Young Ron Weasley

I love old photos – and truly hope to always have physical copies…there is something more real about flicking through an old album or scrapbook than just clicking away at a mouse or jabbing at a phone screen. Irony isn’t lost on me here but, you get my point! 

This was who knows when? Can never be sure…I still have a Ron Weasley-esque ginger mop of hair so I have to be around six or seven? Maybe.

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The only weird thing is it looks like I am about to get married to my sister, but aside from that I love my brother’s cheeky expression. Camera shy or perfect pose? We’ll never know for certain…

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The Rocking Chair Theory

Sometimes you see something and it sparks a whole chain of thought almost immediately…often it’s in things you don’t expect, and from places you wouldn’t have guessed – but despite this it feels central to your life in some way…as if it has always been a part of you, even if you hadn’t realized it before. I mean…if it wasn’t, why would you suddenly feel so strongly about it?

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Anyway, that’s how I felt today when I stumbled across this photograph and caption on the Humans of New York Facebook page…

And no, settle down…it wasn’t because I saw the bit about STDs. It was just because I realized that despite also being quite a cautious person I am forever attempting to push myself free from those “hmmm, maybe I shouldn’t” shackles so that I can hopefully live a life well lived, rather than a one full of safe regret instead…

Mind I’m not calling this fella a square because he hasn’t ever had a battle with chlamydia…there’s every cause for congratulations in that respect – however it did sadden me that his words have such a final tone to them…even though I imagine his life is far from over…I mean, there’s still plenty of time for him to volunteer in Africa, develop a drinking problem, become addicted to crystal meth, and/or blow his  life savings on cocaine fueled hookers. So why the negativity? Stop wasting time, and get on with it! 

Seriously though…people often say things like: “that’s something to tell the grandchildren!” when they do something out of the ordinary, or have an experience that is half-way interesting…and I suppose it’s this miserable fear of sitting in a rocking chair at 80 years old with nothing interesting to say that motivates me to push on and fill my life’s tapestry with weird and wonderful stuff! You only get one life to live, and all that lark…right? And I don’t want my most thrilling tale to be something about how milk and eggs used to be a lot cheaper, “back in my day…” as I slurp on soup, and fill a plastic bag with pee…

With that said being a cautious person is not entirely a bad thing, and you certainly shouldn’t relinquish control completely, that could prove to be disastrous! In fact, it actually reminds me of a situation a few years back where I found myself cornered in a Sunderland bar in the early hours of the morning – you see a possibly (definitely) psychotic football hooligan had taken an interest in me and wouldn’t let me go…he was too engrossed in his life story, which included a penchant for stabbing police officers in the neck with broken plastic pens during riots – and a claim that he will never stop doing heroin because it is “too fucking great to stop”. And whilst I must concede his sounded like a very interesting life to live – this is perhaps not my suggestion with this rambled post.

I would in actual fact suggest a person can still live a wonderful life even without stabbings, and heroin. I know, a controversial view – but I’m somewhat of a radical I guess! 

All it takes is simply loosening your grip on the “what ifs?” every so often…letting your guard down to different experiences, and occasionally pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. After all it is here where true rocking chair memories are made…

So why not get started today?

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The Mission from God.

I have been dwelling on my early teenage years recently – it’s funny because at that point in your life, it could be argued there is not too much greater thought going on! It’s very “I want this!’ and “I hate this!”, possibly with a sprinkle of “this is shit!” But something is happening, you are blossoming into whatever you will be in later life…it’s not clear then, but it is obvious when you look back and connect the dots…I look back and I see, a shy spotty kid, with goofy teeth and braces…whose biggest concern was whether some moron at school would rhyme my surname Taggart, with faggot.

The usual teenage insecurity and self-consciousness I had then, was buried deep down never to be looked at – never to be examined for fear someone might think I was weak. It is only now that I have started being able to channel that into my writing to create humour. It’s about fucking time! Now I am thankful for every situation, good or bad – because there is always a story, always something positive that can be drawn, even in the darkest of times. And that’s a lovely thing.

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Continue reading “The Mission from God.”

