Wake up, and Smell the Coffee

When I was in the USA, I lived in the midtown area of Atlanta…which was lovely! I was told this was the “gay area” by someone in hushed tones, but honestly I didn’t see the problem – all I saw were friendly strangers who liked to give compliments, and some great brunch establishments! How could anyone hate that?! Certainly always put a smile on my face!

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But anyway, this was a little far to travel for some friends who lived outside of the city, so I would hop on the MARTA train and meet them half-way at Bankhead Station…then we’d drive out to some random diner, restaurant, or coffee shop for a catch up on the latest shenanigans…

One of these times stands out, and has been turning over, and over, and over in my head recently – I’m sure it won’t take a genius to work out why…

On this occasion, four of us pulled into a quiet roadside place, and piled into one of the cushioned booths to get warm. A chirpy waiter came over immediately to take our orders…we were all pretty exhausted, so there was only one obvious choice for most! “Black coffee, please!” “Black coffee for me too!” “Yeah, black coffee – thanks.” 

He nodded and smiled, as he jotted it all down – before turning to me.

“Errrmmm…” I murmured, a little unsure as I stared at the menu. “Can I have white coffee please? I don’t really like it black.”

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There was a silence. A horrible, agonising silence. 

Everyone had their eyes fixed on me, I instantly turned the brightest of reds – as if a volcano had erupted in my face, and was attempting to force its way out through my ears…I had no clue as to what crime I had committed, but I was sorry all the same. I looked desperately at the faces of my friends, hoping one of them would throw me a life-line…all they threw me were looks of complete, and utter disbelief.

“Is that supposed to like…be funny? Because its not.” cautioned the waiter,

“Erm, no…not at all – you don’t…you don…you don’t have white coffee? I mean…wha?!”

The waiter looked across to my friends, as if to say; “who is this no-good piece of shit, and why do you even hang around with him at all? Can we shoot him in the head, once my shift finishes?” I wished that I hadn’t been so choosy, I could have just said “black coffee for me too!” and all of this mysterious awkwardness could have been avoided. I wriggled, and writhed in my seat – the leather sticking to my sweaty backside, as I prayed for the ground to swallow me up whole. I gave it one last try…

“Sorry…I want a WHITE COFFEE, PLEASE!” More stares, now there were some who were shaking their head – as if I had gone too far with a bad joke…this was past the point of humiliation, doubly so as I didn’t have a fucking clue what was going on! “Black coffee…you put milk in, and it’s white coffee. What…you don’t have milk in a coffee shop?!”

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“Ohhhhhhhh!” everyone chimed together, which instantly broke the awkward deadlock of silence. But I was still completely dumb-founded, my head bobbing from person to person hoping for an explanation. They laughed (a lot), but eventually told me I had incurred a rather regrettable mistake – and that it was probably best to not repeat it again, even if it is an everyday phrase in England. Ask for a coffee with milk, or a latte…or…anything but a fucking WHITE COFFEE! Well, you didn’t have to tell me twice! Jheez!

After all this they dropped me off at the station, and I was just looking forward to getting to bed – so I could forget about how shitty a person I was without even knowing. And I was in luck! The train was right there! Everything was coming up John, after all!

Not quite…ten minutes later, and I was still sat there – the train hadn’t moved an inch. I put my phone away, after all it was all full of white coffee jokes from the friends I had just left. I glanced to my left, and did a double take as I caught sight of some commotion in the opposite carriage…I moved for a better view, maybe this was the reason that…oh Jesus…fucking hell… 

There was a black man, lying there lifeless – with a puddle of blood around him. There were policeman murmuring into their radios, and a paramedic still desperately trying in vain to save the poor man…with blood all the way from his hands, to his elbows. I couldn’t make out much more than that.

I held my head in my hands, tears began to swell, as I began to struggle to breathe. I looked up at everyone else in my train carriage, I watched for their reactions which were basically just to glance over shrug, and go back to their phones, their books, their whatever else. “Babe, some guy’s dead. So I’ll be late.” I heard someone announce in a bored tone.

So wait…a man dies in a bloody fashion, and no one bats an eyelid? But I mistakenly use the wrong phrase when talking about a cup of coffee, and everyone loses their minds? Something’s wrong there, surely.

