Monday, 15 December 2008

On the shattering of fantasies

It's not evening midday and yet already today has thrown up a devastating occurence.

I left my house bright and early as I had it in my head that my doctor was open from 9-12. No sooner had I got out my front door than I saw someone I'd really rather not have seen - details not important - and off I went to the surgery. Except it opened at 12 rather than closed then so I figured I'd just go and sit in a cafe and read my book for a bit.

It was pretty busy but I managed to find a seat in a booth and there I sat, reading. Then, something that has always been a fantasy of mine happened - a beautiful girl approached and asked if I'd mind her squeezing in beside me. I smiled and gestured to the space, which she occupied, also smiling, and enquired as to what I was reading. Now, in the fantasy I'm reading Auster or Murakami, which happen to be her favourite authors too. We strike up conversation over a few more coffees, exchange numbers, and so begins something wonderful. In reality though I could only answer with the truth, "Um... the novelisation of Alien: Resurrection..." to which she replied with, "Right," drank her coffee and fucked off.

Thrown by both my earlier encounter and the fact that this was even happening I was too tongue-tied to make light of it. She's gone forever.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

On being an inept player

So, having experienced life as a single man for a few weeks now, I have to say I'm beginning to enjoy it. There appears to be something appealing about English barmen over here - I'm not sure exactly what, but I'm not complaining.

I had a couple of nights off this week, and had arranged a date for tonight with a girl I'd met recently. For the purposes of this story, let's call her Girl A. The original plan was that we'd go out last night (Tuesday), but I fancied a night out with my friend, so I'd postponed, and she'd said that was cool since she was planning on meeting friends that night anyway. Perfect.

So, I arranged to meet my friend at my pub - nice working in a place where I actually like to go socially too. Meanwhile, I'd received a text from another girl (Girl B) I'd met whilst working the previous week. She was planning on heading to my pub for drinks and was asking if I was working. I told her no, and said if she was there with friends, I would be too and we could probably combine groups. A plan!

So, myself and my buddy arrived at the pub, and went downstairs to say hi to the guys working that night. As I stood at the bar, I heard my name called, assumed it was Girl B, and turned around to greet her. But no, 'twas instead, to my horror, Girl A. "Hiiiiii!" I uttered nervously, whilst frantically scanning the room for Girl B, "Fancy seeing you here!" We exchanged a few brief words and then I said I had to go see someone upstairs and left.

I took up a table by the door so I could see Girl B arrive if she hadn't already. I received a text from the one downstairs asking us to join them but I said I couldn't stay down there as there was someone I had to avoid. So she announced that she'd be up shortly to join me and my friend. Shit. As I panicked a little about what to do, in walked Girl B with her friends, although she didn't see me and headed straight downstairs. A few moments later, Girl A came up to join us as promised. After a drink with her, I faked a call of nature and headed down to say hi to B.

The night progressed with me moving up and downstairs, alternating between girls, and the barstaff had all cottoned on to what had happened and were chuckling to themselves every time I passed.

It wasn't an entirely comfortable night, but I suppose there are worse problems one could have.

Writing this, I'm reminded of a similar occurence that happened a few years ago back in London - one that really suits the title of this blog.

Having broken up with my long-term girlfriend, Anna, a few months previously, I'd been dating a girl called Camilla for a couple of weeks. We got along great, but I wasn't ready to be in a relationship and got the impression she wanted more from it than I did, so I'd broken it off, and we'd agreed to remain together as friends. We'd been part of the same social circle anyway, and would go to the pub regularly on a Tuesday night for the pub quiz, along with some other friends, including my flatmate, Ana.

Two Anna's already, albeit with different spellings - you can probably guess where this is headed...

Anyways, a couple of weeks had passed since Camilla and I had returned to just being friends, and meanwhile, I'd started seeing a new girl, Paula. It was a Tuesday, so I texted Ana saying "We up for the quiz tonight? Whatever you do, don't mention the new girl in front of Camilla please." I may have worried over nothing but I didn't want to risk any awkwardness.

However, I'm a fucking idiot, and instead of sending that text to Ana, I sent it to Camilla herself. Instantly realising what I'd done, I frantically bashed my phone, but to no avail - the damage was done. I then sent Ana a message saying "Fuck! I just sent Camilla a message meant for you - she knows I'm seeing someone else now. How do I get out of this one?!"

Except I sent that text to the other Anna, my ex.

