Monday, 8 July 2013

Alaskadie and the Seal of Rock and Roll (part 1)


Plakias.

The place my father retired to. 

A fishing village in Crete with an official indigenous population of 130.

In summer however it goes a bit mental and all the tavernas, restaurants, bars and diving schools (not to mention car hire, villas and shops that let you let fish nibble your toes) open their doors from April to November.

Population about 2000.

I recently got promoted so had a wadge of cash to spend and was looking forward to spending my summer the usual way, i.e. a lot of drinking, sunbathing, swimming and maybe a shag or two. Problems arose before I got there though. On Facebook a good mate of mine named J had posted some rather damning sentiments about the new Youth Hostel Plakias manager. I have only stayed there one night in 5 summers (when I was too pissed to walk home) as I stay with Dad, but socialised there all the time just like a lot of Plakias regulars who know and love the place. The original manager was a strange yet endearingly enthusiastic guy named Chris Bilson. He ran it from 1996 when it opened to his retirement in 2012.

While he was there it was a bit like this.





Another Chris took over (who we called…err, New Chris) and despite a very good season threw in the towel due to working 7 days a week for 7 months with no breaks.

While he was there it was a bit like this.






So the owner needed a new manager for this year. He hired a regular guest named Uli from the previous years who had pitched for the job last year but lost out to New Chris. He was apparently over the moon about getting it and was looking forward to fulfilling his dream of steering the ship.

However…

I first met this guy in 2010. He was polite and quietly spoken but alarm bells rang one night when me and 2 friends were preparing food for dinner at the hostel. We’d clubbed together for red wine, feta, bread and vegetables and were having a very pleasant and drunken time making a big Greek salad. Mood was interrupted unexpectedly when Uli came over holding a beer mat with a used condom on it that he’d found and said to Melissa “you want the condom?” and laughed before throwing it in the bin. He then sat down at our table.

I’ll just repeat that.

We were preparing food. He approached us with a thing containing other people’s pussy juice and cum and then sat down.

In disbelief I said “now go and wash your hands!!!”

He smiled and said, “it’s ok I didn’t touch it” and then sparked up a conversation with Melissa who offered him a glass of wine.

I sat there staring at him and could feel the anger slowly churning away. The only thought going through my head was, “if he touches the fucking food, I WILL stick my fork through his fucking eye socket!!!”

After 5 minutes of Uli talking about the weather to Melissa I lost it and yelled, “am I the ONLY one who thinks this is fucking wrong!!! Go and wash your FUCKING HANDS!!!”

He harrumphed, got up from the table and went to the bathroom, returning a couple of  minutes later theatrically shaking the droplets of water off his hands as if to say, “there you are Mr Fussy!”

Later Melissa said to me, “I was disgusted too, but I didn’t know how to deal with it.”

This year there were rumours that the hostel had adopted a much stricter policy about “externals” socialising there and indeed in April when it first opened were turning people away who weren’t staying there, regardless of if they’d been guests in previous years. A local bar owner then came down and pointed out the stupidity of this as it was simply driving people away from the village itself so the rule was relaxed.

Then J posted a very damning and quite vitriolic piece on Facebook about the place, saying that he’d returned as usual and been partying for a couple of weeks, enjoying himself and hanging out there (like he always did). He took guests on local walks and to beaches (like he always did). He organised a big barbecue with wine and food for everyone at the hostel (like he always did). Then one day the hostel owner turned up, after complaints from Uli, to have a quiet word with J. He told him that if he wished to socialise at the hostel he had to “have a coffee and keep his nose down.” He added that J needed permission from him to take guests on walks or trips. J looked at him in disbelief and asked “why the fuck do I need your permission to do things outside this hostel?”

After some more chat he told the guy to stick it up his arse and walked out.

He wasn’t at that point banned but became the first Hostel Banned Club member  after telling that story plus some quite eye opening other facts about Uli, on Facebook.

The second HBC member was a Scottish regular from the hostel who wasn’t there but reacted with his usual direct (and very sweary) manner on Facebook after finding out that Uli had got the job (the politest bit being “you are FUCKING joking me?!!”)

Banned in absentia.

