Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Question Time

Apologies but this entry will contain a lot of swearing. You'll see why in a minute.

Franc and I are quite similar and as a result have an amiable yet rather adversarial friendship. He's a very clever man with endless stores of trivia, an acid tongue, a keen intellect and a working knowledge of history that makes Simon Schama look like Simon Le Bon. He has also been on 15-to-1. And he did better than me. Bastard.

We are constantly challenging each other or pedantically highlighting the other's mistakes. We were made to be in a quiz team together.

So on Thursday, myself, Franc, Brian, Chris and Dave made our way down to Scruffy Murphy's on George St for the pub quiz. The advert boasted a prize of A$100 and a possible star prize of A$1400. Note "possible".

Clearly, we didn't know what we'd let ourselves in for, however, as the host, one Pommy Andy, was the most dim-witted, vulgar, boorish and egotistical car-crash of a human being I've seen in a long while.

Self-styled "Cockney comedian" Andy looked like a cross between Timmy Mallet, Des Kay from the Fast Show (Wicky-Woo Des Kay!) and one, if not both, of 80s Disco twats Black Lace. And one of them is dead.

Also, he sounded like Mike Reid (dead) and had repertoire of jokes he'd thiefed of Bernard Manning (also dead). Not so much end of the pier, then, as end of the road. Maybe even the end of civilisation as we know it. As my mate Chris says "He could get a job as a hyena silencer".

He introduced himself thus: "Right, listen up you fackin' cahnts...." and then proceeded to
pepper his quiz questions with jibes against the audience, where he ran the whole gamut of insults.

To a woman in the audience he said "If you didn't want me to stare at your tits, sweetheart, you shouldn't have worn that top. Stupid cow"

To two twentysomething Germans he said "Facking hell, it's the Nazis".

To the Americans "Fack you, you facking cahnts!"

And three totally unassuming suited guys who had clearly nipped in for a pint after work he said "Where you've been? Up Kings Cross taking it up the arse?"

Didn't see what happened next, but Pommy Andy had called over to hulking Maori bouncers to sort out one of the suits, claiming he'd had a pop at him. Ironic then that he had to call on the help of two members of an ethnic minority - the very people he had just ridiculed in a previous question. Clearly, someone should lay the twat out.

We considered leaving, but thought it more fun to take his money off him. We came second by one point and won a free jug of beer which we drank quickly. We left never to return.

There were two laughter tracks in there that night. One borne out of the amazement at what a fuckwit this guy was and another, predominantly the older generation, who took the jokes at face value.

Pub Landlord Al Murray is an ironic joke. When Ricky Gervais calls Third World Sweatshop Workers "Lazy" it's a persona. When Warren Mitchell first played Alf Garnett, it was a character.

I think Pommy Andy's idea of irony, to paraphrase Baldrick, is that it's a bit like goldy, silvery and bronzey.

This is his site. Techy people please find someway of defacing it.


Rugger? Bugger!

I've not been particularly active of late. I've not been particularly active since 1995, if the truth be told.

The last serious exercise I did was during the first week of University when Sam and I joined Ninjitsu class, only to find that it hurt and it clashed with our tea, so we never went again.

Last Thursday was the first sunny day we'd had in ages, and not wanting to miss the rays we made our way down to Rushcutters Bay, a mini-marina/harbour at the back of The Pink House, equipped with benches, a coffee shop and big grass thing.

Those present: Dave, Chris, Dan, Sean and then Jamie and Andy who were particularly pleased at finding a big rugby "H" as they were both Rugger Buggers. So whilst they spent the afternoon pretending to be Johnny Wilkinson and booting the ball left and right of the posts, the rest of us hung about and read, chatted and drunk Ribena.

I had a brief moment of physical exertion when I ran to fetch a wayward ball and hoof it back across the field, but thats as far as it went. Possibly the fastest I've moved since 1995. If it's another 12 years before I exercise again, I'll be 42.

The afternoon took a nosedive, however, when the ball went over Andy's head and into the water. Everyone gathered to look at the leather oval slowly floating away from the harbour wall towards a short-masted boat, bobbing gently in the breeze. Andy, the least clothed of all of us, took a look around. Clearly no one was keen to dive in, so he began stripping off.