Camilla hasn't spoken to me since, and Anna was less than amused.

We won the quiz that night though despite being one person short.

Friday, 26 September 2008

On ill-advised bravado

After a month's long hiatus I returned to work at the pub last night. Winter's here and these days it's fucking busy. I was working in the bar downstairs in the dungeon nightclub - pulling pints from 6pm-3am amidst a drunken crowd of students, young travellers, and lonely guys desperate to score with whoever will take them. The night passed, and not without incident, though I'll spare you the entire evening's details.

I made a decision to stay in Vienna for a couple of months - my pub is like a more hedonistic Cheers - everybody knows my name and I figured I'd miss it if I left. So for a while I was in higher spirits than I've been used to of late. Then I discovered that in my absence, half of my shifts have been given to the new barmen - not sure if that's a permanent thing or not, but it kind of put a downer on what had thus far been a pleasant return.

3am arrived along with the most tedious part of the shift - getting the drunken idiots to move upstairs and out so I could clean up the carnage they've left behind. I left the barmaid to finish up behind the bar and set to working the floor. Trouble arrived with the first table. I hadn't even had chance to show the wood my cloth (fnar fnar!) when a fight broke out. Some gargantuous beast of a man had picked a fight with a table of six fellas whom he was accusing of something or other and putting forward those accusations in the most eloquent way possible - by sweeping their drinks off the table and throwing a stool in their direction.

In my current mood, I wasn't ready to tolerate any more cleaning than I already had to do, so I stepped forward and tried to diffuse the situation, giving the signal to the barmaid to call for backup from upstairs in the form of 4 other barmen. After an arm in the face from the giant he seemed ready to leave peacefully and began to walk away, escorted by a couple of his friends. But then he snapped and turned, ready to pile into the guys again. His friends restrained him and seeing that my reinforcements were arriving I put a hand on his mile wide chest and said in my firmest of voices, "No. You're leaving. Now," and pointed upstairs. With this his attention switched from his original quarry to me, and with a confident smirk and a look of pure evil and murderous intent, he calmly replied, "Oh is that right? I'm leaving now?" He began to swagger towards me, although his mates still held him firmly - a fact which I made thoroughly sure of before responding with, "Yep. Now." I held my ground, although by this point I was terrified he'd be let off the leash and I'd be added to the debris to be swept up afterwards, but I guess he must have clocked my waiting army, as he turned and walked away, still held by his friends. I breathed a sigh of relief, made a few jokes with the guys he'd originally had beef with and went to finish my job, only for my boss to stop me and say, "I'd stay right there for a while if I was you - he wants to fucking kill you, you dumb bastard."

I wonder though, if I had been pummelled, I'd at least have been able to stay rent-free in the hospital for a while.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

On a maze in amazing Scandinavia

I'm currently enjoying a relaxing week on holiday in Stockholm. This place is amazing - a truly beautiful city full of beautiful people. It's basically a bunch of islands connected by a series of bridges. Wherever you look your eyes are treated to vast expanses of water, deliciously green areas, and immacualte architecture.

It's an easy place for a newcomer to lose their way. One island in particular, Gamla Stan, managed to draw me back there no matter how far away from it I thought I'd wandered. I'd traverse it's entire breadth, leave via one of the bridges, walk for miles in what I thought was the complete opposite direction, and yet somehow end up back on Gamla Stan.

But it was the labyrinthine motorways, which seemed to mark the entrances to most of the islands, that proved to be my most taxing opponent.

I'd decided to stroll along the river at the Northern edge of the biggest island, and take some photographs across the water whilst basking in its refreshing cool breeze. I had my map unfurled and ready to climb into if needed. It all seemed simple enough - leave the underground station, turn right, cross the street and I'd be on my desired path. What I didn't bank on was the 'street' I need to cross being a vast and ludicrous mess of roundabouts and roads, climbing over and through each other, with no obvious way across, since the traffic was thick and constant. I could see steps leading both upwards (but in the wrong direction) and downwards (apparently towards a subway) but no visible means of reaching either set. After much head-scratching, I decided to head back to the underground station and maybe take another exit, hoping it would lead me across the 'street'. En route I passed another set of stairs leading downwards, and decided to give them a try. I descended, and sure enough found myself in a subway, which I walked through, and up the other side.