You see…I didn’t link the two like this till recently, they were just separate events in my head. But the two are unequivocally intertwined, I see that now.

We can’t just stress, and worry about words…and being “politically correct” or appearing to be a person of true compassion. REAL equality comes about with REAL action. Not just talking the talk. All of the horrendous news stories we have seen laid bare recently, SHOULD be sparking something inside of you…and that something shouldn’t be disdain for well meaning people like Benedict Cumberbatch…but more horror for corrupt, or racist individuals.

Please, don’t just look away – wake up, and smell the coffee – BE the change. 

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Edward Sausage-Hands

How does a person afflicted with stubby little pork sausage fingers even begin to play the guitar? The mind boggles…

Oh, and I know I am just whining and complaining – after all my Dad, his brother – and one of my own brothers play guitar very well. But still…help a guy out? Or maybe I should take up the triangle.

If you have a video request you can leave a comment, or send me an email – if it’s a cool/interesting idea then I will get to it as soon as I can!

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Adult Movies and Angry Stares

I think as an eternally awkward and embarrassed individual certain scenarios are made doubly worse and triply…trebly…erm – errrr…three times as dramatic as they should be. Phew, that was an ordeal in itself! 

But I have somewhat come to terms with this fact and now consider myself to be a somewhat fully functioning nervous wreck, as opposed to a few years ago where I was a full time rocking chair enthusiast…

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That doesn’t mean that I’m suddenly a cool cucumber, reminiscent of Jude Law in his prime (before his hair receded and he started looking like a half peeled potato). You see, I don’t particularly have a strut, and my smile to strangers is still weirdly forced – but I no longer poo my pants at the prospect of talking to someone working in a supermarket. Which is sort of like a victory…in my own strange way…well, it saves money on new clothes anyways – which is practically the same thing.

But on a recent flight I found myself resorting to old habits…as the nerve-racked Mr. Hyde-side of my being crept uneasily back into my life, stammering and sweating with every embarrassed step. You see I was on a long-haul flight just a couple of days ago, and was the reddened meat of a Chinese grandmother sandwich…we had nodded, and smiled to each other – and had even exchanged some muddled pleasantries before growing suitably bored and reaching for our respective sets of headphones. (The internationally known sign for “don’t talk to me please.”)

Dont Talk GIF

I began to look through the selection of films, hoping to catch sight of a new-ish one I’d missed the first time around. There were a few that stood out; a serious looking one with James Franco and Jonah Hill, a thriller with Jake Gyllenhaal, and…the newest Spongebob Squarepants movie – all promised to offer some entertainment, and an opportunity to put a dent in the horrendous thirteen hour flight time. I then decided that I would keep these three in reserve, and would only start to watch them when life suddenly didn’t feel like living…until then I would watch some funnily bad films, whilst I still have the energy to put up with them. Strange logic, but made sense at the time. 

So on went a low budget movie picture about a serial killer…can’t recall the name but after ten minutes some poor lady was being strung up in ropes as she screamed and begged for mercy – it was brutal. Unfortunately this opinion hadn’t escaped the grandma buns on either side…who were now staring at me as if I was the crazy killer myself…I mean, the scene had me uncomfortable, but the looks had made it unbearable: as if they were saying “ahhh, so this is the sick shit you’re into then, huh? I wish I had never smiled and said hello now…I retract them both from our shared history books.” 

Kanye Judging GIF

Anyway, the humiliation and embarrassment took over and so off it went – it was a terrible movie in the first place so nothing lost, right? Instead I searched for something else to fill the silence and put on a rather unsuspecting drama of some sort…which opened with a gratuitous sex scene – naturally. But surprise-surprise they weren’t fond of that either, and both began to swivel their heads, and tut louder than I had ever heard anyone tut. “Hmmm-mmm, oh” they began to murmur…but any fool could have worked out what they were really trying to say…

“So this is the sick shit you’re into, is it? That’s the check list for any movie you watch; violence, gore, and overly dramatic and cringeworthy sex scenes? Can’t you just watch fucking Toy Story like a normal human?! You make me sick – and after all we’ve been through as well…urgh.”

So I zapped off that as well; I had got the message loud and clear. There was something nice about staring at the blank black screen after the whole palava – there was to be no judgement, which felt good. I then pulled out the book I’m currently reading (W.H. Davies’: ‘The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp) and flicked through its pages until the grandma bread on either side of me slipped away into unconsciousness…about three minutes later thankfully. 