Horrible Jobs/Horrible Bosses!

Hey friends! This took me a while, so I hope you enjoy it! It’s a little trip down memory lane…a look in at some of the crummy jobs I have had along the way – I could have made it A LOT longer, but we would be here for hours!

So yeah, hope you get a kick out of it – and let me know of any stinkers you’ve had, would love to hear your tales! 

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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Broke? Travel Anyway!

I often get emails, and messages from people – asking the same question – “how do you afford travel? Are you from a rich family? Do you have connections? Did you get some crazy compensation deal – and have decided to blow it all on roaming the world rather than making sound investments?!” 

Well, no. No to all of those. I wish it was something as easy as being in a car accident – and getting free money, but it isn’t. It’s kind of like The Wizard of Oz…it looks like a spectacular vision until you see the cogs turning behind the curtain. Yes, the actual facts of the matter are a lot less glossy – and  whilst this may be hard to take for some…I actually work. 

Take my first major trip on my own, for example. My year abroad studying in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

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For two years before that I worked at an electrical store, moving televisions around, and trying to sell people outdated SCART cables they didn’t want…taking overtime whenever I could, whilst also taking shifts at my Aunt’s pub on the weekend…all the while squirreling away money whenever possible. With no disrespect intended, I wasn’t like the others that were accepted on to the study abroad programme (Newcastle UK – Atlanta USA) there would be no money from my Mother, or Father…I’m one of five children, I would feel rude even asking.

But I made it – and before I knew it I was in the midst of my own travel scrapbook! Carving out new memories for myself…whether it be visa worries at passport control, attempting to make the transition to the different pace of American life, or dancing insane jigs with Waka Flocka, I had flew from the ordinary day-to-day, and was living out these once impossible fantasies!

Sounds dreamy, dreamy – I’m sure? But the truth was my budgeted money soon ran out, and there were a couple of very hairy months – I recall that after weeks of eating next to nothing I sent my parents a whimpering email explaining the situation…and I received something along the lines of – “you’ll figure it out.” And I felt it was harsh, but the fact is…you will…if you want it that badly – you will. (And I’m still alive, so I guess I did!)

Study abroad programmes can be a great way to get away, and experience a different culture first hand – there are often great schemes, and incentives – with mine I was actually reimbursed for any costs throughout the year. Which meant I had thousands to play with at the end of it all – long story short, two weeks in Greece with some of my best friends from back home. 

My second major trip came just after I graduated university- although I was recruited before I had even been given my degree…and a month after I flew out to Beijing, China.

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Again I had saved, and saved working some terrible job – this time around it was a sportswear store, selling people trainers, and trying not to touch their sweaty feet as I assisted them with trying on their shoes. Not ideal – but a means to an end. This was just so I had some initial spends, as the programme actually flew me out at no cost, and many of the site-seeing trips, and other interesting adventures were paid for, or massively subsidised.

Either way, there I was again – in a totally foreign, and unknown environment…forced out of my comfort zone…but that’s what it’s all about…I was experiencing all of the weirdness, that was so different to anything the 9 to 5 version of myself would be encountering…whether it be bizarre disputes over taxi fares, relaxed views to public pooping, or trying to sample local dishes without being sick (such as dog) – I knew these were memories that would last a lifetime.

And thanks to the cheap day-to-day living China affords, I was able to save a little for the NEXT trip…you see, that is important – always have the next trip in mind. 

My third major trip to Scandinavia came unexpectedly…but was well worth it…

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My sister – someone who has worked all over the world with nothing more than a can-do attitude, and flexibility – found a two month long  job in the Arctic Circle at a remote lodge…it was placed right between Sweden, and Finland. Did I fancy it? Well…OF COURSE I DID! There was a catch though, we had to fly out (again at their expense, so no worries) the following day! You see, sometimes the opportunity comes abruptly, and if you ponder over it too much, it will go to someone else – you sometimes just have to grab it, and say YES! 

And I certainly did. Before I knew it I was crashing snowmobiles in Sweden, experiencing The Shining effect first hand in Finland, and after I finished my contract – experiencing the raw natural beauty of the Norwegian Fjords first hand.

