Thursday, April 26, 2007

More Blue Mountains

The video for Love Is Only A Feeling by anachronistic hair metal band The Darkness was shot in The Blue Mountains.

I've posted it not because I'm a Darkness fan (they're difficult to find these days) but because this is a great video and really does the Blue Mountains justice.

If only I'd swapped my Sony Cybershot for a helicopter.

If you're not a fan of Justin Hawkins's supersonic warbling then you might want to skip the first 3 minutes and go straight for the fantastic scenery.

VideoBlog #1

Don't know why but I can't post any You Tube stuff on here, so I'm just going to have link to it instead.

Anyway, here is my first video blog. I look ugly in it because I had just woken up and felt rubbish.

Monday, April 23, 2007

The World Was My Oyster, But It's Also My Lobster

Went sight seeing today. Decided to mix it up with a route combining land, sea and air.

Met up the night before with a bloke called Rich from Bexley Eeeeeef and resolved to do something the next day.

Set off at 9.30 on The Big Walk. Down to Woolomooloo and the quay where Russell Crowe lives, past Harry's Cafe De Wheels (famous pie kiosk), along the waterfront and up and into the New South Wales Art gallery.

Gallery was OK. Some good stuff (Japanese room complete with ancient samurai swords and kimonos) and some shit (Tracey Emin).

Out of the gallery, across the botanical gardens and over to Circular Quay (home of Opera House and Bridge) to call in on Bruce.

Bruce is a semi-permanent guest at the Pink House and makes a living down on the quay juggling fire and lying on a bed of nails. We had just missed his act when we arrived, but he came and had a word with us anyway.

Later we found that after we had left, whilst Bruce was juggling some flaming torches, a drunk bloke sauntered up behind him and, in front of massive crowd of people, tried to unplug all his PA system and run off with it. It was only when Bruce's mic started ....utting...out.....and he realised what was happening.

Then a ferry from Pier 5. Under the SH Bridge, and all the way round to Darling Harbour. Called in at Sydney Aquarium. Was going to go to the Wildlife Museum but was accosted by a German woman from our ferry who said "Dont go in zere. It izt crep!"

Aquarium was good. Saw my first Duck Billed Platypus. Lot smaller than I thought. I was under the impression they were as big as a badger but they are about the size of a large baguette.

Their Manta Rays were the size of a double duvet.

Out of the aquarium and on to the monorail, into town, through Hyde Park and back over to Kings Cross. I was out nearly 7 hours and was knackered.

You're Name's Not Down, You're Not Coming In

Bouncers in Oz are obsessed with checking people's ID on the door. But they are also kind of stupid about it as well.

They will ask everyone for their ID, irrespective of their age. If you're 36 and haven't looked 18 for 18 years and don't have ID, you're not coming in. If you're 51, remember any of The Beatles albums coming out and don't have ID, you're not coming in. If you've just been on the local news for reaching your 100th birthday and decide to pop out for a celebratory rum and coke and you have no ID, you're not coming in.

A couple of weeks' back, Alan (Kristy's boyfriend) and I tried to get into the Coogee Beach Hotel. A big Maori stopped Alan at the door.

"ID" he said, and dutifully Alan handed over his laminated work ID.
"Not good enough" said the bouncer "Driver's license"
"Don't drive" said Alan
"Passport then"
"Never left the country" said Alan
"THAT'S NOT MY PROBLEM!" said the bouncer in a completely OTT manner, and wouldn't let us in.

I know they're strict on underage drinking but we were obviously not 17. 'm going bald and Alan is going grey. What can they possibly learn from ID that couldn't glean from taking a look at you. Well your name I suppose, but they're all too thick to remember anything.

Next time I might ask them if I can see their ID. They'd love that. They have a great sense of humour, don't they, bouncers?

"The World" Was My Oyster

You'll find that many hostels have "arrangements" with bars around Kings Cross allowing an hour of free beer for its tenants, the idea being : get 'em in for free, get 'em drunk, then, when they're ready for some more we'll start charging through the nose.

Of course in reality what happens is that everyone turns up, necks the beer and then buggers off back to the hostel to drink goon and argue about what's playing on the stereo.

