Monday 22nd December 2014. Week 183. Portugal
Upsetting the natives.
One possible downside of camp-site life is that you can't always pick your neighbours. Normally this isn’t an issue, in high season they, or you, are gone after a few days and in low season they're apt to be Dutch octogenarians who are tucked up in bed by 9 pm.
Couple of days ago, a British caravan parked next to us. Why, on a site that’s this empty, they took that pitch and not one that afforded them, and us, some privacy, shall remain a mystery. Until yesterday I'd not met them, then, while faffing around filling something that needed filling, I spied a chap peering through the bushes at me.
“Hello” he said cheerfully. I returned the greeting and a conversation ensued. His wife meandered over followed by their two dogs.
“Where are you from” I asked.
“Arm ferm Essex, an he's ferm up-norf”, the wife announced with a giggle. Being one quarter cockney I didn't need an interpreter. Now, I can't help thinking that some Essex people, much like some Liverpudlians I've met, and I mean no disrespect to any of them, (This isn't going to end well. Ed) seem, how shall I put it? Well, a tad larger than life. A few seem to bask in the unearned reputation, that they've been gifted with a natural comedic talent. This lady was about to proved that point.
Its just your average beach around here
Her dogs were cocker spaniels. Dogs, I've always thought, that have a wonderful temperament. You can leave them in a room full of annoying toddlers safe in the knowledge none will get eaten. They came up wagging their tails so violently their rear ends wagged frantically. That's how pleased they were to see me, a total stranger.
She explained her dogs required a sedative for the boat trip over. Why they needed a chill pill I don’t know. I wasn't really listening. She started to demonstrate, through the art of mime, how her dogs behaved after taking said medication.
“It was like, they'd just smoked a joint”. -Clearly she thought this was an experience I was familiar with- She then adopted the persona of a dog on drugs. Now, if you are going to play a dog on drugs, which has the potential to be almost amusing, you should have a witty line of two, else it won't work. Something, perhaps, along the lines of “Hey dude, I'm smoking and I ain't even a frekin Beagle”. She, however, appeared only to substitute the dogs personality with her own, that of an older women from Essex who had just smoked a spliff. This act might go down very well at the Ford Escort owners club in Basildon (Ouch!.Ed) but unfortunately it was just a tad embarrassing.
As we stood talking a cat took up position on a distant wall. From its vantage point it gazed down contemptuously at the dogs.
“I hope that cat keeps it's distance” She said.
“Really” I asked. “Why?”.
“Oh! these two will have it in a flash”.
“Really” I said, looking down at them. “They looked pretty chilled out to me”.
“Don't you believe it. If it gets too close. they'll kill it, stone dead” she said, drawing a finger across her throat. “As a Dodo” she added for extra gravitas.
I was tempted to point out it was almost certainly a feral cat. And as such, was more than capable of taking on her dogs and probably her at the same time, but decided against it. I looked down at my feet. The two dogs lay on their backs, legs akimbo, big floppy ears spread out, and tails wagging. I couldn't help but wonder if they knew just how dangerous they were supposed to be.
(Well that's managed to upset half the country. Ed)