[written and posted 1999]
....(extracts from the Baedeker
Rough Guide to Vulgaria)
..Space does not permit an exhaustive
listing of the pros and cons of travelling by the Vulgarian national
airline or an extra-national carrier. On the whole I favour the
latter. The Vulgarian Air Force still occasionally play chicken
with foreign passenger flights, but they are cowards at heart (see
any history of the 20-Minute War) and a pilot who shows no fear can
almost always force them to swerve.
..Flying VulgAir, on the other hand, may
serve as a foretaste of the charms of the country as a whole. The
cabin crew are exceedingly convivial and friendly. Do not accompany
Ulriga the stewardess into the toilet, however, as this will
make Gregor the pilot jealous and cause him to become depressed.
Likewise, if Gregor offers you a swig from his bottle, do not refuse
as this too will depress him. If Gregor becomes depressed he will
attempt to fly the plane into a mountain, and while Gregor's aim is
execrable, the mountains are very big. If you are travelling with a
teenage daughter and Gregor paws her breasts, do not remonstrate
with him as he will become offended and attempt to throw you off the
plane. Smile and make light of it until Ulriga notices and hits him
with a sap.
..If Gregor invites you into his cockpit,
remember to pay compliments to the co-pilot, who will usually be his
mother. If you fail to compliment her Gregor will become depressed.
If you compliment her too excessively, however, he will offer to let
you accompany her into the toilet, and will become depressed if you
refuse. A safe thing to compliment about her is her guide dog.
This is indeed a remarkable beast, trained to bark if it spots
mountains or sea. If Gregor's sheep is co-piloting, on the other
hand, that should be complimented too, but not too excessively or he
will become jealous. If he takes a sudden violent liking to you,
however, he may get Ulriga in to butcher the sheep and roast it
there and then. Sometimes the co-pilot will be a sack of potatoes
with a face drawn on. This can safely be ignored.
..If you are in the cockpit during the
initial descent and Gregor points out his village, change the subject
immediately, even if it means pawing his mother's breasts. If you
show the slightest sign of interest in Gregor's village he will
land the plane there, and neither you or any of the other
passengers will be allowed to leave until you have slept with his
entire family, including two exceedingly repellent nephews,
and they with yours.
..The in-flight meal is the celebrated
Vulgarian vole stew. The in-flight headphones offer a choice between
a medley of songs sung by Star Trek actors or Jimmy Osmond singing
Long Haired Lover From Liverpool. The in-flight movie is a
1983 South African film, The Kaffir Who Saved Christmas.
..Disembarking at Lee Harvey Oswald
International Airport, your first step is to secure a porter to
retrieve your luggage. Do not be alarmed by the condition of your
cases. The baggage handlers are too apathetic to actually steal
anything, although items of feminine apparel may appear strangely
rumpled and stained. White sports socks and silk ties also seem to
excite them unduly and are probably best discarded.
..For those fortunate enough to have an
American on their flight, the ritual cavity search is worth
catching. Tickets are available at the information desk. Post-reforms,
the searcher (a former magician) rarely 'discovers' drugs or
explosives any more, relying instead on the palming of gerbils and
sex toys for his effects.
..The pimps in the airport foyer
are a must-see for dermatologists. They tend to congregate
underneath Vorgakoff's compelling mural, The Great Goat
Winston Churchill Exacting Pleasure From A Troop of Girl Guides.
This work dates from a brief period of Anglo-Vulgarian detente
and was intended as a tribute.
..'The only place to stay in
Vulgaria,' boasts the promotional literature for the
Hotel Krass, and in a very literal sense this is true.
The only other option is to take lodgings with a Vulgarian family,
with all that that implies in the way of psychopathic hospitality,
unwitting betrothal to unborn foetuses or widowed grandparents,
hatchet attacks by deranged uncles, etc.
..Even the most jaded world traveller
will be taken aback as he approaches the entrance to the Hotel Krass.
The doors themselves are made of ivory, flanked with marble caryatids
by Vorgakoff, and surmounted by a golden lintel engraved with the
traditional Vulgarian expression of hospitality, 'My moustache is
your moustache'. Due to a shortfall in funding, though, they are
only eight inches high. Put your hand through and wave until
someone opens a window for you.
..Negotiate your way through the hens in
the lobby to the reception desk. The manager will probably be
napping in his office. Do not ring the service bell as it has been
wired to the mains. Instead, throw hens at his door until you have
his attention. When he asks you if it was you who threw hens at his
door, deny it vehemently and pretend to look around for the person
who did, or he will shoot you with the harpoon gun he keeps under
the desk. Be sure and ask for a room with a window. This is
preferable to having a gaping hole in the wall.
