The Eiger’s North Face..

She’s a big thing, whitish at the top. And, at more than 3,400 metres, one could argue that the Eiger is difficult to miss.

Yet our driver, convinced that simply aiming in its general direction was a cunning precept, sat irresolute and harassed at a junction in Interlaken. ‘You know where it said “Buses Only” back there?’ chirruped Fat Paul, somewhat unhelpfully, as other motorists swore at us.

The challenge of finding this mountain, however, is appreciably dwarfed by the feat of actually scaling her. Since 1938, the year the Eiger’s north face was finally conquered, at least 64 climbers’ lives have been claimed. Do you think that Fat Paul ought to give her a whirl, then? Despite egregious abuses of carbohydrates?

 

The Eiger’s Ascent

Yes, this impassioned, determined man, never one to shirk a crampon-studded challenge, strode confidently into an office in the pretty town of Grindelwald. With a no-nonsense, peremptory wave of his hand, he laid out our daunting stratagem, proved he had packed some food…and emerged with some jolly expensive train tickets to the summit.

Still, it’s not every day one rides the Jungfraubahn to the highest railway station in Europe, feasting voraciously on vistas of the Bernese Oberland below. Through scenery constituting nirvana for outdoor enthusiasts, we rode higher and higher, overtaking mountain bikers and cows modelling bells on thick, leather neck-collars.

‘Passengers for the Top of Europe, change here,’ came an announcement in Kleine Scheidegg, and our yellow and green stripy train drew to a halt. ‘Little snack?’ suggested Fat Paul, deeming it propitious to opt for a little something in a café – just in case large somethings proved to be limited further on.

 

Touching The Void..

But, aboard our next train – a little red one – Fat Paul was not looking quite as peppy as usual. Was a menacing, dyspeptic ripsnorter brewing in his bowels? No, as the outside temperature plummeted to zero, I realised that the poor old pigeon was suffering from altitude sickness. ‘Breathtaking,’ he gasped at 3454m, and limped out of our carriage.

The longest glacier in Europe was at last within our reach. This was what we’d been waiting for, the majestic prize that justified the journey’s ineffable expense. ‘I think I’ll have a pie in the canteen,’ wheezed a querulous Fat Paul, making the most of the occasion. ‘I need a little sit-down while you play on the glacier.’

Now, last time I checked, pies are not medically recognised as a panacea for altitude sickness. And, alas, one can’t rely on fathomless stocks of steak and kidney in these beastly foreign climes. Thus, a despondent Fat Paul was last seen in the canteen queue, bewailing the absence of pies, but perking up at the sight of some pasta. In fact, genuflection wouldn’t be too strong a word, as his eyes alighted on this emergency dish. I think it may have saved his life..

Internet Dating Gone Mad..

The other evening I received a text message from a pal. It read: ‘Been on www.grannyslappers.co.uk? The lecturer from Putney is gonna get my knob asap.’

Well, I was touched at his evident warmth for this girl, a creature that he would no doubt run a mile in tight shoes for. In fact, wanting to know more about this turtledove to whom he’d plighted his troth, I set up a quick profile on the website immediately.

I hit “Return”, the browser refreshed and a phalanx of mature, discerning ladies filled the screen. What a smashing idea, I reflected, to cater for experienced, minxish women knowing what they’re looking for in a man – the Mrs. Robinsons of today, if you like, smouldering seductively in hold-ups and driving their soft-top motorcars.

 

Older women..

My pulse raced. Salaciously, as though truffling for treasure, I clicked the mouse…and a large fissure began to form, the proverbial knell of doom ringing out aloft. Seldom in the annals of heady adventure has the sweet aroma of sexual promise smelt more like stale urine. There, sitting before me, astride the catchy slogan of “An Easy Shag is a Granny Shag”, was an androgynous blonde carcass. Tut, I thought, and popped the kettle on.

Returning, I gloomily read a front-page testimonial – just while the tea brewed, you understand – written by Joan. ‘I’m 48 and Grannyslappers is a great place to meet guys who appreciate me,’ she stated. Call me cynical if you like, Joan, but if my chum’s intentions towards his infernal Putney lecturer are anything to go by, our definitions of appreciation may differ just a soupcon.

The best testimonial, however, was yet to come.

