5th March 2007
Everything was going fine until the camel in front of my camel farted.
However Iâ€™d better begin at the beginning.
On holiday in Lanzarote I was looking at the brochure of holiday attractions that that wonderful little island has to offer when my eyes alighted on the words, â€˜You will have the possibility of riding a camelâ€™ included in the advertising literature for a trip up Fire Mountain, Lanzaroteâ€™s most famous attraction. Untroubled by having only the most basic skills in English Language, what the writer of the blurb probably meant was â€˜You will have the opportunity to ride a camelâ€™; for a possibility it most certainly was not, certainly not for me at any rate, because having succumbed to the delights of camel riding on a previous visit to Lanzarote twelve months ago I wasnâ€™t about to tempt fate a second time. Once bitten, twice shy, as the saying goes, although to tell the truth I wasnâ€™t bitten by the camel, just merely deposited on the floor and kicked a couple of times.
The muzzle adorning the camelâ€™s hairy snout might have warned me that the beast I had been persuaded to ride atop would prove to be not as sweet-natured as I would have liked; The fact is I didnâ€™t need much persuading as I had been presented with a chance to show off, and as I donâ€™t get too many nowadays I seized upon it without concerning myselfÂ at all with the possible consequences.
It is in fact very unusual to ride on top of the camel on these trips in the foothills of Fire Mountain as all the camels have two seats suspended to their sides, rather like large saddlebags, in which the passengers are carried. However there was an odd number in our party and I was the odd one out when everyone else had boarded. Spotting this, and no doubt seeing me as a man of action who would take it in his stride, the camel drover invited me to sit on top of the camel, rather than in one of the seats. I took this as to be nothing but good sense as to sit in one of the seats would have meant that the camel would have had an unbalanced load. In fact even if Iâ€™d spurned the camel droverâ€™s invitation and chosen to sit in one of the seats the camelâ€™s load wouldnâ€™t have been half as unbalanced as its state of mind when the camel in front farted.
Animals are known to have a keener sense of smell than humans but as the stink that emanated from the camel in frontâ€™s arse was by far the worst odour it has ever been my displeasure to inhale God alone knows what it must have been like for my camel.
I have never attempted to ride a bucking bronco but after what followed I would have gladly swapped the ten seconds or so that I spent on the camel for an hour on the buckingest bronco known to the Wild West. I will never know exactly what happened when the camel went berserk because all I saw was the world going round and round and up and down at about a hundred miles an hour, before suddenly stopping to go up, but still round and round, when I hit the ground with a thud that must have been heard in our flat back in Puerto del Carmen. Before I could get to my feet the camel had kicked me in two places – where I was and about five yards further up Fire Mountain, where its first kick had deposited me. The camel drover, between laughs, couldnâ€™t have been more apologetic. I would have preferred a smaller apology and less amusement. Fortunately only my pride was hurt, apart from a couple of large bruises, but I had rode my last camel.
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Terry Ravenscroft, 19 Ventura Court, Ollersett Avenue, New Mills, High Peak, SK22 4LL