Tag Archives: travel

It’s hard for thee to kick against the pricks

1. I’m actually done with summer now. I’m over it. For the first time in many years, I feel like I’ve had a proper summer. I went outside. I did summery things. Apart from one overcast day, the weather in BC was sunny and glorious for my entire holiday, and it’s been mostly sunny here in England since I got back, and I’m tired of sunny now. My eyes hurt from the glare and I’m sick of being coated in sunscreen. Can we return to our regularly scheduled gloomy British drizzle now please?

2. As previously stated, BC was spectacular, as it always is. Margaret Atwood (an Ontario native) once described British Columbia’s landscape as show-offy (but more eloquently than that, obvs), and if I wasn’t born there I’d probably feel the same way. Everything is so over-the-top, ridiculously beautiful. Riotously lush forests! Pow! Tumbling waterfalls! Bam! Soaring craggy mountain ranges! Whammo! Since I grew up around that shit, most other places now seem underwhelming in comparison. BC has spoiled me for, like, the rest of the world. (THANKS A LOT, BC.) While I was there I had my usual ‘why don’t I live here’ crisis. I’m finding it harder to come up with credible answers to that question.

3. I’ve started listening to true crime podcasts. And because I never do anything halfway, I’m listening to ALL the true crime podcasts. Don’t believe me? Behold my iTunes feed:

True crime podcasts

(OK, true crime and My Dad Wrote A Porno. You need to be listening to My Dad Wrote A Porno. Breasts are compared to pomegranates. You will laugh and cringe and laugh.)

(And before you even ask, yes obviously I’ve listened to Serial.)

If you fancy some true crime but don’t know where to start, never fear! I’m here for you.

Sword and Scale is the best by miles. The host’s narration style can be a bit dramatic for my tastes, but my tastes are extremely spartan in that department (BE MORE ROBOTIC), so please listen and judge for yourself. The content is interesting and varied and meticulously researched. There are hours and hours of recordings of 911 calls* and police interrogations and trial testimony. It is the Krispy Kreme of true crime podcasts. I binged all 70-plus episodes in less than a month, and felt slightly ill afterwards. People do some fucked-up shit.

Criminal and Detective are next in terms of quality and professionalism. Most Notorious is great if you like historical crime. Casefile and Felon focus mostly on crime in Australia (brace yourself before you listen to the Snowtown episode. Did I mention that people do some fucked-up shit?). The rest are all fine, except for True Crime Japan, which is sort of amateurish. I listen to it when I’m caught up on all the other ones.

*Man oh man, the more of these I hear, the more I realise that 911 operators just do not give a shit. You can be sobbing and screaming “OH GOD HE’S COMING FOR ME” and they will roll their eyes and be like “Can you speak more clearly please?”

4. As promised, here are some photos of BC showing off. Chill, BC.

2016-07 canada view
This was the view from my bedroom at my parents’ place.

2016-07 canada thetis 1

2016-08 canada thetis 2
Thetis Lake. This is within walking distance of my parents’ house (and within Victoria city limits). I swam here nearly every day.

2016-07 canada tsawwassen ferry
Tsawwassen ferry terminal in Vancouver (edited in Snapseed).

2016-07 canada victoria
Victoria harbour.

2016-07 canada chinatown
Chinatown, Victoria. I miss having a Chinatown around.

2016-08 canada kira
My niece, Kira. She scores pretty high on the cute-o-meter.

2016-08 canada sidney spit 3
Me and my crazy sister at Sidney Spit.

2016-08 canada mom
Trees grow pretty big on the island. Cute mom included for scale.

2016-07 canada wittys 6
The fam at Witty’s Lagoon.

2016-07 canada wittys 5
I love the Pacific. That blue…

2016-08 canada china beach
China Beach. A typical Vancouver Island beach. I love how the woods come right up to the water.

2016-07 canada wittys 1
Hey little crab dude!

2016-08 canada woods
I took about a hundred variations of this photo.

2016-07 canada wittys 4
Arbutus tree. These only grow in the Pacific Northwest.