So I got there and was pleasantly surprised that Uli appeared to be doing a very good job. People seemed happy and every night he’d take some or all of the guests to a local taverna or restaurant. I set up a tab for beer, wine and breakfasts (like I always did) and hung out there playing Perudo and socialising (like I always did). I also went out for dinner a few times with Uli and the guys and he knew his food and good restaurants. His advice if with a big group of people was to say to the waiter “just bring food” and let them serve you with whatever they thought was good (i.e. everything). With a group of 16 to 20 people the bill never came to more than 15 Euros each for a huge meal and a lot of wine.

After a week I walked down with Uli after dinner and said to him “you know, you are doing a very good job. J’s a mate but you seem to have everyone enjoying themselves.” I then shook his hand and after that he’d always invite me to eat dinner with his group and we chatted when I came down there for breakfasts in the morning.

Then the cracks began to appear again.

An 18 year old female guest complained to me and others that she’d gone on a walk to a local beach with Uli and some other people and when they got there she turned around to find he was naked. She realised this was just his form of sunbathing  but summed it up with “he’s old enough to be my father. I wouldn’t have minded if he’d just fucking warned me first. I didn’t feel comfortable with it.”

Then he began taking photos of women on the river walk naked or topless. One woman genuinely didn’t care and appreciated the pictures as Uli is a very good professional photographer and she has a cracking body. However there had been rumours of this in the summers before (when he was a guest) and I later found out that a total of 6 women this year had so far made written complaints about him asking them to take their tops off for photos. It was gossip before but now I’d had someone say it to my face.

J hated his guts, I was still unsure where the compass should point to…and then one night I became the Hostel Banned Club’s third member.

Me and about 15 others were out for dinner and after a riotously good time in a local taverna (where ironically I had followed  Uli’s advice and just said “bring food” to the waiter) we came back to find he’d left the beer fridge unlocked and the lights on. Thinking he must be on site somewhere (as NO ONE would EVER, EVER accidentally leave Youth Hostel Plakias’s beer fridge open at 10pm) I took one and said to the others “make sure you tell him if you drink a beer.” The whole system is based on honesty anyway and Chris, New Chris and Uli would sometimes stick a piece of paper on it with a pen dangling down, inviting people to write what they’d taken, if they were round the back or in the manager’s apartment. I had one beer then went out for the night without seeing him.

Next day at about 3pm I came down and saw him staring at me from one of the hammocks on the lawn. I approached him and laughed, adding “someone forgot to lock the fridge last night.” I was about to add “put a beer on my tab” when he yelled,

“I’VE PUT ALL THE MISSING BEERS ON YOUR TAB!!!”

Annoyed by his tone I snapped back “woah, woah! I took ONE FUCKING beer!”

“I heard that you said to everyone ‘hey free beer’”

“Err no, bollocks. I thought you were around somewhere, as did everyone else. I will pay you for the beer I took. How many did you lose?”

He then sighed and said “Ten. I think you need to stay away from here. We tried to relax the rules on “externals” coming here but things like this happen.”

I glared at him and snapped “I took one fucking beer and I’ve just come down here now to tell you to put it on my tab.”

He relaxed infinitesimally and said “Ok, I’ll only charge you for one beer.”

“Well, that’s good for you because I would only have paid for one!”

He sighed again and said “it’s not just the beer, there’s been other complaints too.”

I stare at him in disbelief and went “about what?!!”

He looks up at the sunglasses I have pushed up to the top of my head and says “you stole Florian’s sunglasses!”

I take them off and hold them. “These?” He nods.

“These are mine you daft bastard. There’s a video on YouTube from last year of me wearing them here if you want to see it.”

He blushes, stammers and goes, “Oh well, but there’s been other complaints about you too. A woman complained about you.”

I stare at him and go “about what?” and his stream of verbal diahorrea then makes it clear he is simply talking out of his arse.

“She said you were too pushy and you were pressurising her to go out and do things.”

“What was her name?”

“Not telling you.”

“What did she look like?”

“Can’t remember.”

“What language did she speak?”

“English speaking. Australian, American or English but definitely English speaking. I wasn’t going to say anything as I thought she was just being too sensitive.”

