During my previous excursions with the snooker boys, I have been tragically absent from any proceedings beyond day two. My usual routine is to get bladdered on the first night while I feel lively, stumble out twenty four hours later feeling wobbly, then my body has some kind of breakdown and I’m in bed by half eleven with a cup of tea made by the pathetic miniature kettle on the hotel table and John Sopel examining a bank bailout on Newsnight.
That could never happen in Magaluf for varying reasons. One, I would lose a ton of LAD points (more on that later). Two, we are in a non-stop party place where the clubs stay open until 6am and there is little else to do except drink horrid vodka that makes you wince with every gulp, attempting to initiate sexual proceedings with anything that moves, before booking a trip to the clinic on the flight home. Three, the telly costs four Euros per day so a brew and a spot of late night politics were out of the question.
First we had to negotiate a Ryanair flight. All I could think as I sat in the cabin drowning in yellow, blue and poor people, was that if the worst happens, my last living sight could be a long metallic tube staffed by the most gormless flight attendants you could ever wish to meet, while various Reebok-clad sewer-dwellers panic like some wag on The Only Way Is Essex who has mislaid her makeup kit. When the perma-tanned stewardess at the front of the plane started demonstrating the safety procedures, I remember thinking I’ve seen livelier looking pillar boxes.
Ryanair flights are cheap and nasty. They remind me of those old women at supermarket checkouts with a tartan trolley and a bag full of pennies to play the lottery with. Yet when the menu came round, I wondered whether we were in the Ritz hotel. The woman beside me purchased a small cardboard box of dried fruit for five Euros, while water fetched three Euros per bottle. I wouldn’t mind if the service was top notch and every sinew of effort was being spent on making my flight a pleasurable experience. But a downpour at Stanstead forced us to run across the tarmac and scramble on the plane like captured POWs being hauled aboard a ship, although the menacing row of machine guns were replaced by an unsmiling simpleton wishing us a pleasant journey.
There was a mad scramble for seats as Ryanair neglects to hand out individual seat numbers. They just fling as many pasty-faced Brits into the aircraft as possible, meaning that large groups of people have to split up and shout to each other during the flight, which makes for an extremely friendly ambience, something like a prison block after lights out. As the plane landed, and the thunk of a tyre on runway gave way to a set of screeching breaks, celebratory music was played over the sound system, a wonderfully cheap gimmick. You can’t imagine Qatar Airways doing the same, perhaps inviting their cabin crew to cheerlead a “We didn’t die in a great ball of fire” routine as the pilot strides out from the cockpit and bows before his grateful customers.
The flight parked so far away from the terminal that a troupe of buses had to ferry us back. Brilliantly, in a near-empty airport and with zero traffic, the driver got lost.
“That’s the third time we’ve gone past that refuelling tank” the ageing bloke beside me said, in a resigned ‘typical bloody foreigners’ sort of voice. We wanted a full seven nights out, so were desperate to get to our hotel and head out straight away because the clock was ticking. Therefore, in duty-free, we purchased a fair bundle of vodka so the drinking could begin in earnest. It was in the taxi, with a bottle of Sprite and vodka in hand, that thoughts turned to the LAD Bible. The idea is that certain escapades earn you points and the person with the most points would win a pot of cash. A snog was worth one point, so was throwing up. “Well, Chris is guaranteed seven points” said Zack, knowing that my stomach is a tender beast at the best of times.
At the other end of the scale, a two-bagger (a girl so ugly you need two brown bags at hand – one for you and one for her in case yours slips off) was worth a cool ten points. I fully realise that this is gratuitous stuff. Sexist and misogynist, oh yes. Reducing women to points in a competition truly should be the lowest of the low. I was therefore somewhat cheered when we found a group of girls operating a similar system, which means that even if our game was a sexist’s charter, it was being adopted by both sides of the divide.
At the hotel we changed and showered in a matter of minutes to get down ‘n’ funky with the Magaluf lasses. To set the template for the coming week, we had barely walked out of the hotel when a blonde kid chased us down the road, telling us to visit the venue opposite our hotel which had a massive sign describing it as a ‘Local British pub’, playing host to ‘Top British DJs’, despite it being 11pm and empty. I chance life and limb on a Ryanair flight, travelling hundreds of miles to experience a new culture, and the first thing I see is a local British pub. Terrific.
The reps were the most irritating feature of the holiday, although the prostitutes gave them a run for their money. This isn’t prostitution Amsterdam-style, all legal, bathed in red light and erotic – it’s tacky. Young black women (they are all black, unless you would call the trashy white girl gyrating against her chosen man in a bar a whore, which most of us did) approach you out of nowhere. They are like flying ants, rising from the nearest drain or car park, making kissing sounds to attract your attention like a half-hearted plunger. Some go further, moving in for the kill with a touch to the arm, stomach or crotch.
