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This one’s for YOU!

In preparation for conquering the world – at least as far as book sales go –  I’ve been reading a fantastic book by John Locke called ‘How I Sold A Million Ebooks’. In it he advises authors to get to know their audience, and to write what their audience wants to read. Good advice. So I started to think about that.

Who exactly are my readers?

Well, based on the feedback I’ve been getting they’re of all ages (eight to a hundred and eighty eight) and genders (male, female, other), from a wide variety of countries (even Ireland! Who knew?). But they all have this in common: they are intelligent, sophisticated, highly attractive people – who love to laugh at me making an idiot out of myself.

So with this in mind, I trawled my archives (What? I can’t have archives now?) and looked for examples of me doing stupid things. I found plenty.

The result is this: here for your enjoyment is a short piece I wrote for a competition which I didn’t win, probably because I wrote the piece after the deadline had already passed. I know, I know. Always read the small print! Or, you know, any of the print…

Anyway. This happened while I was in Australia for the first time. Enjoy!

Field Day

    “Tony, wake up! Gotta get ready for work!” My girlfriend Roo was prodding me insistently – with the butt-end of a torch. Outside of our tiny tent darkness reigned and the civilised world still slept; but we had a new job to go to, on a sandalwood plantation, and one thing all agricultural work had in common was an early start. Damn it.

In fairness, this was the height of the Australian summer and our camping ground was in the far north. Intellectually I knew that by 6am the inside of the tent would be like a blast furnace. But I still loathed and detested 5am.

Infinite Field    Dawn found us sitting in a rapidly disintegrating minibus, bouncing along a knackered dirt track towards the plantation. The vehicle was in roughly the same state of repair as the road; there were holes in the roof; there were holes in the floor. It needed to be push-started every time, and was stopped by ‘natural breaking’ – ie, coasting until it either ran out of speed, or hit something. Or both.

Eight other workers were crammed into the torn vinyl-covered seats alongside Roo and myself, and every one of us was braced in position with arms legs and in a few cases, heads pressed against what was left of the dented metal roof.

“She’ll be right!” The boss had said, in true Aussie fashion, when I’d commented to him that only the paint was holding his van together.

After which he’d introduced himself as ‘Johno’.

Johno loved to drive that wreck of a van. He loved to drive it at speed. He prided himself on knowing exactly how to coax what he wanted from the ancient engine. He deftly slotted it between openings in the fence and shot across makeshift bridges over a network of irrigation ditches. He was grinning at me in the rear-view mirror, as if to say ‘See?’

When suddenly the world turned upside down and the seat in front of me took a swipe at my ribs. I twisted as I fell, and ended up lying on my face across the mud-encrusted windows.

Roo was lying on top of me. And at least three people were lying on top of her. The van was on it’s side, nose down in a ditch, and I was slowly being suffocated. This must be what it’s like to play the Aussies at rugby, I thought.

“I can get out the window!” someone called from the front.

“Yeah, me too!”

And one by one we squeezed out of whatever opening presented itself. After all, there were plenty of them.

Johno stood on the bank, counting heads as we crawled up to him.

“Sorry lads!” he said cheerily, ignoring the presence of several women. “It gets a bit narrow there.”

Apparently this satisfied him that the situation was back under control. He pulled out his cell phone and took a deep breath before punching a number in.

“Hey there Big Man! Yeah, we’ve, um, had a bit of a crash…”

He held the phone away from his ear for a few seconds while the swearing on the other end subsided. His mood deteriorated as the noise continued.

“Yeah… that narrow part, by the ditch… yeah, in the ditch. Upside down.”

There was a final blast of abuse from the speaker.

“Yes,” he agreed glumly. “Again.”

The voice did not sound impressed.

Luckily for us, the crash-site wasn’t far from the job-site.

Johno, eager to get back in the good books, led us straight into the field and got us started. ‘Weeding’ would be an accurate description of the job that ensued. Not that I was sure exactly what we were weeding and why, but the contrast with our last job picking pumpkins was unbelievable. It was just so… easy! After two weeks of straining, back-breaking toil hefting gigantic pumpkins into the back of a tractor moving at jogging pace, this wasn’t even work at all.

I strolled over to Roo, who was busily pulling a small leafy plant from the soil.

“This is incredible,” I commented.

“I know! Shh!” She was obviously thinking the same thing – we had to keep this job at all costs.

Another lazy hour drifted by. I wandered up another furrow, pulling up whatever came closest to hand. There was a certain dark green, very persistent weed that seemed to be everywhere. “Check this out!” I dropped a handful of the plants in front of Roo. These things are in every row!”

“That’s because they’re the support plants,” she hissed. “Don’t pull them out. okay? We’ll get in trouble.”