Having said that, I did stay a while at The World Bar on Thursday night where it was free beer for an hour.

En masse The Pink House trooped off and annexed an entire corner of the bar where we sat with our free and gigantic tankards of ale.

It was an indie night in The World, and so the playlist was good: Blur, Charlatans, Primal Scream, Joy Division etc

Me and a bloke called Liam (good indie name) began wallowing in 90s nostalgia when we realised we both knew all the words to "Boys and Girls" by Blur, and then became rather depressed when we realised that one bloke sat there, who was 18 years old, must have been 6 when Definitely Maybe was recorded.

6 years old. God, I'm so old.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Photo No Workee

For some reason Blogger is being an idiot today and I can't upload any photos.

So I've started a Flickr account. So please read all the info and then click on the link to see the photos.

Or you could do it the other way round. But that would be silly


Blue Mountains

Big day yesterday. So handily broke into headings.

Road Trip

Yesterday was a tourist day and a visit to the Blue Mountains.

Nick from Canada, whom I met on the first night, had bought a car for A$1000 and was eager to try it out despite it having 246,786 kms on the clock and a dodgy radiator.

By 9.30 he had managed to recruit enough people to fill his 42nd hand Ford Falcon station wagon.

Trip didn't start well. We took a wrong turning out of the hostel and sent ourselves on a huge one-way circuit of Central Sydney. For the first 20 minutes of the journey the conversation went like this:

We need to go left somehow

No. Right

But this is one way.

Take this left

This one? (Nick's brakes heavily)

No. Not this one sorry. The next one.

Yeah. But we need to head South.

We are heading South.

Who's got the map?

The map's wrong

No. We can go West if we make a turn here

But thats one way

No it isn't. Or is it? Is that light green?

Can't tell

Haven't we passed that kebab shop once already?

Etc etc ad nauseum

But once we had navigated George St (the Oxford St of Sydney), we found the straight road out of town. The rest of the trip passed fairly smoothly apart from the bit where Nick met a roundabout.

What the fuck is this, man?

It's a roundabout. Don't you have them in Toronto? You have to give way to traffic from the right.

What does that mean, "give way?"

It's your right of way

What? Aaargh!

All this took place as we were careering round the roundabout. I think in Toronto they refer to it as "yielding".

Climb Every Mountain

We reached Katoomba and Echo Point in about an hour and a half. Straight away the mountains loomed. The only way to describe it is as a more grassy, Aussie version of The Grand Canyon. It's fantastic.

What you get when you're there, and what you DON'T get from these photos is the sense of depth. When you peer over the rail the drop is unfathomably huge. Is it 100ft or 1000 ft? How far away are those peaks? 20 miles? 40 miles? How tall are those trees?

Everything is just so...well.....huge.

To the left of the valley were the Three Sisters, three totem polls of rock which can be reached by a very steep metal staircase to its base.

When I reached the bottom I saw a fat American tourist in a bit of a mess. Stupidly he had ventured down to the bottom and was now clearly looking at the almost ladder-like steps back up to the top and thinking " erm....okay....there isn't an elevator is there?"

Love Train

The Blue Mountains is home to the world's steepest train.

They're not kidding. Think about how steep a train could be. Nope. You're not even close. It's nearly vertical.

The train itself is more of a series of oversized shopping trolleys attached by a system of pulleys and counterweights. You start horizontal before surging over a precipice and down into a tunnel through the rock. It's not really a rollercoaster, but it's close.

I did take some photographs but due to an optical illusion, it doesn't look steep at all. Trust me this thing is steeper than the price of a coffee and a flapjack on a Virgin Pendelino.

Bon Matin

French for good morning, of course. But also the name of my Iranian room mate.

Matin is here to learn English and isn't happy with the fact no one told him how difficult it was.

After I told him that I was a qualified TEFL teacher, he has now started referring to me as "teacher". As in "Good morning, Teacher. How are you this morning?"

Unfortunately, he has started to hold me personally responsible for all the quirks and pitfalls in the English language. I didn't invent it.

Also, he has caught on that Westerners are quite fond of casual effing and jeffing whilst in conversation.

