Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Labyrinthine terrors! Elemental trials!

I thought it was funny when you missed the train
When I rang you at home they said you left yesterday
I thought it was strange when your car was found
by the tree in Ennis where we used to hang around
Dear Isobel
I hope you're well and what you've done is right
Oh it's been such hell
I wish you well and hope your [sic] safe tonight

– Dido, 'Isobel'

At the end of last week's pulse-quickening episode, we left our heroes, Duncan and Gabrielle, stranded in the eerily resonant hallways of Birmingham International Station.

Their train long departed, the pair found themselves faced with but one escape route. And so, armed with a guttering torch and a handy pitchfork that they'd discovered stowed away in the disabled loos, they steeled their nerves and plunged through the cobweb-fringed portal to the deserted arcades of the NEC. Brave hearts indeed!

Long were the hours spent by these doughty travelers as they vaulted over marauding soft drinks trolleys, battered away the pestilential incursions of swarming Christina Aguilera flyers that swooped and fluttered around their heads, and negotiated bewildering mazes of those queue-separating rope thingies.

Yet now, at last, they emerge, Theseus-like, from the labyrinthine depths. And as they do, their (fluttering) eyes are transfixed. For there – glimmering like sunlight on the waters of a distant oasis – stands solace, comfort and refuge. O glorious sight! O beacon of hope amidst the menacing glooms of Hatchford Brook Golf Club! O grand monument to the compassion of Man!

The Crowne Plaza hotel.

But it would not be easy, our heroes' journey toward this, the greatest of Crowne jewels (<–– I'm heartrendingly, achingly sorry for inflicting that pun upon you. But it was too sweet, my pretties, too too sweet...). For just as Odysseus' voyage was assailed by storms, supernatural temptresses and mythical beasts – just so was the path of proud Duncan, of fairest Gabrielle, strewn with obstacles and hazards. Trials of numerous manifestations, of profoundly unsettling magnitude. Dire elemental perils without compare...

Namely: goose crap. Lots and lots of goose crap. A truly unbelievable amount of goose crap.

So close were they to despair at that time! So belaboured their troubled minds by the tribulations that lay ahead! But – in the depths of their desolation – a voice seemed to whisper through the wind:

And yes I know you're nervous
Never seen you so unsure
You haven't touched your food tonight
And you're drinking more and more

And there's no need to hurry
Take your time I'll still be here
And I've been meaning to tell you

The closer you get, the better I feel

And – their spirits galvanised anew – the stout-hearted adventurers set forth. Boldness overcame trepidation; the promise of a warm hearth overcame the risk of a warm turd.

Would they triumph in their pursuit of their distant goal? Or would their footfalls become o'erheavy, clagged with accumulated avine refuse? Would they sink – eyelids fluttering, now, in terror – clutching in vain at the banks of the Pendigo Lake? Or would the overwatching spirit of benevolent Dido guide them safe along this perilous path?

Find out – next time.

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