Sunday, November 30, 2008

Chinese noodles

Hello all

When I last wrote, Ravel was in deep trouble in big China. His compatriot lawyer friends were essentially helpless as they watched one of their team being escorted in the wrong direction. It looked for sure as if they would have to abort their mission just to stay safe. None of the lawyers had any idea of what to do except to start walking slowly back towards the main road. Their fierce skills in the arena of marital disputes was of little use to anyone at that point. Only Ravel had any training in jungle survival, and even he was taxed as to how they might continue without a car. It was growing dark, and they were getting hungry again, having eaten all their packed lunches much earlier during the day. I don't know if you, dear reader, have ever spent any time in the Chinese countryside with hungry lawyers. I haven't either, so I have to take Ravel at face value when he said they started acting like (I quote verbatim here, so do not assume this is my sentiment) - 'women chasing last chocolate bar'.

After about half an hour of squabbling and having just walked a couple of miles towards the main road they heard a car coming towards them. Ravel recognised the sound of the engine - it was the same car that had escorted their compatriot away. Everyone tried to find cover exept Ravel, who by now was determined to face down anyone - and steal their vehicle if necessary - in order to prevent the lawyers scratching each other's eyes out. He stood in the middle of the road waving his arms. At first it appeared as if the car was going to stop, but the engine suddenly revved firecely and the mud was splattering everywhere. Ravel had but a moment to throw himself out of the way as the car sped past. Glancing towards the car as it passed, he saw two figures in the front seats. One was the man from earlier. The other was the lawyer he had escorted away. Although only catching the briefest glimpse of his expression, Ravel saw quite clearly that the lawyer was smiling.

'Look here!' shouted one of the other lawyers a minute later when they all came out of hiding, 'he dropped something!'

'Crispy fried duck and rice?', asked another lawyer, running towards the first man.

'No man. It's a note. Listen up. It says he phoned for help and a car is coming to pick us up. It also says he has made a deal with the head of the operation to defend him against accusation of selling fake goods.'

'Aaaah!' cried all the other lawyers in unison, as if a tipping point in their understanding of the situation had been reached, and they knew what this meant.

'What does this mean?', asked Ravel. Despite travelling with them for some weeks, he was still flummoxed on a regular basis by their cryptic mechanics of reasoning.

'It is easy. He is worst lawyer amongst us by a long, long way. He knows he cannot successfully defend businessman. He will have tipped off authorities. He will give poor information to barristers. We just wait now for trial and job is done. Ok?'

Ravel was not entirely sure but could offer no solution. The lawyers were adamant that their colleagues incompetence would win the day and so thy waited for the car to pick them up. The driver was know to some of the group, and they were so pleased to see him that they dived straight into the car and told him to drive as quickly as possible back to their hotel. Once there, they waited for more news. There was nothing that night, but the next morning Ravel was awoken early by someone knocking on the door. It was one of the lawyers brandishing a mobile phone. 'I just got a text', he said forlornly. 'Bad news. Sit down....'

*********TO BE CONTINUED!!!*********

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Chinese mud

Hello all

There’s nothing like an international crisis to prompt action in the McCrumble household. We’ve been largely unaffected by things until the other day – after all, if you have nothing to lose then what do you have to fear?

To bring you up to speed on events in recent months I’ll spend a short amount of time relaying what happened to young Ravel, my faithful assistant who was last heard of when departing his Bulgarian homeland for the Far East, notably China, where he planned to confront the criminal mastermind behind the theft of his physical and intellectual property (viz a viz wooden replicas of the World Cup trophy).

Despite early promise of progress – namely the name and address of a possible perpetrator, Ravel soon hit soggy ground – literally. They (Ravel and his team of Chinese-Bulgarian lawyers) were sent on a wild goose chase through marshlands to reach an isolated village where the man was reported to have his factory. About half way along their two hundred mile journey they were caught in a rainstorm that rapidly turned the road to mud. Needless to say, they got stuck. No amount of legal expertise, nor even Ravels well conditioned thighs and biceps could extricate them from their situation. It was, perhaps unsurprisingly, a road less well travelled, and not a soul passed the bedraggled gang for 6 hours. It was only Ravel’s training in story telling that prevented the lawyers from suffering further – he told tales of my misadventures (see blogs passim) that apparently had them ‘pissing in the mud’ with laughter. So many stories, in fact, that the 6 hours passed in no time at all (or so Ravel says - he may have embellished his story a little).

Eventually someone driving a pickup coming from the direction of the factory. One of the lawyers (disguised as a manual worker) flagged the car down and asked for help whilst the rest of the gang hid behind some trees. The car was hauled out of the mud and the lawyer started the engine. It was at this moment that the driver of the other car asked where the lawyer was going. Since there was only one place he knew lay at the end of the road, the lawyer was obliged to give its name, since to lie would have aroused suspicion.

What the lawyer didn’t know at the time (it was later explained during a game of double-or-quits poker) was that the place in question had 2 names – one for people who weren’t trusted by the informant, and one for those whose business did not clash with the inhabitants of that place. On hearing the lawyer’s name for the place, the man became immediately suspicious and ordered that the lawyer turned around to avoid ‘bandits’. When the lawyer refused, the man produced a gun and waved it around as if to emphasise the point about ‘bandits’. He offered to escort the car back to the main road and see him on his way towards Beijing.

Fearing that the man with the gun might be willing to use it, the lawyer had no choice but to agree. He did not so much as glance towards his compatriots crouching in the undergrowth, but simply got in the car and drove slowly away, ahead of the man with the gun. Ravel and his legal aides were now stranded, a hundred miles from the main road and with no prospect of reaching their target anytime soon. For all they knew, the man with the gun might have been carrying Ravel’s precious wooden trophies. A suspicion that was, in fact, actually and very positively confirmed when one of the stranded lawyers used his high powered zoom camera to take a picture. What should he spy but this….

**************** TO BE CONTINUED!!!!!!!!!******************