And so:

"What is with this mother fargin' past continuous tense? It's so fargin' confusing. I say to fargin' teacher we do not have this tense fargin' tense in Persian language. Can you fargin' explain to me why the farg we need this fargin' tense. And what is with these fargin' silent letters? Kanniggut? What is a fargin' kanniggut?"

I understand his frustration. Sometimes when a foreign speaker asks why something is the way it is, all we can say is "it just is I'm sorry".

He is good bloke who seems to spending most of his time trying to understand the difference between "I have been doing my homework" and "I did my homework".

Of course, Matin didn't do his homework because he didn't "fargin' understand it".


There's thing, right? And they call it the AQI? The Australian Questioning Intonation? Like everything is a question? Always going up at the end of a sentence?

And it's like really annoying?

And even English people do it? Even though they've been here like only two weeks?

And there's like this one person? Who breaks all their sentences? Up into smaller questions?
And is? Only? One? Step? Away? From? Doing? It? Like? T?H?I?S?

I really hope I don't catch myself doing it?

Otherwise I'll like totally have to punch myself in the face?

Goon But Not Forgotten

When I wrote this post, I had a terrible hangover. Exacerbated, for sure, by the (literally) piss-poor quality wine I was drinking.

Aussies call cheap boxed wine "Goon". Before you ask, I don't know.

Last night, I spent the evening syphoning off "goon" into a tea mug via a plastic catheter attached to what looked like a big foil bladder. Classy.

Then I broke my "Jenga" cherry. I am now Jengameister General. Then I had a conversation entirely in French with a girl from Belgium called Fanny.

I stayed up until 3am and finished off the evening with an ill-advised verbal sparring match with an English girl who claimed her roots lay with Romany Gypsies. Suspicious, I immediately decided to test the theory by asking her if she had ever tarmaced a drive, walked a dog on a piece of string whilst thinking of David Essex or offered to sharpen anyone's kitchen knives.

She wasn't amused.

I was though.

The Pink House

On Saturday and Kristy drove me over to The Pink House hostel.

On the way we took a wrong turn and were forced into a toll tunnel. "Oh no!" kried Kristy. Well, actually, it was more like "Oy Noy!"

Despite the hostel being in King's Cross, a well known gay area, and despite it being called "The Pink House", and despite it being recommended by my good friend Paul, the hostel is actually home to both heterosexualists and homosexualists alike. That was a joke, by the way Paul :-)

It is situated just off the main strip of King's Cross which is home to a parade of kebaberies, internet cafes and sex shops. If Soho was located in Stockwell, it would look like this.

I tell you what though - arrival was a bit of an eye-opener. After Kristy's spacious and quiet apartment this was like switching from Andrex to a brillo pad.

After I had finished at reception, I went to find my room. As I opened the door, the first thing that hit me was the fetid smell of men's sweat. Though it was 11.15 in the morning, the dank room was dark and I could just make out the lifeless forms of three sleeping men curled and entangled in standard prison issue white bedsheets.

The floor was a mosaic of suitcases, toilet bags, mobile phones chargers, socks, blankets, grubby trainers and pants. Gingerly, as to not wake the monsters of the deep, I trundled my suitcase across to an empty bed, and started unpacking as quietly as I could.

OK, so I know it's a hostel. But I'd kind of forgotten it wasn't as good as the The Ritz. Or a Travelodge. Or a Blackpool Boarding House. Or sleeping on your mates sofa.

But then again, it's not meant to be, is it? It's meant to be as mucky and authentic as a backpacker's tie-dye t-shirt. And as cheap as a chip naan.

There are about 18-20 rooms. A few are singles and doubles, but most are 6-8 people. Like mine. People are from far and wide as you'd expect: Sweden, South Africa, Japan, USA, Iran, Belgium. It's like a very sweaty UN Meeting.

Some have jobs. Some don't. Some are taking cash-in-hand one-off labouring jobs to stop them being evicted for non-payment of board.

