Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Trouble in Paradise: 'Villains of the Caribbean'

I was saddened but relieved to read an interview yesterday confirming rumours circulating amongst fellow yacht crew a couple of months ago about the death of a motor yacht crew chef in St Maarten. The poor young guy was found severely beaten and left for dead on a beach the day after he arrived on the island, dying of his injuries shortly after.

The rumours I heard were that he must have been involved in some kind of illegal activity because of the injuries he suffered and the severity of the attack. Other crew who were on the island at the time were saying it must have been a drug deal gone wrong or that he must have been involved with the villains on the island or even that he must have done something so bad to have deserved what he got.  It's so typical for crew to speculate and I can only imagine the atmosphere on the island at the time. Crew love a bit of gossip, but this would have hit them hard.

I know only too well what the party scene is like out there and it's no secret that crew turn up here during the season and have a total blow out. After all, it's paradise isn't it?! The palm trees, golden sand, the never ending sunsets and the fact that you can get anything you need to help you on your way. St Maarten's clubs and bars welcome the crew in with open arms as they spend big! However, something went drastically wrong and a crew member has been murdered right under their noses.

Fortunately, his Captain and friend who he knew for nine years has come forward to quash the ever growing rumours and to remind people that someone has died and that no one has been charged for his murder. His Captain confirmed that Ludovic, a 37 year old French man had arrived on the island the day before his death. The Captain was contacted in the morning by police to say that he was in hospital in a serious condition. Ludovic was conscious when he was found by a passerby and told him that he had been abducted, robbed and beaten by several people. His injuries were so severe that he had to be flown to Martinique Hospital but he died on arrival.

His captain states that Ludovic was not a drug taker, had had the same girlfriend for years and was well respected by his owners and crew. He would not have been involved in any illegal activity either. His murder remains a mystery but must be a reminder to crew that they have to be vigilant and remember that all that sparkles is not gold. The Caribbean is of course a beautiful place to be, but behind the wall of wealth that surrounds the harbours is an underworld of crack dealers, pimps and poverty which breeds desperation. There are so many cases over recent years where yacht crew alone have been murdered, violently robbed, mugged, mowed down or raped and kidnappings are on the increase.  When you step foot off your 30+ million pound yacht and head towards the local night life you become more of a target than your average tourist. I loved the Caribbean but I can remember some horrific stories which put a dark cloud over what appeared to be an idyllic destination.

I'm glad the record has been put straight and the label removed from Ludovic that he in some way would have deserved what happened to him. I'm sure his family and friends knew that all along but his name had to be cleared.

So...look after yourselves....and each other...Roxy C x

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Lydia's a Lean Mean Driving Machine

Last week Lydia's kids (seven year old twins called Lily and Rose) were off school so she was round every five minutes with them because they were doing her head in. My daughter Emily who is three worships them and was happy to play teachers and pupils in her room with them while Lydia rambled on about how she needs a new career and that she's thinking of becoming a life coach even though I can't think of anyone who's life is more off track.

Then, last Thursday morning Lydia pops round with the twins who were dressed in matching sailor suit type dresses and tells me she's off for the day to Margate. I thought, great, a bit of relief from her rabbiting but unfortunately, no, she wanted me to drive her since her car was in the shop being worked on. I live with my boyfriend Greg but he's away for work at the moment so I can't even use him as an excuse to not get involved in her hairbrained schemes. I mean Lydia is quite funny, don't get me wrong. I just didn't want to go to Margate with her. But Emily immediately started begging me to go so I caved.

I start driving my car with Lydia directing me every second of the way while she was talking to the man fixing her car on her mobile.

"So you say I need new brakes? Six hundred quid. You are joking! Well actually maybe I do need them, every time I break right now it sounds like a sow giving birth." Honking laughter.

I can attest to that - it's true, her brakes do sound like a pig birthing a litter of twelve.

Suddenly she grabs my wheel and starts yanking it right. "Rox turn! You want to turn NOW!"

"Flipping hell Lydia!" I say, narrowly avoiding mounting the curb. In the end it was easier to let Lydia drive.

So Lydia drove the rest of the way to Margate, or at least attempted to. But after only about half an hour she started to panic.

"Have you ever had trouble with your brakes?" she says.

I turn down the Justin Bieber blaring out the radio and perforating my eardrums.