“Sucky sucky ten Euro” they purr, ignoring frequent requests to piss off. Turning the corner into the square containing my hotel one night, I saw a fat kid hastily zipping up his shorts. He then ran down the street in pursuit of his chosen belle, shouting “How can you say a thirty second hand job is worth ten Euros? I want sucky sucky”. His chubby legs carried him to the nearest fast food restaurant (about four paces away) before his dreams of sucky sucky vanished and he ordered a kebab, with a shrug that said “You win some, you lose some”.
Yet the reps are more annoying because they know they are legal and it gives them a sense of invincibility. All it takes to scare the prostitutes away is for someone to make a ‘nee-nor’ sound and flash a blue light. Watch them run away as fast as their high heels and mini-skirts will allow them to. On the other hand, the reps won’t take no for an answer, turning into shepherds herding young men and women into their bar.
Repetitive cries of “I’ll give you two jugs of cocktails, two for one on all your drinks and a free shot, all for six Euros” tumbled from every rep on the strip in a cavalcade of desperate voices. There’s this weird contract between punters and reps. The girls are always extremely flirty towards the lads and they always seemed to pick on Ryan, by far the shortest member of our group (a fact we never, ever mention) maybe because he looked the most gullible.
Jamie – who we all know better as Lui due to his uncanny resemblance to Lui Chang, a Chinese snooker player – was always excruciating in these moments, trying it on with the female reps, somehow thinking they might leave their purely commission-based jobs to have it off with the ugliest player on the professional snooker tour.
The night before leaving, someone mentioned travel insurance and I had a panic attack because it hadn’t even crossed my mind. Thankfully, Tesco offers a quick service over the net for the traveller in a hurry. Medical expenses up to £2 million were covered, which I was hopeful might cover any naughty digressions. Russ on the other hand decided to keep his spare money for the drinking.
Lo and behold, he woke up after the first night to find his phone missing. Not just any phone but a £400 iPhone and one which Russ admitted felt like “a limb”. Being the best of friends, with Russell’s emotions and well-being at heart, we only asked him to text us his whereabouts should he ever get lost every fifteen minutes or so. He was the only person without insurance, the poor fella, another thing we mentioned on the hour, every hour, lest he forget. Merciless.
The Red Lion seemed to become our regular haunt, mainly because after four nights it was the only place that any of us had managed to hook up. As is tradition, my first night was pretty massive and I remember dancing for ages with a rather attractive girl, while the rest of the group snickered and pointed. Next thing I know I’m waking up in my hotel room, alone and dehydrated. I entered the toilet and a monstrous smell greeted my nostrils. Sick covered the floor and the toilet was a mess. “Shitting heck Jamie” I remember tutting, going next door to use their toilet until Jamie did the honourable thing and cleared up his mess. Turned out I had a kebab (for the first time in my life – I must have been pissed) and it was me. It smelt like a chicken korma too. Don’t ask.
We had all tried to look our best for Magaluf. Personally, I undertook so many trips to the gym that I felt I had to explain to the receptionist why I didn’t look like a dead cert for the next front cover of Men’s Fitness magazine. Russ tried his hardest, bless him, but the tedium of employment got the better of him. Ryan, Sam and Zack went shopping on numerous occasions, hand-picking the garments which they thought would have the biggest pulling power. Dean’s a skinny rake anyway, so his preparations amounted to packing the evening before our trip. Ergo Jamie.
I mention this because none of us looked like Pink Shorts. On the second day, we decided to waste time around the pool in order to acclimatise with the weather and our fellow bikini-wearing guests. Yet as we topped up our tan and played volleyball in the pool, Pink Shorts was sorted, surrounded by a posse of women, all admiring his tanned, toned body and rippling six pack. I looked down at the blub I’d failed to shift and cried.
“Boys” said Ryan one afternoon, as another buff man-mountain found himself surrounded by a phalanx of eligible young women, “We need to go somewhere the boys are ugly next time”.
“Only so you fit in” Sam acidly replied.
Things got worse too. We were getting bullied. We bought a volleyball in the misplaced hope it might aid communication with the masses, especially as we weren’t keen on Sam’s advice, which was to take up smoking: “Asking for a lighter is the best conversation starter”. By day three, the boorish men on stag dos and young Pedros with jarringly muscular abdomens were kicking our ball over the fence and generally sending us back to year seven P.E. We were grown men and we were being bullied on holiday. We were making The Inbetweeners look like the height of cool.