I glare at a guy who asks women to go topless for photos and gets his cock out in front of teenagers and say slowly “I’ll get my shit and leave.”

“And the owner keeps asking me who you are and why you’re here.”

“I. WILL. GET. MY. SHIT. AND. LEAVE”

“Ok.”

I stormed out and stewed on this for a couple of hours. I then came back and saw him sitting at a table with a guy we both know.

“Can I talk to you both for a minute?” I ask, wanting a witness.
We sit down at another table. Uli, despite being much bigger than me looks clearly worried.

I begin.

“Right I will respect your decision to stay away from here but I don’t want to hear ANY fucking stories about me stealing or women being scared off by me. We both know you are making that shit up.”

The other guy looks confused and then realises I’m referring to taking a beer. He then interjects with “but Lance, you knew you shouldn’t have done that.”

Errr, no. We thought he was on site. This is YHP.” I turn to Uli again. “You left the beer fridge open at 10 o’clock. What the fuck did you think we would do? I intended to pay you as did the others…or at least I told them to. Like I said. You want me to stay away then fine, but it’s because I took a beer without permission NOT any of your other bullshit.”

He looks nervous but adds, “it’s not bullshit Lance. Another woman also complained. She said she was afraid of you.”

“Fuck off! Another woman eh? Funny how you never mentioned her earlier when I spoke to you. You’d think something that unpleasant would be first thing on your mind. Considering what I’ve read about you on Facebook you are the last person on Earth to go around making allegations like that. What will this devolve into? That I flew in on a dragon and set fire to the lawn before lobbing my knob out and slapping some chick round the face with it? Christ I’d hate you to be a witness for anyone in court!”

He looks away, looking very uncomfortable. I then say quietly.

“If you’d simply said ‘Lance, it’s gone a bit Pete Tong, can you stay away please’ then I would have respected that. But all this is bullshit and you know it. I took a beer, that’s it. If I hear ANYTHING else about why you’ve banned me then you and me are going to have a serious problem.”

I stand up and shake the other guy’s hand. “Look me up for a beer soon yeah” I say and he nods. I start to walk out but then turn back to Uli. “And don’t say the owner doesn’t know me. He’s known my father for 17 years and he calls me by my first name!”

Uli looks away again. I walk out.

End of my time in YHP. Beginning of my membership of HBC. Sometimes I wish I was the badass I dream of being so I could just have kicked fuck out the mammary obsessed, cummy condom-clutching weirdo, but I have never been able to fight like that so just stayed away, wondering if he’d break the “agreement” to give me an excuse to go back and thump him. He didn’t. Everyone who said they knew that he’d banned me stated it was for the beer and never mentioned anything else.

I also never paid my tab before I left so he now will have to cough up the 50 or so Euros I owe to balance the books. Ironic as I was one of only two people who owned up to taking beers.

End of an era...and not just for me.

While Uli is the manager it's a bit like this.




Drinking heavily has always been a staple part of enjoying life’s rich tapestry in Plakias. The local beers are Mythos and Amstell, with a new contender this year called Fix. House wines are cheap and cheerful and then you have the local tipple, raki. It’s a spirit made from fermented grape seeds, skins and stalks (i.e. the shite left over when they’ve made wine) it ranges in flavour from delicious (honey raki) to a gag reflex’s best buddy (cheaper shit, served warm in some places). I began lashing it up on the first night and was thoroughly hungover most mornings until about lunchtime or beyond. One day I woke up at about 2pm to find my father coming back. With a smile on his face he asked, “What were you drinking last night?”

“Err…the usual. Gin & tonics, beer, raki, wine. Why?”

“I got up for a piss in the night and this horrible bitter smell met me. You threw up all the way from the bedroom to the bathroom. Clearly you couldn’t make it in time.”

Oops!

I apologised but he said it was ok. A true Lad Dad. Problem was that I’d honked up on his oil paintings and he was apparently finding bits of old sick encrusted onto his canvasses for the next 3 weeks.