The work was often not pretty; six day weeks, with long hours – and if my boss was ever pissed off he would make me scrub toilets for an ungodly amount of time…but still…huski racing? The Northern Lights? Spending a night in an igloo? You can’t tell me that wasn’t worth it. 

For my next major trip, I was off to South Korea! I scraped together the last of my meager savings – put up with the horrendous visa process…and then went on my way!

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And I couldn’t have asked for more! Yet again I was flown out at my employer’s expense, provided with a cosy home to stay in for free, and continue to live very comfortably – whilst also having an amazing time, with some amazing kids, in a truly amazing country! And, using Korea as a base, I have been able to save very efficiently, which allows for a great many adventures; including a  Christmas trip to Vietnam,  an interesting excursion to North Korea’s border, a heat-stricken jaunt to Nepal…back home to England, and Scotland – then on to Italy, Hungary, and Austriathen…well, you get the picture – the world suddenly doesn’t seem as hugely inaccessible as it once did!

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You see it’s not difficult, you just make it difficult. If you really want to travel, like really, really want to…then be willing to work, and be willing to take every opportunity. Rich, or not – you’ll get there – so stop just posting random sunset photographs, with “W A N D E R L U S T” etched over them, and start planning that next trip…and start filling up your passport, and with it your little book of memories. 

~

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Kiss Me, I’m not Irish.

So it is upon us again…St. Patrick’s Day! Or as I like to call it “the day Americans tell you they are Irish because their Grandmother’s half-cousin once dated a guy who once had a teacher who was Irish.” ..so yeah, with that in mind it should come as no surprise that the global Irish population expands temporarily by about 10,000% (just for the festive weekend, of course!)

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But what’s the harm? None really. So you pull on something green, sip something strong, and head on out to celebrate life – and just have a fucking good time! Perhaps the true meaning has been lost, but it brings people together in a joyous (although slightly blurred)  beautiful moment – so I’m all for it!

I was wearing these green jeans I have for some reason, which I thought looked cool…but which actually make me look like a demented pixie. But it was too late, I was on the subway – and people are usually against strangers stripping off in public. Especially in tight spaces. But I eventually got into Seoul at 12, and we immediately went hammer, and tongs with the soju, and beer. And lunch…but honestly that was an after thought. After which we headed over to a big event that was happening – probably guffawing as I laughed manically at my friend’s moderately funny jokes. I read a quote someplace that said something along the lines of, “when you laugh, laugh like hell” – which I guess is saying, make the most out of happy moments…

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Well I imagine I looked worse than this…how much worse though? I picture myself as a pterodactyl who just learned to fly…shaking my massive head around in celebration – and making bizarre squawks at irregular intervals. That much worse.

Mind, I loved the performances that were going on…so many talented people – dancing, singing, playing musical instruments – the lot. My favourite were these guys who played hip hop songs with violins…each time it took me a minute or two to realise! Fantastic stuff! It was also wonderful to see so many old friends, acquaintances, and naturally new people – I love things that bring people together, and this was one of those events ~

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 Anyway, great times…with some great people…what more can a person want, ey? If you are celebrating, enjoy yourself – if not, kick back, and eat some bacon or something. Toodles! 

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Curse of the Ninja

Was reminded of this childhood memory by Melanie, after my previous post regarding childhood lies!

When I was in primary school, like most kids my age – I used to love The Power Rangers. The kicking, the punching, the flipping, the monsters, and the explosions…I mean, the whole package appealed really. So it wasn’t a rare sight to see me, and a couple of friends acting out crazy fight scenes in our school break times! We’d be jumping out of trees, doing killer rolls…the whole works…basically just battling evil wherever we found it…

And we didn’t skimp on any of the realism…oh no…we’d be using elaborate formations, working together to beat these savage creatures which had every intention of taking over the world. We’d jump in, one by one; “HIIII-YAHH! HUHH! PAAAH! KAPOWWW!” 

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It often took a few hits, especially if our foe was one of the big bosses – but we always, always triumphed…I mean, we’re The Power Rangers, we’re only ever going to win – that’s kinda the whole deal.