 

Love at First Sight

Before shutting down the PC for the day, I briefly found myself in insalubrious waters. In one window was www.plentymorefish.com, for naughty, open-minded  “fish”; in another lay www.fuckbook.com, a community platform for adults; and in yet another – www.colombiancupid.com – I found the mother lode. ‘Wow!’ Steven had written. ‘What an amazing feeling to find your soul mate just one continent away.’

Have a little think about that statement. Just imagine, for those of you in the UK, that within the eminently narrow confines of Asia’s breadth – yes, amongst a mere couple of billion people or so  – that somebody compatible could exist. Coo, Steve’s a pretty lucky chap, huh? I mean, what were the chances?

 

The Yellow Peril

But, guys, before you go ordering yourself a bride from www.chineselovelinks.com, why not see if you can order, I mean find, a girl round the corner? Need some help writing a great dating profile? Check out Marni’s blog – trust me, it’s worth reading if you’re a single guy uncomfortable with walking up to a random girl and saying, ‘Whatho, give me five minutes and I’ll be free for coffee.’

That, I’m afraid, is my final word on the minefield of online intimacy; I’ve come over all unnecessary and need a lie-down. Ooh, but hallo, what do we have here? “Www.analloverdating.com – the eighth deadly sin?” Oh, for goodness’ sake. Still, it ties in rather neatly with this news article on Sinead O’Connor..

I’ll Huff and I’ll Puff..

‘Nowadays the feeding has become a nightly spectacle,’ I had read in the Lonely Planet Brazil guide. All I had to do was reach the Santuário do Caraça.

The staff spoke no English when I arrived, and all the literature was in Portuguese. But I somehow gleaned that the fabled tray of food would be put out at 18.30 sharp. Would a maned wolf really emerge from the wild and trot up the steps for his dinner? It seemed improbable.

‘The wolves came last night at both 6.30 and 9, apparently,’ said David, a British émigré to Ontario. ‘But it rained a lot, so we missed them.’ We grabbed beers together from the monastery’s wonderful old stone refectory and headed out to the baronial balcony, where white colonial chairs afforded a view of the Parque Natural do Caraça.

 

Minas Gerais Region

Insects buzzed and rubbed their legs in a cacophony; white butterflies flitted hither and thither; and tourists sat chatting, deleting digital photos of the day’s hikes. On cue, the priest arrived with his tray.

Over a few years, he has lured the maned wolves to the church using food, and I was expecting a dignified, ceremonious air to accompany setting down the tray. However, with a slapdash toss – a mannerism perhaps more suited to an Italian barista – he let the tray clatter to the flagstones from a height of four feet.

The resounding echo held our attention; a few moments passed silently before conversation resumed. Twitchers among the group soon began enthusing once more about the host of unusual bird species found in this area.

 

What’s the time, Mr. Wolf?

‘I’m going for dinner … Yes, I’m giving up, too,’ the pessimistic wolf watchers soon murmured. It was as though they wanted a wolf to appear over a pre-prandial gin and tonic, but not too late to interfere with one’s half dozen Maldon rock oysters in Chardonnay vinegar.

Yet, to me, darkness seemed perfect. Fireflies winked luminous neon, flashing ethereally in the warm darkness as the Southern Cross appeared above the palms. Alert, slouching against the church door a few yards from the tray, I listened hard for the giveaway patter of a slinking nocturnal mammal.

I heard nothing. Like a furtive highwayman, he was simply there – a few feet away. A crack. The chicken bone snapped in the wolf’s powerful jaws as though it were kindling. I looked down at my bare feet, back at this magnificent specimen, and gulped.

 

I’ll Blow Your House Down..

His huge ears pricked and his gait remained nervous, unsure. Leading his body with his head, he crept stealthily to the steps before returning to the tray. Crunch! Another chicken bone disappeared. Unfazed by flash photography, he repeated the process perhaps ten or twelve times, his muscular haunches taut.

As silently as he’d arrived, the maned wolf – as big as a timber wolf – left his captive audience. Across the grass, past the parked cars, he skulked, disappearing beneath the southern sky whence he’d come. I was glad I’d come too, and pleased to leave again with toes uneaten..

Speaking Italian..

They’re a prickly lot, the Italians – like human fumaroles, their lava dormant until the opportunity of a dispute.