2016-07 canada wittys 3

2016-08 canada sidney spit 2

2016-08 canada sidney spit 1

2016-08 canada sandcut beach 2

2016-07 canada wittys 2

Damn your love, damn your lies

1. Some advice from me to you: when sending an R-rated text message, make sure you send it to the correct person. Ha ha ha ha ha yeah. I might have to move to Antarctica now. I am the Picasso of finding creative new ways to humiliate myself.

2. Things I’ve come across in Huntingdon market square recently:

One night I passed a guy rummaging around in one of the bins. Like, up to his armpit. Full rummage. I didn’t see his face, but he was wearing a blue shirt. Five minutes later I ran into a very drunk acquaintance of mine, who was wearing a blue shirt. “Were you just rummaging around in a bin?” I said.

“No,” he said.

“Really? Well, it was someone dressed just like you,” I said.

“…Yes,” he said, and turned and walked away.

(It turns out that he had drunkenly bought some chips from the local shitburger, then drunkenly decided he didn’t want them anymore and chucked the closed container into the bin, then drunkenly decided he DID still want them; hence the raccoon act.)

The following weekend, leaving the pub with a friend at a slightly unreasonable hour, we came across a girl passed out cold with a couple of dudes clustered round her. We stopped and asked if everything was OK – the dudes seemed nice enough, but none of them actually knew her, so we carried the chick back to the pub (closed by this time, but the landlord is a sympathetic sort with multiple daughters). The girl could sort of talk, but wasn’t making much sense. We found her phone and had to plug it in to charge it, then we managed to call her mum, who’d been expecting her home a few hours previously. We asked if she could come pick her drunk-ass daughter up, but she was disabled and didn’t drive. We called a taxi, which took over an hour to arrive, during which time I had to basically carry the girl to the toilets and pull her stockings up for her afterwards. (We did get some minor revenge by taking pictures with her phone of her passed out.) When the taxi arrived (which we paid for, by the way), she was still nowhere near compos mentis, so I had to go with her. The second she arrived at home, however, she jumped out of the taxi like a jackrabbit. It’s a miracle! Not a word of thanks, of course.

I was meant to take the taxi home, but I realised I’d left my phone charging in the pub, so I went back there and pounded on the door. No answer. I walked back to my place, knackered and sober, and found my friend waiting for me: he’d brought my phone and had intended to put it through my letterbox, but had put his own phone through instead. The sun was coming up by this point. Christ, what an agg. No good deed and all that.

3. I pass a certain guy every day on my walk to and from work. One day I saw him at the pub (source of all trouble in my life) and we recognised each other and ended up introducing ourselves. How I regret this. Now we have to say hello to each other every single morning and every single evening when we pass each other on the street. You can tell that neither of us are into it anymore – the greetings are getting less and less enthusiastic. I would honestly take another route to work, even if it was longer, but there’s only one road into town (no need for more in a one-horse town I guess). Minor social obligations will be the death of me.

4. I went to the dentist last week for the first time in six years. Good news: my teeth are fine. Bad news: my dentist is extremely hot. Like, you’d stare at him in the street kind of hot. Dentists’ visits are awkward and embarrassing enough without having to worry about dribbling on a goddamn Calvin Klein model, you know?

5. As of Wednesday, I’m going to be on Vancouver Island for two weeks visiting family. Well, I will say a perfunctory hello to my family anyway before running headlong into the Pacific Ocean and splashing around for two solid weeks like a much less cute otter. There will be many photos of water and mountains and mountains reflected in water. You have been warned.

There’s a shortcut to hell through the discotheque

1. My holiday was great, thanks.

Me and my dad

I was in Paris for an entire week and not a single person was rude to me. I want my money back. I did see many people walking down the street carrying baguettes, which made me happy, although I suspect they were hired by the tourism council.

We stayed in a flat in Montmartre, which is hilly and bohemian and lovely and where I can imagine myself living. This was the view from the rental flat:

Montmartre

One of the highlights of the trip was being treated by an old friend of my father’s to an extremely nice dinner on a boat tour down the Seine, featuring sights such as this thing you may recognise:

Some tower thingy

(Another photo of the Eiffel Tower! Just what the world needs!)

