Triumphs of Marketing – Love Potion Number 9

Love Potion Number 9 - It might be beetroot juice...

Love Potion Number 9 – It might be beetroot juice…

So there you are with your new date, the lights are low, music is playing softly in the background, you’ve showered, made sure that your underwear isn’t falling apart and any unsightly sprouting pubic hair has been dealt with. The only thing remaining to do is to seduce your partner into playing ‘Hide the Sausage’. Alas good manners dictate that you can’t come straight out with a crude statement of intent (Unless you live in Cardiff of course) so to make sure that your hoped for nocturnal gymnastics take place you have prepared some ‘Luuurrrrve-food’.

“Have some asparagus,” you say coaxingly. “I’ve rubbed some garlic on it.”

What could possibly go wrong?

Well, everything really, not least that your partner who was previously quite keen on you is now confronted with a glint-eyed lunatic who is trying to force-feed them vegetables. It’s not the time and place you see. In fact the time and the place when asparagus innuendo might have worked was England in the 17th century, whereas today Champagne and chocolates would be much more likely to get the pair of you uninhibitedly swapping body fluids.

This is because chocolate is seen in western society to be a mild aphrodisiac, although there is actually no evidence that chocolate physically makes people feel any sexier – what happens is that the idea of chocolate being an aphrodisiac convinces people that it is. It’s a classic case of mind over matter, and this trick of the mind where something works because you think that it will has been going on for at least the last 2,000 years.

"So he gives me some asparagus wiv garlic on it and I'm like: ARE YOU YOUR NUT MATE? Sheesh..."

“So he gives me some asparagus wiv garlic on it and I’m like: ARE YOU OFF YOUR NUT MATE? Sheesh…”

Avocado was the Viagra of the Aztecs who rather charmingly called the tree that it grew on ‘The Testicle Tree’. And avocado remained so entwined with cardinal sin that it was later banned in Spain during the middle ages for being too obcene. Other foods thought to have the ‘it’ factor in the past include cherries, bananas (well they would, wouldn’t they) brazil nuts, almonds, lettuce, figs, ginger and oysters.

Now sex sells, and getting your food product to be thought of as an aid to getting laid is pretty much the marketing executive’s holy grail. The problem of course is that you can’t claim that it works when patently it doesn’t.

However at least two companies have managed it.

The first is the brewer Guinness, whose bottled beer is thought in parts of Africa to give a feeling of sexiness to women and virility to men. How this idea came about is unknown, but as someone who enjoys their product I can state that it works quite well providing that both partners have drunk enough of the stuff and not fallen asleep or been arrested before they’ve found an accommodating bus shelter.

As an aside White Lightning cider works just as well and is less than half the price.

The second product that has gained the unlikely tag of ‘Lover’s munchies’ is M&Ms – but only the green ones. This appears to be an urban myth that started in America in the 1970s. Each different coloured candy was given a different property by bored university students that were too poor or cautious to buy drugs. Thus orange gave good luck, brown gave bad luck, red made you hyper and green made you horny.

Mars, the company that produces M&Ms has prudently stated on a regular basis that “It cannot explain any extraordinary ‘powers’ attributed to (green M&Ms), either scientifically or medically” which is pretty smart as it not only prevents them being sued but also keeps the myth going in the public domain, and just to help it along a bit they ran a marketing campaign in 2001 with the tag “What is it about the green ones” and in 2008 produced all-green packets of M&Ms for Valentines day. Still if you think it works, then it may well do so.

So forget about the asparagus in garlic, just help yourself to some M&Ms Babe. Oh look, there’s only green ones left.

Gary Moore

*Gary is the Editor of The Dorking Review, which is a book you can get from Amazon and Barnes & Noble online. A follow up to the book was planned but the artist went missing or something equally sinister. Apart from that, Gary is a man of mystery but in fairness he does stand his corner at the pub.

Share

Spike Travel – Saaarfend

Arfur Daley And Tel Off Minder Woz Ere

Arfur Daley And Tel Off Minder Woz Ere

Remember the first car you ever bought? And how it was a bit tatty, and not very fast, and the radio didn’t work properly, and you had to keep replacing the bulbs? Well Southend-on-Sea is a bit like that. It’s somewhere that does the job but not quite as well as Las Vegas, or St Tropez or even Brighton. There’s an air of quiet desperation about the place which in its own way is quite touching and much like your first car you can’t help feeling some affection for it.