I mean, take a piffling molehill of an issue, add two Italians and a pinch of balmy weather, and watch the sparks fly. Shaken fists and waspish expressions soon crescendo through beetling eyebrows, unquenchable scuttling and white-hot yelps. I’d put it down to a lack of tea, myself.

Underscoring this over-excited Latin beefing, however, is a complex array of coded hand signals. Whereas a Brit may airily float a finger or two to emphasise a point, the Italians could conceivably converse meaningfully without opening their mouths at all. A Utopian notion, I know, but you’ve got about as much chance of halting an intransigent Italian in his tracks as you have of bump-starting an eighteen-wheeler uphill. But let’s look at what the hands are “saying”.

 

Italians’ Hands

Reading from left to right, Marco – the man women want, and men want to be – is toughly conveying that he’s going to break somebody’s arse. In the middle position is Alphonso, who, perhaps tiring of this photo shoot, has come up with nothing more inventive than simply saying ‘Fuck off.’

Emiliano, meanwhile, has played a blinder. He is indicating that I am a cornuto, that yes, I am here, but my wife is at home sleeping with somebody else. [N.B. This is extremely offensive in Italy, but worth remembering next time you’re feeling aggrieved down there. Try it on a taxi driver?]

Well, that’s the gilt-edged gist of the boys’ messages. Now let’s turn to the ladies, buoying the tone by indicating that they’ve collectively knitted socks for a nephew, prepared a tiramisu and pruned the San Giovese vines? I’m afraid not.

 

Bangkok Blowjob

 

Antonella, coyly covering her face, given that she’s an architect rather than a wastrel like the rest of them, is mimicking putting some paper into a box. ‘Succhiotto,’ she explains, as clear as mud, ‘it means a blowjob. I take your head and bring it down to my cock.’ Isn’t this an odd gesture for a woman to make, then? It reminds me of that old favourite: waking up in a Bangkok hotel room to find last night’s girl avariciously eyeing your knob. ‘Aah,’ I miss mine,’ she says, sorrowfully, her Adam’s apple bobbing rakishly.

Next up is the inimitable Lucia, deviating from character not a jot in also offering a blowjob. And then Marina is saying something like, ‘This is yummy. Come and get it.’ Incidentally, Marina has an array of tantalising symbols at the base of her spine – an ancient script that reads as though instructions, imploring the viewer to heartily investigate further, lower, deeper and harder. Unfortunately, however, what I’d deliberately misinterpreted as ‘Insert Here’ or ‘Bon Appetit’, does in fact read, ‘You have to live every single moment of your life.’ Lovely girl, but upset her and it’s advisable to start ducking as hurled crockery and poisoned darts wend their way through the Roman air.

Quickly rounding off – I’ve exceeded my preferred word count – Lorella is saying, ‘Skedaddle, you rotter,’ or, if you’d prefer a literal translation, ‘fuck off.’ And, last but not least, the radiant, pregnant Ramona is asking, ‘Are you crazy?’ Well, yes, I probably am, given the afternoon I’ve endured with these hussies..

 

 

 

Flatulence, Beans and Baking Soda..

How long have you got? If you’ve dropped by for only thirty seconds or so, shirking Excel spreadsheets or whatever it is that people who work for a living do at desks, then you may as well biff off again and come back later. This is a guest blog of epic proportions.

Coming in at a shade under 2000 words, it is indeed the trifle that brings home the bacon, but I’ll give you some advice before you start: pop the kettle on, treat yourself to a Custard Cream and sit down to what is effectively a short story rather than a blog. It’s written by “Dusky”, so-named because she’s one of those creatures hailing from a sand dune somewhere in the Middle East. Enjoy your cuppa and biscuit. Here it is:

I’m Dusky, and I have a friend–I’m not going to tell you his real name because I don’t want to embarrass him–who suffers from chronic flatulence. So when I was at his house the other day presented with the potentially dangerous task of preparing a luncheon of baked beans on toast for two, I was a tad nervous at the prospect of what said beans were going to do his already singsong digestive system…

So, in stepped my trusty goblet of bicarbonate of soda.

Now what, I hear you asking, do farts have to do with bicarbonate of soda? And how do baked beans feature in this strange equation? Well, let me tell you the story…

Myths and Magick

I was bored at home one day and decided to scan the shelves of my mother’s library of esoteric lore for something to read. One book immediately caught my eye. It was petite and angular, with a thin red spine that had the come-hither words “BAKING SODA” snaking up the side. Intrigued, I pulled it out and opened a page at random.