But one of these bouts stands out…you see, one of them was very, very different…

Which is odd, because it started out very much the same; we fought over who gets to be who, and then fought again over who gets which stick…just the same as every other time – but after these usual formalities, we were able to continue with our normal crime-fighting ways as per! …but this truce wasn’t to last – and before we knew it we found ourselves  arguing over something else…something which hadn’t ever been an issue before…

“YOU JUST SAID A SWEAR WORD!!!” protested one of my so called Power Ranger colleagues – wagging an accusing finger in my general direction.

“No…no, I didn’t!” I argued, unsure of what he was referring to. I assumed he had misheard one of my amazingly realistic “SHIPOWWWW!” sound effects as something more menacing. So I pleaded my case, I was innocent GODDDAMITTT!

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“NO. NO. NO. I’M TELLING.” He smirked out the side of his mouth…the grin sent my blood boiling – did he really think I had swore, or was he just trying to fuck with me? I wasn’t sure…but for once, I hadn’t actually done a thing! So I tried to grab him, I had to keep him from spreading his lies – his arm alluded my clutches, and I found myself pulling desperately on his empty jumper sleeve…but with one big yank, he was free – albeit with a stretched bit of material that was now twice the length…

“YOU FUCKING BACK-STABBING PIECE OF SHIT!” I screamed after him, as he ran towards the classroom. Well obviously I didn’t really say that; I was eight or nine – so it was more likely I said “GET LOST, YOU BUM HEAD!” Which roughly translates to the same thing.

I ran away in the opposite direction, hoping that this would somehow make all of my problems go away – or at the very least bide me some time. It didn’t work. Before long I found myself in front of my teacher Mrs. Mc.Dermott…she was usually so friendly; she always appreciated my artwork – even the ones using paint which I constantly messed up. But she wasn’t friendly now, after all he had whispered his bullshit into her ear – and she had believed him.

He was sent away, and the interrogation began. Why had I said it?! What had driven me to use such horrible language?! Where had I learned it?! I tried to explain, tried to sputter out my defense – but she wasn’t buying it. So it was a stalemate. I didn’t know what to do…and hunger pains began to pulse through my body…urgh, now I come to think of it – I was STARVING…

“LISTEN, JOHN! You either own up, and apologise – and then go for your lunch. Or we just sit here. Your choice.” 

 Well obviously I admitted to it. It was like the carrot, and stick – except it wasn’t a carrot on the end of it…it was a lovely chocolate doughnut, apple juice, and whatever other goodies I had waiting for me in my bag. I’d probably do the same thing now, food trumps just about anything…for me anyways! 

You see I needed my energy. I’d be playing Power Rangers again in the afternoon break – and there was a new enemy I’d need every bit of strength to take down…“HIIIIII-YAHHHH!”

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Fight Club

I would like to think I am a lover, and not a fighter…after all, usually physical conflict doesn’t really solve much when you think about it. Obviously some people make it very tempting, but more often than not, non-peaceful ways to shut them the hell up, are somewhat frowned upon!  Naturally if your dear old Granny was being mobbed by a set of escaped rampant ostriches, you’re probably okay to get the broom out. But in most cases, you’re just likely to get yourself into trouble…

But I was forced to think about this by a guy today – and thanks to his inane question regarding the matter, I’ve been mulling over past bouts ever since…

I only really had one big proper fight at school – which is quite a feat as I went to an all-boys secondary in the North-East of England – not sure how I escaped, I guess I was very good at running away. Anyway, I used to be very embarrassed about its living memory – but now that I look back on it, it was a pretty funny situation, and one which I should have laughed off immediately – rather than getting all defensive about;  you know – blushing, and shrugging whenever anyone asked me about it.

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But back then I lived even deeper in my thoughts than I do now, I didn’t express much, apart from between my nearest, and dearest – stifled by shame, self-consciousness, and a bitter embarrassment regarding just about everything (like, literally.) So this is the first time I’ve told the story to a larger audience…so please bear with me…

It all started on an unassuming school day. I was with my friends on the smaller courtyard, where you could largely avoid the manic hustle, and bustle of the main schoolyard – by which I mean footballs being blasted off your face at every juncture, and/or birds shitting on you in passing, as they scrabbled for the scraps of leftover sandwiches.

