I arrived first and was met by the warm and generous Sensei Dario. We were sooned joined by Sensei Larsen. He had only just got back from 10 days in Japan but seemed completely unphased given this and the fact he had taken 3 flights to get from Norway to Malta. The arrival of Sensei Roy, Sandra, Rose and Jacob half an hour later completed the group. Thankfully there were no repeat of the mishaps of a couple of years ago when a member of the party forgot his bags and tried to go back through security. Given the jittery state of things internationally and in Malta, this was just as well.
Malta as usual was sunny and warm although perhaps without the level of humidity we've sometimes experienced. We booked into the Hotel Santana in the St Paul's Bay area of Malta near Bugibba. Checking in done, we freshened up in our rooms before meeting at the bar. We were greeted by the soulful tones of the Spice Girls singing Wannabe. Nice. This perhaps set the tone for the rest of the evening. A nostalgic trip through memory lane. We were joined by the lovely Rita, Nicole and Lianne and went to a pleasant fish restaurant by the harbour. The fact that people were smoking in the restaurant took us all back to the heady days of smoked filled offices, pubs and train carriages.
Food was excellent, but perhaps not fully to the taste of Sandra, especially as she watched Rose slurp down an oyster. Everyone's appetites were further enhanced by Rose's story of various encounters with pot plants in a nightclub during a hen night.
There was a pleasant walk back to the hotel where most went to bed leaving four of us to retire to the bar for a nightcap. The hotel bar was clearly an area where there was an anomaly in space time. As wafts of Wannabe drifted through the air, the conversation got more surreal. I was still struggling with Rose's explanation of the benefits of getting your head kicked in when Sensei Roy started explaining his experimentation with the 1930's. This centred around old style phones with dials. I sensed bewilderment and uncertainty in the young eyes of Rose. Phone's with dials? Had Sensei finally lost the plot? Her confusion was increased when Sandra and I started talking about the excitement of getting new trim phones.
The sound of the Spice Girls was now being replaced with the echos of Alvin Stardust and Suzie Quattro emanating from the past. Rose was floundering. She had visions of Sensei Roy dialing a number, getting the 7th one wrong and having to redial the whole thing again cursing. Her mind was pounding.
I called out to her. "Rose, Rose, stay with us". Alas, Sensei Roy mentioned his paper address book with phone numbers. The confusion in Rose's face increased and turned into panic. Suddenly she was being pulled into the vortex. She was facing forces far greater than she could comprehend. She strained to reach out. Fighting it was futile. Rose was taken from us into a parallel dimension. As I looked on helpless, I thought I just caught a glimpse of Davis through the vortex.
As she dissappeared, Sensei Roy turned around slightly exasperated. "Where has she gone now?"