The Night Crossing To Ireland…

Keeping up a blog is a damnable business. Periodically, I wonder if it’s worth it, but then I peruse my diary and see things like this:

‘Oh yeah, I’d shag anything,’ said Paul. ‘I’d fuck a snake if I could get hold of it.’ And I decide perhaps it is, after all.

Paul, standing outside the O2 Arena in Dublin and seemingly incapable of ennobling thoughts, soon moved on to a splendidly vocal harangue regarding a fat bird in the Production Office. ‘Cor, imagine tackling that,’ he spluttered. ‘You’d need a wheel brace.’ As he spoke, he’d used my flip-flop as an ashtray; flicking a burning butt between my toes must’ve been a shot in a million.

Ought these anecdotes to be recorded online before the diary ink fades, do you think? Of course there’s always the tale of the Masturbating Midget on the Madonna Tour if things ever got dull..

Breakfast Time?

Now, changing tack rather, if you boarded a ferry at 2.45 a.m., and it docked in Ireland at 6ish, when would you expect to wolf down a few kippers?

Would you hop into bed initially, prostrate and insensible for a couple of hours, looking forward upon waking to a cornucopian buffet of kedgerie, double bacon and lashings of Guatemalan coffee handpicked by virgins? No, this is Stena Line Freight we’re talking about.

If one would like to dine, it’s at 02.45 or not at all, apparently. Hearts of marble, these  accursed staff – not even talk of a doggie bag for the big three-kilometre drive after disembarkation.

And to compound matters, proper mugs were in short supply; a phalanx of oppressed, tyrannised truckers was making do with Styrofoam cups.

If this, dear reader, were not singular crackpottery enough, there was also Eminem rapping on the television, and the only reading material available was Truckstop News. Whoopee, I couldn’t wait to discover how the Volvo FH16 750Bhp was faring against the redoubtable new Scania. Christ, things were grim.

Unguarded, Smutty Talk

Mouth drooping dolorously, I headed down to the freighter’s overheated bunkroom – to escape the madness as much as needing forty winks. ‘Hurry up and lie down, Number One,’ said Number Two, immediately blighting the tranquility. ‘I want to get up top.’

He planted a foot on my lower bunk, grappled a little and sighed wistfully. Noticing Number Two’s foundering, my colleague Colin expounded helpfully: ‘I put my wallet on the floor and used it as a trampoline.’

So there we all were – eventually – tucked up like servicemen. Naturally, conversation became a little blokey, scabrous and unguarded. Would you like a smattering? Very well:

‘I can’t get a smile out of that fat bird in the office, you know.’

‘You mean the dump truck with the hair?’

‘That’s cos she wants it straight up the mud ‘ole,’ interjected Colin.

‘Colin, I fail to see the correlation,’ I said, wondering if Eminem’s rap-off in 8 Mile might actually have been the safer bet after all. At least there had been Kim Basinger to look at. Goodness, she’s lovely.

‘She’s an accident waiting to happen,’ continued a disembodied voice in the darkness, bringing me markedly back to reality. ‘You’d have to do a risk assessment before getting in her drawers.’

‘Do her trucker style..’

‘What, cover her in fifth wheel grease and jack her up a bit?’

And you wonder why commercial drivers sometimes remain in their trucks on the ferry’s car deck whilst sailing? It’s naughty (and dangerous) but probably worth it for the peace and quiet..

A Dorset Dinosaur?..

 

If you happen to be passing Lyme Regis in Dorset, pop into The Fossil Shop for a journey back in time. From behind a replica shark jaw – replete with real, 250-million-year-old Florida shark teeth – emerges a shopkeeper. ‘All right?’ he asks cordially, and proceeds to explain how the fossils are created.

‘The word ammonite comes from the Greek for ram’s horn,’ he begins, as I warm to the theme. ‘The shell is like a diver’s buoyancy jacket, but when the animals die, they lie on their side.’ He demonstrates with a plastic sea creature, its tail curled into a spiral.

As the layers of sediment gradually cover it, the weight crushes the soft shell, leaving a perfect specimen. He briefly digresses into stupid tourists being rescued from the coast, up to their necks in mudslides. ‘Idiots,’ I nod knowledgably, glad that I’d washed off the mud and changed my jeans.

 

Fearsome Predator

On the wall, a newspaper clipping tells of a recent find here: a 60ft long pliosaur, with a bite four times more powerful than a T-Rex. It is the biggest-ever sea killer found on a UK beach.

‘They reckon there’s a hole in the seabed down at Portland Bill,’ continues my newfound friend in The Fossil Shop. ‘It’s probably full of ammonites, but it’s too dangerous to get them out.’ Well, I think I’ll head down there then, for a look. ‘Have a crab sandwich for me,’ he chirrups.

En-route I have cause for an emergency stop. Sarah, a 22-year-old photographer, is sitting on the road at a bus stop, looking a little forlorn. Her feet hurt, which is hardly surprising as she walked 29 miles of the South West Coast Path yesterday. I don’t really like to mention the paltry seven I managed, but then I seriously doubt whether she almost vanished into quicksand. Anyway, without applying the handbrake, I open the passenger door and leer with wanton perversion. ‘Need a lift?’

Another Fearsome Predator

Cor, her feet must really be sore, because she tosses her rucksack into the rear seat and climbs in next to me. Are girls supposed to accept rides from strangers nowadays? Well, as it turns out, Sarah is the perfect girl to buy lunch – she doesn’t want any. (No doubt my father would say she needs slapping as a result.) Nibbling on a meagre flapjack, she gazes out to sea while I cram in a rather good crab sandwich, savouring each delectable morsel.

Exploring the rocks by the lighthouse, it feels like the end of the earth here – the calm before the storm, if you like. Well, the storm soon comes. Half an hour later, the car runs out of water and grinds to a halt in Asda, Weymouth.

 

‘It’s the only Asda in Dorset,’ says a supermarket shelf-stacker when I ask for an address to give the AA. Well, let’s hope those directions are enough, then. Oh, and I never did find that swirling vortex at Portland Bill. I shall have to come back to this gorgeous part of Britain another time..

[Photos courtesy of Lawrie Cate and myDefinition]