Doesn’t the time just fly when you’re having fun? Tempus fugit or what? A whole fortnight has gone by since I last posted correspondence on this, my beloved travel blog. I apologise most humbly for my négligée. My reasons for not updating have not been due to a shortage of news but more precisely the opposite. I’ve had a hectic couple of weeks during which many things have happened. Some good, some bad and some ugly and now I will bring you up to date with my news so hang on to your hats and read on.
The Good News
Well the main reason that I haven’t had much time for bloggery is that I have been out earning a fair old wadge of money in return for chopping the unsavoury (or savoury, depending upon your pallet) bits off the pedal extremities of my lovely, older people. My boss, the cruellest of taskmasters, has been making me work twelve hours or more per day and six days a week. This could be looked upon as bad news but the fact that it brings in so many extra rupees is jolly good news indeed. Every toenail trimmed gets me a cubit closer to Turkmenistan, every fungus fought gets me a hundred metres further up an ascent of Fujiyama and every corn cut gets me a rod, pole or perch further away from Calne. And while I’m out earning money I’m not out spending it nor am I at home running up a gas bill to keep warm. But on the subject of not being at home, I wonder if one of my adoring readers could remind me where home is . . . it's been a while!
I’ve got a list of international ventures as long as one of the Lord Buddha’s earlobes to look forward to this year. It includes Hungary, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Sicily, mainland Italy and an international music festival near that most exotic of locations, Malmesbury. People tell me I’m lucky to be able to get away from these shores as often as I do. I think determined is a better word than lucky to describe my nomadic status. All I ever do when I am not away on one of my trips is work, work, work and because of that, I’m happy . . . hope you’re happy too!
Look at the earlobes on that!
I went last Saturday with my very good friend Angela to see Sheelanagig, an amazingly energetic and highly entertaining band of musicians from England who perform, live on stage, nowt but the muse of the Balkans. They knock out tunes at two tempos, they being very fast and absolutely bloody fast. We saw them at the Chapel Arts Centre in the middle of Bath. I’d never been there before but it’s a cracking little venue and I’m sure I’ll make every effort to go there again. Angela and I have seen Sheelanagig before and we’ve been to other gigs before too. From now on this fine companion of mine will be known as Gigging Angela.
It delights me to announce that my other career has begun to take off a bit. It’s a bit of a secret, so don’t tell a soul, but the next issue of everybody’s favourite travel magazine Exodus Extracts is about to hit the news-stands (or the doormats of Exodus clients to be more precise) and in it, on page 23, is a nifty little article written by yours truly. They’ve even used some of my photographs. The highly esteemed Exodus Travels have just moved up another notch in my esteem. But that’s not all, I’ve also written a poem to be used as a voice-over in a television documentary about a stunningly sexy part of Leeds but that’s an even bigger secret, so I can’t tell.
There’s even been a bit of good news at Leeds United for the first time in ages. Manager Colin Wanker (apparently the words ‘Neil Warnock’ are an anagram of this) has thankfully gone and has been replaced by Brian McDermott (an anagram of Bra Dirt Comment). A wave of optimism has swept over the football portion of my world as this new bloke, with his reputation for promoting an attractive style of football and an attractive promotion that may hopefully go with it, gained the immediate respect of the fans by bringing to an end a ninety match losing run (perhaps less than ninety but it has seemed that bad) with a 2-1 win over Sheffield Wednesday at Fortress-ish Elland Road yesterday. And even if he turns out to be a total flop, you’ve got to admit he’s got lovely hair.
New Leeds United Manager, Brian McDermott.
The Bad News
The weather is still rubbish. British Summer Time began a fortnight ago, technically it’s only spring but when you stick your head out of the door it’s more like winter. I’ve had an idea for a song. It goes:
It may be spring outside,
But in my heart it’s winter.
How much more shitty weather baby?
It’s a pain in the sphincter.
But the bad weather can, in a strange sort of way, be a good thing really as it makes me even more determined to go somewhere else to escape this frozen misery. Hot places like Siem Reap are best but even cold places like St Petersburg are more joyous places than Calne during the bleak winter days of April in England. In nineteen days’ time I’ll be going to Hungary where today it has been 20° Celsius and sunny. Time to defrost the Ambre Solaire, eh?
More bad news is that I scraped my new car on a stone wall the other night as I was reversing along a lane from a farm house where I had been visiting an elderly client. I missed the top of the wall without any difficulty but I didn’t see in my wing mirror the bit at the bottom that was poking out. Now I know how the captain of the SS Titanic felt when he hit the iceberg. Well actually it wasn’t quite that bad because although I was a bit pissed off I didn’t have to listen to Celine Dion singing as it happened, as it happens, guys and gals. In times of despair I comfort eat, but I'm on a diet at the moment which consists largely of salads . . . so I went home and hit the iceberg . . . badum tish!
Even more bad news is that I have to wait another nineteen days until I can go to Hungary for that much needed warm weather. There's a joke in there somewhere about diets and Hungary but I've a feeling I've already outstayed my welcome in your comedy world.
The Ugly News
This is awful. I’ve been trying to turn my back on it because the unpleasantness it causes amongst Britons now brings back memories of the unpleasantness of the recession of the early 1980s and the greed and arrogance of the late 1980s. Baroness Margaret Thatcher, our former Prime Minister, died last week and will be buried next Wednesday after a funeral service at St Paul’s Cathedral. She was a sad and frail old lady when she died so we should have pity on her and show respect. With any other sad and frail old lady (or man for that matter) I would have pity but in her case I am struggling. She did a lot for many people in Britain during her days as the Premier but she did nothing but harm to the sad and the frail and the sick and the vulnerable and she sowed the seeds of the social and economic mess that we find ourselves in now. Her heart was colder than an English winter. I am sorry that an old lady has died but for what she did to my country I can never forgive her.
The people I met in Cambodia and Vietnam recently had suffered infinitely greater hardship but had learned to draw a line under it and start again. I have learned a lot from my travels but what I have learned from them is priceless. Tonight I will draw my line and try to think no more of what is past. I just wish the present could be better for those less fortunate than me.