The first words that jumped out at me were so full of daring and promise that my hands started to tremble with excitement…Sandwiched between talk of how baking soda can be used to fluff up chocolate chip cookies or annihilate your garden’s ant population, was the claim that it can get rid of the flatulent quality of baked beans, promising wind-free bean consumption for all the family. Yes, even your Great Aunt Mildred who always blames it on the dog.

I felt like Ozymandias and that I had just been given an ancient tablet with some mysterious Atlantean prophecy scrawled on it. I was intrigued, so I read on…

Baking soda, it seems, really is just bursting with magical properties and can be used to make countless household goodies: drain cleaner, deodorant, playdough, bubble bath, organic pesticide and magic inflatable balloons… And these are only a handful of ways you can use the white powdery stuff. If nothing on this list tickles your fancy, fear not, for there are over five hundred more ways you can turn a dash of baking soda into Mary Poppins-inspired magic…

It wasn’t too long before my mind was reeling at the endless possibilities contained in a pinch of this humble substance. I shut the book and put it back on the shelf, its imprint etched firmly in my mind…

The Experiment

I soon forgot about this soul-stirring encounter until I was given the task of preparing the aforementioned baked bean lunch in an unassuming kitchen in East Sussex. I had never tried the supposedly foolproof baking soda/baked bean method before, and it seemed that the opportunity to find out whether it worked or not had presented itself to me on a proverbial silver platter.

Ideally, an experiment such as this should be carried out on someone with the melodious ability to produce wind and, by Jove, if I hadn’t found the perfect guinea pig for the job…

Beans for Two

The clock struck noon and lunch was served in the dining room. Soon Jules’ chompers were busily working away at masticating his Tesco brand baked beans on defrosted toast. “So you’ve added baking soda to the beans, then?” he asked me, in between mouthfuls. “Yes, to see if it really lives up to the claim of being able to remove their flatulent quality… If it works on you, well, then we can all continue to hold out on that pigs-will-fly desire each of us has buried away in our collective unconscious. It’s a primal, Jungian thing, I am told,” I said, patting Jules on the back.

We finished our meals and sat back and waited…

The Carol of the Birds

It didn’t take long for the snaps, crackles and pops to begin their melodic launch from Jules’ arse cheeks. “Maybe it takes a while to start working,” I said, slightly dismayed that my experiment was getting off to rather a bad start… There was a brief lull; all was quiet on the western front, and then more whistles, whizzes, fizzes, rips and ho-hums.

There were long ones, short ones, wet ones –even ones that sounded like there were several being pushed out of his bum at the same time. Music of the Spheres move over, you’ve met your heavenly match…

Speaking of heights…

Some of them came out with such force that it was a wonder he didn’t take off like a human airplane. “If we clear out a runway in your living room, I could power up your remote control helicopter and the two of you could go off in a convoy to France,” I quipped.

If Music Be The Food of Love, Play, Play On…

These farts had the astonishing ability to serenade you in every musical genre imaginable. There was the sweet song of crooning lovebirds, the earnest drama of arias being belted out by divas at La Scala and of course, the flatulent fanfare of a New Orleans brass band. Folks, this was musical diversity at its pinnacle and there wasn’t anyone there to enjoy it but me… I wanted to get Simon Cowell on the phone and yell, hurry up and bag him before someone else does! I mean, there are the Bob Dylans and Leona Lewises of this world, but here was someone in a class entirely by himself – a true virtuoso, a musical tour de force and a troubadour to be reckoned with…

Then there’s not forgetting the fado, madrigals, jazzy blues and barbershop quartets I was entertained with all afternoon – and that was just the matinee! At intermission there was an impromptu Gregorian chant concert followed by a smattering of forro tunes and in the evening things got dangerously raucous with a gassy coda of toe-tapping hootenanny followed by some 1960s folk ballads.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing, though, is that none of these farts–for all their musical diversity–seem to smell… In fact, the only types of farts missing from this encyclopaedic repertoire are SBDs and ones that my old school chum Helena used to refer to as “eggy diarrhoea farts”. “I can even do what girls do if I need to and discreetly pull apart my bum cheeks to let them out silently if I am in public,” Jules says with an impish grin.

