Caroline Gough learnt the hard way that you should never give your email address to anyone who flashes their bum cheeks in front of Uluru.
So you go on one of those trips where you get on a minibus with a group of people you don’t know and get driven half-way across Australia by a tour guide with hippie hair and a name like Hedge.
A week later you’ve climbed every mountain and drunk in every pub between Perth and Adelaide and the quiet, odd-looking people you boarded the bus with on that first morning are your best friends. Sound familiar?
So you exchange hugs and email addresses and make a lifelong promise that everyone is welcome to stay with you whenever they’re in your part of the world. Eventually your travels are over, you go back home, find a job and settle down. And the emails from your friends become less and less frequent, until one day you get an email from Princey.
A big mistake
Princey is one of the Canadians you ‘did the Outback’ with and he’s right there in all the photos, flashing his bum cheeks in front of Uluru and grinning goofily at a kangaroo. In reality Princey is a bit odd. And not the sort of person who you would talk to if you hadn’t been thrown together on your trip. But now Princey is coming to London and he’d like to meet up. In fact, please could he come and spend a couple of nights on your sofa?
Okay, you think, remembering the drinking games, the sunrises, the caves. And so you agree.
This is a big mistake. When he bounces through the arrival gate at Heathrow shouting, “I like your style,” you remember just how odd Princey is.
“So when did I last see you?” he asks.
“Three years?” I hazard.
“That’s right,” he says. “Our trip ran from August 13th to August 21st. I know this ‘cos I
pierced my eyebrow on the eighth.”
“Okay,” I say, aware I’m missing EastEnders.
“Now,” he said. “In September I went to Rockhampton and almost got a job picking cucumbers. But that fell through as there was a mix-up with the uniform.”
Surely I’m not going to get an account of the last three years?
“And in October,” he continued.
And so it went on…
“Oh,” he said, as I was dropping off, “I know what else I’ve done since I saw you. I lost my virginity.”
“Oh good,” I said flatly.
“Yes,” he said. “We met on the net. She flew across from Toronto. I booked a room, within 12 minutes, we were having sex.”
And within 13 minutes it was all over and she was trying to leap out of the hotel window? Somehow I managed to refrain from asking.
The next night my flatmates were very confused as Princey gave a scientific description of each different type of mould.
No. 93 to Wimbledon
But by the following night, their confusion had turned to anger.
“He’s got to go,” they said.
“At 11 o’clock he sat on my bed in his boxer shorts and told me he was a sex god,” my flatmate Rachel hissed. “And he was on the phone to Canada.”
“We won’t let him in,” resolved Susie. “We’ll leave a note saying we’ve moved.”
Then we hear a key in the door.
“You didn’t?” Rachel asked.
“I’m sorry,” I said helplessly.
“Hello,” he said. “I’ve been shopping. You owe me Â£29.72.”
His Waitrose bags were bulging with beer cans, steak, and prawns.
“You can’t cook that here,” I said. “Rachel is beef intolerant. See?” I said, pulling her sleeve to reveal the birthmark I knew she had on her arm. “She’s getting a rash already.”
“Get the 93 to Wimbledon,” said Susie. “There’s a lovely YMCA there with fantastic frying pans.” He looked dumb-founded so Rachel began to gasp for air until he gathered his bags and left.
Okay. That’s not quite true. He’s still here. He’s probably on my computer right now talking about cucumbers on MSN. We can’t get rid of him. Travellers, learn from my mistake! Don’t give your email address out to everyone you meet.
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