“Oh, really? Shit. Sorry!”

She herself was leaving a trail of remarkably similar looking plants uprooted.

“What’s the difference?”

She sighed. She always had to help me with stuff like this. I was never a particularly observant person. “These are weeds.”

I took the proffered plant and studied it.

“This is the support tree.” The fingers of her free hand gently lifted the leaves atop the stalk nearest to her.

To me, they looked identical.

“See?”

“Of course,” I lied.

“Good.”

“And what about this one?” I held up another of my recent victims. “We pull these out too, right?”

“That’s the sandalwood tree!”

“Oh! Now I get it!”

In spite of herself, Roo was starting to giggle. “How many… how many of those have you… ripped up?”

“Um, well… all of them. I think.”

She burst out laughing, but caught herself – with effort – after one guffaw. “Shit!” she coughed out between suppressed giggles. “Don’t… pick… any more!”

It was all I could do not to crack up myself. We were halfway through the day and I must have divested about a quarter of the field of it’s primary raison d’etre.

Weed pulling

About to commit another crime...

We picked on in silence for the next half-hour.

“Woah!  Careful there!” It was Johno, stomping up the furrow behind me. “Don’t be pulling that one out, mate!”

I froze mid-motion.

“That there’s a sandalwood – just looks a bit different ‘cause it ain’t grown as much,” he explained.

I released my grip on the immature specimen.

“Phew! Glad I stopped you there!” And he strode past me towards the next keen plucker.

I stopped for a few seconds and mopped sweat from my forehead with a bandanna. “So those ones too eh? This job is harder than I thought!”

As Johno drove us home I couldn’t resist asking; “Is this job real? There has to be a catch? Like, deep underground you’ve got some super-secret weapons lab, and we’re just here to make it look innocent on the satellite photos? And you pay us eighteen bucks an hour to pick weeds so no-one rocks the boat, right?”

“Not quite that exciting!” He replied. “See, these sandalwood trees will be producing oil in a couple of years and that oil is expensive stuff. Some trees will make loads, some not as much, but when they’re mature they’ll be worth between three and fifteen thousand dollars each.”

There was a stunned silence. I couldn’t have spoken even if I’d wanted to. My throat had suddenly gone dry.

“F-fifteen? Thousand?” I finally croaked.

“Jeez,” one of the other workers exclaimed, “that’s crazy man! What if someone steals one!”

“Security. Whole place is fenced all around. Got cctv cameras on the fence posts. And our own fire station on site, in case a bush fire gets too close! Yeah, this field is worth something like eighty-five million dollars. They go all out to protect these babies.”

I felt vaguely sick. Whilst at the same time I had the hideous feeling that deep inside me was welling up a great big belly laugh. I’d worked here for one day. By rough estimate I’d done at least a million dollars’ worth of damage…

Roo was nudging me with her foot. I glanced over at her. Her expression was unmistakable ‘Say Nothing!’ it read. I was inclined to agree.

Sandalwoods

That's one pricey plant!

Back at the camp site that evening we discussed our options. Well more accurately, Roo discussed them while I fell around the place laughing. “It’ll take them a long time to get it out of my salary!”

“Come on, seriously!” Roo chastised me. “What are we going to do?”

I took a few deep breaths to calm myself and sat on the scrubby grass next to her.

“If we don’t go back it’ll look really suspicious,” I pointed out. “On the other hand, if we do go back and they spot my little mistake, it’s quite possible they’ll drown us in a ditch.”

“Or they could just put us in a car with Johno driving…” Roo added.

“So what do you reckon? Shall we look for new jobs?”

With a theatrical sigh, Roo reached for our cell phone. “I put Johno’s number in here, I’ll send him a text.”

I watched over her shoulder as she typed.

‘From Tony and Roo. Thanks for an amazing experience.’

Which I thought was quite generous. She paused for a moment, then shrugged. “Not much else to say,” she said. And added ‘We Quit.’

Revenge

Roo's Revenge!

 

So, did you enjoy that one? I hope so! Let me know what you think in the Comments. And if anyone wants to be told when my next blog post comes out, please feel free to stick your email address in the box on the sidebar. It only sends you an email when I publish a new blog post, and I don’t do that too often – I promise you won’t be deleting stacks of emails from me! I usually manage to post about once every ten days or so. And I try to keep it amusing! Well, thanks for reading! You can also find me on:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TonyJamesSlater

And Twitter: @TonyJamesSlater

Something For Nothing

It’s okay! I’m safe. Rumours of my demise have been greatly exaggerated. Rumours of another kind, however, are completely and utterly true:

My book, ‘THAT BEAR ATE ME PANTS!’ – is now FREE!

