Category Archives: darts

The devil makes work for idle hands

The wheelbarrow ramp situation on site is starting to resemble a fairly challenging early 90s platform game

The wheelbarrow ramp situation on site is starting to resemble an early 90s platform game

I’m undergoing a process of decontamination. I’ve had a long shower, put all my clothes in the washing machine, eaten two pro-biotic yoghurts and brushed my teeth twice. If only I could give my brain a good rinse under the tap I might be ready to rejoin society. I have the week off work because of Eid, which is a time when people are supposed to return to their families for a period of peace and sober contemplation and sheep sacrifice. Naturally, I took this opportunity to go on a two day nihilistic drinking bout of unusual ambition.

Octoberfest in Iraq

Octoberfest in Iraq

The first stage was a basic re-run of my very first night in Erbil in the spring: https://oldstuffinhotplaces.com/2013/05/12/disgracing-myself-in-erbil/ I started at the German Bar, where the delights of Octoberfest have begun. On arrival I ordered a two litre stein of a powerful wheat beer and settled in to watch the freshly imported German um-pah band being led by a vastly fat, drunk man in lederhosen. As my bucket of wheat beer was delivered it was announced we were leaving in fifteen minutes and should drink up, which, against expectation and good sense, I did. With this strong start under my belt we moved on to The Edge in the American compound. Above the bar is proclaimed ‘What happens at The Edge stays at The Edge’, for which I am profoundly grateful. I remember spectacularly winning at darts by ending with two darts in the green of the bull, and I remember dancing (sort of) and being pursued by a very very drunk American.  My last memory of the evening was of watching Thai boxing in the British consular building, then I woke up in all my clothes on a friend’s bed with a German woman on the phone asking where I was because I was supposed to be going with her to Lalish.

Schwartzbier: evil in a tall glass

Schwartzbier: evil in a tall glass

I did not go to Lalish. Instead I stumbled off to the German Bar breakfast porkathon in an effort to recover my wits. Unfortunately, just as I looked in danger of sobering up, someone bought me a beer and things went south from there. In the end I stayed for eight hours, drank seven litres of schwartzbier and played a German drinking game that involves hammering a nail into a tree. When it got dark the um-pah band played Waltzing Matilda and handed out free beer. But all things must end, and eventually it becomes necessary to change one’s clothes, so a very drunk friend drove me home where I took some ibuprofen and watched two episodes of Downton Abbey.

I do not recommend the digestive effects of a diet consisting only of bacon and schwartzbier.

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Repack

I just completed the process of taking everything out of my big blue bag, washing it/throwing it away, and then repacking it into my even bigger green bag (plus some new underwear and a very large bag of coffee). I hate packing, it makes me realise how little I own of any value. I’m off to Heathrow in the morning and then hopefully to Erbil if they let me in (https://oldstuffinhotplaces.com/2013/05/12/disgracing-myself-in-erbil/).

At Warmington village fete I lie on the grass drinking beer and let things get away from me

At Warmington fete I spend too much time in the village pub and end up getting abducted by morris men

I’ve tried to make the most of my six days in fair England; I went down to visit my twin for two days, who just rusticated to a tiny cottage in Oxfordshire where she has adopted an elderly cat and taken up bell ringing. I fear for her mind. She took me to a local village fete (where I became entrapped into playing the base drum for the Morris dancers), we played darts in the pub next door and went shopping for teaspoons, garden chairs and rolling pins. She is starting to nest.

We also ate a pack of Serrano ham, a pack of Parma ham and a 2kg shoulder of pork. At home I’ve managed three large sausages, two packs of baked ham, a packet of bacon, two pork chops and over half a kilo of smoked salmon. My luggage is full of pork scratchings: I am ready.

Emergency equipment: there comes a point when only pig will do

Emergency equipment: there comes a point when only pig will do

Disgracing myself in Erbil

The beautiful ancient citadel of Erbil, which we completely failed to visit. It uncomfortably reminded me of my doctoral thesis, in which it featured.

The beautiful ancient citadel of Erbil, which we completely failed to visit. It uncomfortably reminded me of my doctoral thesis, in which it featured.

I’m having a second day on the wagon having excelled myself at the weekend. A select few of us went to Erbil for a taste of the big city, and to get away from the smell of drains in the dig house. Erbil is thought to be the oldest continuously occupied city in the world, but fortunately all of the cultural sites were closed so we fell back on the old standby of eating our own body weight in kebab and drinking. First we drank in a German bar full of Americans where they mostly played Johnny Cash, and then in an American bar full of Germans where they mostly played Bob Marley. The American bar had the added novelty of being situated inside the US secure military zone, meaning that to enter I had to surrender my passport, phone and camera to a very clean man with a very large semi-automatic rifle. He called me “ma’am”, which, under the influence of two large German beers and a can of Bitburger I bought and drank in a dark alley behind an SUV on the way, I found utterly hilarious.

The barman's t-shirt I woke up for. I wonder for what percentage of the night I was wearing it.

The barman’s t-shirt I woke up with. I wonder for what percentage of the night I was wearing it.

Fully x-rayed, metal detected and tagged, I then proceeded to the bar where I drank heroic quantities of reasonably priced Turkish larger, won an animated game of darts and danced in new and surprising ways. After this events are less well established. I remember spending some short time in a kitchen with an Iraqi barman while he made me a bracelet out of American army boot laces. I was in a car at some point, and in a house where I ate cake with some new friends. I don’t remember going back through security but that must have been an interesting experience all round. I remember some walking around in deserted streets, then I woke up on a sofa in some physical distress, with the Iraqi barman’s t-shirt under my head and whipped cream in my ear. They know how to party in the Kurdish Autonomous Region.

Early morning meat; the thread that held me to life

Early morning meat; the thread that held me to life

Bacon is the only known anti venom for this sort of poisoning, but as it turns out, a couple of hefty lamb shish kebabs and a coke can have some palliative effect. So 10:30am found me in a meat-induced coma with two fellow sufferers. Revived, I did some unwise carpet shopping and then spent four hours in a car shaking and looking at the horizon.

My convalescence progresses well, I may be ready to try a modest shandy by lunchtime. I promise I’ll write something about the archaeology next time and less about my low-level alcoholism.