Stepping back into daylight disorientated me more than it should. Rather than being on the opposite side of the road of death I was now further back from it on the side I'd started from. A subway that served no purpose at all - how continental. So, on to the underground station, where I found another exit, which led to another staircase, which I excitedly occupied. Now here's a headfuck - I emerged somewhere in the midst of the fucking road system. I was now standing on a small piece of completely pointless pavement, surrounded by busy road. I pinched myself. Maybe I'd fallen asleep somewhere along the way. And if that was the case... hmmm, nope, can't fly, so I guess I was still awake.

I'm not exaggerating when I say I spent around twenty minutes walking around that stretch of Stygian motorway searching for a way across. At one point I could see across to my intended destination where a man stood, silently taunting me, taking photographs of boats. Twenty minutes may not seem like so long, but when you're stuck in an Escher painting of traffic and mystery it seems to go on forever. Eventually (and with an audible whoop of victory) I found myself on the path I'd been aiming for. I breathed a sigh of relief and... BEEEEEEEP! OK, so it wasn't a path at all and I was standing directly in the way of oncoming traffic. Panicking, I ran first to one side, then to the other, then back, scrambling over a fence to escape death, and landing, short of breath on what was definitely a path. Yep, no question about it. I could see the individual paving stones and everything. In your face, Sweden, I have conquered your labyrinth.

Then I glimpsed the bike painted on the paving stones and a cyclist ran me over.

Monday, 1 September 2008

On close shaves with homelessness and having pieces of me removed

Before I begin, I'll warn you - this is a long, episodic story, and a relatively slow mover. Stick with it though - it involves a man sticking his finger up my arse, and I know that's what most of you are hoping for every time you log on to read a new post.

Last week I had a friend staying over as he explored Vienna as the last stop on his European adventure. Unfortunately, it was a last minute decision for him to come so I didn't have time to arrange a few days off from work, but I managed to keep my Saturday free so shenanigans could be had. And had they were - we took in the fairground, and then went partying until 6am-ish, finishing up the night by napping on the underground, and then watching a man take on six other guys in a street fight whilst eating a kebab. Us that is - Brawly had opted for a hot dog as his weapon of choice - a wise decision as they fit nicely into a balled fist, allowing punches to be thrown without letting go of the delicious snack, whereas a kebab would have shot bits of meat and garlic sauce all over the place.

Anyways, the following evening I was back at work, and whilst it wasn't too exhausting - people have better things to do on a Sunday I guess, towards the end of my shift I felt a nagging, dull pain in my side. It was aggravated with each step I took, but was completely tolerable so I didn't panic, but put it down to my kidneys taking revenge on me for the previous night's session.

Earlier that evening my friend had popped in to pick up my house keys, and stayed for a few beers. I feared he'd get home and fall asleep and so warned him that it was my only set and that he'd need to stay awake or at least leave his phone on loud and near his ear. I also pointed out that the apartment door could be a bit stiff to open and that if he had any problems to call me or come back to the pub. When 2am came limping along, I hurried home, the pain in my side easing a little, and called Josh (the doorbell works, but is not very audible, even when awake). I could see from the street that the lights in the living room - his bedroom for now - were off. Not a good sign. His phone remained unanswered and I remained outside in the street considering my options. I tried calling a few more times, but to no avail. I noticed the living room window open, so began to shout him, but as it was now close to 3am, and on a heavily populated street I had to do that whispery shout thing that actually serves no purpose in any situation. Unsurprisingly, this did nothing to rouse him, so I upped the decibel level of my shouts, gradually increasing the bellow factor in the hope my neighbours wouldn't notice my incremental increase in volume.

So what had begun as a faint "josh? *pause* josh? *pause* josh?" gradually escalated into an all out "JOSH!JOSH!JOSH!JOSH!JOSH!JOSH!" with a handful of ill-executed wolf whistles thrown in for good measure. It was at the "WAKE UP AND OPEN THE FUCKING DOOR YOU BASTARD!" point that a neighbour poked his head out the third floor window and angrily yelled at me to shut the fuck up as it was 3:30 on a Monday morning. I shrugged apologetically, waited until he'd retreated inside and then put the next stage of my plan into action. Well, I say plan, but at this point I was at a kind of loss, so my 'plan' involved rummaging around in my bag for stuff to try and throw through the window and hopefully wake him. Chucking stuff through a window 10 metres directly above your head is not easy but I managed to score with a bottle of contact lens solution, a can of deodorant, and one of my work shoes, the other left taunting me by perching itself soundlessly on the windowsill.

