Chapter Number 26
Another week has just shot by. Dave, the builder, with his small team of decorators are steaming ahead and making good progress putting the place to rights, in between dodging the students working on their projects in the three bedrooms.
On Tuesday I had a visit from a county-wide tourist association. They want to include me on their web-search pages for guest houses and hotels in the area. At only £25 for the first year, it seems worth a try. The woman left me a questionnaire to fill in so I could describe my property, with the idea being that people looking for accommodation can put in their exact requirements and the establishments that best match them will be listed first. The questions were easy to answer, just a series of check boxes, although some were a bit vague as to the interpretation.
Do you have en-suites? Well, I do have some so I ticked yes.
Do you have car parking? Actually I donít have any personally, but then there are the car parks only two streets away, so I really had to tick yes to this as well.
Do you have internet access? Really only on my own computer in the bedroom, so strictly I do, therefore this also really had to be a yes.
Do you provide evening meals? I could run down to the fish and chip shop if I really wanted a booking, so it was yes to this as well.
Do you have a bar? I had to say yes to this too, although itís just not available to guests. Being at the bottom of my kitchen cupboard it's there in case any friends drop round.
Do you have facilities for children? This was a bit tricky, but if I bought one of those plastic blow-up paddling pools I could get it out of the box and put in the yard should anyone ever ask for facilities, and there are plenty of books around to put on a dining room chair to make the seat higher, so it was a yes to this one also.
Tick your main customer base it asked, providing selections for: older people, younger people, children, gay, gay friendly, straight, mixed and so on. It was a yes to all these too! Just a no to the stag and hen parties.
Are you close to public transport? An easy one. Itís only a short walk to the bus stop and station - twenty minutes, if youíre fit, would cover it fine - so another yes.
In fact by the time I came to the end of the questionnaire there were 83 ticks for yes and just two for no. I think this should put me first on any search someone might do on their site. Completed, I bunged into the post-box. They even provided the free stamped envelope.
The students continued to come and go, doing their own thing. Dave agreed that if I wanted to go away for a few days he would look after them for me by locking up once they left in the afternoons and opening up the following mornings. He was around all day and knew the property, and all about the alarm system, so a quick amendment to the Fire Risk Assessment to include him left me free to visit some acquaintances in Scotland for a few days.
Dave and Doug retired into a huge old mobile home some years ago. One they had cleverly disguised as a bungalow by digging trenches into which to sink the wheels. In earlier days they had run their own hotel in Glasgow where all the guests were expected to make-up their own rooms and cook their own breakfasts. Apparently they were very successful with it, eventually selling it in order to breed camels in the highlands.
Their thinking was that, apart from the meat, they could also sell the camel hair to the rag trade to make coats with, and the hides to shoe manufacturers. At one point they had over thirty of the beasts in a huge barn. They were mostly imported from Mongolia and Russia, so were well at home in the lower temperatures of Scotland.
This turned out to be a short lived venture. The meat content in older camels tends to be tough and not very tasty, and in younger camels it is a bit like course beef. The cut of meat also determines its tenderness, with the hump being considered a delicacy. That is eaten raw whilst still warm, but after it cools down it is boiled before being eaten. However despite many weeks of attempting to get the butchers and restaurants to purchase any volume, the results were poor. The camel riding lessons had also attracted little response.
Breeding also became a particular nightmare for them as the courting and mating can be very violent. If the male selects a female and she is not willing to go down quietly when he approaches her, he will bite at her neck and eventually roughly force her to the ground. There the female utters her guttural protest, while the male first straddles her and then gently slides down until he is squatting on his back legs. Copulation lasts for about 15 minutes and is accompanied by much gurgling and grunting.
The male is normally docile and easily controlled, however in the rutting season he can become so aggressive that he is dangerous and cannot be handled. Not dissimilar to our own species really! He is extremely restless, and his lips are often covered with saliva. The glands between the ears secrete a dark, bad-smelling, watery secretion. This area is constantly rubbed against all objects in the surroundings, including grass mounds. The back legs are spread, and the tail is then beaten against the penis. Drops of urine are deposited on the tail and spread over the back, until eventually the hindquarters have a strong urine odour.
The rutting males readily attack each other, and so timid males soon learn to keep away from the territory staked out by more aggressive males. Now this was a particular problem for Dave and Doug, especially at nights when trying to round them up to get them into the barn for their meal of chopped hay and stray. So, after finding them homes in various zoos around the country and filling their freezers to maximum with the best cuts of meat, they abandoned the venture in favour of breeding pedigree cats - eventually selling up, yet again, on their retirement. Now they exist solely by buying the odd car and selling it on eBay, after Doug has rewired it - a bit of a fetish he has always had.
It was a change to get
away from Southtrend for a few days, especially as it is now so quiet for
business. In fact, it is so quiet that, as one of the effects of living
such a boring, solitary existence where nothing ever happens now, I have
decided for a while to only write my diary every fortnight. I hope this
decision isn't greatly distressing to my number one fan: a lighting
engineer in one of the most famous theatres in the country, and someone of
whom I have the greatest respect. Given the height of the theatre, and the
many light bulbs that obviously need constantly changing, his steps must
be absolutely huge!
Click to return to
House home page.