At this stage I'm veering between enjoying the all-pervading "slacker" atmos and people's willingness to form more casual and expedient friendships AND thinking I can't wait till I get a place of my own, so I can have some peace and quiet, and not have to jam sleeping plugs in my ears at night.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Snowy, I Can See The Pub From Here

Follow the green arrow on Sydney

Into what is called the Eastern Suburbs

Under the green arrow it says Randwick....

Randwick is next to Coogee Beach (pictured on the right)

...and I am on the corner of Byron St and Dudley St.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Better Than A Zooooooom

Wow. There's something that the Australians do better than anyone else: ice cream. I mean better than the Italians. Ooooh controversial.

In comparison, Baskin Robbins, Haagen Dasz and Ben & Jerry's are like a big canary-yellow tub of Londis Vanilla.

I've just been to an ice cream parlour in Coogee. They have these massive troughs of multicoloured ice cream, all whipped-up until they're falling over in slow motion - huge tumbling quiffs of sugar. I could feel myself turning diabetic as I was looking at them. I think I might have drooled a bit.

A couple of days ago, I bought an icecream from a Mr Whippy van and, before the bloke gave it to me, he dipped the whole ice cream (flake aswell) into a bubbling vat of Ice Magic.

Mmmmm.....80s Ice cream.
Can we have a vote, please, for the best 80s ice cream. My money goes on the Mini Milk.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Bar? Non

Up until this point I hadn't found fault with anything in Australia. However, I may have glimpsed a chink in the armour last night.
Their bar culture is very intimidating. It has shades of an FHM-readers' Tour of Ibiza. Anyone who prefers a bottle of wine and intelligent conversation might find it difficult.
Anyone who likes shouting "I'm going for a piss. When I come back, we're doing tequila shots" into someones ear to make themselves heard over the clatter of an 80s CD turned up to 11, will feel right at home.
Anyone who has been to Walkabout in Covent Garden will know what I'm talking about.
Oh, I don't know. Maybe I've been quick to judge or maybe I was in the wrong kind of bar, but I did find myself thinking about Albannach the other night: no scrum at the bar, no music blasting your ears off, no broken glass on the floor.

Still, each to their own. I didn't come to Australia to down flaming sambucas and shout "wahey" above a braying crowd. I came to Australia to do very little. And I am reliably informed that there's no place better to do it.
Excuse me, I'm just off for an afternoon nap

She's A Perfect 10

Australia is full of beautiful people.

At one point I think I might have been the ugliest person in a 2 mile radius. That's bad because my average is usually 1 mile.

The people here look like they've been designed by computer and then grown in a vat. They are perfect. They are untouchable.

Compared to this lot with their tits and teeth and abs and pecs, I'm like The Elephant Man on holiday.


Doesn't quite work, that , does it? Never mind.

Here are some random observations about Oz. I'm like Clive James only in reverse:

1. Pedestrian crossings make the weirdest noise - like the ,sound effects from a 1980s Space Invader game. They go pzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzeuuuuu-dit-dit-dit-dit-dit-dit-dit-dit-dit-dit-dit-dit-dit-dit-dit.
I keep thinking I've been given 20 bonus points for hitting the mothership, or that I've picked up an extra shield.

2. I am surprised at how English everything is. People here say "Ta", and understand irony and wit. Their three most requested videos on their music station were Muse, Arctic Monkeys and Kaiser Chiefs.

On TV in between watching The Catherine Tate Show and Little Britain I saw an advert for Spooks, Parkinson and Primeval (shit ITV Dr Who clone). Kristy's boyfriend, Alan, says he loves The Office and Top Gear.

Well, there is a Queen on their money, and a Union Jack in their flag, I suppose.

3. There are bats here. Giant bats. A few nights back we went out on to Alan's roof to have a look at them. They were as big as golfing umbrellas. And to think I moaned about the mosquitoes.

4. It hit me the other night: for the first time in my life, I am in the Southern Hemisphere. I realised when I looked up at the stars and didn't recognise any of them. No Plough. No Great Bear. No Pole Star. Here the most recognisable constellation is the Crux Australis, or Southern Cross.

It's in the South and it's in the shape of a cross. Clever, the Australians, aren't they?

