To your door…

When you travel a bit it’s kinda weird what you miss. Pork products obviously, but then other stuff that you never appreciated. Church bells on Sunday, daffodils, cherry blossom, a wee dander down the town, people who understand your accent, people who know your religion by your name, cut grass, lazy Sundays, the fear of running into your Ma’s mate down the pub, and thon bitch from school who was good looking but is now a cow. (She was always a cow, but her good looks then..gave her grace)
Yea, big cities do that, they kinda cut away everything that decided who you were, big cities allow you to become a blank page. I ran away to a big city at 20, London, I loved it. But jumping a few borders and striking out into the unknown is different. They speak English in London, they have churches and daffodils and cut grass. My Ma’s mate was  not on the horizon but I’m damn sure her sisters-brothers-cousin was…. and word would get back. It still wasn’t free.
I wasn’t a young thing when I made the big move, you know, like out of Europe, but I think that’s for the best, well for me anyway. I don’t think I could’ve coped before, I really had no idea of how cosseted small town rural life can make you. It gives you comfort, you’re among your own, but it stifles, it stifles so bad.  

Northern Ireland was always an us’uns and them’uns, I came from a pretty liberal family so I was never an “us” or a “them” . I’m thankful for that now, but it did make it really fecking complicated as a teenager.
I grew up in a little fairy land created by my dad, “Mairead, just work hard, be honest and stand up for those that need a hand” I was the eldest of 5, so there was a lot of standing up to do….there was always someone who needed a hand, and I naively thought that someone would do likewise if I needed one….my dad was a good man.
I’ve been fortunate, Ive never really needed a hand, I’ve got a hubby who has my back, three super smart children with values that I could only aspire to, they humble me. If they’re my legacy then so be it, I’ve done my bit, they’re awesome. But, but, there are people who do need a hand, I don’t care what religion you are, they are, if people need a hand then help. Feck this whole religion shite, if they’re hurting then help, its as simple as that.
Oh they’re too far away, oh that not not my responsibility oh they’re brown, oh they’re Muslim, oh they’re native Americans, oh they’re LGBT, oh they’re Protestant, not catholic, oh they’re Buddhist, oh they’re Hindu….feck-it they’re people and they need a hand. 
I guess what I’m trying to say is that with age comes a little understanding. If you challenge yourself you can get a different view, travel really helps. If you step outside your comfort zone rather than sitting on your own back door step you will realise that all families have the same hopes and dreams for their kids. Now when I say travel I’m not talking…..
A fortnight in Benidorm, or a stag weekend in Prague….how about Beirut…? It’s party central there, an amazing place. Fuck your woman Le Pen, and her headscarf, thon was a publicity stunt, Beirut is fun, welcoming and for the Irish it feels incredibly like home. You’ve got a broken country that has produced a population that are politically savvy, they know you have to vote early, and vote often….they also won’t be swayed by a political representative that’s a reality TV star, unlike some I could mention.
I’m feeling invigorated at moment, sure, America is ripping its self apart, maybe that needed to happen, Trump is an ill wind but the people are “woke” as they say. You don’t appreciate what you have until its taken. All those rights that were fought for, all those people who who put right before wrong, they’ll be churning in their grave. Stand up, don’t be the good girl/boy cos your mums friend is watching, be you, be strong and make your voice heard, you’re in the big city now, make it count. 
Or don’t, because hate brings these bastards to your door
 