Within a few moments he was in, had swam across and punted it back out on to the grass. But as the big lads hauled him out, he realised he was covered in blood. Andy had a deep cut in his foot and blood was pouring out like someone had punctured a milk carton.

In typical rugby lad style he was unfazed: "Strange" he said "Didn't feel that happen".

"That's going to need a stitch" said Jamie, who looks like a cross between Martin Clunes and Rhino from Gladiators

"Naah" said Andy using his white t-shirt to bandage up his foot, and limped back to the hostel.

The next day I was stiff from my bout of impromptu exercise. I think the application for the Sydney Marathon will have to wait.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I'm Ready For My Close Up

Beth is on make-up duty.....

My God, I'm gorgeous

The next cover of Vanity Fair

Brian from Dublin has a good grope....

Dan and Raj......

Marcos from Chile gets a bit carried away.......

Me and Raj.....

Me and Sean......the Two Fat Ladies make a welcome return to TV

From Bra to Bar

Up For The Cup

Last night the bunk above me was host to a lovely girl called Emily. In the morning I woke to find a bra on the pillow next to me.

For a moment I wondered what had happened in the night, and wondered why I wouldn't remember something like that happening. But soon I realised it must have fallen down the gap in between the beds.

She had already left for the airport early that morning, so I thought I'd keep it as a "souvenir".

Little did I know that later that evening, it was to prove a most useful find. It was a 34C by the way.

Dame Edna Average

So last night was Dan's birthday celebrations. As it was a Tuesday it coincided with the World Bar's Ladies' Night.

Ladies' Night means free champagne for the ladies only, whilst the men drink their one free drink and stand around to watch the women get drunk and dance with their arms in the air to Club Tropicana by Wham. Not usually a great night.

But, however, here is the twist. If you are prepared to dress up as a woman you too can drink free champagne. And you too can disappear off to the toilet in groups of 5 to touch-up your make up.

Previously male inhabitants of The Pink House have been resistant to dressing up in drag, but seeing as it was Dan's birthday, it rapidly and inexplicably became compulsory. I don't know how that happened.

Danny La Rue The Day

Within half an hour men were rummaging around for dresses and wigs and hassling the women for lipstick and eyeliner.

Luckily I had the bra. Stroke of luck. I stuffed it with some socks, borrowed room-mate Emma's spangly top and pashmina and made my way upstairs to Room 15 where Beth from Montreal was applying make-up.

I'd already had a go at putting some lipstick on, but like a 4 year-old child was pretty wide of the mark and had given myself a big pink clown mouth. I'd also poked myself in the eye twice with the mascara wand.

When Beth saw my handiwork she decided to keep it consistent and applied eye shadow which she then smeared down face to give the impression that I had been crying. When she had finished I looked like Liza Minelli after a night on the absinthe.

Raj was already there with his hair in bunches. Earlier in the evening he had been caught ironing his shirt for work whilst wearing a lovely floral print skirt. It looked like a scene from the "I Want To Break Free" video by Queen. He wasn't as attractive as Roger Taylor though.

His dress was so tight that he couldn't fit any fake tits up his top.

"Ha, you've got no tits" said someone

"Doesn't matter" replied Raj "It's personality that counts"

We gathered in the courtyard to admire each other's choice of dress and feel each other's tits. It's amazing. Usually, tits are completely out of bounds. But under these circumstances, we were like kids in a sweet shop. A dirty sweet shop obviously:

"Come here, let me feel yours. Oh yours are harder than mine"
"Yeah, but your nipples are more realistic"
"Oh shut up. Yours are nicer than mine"
"Steady, you'll burst them"

It didn't matter that we looked like a we'd been dragged through Anne Widdecome's wardrobe backwards, if there was chance of a grope we were going to take it.

I was really getting in touch with my feminine side. At one point I went to take off my jumper the bloke way (grab the back with both hands and wrench), but realised that, with baps, I had to do the whole woman-cross-your-arms-over-thing. Now I know why women do that.