Grandma GIF

I was then free to watch whatever I wanted. So on went the classic: ‘Killer Penis Hostage Bastard’. It was a fun watch, I’d recommend it to anyone! Apart from my new grandmother friends of course. But shhhhh, they don’t need to know about that!

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Wonderlust!

What is this fabled ‘wanderlust’ that I see strewn around quite literally every form of social media these days? By the looks of it it’s something to do with handwriting fonts, pictures of maps, and photos of fields, seas, and mysterious pathways…right?

ahh wait no, here it is:

‘Wanderlust; a yearning or desire to travel and  experience adventure.’ 

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Makes sense! No wonder everyone’s auntie and their cat has the word littered around the place as if its as commonplace as regret after a face tattoo! I mean, surely every single person in the existence of existence has had such a will…haven’t they? And I can’t see that changing anytime soon, it’s in our primitive nature to make such demands on ourselves – life is but a small window after all, and it’s on us to fill each little panel with as much colour as possible…so it may be worthy of display.

Yeah, yeah – I know! I’m being a typical liberal arts major freak and contorting the meaning of what it is to ‘experience adventure’…so apologies for that, it must be at least mildly annoying – but I just want to put forward the notion that just because you haven’t or likely won’t have a huge dramatic The Lord of the Rings type of epic in your lifetime it doesn’t devalue the journey you are already on…as long as you are living and breathing you are on your own personal adventure – just without the hobbits, and dragons.

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Although you may encounter hairy feet, and cockroaches…which is kind of the same thi…yeah alright it’s not, sorry – real life does have its pitfalls. 

Anyway, but despite this people post these wanderlust pictures, bless their hearts – and I’m not that against it or even mildly offended (I suppose i’m just being a dick if anything), but they often wrongly think that it’s the travel that they are longing for…that all they need to do is board a tin can in the sky,  eat peanuts/watch straight to DVD type films for twelve hours, then take a few photos at their guidebook destination to show people back home, and then they will feel content…but that’s not what it’s about, and that’s not what they want if they were really to consider themselves thoroughly. 

They want to step outside of the ordinary maybe because of a stagnant or complacent lifestyle, they want to experience something that shakes them from their routine, and reminds them they are seeing, hearing, and feeling human beings. They want to be in wonder…in amazement…they want that “wow” factor which you can only get by witnessing things first hand. Can you get this from travelling? Of course you bloody well can! Can you get it from opening your eyes to the beauty of life all around you wherever you are…yes! And you are not any less of a person for being more in line with the latter than that of some mad bearded traveller type who talks down to people who haven’t spent months in an igloo drinking their own urine. Or whatever it is they do – was just a quick example. 

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That’s why as lovely and well meaning as it is, I really loathe the question; “so how many countries have you visited now then?” As it is completely missing the point in my book, I mean I don’t count and I never will – in doing so you are reducing the experience to a number, and a check-list…I find it robotic, I find it soulless. The questions that excite me are more focused on the human side of things; “what did you see? What did you do? Who did you meet? How did you feel?” These are what we should really be examining…and you should ask the same of yourself whether it be on a boat in Vietnam shifting through the islands of Halong Bay…or after you attended something in your hometown; a football game, an art show, drinks with your nearest and dearest…a hot dog eating competition – whatever it is just mull  it over and think;  “what did I see? What did I do? Who did I meet? How did I feel?” 

Life is just people wandering about aimlessly trying to make sense of things – it’s just people bumping into each other and saying hello then telling their life story; everyone has a tale to tell and you can make any experience richer by bearing this in mind. You see, thinking this way gives you a greater appreciation for life, and how amazing it really is – do I forget this sometimes and wallow, sure! Pfft, all the time! But that’s just more of a reason to remind myself again, and again.

Just look at yourself – you get to meet people everyday, see things, feel things – I mean how great is that?! Also you’re hot, and have a nice personality.

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With all that said, I would encourage everyone to travel if you can, it’s fantastic…but don’t forget to look at what you have right where you are. Chances are it’s pretty damn wonderful and more than worthy of your time.

So it’s wonderlust over wanderlust, my friends. Remember that. 

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What is Success?

“What is success?”