5. Aussies have their own brand of superhardcore suncream. Such is the heat from the Sun out here, your Piz Buin and Nivea Spray On are about as much use as a Nesquik. I have bought Australian Cancer Council's very own potion. It's like Dulux Emulsion and if you don't rub it in properly you look like you have leprosy.

6. Despite Kristy arguing to the contrary, it strikes me that Australians are very fond of peas. On the first day I was perusing some menus down on Circular Quay (by Sydney OH) and came across a spag bol. Ingredients: spaghetti, chopped tomatoes, garlic, shallots and peas. Strange. Moved along to the next cafe. This time it was penne amatriciana. Ingredients: penne, tomatoes, bacon, onion, garlic and peas.

Last night, down on Coogee BayRd, I came across a restaurant called Thai Me Up. Hilarious. On their menu a green curry. Ingredients: noodles, chicken, peppers, bamboo and bloody peas again.

Enough with the peas.

7. The weather here is so changeable. Like it can monsoon it down in an apocalyptic fashion and 30 seconds later it will be burning the skin of your forehead. Yesterday part of my forehead came away. It's now the colour of a London telephone box.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Can You Tell What It Is Yet?

Some random snaps from a wander round Sydney yesterday.

A quay that also doubles as a naval port. Kristy has been here a few times before visiting her sister who is in the Australian Navy.

Apparently, the white building on the end belongs to Russel Crowe. Appropriate that he lives so close to people who are no stranger to fighting

Kookaburas. They make a noise like this "wakakakakakakakakaka-waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa"

Me in Hyde Park

Hey you! Yes, you. Are you a young Christian? Well, look out because ex-Nazi, Pope Ratzinger is coming soon. Yes. Only 465 days to go before he's here. God is grooooooovy!

Note I think the woman in this photo is already queueing up. It's over a year away, love. I'd go and get yourself a cup of tea or something.

Nothing To Spout About

Woke up this morning to an absolute torrential downpour. Kristy's roof was leaking again.

Walked to the balcony, stared out across the Pacific and what did I see, but this: a waterspout.

It's like a tornado only at sea.

I was on full zoom here, but if you look really closely you can see it reaches right down into the sea and where it touches the water there is a huge circle of spray.

Michael Fish would have had done a wee in his pants with excitement.

Rue Britannia

So it's blisteringly hot. You know, about 21 degrees. And I am about ready to go out, when Grimsby James says:

"You're not going out like that, are you?"

"Er....yes?" I reply "Why?"

"You're wearing jeans. Anyone wearing jeans looks so English. Haven't you got any shorts?"

So I swap my jeans for some shorts. But now there's another problem.

"God. Look at your legs. You need a tan. You look like Tipp-Ex. You look so English"

Can't win.

Aussie Mossies

Bloody Mosquitoes.

Within hours of arriving I'd already got more lumps than a litre of milk from Netto, and would have been less itchy wearing a wire wool poncho.

For some reason they seemed to leave the locals alone. My blood must be the equivalent of some exotic foreign drink. Like Malibu.

Apparently, only the female mosquito bites. Typical.

My elbow. I think I had one of my arse, but generally I can't tell the difference.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Lovely New Entries

This is the first time I've actually had to sit down and write at length about the past week. And what a week it's been.

Entries over the last few days have been sparse and rushed. And shit. So think of these new entries as a flashback.

It's kind of shot out of sequence, but I think you'll get the hang of it. It's like Pulp Fiction without the violence. It will however have the same levels of swearing and quarter-pounders with cheese.

Remember folks a blog is in reverse. If you are already reading this, you need to scroll down the bottom of the screen to the entry about my last night in Uttoxeter.

Ready? OK here comes the big Rentaghost wibbly wobbly screen........


There are a lot of kebab shops in Sydney.

And they're not like the London ones. You know the kind on South Lambeth Road you stagger into at 2am.

"Chillisaucesalad?", "Chilli sauce mate, but no salad"

No, these are like legitimate kebab shops, elevated to respectability, where the meat can be joined by a whole host of accompaniments. And I don't mean iceberg lettuce and a poxy lemon wedge.