Man, I Feel Like A Woman

The rest of the evening passed in a predictably drunken fashion. Bizarrely, it's amazing the amount of female attention you get whilst dressed as a woman. How does that work? I'm only interested in talking to you if you're dressed like me.

At the end of the evening I had a clever escape route. I'd brought my jumper, so I could dump the bra and wash off the make-up. Not so for Big Jamie who, at 2.30 in the morning, was breaking up a fight in a kebab shop whilst wearing eyeliner from Max Factor and foundation by Rimmel London.

I got to bed at 3am. I felt washed out. I think it might be my time of the month.

Dad, if you are reading this - I am not on the turn.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Sausage Envy

Everyone was staring at me. Why?

Because in my hand I had the most beautiful object in the world: a bacon and sausage bap.

Some men wear nice shades, a funky hat or a nice suit. That's how they turn heads. Turns out all they need is a bacon and sausage bap.

I'd nipped to the cafe for a takeaway brekky and returned with what looked like The Silver Surfer's wanger - huge foil torpedo. Immediately I had the attention of the floor.

"That looks nice and I don't even know what it is yet" said Feidhlim from Donegal.

"Oooh, that looks mint, mate" added Raj eyeing the package hungrily.

As I unwrapped the roll began utching forward, leaning in transfixed, basking in its glow. I held it up to the light in preparation for consumption, but became self-conscious and acutely aware that an audience was gathering piercing me with their jealous, hungry stare.

"Where did you get that?" they'd ask..
"How much?"
"What's on it?"
"Is it nice?"

To the last question I answered, "I don't know. I haven't had chance to eat it yet"

The harshest comment came Feidhlim who eyed the roll enviously and, shaking his head in resignation, uttered "....bastard...." as if I'd just won an Oscar and The World Cup and The Lottery all at once.

But their covetousness didn't last long. Soon I'd finished it. The heavenly music had stopped and the throng had blinked themselves back into reality.

Behold the Power Of The Bacon Bap

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Assorted Thoughts

Here is a list of non-sequiturs as they came to mind:

1. Watched Transformers last night. It was entertaining drivel. In 20 years time when the special effects look shit, people will wonder what all the fuss was about.

I was into Transformers between the ages of 7 and 10. I had Kickback, Scourge, Cosmos, Astrotrain and some others.

Watching it made me feel old.

2. Last week the greatest album of all time (in my opinion, naturally) celebrated its 10th anniverary. OK Computer was released in June 1997. At the time, I was at University trying not to look scallies in the eye and writing essays about the recent New Labour landslide.

I listened to it again the other day and it still sounds as fresh and innovative today as it did back then. In fact, on the way back from the town, I was listening to it on my iPod just as a stretch limo slinked past. Before I knew it some slags had poked through the open sunroof and began gyrating to some bland techno beat.

At the time I was listening to Thom singing "I'll take the quiet life, a handshake of carbon monoxide, and no alarms and no suprises please". I looked back at the women writhing with their arms in the air trying to attract the attention of the some rugby shirted lads at the side of the road and thought "What do they know about proper music? What do they know about anything?"

Watching them made me feel old.

3. Had a random email from someone who used to work on Storm FM, the student radio station we helped set up. Apparently it's 10 years since the first broadcast. Me, Paul and Antony used to do The Night Shift from about 12 till 7 or something. I used to play a lot of OK Computer.

The email mooted a reunion. Obviously I won't be attending on account of my being 10,000 miles away. However, even if I had been in England I'm not sure I would be attending. Quite a lot of people on that station were total, total twats.

The website still exists in its original form all these years later: http://www.stormfm.co.uk

Looking at it makes me feel old.

4. It's funny the things you see in internet cafes. I have just watched a man, presumably very gay, spend over an hour watching You Tube videos of men arm wrestling.

I am also madly in love with the woman who works here. She wears calf length suede boots and a floral skirt.

Looking at her makes me feel young.

Oh Say, Can You See

Whilst we get quite a few Canadians in the hostel, we don't get many Americans.

According to the manager Miranda, this is because Americans tend to prefer hotels and are less au fait with the concept of "backpacking", preferring organised tours.

