Looking for Nemo? Well, I just spent the weekend with him, and all his friends! You gotta love Eilat
: Or more specifically, snorkelling; I couldn't have better spent my time than face down in the Red Sea, chasing big fat cuddly purple fish, silvery shoals, stripey neon wonders and cute sparkly blobs (which turned out to be narky little stingers) while serenading them all thru my snorkel with excerpts from "The Little Mermaid" OST.
My last-minute trip to "Israel's Riviera" (cough) also gave me a chance to re-visit the "Three Monkeys
" pub, scene of my very first bar brawl back in 1998.
(Tinkly Flashback Music) I just had finished my exams and had a week to spare before University began again, so together with my very lovely flatmate- whom we shall call "Sandy" for the purposes of this tale- decided to go to Eilat. One call in to my genius travel-agent uncle and we had a week booked at a nice hotel for what back then seemed like a bargain price.
Anyway. So we landed, were shunted from the pokey charter plane to our tour bus, and on that ride had the pleasure of meeting some of the other participants on our package: Bunch of North-West London oddities, mostly. One of them, a demonstratively lonesome chap- we'll call him Larry- took an immediate shine to Sandy, and proceeded to pursue her valiantly and hopelessly in the way that only single Jewish men over a certain age from within the M25 can. Surprisingly enough, she did not respond to his advances, but being a lovely person, she turned him down in a way that was friendly-yet-firm without hurting his feelings.
Well, at least that's what she thought she'd done: When we arrived at the 3 Monkeys shortly following his unsuccessful proposition, we found our motley crew of fellow package-ers far more hostile than we'd previously encountered them. As opposed to poor Lonesome Larry, Sandy and I were not overly heartbroken at their
rejection, yet she - being a lovely person- didn't want to seem even ruder, and so decreed that we must have a drink with them all anyway. I was not in favour of this plan in view of the icy vibes emitting from Larry et al, specifically from a scowling girl to his right who earned the nickname Evil Esther after being absolutely vile to both of us before we'd even sat down. Yuch. Even the Lovely Sandy couldn't take being insulted by a complete stranger for too long, so we escaped to the dancefloor and once the "upbeat" YMCA/I Will Survive/Its Raining Men set was over, we quickly found another table and hid from the nasty people.
Then suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted Evil Esther talking to a random Israeli guy on the dancefloor, pointing and nodding in our general direction. About 0.7 seconds later, RandomIsraeli flies over to our table and plants himself next to Sandy, wherein he starts telling her all manner of Too Much Information about himself and asking some very inappropriate questions. The Lovely Sandy tries to be as polite as possible in response, but escapes to powder her nose, leaving me to deal with this very smelly rat.
"What's the deal?" I ask him, pointing at Esther. "What did she say to you?"
"That Sandy told her that she really fancies me, and that she is looking for an Israeli husband, and that I should come and talk to her."
"Riiight," I said, penny dropping while simultaneously realising that this gentleman was perhaps not the most stable. "Look, I think she - Esther- is playing a trick on you. We don't actually know her, I mean, she's in our hotel, but what she says isn't true... er, Sandy has a boyfriend." (Points for creativity? Thanks!)
Suddenly my conversation partner turns into The Incredible RandomIsraeli Hulk. He turns around and points at Esther's retreating silhouette, and bellows "HOW DARE SHE! HOW DARE SHE PLAY WITH PEOPLE'S EMOTIONS!! SHE IS EVIL!!!"
Quite Possibly. But what on earth have I unleashed? "I HATE HER! I WILL HAVE HER DEPORTED!!! I WILL CONFISCATE HER PASSPORT, I AM IN THE SECRET SERVICE!!" and with that roars off towards their table, where Larry, Esther and the other NWLondon Oddbods Association are now all smirking and pointing. Their amusement is shortlived: RandomIsraeli Hulk's yells can now be heard all over the pub- even the screeching covers singer from Newcastle cannot drown them out. And suddenly, Evil Esther is in my face. "You BITCH!" she screams, clawing at me. "Why you causing trouble, eh, eh? What's wrong with you! He's gonna deport me, you COW!" (Redbridge accent, so it was more "Caaah")
Sandy has meanwhile emerged from the loo and is staring on in horror. Ghandi-like, I remain in my seat and say as calmly as one possibly can when one has a drunken hysterical tw*t from Redbridge seething two inches in front of one, "Well, that's your problem for messing with his head. Why did you tell him Sandy fancied him?" Oops. Wrong
thing to say: "I didn't, you f***ing LIAR! I've never seen him before, you, you, FRUMMER!" (Ouch. I was wearing a skirt. But she
doesn't get any points for creativity)
"Come ON." I snapped, sounding frighteningly like my mother. "I saw you talking to him! If he's angry, you've only got yourself to blame for mixing!" RandomIsraeli Hulk has now reappeared and is staring devastatedly at Sandy (whom he'd clearly already married in his head: can't imagine what else Esther must have told him on the dancefloor.) He starts screaming again at Esther, fists akimbo, who first lunges back at him, and then takes a badly-aimed swing at yours truly.
...the rest is just a blur, but apparently I didn't hit her back (See, anti-violence even back then :) and Lonesome Larry and his cohorts pulled her off me, according to Sandy my faithful eye-witness. All I could hear was assorted insults as she knocked my chair over. RandomIsraeli was at that point asked to leave by the security and I do remember as I was getting myself up from the floor that he was still shouting threats of (her) imminent deportation as he was escorted out. (Note to self- long skirts NOT practical for pub fights.)
That would have been drama enough for one night, but let us not forget that these people were all staying in our hotel
Every morning we saw them, Lonesome Larry, refusing to look at us with Evil Esther on his arm, who snarled like an angry cat each time we walked within 20 feet. And Eilat is tiny
: we bumped into them all the time and wherever we were, she continued to threaten us, insult us and on one occasion, spit at us at every turn. All the tourists in our hotel -and everyone else's, in fact- seemed to know all about the evil be-skirted girls who'd nearly gotten her deported, or so it seemed. So much for a relaxing holiday! It was only at the car park at Luton Airport, where I for some reason ended up helping her with her Car Park Pass when she couldn't work the machine (not just evil, but stupid too!) that she managed to eke out something close to an apology. Looking back, it was ridiculous that we let her even get to us. But I would venture that hearing "I'm gonna kill that stupid caaah" or worse every 10 paces over 7 days in a tiny resort would probably drive even Ghandi to some mild distraction.
Ah, memories. Thankfully on this recent trip, the biggest excitement to be found in the Monkeys involved no more than my sampling every cocktail on the menu. But I did find myself looking over my shoulder when walking in certain places, especially when I heard a Redbridge accent- what can I say, Eilat is a small town and you really never know who you're going to bump into. Next time I get down there (and that'll be when I've won the lottery) I'll play it safe and stick to singing "Darlin its better, down where it's wetter" to the fish. At least I know that they won't scream insults back!