Bye, Slainte, masalama, namaste 

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Egypts Gift

Hi everyone, long time no write! That’s not strictly true obviously as I’ve been busy penning away on Delhi, but, having tasted the Nile water (metaphorically obviously) I’m still drawn to follow all the news out of Egypt.
That puts an entirely different perspective on events. Being estranged doesn’t give you the opportunity to discuss the days events down the pub, or chat with the cigarette kiosk guys and taxi drivers to get a real feel for how much is crap, nor address the real concerns such as “mango season is nearly over”
All the events around June 30th, the Italian consulate, the Sinai and all the associated misery flooding my timeline just made me sad and frustrated, I can’t begin to imagine how Egyptians or expats in Egypt feel. But, having grown up in Northern Ireland during the “troubles” as they call it, I can imagine that the extra 2le on cigarettes and the start of the football season are probably higher on the agenda. That’s just the way it is, you become desensitised, the horrors become just another headline unless you or your family are directly affected.
The Suez Canal on the other hand, now that’s a whole different ball game. It is an amazing feat of engineering in an incredibly short timeframe. I dread to think how many corners have been cut, how many dodgy electricity connections were made in the process and where they’ve dumped everything they dredged. The extension to the canal is finished, but is it? 
To see where I’m coming from take the new street lights they put up in Maadi. To great fanfare all the street lights around the autostraad exit where replaced and painted. What they didn’t say was that they chopped down the old ones with a grinder operated by a 12 year old in flip flops and obviously without any protective equipment. The jagged ends where left sticking up for any curious child to impale himself on, and the top sections left lying detached on the roadside until some ingenious recycling guy nabbed them.
They were painted by boys in overalls shimmying up to the top of the lamp post, no harness obviously, dipping their hands in buckets of galvanised paint attached to their waist and sliding down. The pavements were splattered with lots of shiny silver droplets and the workforce resembled the tin man from the wizard of Oz. I highly doubt any paint remover was supplied for their skin, and if it was I imagine dermatitis is considered an acceptable payoff for a day’s work. If they can manage to create such a mess changing a few lamp posts, what kind of mess is left at the Suez? 
That’s not at all what I set out to write about, what I really wanted to say was “sack the marketing company” who the feck thought it would be a good idea to announce “Egypts gift to the world” as the tag line for the media circus now in full swing? It’s mind numbingly cringe worthy to say the least and as always Egypt has managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. The giant billboard in Times Square looks like a school project entered into a competition by some not very artistic 7 year olds.
I take it it’s the same company who placed the Panama Canal on the commemorative stamps by mistake? Is it the same company who has decided to fill Tahir and the surrounding areas with giant inflatable teddy bears? Those things freak me out, I’ve seen them before and Im sure any child attending the celebrations will be traumatised for life.
Is it the same company who ordered copious amounts of Egyptian flags from China and forgot about the Eagle? Which of course means all of Cairo is displaying Yemani flags for the launch of their biggest achievement in decades. The canal is an awesome achievement please don’t feck it up by making yourselves a laughing stock, sack this company or companies immediately. 
There, rant over, come on Egypt raise your game, 
Bye, Masalama, Slainte, Namaste 

    
 

Dec 17, 2014Egypt issues stamps to mark new Suez Canal – but uses pictures of Panama Canal – Telegraph

The multi-billion pound scheme to widen the canal was announced last month, but officials have suffered a series of false startsProceed to the page: http://linkis.com/tVJRU
Photos via Twitter, @egyptindependant

Lessons Learnt

It’s coming up on five years since I arrived in Egypt so I thought I would reflect and jot down some lessons learnt. I’ll start with the obvious, here goes.

1 Bukra inshallah, (tomorrow, god willing) means no chance whatsoever, come back next week

2 Anything followed by inshallah means not a hope, God appears to have no interest in anything remotely connected to time.

3 No Egyptian will ever be heard saying “I don’t know”

4 Should you stop to ask for directions you will receive them, accompanied with multiple hand gestures but they will be wrong.

5 The address you are seeking will be called into question, the street number will be non-existent, in fact it will all be your fault, see number 3 above.

6 Expat females are all hoes, the fact you flaunt your hair, wrists and ankles proves it.

7 Sleeping is a national pastime. Police and bowabs appear to be the champions of this. Rifle barrels are an acceptable form of chin rests during sleeping sessions.

8 Workmen carry their tools in black plastic bags. Their tools consist of bent nails, one handled pliers, and a knife.

9 Telling lies is perfectly acceptable, it’s your fault for asking. It’s always your fault.

10 All foreigners are spies, either for Israel or the Americans. All Egyptians who don’t love Field Marshal Sisi are also spies, but they spy for Qatar, Al Jazeera or the Muslim brotherhood, who are essentially all viewed as being one in the same.

11 Everything made in China is viewed as rubbish. Everything made in Egypt is excellent. The fact that the Egyptian microbuses resemble wonka toys is irrelevant, you can add Mitsushit to the side to make it fancy.