And I know, I know…everyone has a different version of the definition – apparently...but we are all people, and for the most part this drives us to want the same things. To love, and be loved…to have a purpose, and a core motivation…to eat an entire family sized lasagna by yourself without being sick. See, that’s probably just me with that last one. But yeah, the question does confuse me – and if I don’t fully understand what it means to be successful, then how will I know when I have reached this grand milestone?

You see at the moment I feel like I have graduated from the meager caterpillar stage…wandering around aimlessly, just consuming everything – with no clear direction…and now I am in the chrysalis stage, locked away in my bedroom cocoon, beavering away…with the hope that I will somehow magically burst into life, like a vibrant butterfly, and spread my wings. Confident, and suave…the Kanye West of comedy writing.

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Precious, ey? Well, although it would be lovely if all that were true – and trust me, it’s what I like to tell myself during my various conversations with, well…myself. I don’t think it is what life is like. Not really. Although it isn’t a sleek, or glamorous metaphor; I reckon we are a lot more like the snail.

Yup. We just mosey on along…pulling along all of the baggage that we accrue day after day…yes, the moss…the dirt…it builds on top of us, but we keep on going, we absorb it…it becomes who we are. 

We can look back at any time, and see the trails that we once took, glistening behind us. Often we went the wrong way, repeated back on ourselves, or looped, and looped, with no clear purpose. But we are still here – and the only real decision is…where are we going now? 

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Well to success of course! Alright…but which way’s that?

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Hate at First Sight (Hungary)

Hungary ~ Budapest – 2014

I hadn’t been to Hungary in well over five years, so on this recent trip to eastern Europe I was hoping for a different experience with more mature eyes…for those of you who didn’t read it before, this was my last encounter with the country:- “scrotum-stares-hungary” I mean the name says it all…but it’s still probably worth a quick read just so you are up to speed!

Anyway, rest assured I had my fingers crossed hoping that there would be a lot less scrotums this time around, and a little less staring if possible! Well the short version is that I didn’t see any scrotums on this adventure (automatic huge plus!), but the staring was at threat level midnight! This time there was a lot more hostility to the gazes, I think it was due to the fact that I was now a young man…so therefore probably fair game, perhaps when I was a child they didn’t think it was so acceptable to give me the type of look that suggests they want to rip off my head and use it as an ornament, or more likely – an ash tray.

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As my brother and I walked around it became clear that the male portion of the population were the most forthright in their glares – they sneered, growled, and made every other caveman-ish attempt to make us feel uncomfortable. We stood out I guess, the native’s clothes looked like they had been purchased in the early 90s…usually the look was completed with a raggedy mullet curling down the flabby neck of its owner – so in comparison, despite the fact we were just wearing shirts and dark jeans, in their eyes we may as well have been wearing Elton John style glitter jackets. This is largely conjecture, but we came to the conclusion that they probably thought we were two young homosexual chaps on a nice week break together…and that they would try and laser-eye the homosexuality out of us, or at least make us feel sufficiently uncomfortable with the whole thing. Hard to enjoy licking an ice cream cone, with 20 bigoted men staring at your every movement. Very awkward. 

On the subway we took to staring at the ground, pretending we were not aware of the blatant display of hatred – in our hometown it was pretty much the same drill in certain areas. Both places were filled with people who will aggressively stare, and if you even glance at them it will be all, “are you looking at me?! You want to start something?! Someone hold my brain I’m going to fuck this cheeky bastard up!!!” I can’t speak Hungarian, but I imagine it is pretty much the same, word for word. One time we stepped on the train, cue hateful stares of course – but this time we were also met with a strange gypsy-looking lady humming a bizarre tune loudly to the rest of the cramped carriage…I assumed she was asking for money for her performance, but nope…she was just rocking back and forth wailing out of her lungs…this would make a great eerie tune on a horror movie sequence, I thought to myself…but was cut short from this imaginary sequence by a mustached man in front of me – he pointed at my trainers, so naturally I looked down…maybe my laces were untied, or a bird had shit on them or something…nothing…I looked back at him, and he pointed again – oh God, leave me alone – I shook my head, and looked away, wondering if my ear drums would explode anytime soon so I wouldn’t have to be subjected to the lady’s groaning tune anymore –

“JUST LOOK, JUST LOOK!”

