Graham's True Stories
Number 36, Maggie
国厂精品114福利电影Still in North Africa with this story, but another trip and one that found Maggie and I in Tangiers - I think it was Tangiers, it all happened a few years ago now.
It was a super cheap package tour but the hotel was reasonable and the only cloud on the horizon was the lack of hire cars. Seems that there were none available without the right documentation and I had somehow missed out on taking a Tangierian driving test.
国厂精品114福利电影One of the waiters offered his ancient motor cycle for the equivalent of $2 a day (all in). All-in, it seemed, included everything bar insurance, fuel, air in the rear tyre and we were planning an antique hunt, and there is a limit to what can be packed onto the back of a 1934 BSA motorcycle.
国厂精品114福利电影None of the available taxis looked capable of getting outside the city limits without major surgery so we carefully browsed the available excursions offered by the tour company. One, by coach, offered the delights of the “Fabulous Maki Market” and we signed up for the next day's run.
As we approached Maki, the number of local merchants on their way to market increased. These could be identified quite easily - man of the house strolling along the dirt road with his wife trailing behind with the 50-gallon oil drum filled with garden produce strapped to her back. Some clearly more-affluent families had a donkey. This allowed the husband to ride ahead of the wife and the oil drum.
The market itself was a strange mixture of produce laid on sacks on the ground and shack shops with plastic sheeting for windows.
And it was in one of these shops that we saw two items that we knew we had to have. The first was a beautiful phonograph horn from the 1920s, unblemished and probably never used in anger. The second was more exciting - the clockwork motor from a 1901 Berliner disc phonograph, the company which eventually became Victor. It was the motor from the “His Master's Voice” machine and very, very desirable.
国厂精品114福利电影Problem was that the shop was closed and attempts to find the owner by sign language simply resulted in drinking motions from his fellow traders.
国厂精品114福利电影Whether this meant that the shopkeeper was drinking tea or that we should go and do so until he returned was never clear. Our problem was that the coach would leave on the hour and was due to call at another market before returning to the hotel. The minutes ticked away and, as the driver started the coach, we put plan one into action (there was no plan two).
Maggie would hang around the market, buy the items and find her way back, somehow, to the hotel, whilst I carried onto the next stop. I can now sense some raised eyebrows amongst my readers, but let me assure you all that Maggie is a very resourceful lady and probably far better at handling the problem of a 30-mile cross desert trip than I. And the advice that echoes around European antique markets has ever been - “Don't Mess with Maggie”.
I settled back in the coach, having had a word with the driver, and off we set. I heard whispers from the other passengers - mostly American, German and English - who were clearly wondering about the empty seat next to me.
国厂精品114福利电影I wish I could claim complete spontaneity for my eventual answer but, in truth, I probably had five minutes whist the whispering grew louder before the question eventually came.
国厂精品114福利电影The brave soul who made it was a charming lady from Maine.
国厂精品114福利电影“Err, excuse me, sir”, she said. “Could we ask, what has happened to your wife?”
In the most casual manner I could affect I replied as if it were the most natural thing in the world
国厂精品114福利电影“Oh, Maggie? I traded her for two sheep and a goat.”
国厂精品114福利电影Deathly silence. Then the odd titter. They assumed it was a joke. They hoped it was a joke and I sat there with the smirk of an efficient businessman who has just swung a good deal and said not another word.
Maggie made it back sharing a taxi with 9nine (yes nine) local ladies, one phonograph horn and the Berliner motor. I'd been quite wrong about the cabs not making it through the desert.
Unfortunately, I completely forgot to tell her about the conversation in the coach.
At dinner that night, two charming ladies from Germany approached us.
“We knew your husband was joking about trading you”, they told Maggie, “otherwise, he would have had the animals in the coach with him”.
This, believe me, took a little explaining .......