Even the girls staying in the apartments opposite would sooner have been staying next to an incinerator than the seven of us. It didn’t help that they were the sourest, most miserable people in Spain. When they first arrived, all leggy, hat-wearing and gorgeous, we practically wet ourselves. Zack was so excited he went to do his hair again. Minutes later, our friendly advances had been rebuffed and every time we met in the hallway there was an awkward silence. “Why can’t we be normal?” someone sighed. Hilariously, Ryan managed to sneak next door one morning, trying to get some sympathy for his pathetic points tally. They were a collective shoulder to cry on and seemed to be warming to him. Come the afternoon, when sobered up, the door was shut and it was The Cold War all over again.
All of this is not to suggest we weren’t enjoying ourselves. On the contrary, when out and about, we forgot about our dire hotel experiences and got ‘on it’, doing all the things you’re supposed to do on a lad’s holiday. On the second night, I lost most of the group and headed back to our presumptive headquarters, The Red Lion. There, a plump Spanish girl stuck her tongue down my throat. Even though my taste buds were screaming for release (the garlic!) my hormones were telling me otherwise. Plus she was a fat girl, which meant I had already bagged two points.
I gestured that we should leave The Red Lion and, you know, undergo a guided tour of my hotel bedroom. She whispered “Uno momento” and rushed over to her mates, where she spent the next couple of minutes looking frantically to me and back. She returned and from her expression I could tell she had to stay. Instead of saying anything, she pulled my head down with the force of an arm-wrestling champion (my neck still hurts) and gave me another garlic tongue lashing. It was like snogging a chicken kiev. “I want more than two points from this” I thought, so I asked again. She scurried off and returned with little more than an open mouth, like a particularly dozy goldfish. I just walked out. A gentleman, I know.
Famously, holiday resorts that cater for booze-laden tourists encourage displays of manliness, none more so than with games like The Boxer, which can be located in every bar and club. Basically, you have to punch a leather ball as hard as you can and register a score between 0 and 999. Every man and his dog thinks they have what it takes to score big after a crate of WKD, so naturally, we all had a go in Baywatch, a beach-themed bar.
As mentioned earlier, Dean’s a skinny so-and-so with barely a muscle to his name. He tenses his biceps in the classic ‘lad’ pose and there is no discernible difference. However, for some unknown reason, he had a killer punch in the boxing game. While his competitors were crashing and burning with scores under 800 (not to mention a multitude of bruised hands and fingers), Dean smashed his way to a scarcely believable 854. Drugs tests were jealously demanded. He beat all in his path, an all-conquering hero. Until some nutter came along and almost broke the machine with a new high score of 914. Dean looked away, disheartened. “Show off” I heard him mutter, even though he started revving his arms and posing like Usain Bolt after registering 854.
Halfway through our holiday, there were three contenders for the LAD Bible title. Zack had opened his account on the first night with a crop-haired girl he had met in a park on the walk home. If this sounds like something which would normally land you in front of a judge, that’s nothing to the piss-taking he had to endure. Because her hair was of such a mannish quality, we christened her Frodo. Cue much joking about “destroying the ring”. Turned out she was on the same floor, so the next week was punctuated with muffled whispers of “here comes the Fellowship” and avoidance of the communal lift in case Frodo had returned from the Shire.
Jamie, who now also went by the name Radek Stepanek (the ugliest pro tennis player), struck gold on the middle night with a double. The first came about because he was talking to every girl on the strip like he was the host of The Generation Game. “Where are you from?” he said, badgering every girl he came across. One girl said she was from Brighton and we got a little excited.
“Oh my god, so are we!”
She gave us a suspicious glance, probably because men with thick Irish accents said the same thing, thinking of it as a way in. In a moment of inspiration, I thought of a foolproof way of persuading her.
“That’s where the 49A goes isn’t it?” I enquired and her face lit up like a beacon. That was possibly the only time in history that an intricate knowledge of Brighton & Hove bus services comes in handy with the ladies.
Jamie hooked up with a half-Spanish girl and I was forced to play second fiddle with her mate, Annie, who it soon became clear would rather back flip off the top floor of her hotel than contribute towards my points tally. We headed down to the beach and adopted a deckchair as Jamie soon left in the darkness, girl in tow.
“You don’t fancy me do you?” I asked Annie, not particularly minding the answer. She knew she needed me, in case things went wrong and I needed to get hold of Jamie. But equally she didn’t like me in the slightest. She stared at me for a couple of seconds, kissed me on the lips (a point!) and then glanced nervously in the direction her mate and mine left for the umpteenth time. Upon their return, both were insufferably giggly and all over each other so I returned to the hotel for nap time (nap times mysteriously became more common after our poolside traumas). Come 8am, Jamie entered the apartment with another girl and they used the bed beside me as if I wasn’t there. Understandably, she seemed a bit freaked out.
“What about your friend?”
