I recently came back from a week in Morocco. It was an absurdly sociable holiday, which as you know is a very weird thing for me to do as I find socialising so insanely stressful. But I’ve got these kids, you see, and they really like it.
So we went with a few families so that there would be a friend for Sam and a friend for Kitty. And for us, too. Of course.
We had lunch with a group one day and I sat next to a woman, let’s call her Emma. She was telling a story about a mum acquaintance of hers – Joanna – from back in England. “She called me in this state a few weeks ago, saying that her child was being bullied at school. I know both kids a bit and I was surprised. But it sounded like a terrible story.”
Emma listened to her friend become increasingly hysterical on the phone about the situation and tried to reassure her, to sympathise. You know, just be kind. The call went on for about 45 minutes. Emma was sad for her friend but thought little more about it, they were at different schools, it was all too remote for her to really have anything to do with it.
The next week, the call came again. About the same subject. Emma listened, sympathised and sat through another 45 minutes call. (Emma is nicer than me, I would have probably not picked up that time.)
After the third call, a few days later, a thought occurred to Emma – and a chill went down her spine.
Was Joanna… drunk?
Emma is, like me, merely an amateur alcoholic. Put a drink in my hand at 6pm or I will start throwing furniture out of the window and biting chunks out of radiators – but the idea that I would be drunk on a random Tuesday lunchtime and ring up my friends in hysterics is total anathema.
Emma rang another mother, who is at the same school as Joanna. “She’s calling you, too, is she?” said the other mother.
“Yes,” said Emma. “But you know, she’s upset – it all sounds awful.”
“Yes,” said the other mother. “Though it’s not true. No-one is being bullied. Jo’s making it up.”
“What do you mean?” said Emma, now totally confused. “Why?”
“The other child, the bully – he’s the son of Mrs X. Jo hates her. Or didn’t you know?”
Emma came away from the conversation totally rattled. What on earth was this swirling madness she had been exposed to? Why were other people so fucking crazy? And why do they get her involved? Does she look like a sucker?
I feel like Emma in this story quite often. I feel regularly like I only know the surface of the story, I just blithely accept the facts as they are told to me and am totally unaware of what’s actually going on.
Like, I think this dinner party (for example) I am at is because someone wants to have a dinner party – in fact it is in order to introduce two spies to each other who are about to exchange information that will prevent a monopolies deal going through. Or something.
Enough about my paranoia: more about Morocco! We stayed in a house about 30 minutes from Marrakech, which was a bit disappointing, so I won’t go into details. But our friends were staying in really fabulous places, which I went through with an extra critical eye, comparing and contrasting everything they had, with what I didn’t.
We also re-visited Kasbah Bab Ourika, which Giles and I stayed in 11 years ago when it had just opened and Giles proposed there. It was a little bare when we were first there but over the last decade it has expanded and flourished and, although the pool was on the small side, other than that it looked absolutely terrific.
I have always found Morocco a bit challenging; the people there are incredibly poor, the de-fanged snakes, the chained-up monkeys, the hobbled donkeys and camels are all pretty grim. Being a genuine lotus-eating holidaymaker in that environment doesn’t make me feel great. Not like I’m such a marvellous person, more like I’m just too unstable and selfish to be confronted by poverty when I’m trying to have a slightly stressful sociable time.
How about you? Stayed anywhere good in Morocco you want to tell us about? I would also take some amusing stories about souks and/or tummy upsets. Go.