What they lack in aromatic appeal they certainly make up for in tone, texture and dynamics…

Tilting At Windmills

I can see my name in lights now – Simon’s new go-to girl with the uncanny ability to sniff out new talent. But, more importantly, I can see Jules basking in the warm glow of mottled limelight. All the reviews singing his praises are so real that they are almost tangible to me. If I shut my eyes, I can just about make out the written words: … farts capable of hyperbole, of subtlety and of rich melodic nuance…

They have the ability to infuriate, to entertain, to wax poetic… They are at once complex and straightforward… something, something blah, blah, blah… gut-wrenchingly poignant… They are odourless yet full bodied and fruity…blah, blah, blah…A flirtatious interplay of deep, sonorous baritone sumptuously woven in with tremulous tenor notes and a soaring mezzo-soprano…blah, blah, blah dynamics, blah, blah, blah range…something, something, timbre…

I wake up, snapping out of my fanciful reverie, the harsh light of reality hitting me like a sledgehammer –alas, my experiment has f-f-failed.

Winding Down (Ooh, how’s that for a rhyme d’oueil-meets-double entendre…)

Daylight is dimming in the back garden casting a kindly golden gleam on the unwashed pots in the kitchen sink. We’ve had our tea and an After Eight mint and Jules’ arse is slowly but surely beginning to quiet down. A ripple here, a flourish there and a final “Bobby dazzler”*[see footnote] ends my experiment, which has been, well, a big fat failure…

I am feeling wistful and crestfallen and I have nothing but the sudsy dead soldiers of dirty cutlery to console me…Where did it all go wrong? Should I have used Heinz Baked Beans instead? Or was I just not liberal enough with the baking soda? The book did say sprinkle sparingly, and so sparingly I sprinkled, as nimble fingered as Rumpelstiltskin spinning straw into gold…

Look on my Works Ye Mighty and Despair

Maybe it was a mistake making a guinea pig out of a man who’s clearly cut out for a gold medal in the flatulence Olympics…? I mean, for him, to fart is to be alive and to be alive is to fart so baking soda or no baking soda, I should honour what New Agers call his “divinity”, that is, his prana and walk away from my defeat with my head held high.

I realise now that my experiment probably lacked the cold, strategic forethought required in most scientific undertakings, but in the light of my new life-affirming revelation does it really matter? The answer of course is no, and it is this that comforts me in the ashes of my failure.

What’s in a Name?

Now I’m sure you are all dying to know who this elusive friend of mine is. Well, mum’s the word, I’m afraid; this is a secret I shall be taking with me to the grave…

Oh all right, I’ll give you a couple of hints: he still listens to cassette tapes, plays the trombone and entertains quixotic fancies of being popular with womenfolk…

If you can guess the identity of “Jules” please submit all answers alon

Jules launching a wind-powered yacht

g with your full name, gender and address to dusky@falafel.com. The competition closes on the evening of the next full moon and the winner will receive a limited edition goblet of Baking Soda with a matching Witch’s Hat/Codpiece and Broom Set worth £150!

Gather Ye Rosebuds, or, So Long but not Farewell

Regular readers of this blog probably come here for their weekly dose of adventure, for the uplifting trucky ditty and for the protagonist’s mythic accounts of fast cars and fast women. The reason I subscribe to Barnaby’s blog of depravity, however, is for the lavatorial humour (how does he come up with some of these things?). His article on Dutch Animal Rodgering had me in stitches.

Yep, I’m like a chick with a dick and rather than recoiling girlishly and shrieking when someone lets rip a corker, I let out a delighted laugh instead. Farts are utterly hilarious as are, indeed, all other “crass” bodily functions… So if you are a girl reading this, why not, rather than wincing the next time someone unleashes a fart, embrace the moment with a boyish sense of joviality and laugh instead –go on, you owe it to yourself to at least try…

To those of you who’d been hoping for highbrow tales of cabbages and courtiers, apologies for being unable to indulge your loftier sensibilities by going down the farts and toilets route instead. Hopefully some invaluable lessons have been learned along the way regarding the use of bicarbonate of soda, this most multi-tasking of multi-taskers, and how you can apply its myriad uses to your own life.

* Slang for a fart that is raspy and tickles the anus when released.