|The glorious Hotel Kupa. No really...|
Czechoslovakia? Really? What was it about the place that tickled your fancy?
Picture this: it is 1990. Or perhaps 1992. Actually, I have no idea as that thing called memory is proving to be a precarious beast since the big 4-0 came along and bitch-slapped me around the chops. Where was I? Oh yes! Around the age of 15, I got to go overseas on a school trip. It was my first time abroad and I lied through my back teeth in order to get my parents to let me go. The one good thing about being a fat knacker with a haircut that guaranteed my virginity meant that I could play the sympathy card quite effectively. Which I did, quite often. Hurrah! I didn’t really give a monkey’s about Prague as a destination as such. I’d have pulled all the same stunts to go to a modern day Syria, to tell you the truth. Just think, I could’ve ended up being an ISIS bride, for the love of God! Anyway, being allowed to go on the trip meant that I got to go on an aeroplane and go ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ at stewards who would vogue their way through the safety demonstrations. It meant that I got to walk in a foreign land, eat strange food and annoy the locals of a mysterious place where people used the letter ‘z’ in a way that made no sense whatsoever. Fancy!
What was it like then? Any good?
I remember it as a bit of a shit hole, but I liked it all the same. We stayed in a place called Hotel Kupa, which clearly took its inspiration from a communist take on Stephen King’s The Shining. Looking back, I should’ve run around screeching, ‘Here’s Johnny!’ while slamming axes into poorly constructed doors but I was probably too busy repelling people with my fright wig that wasn’t actually a wig. Think of a radioactive pervert that has been bred with an obese lamb with foot and mouth. Plus, I was a fat kid and not a fan of running - unless a Big Mac was somehow involved. Hotel Kupa consisted of two towering blocks of fag-stinking flats connected by a unsafe looking corridor near the top floor. It was all very old fashioned, bizarre, kitsch and fascinating - as you can see from the photo I’ve very kindly sourced for your voyeuristic pleasure… You’re welcome, or nemas zac, as the Czechs might say, depending on their mood.
What was the food like?
Repugnant for the main part. Because we were on a school trip, we would spend our days pretending to be interested in whatever tour we were on - old squares full of unhealthy looking Czech pigeons and mad people talking wildly to their hand; museums that smelled of mothballs, unwashed hair and sadness; aimless wanderings around streets with buildings that looked as though they were made out of gingerbread. Each day, we would set off with a packed lunch that smelled of hot tripe. Have you ever smelled tripe? If you haven’t, it smells like deep-belly vomit and painful death. Whatever it was they gave us smelled just like that. Being the greedy little fat fucker that I was, the stench didn’t stop me WOLFING IT DOWN as though someone was going to steal it from me. Looking back, I was probably channelling my inner communist. What with my breath thereafter and the bespoke hair cut of doom, well… I have no words. Other than: I should have perhaps been taken into care. Or euthanized.
Were you a clumsy twat at all?
Of course. I made a right show of myself and it was all down to the mass consumption of the tripe baguettes that I would inhale on a daily basis. And if you’re wondering, not only did I eat mine, but I’d eat all the leftovers, of which there was quite a bit, given the fact that most people took one whiff of their proposed lunch and wept for their mothers. Not fatty bum bum though. Waste not, want not, oink, oink, oink.
Righttio, so you know that I was a chubber, right? And you know that my hair kept Vidal Sassoon awake at night until the thought of it actually killed him. Well, to complete this triple whammy, you now need to consider my (then) awful fashion sense. I was all about mismatched tracksuits and baggy Madonna t-shirts covered in various canteen medals due to my inability to eat anything without throwing half of it down me. (Seriously, that euthanasia option would’ve been dead kind. Pun intentional.) In terms of my wardrobe, my favourite PIECES were hand selected from the Freeman’s catalogue. I know, classy, right?
I saved my favourite tracksuit until the last day: an all-in-one (ie. boiler suit / onesie style) adidas creation. Head to toe in shell-suit black apart from three neon stripes that scorched the bitchtits. For some reason, I thought the fact that it was all-in-one was BEYOND fabulous. Fast forward 28 years and it turns out that these days, Rita Ora is modelling them. Oh, em and a whopping GEE - I was so ahead of my time, it’s fucking ridiculous. But - and there’s a rather large but here - during my last day in Czechoslovakia, my little black number became my UNDOING.
You see, the tripe-fest took its revenge in the form of the most vicious diarrhoea ever. I’m not being dramatic (actually that’s a lie, I l am being dramatic because I love it and it’s brilliant), but I’m surprised that my bottom Bisto didn’t hospitalise me. I’m not going to go into detail but I will say one thing: SPASTIC CHOCOLATE FOUNTAIN FRENZY WITH COCOA KNOBS ON.