My parents used to take myself and my brother there when we were small and we would eat Rossi’s ice-cream and see the illuminations at Peter Pan’s Playground and watch drunks being thrown out of pubs. And when we became teenagers we would go down there on our own and learn to drink beer and eat tasteless hot-dogs and play the penny arcades and get into fights. There was a roller disco and a bowling alley at the end of the pier, and tattoo parlours and fortune tellers and ropey looking women. It was great.

I hadn’t been there for over 30 years but last September myself and La Missus were planning on visiting my family in Essex and misty-eyed-old-romantic that I am I suggested that we use Southend as our base for a few days.

The Missus having never heard of the place thought that I’d said Southampton and diligently started researching tourist things to do in a completely different part of the country.

I felt it best not to disillusion her.

150 years ago a new breed of traveller emerged – The Tourist. With the coming of the railways and the granting of paid holidays, working people suddenly had the means to travel outside of their immediate area purely for leisure, and sea-side towns all over Britain cashed in on the new phenomenon. And for Londoners Eastbourne, Margate and Brighton overnight blossomed into resorts with every conceivable amenity for the fun-loving Edwardian. Not to be left behind Southend which up until then had been largely centred around the cockle industry followed suit. The name was changed to Southend-on-Sea which was a brilliant marketing move but not strictly true as the town sits at the mouth of the Thames river. I remember as a child standing at the end of the pier (the world’s longest by the way) and looking at the land mass in the distance and thinking that the continent of Europe wasn’t very far away. I must have been about 15 before I realised that I was acyually looking at Kent on the other side of the river.

Unfortunately for Southend its catchment area was the East-end of London which was, and still is the poorest part. While royalty and the wealthy flocked to Brighton with bulging pockets the crowds that gathered at Southend were more likely to try and pick yours.

Nowadays London’s East-enders are more likely to holiday in Ibiza or Bangladesh but the place still gets enough of a trickle of visitors to remain nearly solvent.

The first thing that struck me about the place was just how little it had changed. The Kursal which in its heyday had covered many acres and was copied from the pleasure gardens of Coney Island in the States and by the 1970’s had been reduced to simply a concert hall still refused to die. Ice-cream palours, burger stalls and amusement arcades still lined the front. There was a small fun-fair with shooting ranges and roller-coasters and the pier was still standing in all of its rust-streaked glory. We travelled up its one-and-a-quarter mile length on one of the electric trains that are now older than anyone alive. At the end instead of a bowling alley there was now a rather nice cafe with a raised terrace where we sat with a coffee and gazed out over what I once thought was Belgium.

Piers are a bit like mountains. If you climb a mountain you don’t stop 30 feet from the summit you climb right to the top, and if you go along a pier you have to go right to the end. I’m sure that there must be a law somewhere that says so. And right at the very end is a lifeboat station with a small gift shop staffed by two very sweet old ladies who were busy arraigning tat. I bought a rather stylish fleece resplendent with the words ‘Southend-on-Sea Lifeboat’ embroided on it and La Missus who had by now got over her shock at not staying in Southampton loaded her handbag up with postcards that delighted the two old girls as they had been on stock for some time and I think that they thought they would never get rid of them.

We walked back down the pier and decided to visit the fun-fair, only because She-who-is-too-good-for-me had never been on a roller coaster they being somewhat of a rarity in rural France.

It was very good. I’d forgotten just how much fun they are. The photo for sale once we had clambered off the thing at the end of the ride showed a poor old man looking like a dog who is leaning out of the window of a speeding car (all exposed gums and straggly hair) next to a stylish blond woman with her head in her hands. I thought that now was obviously a good time to suggest that we go to the pub.

Saaarfend Boozer

Saaarfend Boozer

I’ve never had a really decent pint of beer in Southend, and I have to report that along with everything else the quality of the beer hasn’t changed. However our chosen venue was showing a live football match between Liverpool and West Ham United (may the blessings of the Prophet be upon them), and the place still had all of its windows and seemed as good as anywhere else.

