Did you know that [counter] people have been having a skeg at my little autonomous region?


Ho Chi Minh City


When I get back from one of my trips I always spend my first week at home thinking back to what I was doing exactly a week ago. Exactly a week ago from now I had just got home from Maastricht and was feeling a bit worn out and down in the dumplings. So this time tomorrow I’ll be thinking that this time last week I’d been home a day, I was in monotonous anti-climax land and I was thinking about returning to work tomorrow.

So I’ve spent the last week trying to clutch on to my memories of my European tour as I’ve re-assimilated myself with Wiltshire life as I slogged my chitterlings out cutting toenails to pay for my next trip. A hard slog but a very rewarding week during which I have cut 619 toenails (Beryl in Calne is a minor amputee).

I’ve been trying to listen to the music of those continental music legends Toots Thielemans, Jacques Brel and Serge Gainsbourg but, as there isn’t a CD shop in Chippenham that sells anything other than the crap off the X Factor or Daniel O’Donnell or Adele (wouldn’t it be good if Adele was called Adele O’Donnell?) it’s hard to get into anything a bit different at short notice so I’ve been relying on YouTube as my typing finger hovers over the Amazon website and my travel weary credit card is heard crying for mercy from its sick bed in my wallet. 

The other night I went round to see Rainbow, my eighty one year old nutty French customer, to do her feet and talk continental. I was a bit surprised to hear that she wasn’t very complimentary about her fellow countryman, Johnny Hallyday. I suppose he wasn't really sophisticated enough for the life that she led when she was a girl in France. Rainbow’s more of an Edith Piaf kind of a gal. I had hoped for a bit more of a European evening with her but, after the toenails were cut, we had a cup of tea and fish and chips from the van that calls into her street in Sutton Benger on a Thursday evening. I suppose the proceedings might be considered a little continental as she gave me half a lemon to squeeze on my deep fried battered cod rather than ketchup or vinegar, and there was never even a hint of a mention of mushy peas. One day I’ll write a whole page on Rainbow. She wouldn’t mind me telling you about her as she’s already had a book published about the first forty years of her whacky and wonderful but also bleak and sad life.

I looked on the World Wide Web to see how my beloved football team, MVV Maastricht, had got on in their latest game. Last night they drew 3-3 away to third place Dordrecht, having been 3-0 up at half time. A valuable away point which keeps them top of the Juliper Eerste Divisie table but Sparta closed the gap with a 3-1 win at Fortuna. Anxious times indeed!

So the best thing to do, I decided, was to look forwards rather than backwards. I’ll soon be riding on the Marrakech Express with my mate Claire and in just over three month’s time I’ll be in Indo China on my bike. So I'm happy.

I filled in the forms to apply for my Vietnam entry visa today. Now that’s exciting. The whole Thailand to Cambodia to Vietnam bike ride that lies ahead of me, I find, is blisteringly exciting and right up there with the excitement levels I went through before going off on my trips to Cuba and Peru.

My main worry is that I won’t be able to find out the Juliper League results when I’m in Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City, or the jungles in between. I wonder if they have professional football in Ho Chi Minh City. I wonder if the local derby in Ho Chi Minh City is a match between Ho Chi Minh City United and Ho Chi Minh City City.

But speaking of YouTube, have a listen to Monsieur Brel. Il est formidable!


Click for Brill Jacques Brel

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