Today I had a kebab sausage with cheese and egg and wrapped in pastry which I ate whilst looking at the topless women on the beach.

And in this country, I've done nothing wrong.

Coogee: Not Like Cleethorpes

The next day Kristy's housemate James (from Grimsby) took me for a spin in his super sat-navved-up Lexus.

Round Coogee (pronounced Could Gee, not Cooooogee) and on to Bondi Beach.

Now this is more like it. Blistering heat. Endless beaches. Endless bikinis. I was so impressed.

Over to Bondi where my friend SJ used to live (if you're reading this SJ - which cafe did you work in?) and a burger and a beer whilst watching a light aircraft paint an advert in white smoke into the deep blue sky.

This is Tamarama Beach....

This is Bondi Beach...

This was the sky writing logo above the bar...

This is my tour guide, James, in his fancy Lexus

Queen Of The Castle

By heck, Kristy lives in a nice house.

Spacious, great view of the Pacific Ocean, and a swish balcony.

By my God, is it hilly round here. Like one-step-down-from-sheer-cliff-face steep. All Aussie cars must have handbrakes of iron and the first gear of a Sherman Tank. They are probably the best at doing hill starts as well.

If you let go of someone in a wheelchair they would reach 60mph in a few seconds and wouldn't stop until they were catapulted into the sea.

Consequently, a trip down to the sea front for brekky means a right trek back the house. All on a full stomach of bacon and eggs.

Ouch. Me colon!

This is the view from her sofa....

I Arrive In The Land Down Under

Arrived in Sydney at 7.05am on the dot. Massive immigration queue and at the end of it noone could print me off my visa because "the bloke isn't in today" . Brilliant.

A train into Sydney Central Station and then over to the impossibly huge Ernst and Young building where friend, and erstwhile London flatmate, Kristy works.

Did try to get a taxi. Stopped on and said "Ernst and Young, please".

He said "Don't know it, sorry".

I went "Look, it's there. Look. I am pointing at it now". I was pointing at a huge skyscraper with Ernst and Young on the side.

"No. Don't know it."

I turned around once more to point again in case my finger had accidentally pointed at the sun or something, but when I turned back he'd driven off and picked up someone 20 yards down the road. Tosser.

Dumped my case with Kristy. I had lugged it all the way up a grand set of stairs only to find out moments later there was an escalator at the side. It was now 9am and Kristy finished at 5.15. Hmmmm. That's a lot of time to kill.

I walked into town. First impressions of Sydney, I am unhappy to report, were rather underwhelming. It's a bit faceless; a dull promenade of dark buildings populated by Starbucks, McDonalds and the odd 7-Eleven.

However, once I'd made my way down to Circular Quay things got much better. Here you can see Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. That was good.

Fell asleep on a piece grass. Listened to an entire series of the Ricky Gervais Podcasts. Had a pizza then an icecream. Watched some Aborigines play a didgeridoo. Then back over to Kristy's.

A fairly normal day, then.

Do Smoke On The Water....

Come Fly With Me

The QANTAS safety instructional video striked an alarmingly reproachful tone:

"Ladies and Gentlemen. There now follows a short safety demonstration. I know you're probably going to ignore it, and if you do you're an idiot.

I mean, do you know where you lifejacket is? What do you mean 'yes'? No you don't. You don't have a clue.

Where are the safety exits? This woman isn't stood here waving her arms about for a laugh you know.

What about oxygen masks? Yeah, what about them, eh? You don't give a shit do you? You're reading the inflight magazine aren't you? Trying to work out if you've got Miss Potter on this flight, or Casino Royale. You all make me sick.

In fact, just leave. Do it. Just get out."

And apart from one attractive Japanese woman, the stewardesses were the ugliest I'd ever seen. Think Gillian McKeith after a month under a sunbed. There was more leather on that plane than in a DFS warehouse.

It was also the longest bumpy flight I'd ever had. So much so that half way through the night, whilst people were all wearing their blankets, socks and eyemasks, the driver woke everybody up and asked them to put on their seatbelts.

Disconcertingly, the pilot sounded like Richie Benaud and the first officer's name was Glenn. Which is only one step away from Bruce in my book

My Friend Went To Tokyo And All He Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt

I've always wanted a t-shirt with some Japanese writing on it. Unfortunately people over there only want English on their shirts.

