Gran Canaria, Sex Emporium

Gran Canaria, Sex Emporium

Eight hours after leaving Norwich, we turned the key on our digs at Playa Del Inglés. Aside from a few up-market hotels, Canarian apartments tend to be standard fare – concrete boxes with a small dark bedroom, an enclosed shower-room with barely enough light to fix your face, a stark balcony with nasty plastic seats, an ill-equipped kitchenette and a wipe-down living space decorated with lopsided Athena prints. We were pleasantly surprised to find that our concrete box was a comfortable cut above, with laminate flooring, trendy fittings and a flat screen TV. Liam flicked through the channels. The only one in English was CNN. They were showing an interview with Mitt Romney’s sons – all Hollywood teeth and apple pie. I wanted to throw up. At least the Osmonds could sing. I swept open the balcony door and the first thing to catch my eye was a sign for the ‘Garage Sex Shop – Cabins, Cinema and Video.’  It does exactly what it says on the tin, a metaphor for the entire mid-Atlantic rock. We’d arrived.

Gran Canaria October 2012 037

When it comes to a turn around the dance floor, location is more important than lodgings. Happily, we were spitting distance from the Yumbo Center, the throbbing epicentre of gay Canarian low-life. The Yumbo is a naff treat for all the senses, a crumbling multi-layered open air shopping and sex emporium. It started to fall apart as soon as it was built (some twenty five years ago). By day, it’s an over-sized pound shop patronised by ancient slow-lane Germans in busy shirts and socked sandals. But, at the stroke of midnight, the racks of tat are wheeled away, the garish bars throw open their doors and the entire place is transformed into a gaudy cacophonous neon-lit cess-pit of drunken debauchery. After four years of tranquilising sexual ambiguity in Turkey, the no nonsense in-yer-face, up-for-anything style was right up our alley.

Our photos couldn’t possible do justice to the wonder that is the Yumbo Center (we must get ourselves a better camera) but this certainly does:

Next Holiday Post: Sucking on a Woo Woo

Thank You, Mitt Romney

We leapt off the train from Norwich at Stratford (the main gateway to the Olympic Games). It was busy but not uncomfortably so. There was no sign of the much anticipated transport gridlock that has dominated the news for months. We jumped on a bus to the penthouse pad overlooking the stadium and took our seats for the biggest show in town. As I had hoped, it was a mesmerising salute to British polish, quirkiness, individuality and diversity – funny, moving, creative, self-deprecating, inclusive, mildly subversive with tongue jammed firmly in cheek. The eccentric cultural cabaret was infused with subtle (and not so subtle) political messages to the great, the good and the incompetent both at home and away. It mattered little to me that much of the humour might have been lost on the globally bemused. It was worth all the money just to get the first lesbian kiss ever broadcast on Saudi TV. After much reticence, all but a few diehard cynics now seem to have risen to the occasion and finally taken the Games to their hearts. There’s a real buzz in the air, a buzz you can feel, taste and see. I think we have Mitt Romney to thank for this. His ungracious remarks about London’s readiness to stage the Games have galvanised opinion. No one likes a bad-mannered, bad-mouthing guest in their house, do they?

I give you one of the many highlights from the show – HM becomes a Bond girl. I hope our German friends weren’t too miffed by the Dambuster’s theme. Naturally, Her Maj was as inscrutable as ever.