No joy. I resigned myself to the fact that I'd be spending my night on a nearby park bench (all my friends in the area had wisely decided to turn off their phones as they slept - what kind of an idiot makes calls at that time anyway?). As I trudged off cursing, I figured I had nothing to lose by attempting to call Josh once more, and lo and behold, this time he picked up with a groggy, "Hello?"

I'm a nice guy so I didn't get angry, but calmly asked him to come downstairs and let me in, which he did. He then announced that he hadn't actually been in the flat himself, but had struggled with the door for longer than he could tolerate, sat down on the floor in the hall, exasperated, and then unwillingly fallen asleep there. So I'd been shouting at an empty room all night, and it may have transpired that we may both have ended up sleeping rough, despite having a perfectly good set of keys!

Job done, I went to bed, exhausted and looking forward to a few relaxing hours' sleep...

Unfortunately, at around 6am I woke up due to excruciating pain in my front and right side. I wasn't sure what it was, but it hurt to move at all, and when I stood up, I instantly doubled over with it. At this point, my girlfriend, who was staying at her parents just outside of Vienna, and whom I'd texted earlier when locked out, called me to see if I'd managed to get in. "Yep, I'm in," I said, "But there's something wrong with my body..."

I explained the symptoms and her first reaction was one of panic - she said I should go to the hospital as soon as possible as it sounded very much like appendicitis. Appendicitis eh? Meh, I'll probably be able to sleep it off, thought I, and laid back down in a relatively pain-free position. I managed to get in a couple more hours sleep and woke, with the pain mostly gone, but still there, nagging away. I figured I should probably go to the docs just to be on the safe side. Walking there was not a good idea and on arrival the pain had kicked back in with a vengeance. She prodded me, nodded sagely, and sent me off to the nearest hospital for further examination. Apparently, other than the pain , I showed none of the other symptoms associated with appendicitis, and the pain itself was a couple of inches north of where the appendix naturally lies, but clearly something was not right

After a short wait at the hospital (Vienna's health service really puts the NHS to shame) I was taken to lie down for examination - they took a bunch of blood, prodded me in much the same manner as my doctor had, and hooked me up to a drip to ease the pain. Whilst in this semi-high state the student nurses, intrigued by my Englishness, had gathered round to bombard me with questions about, well, being English - apparently it's a very desirable trait 'round these parts. And then the head doc returned, gloved up and, parting the curtain of nubile young things drawn around me, casually announced that he needed to investigate my rectum. So here I was, shirtless, high, and surrounded by giggling pretties, with a hairy man's finger knuckle deep in my arse. Not how I'd pictured the week beginning.

I was then left alone for a while, presumably whilst they checked my blood and whatever else for signs of disease or pregnancy or whatever. But after an hour or so, in came a new doc, who began asking me questions as if I'd only just arrived. Confused (and involuntarily clenching the back door), I explained what had been said and done so far (was that first guy even a real doctor?!). Unfazed, he took more blood, leaving me with a nice set of stab wounds in my arm, and after more prodding (although he kept it external) he sent me home, announcing that I definitely don't have appendicitis, and saying I should sleep on it and return if the pain was still there in the morning. It all seemed a little unorthodox but I guess he knew best, so off home I went.

Needless to say, the morning brought fresh and excruciating spasms of agony, but I didn't trust that first hospital, so I went back to my doc. This time I was sent off to be seen privately, and had an ultrasound scan, and more blood taken. Within a couple of hours I'd been admitted to hospital to await surgery - my appendix was about to burst, and had somehow gotten twisted up around my intestine, hence the pain being in the wrong place. I was also told it was rather long. And you know what they say about guys with long appendices... they're more susceptible to infection and displacement resulting in acute appendicitis and an urgent need for removal.

You're probably as tired of reading this by now as I am of writing it so I'll cut it short. In under a week since feeling the initial pain I'd been tested, diagnosed, admitted, operated on, and discharged from hospital. If I hadn't dragged this on so long already I'd include more hospital-based anecdotes involving conversations with a dying man, both of us speaking in a language the other didn't fully understand, sneaking out for forbidden cigarettes, being deprived of food for three days, and having kebabs smuggled in from the outside. Maybe those are tales for next time...

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

On rescuing fair maidens from lunatics

It had been a Friday night shift like any other - constantly busy working beneath a film of sweat and alcohol mist. The bar was lined with regulars, tourists, locals and lone drinkers.

