Ferry Cross The Biscay
The infamous Bay Of Biscay, which was so often a turbulent grey soup, turned out to be a placid aquamarine mill pond. As blue as the Carribean sea and with an air temperature to match.
On deck of the Brittany ferry Galicia, Paul looked towards the picturesque and ever diminishing port of Santander and wiped away a maudlin tear.
He blamed it on the cheap lager, but he knew deep down that he was just very bad at Adios. Goodbyes to him had never come easy. It was an over sentimentality he had inherited from his late father – and quite a number of his experiences lately had proved to be just that.
As the boat edged out of the harbour he felt himself edge away from the life he had known for more than a decade , after all, he and Andrew, The Lola Boys, were heading in a different direction. Although they would, no doubt return to Espana soon -ish, it was time for new challenges. Neither of them had plans to get trapped in the alcafrolics on the Costa – besides they’d been there – done that. They were not quite ready to let that infamous undertaker Señor Larios send them to an early grave – not quite yet!
Poor Lola had been forced to bed down with the other pooches in the kennels area of the vessel AND wear a muzzle whilst traversing the public areas on board. She was not best pleased. The boys thought the facial furniture slightly ridiculous – ‘Hannibal Lola’ sprang to mind. But she had been known to draw blood if she came across a complete twat. And one never knew who was lurking on the Starboard bow.
Actually it was the port side of the boat which was to prove to be the most mutinous.
After meeting a charming bunch of blokes, one of whom had offered Paul his trendy hoodie to wear as the evening chill set in, Paul and Andrew had partied much harder than they had intended. Beer and banter abounded as the boys headed towards The English Channel. Unfortunately one of their crew was more than a bit strange. He’d interrogated the group individually and managed to clear the table one by one. Eventually it was only he, Andrew and Paul remaining. After the dickhead and Andrew had a stand up row due to a bout of homophobia they also took their leave. The man had gone completely overboard. He was quite lucky he didn’t literally go the same way as Andrew was fuming. Paul sat and observed. The idiot hadn’t really pressed his buttons, he was quite used to fools like him being a touch more visible than his partner. He felt only pity. However, he was most pleased he didn’t bump into the git on deck the next morning. He was far less patient A.M. sans lubrication.
When the boys met up again with the friendly bunch from the night before, they learnt that they had also told the ignoramus to fuck off. It appeared he hadn’t made any shipmates during the crossing. Serve him right for being so shallow and going off the deep end! It was almost shocking that such Trumpian idiots were allowed out on the public decks – but only almost.
In the middle of the night Paul went to visit Lola in her lodgings. He saw at once that there were no other dogs in the kennels and no-one was walking a pooch in the exercise area either. That was it – he thought it most unfair that Lola was the only Pom in the canine village. He smuggled her down to he and Andrew’s cabin and she spent an illicit night under the bed on her special blanket.
Early in the morning there had been a rat-a-tat-tat on the door. The flouncy Frenchman who had been utterly charming when they boarded, stood on the other side with a bright red face.
‘Do you ‘ave your dog in your cabin?’ he raged in Napoleonic fashion.
‘Oui’, said Paul, attempting some cross-channel charm, realising swiftly that lying was out of the question as Lola was standing behind him bidding an enthusiastic Bon Matin to her angry Gallic visitor.
’Take ‘er up – Now!’ Barked monsieur.
Paul did as he was told.
He knew he and Andrew were in the doghouse!
He met the Frenchman later the following afternoon and apologised profusely for letting the dog out of the bag. He was met with a smile only a frenchman could get away with and then a doey-eyed,
’Sank you for apologising. It is just that my colleague went to ze kennells and saw there was no dogs there at all – I ‘ad to make a point.’
‘I quite understand’ said Paul smarmily, hoping to avoid a petit fine.
The two smiled at one another on the staircase and there may have been a secret look they shared, which Paul suspected meant the curious incident of the dog in the nighttime would remain just between them. Sometimes there was a certain advantage to being part of the gay mafia. There were definitely some plusses as long as one didn’t wake to find a horses head on the pillow.
Although at times even that could be fun!
The boys reached England on an early June evening. The sun was shining and as they drove through the countryside the whole place smelt of a country garden. It felt good to be back. Natural. Apart from having the steering wheel on the wrong side of the car! It was now time to channel their English.
They pulled up outside Paul’s mum’s charming little house in Brighton with their quite epic journey nearly at an end. All they had to do now was empty the automobile, sell it, self isolate and find somewhere to get their jabs. It didn’t seem that big a list.
A new adventure was about to begin.
Paul went to bed with a sense of excitement, dread and weariness. He knew he really had no real idea what was around the corner but it was great to be amongst family – even if he wasn’t meant to go near them!
He and Andrew hit the pillow and readied themselves, or perhaps steadied themselves, for the ten days of quarantine which lay ahead.
Freedom was not to be theirs – not quite yet.
But hey, in the weird Covid world in which they were now living, they had done it all before.
And with mum’s bijoux garden beckoning and bathed in June sunshine, they knew it could be so much worse!
They had to learn to walk upon England’s mountains green once again.
It was ’School Brittania’!
Well, for one term at least.
And then ……