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12 Everyone is a drug addict. Antibiotics should be taken for everything, painkillers are only produced in the horse tablet size, steroids are the best way to “get fit” and look good, exercising is frowned upon, it counteracts Number 7 above.

13 Packing your own bags at the shop is illegal, parking your car yourself without a traffic assistant is illegal, tearing of your own toilet paper is illegal, carrying your bags to the car is illegal, making your own coffee at work is illegal. By breaking any of the above laws you are likely to cause a third revolution as you are not trained to do it and are stealing someone’s job.

14 You will never get all your change. Should the bill come to £17.21 you will get £2 back from your £20 Should you ask for the rest you will be chastised, laughed at and will still not get it.

15 Window stickers spelt incorrectly, furry dashboards and horns are compulsory car components. Wing mirrors, brakes and seat belts are not.

16 23 degrees Celsius is still freezing. Hats, scarves, and multiple layers are required and fires need to be lit particularly whilst drinking tea and sleeping.

17 Ridiculously tight skinny jeans and form fitting tee shirts are standard dress code, but only for men.

18 Axe Chocolate scented deodorant, marlboro, and brylcreme are compulsory accessories. Your phone and cigarettes go in the front pockets of your jeans to accentuate your package.

19 Cakes consist of 90% sugar, tea consists of 90% sugar, teeth are 90% black.

20 Boys are always right, girls only exist to tell boys they are clever, smart, handsome and always right.

21 Obama is Muslim brotherhood and his brother runs Al-Qaeda

22 Sisi in his hat and shades is a sex symbol. Sisi without his hat and shades is a Middle aged balding doppelgänger for Homer Simpson.

23 When Sisi becomes president the electricity cuts will stop, everyone will have a new job, a new apartment, more money and Egypt will rule the world.

24 No smoking signs are not mandatory, merely advisory, and don’t apply to Egyptian nationals.

25 “Please remain in your seat until the aircraft reaches the terminal building” also does not apply to Egyptian nationals

26 There are no homosexuals in Egypt.

27 Any homosexuals that have been arrested have been corrupted by foreigners.

28 Women who are assaulted or raped are a disgrace and bring shame on their families.

29 Virginity tests are completely acceptable.

30 You can amuse yourself endlessly by allowing your dog to bark at delivery men.

31 You don’t need a logical argument to win your point you just need to shout louder.

32 Puddles of water cause major traffic jams.

33 Shiny sparkley things, gold paint and flowery patterns need to be applied to every surface and crevice.

34 I don’t know if I could live anywhere that doesn’t have Otlob

Masalama, Slainte, Bye

Back to Basics

We all like a good whine now and again and I’m no exception. Ive just read my last couple of blogs and they’re way too happy cheery, I don’t want you all getting the wrong impression and imagining I’m a happy smily type individual cos I’m not. I can moan with the best off them, so it’s back to basics and time to purge on those twats who are meant to be running this bloody country.

I don’t know whether to start with the nude ballet dancers, the porn stars in Hurghada or just launch straight in with the complete numptys who make up the government. Stuff it, the numptys it is. They aired live on TV a debate concerning the Ethiopians decision to divert a tributary of the Nile to build a dam. (you know like planning ahead so they can meet electricity demands, don’t get me started on that one) Apparently the esteemed members, yes members, I’m being as polite as I can….think about it……. didn’t know it was being filmed……generally the big cameras are a hint but hey maybe they thought Morsi was shooting footage for himself, you know like you do for an 6 year olds birthday.

Well, a 6 year olds birthday party is what it resembled. Picture a bunch of middle aged men with paunches high on …….probably sugar, let’s be honest too much tea, cake and BeBsi, planning to overthrow an arch enemy rather in the style of 6 year olds with a James Bond fetish. Their suggestions included spreading rumours Egypt was buying military planes to “put pressure on Ethiopia” what??? like the heaps of F16 fighter jets they have from the USA don’t count.

Other suggestions included sending political, military and intelligence teams, intelligence? yeah good luck with that one to liaise with the rebels. In true Egyptian style they would be late, miss the meeting with their contact, nip out for a shisha, trip on their flip flops, apply a massive bandage, cos they don’t do pain and then head off for a nap, generally forgetting why they had come. Oh and obviously it wouldn’t be their fault, no their wife would have forgotten to wake them or some such other nonsense. I can picture the covert mission set to an Amr Diab sound track, there would have to be “Habibi” some where in the title. Moving swiftly on….

