Saturday, 18 October 2014

Maria!


An American tourist got accidentally locked into a London bookshop last night, and this little news snippet prompted a radio show to ask listeners if they had ever been locked in anywhere at any time.

Lots of stories surfaced, but the one I found most gripping was told by a woman who found herself locked in - alone at night - at the Madame Tussaud waxworks, also in London.

There have been countless films which used waxworks museums as a really terrifying set - you know the ones, where one of a group of figures is real, but you don't know which, etc. - but this woman calmly recounted her experience as if she had been trapped in a furniture shop. The first wrong turn she made took her straight into the Chamber of Horrors apparently. I think I would have fainted, but she said that she turned around and walked calmly out. I bet she didn't look over her shoulder, though.

About 15 miles from Rome lies the ancient port of Ostia Antica, though the sea has long since retreated and the old supply town for ancient Rome lies in ruins.

The 'new' town is dominated by a large castle (above) and the castle is attached to some old barracks, one of which serves as a self-catering holiday cottage which H.I. and me rented for about a week once.

The very first thing we decided to do on the first morning was to visit the castle which loomed over us, filling the window of our little room in the barracks. Entry was free, and we were the only tourists when the huge gates were opened at 10.00 am.

The young woman who was to be our guide could speak no English, so she beckoned us to follow her into the courtyard, then unlocked a small iron door which lead to the dungeons. The other young woman guide stayed at the small hut by the main gate.

She held the door open and H.I. went in, then I - being English - gestured for her to go before me, which she did. I then - for some reason to do with following the Country Code, maybe - pulled the door shut behind me.

The woman let out a scream just before the door closed with a clunk of finality, but it was too late. It could only be opened from the outside.

She stared up at me with a look of hatred in her eyes as she ranted a tirade of abuse which, though I could not understand, I got the general meaning of. I think the word 'stupido' was mentioned a couple of times.

I calmly took my mobile phone out of my pocket and handed it to her so she could call her friend for assistance, but she pointed at the 20 foot-thick walls, then at the non-existent signal icon on the screen.

I started laughing as H.I. was asking me why the hell I had shut the door, and for a brief second, the Italian girl laughed with me, but her good humour didn't last for long.

She went to the iron door and began screaming "MARIA!!!" as loud as she could, over and over again.

After about 10 minutes of this, Maria turned up to see what the fuss was about, but then had to go off again to try and find the spare set of keys. That took about another quarter of an hour.

The rest of the tour of the castle was conducted in a very frosty silence indeed, broken only by my occasional fits of stifled giggling as I tried to avoid the malevolent eyes of our guide.

19 comments:

  1. Naughty boy. Hold your hand out!

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    1. She was like Anna Magnani, but not quite as sultry.

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  2. I have a suspicion that I have already told you this story, but some of you may not have heard it.

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  3. Excellent.
    Here's mine. After work one night, almost forty years ago, I took my youngest daughter to my brother's cemetery to plant spring bulbs in the grass all around his plot. It was dusk when we finished and went to leave. The gates were locked. Eventually I found the service garage with a drive to another building that had a drive to the road.

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    1. I once got locked into Brookwood cemetery. If you Google it up, you will realise how bad this was for a 12 year old at dusk.

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  4. I have never been accidentally locked in anywhere but I have been held against my will in a police station. Probably doesn't count here. You were a bit silly in the castle to do that.

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    1. Was I? I have only just understood this, thanks to your incredible powers of analytic observation, Rachel.

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  5. I have never been accidentally locked in anywhere thank goodness. But I must say Tom - you don't half see life.

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    1. But have you been deliberately locked in, Weave?

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  6. Heard the same story (the waxworks) on the radio. M also heard it (separately) and recounted the bit about the police being distracted from rescuing the lady by the shortness of Kylie Minogue's skirt and the heaving of someone or other's bosom....

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    1. Yes! I remember being excited by a heaving bosom when I was an adolescent in the Brighton Tussaud's.

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    2. Even though it was Sleeping Beauty, behind glass panels...

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    3. You never fail to bring back memories for me Tom, probably because we are exactly the same age. The Sleeping Beauty tableau was such a fascination to me as a child { at the London Madame Tussauds } I stared for ages to see her breathing { probably for a different reason than yours !! } and, she had a necklace on didn't she, so that you could see her ample bosom going up and down ? ….. and, pulling back the curtain in the Chamber of Horrors to see the man hanging on the hook !! XXXX

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    4. Take a couple of big breaths.....

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  7. When in doubt, have yourself accidentally locked into a chocolate store and deny everything in the morning. Unless they check for chocolate breath - then you're out of luck.

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    1. I got locked into a pub once... or twice.

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