I went away for a few days last week.
A short decompression after the madness of the Edinburgh Fringe. A relaxing time, right? Of course not.
We’d booked an Air BnB – a little cottage by the beach with great views of a farmer’s silage container and enough security lights to make you wonder if it was silage the farmer was keeping in the container.
The lights were also a bit sensitive. Not in a ‘don’t look at this video of a man’s dislocated ankle being put back in place of you’re a bit sensitive’ kind of way. Obviously. Just in a going-off-twenty-times-a-night-when-an-insect-flies-past kind of way.
But it was nice. And the couple who owned the cottage – and lived next door – seemed nice too. Really nice. Down to earth people who left us to it really. Perfect. For now.
The cottage was covered in seaside bits and bobs. Everything on theme – the words ‘sea’ and ‘beach’ carved out of wood; a boat; a picture of a boat; cushions with boats on; a cushion in the shape of a boat; a boat in the shape of a cushion.
There’s a shop in the local town that for the sake of this we’ll call Seaside Shite. Firstly because I don’t actually know what it’s called – that’s what I call it whenever we’re there – and secondly because it sums up what they sell pretty well.
When we arrived in the cottage it felt almost as if Seaside Shite had backed a lorry up to the French Windows and unloaded a huge seaside shite of seaside shite into the front room.
Needless to say it wasn’t long before we broke something. Emma moved a table and the wooden words Sea and Beach fell off and snapped in two. Bugger.
Not to worry though, I said, calmly trying to save the first 3 minutes of the holiday. I bet they bought it from Seaside Shite! We’ll just pop in there tomorrow and replace them.
It was a couple of days before we made our way to Seaside Shite, whilst the broken pieces lay on the table in the cottage, in full view of the French Windows. We’re the worst criminals ever. If we ever accidentally killed someone it would probably take us a week to bury the body – ‘We can’t tomorrow, you promised we’d go for a Nandos!’
We had a wander round and couldn’t find a replacement so instead picked up some super glue (it’s the sort of shop that sells a wide range of stuff, like a mini Aldi) and went to the counter.
It took me a moment stood at the counter to realise why the man behind it was smiling at me friendlier than usual. My brain slowly piece together a few bits of information like a budget Sherlock. There was a reason the cottage was covered in the sort of stuff you’d get in this shop.
It WAS the stuff in this shop.
They owned the bloody shop!
Ah shite. In my mind this meant they’d definitely know if something was, say, broken then glued shoddily back together. Especially if the couple who currently occupied that space had recently had need to buy super glue. Who buys super glue on holiday!?
“Got everything for the beach?”
“I knew I’d forgotten something! We’ll have to go into town.”
Said no one. Ever.
Surely he’d piece this together and be onto us. Probably best just come clean. Apologise and we’d all be smooth from there.
It just didn’t seem like the right moment. Right there. When I was buying super glue. It all felt a bit obvious. So I left it, for now, and we got chatting.
I asked him about the shop. He told me it was great, having banter with the same tourists who came every year.
Then something weird happened. You know when someone takes a conversation in a different direction because you can tell they really want to talk about something.
I shit you not, he started talking about a time recently when someone broke something in his shop. And they’d tried to get away without paying for it. Was he on to us already?
Maybe he’d seen through the French Windows.
Maybe he had an IQ higher than 5 and realised NO ONE BUYS SUPER GLUE ON HOLIDAY UNLESS THEY’VE BROKEN SOMETHING.
Either way he gets into this story, and I mean really gets into it. Starts telling us how the guy who broke one of his bits of tat refused to pay. So he refused to let him out of the shop.
So the guy tried to punch him. At this point he told us that he was okay with that because he’s taught mixed martial arts for over 40 years – something I was sceptical about as he only looked about 45. My issue is, when someone has just told me they have a specific set of violent skills I tend to let stuff like that go.
He continued with his story and said the guy tried to punch him for a second time, which he said meant he was now allowed to fight back. He said this with an authority that made me believe him at the time, but looking back I’m not sure this is a legal definition. It sounds more like playground rules than, y’know, actual rules.
He then tells us how he dragged this guy to a place outside that he knows isn’t covered by CCTV, put his finger and his thumb into the guy’s jugular and ‘sent him to sleep’. He licked his lips just after he said this.
At which point my natural reaction was to laugh. And then to correct myself by realising that OH GOD THIS GUY IS A FUCKING MANIAC AND WE’VE GOT THREE NIGHTS LEFT IN HIS COTTAGE.
We carefully backed out of the shop, didn’t really speak much to each other for the rest of the day and lay awake that night, terrified every time a security light went off that a man was going to come and put us to sleep.
Which would’ve actually been handy as neither of us could sleep. Because we were scared that a man was going to come and put us to sleep. The irony was lost on us.
Like I say, a nice relaxing few days away.
Long story short, we glued the words back together, left for home at 4am with none of our belongings but with our lives. We’re now moving house every 3 months to stay safe.