An 8 year old video of Morsi surfaced showing him talking about dancing being banned in Islam and not being compliant with Sharia, well, if that means I no longer have to suffer the sight of Egyptian men dancing with other men in the street after football matches, and at weddings I’m all for it. Never, I repeat never have I witnessed such uncoordinated displays of what can only be described as epileptics on steroids. (apologies to all epileptics) the sequence of events that followed I am assured have no relation to each other…..the culture minister was sacked, the opera house went on strike and the Nour party jumped on board and stated that Ballet was “the art of nudes” and that it “spread immorality and obscenity to the people”

We had this naked thing before when Morsi was in Germany, remember that Gaff when he talked about women running naked in the street. Well they don’t mean actually naked like you and me think, you know no clothes and all that. No, what they actually mean is a female without the abaya and hijab, so I, and I’m sure lots of you are strolling downtown Cairo naked everyday. Funny how the men in shorts and T-shirts aren’t naked eh…even the salafi men aren’t adverse to displaying a finely turned ankle, usually accompanied with black curling toenails it has to be said.

On to the porn stars, now where do I start. Phew, well basically they arrested about a dozen Georgian tourists for filming on the beach. It was basically a swimwear photoshoot but again I suppose in the police men’s minds they were naked if you follow the logic above. Just picture, 40+ degree heat, a beach, tourists, WTF were they thinking running about in bikinis and swimsuits getting their hair wet, I imagine they were even laughing, messing about in the sand, maybe even rubbing sun cream into each other, scandalous!! Obviously they weren’t behaving appropriately for the location. They should have been fully clothed sitting under umbrellas and consuming enough cakes and fizzy drinks to sustain their weight gain programme and speed up their type 2 diabetes diagnosis.

I’m going to post this now, not because I’ve proof read it or anything but purely because the electricity is working and I really need to go dry my hair before I nip off to book club tonight. I may have to have a little tipple too as the ice is melting and I don’t want to waste it.

Masalama, Slainte!

Blackmail & Thongs

There is only so much a girl can do, its terribly difficult at times, but, having said that, I do have the “Help” to assist me. Copious amounts of wine i find is an excellent helper and then there are those legions of people whom, if you pay appropriate amounts to, do what you ask. Well, not quite what you ask, it is Egypt, but close enough. It really depends on the amount of wine consumed as to whether i judge it to be close enough, well the wine is only one factor, how the hormones are behaving at my time of life is also significant and can greatly impact the outcome.

Apologies to the hubby for having to put up with me these past couple of weeks, but really, delivering 70 floral table centres in a taxi, yes a bloody taxi, in 43 degree heat with two life size arrangements tied to the roof as they hurtled down the ring road didn’t do anything for the quality of their presentation. Oh, and the fact they arrived an hour late didn’t help. So the little hissy fit I threw was entirely justified. The hubby had nothing to do with the floral delivery, he just happened to be in earshot. I really do need to work on my Arabic cursing skills, at the moment it’s still too basic for my liking but my hand gestures have improved significantly.

I was left stunned, exasperated, embarrassed, shocked and dismayed by the outrageous Shenanigans last Friday night. I was aiming for an exclusive classy event and had set it up to be the Cairo Expat Society highlight of the summer season, you know kinda posh. We had the Opera House string Quartet, Ahmed Harfoush (you don’t get classier than him) the Riff band, Mena House as the venue, all set at the foot of the pyramids,……….Where did it all go wrong?