..Decline the manager's offer to have
a bellboy take your luggage up, that is if you can do so without
offending him, bearing in mind the harpoon gun. The bellboys are
eager and obliging but they are all over 100 years old and will
usually die en route to your bedroom. Should this occur, locate the
body immediately before rigor mortis sets in or you will not be able
to prise your suitcase from their grasp and it will be buried with
..Two other members of staff have been
fixtures in the lobby for several decades and have acquired the
status of local legends. These are Otto the shoe-shine boy
and Rita the hat-check girl.
..You will first be aware of Otto as a
wheedling, imploring presence near your ankles. He will be
pathetically grateful if you allow him to shine your shoes and will
bite you if you refuse. Note the various stages of Otto's age-old
ritual. First, he works with a pair of stiff brushes to remove mud.
Next, he applies beeswax all over and polishes your shoes until he
can see his face in them. Finally, he rubs them down with petrol
and sets fire to them. No-one knows why Otto does this but he seems
to enjoy it. Note the psychotic gleam of cunning in his eye
as he lulls you into a false sense of security with the brushes and
..Rita the hat-check girl occupies a
cubicle at the entrance to the bar-restaurant. Hats must be checked
here before entering. If you do not have a hat, Rita will rent you
one and look after it for you. When giving largesse, bear in mind
that Vulgarian currency is practically valueless and for all private
transactions the people use chocolate coins or Weetabix Special Offer
Tokens. One Weetabix Special Offer Token is the usual tip for Rita,
although if you give her two she will also brush down your lapels and
give you a complimentary lollipop. You will also be entitled to paw
Rita's breasts. You do not have to do so, but she will be pathetically
grateful if you do.
..Take the stairs to your room unless you
are higher than the fifth floor, at which point the stairs end and are
replaced by a rope and a grappling hook. The lift is very slow as it
is powered by a donkey attached to a winch. If Strelg the lift operator
offers you a swig from his bottle or attempts to put his arm around you,
do not refuse or he will take you down to the basement and keep you
there sulking until you kiss him and agree to become his penpal. If you
do this he will turn up at your home sometime after your holiday and
attempt to live there forever, but this is preferable to spending the
rest of your life in the basement with him. While you are down there,
say hello to the donkey. Its name is Trevor.
..Check out the large circular hole in the
ceiling of your bedroom. This is a spy-hole dating from the
Stalinist era. Midgets in the employ of the secret police were
concealed in cavities above every room to spy on the occupants. Due
to the poor standards of Vulgarian construction, the ceiling would
invariably collapse in the middle of the night, precipitating the
midget onto the occupant's bed, causing much consternation to all
concerned. Later, the midgets were replaced by closed-circuit TV
cameras, but as these were also of Vulgarian construction all the
monitors ever picked up was episodes of Stingray. Many
foreigners were arrested for having a submarine in their bedroom. The
spy cavities are currently infested with hens, who will fly
down and attack you in the night.
..If you find a goat in your bathtub do not
complain to the manager. The goat is the manager's mistress, and if you
tell him she is in your bathtub he will shoot you with the harpoon gun
in a jealous rage.
..If you find the plughole of your bathtub
is partially clogged up with body hair, tell the maids and they will
come and completely clog it up with hair taken from a special pouch
they carry for this purpose. Vulgarians believe that if a plughole
is not completely blocked with hair the devil will climb up the drainpipe
and carry you off to feed you to a giant blue mouse. When they have a
bath they chew garlic to ward off the mouse, and wear a piece of
cheese on a string around their neck to feed to it, and often carry
a bomb to throw at it or a motorbike to flee from it on. As you can
see, they are a resourceful people, and bath night is a traumatic
occasion in Vulgaria.
..Remember to lock your door at night or
you will awake to find all your body hair has been removed by the
maids, who will use it to block the drains with.
..Leave your shoes outside your room before
you retire so that Otto the shoe-shine boy can set fire to them.
Otherwise he will attempt to crawl through the spy-hole to get them
and will crash through the ceiling onto your bed in the middle of the
night, bringing the poultry with him. Observe the psychotic gleam of
cunning in his eye as he pretends to be a hen.
..'The hotel restaurant is the
place to eat out in Vulgaria,' says the brochure for the Hotel Krass,
and again this is unarguable.
..A trip to Vulgaria may not be the
absolute high point of a gastronome's life. Fresh meat can be
difficult to obtain in a country where sodomy is the national sport.
Few people will be willing to slaughter an erstwhile sexual partner
for food unless they have taken a sudden violent liking to you. The
waiters at the Hotel Krass are the remnants of a lost SS unit and,
while they can be both sudden and violent, they have not liked anyone
since Rudolf Hess died. Be warned that they have been known to snap
diners' clavicles simply for making eye contact with them. No-one has
been foolish enough to ask them for a menu since 1949, but their
heavy machine gun is still mounted in a corner of the dining room just
in case. In any event, the chef is a sack of potatoes with a white hat
and a face drawn on.
