Grand Tortuga Flinging Festival

Hola! Mantequilla! Zapatos! Orificio Nasal!
‘Tortuga’ is Spanish for tortoise, I’m told, so it’s my new word. I’m home after a whirlwind surprise holiday in sunny Gran Canaria. I won a prize after entering a competition on a box of fly papers and answered the following question correctly….’When is it considered acceptable to electrocute a sleeping relative?’. And would you believe…. Jolly Dee! I won! (Weev is fuming as I tore up her entry and copied her answer, she’s now telling everyone I was in the nick – no doubt she’ll get me back…my wart insurance is due for renewal soon…)

I flew out from St Vitus on a sort of pedaloe with wings, and sat next to the gunner. It was a pleasant flight, with the bugs hitting my goggles and a crap view of the sea. I landed in Bahia Feliz in the early hours of Sunday 14th. The temperature was still very warm, and I found a new level of stench in my sack attire. Nice.
My company was fabulous, a collection of ten of us who enjoyed annoying other tourists, eating everything in sight, and drinking almost anything that was labelled (and some things that weren’t). We haggled in markets with the looky-looky men selling dreadful sunglasses, swam in crystal blue pools (a far cry from the ditch I live near), and poked fun a people changing under small beach towels.

Well, the bonanza was fabulous. Juan de la Vega (above) was there with his matador act. He is my hero. I got his autograph, and he shook my hand. I shall not wash it again, although he washed his very quickly after. He was mildly impaled by one tortoise, but it was only a flesh wound. We were hoping for something more, as the Arguineguin Tortoise Flingers were late, and the act was getting a little stale.

The Arguineguin Tortoise Flingers finally arrived, and broke not only a Canarian record, but a World Flinging record of 320.8ft. The longest fling in history since Edward II had a go, and fibbed about the result.
After tortoises are launched off the cliff, they gather at the bottom to come back up and take their places for the next flinger. The picture above is a birds-eye view of the lift coming back up after the first round. The tortoises pictured are multi-lingual, and are all sponsored by Speedo and San Miguel beer.

This was the picture I took of Juan de la Vega’s tortoise, after it went on the rampage. It is a particularly aggressive species and broke free of its moorings several times. It ate an old lady called Renata. The x-ray I saw clearly shows her in the beasts stomach, still knitting away. Bless.
Apparently it had been fed peanut kit-kat in addition to breakfast, and that is not a good idea.

Then we had music. First were the Fataga Reptile Orchestra accompanied by a small singing gecko from Sioux City. Next up was a variation on ‘Lip Up Fatty’ from the Maspalomas Naked Singing Troupe….nuff said – a little twee for my tastes. Then we were charmed by these two delightful children, Maria and Miguel Vileda, played the tortoise for us. Maria is pictured tuning the tortoise, while Miguel is on standby to hold the legs and begin playing.
Although this picture seems full of jollity, I was suspicious that it was a case of the children fulfilling the dream of the parents. Maria confided to me that all she wanted in life was a bloody Nintendo DS.
Miguel didn’t comment. His face says it all.

So, I finally flew back in to good old Blighty on Sunday, and they didn’t even bother to land. Just pushed me out over the airport with only my double chin as a parachute. Charming. Passport control below got very crabby when I ‘didn’t look like my photo’, and it appears that my unshaven appearance had fooled them. I usually keep a smooth chin (despite the odd habits of my sisters), and a three inch of growth like a pampas grass meant I was immediately whisked off to an office for interrogation as to the whereabouts of thirty pounds of semtex. At that point, I remembered last month that I couldn’t find my passport. At the same time, Aunt Vom had been on a ‘weapons run’ to somewhere, and I just bloody knew she’d stitched me up.
Well, after a bribe with some Honey Rum laced with cuckoo spit, and a naked picture of Jeremy Irons, the customs bugger let me in.

I hope to be back in good old G.C. soon, and take my perfected shrieking act to the Spanish masses. You never know, if you’re familiar with the island, you may well see a haggard, warty, stinking old bat shrieking professionally one day from the top of Roque Nublo. Pip pip and glad to be back with you all! Missed you like buggery….well, not quite like that.

Tortoises And Their Place In Woodwind Section

In the 1950’s, before electronic guitars really took off, children were encouraged by music teachers to take up the tortoise. It takes two people to play a tortoise, as demonstrated in the picture.One holds the body of the tortoise, the other manipulates the legs and taps the outer shell slightly and the fabulous effect is a deep sustained booming noise much like the bassoon. Tortoises in the orchestra have never really received the credit they deserve, and they are very small so you cannot see them being played from an auditorium. They also do not appear in many orchestral performances as their fees are bloody exorbitant. However, if you are at a Wagner performance, look the the bassoon player very carefully. There is very often a hidden tortoise in his lap.

Sir Simon Rattle has reportedly brought up to eleven tortoises to a symphony performance – one for each of the bassoonists and the rest are shared between people who play the triangle and write musical reviews. Let’s face it, they’re often as silly as one another.