So when two Americans turned up last night, it was a rare occurence. A couple of people wasted no time and immediately queued up to take the piss. And lets face it, it's not difficult. Cliched descriptors can be rolled out with ease: stupid, fat imperial aggressors, less grasp of geography than an undiscovered tribe in Borneo etc

The couple took the jibes on the chin, choosing to smile through their perfect teeth. I was prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt; it's unfair to pigeonhole 300 million people, and being English I certainly wouldn't want people to assume I'm a lager drinking football hooligan.

However, the next morning they popped into the TV room to say hello and tell us they were visiting the botanical gardens. When someone mentioned they should also check out the "Chinese Garden" the American girl responded, admittedly in jest, "Well, maybe I should dress as a Geisha Girl then".

There was a silence for a couple of seconds, before I was forced to point out that Geisha Girls were, in fact, Japanese.

"Oh" she said, and realising that there and then she was confirming our faith all the worst stereotypes she added "...that's was a really bad thing to say wasn't it", before slinking quietly away.


Creature Comforts

Do you know what? I'm sorry to report this, but I think I'm about ready to leave The Pink House.

There's nothing wrong with it. Nothing. It's just that recently I've found myself yearning for creature comforts. Don't get me wrong, I understand this is a hostel. Furthermore, I, myself, have been critical of those who misunderstand this.

A month back we had a group of Polish Pensioners who repeatedly barracked reception because their bedsheets hadn't been turned over and because they had no phone on which to call room service. There's an "S' in hostel. Otherwise it would be a hotel. And because there's an "S" in it, and because it's only costing about 8 quid a night, you expect less and you muck in with everyone else.

However, alas, after a while it does becomes a bit like being on an extended camping holiday. And no one wants to be on a camping holiday for 3 months. My bed sheets are fridge cold, my socks always seem to be damp and I haven't had one night where I've slept right through without being woken up by someone falling over a rucksack in the dark or letting the door slam.

Case in point. This morning I needed a poo. Regular as clockwork. I kept it in the docking bay for as long as possible, but eventually relented and made my way upstairs to the toilets. When I arrived I discovered, as usual, no toilet paper.

A second later Raj arrived and, peering into the three cubicles and dispensing with his Nepalese/Indian heritage in favour of a Wimbledon/Cockernee accent, uttered: "Vere's no fackin' bog roll". At this point with a full bowel and a turtle's head I began to examine my options. Luckily I knew of the mythical "Secret Toilet" - a Narnia-like WC in the back courtyard.

I had reassured Raj that I would return momentarily with a secret stash of paper, but on arrival realised I actually needed to open my bomb bay doors immediately. Five minutes later after the activity had reached its natural conclusion, I realised that Raj was probably still waiting and so grabbed the paper and raced round to find him at the top of the stairs, hopping from one foot to another.

"Christ!" he said "There you are". I hurled the bog roll up the stairs, unfurling it like a magnolia comet with a long Andrex contrail. He caught it expertly with one hand and darted from view dragging the zig-zagging paper up the stairs behind him like Lady Diana's wedding train.

So, with heavy heart I now freely admit I am looking for comfort. I am looking for a good night's sleep. I am looking for a hot shower and clean duvet under which I can watch my own TV.

The Pink House has been great. I've met some smashing people and had one or two interesting "adventures". But, alas, once I have a job it will goodbye wooden picnic tables and lukewarm showers and hello double bed and dishwasher.

Friday, July 06, 2007

We're On The Road To Nowhere

Had the journey from Hell yesterday. I had an interview at a company way out of town on the North Shores of Sydney in a place called North Ryde.

The email from the recruitment consultant already acknowledged the inaccessibility. "Don't think there's a train station, so you might have to take a bus. Or something.", it said vaguely.

I had been given several pieces of contradictory advice, so when I got to the window at Kings Cross station, I asked the woman if I could buy a combined train and bus ticket to North Sydney and then on to North Ryde.

"Completely wrong way of doing it" she said "Go to West Ryde"
"Right" I said "Is there a bus from West Ryde to North Ryde ?"
"Don't know" she said "Ask the guy at the barriers"

Eh? How come she didn't know? Throughout all this there was a woman behind me who, because my conversation had lasted more than 1 minute, was now going :Ooooh. Ooooh. Oooh. Come onnnnnn. Come onnnn." Like she needed a wee.