For the next couple of days, at least (February 15th & 16th).

So, if you’ve ever been even remotely tempted – but perhaps put off by the fact that the other is obviously an idiot – NOW is the time to buy get one FREE!

UK:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0057P6FNO/

US:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0057P6FNO/

Book coverAnd here’s the link to the free Kindle reading software, for anyone wanting to read the book on their Mac, PC, iPad or Smartphone:

UK:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/feature.html/ref=kcp_ipad_mkt_lnd?docId=1000425503

US:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html/ref=sa_menu_karl3?ie=UTF8&docId=1000493771

My aim with this promotion is to make a huge splash – by the end of it I should be wetter than… um… okay, I’ll let you finish off that sentence. In case there are children reading this. (In which case, Oi! It’s okay, you can carry on reading, but still – Oi!)

So. Wetter than a Welsh Wednesday, which in fact it is. Wednesday, that is, not Welsh or wet – I live in Perth Australia for gawd’s sake, we haven’t seen rain since the continents shifted. If water fell from the sky here, thousands would adopt religion on the spot.

Right. Went a bit off track there. Sorry ‘bout that.

This is what happened the last time I did a promotion for the book – during its launch on July 1st, 2011:

Best seller list

MY BOOK on the travel best-sellers list - just ahead of Bill Bryson!

Best seller list 2

...And just behind 'Eat, Pray, Love!'

SO! I have a task for you, my minions…

In fact I have TWO tasks! (Yes, I am a demanding evil overlord. But my health plan is worth it.)

1)   DOWNLOAD MY BOOK! If you haven’t already. Did I mention, it’s FREE? Hell, if you have got it already, get it again! Oh wait – Amazon doesn’t work that way. D’oh. Well then, tell someone else to get it instead.

Which leads me sneakily on to Mission Two:

2)   TELL SOMEONE ELSE TO GET IN INSTEAD! What I’m getting at here is, spread the word people! You all know how utterly awesome my book is (unless you don’t, in which case let me tell you this: it is utterly awesome). Imagine how grateful your friends/family/pet gerbil/chemistry teacher/that nutter that always sits next to you on the bus will be, when you tell them about an awesome book they can download for free – and it will make them wet themselves!

*Note: certain species of Bus Nutter are already adept at wetting themselves, and should NOT be encouraged. Tell the driver instead.

To help you spread the word, I’ve put together a couple of Tweets and Facebook messages that you can copy-and-paste if you want – because I’m a lazy, lazy man, and I can’t exactly complain if my minions are the same, can I?

TWITTER:

Best-selling #travel #comedy THAT BEAR ATE MY PANTS! by @TonyJamesSlater is FREE TODAY on #Kindle – grab it quick! http://amzn.to/thatbearus

FACEBOOK (If you’re from the UK):

Hey everyone! My friend Tony James Slater has made his awesome book ‘THAT BEAR ATE MY PANTS!’ available for FREE on Amazon Kindle! It takes one click to download it and it’s pants-wettingly funny. Even if you haven’t got a Kindle, you can read it on any Mac or PC, iPad or smartphone with free Kindle software!
What are you waiting for? Here’s the link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0057P6FNO/

FACEBOOK (US/Everywhere else):

Hey everyone! My friend Tony James Slater has made his awesome book ‘THAT BEAR ATE MY PANTS!’ available for FREE on Amazon Kindle! It takes one click to download it and it’s pants-wettingly funny. Even if you haven’t got a Kindle, you can read it on any Mac or PC, iPad or smartphone with free Kindle software!
What are you waiting for? Here’s the link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0057P6FNO/

Please feel free to alter any of the above however you want, or tell people about the book in your own way – you can even send ‘em to this blog, like this:

‘Some idiot is rambling on about his book being free. Have a look if you can be arsed: http://www.AdventureWithoutEnd.com

Right! Thanks for that folks! I mean it when I say, I really do appreciate all the help you give me. I’m literally doing this on my own otherwise, and honestly I don’t think I’d stand a chance.

The OTHER GOOD NEWS – is that, once this is over you’ll never have to worry about me pushing my book on you again! Because anyone who doesn’t get it when it’s free – well, there’s a good chance they just don’t want the damn thing. So rest easy folks! The end is in sight…

From next week: Business As Normal. So stay tuned for an exciting story about… ah, who the hell knows? I haven’t written it yet. Watch this space.

I love you all,

Tony

Ps. If you come late to this post and have missed the free days, go to the ‘Contact Me’ page and send me an email. If you ask me nicely I’ll probably send you a copy – because I’m nice like that and, ultimately, a sucker.