Seeing as though I’m from a mining village in Nottinghamshire, my parents foresaw this gastro-catastrophe because as far as they were concerned, foreigners could not be trusted. Going abroad meant suspicious food: my Mam’s mate Maureen went to Benidorm for a week once upon a fuck up ago. Basically, the basic bitch spent five days in bed with a singed arsehole after a spiteful bout of the Gary-Glitters struck her down after she got ambitious with the tapas. Dad thought it served her right for eating tapas.
As a result of Maureen-gate, my Mam made sure she packed me a life times supply of industrial strength Imodium, just in case. I sat on the toilet at 5am on the last day, cackling wildly at the recommended dose as I ate them with a fervour last seen as I attacked a mountain of tripe baguettes. Three packets later and I went back to bed, hoping that my casual overdose had done the trick. And so it seemed, a few hours later, it had: after a bit of stomach pain, I sat on the loo and rather than feel the Earth fall out of my peachy money-maker, I produced a prolonged, rather melodic fart. And as we all know, when you’ve been crapping through the eye of a needle, farting for the first time and not shitting yourself is a victory. It meant that I was on the road to recovery.
So it was with more than a modicum of relief that I climbed into my all-in-one tracksuit. The final day meant killing time by mooching about the city centre until it was time to head to the airport. We arrived there in the early afternoon and after going through security and settling down near the gate, a wave of pain shimmied through my belly, accompanied by that particular sound that you get when you have stomach issues: you’re not quite sure if it’s an odd gurgle, a muffled cat meow, a ancient creaking door or just Satan caterwauling in your bowels. On this occasion, there was no time to decide - the pain told me that I needed to find a toilet and fast.
To cut a shitty story short, I located the nearest loo and performed a Houdini act in order to get my rather cumbersome tracksuit past my thighs and into a safe position. I then sat on my own Czech throne in COMPLETE SHOCK as buckets of strange smelling water erupted from me. I was convinced that this was something beyond a normal dose of the runs: it was clearly dysentery or perhaps cholera. Maybe ebola. I dunno.
After what seemed like an eternity, my cursed bowel was spent and I was left to clean myself up. Given the fact that I was in the third world, I shouldn’t have been surprised to discover that the toilet roll wasn’t something that playful puppies could run around the house with… This was a cruel amalgamation of cheap tracing paper and a a brillo pad. Needless to say, I blocked the bastard bog up, didn’t I? I flushed and flushed until the water crept towards the brim and then joyfully cascaded down the off-white porcelain, creating pools of contaminated water that took my feet under siege. At which point, I decided to do a runner. I mean, why wouldn’t you?
My escape route was blocked by an elderly man who was waiting to clean said toilet. As I drank in his image, I panicked, wondering what would happen if he realised what I’d done to his shit-house, which was, quite frankly, not fit for purpose, thanks to me. Hopefully, my fright-wig non-wig would distract him from his duties and all would be well with the world, but, alas. No.
As soon as I got to the sink, I saw him disappear into the soiled cubicle only to reappear seconds later all scary faced and shouty of voice. ‘Sir! Sir!’ he bellowed. Or at least I think that’s what he said He might have been offering a similar sounding word that actually meant ‘bastard’ in Czech. Either way, I wasn’t sticking around to find out. I legged it straight back to the group who were all huddled around, smiling, laughing and probably feeling fucking great about not having cholera or whatever. I, meanwhile, shrunk into my seat and tried to look invisible, which was a bit of stretch when you think about it. But it all turned out to be okay - the old man had not followed me so - hurrah - I had got away with it.
Or at least I thought I had. Karma really is a scat-loving bitch.
As I began to relax, a strange smell invaded my nostrils. A smell like… Tripey diarrhoea. I was confused. Like, really confused. And then I saw the most horrific thing I have ever seen: an errant streak of chocolate-brown, watery diarrhoea sitting victoriously on my collar. Talk about mortified. My all in one was sullied and I couldn’t even take the bastard thing off. Instead I tried to surreptitiously wipe it away with an already used napkin. Even though I managed to mop it up, the smell remained so I reached into my hand luggage, took out my deodorant and sprayed liberally, which was brilliant because not only did it leave a white streak on an otherwise black item but it didn’t even remove the smell of poorly poo. It just made it more sinister...I had to sit like that all the way back to Heathrow and then from Heathrow to St Pancras and then from St Pancras back to Nottingham. And then from Nottingham to home. About seven hours in all. Rotten. Vile. Ugh.
What was the weather like?
Who gives a shit. Apart from me, obviously. I crapped my all in one.
Was it expensive?
You can’t put a price on dignity, can you?
Would you go back?
Nah, you’re alright. Besides, they probably wouldn’t let me in. Bastards.