One small guy seated at the end on his own had spent his evening drinking white wine spritzers and talking to himself and any poor soul who happened to sit beside him. He was harmless enough, although by the end of the evening his drunken jabbering was beginning to wear my patience. As 3am approached and the time came for me to close the pub and politely yet firmly eject all those who weren't in some way assimilated with the place, I asked him to finish up. He responded as anyone in such a situation would I guess - by firmly clutching his drink and launching into a rendition of the French national anthem. I left him to it. By now there were just myself, three off-duty staff, and a trio of pretty Austrian girls whom I had no beef with - they could finish their drinks at their leisure and leave with the rest of us.

As I completed my cleaning duties and poured myself a hard-earned drink I noticed Frenchie had latched on to the girls, who were politely humouring him. He could barely focus and seemed in danger of tumbling off his stool. Half an hour passed and the girls got up to leave but were followed to the door by their new fiend (that's not a typo - I'm being clever). He was clearly enamoured, yet not welcome, so one of the girls discreetly asked if I could distract him as they left - one of them lived close by and they didn't want him finding out her address. Try as I might, he would not be easily swayed. I figured I'd wait until they all left, then call them back in and lock him out.

As I ushered them back inside he looked me dead in the eye, showing a flash of something more sinister than just a desperate drunk, and announced, "I'll wait." And wait he did, staggering around in the street out front. For another half hour. We contemplated calling the police but he wasn't technically causing any harm and surely the bunch of us could handle one harmless drunk? So we hatched a plan - one of my colleagues would escort them, rapidly, in the opposite direction to their home, hoping he'd be too busy trying to stay standing to notice, and they could then cut back on themselves to safety as he lagged behind and got lost.

But no.

What followed was actually pretty creepy, and I'm not going to do it justice with my words. As he saw them walking off, he turned into something much more calculating than just a drunk. He must have somehow realised what we had planned as in an instant he stopped staggering and singing, sprang bolt upright and sprinted off in the other direction, seemingly hoping to cut them off behind the buildings. He showed no evidence of having ever been drunk at this point. A colleague realised what was going on and sprinted after him, and the colleague's girlfriend asked if I'd go too as she was worried something might happen to her man. To try and give you some idea of how creepy this whole thing felt by now, she's a rational girl, her boyfriend giving chase is 6'9" and broad as hell, the weirdo was about 5'6", and yet she genuinely sounded concerned for her guy's safety.

So I ran off too, feeling a bit ridiculous to be chasing a giant, who was in turn chasing a drunken dwarf, and with no idea what anyone of us would do if and when we met. As we rounded the corner on to a dead straight street that ran on for around 500 metres, the guy was nowhere to be seen. There was no way he could have covered that distance so soon and hidden round a corner, and the two of us split up and walked the length of the street looking for him but to no avail.

Neither he nor the Austrian girls have been back to the pub since, and I'm hoping they got home safely and he got the message that he wasn't welcome, but I'm still intrigued as to what was going through his mind that whole night and where the hell he hid from us in that street.

Monday, 28 July 2008

The Early Years

I haven't had any fresh anecdotes to tell for a while, so I figured I'd grab some older ones from emails to friends and post them here. They're not all entirely idiotic, but I figured I'd keep some consistency with the title:

Januaryish 1993

On bullying

It was a snowy winters day in Grimsby, 1993. I had met up with my school 'chums' Jon Wood and Stokesy, and we were ambling idly along the street en route to another day of teacher-baiting and general mucking about at school. We decided to take a shortcut through the crisp layer of snow that adorned a neighbouring school field and caught up with our good 'friend' Turdy along the way. Much snow-related shenanigans ensued and Turdy ended up taking the day off school due to his coat, trouser, shirt pockets and shoes being filled to bursting point with snow. That and his tie being buried and his being forced to eat copious amounts of snow by Jon (I protested but he's a downright bully).

Needless to say, Turdy grassed on us to that lousy dean, and we were duped into going round his house that evening to apologise. Now, it should be added that Turdy's dear mother Maureen, has a wangy eye, which had led to her being affectionately nicknamed Mogeyed Morag by, well everyone, even my dad. So the three of us stood at the door and Morag arrived. She looked at Stokesy and asked his name, to which I answered Stuart Colebrook. So she turned to me and said, "I wasn't talking to you," to which Jon replied, "I never said anything!" Genius.