The clientèle consisted of large bald-headed men with tatoos – all of whom were watching the TV with grim urgency, and a mother and daughter both half drunk and both trying to integrate themselves with the men watching the match in order to cadge more drink – neither of them having much luck. Five minutes from the end of the game West Ham who at that time were enjoying there best form for years scored the winning goal and the men leapt up and hugged each other while the two women stole their cigarettes from the table. We moved along with our beer (not bad after the third pint) and settled down at the far end of the room. On a raised floor to one side was a space with a pool table and a couple in their late thirties – he athletic looking and she a plain women in a short black dress came in and started playing. Where I was sitting was in direct eye-line with the floor of the pool table area and each time the woman in the black dress lent across to take a shot her dress rode up displaying a pair of milky white thighs above a pair of seemed black stockings.

I could have stayed there all day, but after the fifth pint we had to make our way back to the hotel with its faded decor and cheery Polish staff.

Somewhere in Essex that isn't Sarfend

Somewhere in Essex that isn’t Sarfend

After a light snack of fish and chips swimming in grease we returned to find a wedding reception in full swing – the men in uncomfortably tight suits and the women in high heels and large hats. Loud music was coming from the room holding the party and the hotel staff were carrying trays of fizzy wine and dodging small children. We grabbed a nightcap and climbed up to our room and fell asleep almost straight away thus missing the traditional wedding party fight at the end of the evening. “It must have been the sea-air” I remarked to the Missus the next morning as she unenthusiastically poked at her fried breakfast.

Would I recommend Southend for a holiday? Well, there’s no decent restaurants, no trendy bars or boutiques, no fine museums and the weather is unpredictable so probably not. But I thought it was wonderful, and perhaps you have to be from that part of the world to understand it. I’m sure that one day I’ll return.

Gary Moore.

Share

What’s The Value Of Your Job? A Gary Moore Special

Let's Not Go There Eh?

Let’s Not Go There Eh?

The following list shows the value to society in economic terms of different jobs and professions. There are those jobs that create value and those that expend value. The list is divided into 13 groups. 1-7 being those that are a financial plus to society and 8-13 which are a financial drain.

As a guide, if we take a miner from group 3; At the start of his day he has a produce value of zero, but at the end of his shift he will, by his labours have produced material which is of a higher value than it was when it was still stuck in the ground. By doing his job he has generated value of which a percentage will be taken from him in tax to support the prison worker who is funded totally by the taxes of the state (or part of the value that the miner has generated). And while prison workers are necessary, the money spent on them compared to the money that would be lost if they didn’t exist means that they are in effect a drain on society in financial terms. Thus the higher the group the more financial value those within it have to society.

As another example it could be argued that a teacher has more value than a prostitute, but as teachers are funded from taxes and a prostitute is paid by his or her clients the prostitute is actually of more financial use to society. However a teacher by their labours produces more efficient ‘value generators’ for the future and so their efforts rate them higher than a police officer whose value is limited to a partial prevention of theft from other members of society or a casino worker who by the very nature of the business is working in a parasitic field whereby the customers must overall lose money.

You may be surprised just how valuable (or not) your work is.

Class 1
Those that produce something by their labour without reducing the world’s resources

Fishermen
Farmers
Forresters
Water providers
Bee-keepers
Electricity producers (solar & hydro)

Class 2
Those that by their labours produce something from renewable sources thus increasing its value

Bakers
Butchers
Millers
Carpenters
Brewers
Distillers
Dairymen
Weavers & textile workers
Scrap metal merchants
Cooks
Paper producers
Perfume & spice producers

Class 3
Those that produce something by extraction

Quarrymen
Miners
Oil & gas workers

Class 4
Those that produce something from raw materials thus increasing value

Foundry workers
Pottery producers
Chemical producers
Ship builders
Power suppliers (fossil fuels)
Pharmaceutical producers
General manufacturers

Class 5
Those that produce something from manufactured material

Builders
Engineers
Plumbers, electricians, glaziers etc

Class 6
Those that produce nothing but increase the efficiency of the above or increase the value of an existing product.

