Steve Weir
Racing Club de Blackheath in MYANMAR 2016

Day 6 Thursday 27/10/16 - Inle Lake

I’m coming home, I’ve done my time.

I opted out of the final morning’s excursion. We’d had a week of impressively dovetailed activities, stepping from one waiting escalator to the next, so now I wanted some ‘Time Out’.  The excursion consisted of another boat trip, starting from the terrace of the swanky hotel, and back out to the stilted villages for lunch. There was also a visit to another temple on the way home, which Cato tried to wriggle out of on account of limited time, but Bastard Vigne fixed him with a baleful stare, and told him he wanted the itinerary as advertised. So Cato relented, and at that point, we knew we were going to be late for the final match.

First I had a quick spin around the local market with Bastard Knight, who had been feeling increasingly guilty that Mrs Knight hadn’t accompanied him to Burma, so was buying more and more presents to compensate. He loaded himself with baggy pants, jade and jewellery, and finally with a little wicker ball for his son. (The wicker ball is used by the Burmese to play an impressive form of keepy-uppy, so no wonder they had played so many intricate little triangles around us).

At the centre of the hotel was a landscaped little cloister, around which the rooms were arranged, so I hung around there, finally chillaxing after a week of hectic activity, and engaging in desultory little conversations with any others of the group who had opted out of the boat trip and happened to be passing through.

Seeing Bastard Jones seated at a little table, I sauntered over and sat talking to him. After a while, I sat back, and at that point came the realization that one of the back legs had been hanging off the edge of the little stepped terrace. There was nothing to stop the fall, and my head landed in a large bowl of water sprinkled with carefully arranged flower-petals, my pith-helmet floating away on a little decorative stream bordering the flower-beds.

I found it touching that Bastard Jones hadn’t laughed, but had instead leapt to his feet, so I waited for him to give me a hand up. But it was quickly apparent that he was looking for his camera. In case it hadn’t dawned on me, he said in a kind of business-like way, “I should give you a hand, really, but I’ve just got to do this first”.  So I waited for him to find it, retrieved my pith-helmet, and posed for an action-shot, as though still falling.

The photo quickly found its way to my daughter in England, and, always keen to see me cast in the role of Buffoon Dad, she texted back immediately to inform us that she had lol’d.  Not, she went on to explain, just by saying the word ‘lol’, but genuinely lol’d…’s an important distinction.

Match 3 - Inle Lake

The boat-trip arrived back late, as expected, and just after Bastard Lindsay had ordered lunch, so the Racing Club Muster was going to have to be a little more brisk than usual. The final match-venue was about an hour’s coach-ride away, on the other side of a small mountain, and we calculated en route that the match was likely to finish in darkness.  When we arrived, it was a fully-fledged stadium, so again within the traditions of a Racing Club tour, and the perfect way to round it off. Outside the stadium, as our coach arrived, they had put together a kind of Buddhist band, complete with large drum, making our late arrival look like the act of a fully-fledged group of bastards.

The changing-rooms were cool and spacious, and we ran out to face the pre-match rituals, the scoreboard announcing us as ‘Racing Old Boys’ Club’.  The opposition were all veterans, but still looking nippy and agile, so the start of the match went according to previous form, with the same intricate little triangles, and we fell behind 1-0.

But this time they started to fade as the match wore on, and couldn’t cope with the power of the Youth Policy. We won 3-1, Bastard Jones scoring the only goal of the tour not scored by the youngsters.  I’m told it was a well-struck goal, but by then the stadium was in pitch-darkness, so hardly anybody saw it, apart from some red-robed Buddhist monks, grouped behind the goal, where all the chanting goes on.

The band came onto the pitch to celebrate the end of the match, and the end of the tour, and Bastard Foster danced along like a man possessed, hoping to impress his daughter with some end-of-tour buffoonery.

Before the final meal, I had another Myanmar beer on the roof-terrace, (this time worthy of the name, with sun-loungers arranged around the outside of it) where Bastard West gave a very entertaining rendition of a Scottish hotel receptionist fielding a query about whether the hotel boasts air-conditioning. I recommend you ask him to render it again, the next time you see him.

The final meal is always a bit of a blur to me, as I’m always exhausted by that point, and feeling low in energy and spirits. It was outside, on the terrace of a very pleasant restaurant, and the Wests were greeted on arrival as long-lost friends by two young British women. I thought it was a coincidence for them to have met up here, but it turned out they didn’t know them from Adam, it’s just that the two women had been travelling, and hadn’t seen any British people in a while.

The Curry Lottery didn’t matter any more, it was time to go home. The usual tributes were made, and teeshirts handed out, and Bastard Hoff was thanked and congratulated for the organisation of a hugely successful tour. Junior Bastard Ben Hoff scooped the Man of the Tour Prize, his brother scooped second-place, so the Hoff bastards were basking in it. Bastard Watson scooped third. The Daughters’ Group were commended for their charm and their hard work bringing relief water-bottles onto the pitch (for which they were now known as the Water-Girls), as well as their hard work performing the thankless task of cheerleading the team, and their hard work inflating gift-footballs.

The bar was closed on our return to the hotel, so naturally we bastards leaned on the Chilean hostess to further prolong her lengthy working day and serve us on the roof-terrace. She cheerfully fetched a bucket load of Myanmar beers from downstairs, and left us to it. But my eyes were closing in mid-conversation again, so I retired to my very comfortable, swanky room for my final night in Myanmar.

There was a long day ahead tomorrow. Early-rise, a flight from Lake Inle to Yangon, then a flight from Yangon to Bangkok, then the final, 12-hour flight from Bangkok to Heathrow. At Bangkok, Mrs Hanning put out a mat on the floor, having sensibly decided on some Yoga recuperation. Bastard Hanning decided he needed some recuperation, too, and ordered a beer.

The three Hoff bastards were seated in front of me on the long flight to Heathrow, but they had blagged some illegal sedative drugs from  Mrs West’s big green medicine-box , and slept soundly almost all the way home.

Awesome, as always, and a further store of priceless Racing Club memories.

<< Previous Day