Dear the Condor Ferries,
May I apologise most deeply and sincerely for what is about to follow. Although I may be a man with a righteous and genuine grievance, I am also British and therefore find these peculiar times that I must issue jeremiads tedious and wholly uncouth.
Sadly, such despicable situations do ‘crop up’, as it were, in one’s life and, for the sake of clarity and in order to live a fulfilling and meaningful existence without regret, complaints must be sparingly made, disregarding the temporary anguish they inflict on such bearers of bad tidings.
Thus, I must elucidate. My physician, a wise, learned and upstanding member of my local parish recently advised me, over several jeroboams, that I should take a reprieve from my occupation and remove myself to the seaside for a brief sojourn, in order to rebalance my ichors. At least that is what I ascertained from our symposium, several large bottles of wine make the mind and the mouth fuzzed and I took his announcement to infer that I should rest by the sea.
Being a knowledgeable and most trustworthy academic of the human physical condition I had no quarrel with the man’s medical directive to ‘go jump in the sea’ and forthwith booked myself on a week long hiatus to both the islands of Jersey and Guernsey.
I deliberated on my specific course of action for my adventures, and after much discourse with fellow tavern patrons and hansom cab men I decided to spend the lionshare of my time abroad in Jersey, and only taking a quick weekend punt to Guernsey, for many an honest, if sozzled mouth had briefed me that Guernsey is a toilet.
My stay on Jersey was by all account a pleasant and pleasurable experience.
I forayed into the deep and mysterious wilderness at the heart of the island, hoping to find fame and fortune in the enigmatic foreign fauna. I did indeed discover several members of a hereto unknown and forgotten tribe quite by accident when I stopped to purchase a beverage in a ‘Cost-Cutter’.
“Où est la piscine?” One of the wild men bellowed at me, his viscious visage contorted by his confused and cowed observation of my evolutionary advanced countenance.
Thankfully the hardy shop keep beat them away with a taxidermied trout, allowing me to keep my composure despite the outlandish circumstance.
As the nights moved in I would travail to the most exquisite and elegant chain eateries down in, what the locals rather exotically called, a ‘shopping mall’, where I experienced the culinary delights our brash cousins across the pond had to offer. The deep fried burger with lard fries was a culinary treat, if a digestive hand grenade.
On one memorable brisk day I wandered onto the seabed on the south east of the islet during lowtide, inhaling, as advised by my physician, of the bracing sea air, allowing the salty tart scent to fill my lungs. With a group of fellow intrepid explorers I surveyed and scavenged the eclectic land, filled with myriad gulley’s, rocky outcroppings and sand dunes, taking care not to disturb any antlions or Harryhausen crabs that may be lurking beneath the surface.
We traversed to a tower built into the middle of the ocean, originally wrought to warn and fend off the Gallic menace, although I also surmised that the most useless and irritating of island men were possibly sent to the tower, so as not to be a disturbance to the rest of the population come high tide.
Unfortunately I had a minor fracas with the tour guide after a rather frank and heated discussion about the merits of Australians.
“Rack off you bloody nobber.” Ejaculated the guide, leaving me stranded on the sand tides, my head embedded in an antlion’s nest.
By the time I had managed to extricate myself the sea was already rolling back in, and, much to my dismay, I had to make do with staying in the oceanic erection, watching forlornly as the waves crashed against the stones, sealing my fate in that tower. There wasn’t even a single French vessel in which to warn my fellow Jersey islanders against.
Despite my occasional, self-inflicted, setbacks my spell in Jersey was much appreciated, wondrously therapeutic, and not to mention a tale to tell my grandchildren.
However my blissful existence was spoilt by your seafaring enterprise and, subsequently, your liners. After a light breakfast of cockles, winkles and coca cola I made my way to the port, only to be met with a hubbub of misery. Hoards of fellow passengers crowded around counters, braying, bleating and demanding answers as to the location of their ferry.
Not one to become over excited in the presence of other people I took a pew and observed the crowds around me, feeling the crackling, suppressed British anger flowing through the ether. A timid and delicate elderly woman was sat beside me and as the hours passed we exchanged many a word and story.