"No I haven't, why?"

"Because I'm having trouble braking. I press my foot down and nothing happens until a few seconds later."

"Turn up Bieber!" screeches Rose.

"Me want Beaver!" parrots Emily.

I try and ignore Lydia who's going on about the brakes not working. Until she literally rolls right through a red light while stomping on the brakes.

Lydia is hyperventilating. I feel totally numb which is a bit wierd considering we almost got killed.
"I'm telling you your brakes don't work!" she says.

"But I've never had any trouble with them."

As luck would have it we pull off the road to an auto repair shop and after Lydia raves at them, begging them for a service, they say they'll have a look at it.

So now what? What are we meant to do to entertain the kids?

We end up in a roadside caff because there's nothing else around. The kids order chips and squirt them and themselves with ketchup.

I order a chicken panini which, when it arrives, contains some kind of liquid cheese and some chicken the shade of a dead man's skin. It also reeks of dead man's armpit.

"Oh my God," I say, trying not to spit it back on my plate.

"What is it?"

"This is salmonella on a plate, that's what." I took all the meat off the ciabatta because it was inedible and tried to eat that but it was infused with the disgusting flavour so it was no go.

On the way out the girl on the till asks me if everything was okay.

"Well no, the chicken was wierd."

"It was turkey."

"Really? Anyway it was off."

So she gets on the phone to the kitchen "Check your turkey," she says. "There might be something wrong with it." Yeah like maybe it's left over from the Christmas buffet!

Narrowly avoiding death by rancid turkey we go back to the auto place and I pay a bill for
£80. They say there were air bubbles in the brake fluid but that they've bled the brakes and they are now working okay.
I decide I'll drive now, and - get this - all the way to Margate there is not a blinking thing wrong with the brakes. I'm beginning to think Lydia might be stark raving mad.

Three hours after leaving London we arrive in Margate and the kids were happy enough scrambling about on the beach while I pop a couple of aspirins and lie down on the sand pretending to be asleep while Lydia changes into a thong bikini and prances about, showing off her rock hard abs and limbs the colour of sinewy roast chicken.

But on the way home Lydia drives the end bit and it's the same story. She starts saying the brakes don't work but I'm tired of listening to her. I bid her goodnight outside my house and then I notice that when she parks the car she doesn't even put on the brake. It's then I realise:


I don't say anything.

What could I say? That she is a moron?

Maybe that's why the brakes on her car are ruined - because she's ridden them into the ground.

"Thanks for a lovely day!" she cries, bundling out the twins. "We must do this again soon!"

"Absolutely!" Not unless hell freezes over first.

"And get your brakes checked out!" she calls out.

"Will do."

So all in all a great day out. Lydia's buggered my brakes and I narrowly avoided death by turkey.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Five Things I Don't Want My Children To Know About Me

Well I only have the one girl at the moment, who's three and called Emily. I thought I'd join in the Friday Club Carnival - this time they want to know five things I don't want her to know about me.

1. I find it difficult to be direct and end up lying to people. Like the other day I was at a kid's birthday party at a tram museum. We just went round and round on these old trams with Emily and a bunch of overexcited three year olds high on E additives, when this old man started talking to me. He was as old as the hills, wore bottle neck glasses and carried a black satchel that looked like it had been made some time around the Second World War. At first I thought he was just your common or garden paedo because he was on his own, going round and round with this gaggle of kids. But when he started talking to me I realised he was something much worse - a tram spotter. He told me he was mad about trams but his real passion was underground systems and that he'd recently gone on a holiday to Paris and had taken five hundred pictures down the tunnels. He opened his satchel and pulled out a stack of well thumbed pictures, most of which were pretty black since they'd been taken in tunnels. I told him I'd love to have a peek but that I was legally blind and could only see grey shapes so they'd be wasted on me. A total lie but we what would you have done?

2. I spent a good many years working as a stewardess on superyachts yet get terribly sea sick. Some of my worst vomiting experiences were related to tequila and bad sea sickness. There is nothing worse than that combination. One minute I was slamming tequilas with the crew the next thing I knew it was 13 hours later and I had no recollection of what had happened. I was thankfully fully clothed but lying in a pool of vomit in my bunk - bizarrely I found a pretty good tattoo on my right arm which said 'Rookie Boozer' - I panicked that I'd impulsively had myself tattooed while drunk, before realising it was just done with marker.