That’s not to say it was totally peaceful where we spent our break-times. It was still basically a war-zone…

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Unwanted oranges, apples, and bananas (note: no chocolate was ever thrown) would fly from one end to the other – accompanied with blood-curdling cries, and bellowing swear word strewn sentences, that would even make Vinnie Jones wince.

On the day in question, it appeared to be particularly heated – and the various food items were flying with an increased ferocity. We huddled together, my friends and I, attempting to dip, and dodge any incoming missiles – before scraping them off the floor, and hurling them back. You could only pause momentarily to laugh, should it hit your target – because luxuriate in giggling for too long, and you can be sure that the dirtied tangerine segment would be SPLAT , back in your face!

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So it was quite a surprise when I was told that one of our sworn enemies (that day), now wanted to fight me…something about I had thrown a sloppy banana right off his forehead, and for whatever reason he wasn’t too fond of that fact. I didn’t even know who he was…so they pointed him out…of course, yup – just my luck – he was taller, and about four people wider than me. My friends didn’t care, the occasion had pumped them full of testosterone, and all of a sudden they wanted to see blood. A couple of them ran off to tell him I was up for it, as the others tried to make it seem like a great idea:

“He’s a year younger, man…he’s not even THAT big…well okay, he is…but you know – you throw like one punch, and then we all join in – then it’s like seven versus one! No worries  – YOU HAVE TO NOW!” 

NO! I wasn’t going to do it! No…but how to plot my escape out of this situation – could always go out the side-door, yeah…I began to walk away, with several friends still trying to convince me that it was a great idea – I wasn’t having any of it – “FIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT!” Someone randomly screamed to my complete horror, and disbelief – before I knew it a crowd had circled in, barring my way out – and there he was, this massive entity. There was no way out of this, I’d never live it down if I ran now…or perhaps I could fake a heart attack…nah, that’s be even worse probably. It was time to face the music. I turned to my fantastic friends, who had basically orchestrated this whole thing – the excitement level for them was clearly off the charts – on the other hand, I was so scared I felt like I may literally shit my pants.

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I looked at my foe – clearly if he got his hands on me, he would literally murder me. One punch from him, and I’d be eating through a straw, for the rest of my life. Couldn’t let that happen. I’d obviously have to try some unusual tactics to avoid him caving my skull in with meaty fists. But what? I had no ideas, so just lunged in there – to no avail, thankfully he missed me too. I turned back to my friends, with a look that said “Jesus Christ – please fucking help you set of complete dickheads” – but no, they just made gestures for me to get a move on.

I was quivering with a fearful kind of excitement, everything was blurred in a mad frenzy – perhaps I would cry, that would be humiliating. Light bulb. I jumped in and booted him in the chest…I pretty much bounced straight off him, cue laughter from the blurs that surrounded me…I tried again, It was literally the only way I could think of to keep distance from this unnatural behemoth. It never worked, I just pinged back as if I was the pinball – and he was the strong flippers at the bottom. He attempted to grab me on numerous occasions, but never quite managed it.

So there I was – just flying in with useless kick, after useless kick. Like a demented version of Kung Fu Panda, but without any of the guile, or charm that makes him admirable. But I had no Plan B – I’d just keep trying this until a teacher would inevitably break it up…after all, there is NO chance any of the onlookers would do anything of the sort. That’d be way too mature, way too sensible.

“OI! WHAT’S GOING ON OVER THERE?!” 

“Oh, thank God” I thought to myself, with a sigh of relief:

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The crowd dispersed, in every direction – and we fled back to our respective corners. But there’s no real code, and soon someone, somewhere had snitched…and the teacher was over next to us, asking questions. “WHO WAS FIGHTIN’? HUH?”  Everyone insisted that nothing had happened, that he had been seeing things…“NO FIGHT? THEN WHY WAS THERE A MASSIVE CROWD? HMM?” One of my friends tried to cheekily claim that the crowd was to do with a Yu-Gi-Oh card, and that it was really rare, so everyone was crowding around to see…inventive, I’ll give him that – but the teacher didn’t buy it. And before long the truth came to light.

