Jerries. They're not all sunbed-reserving, sandals-with-socks bumbag-wearers with mullets, you know. Some of them are nice and very amusing. I met one in Batad, and his name is Karl.
I'd been out on a trek with Charlie. Up and down steps across the valley, across perilously narrow rice terrace walls, on the way to the waterfalls. We'd actually passed Ray as we departed, he was with two other tourists. He just stared at me. I wondered which North End match he'd got tickets for as a gave him a reproachful look which said You Shouldn't Have Lied Ray. This Is What Happens.
The waterfalls were nice enough, and I had a nice swim in the freezing water. A French woman joined me in trying to reach the point the torrent hit the pool, as in some silent suicide pact; the current was strong and pulled you under the water if you weren't careful. Her husband waded into his knees, the brave soldier. No wonder they always need our help, eh? Reminds me of the old joke about the reason they have tree-lined boulevards in Paris? The Germans like to march in the shade. I digress. I tried to coax him in with a smiling "You big girl's bra", but he wasn't having any of it. Apparently French tanks only have two gears: Reverse and Fast Reverse. I'm really digressing now, but Xenophobia, real or mock, amuses me. I don't read the Daily Mail or wave little flags when the Queen visits Preston, though. Honestly. OK, I might have waved a little flag last time, but I was about 6 years old...give me a break, eh?
Back to Karl. He was about to go on the same trek as I returned to the guesthouse. We made conversation, and he asked me how it had been. As his guide was stood there, I couldn't really tell him to save his money, as Stevie Wonder could have found his way there. So I just suggested a few beers afterwards.
He came back looking as sweat-drenched as I had been. Though I don't think his guide was as cheeky as Charlie (a tip AND suggesting I buy him a beer?). After he'd changed, we got started on the beers. I'd found a mutually bad influence. We were on our sixth before the Australian family turned up to eat. I'd heard them in the restaurant under my window, playing I Spy all day with the ten year old lad. It had driven me mad. "I Spy, with my massive eye..." every 3 minutes. They started playing again, but it was just background noise until the kid piped up with a line which had me and Karl spraying mouthfuls of beer: "Mozzy? I thought you said Nazi?" We couldn't stop laughing, but the family were mortified, the kid couldn't say Sorry enough. Absolutely brilliant.
So after this, myself and Karl had a right old chuckle about the English German relationship. The Sun newspaper montages in Euro 96. Fawlty Towers. All the classics. We agreed that it's the Germans being the closest to the English in Europe in outlook and psyche (not to mention Beer Culture), being precisely the reason we don't always get on, and have the odd prolonged scrap.
We continued on to another drinking hole, where Karl grabbed a guitar to duet with a local. "I must warn you, my singing is bad" he said. You weren't kidding, mate. Great with the guitar, but the singing was dreadful. They'd love you down the karaoke bars in Manila. At least the odd-looking Slovenian tourists didn't join in; all bad-haircuts and pencilled-in eyebrows, with Juicy Couture gear on, they were an unexpected sight in remote Batad.
Several beers later, we were staggering up the hill to our guesthouse, disturbing dogs and various farmyard animals along the way. Not in a way which would see you end up in court, though. A top night, and a top bloke. See you again, Karl. My round.