My wife was off to New York for a jolly. I was working shifts, four days on four days off. If I took four off I got 12 days. I called Julian and told him we were going to Morocco. He said he’d better check with Ginni and I made sure to remind him that it was a Muslim country, no bottle shops and no bikinis, surely plus points when selling a boys trip to your better half?
We got super cheap midday flights from Gatwick, grabbed a bottle of Scotch and a couple of cartons of Marlboro from duty-free (neither of us smoked, but here’s a freebie.’ Made in America’ cigarettes will get you almost anything in Morocco, especially your hire car not broken into) and landed in Marrakech a couple of hours before sundown. I’d sorted out the car hire from the UK and obviously made sure it was a hatch-back, so when we walked out to the rental area pressing the button on the key fob to see which car lit up we weren’t best pleased when a Renault Logan sedan flashed back at us. We protested and got nowhere, it was allegedly all they had (here’s another tip, don’t have your boards anywhere near the rental desk when you pick up your keys).
We found that there was a hole in the steel plate between the boot and the back seat and if you kicked hard enough it unclipped (broke off?) and we could fit the boards through the gap. We shut the boot looked at each and both shrugged in resignation “Kenny it is then” said Julian, genius. Kenny Logan, 70 caps for Scotland and seven (?) seasons for Wasps, a glowing cigarette lighter in the darkness of Scottish rugby union.
We didn’t have a map but we knew where the Sun went down and the small walled fishing town of Essaouira made famous by Jimi, Neil, Crosby, never mind John, Paul, George and Ringo, was due West. Sunglasses on, visors down we squinted our way to the coast. You should go there, it’s beautiful; really it is and it’s still cheap to stay in the medina but the next morning the wind was onshore and we elected to take Kenny South to Taghazout, home to the infamous Anchor point. We drove past Imsouane where tantalising knee high lines wrapped around the break wall and peeled all the way into the bay, a logger’s wet dream. We got to Tamri, a gently sloping beach break just North of Anchor’s, Tamri picks up anything going. Why it isn’t called ‘Desperado’s’ or a synonym thereof I do not know. Everyone knows Morocco is points and if you find yourself surfing a mediocre beachy… Anyway, we paid the goat herder in ciggies and Kenny was safe, we surfed a mediocre beachy.
We drove straight through Taghazout and urged Kenny up over the hill and down into Agadir. I’d been before and knew the way to the one supermarket that had a duty free grog shop in the back. Julian was conflicted, he didn’t know whether to admonish me or kiss me. He ended up just giving me a handful of Dirham and loading the cart with booze. We got back to Taghazout and negotiated a cheap apartment over-looking a tiny little bay with a crescent beach. We ate, we got drunk. We woke up. It hadn’t worked, it was still flat, but wait, what was that on the beach below our balcony? There were two girls in bikinis doing cartwheels. Honestly. Julian was conflicted.
It remained flat. We hammered the fuck out of Kenny. We tried off the lips on sand dunes; we got astonished praise from the taxi driver next to us at a junction for beeping at the cars in front a millisecond after the lights changed and before he’d had a chance to. We attempted wheel spins but just made the clutch smell. We tried to pick up people we thought were hitch hikers but they kept waving us on. And it remained flat.
We set off a day early for the drive back to Marrakech to have a night in the city. We were on the outskirts negotiating a roundabout when we got pulled. I probably would have pulled us too if I’m honest. The navy blue Kenny was now almost entirely sand covered. The heavy morning dews followed by our rally trips down the sand tracks had combined to cake Kenny in a thick crust of Khaki. Artistically challenged well-wishers intent on seeing us off in style had written inspirational messages in the dust. I thought ‘wave killers’ was generous considering they hadn’t seen us surf. There was of course the less complimentary dick and balls resplendent with jizz fountain, on the bonnet.
The cops on the side of the road that pulled us over encouraged me to have a look at the back of the speed camera mounted on the tripod. It read 68kmh. It was a 50 zone. I hadn’t yet changed out of second gear coming off the roundabout. I hate paying baksheesh. My foil has always been time. Let’s face it, it’s only ever in foreign countries you find yourself being fleeced (for cold hard cash) by the cops and most of the time you’re on holiday ergo you have time on your side. I do my utmost to confound them by talking non-stop and rapidly. List excuses: we only have small money, we’re just on our way to the airport, we spent it all, we have some ciggies though, of course we don’t want the hassle of appearing in court in Denpasar but if we must Pak…
A white seven seat SUV full of white faces, boards piled high on the roof and Hertz stickers all over it was exiting the roundabout. The cop nodded sympathetically to me and instructed me to continue on my journey wishing us safe travels (Julian didn’t believe me either) and spun the camera in the direction of the road before leaping out on the newest rental. Fucker didn’t even hide it from me.
We didn’t get to see the reaction of the rental staff when we returned Kenny. Our flight was pre-dawn; we left him in the unlit rental return area and chucked the key in a box. We took a photo. I don’t think we’d ever returned a car in that state before. The flash wasn’t strong enough in the dim carpark and all we had was a grainy image of a navy mud streaked shape with hard corners and indecipherable writing, looking despondent in the half-light. It could have been Murrayfield.