Transport workers
Telecommunication workers
Retailers
Designers
Post workers
Repairmen, car mechanics etc
Florists
Cleaners
Chimney sweeps
Architects

Definitely Class 7

Definitely Class 7

Class 7
Those that derive their income from the disposable income of others

Professional sportsmen
Musicians
Actors & dancers
Journalists & writers
Artists
Prostitutes
Holiday providers
Hairdressers, beauty therapists etc
Waiters

Class 8
Those that cost society money but are necessary for the support of the above

Sewage workers
Refuse collectors
Health workers
Grave diggers

Class 9
Those that cost money but have some potential benefit to classes 1-8

Teachers
Social workers
Research & development workers
Accountants
Managers
Firefighters

Class 10
Those that cost money but potentially provide the basis for future tax providing groups

Students & schoolchildren
Trainees & apprentices

Class 11
Those that cost money but provide a marginal financial benefit to society

Police
Lawyers
The judiciary
Estate agents
Politicians
Prison workers

Class 12
Those that cost money but have very little financial benefit to society

Landlords
The military
Insurance
Banking
Tax collectors
Traffic wardens
Casino, lottery workers
Royalty

Class 13
Those that are a total financial drain on society

The retired
Pre-school children
Religious workers
The unemployed
The infirm
Criminals.

 

Reporter: Gary Moore

Share

Spike Travel – Marrakesh – City Of Beggars Thieves And Gay Billionaires

Down The Market

Down The Market

The railway line from Casablanca ends at Marrakesh – a dusty fly-blown city which at first sight seems to have very little going for it. Like most Arab cities it has the appearance of not being quite finished. Outside of the centre there are sprawling areas of half-built houses with litter-strewn vacant lots, ramshackle slums and the smell of raw sewage. And within the centre of Marrakesh itself sheets of corrugated iron cover the narrow alleyways of the souks, and open doorways reveal scattered sacks of cement, piles of old timbers, broken wooden ladders and empty oil drums. Beggars stand or sit slumped on every corner and the air vibrates with the beat of drums, the wail of pipes and of people shouting. The thought hits you that when the French got this far with their railway they must have been so dismayed by what they found that they lost heart and simply headed back to the coast where at least you could get a pain-au-chocolate and a decent coffee.

But happily there are some good things going for the place, not least the fact of its location between sea, desert and mountains. This combined with the warm climate and cheap prices means that Marrakesh is now a popular holiday location.

We flew there from our local French airport with Easyjet for a return cost of around £150 per person. Other low-cost airlines such as Ryanair also provide flights from regional airports in the UK and Europe. Our departure started at Bordeaux’s ‘Billi’ terminal which appears to be French for ‘Large ugly pre-fabricated steel industrial unit’. And along with regional airports the world over it was staffed by bored officials and lowly paid caterers serving poor food at rich prices.

Safely entombed within the departure lounge, with a bland sandwich, a warm, sticky drink and perched on a hard plastic chair we passed the inevitable wait for the latest of a long line of polyester uniformed staff to turn up to open the boarding gate by observing our fellow travellers, most of whom appeared to be middle-aged and middle income, only now being able to afford to hit the hippy trail that was out of reach for them when they were younger. Men with long grey hair and denim shirts mingled with women dressed in uncomfortable looking clothes made from organic fibres. The bodies may have been in their sixth or seventh decade but the minds were replaying the Paris riots of ’68 to a soundtrack of the Beatles white album. Love and peace man.

I decided that a stiff whiskey or two from the drinks trolley would be in order, as if the aircraft crashed into the sea en-route I didn’t want to spend my last few seconds of life seeing 200 people sitting in the lotus position with their eyes closed going “Uuuuummmmmmmmmmm”.

Tour Guides Warming Up

Tour Guides Warming Up

On arrival in Morocco everyone is obliged to fill in an embarkation card which requires name, age, occupation, nationality, address in Morocco and reason for visit. Presumably some poor bastard sitting in a windowless office is employed to go through all of these cards just in case someone has ticked the ‘terrorism’ box in the reason-for-visit section. The passport and immigration people went through the motions of their boring, poorly-paid routine in the same manner as their French counterparts and after passing through the surprisingly clean, modern airport building we found ourselves in the bright North-African sunshine.