25th June 2004

On ungrateful tramps

On the bus on the way into work this morning I saw an old man fall over in the street. It looked nasty from my vantage point, and he lay there prone. Being the Good Samaritan that I am, I jumped off the bus to help, even though I knew that by drawing attention to myself I would undoubtedly get the blush. Which I did. Anyway, I go to help the old boy, and it turns out he's one of those crazy, drunken types that probably pisses himself and eats stuff from bins (the rubbish receptacle, not the dead classy high street store). He yells at me to "get to shit", rejects my attempts to help him stand and stays on the floor grinning like a fool (and I'd like to say he pissed himself too but I have no proof since I didn't touch his crotch... this time). My bus is still waiting so I sheepishly re-board, blushing like a cunt, and get tutted at by a few old dears for not helping him more. As I'm shy and ineloquent, my efforts at explaining what happened go unheard or ignored, and I have to spend the rest of the bus journey feeling like a chump. Moral of this tale - all old men are probably tramps and you should never, ever help a stranger.

2nd July 2004

On dreaming of cats

I had a dream last night where I'd moved into a new house where the floor was all black and white tiles, and there was this cat that kept trying to steal stuff from my cupboard. I kept yanking at the cat's tail but boy was that cat strong. This went on for ages, and then the cat moved and I moved around to see what it was trying to get but the cupboard door kept obscuring my view. It was like that Simpsons scene where Homer dreams about an invention that would make him rich but can never quite see it. Yep, it was a dull dream, but then I woke up, and my bathroom floor has the same tiles and there's a cupboard in there that I realised I'd never looked in. So I looked in it and found an old copy of Cosmopolitan, some spiders and a pile of soil. I think maybe the message that my dream was trying to tell me was that you should never trust a stubborn cat cos its probably just chasing that secret old mud. But at least I know where our dirt cupboard is now.

22nd July 2004

On fleeing from bear attacks

This morning, whilst walking through Stoke Newington Common on my way to catching the bus, I spot in the distance what looks like a child being attacked by a bear. Needless to say I was both apprehensive about approaching but also quite excited about approaching. On closer inspection, it turned out to be a very small man of the nerdy, suited, Oriental persuasion, being set up on in a not overly vicious, but I imagine still terrifying manner by the biggest fucking alsatian I've ever seen. The dog was muzzled, so couldn't have caused any lasting damage, and was probably just being friendly, but the poor guy looked terrified. And then I spotted the dog's owner, standing no more than ten yards away, grinning and I'm sure I heard him say "Go on boy!". This owner looked only slightly less scary than the dog - a camo-clad skinhead that was short, but about as wide as the little man was tall. And despite the grins, his face still conveyed a look of pure evil (or if not pure, at least 80% evil, the other 20% being made up of hydrogen and lesser gases). Now I saw a number of available options. I could:

a) rush to the little man's aid and attempt to reason with the owner to call off his beast.
2) rush to the little man's aid and attempt to fight off dog and man.
iii) join in with the mocking and attacking
d) panic, run and catch my bus to work.

I'll leave it to you guys to guess which option I took but as I breathlessly looked back from the safety of my bus seat, towards the scene of the mauling, it appeared both man and dog had tired of their little game and moved on. The victim looked shaken but I think he may have secretly enjoyed the attention, the nerd.

4th November 2004

On kidnapped gangstas

Sat on the bus this morning whilst parked at a busy stop with loads of people getting on. There's this obviously tapped old dear, looked like the lady from Tom & Jerry, but more bonkers (she had a HUGE straw hat with a HUGE flower in it). She asks a few people to help her on with her bag but people kind of averted their eyes and shuffled away or on to the bus. This left the lady standing looking pleading (and crazy) eyed at this HUGE, gangsta looking coloured chap who obviously wanted no part of it. I lost interest for a second as someone stood on my toe but then I heard raised voices and looked to see the lady get on the bus whilst looking back at the guy as if he was her naughty kid. Then he follows, struggling with a HUGE comedy suitcase, adorned with various ribbons and flowers and netting all pink. He fights his way past a few people on the bus and unceremoniously dumps it in the crowded aisle, all the while trying to maintain his "don't fuck wid me nigga else I'm a pop a cap in yo mo'fuckin' ass!" expression. Then the doors close and the bus drives off, leaving him irate and panicky as he wasn't planning on catching it in the first place.