3. I once did a disastrous home perm that ended up looking a lot like that woman from T-Pau. I believe I have destroyed all the photographic evidence. I believe that perms are evil and don't want Emily to know that perms exist for as long as possible.

4. I am incapable of putting together IKEA furniture. I know that in this feminist age I am meant to be able to. I just can't get my head around all those diagrams. My boyfriend loves putting them together so why not leave him to it? I just dread the day when Emily says 'But why don't you put that Bjorn Wardrobe together mum?' and I will have to reveal that I don't know a one end of a Bjorn from the other.

5. I often sort of cheat at meals. I take those ready made ones and transfer them onto a baking sheet and add a few herbs and then pretend to my boyfriend and Emily I've been slaving away for hours. I just don't seem to have enough time to go all Nigella Lawson. When I'm not working I'm writing this book and it all takes its toll!

So tell me some stuff you don't want your kids to know about. I promise to keep it under my hat.

Join in the Carnival Fun here:
Friday Club

Friday, April 1, 2011

I'm Not a Bleedin' Sex Therapist!

Hi I'm Roxy Carmichael and basically in my wild younger days I worked as a stew onboard superyachts. For five years I travelled the Med and the Caribbean. I had lots of wild adventures and recently I gave up that crazy life and settled down in the UK and decided to start writing my memoirs because basically you won't believe what goes on at sea - I guarantee it! I write when I can which isn't very often due to the pressures of the desk bound job I now have. But I find I love to write, and I'm really enjoying it. In fact, sometimes, when I'm writing something down and remembering all the strange characters I met during my career a lot of the time I'm just laughing my head off, remembering it all, and all the crazy parties we had. Pretty soon I'll be finished writing my book, and then hopefully I'll find a publisher and you'll all get to read it. That's the dream. Until then it's the slow hard graft of getting it down on the page.

One of the main problems of writing from home is that even if you tell people 'listen I'm writing a book so don't come round today' they seem to think you're bored or really want to have a cup of coffee and a chat. So this mate of mine, Lydia, she lives down the street and doesn't have much to do with her time so she's always popping round and asking me if I want to join her for a pedicure or a liquid lunch. Well of course I do but like I say I'm trying to write this memoir so I usually decline. So sometimes Lydia does get me to put down my quill pen - or rather to leave my battered old laptop for a few hours. Basically she always wants to talk about her marriage.

Well she has a really dysfunctional husband called Daniel who seems to me like he's got Asbergers. He's a bit like Martin Clunes in Doc Martin, kind of obsessed with his work and can't stop talking about it. Which would be fine if he did something interesting. Unfortunately he's a dentist and Lydia gets really hacked off when he brings home those dodgy dentistry magazines full of gums covered in weeping sores or in the middle of a dinner party he starts banging on about a fantastic root canal he did the other day in tedious excruciating detail.

So yesterday Lydia popped round with a bottle of wine and said did I want to take a break? Well I didn't really but what could I do? So I let her in. Sometimes her problems are quite entertaining. For a while they were trying to have a second kid so Daniel was popping Viagra but he'd always drink wine with it and she'd come home to find him with a hard on but unable to do anything with it as he was asleep over a bottle of wine. Their sex life is a disaster, as she's always telling me. She suggested watching porn together to give it some oomph but he quashed the idea, saying it gave him unrealistic expectations of women's beauty (which seemed like a pretty bogus excuse to me!) She eventually asked him why he never wants to have sex with her and he said sorry she was too hairy. She is kind of hairy but for God's sake he knew that when he married her!

Anyway this time Lydia was going on about how she'd booked a Sex Therapist for them to go to but Daniel said he had no slots in his diary until July for seeing the therapist! I told her that was bollocks. That he was avoiding going to the sex therapist like he was avoiding sex with her. The problem with it is that really she should divorce him but she won't because she wants all the nice trappings of being a dentist's wife. Finally I got rid of her and got back to my book.

The thing is when I was a stew I felt very free. Every day was a new adventure. Every day you might find yourself in a new port surrounded by a fabulous posse of new guests. I don't tell Lydia too much about it - it only makes her insanely jealous!

I mean, come on, what is it about me. Is it just me or do you find you're a sort of sounding board for other people's problems? Also is a messy lady garden a turn off?