But under a bridge in Ueno I came across a young lad selling T-shirts with Japanese symbols on them. Casually I picked one up, hoping it didn't say "English Tosser" or something.

Good job I checked. The lad provided me with a A4 laminated sheet of translations and apparently the one I had picked said "I am a foolish man". Hastily I chose another only to discover that it said "I am an idle man".

I settled on one which says "Yamato Damashi" or "Spirit of Japan". This pleased the man at the passport desk in Narita who, on seeing my T-Shirt, livened up no end.

"Haaaaaaa! Yamato Damashi" he said pointing like a madman. I think I made his day.

Return To Tokyo

My stay in Tokyo was a blur really.

I received a free upgrade from BA to World Traveller class, half way between economy and club. But, saw no difference at all. If I'd paid extra money for an upgrade I would have been sorely disappointed.

Arrived in Tokyo with monumental jetlag. Worst I've ever had. Met with Helmut who took me to his flat in Ueno. Met with Eli and walked round Ueno Park to see the cherry blossom and the over to Sendagi to see Dave.

However by this time I was so tired my lolling head and drooping eyelids were an embarrassment and I made my excuses pretty early and left. Sorry Dave!

Also met a guy called Scott who replaced me as teacher and also, it turns out, lives in my old tin can house in Akabane.

"Did you try the electric ring?" I asked

"Yeah" he said "it took me 35 minutes to boil a pan of water"


Farewell drinks for me on the Monday. Went to Albannach. Posh Scottish bar. They do venison sausage in honey and haggis samosas.

Roll call was me, Andy, Louisa, Paul, Yori, Kingo, Nicole, Steve, Daisy, Ambrose and Chris.

I have only met some of these people before.

Got Your Number

The next night was one of my best friend's, (George) stag do.

Still reeling with a hangover from last nights session, I made my way down to London and to former flatmate Andy's brand spanking new house. He now lives with someone called Phil. Is there something he's not telling me?

Out in the evening to the stag do. George dressed up as the bloke from the 118 118 ads with white vest and drooping tache. Ran into some slappers on a birthday party. Best man, Giacomo, was in there like a dirty rat up a very dirty drainpipe.

Finished the evening by drawing beards on each other with big marker pen. Realised about 10 minutes later that if it didn't come off, I was going to have a difficult time in customs.

I gave Giacomo a Scarlett Pimpernell/dastardly cad twirly tache and he gave me a George Michael in the toilet

How Low Is A Chinaman

My departure from The Midlands began with a drunken Chinaman.

Ying-ki, one of my oldest friends, and son of the owner of the second best Chinese restaurant in Uttoxeter, decided we should celebrate my leaving with a drink and a curry.

Imagine my horror, then, when by 9.40, despite us leaving the house at 7.30, Ying-ki was so pissed he'd stopped making sense:

"If you....put the cheese....where's my shelf......fucking......stop laughing!......I want socks for Tango...any kettle...any kettle will do as long as its.......and there were these wasps...get me some wasps"

Upon my request "Mate, we HAVE to go", he stood up, swayed for a second, looked confused like someone had asked him to divide 22 by 7 and then toppled perfectly like a felled telegraph poll between two tables.

"I'm so sorry" I said to the bloke on one of the tables, tugging at Ying-Ki's dead weight .

"Is that Ying-Ki from the Capital Chinese Restaurant?" he said

"Yes" I replied

" I hope he's not cooking my fucking chow mein tonight" he said.

On the way home, Ying-ki had sobered enough to conclude "I've made a twat of myself" and then proceeded to be sick all down his own fence.

And I never got a curry out of him.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

I've Arrived....

..and to prove it, here's a photo of one of the locals I took earlier on today.
Fourth Bruce: New-Bruce will be teaching political science, Machiavelli, Bentham, Locke,
Hobbes, Sutcliffe, Bradman, Lindwall, Miller, Hassett, and Benaud.
Second Bruce: Those are all cricketers!
Fourth Bruce: Aww, spit!