The guest list, thats where……………….who would have thought I would be spending this morning distributing lost property. Not just any lost property, no, returning the the leopard skin thong…. to a certain golf pro was not what I had on the agenda. Nor was acting as Prince charming to the Cinderella who obviously must have hobbled home in her one black patent shoe. The fact these items were actually claimed amazed me, and in the case of the thong I had two enquiries……don’t ask, one rather disappointed guest is all I can say. The golf pro has photographic evidence to back up his claim, I only looked you understand on the grounds of thoroughly investigating his claim, and no I won’t post the picture. However, the unsuccessful applicant was on my table, yes I know scandalous but he does suffer from an affliction. His more kindly friends call him “Tourette’s”

Moving swiftly along a certain Gentleman whom I will call by the alias of “sideshow” outdid even himself. Having been invited back to my room, sorry suite, for post event drinkies, yeah like we really needed more, he got rather waylaid. I should say at this point that there were other guests too including my husband and “sideshows wife” amongst our select little group, we even had a doctor, just in case any of you are picturing a secret rendezvous. Sideshows wife was mentioned in my previous blog, she is now commonly known as the “spanx” lady, and I have to say they worked a treat she looked simply fabulous on the night. It’s a pity she only managed to keep her shoes on for about 10 minutes but at least she remembered to take them home!

Back to sideshow, in between the invitation and him dropping off his cool bag our room number slipped his mind…..he did say he checked at reception and they told him no such number existed. They redirected him to a different room, well so he says I have no way of verifying this. Suffice to say he never got to our room but the residents of the room directly below ours, (probably best I don’t mention that room number) had they opened their eyes, would have been rather surprised to find a large gentleman in a cow print Blazer and Fez in their bedroom, vodka bottle in hand asking if this was where the party was!

Blackmail was in evidence too, I must say the hubby was the main instigator in this. If you are tuning in to Nile FMs Big Drive Home and notice a subtle shift in the music style just around 5:30 -6pm, lets say a little Ska, some tunes from the Specials etc. It has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that the DJ, Mr G is partial to Petes Turbo Cider. He gave him his last bottle without any preconditions at all…..what I will say is that it’s a good job Mr Barry is home around this time as having watched his dancing it would be dangerous if he was driving and Petes tunes came on. I now understand his penchant for Fred Perry polo Shirts.

Finally, some people just make your night, the ever so suave Mr Broken D, along with his stunning girlfriend H really should mind what they say. Telling everyone poolside about the shocked concierge had us all in fits into our Bloody Mary’s. They were for medicinal purposes I swear, although on reflection I think that may have been the morning before the ball…..hmmm yes maybe we started a tad early. Anyway telling the tale of the shocked doorman who thought Broken D was the stunning H’s father …….yes he actually said it, and voiced his concerns about them sharing the kingsize bed…….. whilst extremely flattering to H does leave us wondering if Broken had a hard paper round.,,,,,,I could go on and on but really there was just too much for one posting, I would need a book to fit it all in, maybe that’s what I’ll do, yip think I will, title suggestions welcome.

Masalama, Slainte, until the next time.

Oh My…..

The trials and tribulations of an expat wife are never ending. It was only last night at book club, G&T in hand, we were discussing the hectic social season that comes along at this time of year. Everyone’s nerves, certainly within my esteemed social circle, and it is obviously a rather posh social circle, are starting to get a little frazzled.

Diaries are crowded with end of year parties, farewell soiree’s and various fundraisers which obviously increase the need for Manicures, pedicures, facials and the odd massage too, never mind trying to fit in the extra hair appointments. Our host Alison last night had to serve frozen margaritas as the aperitif just to take the edge off.

Fortunately we have the maids, gardeners and drivers to assist us through this difficult time. I for one find managing the staff an altogether alarming experience. Do you let them sort your knicker drawer? I like mine colour co-ordinated but it is rather chancy if you have invested in “Spanx” and are relying on their rather nimble fingers not taking a fancy to what is in effect a necessity for us girls the coming season.

One lady, Chris, even flew to Dubai to purchase some “Spanx” (those extra strong holder inner knickers for the gentlemen readers) this lady had a cover story of her daughter going to see Justin Beiber…..but we know that was just for the benefit of the hubby. She says she didn’t go to the concert but I don’t ” Belieber”

This time last year it all got too much for me, I do believe I had a little swoon, not as a result of too much wine you understand, but just with regards to the thought that I may have to wear a dress to the Ball that I had worn previously, scary I know. Another Lady, Aine, I do believe I have mentioned her before, also had a swoon. Hers was as a result of becoming trapped in a tent. Well I say…

She regaled us with the story of how events unfolded and the general consensus was that “camping” is an altogether common activity that no expat wife should be subjected to. There is a member of our little group who is rather fond of this camping Malarky but Annabel is sooooo posh that we allow her the eccentricities that only proper toffs like her can carry off…….

