Today I travelled to Bristol with my third born child. The original plan had been to wander over the bridge to Barry in Old South Wales to see what was occurring, my final opportunity to spend time out of England in 2011, but the weather was as dull and grey as a Welsh slate mine worker’s wife’s washed out bra so we resorted to our fair weather route. Three of the original line-up was missing too which made making the effort even more of an effort. The missing three from our merry band had travelled to find fun in far away places like Manchester, Clacton-on-Sea and the Tesco Express in the fashionable Pewsham district of Chippenham.
Bristol was wonderful, as ever, despite being in England. I made some significant progress in my preparations for future trips abroad. I bought some swanky new walking boots which, even with a third of the price knocked off in the sale, probably cost me more than all the other boots I have ever bought cost all together. The boots were financed by my Ma . . . the lengths to which she will go to get me out of the country! I also bought a rucksack. The young lady sales assistant in Black’s Outdoors (which was actually indoors) was a bit put out when I asked if she had a ruler I could borrow but it was essential to ensure that I was buying a luggage item that would meet the requirements of my friend Mr Easyjet and his cabin baggage policy. She obliged and soon me and my luggage will be gone.
I made an amazing discovery whilst in Bristol. . . Café Nerd is really Café Nero and they gave me a loyalty card. The nice lady at Costa in Chippers is going to go bloody ape shit when she finds out though.
Having foregone the earlier opportunity to cross an international frontier and having suddenly become a tad peckish, third born child and I thought it would be a smashing idea to kill two birds with one breeze block and visit legendary Scandinavian modern style furniture and accessories purveyors, IKEA to purchase some international victuals. Now I always find that a flat pack wardrobe called something dead pretentious like Småland or Billy takes a bit of chewing and lies heavily on my stomach so we settled for fifteen meatballs, forty-six chips, some cranberry sauce (happy Christmas from Sweden) and some pale looking gravy (next year I’m going to send Sweden a packet of Bristol Bisto for Christmas).
I know I moan and groan about being in England but I suppose I can’t really complain about this year’s being overseas arrangements. I’ve been out of England six times. Thanks to third born child who studies at Maastricht University, I’ve been three times to the Netherlands (via France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany) and I’ve had solo trips to Cuba, Poland and the Islamic Republic of Iran. And I’ve enjoyed every second of every one of those trips. Thank you 2011 you’ve been very kind to me.
So bring on 2012! Lovely Maastricht, I reckon, beckons at least twice and I’ve got trips lined up for Germany, Peru, Scotland, Bosnia & Herzegovina (plus Croatia and Montenegro) and possibly even Morocco. But why not? I work my dangly genitalia bits off fourteen hours a day, five days a week plus a bit at the weekends so I reckon I deserve it. If it wasn’t for the trips abroad I’d crack up completely and not get any work done at all which would mean the funding of second born’s and third born’s university malarkey would dry up and Eddie the Cat would starve and the house would collapse around me and the toenails of the elderly folk of North West Wiltshire and North East Somerset would grow to gargantuan proportions and take over the world in an HG Wells meets Alfred Hitchcock type of disaster.
I mentioned Eddie the Cat for the first time in blog land. Eddie is not a great traveller. He rarely moves off the settee. In fact the furthest he has been in the last year is up his own arse. If he licks his arse any more in 2012 than he did in 2011 he’ll end up as an inside out cat with very sore lips.
Eddie the Cat taking stock of the big wide world.
So, as I type this, the entire population of the world (with the possible exception of Iran and a few Presbyterians in the Outer Hebrides) are out on the piss. I chose to stay at home tonight for a number of reasons. For starters I just don’t do this drunken stupor let’s be nice to each other on the last day of the year bollocks. Why leave it until 10.00 p.m. on 31stDecember to start being nice? I try to be nice all year round without having to fill my mind and belly with strong drink to do so. Secondly, wherever you go on a night such as this it is going to be busy and full of pissed people who don’t know how to conduct themselves properly in a pub. I reckon you should only be allowed into a pub in the latter half of December if you have documentary evidence to prove that you have been at least twice a month during the course of the rest of the year. Bouncers (a.k.a. door attendants) have got it all wrong. You shouldn’t need to be wearing smart clothes and a tie and no trainers to get into a boozer. You should have to pass a written exam and produce a CRB report certificate thing! And thirdly, it costs so much. Now I like to think I’m not tight with my cash but I do like to get value for money so for me a night out in Cuzco sounds a much better deal than a night out in Chippenham, so I decided to keep my cash in my travel fund for the time being.
The big attraction to being out on the town tonight is the drink but saving your cash to buy drinks in overseas destinations has certainly proved a worthwhile exercise for me in 2011. If you had asked me a year ago what I thought about rum, vodka and gin I would have told you that I can take ‘em or leave ‘em but I would drink 'em in an ‘any port in a storm’ situation, especially if there was no port left to drink. However, my travels this year have taught me that seven year old Havana Club rum is smooth and delicious and it’s right up there alongside malt whiskey. My past experience of vodka has been that it has got me nicely pissed but really has only tasted of whatever I’ve put in it to give it a bit of flavour. But the little Yiddish bars of Kazimierz have taught me that Polish vodka is also a smooth drink, not to be polluted with Coca Cola and with a range of recipes and flavours to warrant it a specialist subject on Mastermind. And then there’s gin. Your Gordon’s or your Bombay Sapphire, when mixed with tonic are a bit poncy and taste of perfume. Dutch gin from lovely Maastricht, on the other hand, drunk alone (as it often is and I often am) is the shot of the gods. So Cuba, Poland and the Netherlands were each an education in alcohol consumption. Iran, as an alcohol free state, was a bit of a disappointment in that respect but while I was there I did manage to get drunk on the culture, the architecture, the cuisine, the friendliness of the people and my mate Liz’s nail varnish remover.
I’ve had the time of my life in 2011 and I will be sorry to see it end. There’s a lot of the world to see in 2012 though so I can’t deny that I’m quite excited about it. I’m sorry I don’t like you very much England. Some of England is nice but there are so many aspects of it that make me feel miserable and depressed, one of which being the existence of Leeds United football club. I have been a Leeds supporter for forty four of my fifty four years but, no matter how I try, I just can't shake it off and I’m sad to say it has been four years of glory and forty years of abject misery. Today they lost 4-1 away to Barnsley. Boo hoo!
Well it’s coming up midnight, I’m off my face on the Belgian beer that I bought in the Jumbo (pronounced Yumbo) supermarket just round the corner from third born’s flat in Maastricht and I’m holding hands with Eddie the Cat as we wait to start singing . . .
For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup of kindness yet,
For auld lang syne!
And surely ye'll be your pint-stowp,
And surely I'll be mine,
And we'll tak a cup o kindness yet,
For auld lang syne!
We twa hae run about the braes,
And pou'd the gowans fine,
But we've wander'd monie a weary fit,
Sin auld lang syne.
Oh no, it’s all gone horribly wrong. You just wouldn’t believe how difficult it is to sing the words of Rabbie Burns and type and drink Belgian beer while you’ve got your head stuck up your cat’s arse. I'll wager that's how the bagpipes were discovered as a musical instrument!
Happy Nude Rear!