The first thing that you notice about Marrakesh is the traffic. This is made up of small French-built cars and lots and lots of mopeds – many of which appear to be copies of the ubiquitous Honda C90 re-badged under the name ‘Docker’. The riders of these machines are obliged to wear crash helmets, every one of which is a cheap open-faced thing like a pudding basin, although passengers never wear a helmet and the riders themselves sometimes don’t bother to either. None of the mopeds have licence plates and their owners presumably know which one is theirs by the pattern of scratches on their particular machine. Should you feel the need to join in, or harbour a secret death-wish, a moped or scooter can be easily hired although a motorbike is much more of a rare animal to track down.

While on the subject of traffic it might be worth explaining the various ways available for getting around; these consist of trains, cars, mopeds, buses, taxis and horse-drawn carriages. Trains are good. They’re cheap and reasonably comfortable, but as already stated Marrakesh is at the end of the line so if you want to go anywhere by train you need to travel via Casablanca which is a good few hours away. Cars and mopeds can be hired and all of the major hire companies have depots in the city – we hired a new Renault with air-con for 40 euros a day including free delivery and collection from where we were staying. Buses…? Hmmm. Cheap? Yes, but also crowded, hot and uncomfortable apart from one shiny red double-decker bus that runs sight-seeing tours of the city.

The best way to get around is probably by taxi. These come in three sorts. The first of which is the ‘Grand Taxi’. – this is grand in the French sense (large) rather than the English sense. At the side of the Kasbah is a wide road packed full of Grand Taxis, their drivers industriously cleaning the bits of bodywork that still exist. They are all old Mercedes-Benz saloons painted a dull mustard colour. Most of them are at least 30 years old and every single one of them is falling to bits. We rode in one that had a non-functioning instrument panel and seats that were so worn that your buttocks sank to no more than 6 inches from the tarmac – the floorpan having disappeared many years before. It also had a steel bar welded across the inside to prevent the bodywork collapsing in on itself. The Grand Taxis have a fixed price for fares and can sometimes even be found with a working meter inside. I liked them very much.

The second type of taxi is the ‘petite taxi’. This is a small Peugeot or Dacia painted the same colour as its larger and more venerable cousin. These don’t have meters or fixed prices and it is important that you agree the fare with the driver before getting in. Both types can be flagged down on the street, and in fact if you stand still on the pavement for more than a minute a taxi driver will be beckoning to you for your custom anyway.

The third type of taxi is the ‘tuk-tuk’. A three wheeled moped/rickshaw hybrid often found in the far-east. There aren’t many of them and as with the small taxis prices need to be negotiated in advance.

The final way of getting around is the horse and carriage. These are capable of taking up to six people and are surprisingly comfortable, although they can only be found adjacent to the main square and are used for sight-seeing rather than for going from one point to another. A one hour tour costs 20 euros for the hire of the driver and his carriage and your driver will normally point out places of interest during the trip. Also this has the added bonus of allowing you to watch a horse’s arse going up and down for an hour, which has to be a good thing.

The main square, called ‘Place Jemaa El Fna’ is really the focal point of Marrakesh. It is a large paved area containing an open market and is ringed with cafés and restaurants and is the gateway to the souks. Acrobats, snake charmers, musicians, jugglers and water sellers ply their trade here as do beggars, hawkers, Henna women, fake guides and assorted con-men. For some reason UNESCO has made this an international heritage site. As the sole purpose of the place seems to be the transfer of money from tourists to anyone who can come up with a new scam I can only presume that the head of the committee that recommended the place to UNESCO was a merchant banker. However it has to be said that it’s a lively place and that there is always something going on. But here is a word of advice: Any local that strikes up a conversation with you isn’t doing so because he likes the colour of your eyes. He is doing it in order to sell you something. And although you can’t blame people for doing so you need to be aware of what’s going on. The moment that you stop moving or show an interest in something someone will be beside you trying to talk you out of your money.