There was a pair of American couples at the table next to ours who I swear to God were straight out of the Sopranos: the blokes were thick-necked and thuggish in badly fitting suits and the women were all plunging décolletage and enormous shellacked hair. I was desperate to earwig on their conversation but the ambient noise in the boat was too loud. Probably just as well, since I might have heard something I shouldn’t and wound up sleeping with the French fishes.

I saw lots and lots of art. I went to the Musée d’Orsay, the Centre Georges Pompidou, and the Louvre. It was my second time visiting the Louvre, and I decided to do the Northern School, the same wing I did last time. There are fewer famous pieces in that wing, but a) I give zero shits about the Mona Lisa, b) I love Dutch and Flemish art, and c) there is way less crowding than in the other wings. Some rooms were literally empty. In the LOUVRE.

The only real crowds were around Vermeer’s Lacemaker. I sat for a while and watched people troop in, look at the painting for about three seconds (ignoring the beautiful nearby paintings by Ruisdael and de Hooch), have their picture taken next to it, and troop back out again. People are dildos.

Here’s something awesome: leaving the Centre Georges Pompidou, I passed a church. The door was open, and this was inside:

Boat in a church

There was no explanation apparent – only a sign reading “Please do not touch the boat. It is sleeping.”

This is hands-down the best thing I saw in Paris, in one of the bathrooms in the Pompidou:

Vigilante proofreading

Vigilante proofreaders at work, in both English and French! I salute you, pedantic strangers!

Here, have some more photos.

Bridge over the Seine
Bridge over the Seine

Centre Georges Pompidou
View from the Centre Georges Pompidou

Paris rooftopsParis rooftops

2. My old landlord is having a final laugh at my expense, by doing absolutely nothing, as usual. My damage deposit is administered by an independent third party, but requires the landlord’s permission to release the funds. Predictably, he is simply ignoring all requests to do this. I’m going to have to go through the pain-in-the-ass process of filing a formal complaint. OH THAT GUY.

3. This is insane, extensive and highly addictive. It’s a sort of X-Files type wiki, with literally hundreds and hundreds of entries. You could lose months of your life down this rabbit hole. Some of the entries are creepy, some are hilarious, and some are mind-bendingly bizarre. Here’s one about a transdimensional entity resembling a Korean strawberry stuck to a piece of flypaper that communicates telepathically in both English and Slovak. The transcribed interviews of the entity attempting to explain its previous existence are worthy of Philip K Dick. (The ending could use some work, though.)

4. This, however, is the best thing I’ve ever read. It makes me misty-eyed with patriotism for my adopted country.

And yet: is there anything more English than a girl in a minidress – no coat, mascara dribbling down her face after a bad night at Yates’s – eating two sausage and bean melts in quick succession in the frigid October rain? She has spent her cab money on a box of Ribena. One of her mates is getting off with a lad even though she’s just been sick in a BT phonebox. Nothing makes me feel more at home.

Amour impossible et mélo

1. I have moved! Moving: accomplished. It was relatively painless in the end. I hired the same Men With Ven who did my last move, and this time I resisted the urge to help them. This is hard for me. I polled all my friends and they were all like “DO NOT HELP, ARE YOU INSANE” but it makes me uncomfortable to stand there arms folded and watch people work. Fortunately the dudes were an hour late because of traffic and so I told them I had to go over to the new place to wait for a delivery and just left them to it.

I unpacked everything on the same day in one extended burst of productivity and so was instantly settled in. The flat is lovely. There are no insects in my shower. Things work properly. It’s clean. The view is spectacular.

But. But. OH GOD BUT. You know how I essentially moved so that I could get away from all the noise and finally have a decent night’s sleep? And you know how I specifically asked someone in the building if they could hear their upstairs neighbours and she said no? HA HA HA HA HA HA HA yeah.

Someone above me gets up every single morning, weekends included, between 4 and 5 am and clomps around for a good hour. This starts again at 8 am. There is a squeaky floorboard directly above my bed. I haven’t managed to sleep through the night since I moved in.

I talked to my upstairs neighbour about the 4 am goings on and he swears it isn’t him (he’s either a sleepwalker or a liar), and his general comment about the noise was that he can’t help having squeaky floors. I’m back to trying various combinations of white noise, sleeping pills and earplugs. What’s it like not to be tired? I’ve forgotten.