So I moved over to the guy on the barriers. Here was my second problem. By complete coincidence he was already talking to somebody I wanted to avoid. About a month ago Matty met another Persian bloke in the hostel. Initially, they knocked about together, but Matty soon realised he was a weirdo and did everything to avoid him. He had also pissed off people in the hostel by being smelly, asking women strange questions and invading generally people's personal space. I felt sorry for Matty; he was so embarrassed that his fellow countryman was such a twat, he kept apologising on his behalf.

And now Weird Persian was talking to the bloke at the barriers. I kept my distance in case I was recognised. So much distance in fact that someone else jumped in front of me. When I finally got to the guy and asked him how to get to North Ryde he began banging his fist on the counter and making horse noises. It was at this point I realised he had Tourettes. Seriously.

After a 3 minutes of flicking through a book and yelping he, too, declared he didn't know how to get there. Brilliant. Wanted to go back to the window, but there was a massive queue. Went to the ticket machine. Wouldn't accept notes. Luckily had exact change. Machine wouldn't accept my $2 coin. Had to join queue again. By this point I had been in the station 20 minutes and hadn't gone anywhere yet.

When I finally got to North Sydney, the buses were so sparse I ended up getting a taxi. Couldn't take the risk seeing as it was for an interview.

The return journey wasn't much better. This time I ended up wandering around MacQuarrie shopping centre multi-storey car park looking for the bus stop, and when I did find the correct bus, it meandered and dawdled through cul-de-sacs and residential side streets bashing into mini-roundabouts and speed bumps for the best part of 90 minutes.

I felt sick. The kind of travel sickness only a rickety diesel bus can create. And when the bus stopped for 10 minutes to change the driver, and then when that driver later took the bus down a road which was closed and had to reverse a 30 ft vehicle in a gravel pit, I thought I would never get home.

If I get this job, I think I will sleep in the office.


Trust me, this was funny. It probably won't translate, but I'll tell it to you anyway.

Sean is 20. He's a lovely lad from St Helens, and works on a building site here in Sydney. He's quite quiet and thoughtful, but there's a Peter Kay-esque, down-to-earth quality about him.

Last night we were all eating Chinese food - me and Sean digging into a big bag of prawn crackers. He'd been quiet up until this point, when suddenly he held up a cracker to the light and pondered it thoughtfully.

Within a few short seconds he appeared to have a reached a conclusion. I suspected that whatever he had decided was to be earth-shatteringly significant. Profound. Revelatory.

There was a short gap before, in a broad Johnny Vegas accent, he announced:

"They're just like big Quavers aren't thee?"

It took me about 3 minutes to stop laughing.

Another tale: The other night we were all watching Empire Strikes Back on VHS when Sean got up to leave.

"Don't worry Sean" said Franc "We'll tell you how it ends".

Breaking and Entering

If you remember, Room 2 turned back into a common room back in May, the German Porn Star got angry and I contracted bed bugs.

Anyway, as the hostel is now jampacked again, plans were afoot to turn Room 2 back into a bedroom.

Unfortunately, this was to prove more difficult than originally thought. News reached me about 8 o' clock that the lock on the door to Room 2 had sheared off and no one could get in. I wandered round to Room 2 to see Aidan and Niels (from Koln, Germany) on their knees - Aidan jostling the key in the lock and Niels with a pallete knife trying to splay open a gap in the frame.

It was imperative they gained access to the room that night as soon they would have three backpackers in the hallway, fresh off a 26-hour flight and wanting beds. And, so far, success was not forthcoming.

But when word got around that a door was stuck, a wave of testosterone was released into the atmosphere. And in the same way a shark can detect a single drop of blood in the ocean, men began naturally gravitating towards the "situation"; their chance to be manly, their chance to play "Bob The Builder".

Within minutes there were 8 men stood around - some scratching their chins or their heads - all throwing ideas at the door. At least 6 of the 8 talked about kicking it in. But this was not a solution. Then someone suggested a master key. Then someone suggested kicking it in again.