Scared Of The Dark? Buy A Lamp

Scared Of The Dark? Buy A Lamp

The reason for this is really quite simple once you think about it. The average annual income in Morocco is less than $5,000 . You as a tourist have money and they don’t. What could be more natural than their desire for a piece of the action? And the quickest way to achieve it is through you. At the lowest level are the beggars. These are generally, but not exclusively elderly men, as a woman is more likely to find someone to support her, but for a man too old or too infirm to work and with no family and no safety net of a state old-age pension sometimes the only way to survive is through the charity of strangers. People are often wary of beggars. I’m not sure why this is, as a beggar is normally the most brow-beaten and wretched of men. He has no power or influence and is simply trying to get by, and each time he approaches someone his self-esteem goes down another notch. A coin is a small price to pay to give thanks that you have the good fortune not to be in his place.

The next level up are the ’tissue girls’. This is a form of upmarket begging exclusively practised by women whereby you buy a small packet of tissues at an inflated price thus allowing the seller to kid themselves that they are selling rather than begging and you the illusion of purchase rather than charity.

The most quick witted of all are the fake guides, these are people that will strike up a conversation and turn it in such a way that under the pretence of offering help will lead you through the maze of indoor stalls that are the souks before demanding money from you for their services. They are very convincing and very plausible. As an example; we were idling through the souks and had stopped to look at something on one of the stalls and were approached by a man in his mid-twenties who offered friendly advice on where we could find the same thing much cheaper. Being a miserable cynical sort I ignored him, but my wife who is not only polite but chatty and more trusting than me fell into conversation with him. “Don’t worry” he said, “I’m not a guide, I work in a pharmacy, but today is my day off and I like to meet people and show them my city. Come, I’ll show you where the best stuff is”. And like fools of course we followed him. After traversing numerous narrow alleyways we found ourselves at a small dirty alcove deep within the souks containing a small dirty man who was dyeing wool in an old oil drum. As we were looking for a bakers at the time it seemed a strange place for us to be led to. ‘Look, look” said our new-found friend. “See the colours, are they not magnificent? And this man is my cousin, he will sell you wool very cheap… Ah… perhaps you wish to see some other very special things. I understand how it is”. And he then led us down a number of ever narrower alleyways to another relative who was selling counterfeit football shirts and chipped pottery, only pausing during his constant chatter to ask in a low voice if I wanted to buy some drugs.

These people can be very difficult to get rid of and will always expect payment for acting as your ‘guide’ around the souks. I stuck a few euros in his hand and politely told him that we would find our own way back. At this he became most angry and demanded the equivalent of twenty quid for wasting our time. By now I was pissed off with this character and somewhat lost my rag. I grabbed back the note that I had given him, swore at him quite volubly in French and dragged the wife off down one of the alleys. Seeing that he now had nothing rather than the original few euros that I’d given him our Arab friend followed behind complaining loudly and bitterly. I turned back, stuck the original note into his hand and told him to fuck off, which thankfully he did.

The best defence against being ripped off in the souks and kasbahs is to either ignore people or be extremely rude. Any other way and I’m afraid that you will find your pockets empty.

Still, Hey-ho, there’s more to Marrakesh than menacing North African market dwellers. Not much admittedly, but there are some fine buildings, mostly mosques – each one with what appears to be a gallows mounted on the top of it. These we learnt are actually signposts pointing towards Mecca rather than public execution equipment. The mosques are generally closed to non-islamics but can be admired from the outside. The same thing applies to the Royal Palace, although here you are not allowed to take photographs of the outside. I’m not sure why this is as any enemy of the King would have no trouble finding the place as it’s the biggest building in the city covering a number of acres.

It’s always quite worrying when you see a huge palatial pile for the head of state as generally the larger the palace the more likely it is that the bruised and bloodied body of the resident will be one day dragged out of it.

But despite the huge difference in real estate values of the King’s palace and his subject’s hovels there doesn’t seem to be any tension on the streets. The graffiti consists of the ‘Barcelona for the cup’ type of thing, the soldiers of the local garrison walk around without weapons, the traffic police stand on the pavements chatting to each other and chuckling at the motorized free-for-all that clatters past them, and there is nothing more menacing parked up than the odd military Land Rover.