We were suspended for the day, the two of us. And while we waited for our parents, we had to sit together – which was awkward…I felt like at any moment he would smash my face through one of the glass cabinets, or at the very least strangle me to death with his banana stained tie. But he didn’t. Just stared at me non-stop, as I squirmed with unease.

Fortunately both my parents were out at work, so it fell to my Grandad to pick me up. Which was a lot less daunting. I slumped into his car, and he immediately wanted all of the details – did I get a good punch in? How big was he? etc, etc! I said he was massive, so I tried to kick him, but it didn’t exactly work out. I thought it best not to mention the fact that I was flying around like a terrible Hong Kong Phooey imitation. And that if I wasn’t so small, he would have probably crushed me to death…

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Anyway, we drove on to my Grandparent’s house, where we had mountains of bacon sandwiches, and gallons of hot sugary tea. My Grandma fussed over me, as Grandmas do – whilst my Grandad made me laugh with Rocky impressions. Later on he called me up to his attic, where he showed me an antique crossbow he had kept hidden for years. “YOU BETTER NOT BE SHOWING HIM THAT CROSSBOW KEITH, IT’S DANGEROUS!” called my Grandma from the kitchen…

He lied, and winked at me – whilst trying to fight back a grin. Then we went back downstairs, and lounged around watching cowboy films for the rest of the day. I suppose in this life, you have to take the good with the bad – and this memory encapsualtes that message entirely for me…it was both the worst day, and the very best day. And for that reason I wouldn’t change it, even if I could. 

Well…perhaps…I wouldn’t have went with the lame kicking technique – would have been nice not to be labelled “Jackie Chan” for the rest of my school-days! But yeah, never mind…

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My Facebook Space.

We used to be satisfied with our own personal space, that was enough for us – we would just bask in the warmth of our life, and our memories…our hopes, our dreams. MySpace, was a comfortable place…a musical land, with you, and your closest companions…your, top friends…I suppose you could call them. 

But with time we began to desire more – we wanted to see what life was like outside of this space…I admit MySpace became something of a bore…so without much warning, we escaped. Not literally of course. (We remained within the Internet compound.)

But instead we ran to elaborate works of literature…volumes with more than Myspace…suddenly I was flicking through the pages of Facebook. Never before had I seen so many faces! They made Myspace look bland in comparison! Reams, and reams of…well, faces! Of all cultures, colours, and creeds!

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So for now I am content, Myspace has became another chapter of the Facebook anthology. I feel part of a community, and I like it. 

But I open another window anyway – even though they say curiosity killed the cat…I want to hear this morning’s birds Twitter, and tweet. What’s the problem with that?

Red Light (Netherlands)

The Netherlands – Amsterdam ~ 2010

(I am missing my friends from home – so, I naturally find myself reminiscing on old times…in particular, about an old adventure we had together a few years ago…I thought you may as well come along for the trip down memory lane!)

One good thing about where I’m from…(and there are many reasons don’t get me wrong!)…is that  you can hop on over to the ferry port, spend the night on a ship, and wake up in Amsterdam. I must have signed up for something many moons ago, as the company often emails me with special deals, and offers – the most important of which is said trip for £35 ($55!). There’s no excuse, so you get together your nearest, and dearest – your A-Team, and rush to pack your bags for a fun-filled weekend! And that’s what I did back in 2010! 

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I’d have to miss some time at university…I don’t even know why I am including that bit of information – as if I deliberated the decision at all – pfft,  I didn’t give it a second thought! I think I “asked” one of the professors, and they said it was a bad idea…and then I went ahead, and booked it all up anyways! I hadn’t ever been on a holiday with friends before, and the thought of a few days away with a few of my best’uns, had me in no doubt whatsoever…that this was a good idea!

