keeps the traffic flowing, just perhaps not all in the same direction!
So, sat as I am in the back of my Renault Mahindra thing, with the God Ganesha on the dashboard, listening to jazz swaying in and out of the brightly decorated Lorries in the dark with no rear lights, missing dashing pedestrians trying to cross the unlit road, horns blaring and lights flashing, we can’t be doing more than 40 miles per hour surely.  The terror is real.  I should know but the speedo is not working so it’s just a guess. The feeling is surreal, almost apocalyptic, just no helicopters.  Or drugs, sadly!
India has far too many people in a relatively small space to have rigid rules and some might say too many people to have a democracy with or without rules, which oddly we Brits introduced at the heady time of the Raj.  So now India makes it up as it goes along.  It has to.  Like we are now in England.  What goes around comes around, apparently
This many people needs another system, or perhaps less Englishmen!