Martha was a sweet woman, a mother to three children and no less than seven grandchildren. In fact she had eight. In her spring years Martha had fought for our country, became a nurse, won an Olympic silver for horse dancing and even now, as winter was cruelly encroaching on her life, she spent her free time rescuing cats from wheelie bins. To be with her was an honour and an underscore of shame on the miniscule achievements in my pitiful existence that I had previously been immensely proud of.
As Martha was about to surreptitiously explain to me the best way to make a Victoria sponge there was a crackle in the air, followed by a loud and embarrassed cough.
A portly, anxious man was standing with a speaker in hand, ready to address the angry, swelling crowd standing before him.
“Good morning everyone. Unfortunately I have some bad news for you. The ferry due to depart to Guernsey today has had to cancelled. Somebody, Frank.” With primitive anger he spat the name out, quite literally, spraying an unsuspecting child in front of him. “Managed to prang the exhaust. As such the ferry is being repaired at the moment.”
“GOD DAMN IT FRANK!” Bellowed an unseen person behind the counter.
The portly man nodded sagely before continuing.
“We’re currently rescheduling our fleet of vehicles to try and accommodate all of you. However this will take some time. As such the coffee counter is now free to all Condor passengers”
From behind us came a raucous yell of joy from the proprietor.
“And we’ll be bringing in sandwiches at lunch time for any of you that are still here.”
Unfortunately almost every word after ‘now free’ was lost to his captive audience, as they, like a single, obsessed being, sped with great haste to the beverage purveyor. I watched in dismay as the crowd surged like a living, destructive organism across the terminal. Anything in the way of the throbbing throng was swallowed up whole and hidden from view for several seconds, before reemerging behind the beast; buckled, bent and broken.
As I watched the large-scale leukocyte swarm across the room Martha laboriously clambered to her feet, her paper thin skin hands clutching at the chair arms. Before I knew or could even warn her against the idea she was off, darting away at an astonishing pace towards the coffee counter, using her zimmer frame like a bulldozer, toppling any man, woman or child that stood in her way.
An hour passed and I saw nothing of Martha. Not wanting to fear the worst I estimated that she had found an alternative route to Guernsey. As I sat there, waiting for your company to repatriate the various trawlers trawling the ocean I covertly observed one young, odd man in deep discussion with a shady looking character.
They talked for a few seconds before something passed furtively between their hands. From my vantage point I could see the young man transfer a cup of coffee to the salty individual. In return he was passed a small handful of circular objects. Being a man much travelled and knowledgeable of such things due to a stint I spent on a gambling vessel, I recognised them as peyote capsules.
Evidently bored by our current predicament, the adventurous youth had decided to ingest psychotropics to pass the time and I spent a large portion of my day watching him. His flailing limbs mimed climbing up and down something before acting out the performance of drinking, of which due to my experience with such things was easy to ascertain.
Time passed at an agreeable pace while I watched the youth, fascinated by his strange gyrations and occasional, garbled shouting. After a good twenty four hours the man began to ‘come down’, to use the modern vernacular, his thrashing limbs and glossolalia inspired speech becoming palliative.
The man with the tannoy spoke again, his face was bruised and bloody, I determined that either he had tried to purchase a hot drink, or possibly a customer had not accepted his vindications.
“Good afternoon everyone. Again we apologise for Frank and the delay in getting you all on your way. For those that are going to Guernsey, a ferry will be leaving in an hour, you are able to board now.”
A cadre of track-suited chaps bearing beers roared in chavvy elation, sloshing Special Brew over themselves.
I gathered my travelling satchel, trunk and haversack, pausing briefly to awaken the dopey eyed young man.
By the time we had finally traversed the harsh and unbecoming ocean, that tried it’s utmost to toss me over the side and into the murky depths below, I had to high tail it to the airport to catch my flight back to blessed blighty.
I also missed the rugby game, which displeases me greatly.
Neville Haley Esq.