We arrived at the ferry terminal early, we were well prepared – which is another way of saying; loaded up to the necks with alcohol, we only had to endure a couple of nights, but didn’t want to be either caught short…or worse, having to pay the extortionate rate on drinks at the ship’s bar. You are quite literally held hostage…in the middle of the sea, and have no choice but to shell out whatever they ask…it’s piracy basically, they are just less ARRRRR about it, and no one has a peg-leg, or a sharp hook for a hand. But still…pirates in the most underhand way! 

Anyway, there were four of us – and it was two to a room, so naturally there were some fights over who was with who…and after that was finished with, a fight over which room was the main room, so to speak. You know; the room where everything fun happens, and everyone congregates in for the partaaaayz (with a z to emphasise the  extra coolness)…people tried to give stupid excuses, but the fact is it’s easier to pass out in your own room…and depressing to leave a lively place, and enter a silent graveyard.

Still…you’ll have a cleaner toilet…so…hmmm…maybe I didn’t think it all the way through…

Never mind! Because soon we were all together, laughing, and drinking – I don’t know which we were doing more…the laughing, or the drinking – but both were seeing their fair share of action! I can’t even remember what was so funny now, but I still get the warm feeling looking back; something about a badger had me in stitches…and, errr…someone’s socks or something? What was it? Hmmm…well whatever it was, I couldn’t fucking breathe for giggling!

Laughing 70s GIF

The shenanigans were just getting started when there was a bang on the door…somebody with a name-badge, saying we had to keep it down…it was 8:00pm after all, and people were trying to sleep. (Huh?) We tried our best after this, but soon it became apparent that this would be impossible – this was back when I thought vodka mixed with something sweet was the best thing in the world – it isn’t, but after a few strong drinks you begin to believe your own bull-shit. Anyway, some bright spark said that we should go out on the top deck…that way we could be as loud as we wanted, and not bother anyone. Seemed like a stroke of genius! What wasn’t genius was one of my friends knocking on everyone’s door in the corridor as we headed out…”YOU FUCKING STUPID BASTAAARD!” I said, in one of those really loud-whispered screams, where you want to make it seem like you are shouting, but still want to do it quietly so as to avoid detection…I think he got the message, anyway – we fled the scene, and began to scarper up the metal steps to the deck…

There we serenaded the night away – sing-a-long, after sing-a-long – of whatever tune came to mind…we probably acted out a few Titanic scenes too, and definitely had many more laughs at each other’s expense. After all, that is what being real friends is all about!

The morning after was, well…rough. As we were leaving the ship some official looking types with shirts, and practical shoes said we had made a lot of noise last night, and they weren’t too happy about it…we didn’t have the energy to deal with it all, but tried to explain that we had went outside so as to avoid bothering people…everyone could still hear our singing somehow…I was a little offended, as honestly I thought I had been hitting some good notes, and particularly when it came to some of The Libertines tunes, I thought I had really shone. Suppose not. They stripped us of our passports, and said we’d get them back “if we were good.” We didn’t understand, but nodded, and moved on – hoping we would be able to sit down sometime soon.

That’s when we were shooed over to the far-side of the parking lot, and instructed to get on the coach that was set to take us to the town-center of Amsterdam…it was a harsh ride; we spoke largely in mumbles, and most of that was based around the subject of being sick – and how if the driver wasn’t swerving so madly – we’d be fine. As soon as we arrived, one of us immediately sprinted down a back alley…so we ran after him, thinking he was leading the way (he had been bragging the night before, about how he has been twice already)…when we caught up with him, he was hurling his guts up next to a cheese store. Maybe he was like, allergic to dairy? Yeah, probably not. Anyway, it took everything I had not to join him, as the faint foul flicker of stomach acid trickled up my nostrils…

But then I spotted a McDonalds, and all was forgotten! This would sort out the killer hangover! And it certainly did! Soon we were renewed, and replenished – and bounced out on to the streets for a good look around!

Regret Austin GIF

The cool guy strut didn’t last for long though, as I was nearly killed by an over-eager cyclist on every single street – before I knew it, I found myself walking a lot slower, and with a lot more caution than before! In other words I stopped stupidly meandering into the cyclist path…oh, the shame. 