2. Recent conversation with a colleague:

Him: If you could jack into the Matrix and teach yourself any skill, what would it be?
Me: The usual. Kung fu. That would be cool.
Him: But not very practical.
Me: Would you learn something practical? What, like accounting? Stop trying to audit me and audit me!

3. This is probably my favourite line from Jane Eyre:

As she grew up, a sound English education corrected in a great measure her French defects.

Ha ha ha! Nothing like a bit of good old-fashioned balls-out Victorian xenophobia.

4. On Tuesday, I’m meeting my parents in Paris for a week. I’m looking forward to being Gallically snooted at by waiters. Oui oui!

I wormed my way into the heart of the crowd

So I went to Berlin! How terribly exciting! The lovely-and-talented Emily (or LATE) was in Venice for a singing thing and offered to meet somewhere in Europe for a few days afterwards. We were initially going to go to Prague, but it turns out that getting to Prague from Venice is annoying and complicated and involves connecting flights (how is this possible? Europe is so little! Everything should just be like an hour from everything else!), so we picked Berlin pretty much at random. Berlin! Why not! David Bowie likes it, so that’s me sold. (I think he mentions Potsdamer Platz in a song. I went to Potsdamer Platz. It is…not songworthy.)

We rented a flat in Neukölln through AirBNB (dude, I love AirBNB! This is how I will be travelling from now on). I arrived a full day before Emily, figured out how to get around on the U-Bahn (difficulty rating: harder than the Tube, but much easier than the Metro) and was met at the flat by a towering, hunky Teuton named Anselm who was extremely sweet and helpful but who stared directly into my eyes a little too long in that intense Teutonic way. It was unsettling. Still, I’d have hit that.

The flat was enormous and rather eccentrically laid out and decorated. The ceiling (just the ceiling) in the bathroom was painted a vivid blue, and one section (just one section) of one wall was covered with ornate gold wallpaper in the style of Louis XIV by way of the disco era. Oh, and this calendar was hanging in the bedroom:

Berlin calendar 1

Berlin calendar 2

CARTOON PENIS WHAT.

It was great. The flat was easy walking distance from the U-Bahn and from the hip bits of Neukölln. Neukölln was traditionally Berlin’s Turkish district, and now seems to be about 30% gentrified hipster hangouts and 70% shisha bars and shopfronts like this:

Berlin shop 1
(I’m wearing that dress right now.)

Berlin shop 2

I had a bit of a shufti round central Berlin on the first day. I saw the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag and the cathedral, and went to the DDR Museum, which was awesome*, although extremely full of loud French students with no concept of personal space. I bought my sister a snowglobe to add to her collection. (We’re a classy family.)

Berlin snowglobe

Emily’s flight was due to land at 7.30 that evening. This did not happen. Apparently there were some weather issues, and the flight was delayed by several hours. Oh and then they lost her luggage. Great work, Lufthansa! [Insert ‘German efficiency’ joke of your choice here.] We spent most of the remainder of the holiday trying to find a place to buy her some new clothes. Berlin is a major European capital, but man, have fun trying to buy stuff on Good Friday. Just because Jesus was having a rough time of it a few years back doesn’t mean that people don’t need clean underwear, BERLIN.

We had a really nice night out in Neukölln, which ended with possibly too much gin in a terribly hip bar containing a mural of Battersea Power Station, inexplicably. We may have stumbled out without paying for our drinks (I admit nothing). I am not used to running tabs in bars anymore.

Overall rating: 3.5 stars out of 5. Points docked for difficulty in underwear-buying and for having a snowstorm the first night I was there. Not cool.

*Side note: it seems to be a thing with museums that ‘interactive exhibits’ means ‘drawers with words inside’. It is not easy to open drawers in an extremely crowded space. Take note, museums.