..Your best chance of obtaining food is to
paw Rita the hat-check girl's breasts. If you do it expertly enough
she will be moved to offer you a selection of simple dishes, the
least unpalatable of which will be the vole stew. This will be served
in the traditonal Vulgarian manner, with a fresh vole being dropped
into your bowl of stew with a stone tied to its tail so that it
drowns before your eyes.
..Do not order the crabs. They will not be
what you expect.
..'The hotel bar is Vulgaria's number one
night spot,' says the brochure for the Krass, and it might have added
that it is number one in a field of one.
..Although the bar at the Krass is
inexpensive the place is usually empty, apart from the hens, as most
Vulgarians prefer to do their drinking at work. Twice a week there is
a disco at which songs by William Shatner and Jimmy Osmond are played.
At weekends there is a cabaret. The headlining act is Alberto the
Magnificent. He plays the spoons and has a revolving bow-tie and a
winning smile. The support acts are Otto the shoe-shine boy giving
a demonstration of the shoe-burner's art, and a female impersonation
act by Trevor the donkey. Once a month there is a special gala night,
at which Alberto performs a hen-swallowing act while Otto sets fire
to his shoes, and the waiters sing the Horst Wessel song and interrogate
a member of the audience.
..Single men looking for romance should note
that, while Vulgarian women are renowned for their beauty and sexual
voracity, unmarried girls are so strictly chaperoned that the only way
to meet them is for their fathers to sell them to you. Any women you
meet in the bar will probably be hotel maids, and any assignation they
make with you will just be a ruse so they can drug you and steal your
body hair to put down the drains.
..Your best chance for a liaison is to paw
Rita the hat-check girl's breasts. She is 80 if she is a day, but what
she lacks in manoeuvrability she makes up for in enthusiasm.
THINGS TO SEE
..The Vulgarians are justifiably proud of their
cathedral, which dates from the 11th Century and is built entirely
of hen guano. Despite the depredations of recent years, it still
contains some unique artistic treasures, such as Vorgakoff's
remarkable statue of the Virgin Mary. His technical achievement in
evoking from marble the texture of fleshy thighs in
fishnet stockings has rarely been equalled. Religious services here
can be deeply moving, particularly when the cathedral is full.
Few who are privileged to see it will ever forget the spectacle of
the entire city making their devotions in an appalled, panic-stricken horde on
..Be sure to visit the house of Strelov,
the national poet. An unashamed cartographer of the sensual world,
Strelov died tragically of masturbation at the age of 25. Few other
writers have sung so lyrically of the joys of hen-molesting.
His collection of strangely rumpled and stained
gymslips is now on permanent display, despite the protests of their
original owners. Most Vulgarians can quote by heart his famous
love ballad, 'She is some bird, that Rita.'
..The presidential palace, formerly
the royal palace, is always open to visitors. If the door is not
ajar throw pebbles at the President's window until he comes down
to let you in. Remember to compliment him on his dressing gown.
Check out the Great Hall, the Mauve Salon, and the
Grand Ballroom, all now infested with hens. (Note that hens
are sacred in Vulgaria, although this does not prevent them from being
buggered, swallowed and occasionally dynamited.) Other highlights
include Oleg the Incontinent's rubber throne and Oleg the Biscuit-Hoarder's
Faberge biscuit tin.
..The President may conduct the palace
tour personally if he is in the mood. Do not refuse if he offers
you a swig from his bottle and do not accompany the first lady into
the toilet. If the President becomes offended he is liable to fire
Vulgaria's nuclear missile at your country of origin. The President's
aim is execrable, and indeed the missile is aimed by goading a donkey
to rotate the firing platform, and it may not even be a real nuclear
missile after all - few other ICBMs are fired by lighting a blue
touch-paper - but you never know. Several of the hens that nest on
it have two heads and glow in the dark, so the thing could definitely
spoil someone's day.
..If, on the other hand, the President
takes a sudden violent liking to you, he may well make you his
Minister for the Interior. There is no way to refuse. For the next few years you will live
high on the hog, embezzling and procuring on his behalf and having
your every whim catered for, until he announces reforms and
..If you are of a sensitive disposition
it may be best to avoid Vulgaria during the three main national
holidays - Stalin's Birthday, Attila the Hun's Birthday, and
Jimmy Osmond's birthday - when everyone in the city celebrates
by running naked through the streets blowing up hens and jumping
OUTSIDE THE CAPITAL
..Do not under any circumstances venture into
the countryside beyond the city. The people there are incredibly
louche and depraved.
© October '99