Anyway, the “experienced” friend said we just had to see the Sex Museum so we did – but…honestly…no one has to see this place. Not ever. Oh my goodness, what an unnecessary pile of shit place it is! Just a load of bits, and pieces…cocks, and knobs, willies, and twinkles – jammed together in one place…I think it was supposed to be shocking or something, or overly vulgar for comedic effect – but seriously if you’ve seen it once, then this will probably bore you as much as it did me, (and I was 19 at the time!) It’s safe to say, that after this we were very suspicious of everything said friend said, we had to see.

To raise our spirits we visited a local cafe, where amongst other things you can buy these special cakes which have magical powers (or something). We sat for a while, and just relaxed…soon the positive spirit was back with us, and we began to find our sense of humour again. Mind we were a little tired, so much running around the night before…and then today, so busy…what with the coach, and err…the McDonalds…we had a little lie down on the couches, but this didn’t last for long. One of my friends wanted to have a discussion about a pressing issue, something that just couldn’t wait, something that I simply had to hear!

“Why did the cow jump over the moon? Like why? And…how? That is never explained…”

I didn’t really have an answer for that. Actually I didn’t have a fucking clue what he was even getting at, but I nodded politely all the same. But made sure to roll my eyes at one of my friends, so I could get his attention – and  start my own discussion with him…this one was really a pressing issue – not just some stupid cow-moon scenario. This one mattered – this one was important.

“Hey…hey…seriously though now – Martin Luther King was a fucking nice guy. Don’t tell me any different. He was a nice guy. People think he wasn’t…BUT HE WAS, AND THEY ARE WRONG.” 

Rock Proud GIF

This is what I can recall (ish), but the rest is lost in the fog. There was probably a lot more – but it will have just been along a similar theme…that he was nice, and no one knows it (pretty sure people widely agree he was nice, so not sure where I got that from…hmm…) Perhaps my friends got sick of me, or perhaps I had suggested it – but for whatever reason, we were back out on the street, looking for more sight-seeing spots. What actually happened was a lot of walking down the same streets, and circling around…and overall confusion. Where were we? And what were we supposed to be doing?  The cow jump over the moon friend was leading us…but to where?!

Now I must point out he isn’t the brightest in the world, God love him – but he started to explain that he had been leading us towards the red lights. Because “you follow the red lights, and end up in the red light district.” We laughed in his face (obviously!), and said that was the stupidest thing we had ever heard. And also, why did he even want to go there? I am no expert in those kinda things…but 2pm, really? He said he was intrigued…that’s all, just wanted to see the place…and with that he spotted another red-light, and was off on his way. It’s almost biblical isn’t it? Well no, it isn’t…but, yeah. 

We laughed, and considered just letting him go – and returning to the bus without him…but that little thing called guilt began to sneak in (dammmn youuuu!) and we ran to pull him back, in a bid to make him snap back to his senses, if at all possible. The lure of more food seemed to do the trick, just fine! Go figure, ey?  

It was a shame, but our trip was soon going to be over – and as we piled back on to the coach, we were able to reflect on the last couple of days…actually we just fell fast asleep…but still, reflecting on things sounds better.

Amsterdam Pic

 A few snap-shots I have just re-discovered! Please note my friend’s “hotmale” t-shirt he bought in one of the tourist shops – also note my fake smile (I was jealous that he spotted it first!)

Once we got back to England we were all exhausted…and it was mutually decided that the only thing that could remedy this, was a humongous breakfast…a colossal amount of bacon, and sausage…eggs…toast…mushrooms…whatever else you can find, throw it on a plate! Oh, and a cup of tea – milk, no sugars…because, you know – diet, and all that…we began to discuss everything that had went on, as you do…checking, and re-checking who had said what, re-opening certain situations, and moronically trying to defend our actions to one another.

I laughed so much that weekend, and things were certainly more simple back then – but at least I have the memory – and at least I now know, that most people do agree that Martin Luther King was a fucking nice guy. What a relief. 

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