Marrakech Cluster 1

Bethan Christopher So, the thing with men is that sometimes you have to lie to protect them.

For their own good.

You know?

This is especially true when it’s their birthday and you’ve arrived groggily at your all inclusive hotel in Marrakech (which He has spent hours, days, weeks trying to book …

“What do you think about this one, babe?”

… but you got terribly bored and so flapped your hand at the nearest one and said, “that  looks fine. Let’s just go there.”)

Twenty five minutes after arriving at our all inclusive Marrakech Aqua Fun Club, I’d already told Ads the following porkies:

* I am supremely indifferent to the woman who just tottered through the reception in peppermint green boots, cut off white leggings and denim miniskirt complete with diamante stud work, a Lambert and Butler and screeching “Git us a Sex On The Beach, Carla. Just goin’ to the pisser” as we booked in.

*  Yes I can happily exist in a walled complex, towering with water slides and live on a diet of watered down beer, buffet food and crisps.

* Yes, I am fine with the fact that the condescending arse on reception just grabbed my wrist without asking and strapped on a light blue plastic wrist band (the same sort you would wear in a hospital along with a thin gown that exposes your bottom to passing patients and porters). And no, I don’t feel like I’ve been BRANDED with the Aqua Fun Club all inclusive barcode which, if I had to be bar-coded would be bar-coded with something a whole lot better than … A Lovely Place Like This. But I am fine with it.

* Yep, promise.

* I think the life size plastic camel lying down outside our hotel room is stunning.

*  The all inclusive smell of shit in the hallway where they are plumbing someone’s toilet isn’t as bad as it could be.

* I like the whirring, clunk that the fridge keeps belching out. It matches the rushing noise that that has been roaring out of the toilet ever since it was flushed.  

* This all inclusive restaurant is … acceptable. Love the plastic place mats with fruit design. Love the way it echoes like a school canteen. Love the fact there’s no cutlery. Love it. Love. It.

* Yes, I’m absolutely, positively fine. Tickedy-boo. Please stop asking me now.

White Lies.

Sometimes they have to be told.

But men aren’t stupid.

Oh no.

They know that everything coming out of your mouth is an absolute contradiction to the way you are eyeballing the distant horizon, the way your arms are distinctly knotted across your chest and the way your left eyebrow is acting as though it’s had a facelift without inviting the right side of your forehead along for the ride.

Men Aren’t Stupid. Which is why they have evolved a way to counteract the White Lies and  invented the thing known as Positive Spin.

* “Babe, this is just a base that we can stay in. We don’t have to spend any time here.”

* “Look, for the money we paid, I think it’s alright.”

* “Oh look. A life size plastic giraffe – AND a bull! You can photograph me riding the bull. It’ll be funny.”

* “I’m sure this food is bad because we arrived so late. It’ll be fine tomorrow.”

* “The beer actually tastes OK!”

* “You’ll feel loads better after a few more glasses of gin and tonic. Here. I’ve brought you five.”

Strangely, the more a man tries to counteract the White Lies with Positive Spin, the more Suspicious the woman seems to become. And the more Suspicious she becomes, the more Desperate he becomes and more Desperate he becomes, the more His fault everything also seems to become. (Have you ever noticed that?)

Him; “Babe, are you okay?”

Her (whilst lying on furthest side of bed, facing wall, blankets pulled over head); “Fine.”

Him; “I feel you’re being really distant with me.”

Her; “Not distant. Resting.”

Eventually the White Lie/Positive Spin spiral has to come to a climax. This normally happens when the man runs out of Positive Spin and in sheer desperation tries to Ultimately Fix Everything.

Him; “LOOK, do you want me to book us in somewhere else? I’ll get us a five star riad. I’ll get us a palace! Come on, I don’t care how much it costs. I’ll do it, yes?  I’ll do it now.”

To which the woman suddenly explodes into Ultimate Truth Telling.

“Yes, I think we should book another place. Because this place is not Morocco! This is like being stuck in Benidorm. It’s all fake and there’s a plastic camel arse peering at me every time I look out of the window and what makes it ten times worse is that I know…” – sits up bolt upright and prods chest – “I know that out there…” - points to French windows, grasping for the words and eventually rasps – “… out there is pure, unadulterated cultural diversity.”

Throws self back down on bed and retreats under duvet.  Then, in one final leap to purge the All Inclusive-ness of it all, she rips off the hospital wrist band and slams it onto the bedside table.  “And I’m not wearing this bloody wrist band either. So!”

The Ultimate Fix, the Truth Telling along with the wrist band removal smashes the crescendo. Is followed by a silence where everyone gets to think about what they said, what they didn’t say, what the other person said and what they should say next.

She (eventually mumbles); “I’m really sorry. Am actually genuinely tired. And yeah, maybe a bit disappointed with this place.”

He; “I’m sorry you are disappointed, but we will have a great time because you and me are together.”

Her; “So tomorrow we’ll get out asap? Head into the city and see some proper Morocco?”

Him; “Exactly.”

Her; “And we’ll go and eat some street food, get lost in the souks and wind up False Teeth Man*?”

Him; “All of it.”

Her; “Good. I feel better now.”

And they have a hug and go to sleep, safe in the knowledge that She will probably continue to do everything she can to protect Him (through white lies that are completely transparent) and He will do everything he can to make Her okay (by keeping the positives spinning and occasionally reverting to the Ultimate Fix).

And Man and Woman will continue to live in relative harmony and all will be well in the world.

Bethan Christopher

* False Teeth Man – an aggressive Moroccan false teeth seller who chased me across the square demanding cash after I innocently took a snap of his wares five years ago. Have been wanting to go back and see him ever since.*

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