September 2006

On planning a robbery in San Diego

For 3 wonderful weeks a couple of years ago I house- and cat-sat for some friends of my boss in sunny San Diego. Just me, an amazing house, the sun, California, and a cat. A cat that hated me to begin with, shitting and coughing up furballs all over the place. Furballs are not as cute as they sound. The house-owners had told me a few ground rules before leaving - never let the cat out the front of the house as he's crazy and would get lost, and always make sure to take my keys when I went out as the door was likely to shut and lock behind me. So as dusk fell, I closed all the windows and, dressed only in shorts, went out front for a cigarette.

It's worth noting at this point that the cat, Gally, had not yet warmed to me, taking to attacking me at every opportunity. I lit up, inhaled deeply, and watched in despair as the front door locked shut, leaving me outside, phoneless, keyless and half-naked. I panicked briefly and heartily before remembering the bathroom skylight - an 18 inch square hole dropping around 3 metres on to a concrete floor.

The front gate was my first obstacle - a gate which it seemed was chosen due to its difficulty in clambering over. No footholds, and topped with lethal iron spikes. Being barefoot didn't help, but I managed to scramble over suffering only minor lacerations to my naked legs and torso. Next, the drainpipe leading to the roof, but passing between two overhead livewires. Do I wander around the street in the hope of finding help, or do I risk death but save face?

Looking back at the pipe afterwards, I have no idea how I scaled that thing, but scale it I did, dropping through the skylight to safety. Gally must have been expecting me, as he'd left the stinkiest pile of shit on the floor by my landing point. When I'd done grimacing, he promptly attacked me.

Now, this is where the story ended originally, but a couple of months after I'd returned to England, I was informed that the house had been broken into and all the valuables stolen. Unfortunate, I thought, but then it dawned on me...

I'd been keeping a journal during my time there, writing up everything and everyone I saw and did, including the above story, and the address I was staying at. It had reached over 100 pages when I got shitfaced on my final night, ending up drinking at the house of a couple of shifty guys. I woke up on a neighbour's lawn the following morning, and had regrettably lost my journal. From what the police could tell, the burglars had broken into the house by scaling the front gate, shimmying the drainpipe, and dropping in through the always open skylight.

Coincedence, or did I unwittingly plot out their crime?

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

On cock-blocking insects

After a hard day's shopping around one of Europe's largest shopping centres, myself and Amelie arrived home excited about all the cool stuff we'd just spent the day buying, but completely exhausted. After constructing all the wonderful storage boxes we'd got from Ikea, and showering, I went to relax on the couch, whilst she tried on some of her new outfits, including the find of the day - a shimmering golden bikini. Now, before today, had she ever shared with me any intentions she had of purchasing such an item, I'd have giggled and scoffed, but let me tell you, it looks much better on her body than it probably looks in your imagination. So, having put my eyes back into their sockets, she came over and sat atop me, her long red hair flowing over her naked shoulders and... OUCH! I feel an ache in my groin, which worsens with pressure, and up I sit with a start.

It's worth bringing to your attention here something that happened to me around this time last year, and would have made this blog had I been compiling it back then. On a drunken night in my hometown, I was demonstrating the rather camp run displayed by Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon, and in doing so, I ran directly into a bollock-high black bollard some council cunt had elected to erect in the middle of the fucking pavement. This knocked me to the ground, subsequently swelled up, and left me with pain in the groinal area for a good six months afterwards - a pain akin to the aforementioned one I felt tonight, and so my first instinct was that this was a recurring instance of my previous injury.

If only...

On seeing my discomfort, Amelie immediately looked Southward towards the source, inquiring as to whether it was the same pain I'd felt on that fateful night last year. But then a look of horror appeared on her face accompanied by a shocked, "What's that?! Oh my god! You have a tick in your balls!" Horrified, I looked down, and sure enough, there was this bulging bodied bug, neck deep in my nut, it's body bloated with my precious blood.

I'm a squeamish person at the best of times, but two of my worst fears relating to the human body are things going wrong with my genitals, and insects burrowing into my body. Needless to say, I was not best pleased.

Ticks seem to be rather common here in Vienna, and Amelie is well-practised in removing them, from cats and people alike. So it came to be that I was lying on her sofa, with a beautiful girl in a golden bikini removing an insect from my balls with a pair of tweezers - I was ready to just crush the fucker and run around the room naked and screaming, but I was calmly informed that it's important to be gentle and ensure the tick's head does not remain in the body as infection can ensue. Nice.

