Backpackers, Packbaggers, Bob Sam and Fred

Sam crossed his legs; no mean effort all things taken into account. He stared in disgust, a little sorry perhaps, but mainly in disgust at what had just happened to all his unique handiwork and even more revulsion for those who had perpetrated such a calumny.

“Destruction! That’s what it is, sheer wanton destruction; and not a single thing I can do about it. In they stride whatever they’re called, with whatever they call that bulbous monstrosity strapped to their back, barge open the door, stand tottering and silhouetted on the threshold, fall on the bed and then cause nothing but havoc. Sheer wanton havoc. My God, far be it from me to even attempt to understand the world they inhabit, or imagine they do, but in they goosestep, into mine and don’t give a damn.

Inconsiderate in the extreme. Sheer wanton……. inconsiderateness.”

“Backpackers” Bob interjected.

“What? WHAT!” asked Sam a tad tetchily.

“Backpackers! You said you didn’t know what they called themselves. Well it’s Backpackers!”

“Damn ridiculous name. In fact a completely stupid name. Sheer wanton stupidity. Over inflated egos with drama queen tendencies every one of them if you ask me. Have you seen them wandering around the rooms virtually saying to everyone,  ‘look at me, aren’t I clever, I’m a backpacker’. Still doesn’t explain that even more absurd big lump on their back, does it? I bet they’ve got an equally ludicrous name for that.”

“Backpack” commented Fred without lifting his head from the important task he had in hand.

“Look!” Sam was getting more tunnel minded and didn’t want distractions, “Bob already told me that. Who put a battery in your brain anyway?”

Even if it wasn’t intended as bait, Fred bit hard on it and almost lost his poise completely.

“Listen you miserable old sod, Bob told you they were backpackers. Now it doesn’t require the intellect of Stephen Hawking or for that matter even Stephen Naismith to work out that it possibly refers to the thing, or as you call it ’big lump’ on their back. A BACKPACK. Yep mister know nothing, the words are related; it is a backpack, they carry it and are known as backpackers. I know who I think is the only  ‘big lump around here’.

“Gawd, get out on the wrong side of a good mood this morning or what” Sam was feeling that he was on a beating here and tried to save his street cred by lightening up the subject “I only asked a simple question; no need for the acidic sarcasm”!

“I wasn’t being sarcastic……oh never mind.” Fred had another look at all that unused food in the kitchen. “what will I do with all of that”  he wondered.

Sam rattled on.

Look it’s not much to ask for. We slave away all day in here, well I do anyway while you two are off surveying and gallivanting round the pool or in the garden, and then in they come. The women are the worst as well. The blokes seems to be more laid back and cool, but even they as they succumb to the evil curse of a woman and her wiles, eventually treat the place without an ounce of respect of the skills, the effort, the god given talent  we’ve put into making this place what it is, a home to be proud off. They kick off their oversized walking boots, throw their oversized bums onto the unsuspecting chairs, spill coffee, milk, sticky smelly stuff and generally destroy the ambience that we’ve all worked so hard to construct. Disrespect is the word. Sheer…”

“….wanton disrespect” Bob finished the sentence for him.

Sam stared that stare reserved for those who presumed, and in his view Bob had just taken that tiny step towards presumptuousness.

“That’s right and there is no denying the facts. Sheer wanton disrespect as I was about to state”.

Bob sniggered quietly to himself and got on with clearing up the stray leaves that had blown in earlier.

Fred re-engaged.

“Sam me old cocker! You really need to get out beyond these four walls a bit more. It’s a fascinating place beyond this simple existence; trees, sunshine, cars, buses and people smiling, laughing and getting on with each other. Yep even backpackers. You’ve become a bit of a hermit and it’s not doing your moods any good at all. You’re turning into Victor Meldrew”!

Sam had given Fred far too much leeway and quickly coughed his way back into leading the conversation.

“Listen Mr flippin know-it-all, let’s hope that battery’s not a long-life one. I think you’re input has reached its limit and we wouldn’t want you to just keep repeating yourself. For your information, the world out there is not a stranger to me. I’ve been there, had enough and decided that it offered nothing to a rational thinker like me. I’m happy here. Bed, board and all day to work on whatever inspiring idea I can make real through my fantastic handiwork. And then just as I’ve put the final touches to the masterpiece along come these….these……these packbaggers and lay waste to a whole day’s or more work.

“Backpackers” Fred corrected.

“Look twiglet brain. You gave me your reasons for their names. Mine is just as valid. They carry bags that they’ve packed. Therefore ‘packbaggers’. Q.E.D!”

Bob interrupted.

“It’s not Q.E.D.”

“What, WHAT??” Sam was getting exasperated by now.

“Quod erat demonstrandim. – Q.E.D. – It’s Latin roughly meaning ‘Therefore I have proven  my case’. It is used in case of logical conclusion, popularly in trials that I’ve overseen the ‘people in question’ watching on their television sets, when someone has taken a series of facts, applied a logical analysis to the consequences and derived an incontrovertible conclusion that proves their initial assertion. Your assertion is not a logical conclusion, is in fact just an opinion and can be easily refuted or at least an alternative offered. Q.E.D is not applicable, and before we stowed away on the liner from Greenock,  had you had paid attention when we used to meander round the blessed cloisters of St Patrick’s Coatbridge, you would have known this.”

Sam stared, not the disapproving stare of presumptioness breached, but the dumbfounded stare of total bafflement. He was going to ignore the interruption and continue, but Bob was on a roll now.

