I’ve just got back from my Christmas holiday in Barbados.
The flight was OK, but every time I got up to walk up and down the aisle, to avoid the airline’s Christmas Special Festive Gift of deep vein thrombosis,(or having a heart attack, after the guy sitting next to my £1000 special economy fare seat told me he had paid £25 for his ticket) I was followed by the entire cabin crew, carrying handcuffs, 200 feet of restraining tape, and Christmas stockings full of sand. I’m telling you the chances of me getting to sit on the Captain’s knee in the cockpit were next to zero. Next time I think I’ll put them at their ease by calling for the police at check-in and telling them I think I am being followed by invisible little green men who are trying to kill me. At least that way I will get a police escort to the plane and probably an upgrade to first.
I was staying in Barbados as the guest of my friend Harry at his beautiful 17th Century Plantation House set in 10 acres on a cliff overlooking the Ocean, and it was at least three days before I set fire to it.
I had been relaxing before dinner on the veranda outside my room, reading George Stephanopoulos’s brilliant insiders view of Clinton’s first term. (‘He lied to ME! George! I could not believe it!.’) Suddenly a huge firework display went whooosh! I looked out to sea… there were no fireworks…nothing. I turned round… my room was on fire! I dashed in …there were two feet flames coming from the dressing table where I had lit the mosquito coil ten minutes earlier.
I didn’t know that it was an electric one. I couldn’t find a fire extinguisher, so I filled two teacups with water, and emptied them on to the flames. As I looked down at the sodden wreckage of my dressing table and the burn mark in the carpet, I immediately knew what I had to do. I had to COVER IT UP! and blame it on the next guests!
I tried dragging the bed over to the burn mark but it was too heavy and I couldn’t get the dressing table into my carry- on bag. I briefly thought of trying to convince Harry that the shattered glass top and burnt dressing table could easily pass for a new artwork by Damien, but decided it would probably remind him of an entirely different Damien.
“Excuse me, Harry,” I said, “have you got a second? I am afraid I’ve had a small accident.You know that mosquito thing in my room?” I asked
“I lit it.”
” Peter, you don’t light it, you plug it in. That’s why it has a cord with a plug on it going into the socket in the wall.”
“Yes, I know that now Harry,” I said.”
He took it very well. For the rest of the holiday it was ” Hang on to your matches, here comes Peter the Pyromaniac!”
One day I went with the guys to do some bodysurfing and bumped into the Scarlet Pimpernel at the beach. Richard E Grant wore an all black wetsuit from the House of Dracula Beachwear collection . He looked forlorn.
“Waaaasup, Rich E?” I asked.
“I didn’t want to leave my car keys on the beach whilst doing my surfing thing, so I put them in my pocket ” he explained. “But unfortunately they’ve fallen into the water.”
We offered him a lift back to his hotel. “Are you an all male household?” he asked, looking at the 8 of us. We ranged from 18 to 58 in age.” Certainly not!” we chorused in a deep baritone,assuming various manly rugby- player- types poses.(Some of us even tried to form a scrum… not a great idea.)
” I’ve been a married man for over 25 years,” one of our group said “and have two grown up children.”
“Hollywood isn’t a glamorous life,” I said later, expanding on my ‘Life isn’t Hollywood, Life is Cricklewood Theory of Wishful Thinking and Extreme Envy’, “he’s clearly a lonely guy who hangs out at the beach every day, giving strangers the old’ I’ve lost my keys’ story.”
At the Cave Shepherd Mall in Holetown I bought some wine from Elvis Sobers. Elvis was the Wines of Barbados expert. He gave me his home number..insisting I called to say if his recommendation, the Brian Lara New Century Red was OK. ” Remember, Elvis Sobers is the expert, man!”
At the checkout I bumped into Father Xmas,all six feet six inches and 300 pounds of him. I’d caught him red handed buying his presents for the kids… Randy Ward was moonlighting from his other night job, as car valet/ security guy at the Cliff restaurant.(A Fine Dining in Barbados tip: NOT a good idea to book a table for ten here and fail to show up.) He crushed my hand in his.”Remember,you never saw me here..OK?” he rasped, pulling his beard to one side.as he stuck his American Express card back in the pocket of his huge pair of red trousers.
The next day, at the beach, someone said” Peter, what’s happened to your leg?” I looked down. It looked like someone had shaved all the hair off one side of my normally very hairy leg. Could a bald burglar have crept into my bedroom in the night and shaved my right leg as I slept? It didn’t sound likely to me; I was sure I would have woken up as he squirted the shaving foam and lathered me up. I am a light sleeper. And, anyway, how many bald burglars could there be in Barbados who were short of the readies for a dread transplant, or hadn’t got Elton John’s home number on them? So, had I suffered a sudden massive attack of alopecia on the plane, brought on by the shock of 1) being refused an upgrade, 2) realising I had paid £975 more for my ticket than the guy in the next seat? Or 3) not being allowed to sit on the Captain’s lap ? Whatever the reason, I decided to sue BA for causing me huge embarrassment on the beach . But first I needed an expert witness to support my case in court. I picked up the phone. “Yes.. The Lara Red was really terrific….tell me Elvis.. do you happen to know anything about alopecia?”
COPYRIGHT.Peter Rosengard for Rosengardworld2001
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