Before I got banned from the hostel I was up on the roof with some friends one night, steaming drunk. We were star gazing and lying on our backs. A peaceful time. Then I decided I needed a piss. Shuffling over to the hostel roof I heaved my cock out and was about to begin when I realised I’d picked the bit of the roof that overlooks reception. Not assuming that those below would want to have warm, golden rain on their heads as they sat there chatting I changed sides and instead pissed on the river side. Only later did I realise that Plakias is notorious for its windy climate in the summer despite being 40 degrees Celsius on some days (think a fan assisted oven with the door open). Had there been a breeze I would no doubt have inadvertently sprayed pee all over my friends on the roof.

Another time I made the mistake of accepting an offer of sharing a spliff. I’ve never been someone who gets on with marijuana and despite trying to be cautious and not inhale fully, after 4 drags I was my usual state of paranoia, anxiety and brain firing on cylinders I wasn’t aware it actually had. We returned to the bar and sat back down but after 15 minutes of staring into space I heaved myself up from the table and made my excuses. I collapsed in a hedge about 10 minutes later and slept with the north wind blowing over me for about an hour before finally mustering the energy to haul my reluctant body home. The name for being drunk and then reacting badly to dope is apparently “white death.” Yeah, that’ll about do it.

Another time I was getting riotously pissed in the local bars and then fell in with some Cretan friends who were with 3 very cute 19 year old girls. We had a great time partying till about 5am, then I made my way to the last drink saloon, a bar called Smirna. Problem with this place is that unless you sit outside you have to sit facing the bar and will normally be steaming by the time you get there. Something that’s happened to me a few times is that I’ll be enjoying a glass of ale, when I’ll turn around and realise it’s suddenly and horribly become daylight outside. This time two guys I knew from the Youth Hostel came into the bar and instead of ordering a beer like I expected, plumped for a coffee. Somewhat confused I asked why and Chad went “Lance, it’s 7am.”

Oops!

We chatted for a while and I had another beer and then walked home at about 8 o’clock. It’s always fairly unnerving to see the bars you were boogying your arse off to a few hours before, shuttered up and the windows reflecting sunlight. And walking home to go to bed with the sun feeling like God's flashlight, is ALWAYS a downer when you see people setting off for work, the beach or even to go shopping.

A mate of mine from last summer called Brad is a mixed martial artist. He’s a really nice, generous and sweet natured guy but regards taking his shirt off and play fighting with everyone when he’s drunk as par for the course on a night out once he’s had a skin full of booze. Me, him and his girlfriend went out for dinner to a local taverna on his first night and he had been raving all night about “the laaamb” that he’d seen gently rotating on a rotisserie spit down the road from his apartment. I hopped a lift on his scooter back for a drink or three before dinner and as we passed the restaurant he screamed to the waiter outside “HEY MAN, I’LL BE BACK FOR THE LAMB IN 30 MINUTES!!!”

As we took our seats he shouted to the waiter “bring me some lamb man!!” and after much amused banter from the Greek staff we were served with what looked like about half a sheep between the three of us.

Brad wolfed it all down like something from World War Z and at the end sat back and was quiet for the first time all day. He smiled, “good food.”

Then he saw a woman on the next table alone, eating and reading a book.

“Hey, we should ask that lady if she wants to join us, she’s alone.”

I looked at her. Far from lonely she was blatantly enjoying the solitude. “Just leave her. There’s a difference between alone and lonely. She’s got a book. That means she wants to eat alone. Lonely people stare out at the sea and sip their wine.”

After two more attempts to persuade me he eventually agreed to leave her in peace.

We then went out for a drink. Well, it started out that way but Brad quickly got into “shirt off” mode and wanting to play fight the entire pub. His girlfriend went back to the apartment meaning me and the other guys had to babysit him. He was told to leave the pub twice but refused and when him and the two other guys went up the road to a club with dancing they were the only three people in there. I later found out that he was doing his martial arts moves on the dance floor, including sparring with the other two. The bar owner is a friend of my father’s and not a guy you want to piss off. He apparently wanted to intervene until Geoff laughed and said it was ok.

Next day he apparently didn’t even have a hangover. That’s extreme working out for you I guess.







2 comments:

  1. The hostel died with Chris Bilson...may he rest in peace!

    ReplyDelete
  2. It's a good view on what Plakias is about. It had me chuckling to myself more than a few times.

    ReplyDelete

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