Somewhere on the journey, I think it may have been in Kyzylorda, or some other place that sounds as if someone’s dropped their scrabble tiles, we swapped vehicles and drivers.
“Hello I’m Michael. What is your name,” said Michael, as slowly and clearly as he could. Dulad translated for us and the driver replied, “Micky” [probably something like ‘Mekai’, but to us sounded like Micky]
“Richard,” I said, pointing at myself.
Literally, nine seconds later, Michael nudged me and asked, “What was the driver’s name again?”
“Think of a famous cartoon mouse created by Walt Disney,” I replied, so the driver would remain unconscious of the fact he’d forgotten his name so soon.
Michael closed his eyes for a couple of seconds in deep concentration.
“Ermm… Basil?” he asked, squinting at me.
“Basil?! Who the hell is Basil?!”
“Basil the Great Mouse Detective”
“Basil the Great Mouse Detective’?! I say ‘think of a famous Walt Disney cartoon mouse’ and you say ‘Basil the Great bloody Mouse Detective’?!”
“Is the driver’s name Basil then?” he said, leaning forward about to address the driver as such.
“Nooo!” I replied, tugging him back by his shoulder, “I’ll give you another clue: the name begins with ‘M’”
Michael thought for a few seconds, looking out of the window, before turning back to me.
My eye started twitching. I took a deep breath in, a long breath out and I poured myself a large glass of vodka.