The king himself looks like a successful Manchester fashion-warehouse owner. I know this to be the case as his photograph is displayed in every shop, café, hotel and restaurant in town. Whether this is out of adoration or simple pragmatism on the part of Morocco’s small businessmen I don’t know. But I’m told that he is a progressive head of state rather than a repressive one, and in the photographs he is normally wearing a suit and shaking hands with someone or talking informally rather than posing Mussolini-like while dressed as a Rear-Admiral, and he often looks like he needs a shave, so for now I reckon that he’s probably doing more of the right things than the wrong ones.

It Wouldn't Be Café Spike If We Didn't Include A Shot Of Somebody's Dinner

It Wouldn’t Be Café Spike If We Didn’t Include A Shot Of Somebody’s Dinner

There is a park to the north of the city that’s just about worth a visit. It used to be jointly owned by Yves St Laurent and his boyfriend, but since the demise of the small French perfume and fashion billionaire it’s now run by a trust fund in Paris. For some reason Yves was very keen on Marrakesh. It can’t have been because he liked living in a sprawling building site without access to a decent champagne shop. Perhaps it was that despite the religious doctrines and rigid moralising outlook that is the way of the Arabs Marrakesh is paradoxically a very friendly, tolerant place where everything and anything can be bought and sold and eyes will look the other way provided that it is out of public view. If you’re after something… anything, ask one of the lads in the souks and he’ll sort it out for you. For a fee of course.

We took one of the petite taxis to the park and our cabby was so pleased at getting 10 euros worth of custom that he said that he would wait outside for an hour in order to get the return trip out of us. “Come and wake me up when you’re ready” he said.

The walled park was cool and green, and shaded from the fierce sun by giant bamboo and cactus. Walkways wound their way gently through sculptured glades and birds sang from their perches in the tops of palm trees. There were water features, a museum of Berber culture, a rather classy gift shop, a café and a small display of artwork. It was all very peaceful and quite charming. In one corner there was a memorial to the late Yves St Laurent designed by his long term partner. I have to admit that I was rather expecting something in glass and gold, exuding glamour and extravagance, but instead it was a piece of broken stone pillar about three feet high mounted on a stone base. I’m sure that there must of been some Freudian symbolism there but whatever it was escaped me.

But the real reason to come to Marrakesh isn’t really to visit the markets and parks and mosques but to leave the city and see the real Morocco; The Sahara. The Atlas Mountains and the Atlantic coast, more of which anon.

Reporter: Gary ‘Churchmouse’ Moore

Share

Annie Deveraux – French Dog Whisperer

A Dead Soft Dog Pictured Earlier

A Dead Soft Dog Pictured Earlier

By Gary ‘Churchmouse’ Moore – Editor of ‘The Dorking Review’ -the book that put people off reading for ever.

Lying at my feet is a large dog. The bottom half of the dog is soaked in dirty grey water due to the fact that ten minutes ago said dog was wading through our fish pond. It’s now lying in a small puddle of water and is snoring gently.

I don’t know why we have a dog. As far as I can see there are very few advantages to owning one. If it could do tricks, or herd sheep, or play a musical instrument then okay, it would be worth having. But ours is a particularly stupid dog. It has never learnt how to climb or descend stairs and shows no sign of ever being able to figure out how to do it. In the evening it will stand outside and bark. Its not actually barking at anything but because we live on the side of a valley every time it barks there is an echo which the dog thinks is another dog answering, therefore it will spend ten minutes each evening effectively talking to itself without realising it. And it eats. My god does it eat – everything and anything. This actually isn’t entirely its own fault, as along with being tremendously stupid it is also unlucky in that it suffers from epilepsy. Each epileptic seizure being followed by the dog vomiting copiously onto the carpet. This no longer happens as often as before as the epilepsy is now controlled using tablets which are administered each morning and evening secreted within a small piece of cheese. A side effect of the medication is that it makes the dog constantly hungry and so it spends much of its time searching or begging for food. [Read more…]

Share

Triumphs Of Marketing – The French Resistance

Oh Renee!

Oh Renee!

Listen carefully, I’ll say this only once…

It’s fair to say that the Second World War wasn’t very kind to France; Invaded by the Germans, abandoned by the British, half of the country occupied and forced to pay for the privilege, most of the army locked away in POW camps, and a national shortage of pain au chocolat – and that’s just the first 12 months!

It then got even worse.

The British, who had run away at Dunkirk [Read more…]

Share