When Big Franc from Dublin heard he too came racing over. Franc "don't call me Francis" Neary has a degree in Medicine from Gonville and Caius College, Oxford and Masters from Trinity College, Dublin. Naturally he treated the whole thing as a fiendish intellectual challenge and put his big brain to work.

"Right" he said "Get me some scissors", and began carving up an empty plastic container previously home to a Sweet and Sour Chicken. When he'd finished he proudly displayed his plastic origami sculpture before jamming it in the lock and jiggling it expertly.

Meanwhile, outside in the cold distance, Aidan and Dan were trying to force two double doors open. Again, to no avail. Dan had fashioned a rudimentary loop from a coathanger and with his tongue sticking out was attempting to hook it round the door handle and open the door.

Meanwhile back at the door Franc's genius plastic skeleton key had failed miserably and he taken to shoving anything to hand through the gap. This included some free magazines and an A4 ringbinder entitled "Sydney - What's On?"

Meanwhile Dan was in. He'd used the palette knife to break open the window lock, and within seconds opened the door with a huge grin on his face, and began shaking hands with the assembled throng. It was like that time the French and English diggers met at the middle of The Channel Tunnel.

I think Franc was secretly disappointed. Here he was, a man with degrees from Oxford and Dublin, beaten by a man with an BTEC in Business Studies from Welwyn Garden City College For Further Education.

The best suggestion of the evening came from Niels from Koln. He said:

"In a situation like this I always like to ask myself 'What would David Hasselhoff do?".
So I think we should come running down the stairs in just our pants and shoulder barge it open"

After you.....

Dan tries to force open the back doors.

Franc tries his plastic skeleton key....

Wednesday, July 04, 2007


Such is my diet, I have always made friends very quickly with owners of local take away emporia.

Wherever I am, in whatever part of the world, it doesn't take long for me to establish a rapport with these people. We have an understanding. We have a symbiotic relationship: I make kebabs; you eat kebabs; you pay me for the kebabs and I'll make some more kebabs.

I was on such good terms with the owners of Curry World on South Lambeth Road that a year after one of the brothers had left to become an AA Driving Instructor, upon spotting me, he stopped his shiny new car, got out and shook my hand, asking me how I was and what I was up to. That's how well I knew them.

When Curry World closed I was naturally devastated, and took to feeding my paltry poultry addiction in the Taste More Chippy, next to Stockwell station. And, it wasn't long before they knew me as well.

One morning I was returning from breakfast with Andy and saw the head chippy walking towards me. I'd never seen him in daylight before, nor away from the lumiscent glow of flickering neon light, so it took me a while to realise who he was.

As we passed, he gave me "the nod". Like a Masonic nod or a Fight Club nod. It said "I know". It said "We have an understanding". It said "You and me....we're the same". It said "I'll see you on Friday night for a small chips and a turkey stick".

Andy saw the man give me the nod. He looked at me, and in an instant realised what the nod meant. He just shook his head. Yeah, well we can't all be Top London Chefs, can we?

Later that year in Tokyo, I established the nod-based relationship with the lady behind the counter of the Akabane branch of Mr Donut. As soon as I was through the door, with one slight inclination of the cranium, I had ordered a ham and cheese pie (heated up ), a custard cream donut and a small Coke. I was operating at maximum efficiency.

And now Sydney in 2007. Two days ago I was walking past Indian Curry Point on the Cross, an eaterie which I have not frequented particularly often, but have patronised an occasion.

As I passed the burly Indian behind the glass topped counter looked up and, on seeing me, gave me the nod. This must be my all time record. I think I've only been in there 5 times and already I am a familiar face to him. On this particular occasion I wasn't even going in there. I was visiting Pie Face next door.

They must just know. See it in my eyes. Recognise a fellow appreciator of The Turkey Stick, The Bondi Burger, The Meat Lovers Pizza, The Thai Chicken Pie Stack (with extra mash).

However, you should know that I am balancing out this "evil" with a nice weighty helping of "good". I don't think I have eaten quite so many vegetables in my life before. Yes. I know it's difficult for you imagine, but I now don't mind the odd pea, or red onion, or sweet potato and have even developed a liking for baby corn and sweetcorn.