Berlin Brandenburg Gate

Berlin statues

Berlin tunnel
Pedestrian tunnel under the Spree

Berlin DDR Museum
Model living room in the DDR Museum

Do not mess with science

1. I went to Brighton, and lo, it was good. Though I’d forgotten how ultra-aggressively hip Brighton is. I stepped off the train and instantly felt very old, very straight, and terminally uncool. (One of the upsides of living in Huntingdon is that I could go out wearing a bin bag with holes cut in it and a flower pot on my head and still be the best dressed person in sight.) I took a stroll down the pier and watched the dramatic waves and saw someone venture a bit too far down the jetty and get head-to-toe drenched, which was pleasing.

Then I met my friend and we went to many pubs full of terrifyingly stylish people (lately I’ve been allowing myself a few drinks now and then, but I might stop again soon because holy shit hangovers OW) and talked talked talked and then hung out at his place and played Duelling Spotify and shouted about music (HOW CAN YOU NOT LIKE DR FEELGOOD, ARE YOU INSANE) and it was nice. Here are some photos.

Brighton promenade

Brighton pier

2. In my continuing mission to watch The X-Files in its entirety, I am enjoying all the ‘before they were famous’ celebrity cameos (The X-Files must be second only to Law & Order in this regard). I’m about halfway through season 3, and the other day I spotted Giovanni Ribisi and Jack Black in the same episode (boy is struck by lightning; develops power to control machinery with his mind: SCIENCE!). Oh, AND I spotted none other than Hank Schrader from Breaking Bad, playing an FBI agent, naturally. I know Vince Gilligan cut his teeth on The X-Files, and I’m looking forward to Bryan Cranston’s cameo, whenever that is.

I also enjoyed Tony Shalhoub as the man who is bombarded by dark matter in a laboratory accident, causing his shadow to somehow start killing people. DO NOT MESS WITH SCIENCE.

3. Most Canadian couple ever indeed. I could not love these people more. PUT ON A JACKET, YOU MENTAL.

Foreign profanity and Hollywood head-splatter

1. Lately I’ve been trying to improve my French. I blame Kristen Scott Thomas. I’ve now seen three of her French films, where on top of being supremely chic and talented she’s rattling on in perfect French, all showoffy. (I did have an issue with I’ve Loved You So Long, where they cast her as actually being French, and explained the fact that she speaks French with an English accent by the fact that the character had spent a long time in England. Um, that’s not how that works. If you are a native French speaker and live in England you will learn to speak ENGLISH with an English accent, not French. You might forget some vocabulary, but your accent in French wouldn’t change. But whatever. Good film.) I spent a total of nine years in French immersion at school, but despite that it’s amazing how well I don’t speak French. I can make myself understood, but only haltingly (actually I can rattle on pretty well with a couple of drinks in me, but that’s not an option anymore), and because I learned in school I don’t have a good grasp of idiom or slang, and the slang I do know is Québecois and therefore causes real French people to laugh at me. Caliss!

So I’ve been listening to Radio France online in the mornings and evenings while I’m in the kitchen and keeping an Evernote list of definitions, reminding myself of fun-to-say words like “désormais” (henceforth) and “néanmoins” (nevertheless). I also read a detective novel in French last week. I had to refer to this very helpful website A LOT but I didn’t have any trouble getting the general gist of things and I’ve learned that I can detect bad writing even in French. (SO BAD, this novel was. So much pointless background detail to cover up the threadbare plot.) Fortunately it was meant to be quite gritty and there were tons of swear words to add to my list so now I know how to get myself punched in the face in French (which would make a “paff!” sound I reckon).

2. My trip back from Canada was amayyyyyzingly horrendous and I need to tell you all about it so that you know how I SUFFER. It was even worse than the overnight coach trip I took once from Ottawa to Boston to Maine, and I didn’t think anything could be worse than that. It started first thing in the morning with a drive to the ferry, then an hour’s wait to board, then an hour-and-a-half ferry ride, then a four-hour wait at Vancouver airport. Then came the overnight flight from Vancouver to Frankfurt. If I could sleep in any sort of moving conveyance I swear to God I’d be a much nicer person. But I can’t. I cannot sleep in a car. I cannot sleep on a train. I cannot sleep on a bus. I cannot sleep on a plane. I cannot sleep there, Sam-I-Am! I have tried and tried and tried and tried. I even bought one of those dorky travel neck-pillow things, thinking it might help? IT DID NOT HELP. Not one single minute of sleep was had by me.