When Is A Massage Not A Massage? A Malaysian Mystery

Roo and I were enjoying unrivaled luxury in our private villa in the Sunway Lagoon and Resort, Malaysia. Her family had invested a sizeable chunk of cash in pampering us on our honeymoon, to the extent that we had our own infinity-edge pool, dinner served for us on our balcony and a private butler on call 24 hours a day. How the other half live, eh! As habitual backpackers we were thrilled not to have to share a dorm room with ten snoring, farting, travelling piss-heads. This was, quite literally, another world.

Luxury honeymoon bed

So, hot on the heel of our first massage came the excitement of the second. Our package specified two and our private butler was eager to help arrange it.

“Second massage… is in your villa, is… in bath, like ah… Roman Bath.” Her English was broken and heavily accented, but still the words were enough to send a chill down my spine. Roman baths brought only one thing to mind. “The girls come ah… eleven O clock, to your villa?”

Back at the villa, Roo was seriously uneasy. “Aren’t the Romans famous for having orgies? In the baths?”

Yes, yes they were. But I didn’t say that, because the aim of the holiday was to relax.

I couldn’t help but wander into our bathroom and stare at the tub, huge and sunken into the marble-tiled floor. How the hell were they going to massage us in the bath? Kneeling on the tiles? With sponges on long sticks?

A Big Sunken Bath

Did I mention there was a pic of Roo in the bath in this post :0)

“What if they want to get in there with us?” Roo asked.

There wasn’t much of an answer to that. Not on our honeymoon, anyway.

Roo didn’t sleep that night. She was too afraid. Next morning, after breakfast, we got the call – two girls from the spa were on their way to our villa. They had an hour set aside to prepare the bathroom… We spent this time trying to remain calm in the lounge, watching old movies on a channel called ‘Star’.

“I’m keeping my swimsuit ON,” Roo was adamant. “If they tell me to take it off, I’m not doing it. I’ll leave.”

“It’ll be fine love, we’re probably stressing for nothing.”

But I didn’t know how it could be fine. I’d taken certain lengths, before the last massage, to ensure that I couldn’t get an embarrassing erection in the middle of it. Even so, I’d only just gotten through – it’s hard, sometimes, being a guy. We’re not exactly in control of all our appendages… If I ended up four in a bath with my wife and two semi-naked massage-ladies… well, let’s just say there was bound to be a development.

“What if they want us one at a time,” Roo asked. “I don’t want to go in there on my own!”

They girls had been in their for an hour now, in their robes and sandals, running water and chattering about something. Oh God… it was time.

“We, ah… ready for you now,” one of the girls said. She lingered by the bathroom door, beckoning.

Roo and I shuffled forwards, hugging our loose robes around us.

“Okay, thank-you!” The masseur beamed at me, and at Roo, shouldered her bag of supplies, and left. Her friend followed her out.

“But… what…? Are they gone?”

“I dunno?”

“Check, please,” Roo begged me. Perhaps they were waiting around the corner, giving us privacy to allow us to strip off. That had happened at the last massage. Hell, maybe they were around the corner stripping off themselves! (That had NOT happened at the last massage…)

But no. They were gone. Disappeared down the path to the spa with impressive speed, given their size. Roo and I were alone. Stressed to the point of sweating into our silken dressing gowns. As one we approached the bathroom, still half afraid there was someone waiting in there for us. This is what we saw:

Bath with petals surrounding itIt was beautiful. Luxurious, inviting and hot as hell – placing the rose petals had obviously taken most of the girls’ time while the tub was filling. I dipped a toe in and a delicate fragrance was released from the water. It rose on the steam, filling the bathroom with the scent of exotic flowers…

It was then that I realized. This wasn’t a Roman Bath.

It was an Aromatherapy Bath.

Somewhere, lost in translation, was the truth that would have set us free from a night of sleeplessness and a morning on the borders of panic.

Aroma-bloody therapy.

So I now know of four types of massage it is possible to arrange in Asia:

  • The Comfortable One (which is bliss, but with a high likelihood of causing Accidental Arousal. Which can then become Uncomfortable)
  • The Uncomfortable One (where they break you into little pieces, stamp on those pieces and then sweep them up into a pile that is vaguely you-shaped. This is the one with the longest-lasting effect, except for possibly:
  • The Illegal One (which is a bit unsanitary, could leave you with a present you’ll be needing the doctor’s help to get rid of, and nine times out of ten turns out to be conducted by a man in a dress)

And Introducing…

  • The One That Isn’t A Massage – it’s a bath. Which they run for you. And fill with petals that get lodged between your bum cheeks so that you’re still finding them in the shower days later…

The joys of travel eh? Come on then – massage stories, front and centre! Got anything to add to my list?