Back to the the upcoming social calendar. I feel I should mention that the gentlemen feel the strain too. The tailor on road 9 is under a lot of pressure to outfit them appropriately. My hubby, the aforementioned Chris’s hubby and another lady Charlottes hubby have been dashing in and out with material for their dinner jackets, fittings and goodness knows what else, just to ensure they make a proper entrance.

I should mention that Charlotte is not a member of the book club but she is exceptionally posh. If truth be told she may well in fact be too posh for us……. a little like Annabel she also has those eccentricities that only the truly well bred can carry off. She has a penchant for wigs and fancy dress, second only to her hubby Mark who made a rather dashing appearance at our St Patricks day soirée in lederhosen……. oh My

Tally ho for now, I can’t be wittering away here with so much to do. I’m off to book my appointments for the coming weekends festivities. I can’t decide which colour to have my nails and it’s causing a panic in the wardrobe department. If I go for shocking pink it will clash with my serving platters on Friday, not that I will be serving obviously, there are staff for that, but it would look fabulous with a cocktail dress I have set aside for the event.

If I go for a burnt orange manicure it will compliment my evening attire for Thursday, but clash come Friday…..oh decisions, decisions….perhaps if I have a glass of vino with my lunch it will help me decide. What I really need is an on tap dispenser to help with decision making, here’s one recommended by Debbie, now I wonder do they deliver???

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Morsi Ain’t No Mandela

Morsi ain’t no Mandela, nope, no way not even close. Both were the first “democratically” elected presidents, both fresh out of jail for their beliefs and, and….yes well that’s where the similarities end. Let’s see now Mandela came to power on the back of the disintegration of Apartheid, Morsi on the back of a revolution, unfortunately for Egypt he rode in on the camels back and now it’s broken.

All those straws in typical Egyptian fashion were stacked way too high. No thought was given to the bridges to be manoeuvred under, the bends and bumps along the way, the winds, often gale force, of public opinion battering against it, never mind the fuel, food, electricity, water and friendly assistance required to complete the journey. Morsi rather like a camel is running on empty, how long before his legs buckle and the whole house of straw comes crashing down.

The sooner the better ….some might say (obviously I can’t say that, that would be insulting the President and we all know what happens to those silly people) Bassem Youssef the Egyptian satirical comedian is one example, up on charges for amongst other things making fun of Morsi in this outfit, sorry but how could you not! This was taken on his tour to Pakistan, it’s a bad job when Morsi has to indulge in a variation of the Emperors new clothes, I mean where were his advisors!

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His advisors, or his prime minister at least was playing truant, yes him Kandil of the “Mucky Breasts” quotes, Getting his game points up on the Smurfs Village App apparently. He tweeted ”

“Doctor Smurf prescribes cakes, pies and smurfberries as part of a healthy diet.”

Now, Egyptians need no encouragement to eat cakes or pies, not quite sure what the Smurfberries are but hey they can’t be any worse than their other diabetes inducing favourites. These people are running the country, no, no, not the Smurfs the other two eejits. Although………………

Morsi is now seeking an English teacher through AUC and has apparently completed his diplomacy lessons, phew well that’s a relief, hopefully we see a decrease in the finger wagging and “naked” quotes, but why does he need English lessons? He did his degree in America prior to working for NASA, no sorry he didn’t work for NASA that appears to have been propaganda from the Muslim Brotherhood, now retracted. Maybe the degree thingy is a bit like the NASA thingy as I can’t see how he has a PHD from an American University yet can’t speak English, weird, is Baksheesh common in America?

Getting back to Mandela, one of his most famous quotes is-

“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”

Obviously Morsi isn’t up on how newly released prisoners should conduct themselves on becoming President. He seems to have it confused with #TheArabTyrantManual, for which he is writing new chapters daily. He should have a chat with Mandela, should being the operative word, unfortunately he is more likely to give the Smurfs a call, that In itself would be ok if he got Papa Smurf or even Brainy Smurf but you just know this is how the conversation would go

Grouchy (Morsi): Where the Smurf are we?
Gutsy: Up the smurfin’ creek without a paddle, that’s where!

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