No, I haven't been kidnapped. Yes, it's still me. Just don't assume therefore that I am now perfectly happy to load my plate up with dirty forestry and soiled bulbs, like cabbage and cauliflower, come Sunday dinner.


A weird thing happened yesterday.

The Pink House for one reason or another is beginning to thin out; people are leaving for sunnier climes eg Perth, Brisbane, Darwin and further afield Thailand, Singapore and Fiji.

On top of this, two of the long term residents in my room, Siah and Simon have left for Western Australia and by 9.30 last night what people remained had left for The World Bar.

I didn't join the them as, to be quite frank, after two months of World Bar every Tuesday and Thursday it's delights no longer move me in the way they once did.

So at 9.45, the weird thing happened. Silence. Total and utter. The first time I'd ever experienced this in the The Pink House. And I am including late nights and the early hours.

It was a bit like hanging around after school after the kids have gone. An eerie quiet reigned in the corridors, save for the thrum of passing cars and I could hear the blood in my ears. It's only when something like this happens you realise, in its absence, how vibrant this place is.

In fact, if I wanted to get sentimental about it (before I've even left) at a time like that, it would be nice to wander round the empty rooms and, like some scene from Goodbye Mr Chips, or another ITV Drama Premiere, listen to the past echoes of the conversations that have taken place in the rooms.

Worlds Bar tonight? What do you mean, no?

Whose is this washing up? I can't get to the tap.......

The following people owe rent....

Who's that Swedish bird? Is she in your room? Got a boyfriend? Bugger.....

What time did you get in last night?

Can I nick a beer? I've run out......

Is this a bed bug bite or a mosquito?

Of course it wasn't long before the rabble returned.

And soon I was being woken by the rattle-clack of the door catch, the hushed-up bumping, the over cautious rustling, the dull throb and thrump of people padding up carpeted stairs, the barely contained drunken cackles, the snoring and then, in the morning, the ineffectual stealth of people trying to leave the room as quietly as possible.


It's very cold here at the moment.

And The Pink House is to insulation what Aldi Supermarket is to lobster thermidour in white truffle sauce.

Due to a shortage, people barter blankets like prisoners trading cigarettes; it's a form of currency in here.

Pssst. Over here.....do you want a blanket?

How much?

Well, let's say you do my washing up. How's that?

No deal. I'll do your plate, but your saucepan has rice burned on to the bottom.

OK. Wash the plate, dry it, put the saucepan into soak and the blanket's yours.



The temperature isn't particularly low, but there's something unsettling about being in a country famed for its heat, but spending your time wondering whether your teeth might be shattering through chattering.

In England at least we have the facilities to cope with sub-par weather. Years of drizzly afternoons and blustery evenings have led to the development of the East Midlands Electricity Storage Heater (as advertised by Brian Clough) and the Calor Gas Fire.

No such luck in Oz. After all what do you need them for? Just grin and bear it as the wind whistles up your board shorts.

People have also taken to filling huge 4 pint milk cartons with boiling water from the super-heated nozzle/billabong in the kitchen (which saves boiling the kettle 554 times a day). They then sit out back hugging the boiling cartons like teddy bears with their sleeves pulled over their palms so as not to burn themselves.

By the morning the wooden tables at the back resemble some modern art exhibition with 30 plastic cartons of clear liquid, complete with their variety of coloured lids, strewn artistically and chaotically around the courtyard.

We are in the midst of the Australian Winter, I hope it hurries up.


Men really are disgusting creatures. I should know, I am one.

When left to their own devices, this is the kind of thing they get up to:

The other day, one guy proudly announced to the courtyard that he had spent the day making Top Trumps cards for all the women he had had sex with. He also mentioned the categories were to be: looks, personality, drinking ability.

We all agreed the categories weren't specific enough. Initially someone suggested "flexibility", and then I proposed "volume".

"Eh? " said Brian from Dublin "Volume?"

"Yeah" I replied "As in decibels".

"Oh" he responded "I thought you meant volume as in centilitres...."

"Well both of those are relevant, I suppose" I said