A phone call to her mum followed, with Amelie all re-assuring smiles and giggles and me all pale faced and terrified, so we could make sure we could treat the bite in the best manner possible so as to avoid any infection or disease. It's a little red and swollen, and there's still that dull ache, but I'm sure I'll survive.

She could remove that golden bikini and do as she pleased with her naked body for the rest of the evening, but my chap is going nowhere tonight, thanks to that little six-legged bastard. Ticks suck balls. Fact.

Monday, 12 May 2008

On bad sportsmanship

My girlfriend and I spent yesterday in the country at her parents house. It was great weather and her little brother insisted we all play football in the garden. So myself and her dad were pitted against her, her brother and her mum, with the parents in our respective goals and the rest of us outfield. My girlfriend is very competitive, and despite hating football, she went about it with great gusto, launching enthusiastically into every tackle and shot. Whilst a keen sportswoman, she's usually very ladylike and elegant and from looking at her on a normal day, you'd be surprised that she'd get so into a game of football.

I went about my game tackling lightly and making sure I didn't blast the ball too hard at her mum, who despite screaming whenever I got close was actually a fucking good goalkeeper. Meanwhile, Amelie ran around like a woman possessed, kicking fuck out of my ankles with each horrendously mistimed challenge. Then I was about to take the ball from her with a light tap, but as I approached, I slipped on the grass, and went to ground, sliding along and completely taking her out in what must have looked like a venomous and vengeful two-footed challenge.

Luckily no-one was hurt, and her parents know me well enough to know I meant no harm (I hope), but still, I felt like a cunt.

Monday, 3 March 2008

On the stealing of ham

Along with my girlfriend and her cousin, I attended a wein-degustation in the evening. 54 winemakers and sellers offering their various products. Over 150 wines in total and all free to taste after the intial 10 Euro entrance fee.

Now I won't pretend that I know anything about wine - there's red wine and there's white wine, some taste good and some taste bad, and that's as far as my knowledge stretches.

This place was full of conneiseurs who all knew exactly how to taste wine, but my lady and I were just there to get drunk. We'd made an effort to look good, but basically we were just going along the stalls, downing the free wine, and getting pissed.

Complimentary snacks were also avaialble on some of the stalls - baskets of bread and olives and the like. All night long I'd been wary of approaching the stalls myself and having my cover blown, so my girlfriend was fetching my wine each time, striking up conversations with the merchants and whatnot. We were doing good.

Then we passed a stall with a guy offering various cuts of meat. I hadn't eaten any meat in two weeks and had been really craving it, so the plates of delicious ham on offer were too good to pass up.

I confirmed with my girl that the meat was complimentary, and strolled over, glass in hand, grabbed a nice big slice and shoved most of it in my mouth.

To my horror and bewilderment, a well dressed guy who was also standing at the stall turned to me with a look of pure anger and shouted something at me in German. I then realised that the meat was NOT complimentary and he was a potential customer of the butcher, taking a plate of cuts to sample before buying in bulk. I'd basically walked up and helped myself to some food from his plate, right before his eyes.

By this point I was tipsy too, and had a whole glass of wine rather than the small measure usually taken for tasting. I must have just looked like a drunken British meat thief, especially as I could only apologise in slurred English.

And the most mortifying thing was, I couldn't return a slice of half-eaten meat to his plate, so I had to finish it there and then as he was scalding me, in what must have seemed an act of uncultured defiance.

It was fucking good ham though.

Thursday, 28 February 2008

On approaching foreign strangers

Tonight I attended a gig in Vienna. Four bands I love and one I'd never heard nor heard of. At the gig,we met up with one of my girlfriend's friends, who herself had brought along two of her friends.

I got on quite well with one of the guys, forming a bond over similar music tastes. We watched the first band, and then during the second band - the one I was new to - I saw my new friend standing some way in front of me, so as my girlfriend chatted to her friend, I sidled over and shouted in his ear to be heard above the music, asking who this band was. He replied, a little reticently and went back to watching them. Not to be put off, I began asking him questions about them, and telling him I liked them etc, but all I got was grunts.

This continued for a while, and as the band finished, I stepped back to where my girlfriend was stood, and saw with a slight surprise that she was engaged in conversation to the guy I'd just been talking to.

I looked sheepishly back to where I'd been stood. Yep, it wasn't my new friend at all whose ear I'd been chewing, but some random Austrian chap who looked nothing like him, other than that they both wore glasses.

Beer, low light, and my stupidity do not mix well.