“Backpackers, apart from being the accepted terminology is also the more logically exclusive. For instance many people pack bags whether brief-cases, hold-alls or even shopping bags. They can all be classed in the universal set of packbaggers. However to distinguish any one of them appropriately as a distinct species of packbagger, one that encompasses their packbagging and crucially identifies the specific set they inhabit then the key characteristic is that the bag they have packed is loaded onto their backs. Hence ‘backpacker’. Still not Q.E.D. but more logically resilient, I’m sure you agree.”

Sam’s bafflement had now become uncomfortable bordering on the distressful and he decided to follow his initial plan and just ignore everything Bob had said. It was true that he had never given the Latin periods any attention. He had tended to reserve his best work for the domestic science and technical drawing classes.

“Whatever. Anyway they….they….whatever you call them….“

“Backpackers” said Fred

“Whatever” continued Sam

“Sorry, I thought you’d forgotten their name already” Fred smiled assumingly on the verge of presumptuousness; not quite enough for the baleful stare-out; just enough for a cursory harrumph.

“Harrumph. These ‘BACKPACKERS’ – ok now everyone happy?“

Bob and Fred shared a wee smug grin.

Sam saw it but again decided that it would be beneath him to comment.

“These ‘Backpackers’ fall into the category known as ‘disposable’. Notice the deliberate use of the word ‘disposable’! In fact thinking about it ‘disposable’ is the wrong word…they are beneath ‘disposable’. Nappies are disposable after all, but they at least serve some purpose before being consigned to the black bin liner of oblivion. But them….those flippin back-thingummys, they are not even a necessary evil. If they never came back here, they would not be missed, soon be forgotten and their passing marked by one big party. Life would return to idyllic civilised behaviour and the constant threat to my blood pressure would be alleviated. Bliss bleedin’ bliss!”

“Well apart from the fact that we would have no place to live!” casually noted cynical Bob!

“I mean this is a ‘budget accommodation for the discerning backpacker’ after all, and somehow I suspect that their absence would probably lead to rapid homelessness. I mean ‘no backpackers’ and the scope for your artistic decoration and our maintenance and cleaning responsibilities round this place would be dramatically curtailed and you would be off dare I say it with your goods and chattels suitably bagged and packed, probably on your back and you would become one of the great unemployed, unwashed and woe upon woe…..a backpacker”

Sam tried to grab the infinitesimal break as Bob drew breath, but he was just a shade too slow.

“And unemployed is not the worst. Unemployable more like at least in your normal course of employment. Re-skilling at your age is probably impossible. At least Fred and I can work in kitchens, pools, gardens. You are confined to interiors. Decorating and ornamentation are the only skills you know. There’s a lot of those talents available and I reckon there won’t be much of that on offer should this place shut down. You might as well roll up into a wee ball and just give up!”

Sam stared, a wave of despairing horror creeping starting somewhere at the end of his legs and gradually engulfing his mind. What was to become of him?

They suddenly went quiet as outside  a door banged and clump clump clump the sound of an approaching backpacker echoed down the short stairwell. A key clunked open the lock and the door handle turned with a squeak.

Sam Bob and Fred looked at each other in some doubt at what to do. They hadn’t finished what they had planned for the afternoon and now they were going to be interrupted from their key tasks.

Sam whispered loudly “Here we go again. Just you wait and see. Look lively, look busy, let’s get on with what needs to be done. Perhaps it will be a bloke and he’ll just drop off his belongings and head for the bar. That’ll give us time to get everything ship shape. Let’s hope anyway.”

The door opened and every hope shattered. It was a girl and of the worst kind; tall and built like Mike Tyson with a bulging backpack that rivalled her thighs and pecs for power; but most of all she had that sort of bum that demands a sofa and eyes that suggested she wasn’t going to put up with anything latitudinally south of perfection.

Her eyes scanned the room, her disgust at its state turning all four cheeks to a temperature of a simmering fissure in the earth’s crust.

“Well what a disgusting state this is in. Nothing ready, nothing as advertised, but everything already taken from my bank account to pay for this black-hole.”

Bob, Fred and Sam went crematorium silent as she turned up the burners looking for someone to pay the ultimate price.”.

They knew the drill… running fingers along the dusty shelves, picking up the broom, sweeping the leaves into a dustpan, throwing all the unused food into a bin bag and with one swipe of the handle turning the webs in the room corners to dust. Geordie’s Byre could not have been mucked more effectively.

And then her attention turned to the resident trio. Looking directly at Sam, Bob and Fred and with a look of utter anguish…..She screamed in a way that only the silence of Edvard Monk’s ultimate tribute to absolute desolation could encapsulate.

A hurricane of hatred almost blasted the threesome to the floor.

Bob looked at Fred, Fred Looked at Sam, Sam looked at Bob and in a fit of panic Bob dashed for the door, Fred tried to escape through the open window and Sam scampered for the protection behind the settee hoping that the siren would calm her cries for retribution and blood.

She followed Bob out the door and with the patience of Delhi belly demanded attention, action and satisfaction …….or else from the girls in reception.

“Leaves, unused food and cobwebs everywhere. Nothing cleaned, nothing aired and nothing tidied and then what do I find ……..a plague of disease carrying vermin. An INFESTATION! Get my room fumigated immediately or so help me…..”

Bob the beetle, Fred the Fly and Sam the Spider glanced worryingly at each other. All Fred’s food gone, all Bob’s leaves   and all Sam’s intricate weaving and handiwork. Utterly destroyed.

Bob muttered “Well I can get more leaves he said. And Fred you can always get more rotting food can’t you. But Sam what are you going to do.?”

Sam eyed Fred hungrily.

“Time to move to another hostel I think lads” suggested Fred.

“Well not till after the Ugly Bug Ball” suggested Bob

“Blinkin backpackers” they all agreed.

Hail hail


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