By: Marty Leipzig Re: Well, since some of you asked... Hello, gang. If for no reason other
By: Marty Leipzig
Re: Well, since *some* of you asked...
If for no reason other than the fact that Marilyn thinks
that I can relate a good tale and that Gwen asked, I
thought I'd recount a small tale of whimsy that evolved
whilst I was completing my last contract over in the area
now (at least today) referred to as the FSU.
It seems that I was returning from a contractual stint over
in the 'Stans (Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kazhakstan...),
with a small layover in Ulaan Bataar to visit some
friends (which in itself is quite another story...), when
I suddenly and quite unexpectedly was being brusquely
awakened by a BA (British Airways) cabin attendant asking
me to "Put out that damned cigar, you're scaring the folks
in first class." Shaking off the cobwebs, I politely asked
her what day this was.
"Well, dearie. Where are you coming from?"
Not wishing to point out her dangling participle, nor
exacerbate my hangover, I replied "Tashkent...although
that was on a Tuesday."
"Oh, dear.", she replied. "Today is Saturday, and we're
coming into Heathrow. You're not British, are you?"
Suppressing the desire to inquire how she could have
possibly arrived at that obvious conclusion (I guess the
Dockers and the size 15 mud-caked Vasque Trekker
fieldboots now blocking the Business Class aisle confused
her...), I politely asked for (a.) a landing pass, (b.)
a customs declaration, (c.) a fresh microglacier for my
drink and (d.) anything (but scotch) with alcohol in it.
She complied with all but the latter. After landing, I
swore I would either buy her a real drink or throttle her.
Luckily, (for all concerned) her brother was a hackney
driver who needed the fare from Heathrow to Gatwick (75
fucking pounds!) and she was going home; of course, in
that general direction. She explained that she would be
glad to split the fare.
"Of course," she explained, "I'd be glad to split the
fare.", "Oh, by the by, who did you say you were working
"Globalenvirodecimate Energy, Inc.."
"Oh, bonzers! Then you're on per diem. Great! I can see
the folks for free!"
Unfortunately, England's views on unpremeditated murder
are as silly as our's in the US.
She hailed her sibling, and after much swearing and
cajoling, we loaded the GIS station, Worden gravimeter,
my Cirris station, enviropack and my personal effects
("liquid assets", don'tchaknow...wink, wink, nudge,
nudge) into an ancient, wheezing Bentley and headed off
on the M5.
Taking particular note of the "No fuckin' smokin', mate"
signs liberally plastered all over the passenger
compartment of his vehicle, I immediately sparked up a
fine Turkmenistanian double maduro. "Look, mate. I ain't
going to argue...(Watch out for that fucking lorry!!!),
but do keep the ashes off the seat."
Of course, of course.
I am nothing if not cordial.
With only a few near death experiences and a boil-over
outside of Cockfosters, we arrived at the Gatwick Hilton.
"Blimey!" remarks our driver, "What a bloody fucking
nightmare that was!"
I couldn't agree more.
With considerable help of both sib and sibling, I get my
room booked, get a porter (who later complained of mud
poisoning and the excessive cheapness of Yanks), I
flopped into a real room, with real walls (not goat skins
stretched over poles!) and real running water!
Looking forward to an extended period of extensive liver
abuse and eating of room service on someone else's
ticket, the blinkering room phone rings.
"Who the bloody hell can that be?" (I've been in country
too long.) "No one knows even I'm here." I mused,
"'ello, mate. This is Cynt'ia. My brot'er and I are over
at the 'orse and Groom. You said that if we were ever in
the neig'borhood, to call; and well, 'ere we are!"
Come to find out, Cynt'ia and her brother Basil (I am NOT
making this up!) were over at one of my favorite pubs
right across the motorway from Gatwick; and Cynthia
(bless her little synapses) has a most astounding, (and
inconvenient) memory. I did say that if you were ever in
the neighborhood and had a few spare minutes, to look me
Of course, I really did not intend for them to do it that
Trying to beg off claiming excessive work, sleep
deprivation and severe alcohol poisoning; proved rather
ineffectual. "Oh, come on, Yank! 'Smatter, a little too
much Clan McFiddich the previous night?"
Those were _fighting_ words.
Especially to one accustomed to the finer things in life,
We hacked our way over to the Horse and Groom, but I made
it quite plain that I had to file a report and expense
account before I could indulge in the heady repasts of
"Bring the bloody thing with, it's got a battery, dinit?"
How could I argue with such logic? Remember, these isles
spawned Darwin, Churchill and Monty Python.
So, I sallied forth into the Horse and Groom, sporting a
new shirt, new Dockers, a clean pair of Reeboks, my
Pentium ("Correct at least 99.556432% of the time.")
laptop, and a desire to kill off as many weak brain cells
The night started off (hell...it's already midnight in
Tashkent...) with a rouser of "Bring the boys back home"
and pub darts. Luckily, my grim visage of 25 stone,
imported, dark and nasty cigar, and total envelopment
into a small computer surpassed their glance.
At least for a while.
"Blimey, mate. What thell you lookin' at?"
"Oh, nothing, really. I just filed an outrageous, and
totally fallacious, expense account and happened upon an
old "HolySmoke" file that I didn't delete before I
"'olySmoke? What the bloody 'ell is that?"
"Oh, that's right. You still live in the dark ages..."
I'm nothing if not a spokesman.
So, (to the cajoling of all present ...and the promise
of drinks to come...), pulled up the file
"HolySmok.TU2", circa December.
We tittered over David Rice.
We chortled over Mratin Glodbreg.
We thought Dan Ceppa had too much time on his hands.
We hooted over Hector Plasmic.
We laughed out loud over Phil Morrison.
We goat-damned wet ourselves over Michael Hardy.
We shook our collective heads over John Prewett.
We thought that Arthur Beile should be committed
Amazing how truth transcends time barriers..
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank