Sunday, November 27, 2011

Songs of my life

I have various songs that reflect my mind perfectly. The Closest Thing to Crazy by Katie Melua is one.  It says everything you need to know about my ex-wife and I. Everything here is literal.

How can I think I'm standing strong, 
Yet feel the air beneath my feet? 
How can happiness feel so wrong? 
How can misery feel so sweet? 
How can you let me watch you sleep, 
Then break my dreams the way you do? 
How can I have got in so deep? 
Why did I fall in love with you? 

This is the closest thing to crazy I have ever been 
Feeling twenty-two, acting seventeen, 
This is the nearest thing to crazy I have ever known, 
I was never crazy on my own... 
And now I know that there's a link between the two, 
Being close to craziness and being close to you. 

How can you make me fall apart 
Then break my fall with loving lies? 
It's so easy to break a heart; 
It's so easy to close your eyes. 
How can you treat me like a child 
Yet like a child I yearn for you? 
How can anyone feel so wild? 
How can anyone feel so blue? 


Saturday, November 26, 2011

CA on the down low

There's a common factor with my depression: generally it's other people that make me feel shit. It's a feeling of inadequacy, or social ineptitude. A need to stand apart and watch the fun from afar while at the same time a desperate need to take part. It sets up a conflict in my head and I go spiralling around and around and around until something clicks. Today, that something was this:

See, I'd begun to think it was me. All these people in Central America are having fun. If it's me that's miserable then it stands to reason I'm a freak, right? Party capital of the world and all I want to do is sit in a corner and watch TV. It hadn't occurred to me that maybe everyone else was just gobshitingly awful. A version of the worst kind of Essexland (for I know some lovely people from there and wouldn't denigrate all of it): drunken, drugged up, vomit stained, loud and noisy Essex where the aim is to do all of the above 'large'. I hate it.

Sometimes I just want to sit and have a cup of tea. Maybe even a chat. I'm 35. I don't do drinking games anymore. I don't want to talk about the ways I've opened beer bottles. Is it too much to ask to talk about politics? Or the environment? Or the American election?

Why should I be the one to feel excluded? How dare you make me feel the outcast? You're the one exhibiting moronic principals. You're shallow and vacuous. Your greatest achievement in your young life is to have dropped the two most important balls of your life. I forgot this for awhile. It's OK for me not to take part because to take part, and enjoy it, I'd have to drop my IQ by 40 points and not only am I unwilling to do that I actually can't. I've tried. My conversation doesn't dumb down enough for you. I can't get my head around some of the things I'd need to say. It's like I'm talking to my biological sibling. It's good to have standards, don't you think? And my standards tower above yours. I look down upon your standards from my ivory tower and all I see are ants: we're both unknowable to each other but one of us has got the bigger cock.

I don't like your parties. I can never hear what's being said and I suspect it'd bore me to rigor mortis if I did. But just once I'd like to be given the opportunity to know for a fact. It's just that I can't be bothered to find out. I'm already disappointed in you. I'd hate to find out the reality is even worse.

Now it has to be said I've disliked other groups of travellers for other reasons: in India they were smug, in Europe too young. For the best travellers go to Africa. Everywhere I go in Central America, and the places where divers congregate are the worst for they think they're so fucking cool, people treat it like its the last night of legal alcohol and they're mission is to be as loud and obnoxious as possible. Like its Freshers Week ad nauseum. Maybe that's what it is: they remind me of students. I hate them, too.

No doubt you'll make me feel like shit again in the future but for now, by which I mean the next few minutes, I'm happy in my supercilious reverie. So, please fuck off.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Tales from the river

There's a boat. I'm....on it. Lonely Planet, as Lonely Planet tends to do, and which I hadn't at this point realised tends to make everything sound fabulous. I've been to some very crappy places because of them. I literally travelled for an hour in India (distance 3 km) to see a water pool mechanism. It looked like someone's Lego set.

The boat is going between Koblenz and Mainz two very non-descript towns but the boat journey was supposedly epically beautiful. It isn't. It's alright at best. But on this boat were two dudes. One of them looked like Cameron from Modern Family and the other looked like Mitchell. From Modern Family. It was unfuckingcanny.

So we're talking. They're nice guy English types, as opposed to the crappy drunken ones, on holiday for a few weeks touring picturesque parts of Germany. I begin wondering - are they gay? But surpringly for one afflicted with foot in mouth disease I don't ask. I delve deeper instead. It turns out one of them lives in Scotland, the other in London.

Sorry if you were expecting a funny ending, or even an interesting one.

Incidentally, I got stuck in a lift in Germany. I was with a few other people and we were there for 15 minutes. It turned out nobody had pushed the button.*

*stolen from Flight of the Conchords

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Songs of My Life

I have various songs that reflect my mind perfectly. Because of You by Kelly Clarkson is one. It describes my childhood and my upbringing perfectly. Thanks, mum.

I will not make the same mistakes that you did
I will not let myself
Cause my heart so much misery
I will not break the way you did,
You fell so hard
I've learned the hard way
To never let it get that far

Because of you
I never stray too far from the sidewalk
Because of you
I learned to play on the safe side so I don't get hurt
Because of you
I find it hard to trust not only me, but everyone around me
Because of you
I am afraid

I lose my way
And it's not too long before you point it out
I cannot cry
Because I know that's weakness in your eyes
I'm forced to fake
A smile, a laugh everyday of my life
My heart can't possibly break
When it wasn't even whole to start with

Because of you
I never stray too far from the sidewalk
Because of you
I learned to play on the safe side so I don't get hurt
Because of you
I find it hard to trust not only me, but everyone around me
Because of you
I am afraid

I watched you die
I heard you cry every night in your sleep
I was so young
You should have known better than to lean on me
You never thought of anyone else
You just saw your pain
And now I cry in the middle of the night
For the same damn thing

Because of you
I never stray too far from the sidewalk
Because of you
I learned to play on the safe side so I don't get hurt
Because of you
I try my hardest just to forget everything
Because of you
I don't know how to let anyone else in
Because of you
I'm ashamed of my life because it's empty
Because of you
I am afraid

Because of you
Because of you

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What I did in Dangriga

So we're in Dangriga after not making it to Copan. It's party time with the Garifuna. Subsequently, the next day was...slow. But there are buses running all day; we can get a late one because where we're going is just a transit point ie it's shit.

10am we look for breakfast. Sarah wants frijoles and beans. Must have frijoles and beans. We had Chinese. This was eaten during a discussion about Lost (greatest program ever made, fact fans). There were questions raised: what was the horse? Why was Charles ejected from the island? Was Ben really a Capricorn? Let's go back to the hostel and find out!

This we do for the next 3 hours. The bus is at 3:15. It's 2:35. We should probably leave....

Yes. But first we need to find the, I say 'the', ATM because we can't actually pay for the bus with our current funds. The bus station is left. The ATM is to the right. Off we go. Long way this, isn't it? Got cash, walked in the opposite direction, and arrive at the bus station. To see our bus coming out of the gate. Actiongirl Sarah leaps to the fore ie in front of the bus and demands it stop. He won't let us on. Sarah pleads. The bus is full. We don't mind standing. Already people standing. Other travelers already on the bus are laughing at us. Fail.

So we wait 75 minutes for the next one.

There are 3 doors in the terminal in a wall 3 metres long and about 100 Belizeans. Which door....wheres the bus going to come in....could be any of them apparently. Sarah and I had 2 plans, the first of which we played rock, paper, scissors for. I should've warned her how awesome I am at it. I'm, like, the champ. I won! Hurrah! It was to be my duty to clamber my way onto the bus and secure us a seat while she made sure our very heavy bags somehow went underneath the bus. This plan wasn't put into effect because we then decided to stand at different doors and therefore it'd be the first person to get there. Sarah won. I got caught up in a scrum. Ever seen a ruck in Rugby? Brian Moore's got nothing on an old woman from Belize.

I can just about see Sarah being crushed inside the bus and in front of me there are four rows of people still waiting to get on. I begin to wonder if and how I'm going to get on. I glance behind me, where there's nobody, somehow I'm at the back of the scrum despite carrying a huge backpack, and there's a bus 2 lanes away. The sign says its going to the same place but there are only three people getting on it. Umm.....

So off I goes to that bus. Now, some people might've thought 'let's tell Sarah'. Not me. I'm far too practical for that. I'll meet her in Punta Gorda bus station. Its quite clear what my uncommunicated plan is. I gets on the bus and it's almost empty. There's still a scrum for the other bus. Result. I look across and Sarah has a look of wide-eyed panic on her face. It's at this point I the bus I get. Her bus' backdoor is open and as I get there she's on the verge of leaping out.

Remember that bit in Labyrinth? With all the hands? It looked like that.

So I helped a traumatised Sarah onto 'my' bus and all was well. Except for my ears that got a sound thrashing.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Am Dam Virgins

Let's go back, with a wibbly wobbly effect, to the first day of travelling. Ah those virginal (1) halcyon (2) days. 

As you do when you're going somewhere unknown you book a few nights somewhere to stay, to save you rocking up into the big unknown, a stranger in a strange land and having to find a hostel. Not everywhere speaks the Queen's language dontchaknow. So I booked into the Flying Pig which is next to the Vondelpark. Nice bit of greenery I thought. Splendid. (I was in Amsterdam by the way.) Bad idea. 

It was so the wrong hostel for me but I'd booked in for five days. Yay. Now, for a certain kind of person it was probably awesome. I'm not knocking the hostel. The staff were friendly, it was clean, they But I'm not 18 anymore which was the average age of the people staying there. I didn't really appreciate the dance techno wank garage music being played during breakfast. I didn't appreciate the absolute obsession with getting high. People enjoy it and that's fine but it's not for me. I have my reasons and I ain't sharing them. Incidentally, the peer pressure to partake can be immense anywhere but I'm strong. I can endure.

I did appreciate the level of drinking that went on in the dorm before all the youngsters all pissed off clubbing. I was wasted by that point. Did I have that amount of energy back then? Gawd.

Amsterdam itself was lovely. Great city. The people are so friendly, the level of English is better than most of the gobshites in England, great museums, the Heineken brewery, the red light district (nothing sexier than a woman in a window) and more.

There was a dude in the hostel. He was English. He was there for 3 days and then going home. The conversation went like this:

He gets up out of bed.

Me: "alright mate? Where are you off to today?"

Him: I'm gonna go downstairs and get high I think.

Oh, yeah? What you doing after that? 

I'll come back to bed for a kip.

And that was his entire cycle. For 3 days. Bed. Weed. Bed. Weed. He said it was his way of releiving the stress of his day to day life. Have a wank dude. It sorts me right out. Why go all the way to Amsterdam when you can relieve yourself in the comfort of your own bed?

You had the Rijksmuseum 10 minutes to the left, the Van Gogh museum 10 minutes to the right, and amazing shit right out the front door. But no. Let's get off our tits on drugs instead. so much culture, such vibrancy and awesomeness, not to mention how great 'Dam is to cycle around - the cars give way! and it's obscenely flat! - I think it's a crying shame people don't experience it. You may as well just go to Bognor.

(1) I've always thought that sounds like it pertains to a woman's lady parts

(2) don't know what that means so if I've used it incorrectly points to you for knowing

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A letter to the Lindas

Dear Lindas

What is it with people your age and your names? Perhaps it's hormones raging through your menopausal bodies that make you so fickle. Perhaps you've had enough of treating people nicely and just want to be a bitch. Maybe I did something and now you just don't like me. Let's go with that.

I did my best for you both. I was nice; I put in a huge amount of effort and opened my heart to you only for you to turn around and kick me in the teeth. 

Off one of you I took a great burden. You were happy for it to happen. To then turn around and self-righteously claim it back was wrong. I did nothing you haven't done yourself. Unless I was lied to like everyone else. You're blinded by family loyalty; protecting people through intimidation, lies and secrets is stressful for everybody concerned. I did only one thing wrong in 8 years and yet you use that as the stick to beat me with even though it was a direct result of how I was treated and happened at the end. Do you know the truth, Linda? I'm betting you don't. You either hide it from yourself or you've never been told. If I knew your email address I'd email you. Perhaps I'll write you a letter and explain a few home truths. Your husband is the only decent member of your immediate family and he's blind. Almost literally.

To the other Linda: I did something I don't know what. For that I apologized. Twice. Do you not know what that took? I'm not the kind of guy to apologise. I'm arrogant and stubborn; yet the depth of my feeling was....deep. I sent you a letter that it took you a year to reply to. You didn't answer any of my questions. You barely referred to it, instead exhorting me to do something I'd made clear I didn't want to do. So I sent you another letter which you also haven't replied to in a timely fashion. And yet you say I disrespected you? Maybe it's because I called you mental and unhinged. But hey, I admitted I was too. In case you didn't get it I'll post it here in a few weeks.

I blame you both for a lot of things. Obviously I had a part to play but your actions were so out of proportion it beggars belief. My life took a massive downturn because of you. Shit happened that I cannot forgive. But without you I wouldn't be in Guatemala having the time of my life. So I suppose I should be grateful that you took my life and willingly shredded it despite all the good I've done and the shit I was going through even before you stabbed me in the face with all the knives in the world. Some might have given help but almost in concert you became my nemesises. You saw it your duty to destroy any semblance of life I had. Lucky for me I didn't do anything stupid, eh? Oh. That's right. I did.

Yours in hope you get brutally skullfucked


Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Legend of Super Dan

Dan. Dan, Dan, Super Dan.

I met Dan on the jungle trip and he was special. He was more man than you should be able to fit into a normal sized body. Everything he said and did was 100% prime MAN. He was....capable. Whatever needed doing, he was there. He had so much energy the nuclear power industry was jealous.

The things Dan has done:

Climbed trees
Worked in high rise construction
Been in the army
Driven a tank
Carved wood into....things
He can wear pink and still look butch
Juggles fire
Throws a motherfucking machete in the air and catches it
Climbs temples, not up the stairs, but through overgrown jungle when everyone else is dying from exhaustion
Performs surgery on himself
Plays guitar

He has also has a firm grip of history. During a discussion on our respective countries Israel had its turn. To paraphrase: "Israel was started in 1947. In 1953 we went to war. After that we went to war. War reared it's head again. There was a war later. And then....a war. This all ended in 1997 when we went to war."

The annoying thing about Dan was not that he made everyone else feel inferior. It's not that he was so damn unfazeable. He wasn't a big talker so he didn't get on your tits. It's that he's just so damn nice. About everybody. All the fucking time. Sometimes you just wanted him to bitch. Even about the 2 German girls.

At one point we even talked about him having his own range of action figures.

I've not even mentioned his hair. He's like fucking Samson. He's got so much hair, in a tiny space, there should be a gravity well in constant attendance above his head.

But he's not very good at the harmonica, so stitch that, Israeli.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A Wimbawey

This jungle thing's a lark, eh?

So, Sarah said. Fancy a jungle walk to some ruins? Yay, said I, lets do it. And so started six days of hell.

In no certain order it went:

First day failed as there wasn't a guide for us ready some had to sit in a random village all day. Food was tortillas and frijoles. For 4 meals. Random woman sang through a microphone. Badly. And we swam in a river.

Second day was walking. Through mud. More mud than I've ever seen. Ruins. Walking. Complaints from the 2 German girls (henceforth known as Team Silent) that Sarah (henceforth known as Team Awesome) and I were talking too much. And too loudly. And walking too slowly. To be fair that was because we were talking. Total time walking: 8 hours for 27km. Lunch was tuna sandwiches and dinner was....stuff with tortillas.

Third day, we walked. Dan the Israeli talked a lot to the Spanish guide and thus became Team Español (which should technically be Team Castellano but Español is funnier). This left Scott, who was also Johnny, to become Team Johnny. I got a lecture from Team Silent on the correct pronunciation of their name and got told in a shouty type way to "shut up and keep walking". Relations got tense after this and pisstaking became extreme. Much fun was had this day. I still felt good physically but pretty tires now. We'd walked about 7 hours and 30km. It was becoming increasingly clear I was going to hate Dan in his awesomeness. His energy levels were disgusting. As was his capability. Lunch was tuna sandwiches and dinner was stuff with tortillas.

Fourth day we saw the ruins. And sunset. And sunrise. Much climbing was done. Wasn't this supposed to be a rest day? Team Silent were typically silent and spending time amongst themselves. Which was nice. They'd paid $100 more than the rest of us, for less. This made us smug. Which was nice. No mud today. The Dan contingent of Team Español subsetted off into Team Rabbit due to his being like the Duracell Energizer bunny. And also he earned the name Super Dan. Lunch was.... I can't remember to be honest but there were probably tortillas.

Fifth day Team Silent returned and we four were left alone. There was rejoicing. Especially as we kept the cook, Sofia (no team was assigned). There was a four hour walk to essentially pointless ruins but we'd negotiated this for free so, win. Ish. We rested, and this was good as I was starting to feel like shit. The legend of Super Dan was being born. Macaroni cheese for lunch. Fr dinner we each had a piece of fried spam. Go, Sofia!

Sixth day was hell. Hell in a jungle with mud. 9 bastard hours of walking. Distance was kind of irrelevant and nobody could agree on it anyway. Even the Mayans were arguing amongst themselves. A there between 8 and 40 Kim's was mooted. Little talking was done. And it rained overnight making little lakes through which we struggled. No leeches were found but lots of ticks. It goes without saying THAT THERE WERE A MILLION FUCKING MOSQUITOS. Super Dan suggested running the final 30 minutes. He didn't die thus proving looks cant actually kill.

Seventh day was a 3 hour jaunt back to Carmelita where we'd started. In mud and water. Did we want Tortillas and frijoles? Did we? Get fucked.

Funniest thing said by me: why is it raining inside the tent?

Thursday, November 03, 2011

I've lost more than my virginity

More than one person has suffered at my hands. I don't do it out of malice; more because I'm a cretin. There used to be a superb TV program called The Mary Whitehouse Experience and on this program was a character called Ray. He was afflicted with a sarcastic tone of voice. Look him up. Maybe he's on YouTube. I'd give a link but a) I'm too lazy and b) I'm on a Guatemalan bus. Space age this ain't. Do you really think I've got wifi? There's another reason but it's kind of to do with this blog.

I'm like Ray. I am afflicted. I am afflicted with a comedicly shitty memory. Oh, the important stuff I've forgotten. I met a stranger once. She was lovely. She was the cousin of a friend and I'd been invited to stay at his parents house at the seaside. Quite early into the conversation, some might say too early for me to apply much significance to it and that I'd be quite justified in using that as an excuse, she told me her mum had died about six months earlier. Cool, I thought. Grieving. There might be a chance here.

Ten minutes later we're inside and the cousin is joshing with some woman and the dude's parents. Those of you who know me know where this is going. Especially those I've already told the story to.

"How are you related?" I asked. "Is this your mum?"

Tuumbleweeds. Uncomfortable silence. Red faces. I was oblivious.

My amnesia has spoilt perfect jobs for me and got me in so much trouble. I've said before that these days all I think about is what I'm eating and where I'm going to be sleeping and that I don't plan. It's because I can't think about much more. I'm going somewhere right now. I haven't any idea what's there. I just know I ticked it when I read it. I'm not exactly Leonard in Memento with his polaroids but at one point I seriously considered it. It was a constant argument with my frustrated ex-wife.

"Buy a notebook" she'd say

"How will that help?"

"You can write things down. Lists. Ideas and stuff you have to do"

"Yes but then I'd have to remember to write it down. And remember to check it once I'd written it"

I started a diary for this trip. After three weeks I remembered I'd not written a second entry.

Having a bad memory also means I lose things. I put them down and forget about them. As soon as they're outside my vision they've gone. I left my iPad in a restaurant the other day. I just got up and walked out. It wasn't until 3 hours later as I wanted to watch some TV I realised it was....somewhere. Where had I been.....? Umm....I'd eaten at some point during the day, surely....I went to the cafe....they had wifi.....let's try there. The waiters can't have had a concept of how much it was worth or I'd never have got it back. It's about 3 years wages for them.

Within 3 months of travelling I was on my third iPhone charger. I'm on about my 23rd pair of sunglasses (no, im notvexaggerating. I have a sunglasses budget equivalent to the national debt of Luxembourg). My record is an hour. About to get on a bus and I didn't have a book. I spy a bookshop across the road, take off my sunnies, put them down, pick up a book, pay, get on the bus, bus pulls off, where's my....

Then one day I got to Mumbai. The hostel was classic. Toilets you wouldn't want to use, grey beds and flies. So many flies. The pillow on my bed was about the depth of a piece of paper but that was fine. I was carrying a pillow case for this purpose. I'd been carrying it for six months and not used it. Result. I'd considered getting rid of it but this justified the weight. I stuffed it full of clothes, put it under the paper/pillow. Come to check out and I forget about my pillow. To this day I have no idea what I left behind. I just know it made my bag considerably lighter.

I once went out to make a delivery for work. It was 'Important'. A factory had a broken down machine and the entire workforce was at a standstill unless they got this vital part. Jay to the rescue! I takes the delivery sheet and off I goes and as I pull into the gate I realise I'd not actually bought the stuff with me.... I don't think my boss saw me pull back into the car park thank god. Not that time anyway.

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