“Don’t worry, he’s probably passed out” Jamie said, at once humiliating me and my lightweight tendencies, and condemning me to listen to a full ten minutes of squelching, groans and the breaking of bedsprings.
Sam was also in the running, if only for the best post-coital sentence in the history of man. As Ryan woke up and poked his head through the bedroom door, with a cheeky “wakey wakey”, Sam was still clutching someone.
“You scored me so many points last night” he said, through a smarmy grin.
“Fuck off” she barked.
“Russ, send me a text saying how many points you’ve got” Zack cruelly said.
While it’s true that every night presented a fresh set of challenges and renewal of our Magaluf vows, the persistent drinking, a diet of barely passable hotel food and the outrageously hot weather meant that our immune systems were taking a battering. By day five, every one of us had a ‘warm’. The same symptoms in Britain would have constituted a ‘cold’ but as we were in the eye of a heat wave, with temperatures pushing 39 degrees, it seemed a little incongruous to call it a ‘cold’. Dean was sneezing, Zack and I were coughing, and we all felt like someone was jumping on our chests while we slept. “I’ve got such a bad warm” Ryan moaned, beleaguered, as he coughed up his liver.
On the first night we were warned about the local vodka, called Rushkinoff. Vile stuff by all accounts. Apparently, it makes you lose your voice. Naturally sceptic of this fishwives’ tale, we hit the Rushkinoff hard all week until a conversation in our room sounded like Billy Connolly having an argument with a faulty Dyson. It’s fair to say that Magaluf had ruined us.
There was still time to meet some real characters, among them Denzel, a big black guy who seemed to be making his way through the female citizens of Mallorca at an extraordinary rate. If asked for his notches on the bedpost, it would have been quicker to point out the girls he hadn’t bedded. Zack met him first, exiting a hotel.
“I just nicked 300 Euros out of their safe” Denzel bragged, with barely a hint of emotion. The following day, a mere twenty-four hours later, he confessed to Jamie that his criminality had failed to pay off.
“I lost all the money while I was on the strip and then I set off a fire extinguisher at my hotel so I owe them 150 Euros” he plaintively admitted. Karma’s a strange beast.
Back at the hotel, I bumped in to a couple standing outside a room on my floor. He was wearing nothing but a towel and was cosying up to her again. After noticing me, he halted all festivities and stared unblinkingly at me. As I drew level he bellowed in a brash Yorkshire accent “My name is Nathan and I am the king of self-fellatio!”
It’s 5am, I’m alone, the man has more tattoos than brain cells. What on earth am I supposed to do? Well, if you’re me, you say “Good for you” and hope that will suffice. He eventually let it go and allowed me a safe passage back to my room.
With the competition heating up, it was time for someone to pull something drastic out of the bag. And from his bag, Zack pulled a belter. A bonus three points was available for anyone who managed to record something. The morning after the night before, Zack treated us to a muffled sex tape. This was made a hundred times more cringeworthy because he had adopted a husky voice, which had a ring of Barry White about it. “Oh baby, you’re gonna make me cum” we heard him groan, in the cheesiest porn star voice imaginable. I was picturing a grainy 1970s showreel, a spectacular moustache and a blonde damsel with fake hair up to the ceiling.
But then real life interrupted and a shrill female voice shouted:
“THAT BETTER BE A FUCKING TORCH!”
The recording stopped abruptly and we looked at Zack for a moment before applauding his chutzpah, even if his ego was already large enough to warrant an extra seat on the return flight.
Ryan wasn’t having much luck, exemplified by his vest, which for no reason other than to spite him, turned from pink to white whenever in contact with heat. His already sunburnt body was thereafter juxtaposed with a half-pink, half-white sleeveless shirt which made him look like a horizontal stick of Brighton rock.
On the last night, he promised to go all out in pursuit of points, for he was propping up the table. In BCM, the best nightclub I have ever been in – the thumping, filthy electro house made me pogo relentlessly, whether intoxicated or not – he was making headway with a very pretty girl. They retired to the bar for chat and liquor. A few minutes later we were adopting rictus grins and shaking our heads in disbelief. Ryan was cradling the girl’s head in his lap. We couldn’t believe it – nothing all holiday, and then he gets a public blowy in one of the world’s best nightclubs!
Again, reality spoilt the party and the champagne was put on ice. Turns out she was off her trolley and she was choosing that moment to empty her stomach all over Ryan’s shorts. Ryan’s reaction was priceless. Instead of walking away and cursing his luck, night ruined, he brushed off the incident (and the vodka soup) and said “Better not kiss her for a while… get a few drinks down her”. That, for future reference, is desperation in all its glory.
Magaluf 2012. Been there, done it, got the sick-stained shorts.