I knew it was him. I took my time to turn to face him, and even when I did it was with a slow robotic movement…I didn’t want to have anything more to do with him, but perhaps if I didn’t give him drips of conversation he would pin me down and make me listen to the harpy-lady’s song for the rest of time. And I couldn’t take that. He made gestures that insinuated he wanted me to take of my shoes, and give them to him…you know, just so he could look.

Oh my God, I am going to be beaten up and robbed for my trainers…I’ll have to walk back to the flat in my socks…I bet there will be loads of little stones that are mildly uncomfortable to tread on…oh God, no…just FUCK OFF, comb your mustache, slap a Gran, go cow-tipping, something, anything – whatever you do – JUST LEAVE ME ALONE!!!

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I shot him a confused look, that in my head would be perfect Oscar-winning acting…”I done, I done no…what you say…when…I done” I stammered to him slowly, even introducing my hands and shoulders, to further emphasise just how little sense his broken English was making to me…in my head I was Russian…but I suppose it doesn’t really matter, so long as he didn’t run off with my Nike Airs.

We arrived at a station, the doors opened – and the majority of the cabin flooded out together, they had been some kind of strange collective group…the strange singing lady, the burly sneaker thief, and the rest of his staring entourage. I breathed a heavy sigh of relief…as did my shoes.

Stepped in shit on the way back to the flat though, go figure – should have left him have em after all! 

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Indiana John

Due to recently returning to South Korea, (after a few months travelling in a few other countries) I found myself reminiscing on the previous year I had spent in this lovely place…and the certain comedy capers I got up to during that time. One in particular stood out, and that is the tale of Indiana John, I hope you enjoy it!

I had just enjoyed a lovely few days visiting the glorious Jeju Island, a semi-tropical paradise island which is a boat ride away from the mainland. I had went with a large travel group, which isn’t my usual way of doing things – but it is sometimes nice to let free of the reigns, and let someone else do all the hectic brain-work. Your guide tells you when you are all getting on the bus, when you will arrive, when you can take photographs, when you can pee, and so much more…after a while you feel a bit demeaned I am sure – but as a short term solution, it is strangely comforting not to have to deal with all of those irritating issues. You can just relax, and let it all go…

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So we were on our way home, the convoy of coaches had dropped us all off at the ferry terminal – and soon we would be shepherded inside, and told exactly what the plan was. Most of us were hungover, sun-burnt, and tired…in short, we had just had a brilliant few days (and we were now all suffering because of it!) As we made our way inside, the guide asked for passports, and ID cards…and got to work getting all of our tickets from the counter. There was some issue that caused there to be a huge delay, but remember I had let those reigns go so I didn’t pay much attention! Something to do with the numbers not matching, or the colours being different, or, well I have no idea – the guide seemed freaked out, in fact he appeared to have entered the realm of nervous breakdown – as he was frantically sprinting around the place from corner to corner, which I found to be doubly odd as we hadn’t even had lunch yet; so where he was getting this renewed energy from, I just don’t know.

Everyone appeared to make the decision to spread out, and dodge out of the way of his mad marathon dash. My friends found a quiet corner, and I popped to the store to get some drinks and snacks – to weather out this tedious wait with a little bit more joy. Others from the larger group had the same idea, or meandered around the shops looking for last minute relics, and souvenirs. I felt like some form of demi-god when I returned, as if there would be a harp playing, and a glowing golden halo around my head – after all it was a sweaty, gross kind of heat, and this was a stuffy and dirty kind of place. We ended up sitting on the floor with our bags as makeshift cushions, taking long slurps from our beer and occasionally pointing out the places people had caught the sun particularly badly. Of course I was the main topic of conversation – as it looked like I had just had a bare-knuckle fist fight with the sun, and lost.

“BLEURRRRGHH-BLEURGHHH-BLAHHH!”

A strange Korean man, who strongly resembled Taz of Tasmania, had just taken it upon himself to rudely interrupt our happy little scene. He was speaking in an odd tone that made no sense to anyone, worse still he was a heavy spitter – and we were drenched with a sloppy saliva shower every time he opened his mouth. As he used the wall to stabilize himself, he continued complaining…we looked at each other, in a don’t look at me, this guy is crazy kinda way, totally dumbfounded…hoping that one of us would be able to comprehend what his problem was, instead we all just shrugged at one another – we felt glued to the ground, as he lorded over us, spraying us with spit, and stifling us with his heavily alcoholic breath.

