Saturday, 20 August 2011

Christian Etiquette and Tramp Chow Mein

Today has been an experience. I've honestly had two of the most depressing episodes in my entire six month long ride. It's not your fault, so don't blame yourself. Just settle back and read this shite.

First of all, I'm sorry. I lied to you. I did it for the right reasons - for comic effect - but I was repaid double. Y'see, in my last post, I mentioned that I'd been to a Chinese in Zaragoza where, thanks to sloppy serving, I had three courses on my table at once, and that the meal had lasted 15 minutes. That wasn't exactly true. I only ever had two courses on my table at any one time, which is bad enough, and the meal lasted about 45 minutes, which is still fast food, but it's been beaten here in a cheap Chinese in Segovia, and in quite spectacular fashion.

Here's what I ordered: hot 'n' sour soup, Vietnamese spring rolls, and sizzling duck with plain rice. Oh, and a bottle of wine. The wine arrived first - good. Then the soup. Thirty seconds into the soup, after hearing the frazzling of the spring rolls from the kitchen, came those little Asian parcels. OK, maybe the two startery things come at once. The main course will obviously wait. But no, the rice was there within another 30 seconds, and then - Jesus! - the sizzling duck arrived another minute after that. So, for the record, four courses (if we count the rice as a course, which they did on the menu) on the table at once. Super!

The soup was alright - nothing special - but the Vietnamese rolls were burnt, as though they'd been napalmed, which seemed appropriate, and by the time I got to the sizzling duck it had become emulsified duck, and wasn't really duck - just duck fat - but let's not forget that this was cheap. And it needed to be cheap because, sorry Mum, I'm now a tramp.

Yes, shortly after I arrived in Segovia, I was accosted by three young South American girls who wanted to tell me that God loves me. That's nice, I thought, that He's singled me out. But they didn't mean that. He loves everyone, the slag. We had a theological discusssion where I explained that I really didn't think there was a need for God in our understanding of the universe, and that, to me, the word 'spiritual' was just a substitute for the word 'emotional'. We all got on. Belief obviously made them happy. I had no use for it. No one was converted but we both walked away with a respectful understanding of each other. No crusades were launched. No one was stoned to death. Lovely.

Then half an hour later, I came across another bunch of Christians, all singing and flag waving. As they marched through the main square, one of 'em made eye contact and came over. He explained that he was from New Zealand and had once found happiness in girls and beer and surfing - which sounds pretty ideal to me - but God has shown him that this was wrong, the tool, and that there was another way. Right, not really interested in this story but can you tell me why Christians keep picking on me and telling me that God loves me? He replied, and I quote, "Because you look a bit red and sunburnt and that you might be homeless, and living on the streets". Mmm, cheers. God loves me 'cos I look like a hobo. How depressing!

Sadly, as it turns out, I am homeless. My flat in Blackburn is rented out. The closest thing I have to a home at this moment is a tent. There's always my mum and dad's. But that cheeky, presumptous shite didn't know that. Anyway, let's not dwell on his delusion. Back to the Chinese.

My meal looked like it was going to last twenty minutes if that. Now, I think that if you're going to pay 20 or 30 quid for a meal it should at least last an hour and half. And so, if only to amuse myself, I decided that it would do. I sat there and waited, and the staff glared at me, like I was shitting on their favourite beige rug. I'd love to say that they were a Gang of Four, but there were only three of 'em. Now, I have a little notebook in which I write stuff down, things like where I've been or the answers to maths assignments. And it's red. You might even say that it's a Little Red Book. The obvious Communist connotations (which I'm hoping are obvious - if not, I'm sorry) got them thinking. Is he a Maoist spy perhaps? Mmm. (Yes, I am, but they didn't know that.)

Eventually, after half an hour of glaring, I decided to go for dessert. Unfortunately, the lead and only Spanish-speaking member of staff had popped out for some reason, leaving a fat-headed bint in charge. I asked, in Spanish, if she had any ice cream. "You want bill?" she replied. No, ice cream. "Bill?" No, ice cream. "Bill?" No. I checked with the only other occupied table, a young Spanish lass feeding her boyfriend, who had both his hands bandaged. Was I pronouncing 'ice cream' correctly in Spanish? Si! Eventually fathead brought the menu and I pointed. Sorted! And a brandy? "The bill?" No. A fuckin' brandy. "The bill?" So I walked to the bar and reached for the bottle. Ah, now she got it. The ice cream and brandy arrived and I tried my best attempt at 'thank you' in Mandarin, which sounds something like "shear she" and always raises a smile. Now we were friends. The glaring stopped. I was no longer shitting on their carpet. But I was still a dirty, smelly, disgusting tramp. Happy days!

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