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A savior stepped in, thank the Lord! A short middle-aged Korean guy, put an arm around him, and spoke in soft tones, whilst guiding him away…he turned, and politely apologised on the drunk guy’s behalf – “no problem, no problem!” we all stammered, simply happy to be rid of him. The drunk man looked to have been sufficiently calm as he was walked away, but just when we began to begin our past tense “well that was weird” conversations, he BURST back into life! Pushing and shoving the other man, grabbing him by the scruff of his neck and wrestling with him, the man was largely powerless against his drunken flailing arms – our group began to shriek, and gasp – I stood up and ran over, dragging the two apart – and in doing so, I unintenitionally threw the intoxicated guy into the corner with a large crash!

Phew, that was intense. More exercise than I like to do on a Sunday…but necessary. I asked our savior if he was okay,  he rubbed at his throat – but assured me he was…the other guy seemed out of steam thankfully, and decided to stay put.

But…what was…what was that sound?

VVVVVVVVVUUUUUUUUUUUHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Huh? Wait…“THE SHUTTERS ARE CLOSING?!” I heard someone scream – I suppose that in the scuffle, someone had smashed into the switch, busting it off the wall – and setting the roller shutter doors in motion…in a few short seconds they would close, and we would be locked in the small corner section we had settled in…locked in with the drunk belligerent lunatic! “IT’S CLOSING, GRAB YA BAGS, GRAAAAB YA FAAAAKIN BAAAAAAGS!!” People stared at me, seemingly not sure what I was going on about, they looked almost as clueless as the drunk guy who was still sat on the floor smirking at the whole situation…“COME ON, YOU ARE GOING TO BE LOCKKKKKED IN – FAACKIN LOCKED…URGH! NOW!”

Those who had snapped out of their daze ran under to safety, by the time I made it to the shutters there was only a few feet left before I would be entombed along with everyone else…I hurled the bags under, and did an awkward little roll. CRAAAASHHHH.

Indiana GIF

OH GOD…I’d made it…just. I opened my eyes, and stood up – the main section of the ferry terminal stared at me, people from the group…children, grandmas…all without a clue as to the crazy events that had just unfolded. That was until there was loud, petrified banging from the other end – then they started to pay attention!

Along with some other bystanders, we attempted to use the switch from the other side – but it was well and truly broken, and the mechanism would only go down further, crushing the metal into the ground…we had desperate conversations through the roller shutter door, which were made difficult as the offending mad bastard had decided he too would voice his opinion on the situation, through his typical grunts and growls.

Ten minutes or so had passed, we had tried to pull it up with the aid of ten or so men, but still no luck – we had called for security, and still they were not here…would they really just have to stay there forever?!

“It’s okay, guys…guys? We will get you out of there alright? Listen…guys?”

“Hi John!” Their voices sounded strange…and distant, it echoed around the room – they sounded so close, but they were so far away…

“I’ll get you out – we’ll get you out…I promise you…”

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“JOHN!” they shouted againI began to reply, but was interrupted when I then felt a short jab to my ribs – I turned around to see them all stood there, shaking with excitement…but for the most part, okay. Well, alive at least. I thought I was seeing things, and was largely speechless, I kept pointing at the closed shutters, and back to them – they explained that security had a small door inside that section, just in case (does this happen all the time?!?!) – and that they had taken the drunk guy away, one would hope for a cup of tea, and a lie down; that’s definitely what he needed!

Just as we were happily reunited, the tour guide ran up to us, asking us where we had been – but not waiting for a reply – “COME ON, WE HAVE TO GOOOOO!” 

It was over as quick as it had all started…we spoke about it that night, checking again, and again with each other, just in case it hadn’t really happened…I had always secretly wanted to the Indiana Jones roll…but I thought that it isn’t a thing that happens in real life…well…one of the bucket list. Here’s to that! 

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Flashback to Jeju Island’s “LoveLand”

And yes…I do wake up in hot sweats from time to time, not sure why…

Anyway – I found this website: http://www.jejuloveland.com/eng.html but I am guessing it is a have to see it to believe it kinda place – they were certainly very inventive with what they could do with the human penis.

Ahem. I am going to stop right there.

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