I got to Frankfurt feeling grubby and spaced out and then had to hike about ten miles to my connecting flight because Frankfurt airport is sodding enormous. Then a couple more hours of waiting, and then getting on the plane, and more waiting, and then the flight, during which I kept allllllllmost nodding off and then jerking back awake because my brain hates me, then land, then wait, then off the plane, then Heathrow Customs – hell on wheels at the best of times, hooray! – then wait for my luggage, then tuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuube all the way through London to Kings Cross, then hooray hooray a whole hour’s wait for my train in jam-packed Kings Cross with not a single place to sit. And THEN, for the first time in my entire life, I got on the wrong train. Fortunately it was a wrong train that stopped at Peterborough so I could jump on a connecting train back to Huntingdon without too much fuss, but still. Then I got to haul my luggage back to my flat on foot. Weirdly, at that point I felt fine, albeit filthy, and when I got home I was actually kind of hyper. I had a shower, which was the best shower of my entire life, and watched some telly, and when I went to bed I thought, “Hmm, I hope I can actually get to–ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ” and then I slept for twelve hours. The whole experience has put me right off travelling for a while. Just as well because I won’t be able to afford another holiday until I get a better job or win the lottery and there are no jobs and I don’t even play the lottery.

3. Have you all seen The Mist? I was actually really impressed with it, particularly because the focus of the film is more on the human drama as the group of survivors descends into anarchy than on the death-tentacle monsters. But also, death-tentacle monsters yay! What I really wanted to talk about though SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER is the ENDING. Holy. Cow. That. That? Was possibly the grimmest ending of any film I’ve ever seen. That was Lars Von Trier-level grim. How…how did that get past the test screening?? “Well, Frank, the focus group was totally on board, uh, right up until, you know, dude shoots his own son in the head? Two minutes before the rescue crew rocks up? Yeah. We might need to tweak that a bit.” Kudos for sticking with it, Hollywood. I was expecting the usual huggy reunion with Mom. Not Thomas Jane on his knees howling in anguish, covered in his son’s head-splatter. THUMBS UP!

Holiday photo roundup

Hello! I am BACK. The West Coast is so preternaturally, mind-blowingly pretty it made me seriously, SERIOUSLY question my life choices. Perhaps one day I’ll move back to BC. Though I’ll have to assemble a harem of English men to take with me. (Any takers?) I can’t be doing with the baseball cap brigade. Seriously: SO MANY BASEBALL CAPS. Baseball caps and pickup trucks, baseball caps and pickup trucks, as far as the eye could see.

Highlights of my trip:
The Dirty Dancing board game spotted in the window display of a charity shop (“Do not pass go. Proceed directly to corner.”)
The sign outside a church in Victoria reading “Forbidden fruit produces many jams” (sounds delicious!)
The garden ornament store called “Classic Rock”

…Oh, and seeing seals and whales and eagles and swimming in warm bays and mountain lakes and going sea kayaking and visiting with friends and relatives I haven’t seen in decades. But mostly the Dirty Dancing board game because CAMMAN. If I’d had room in my luggage I would so own that right now.

holiday luggage

But see? I did not have room. I had to take this photo because I am incredibly proud of how little I packed. I iz in ur airport, disprovin ur gender stereotypes!

ferry

On the ferry.

stairs to beach

We spent the first week on Salt Spring Island. Lousy with hippies, that place, but some pretty, boy. These were the steps down to our PRIVATE BEACH. Are there any two more beautiful words in the English language? (Besides “open bar”, of course?)

view from the beach

PRIVATE. BEACH. I went swimming here.

salt spring piano

There are public pianos all over Salt Spring.

otter paw prints

Otter paw prints! We were told that this guy passes through the garden of the holiday rental every day, but we never got to see him. Gutted. Probably for the best because I would not have been able to stop myself from trying to cuddle him and subsequently being badly mangled. (It would have been worth it.)

dock - vesuvius bay

On the dock at Vesuvius Bay.

ferry 2

Ferry from Salt Spring to Vancouver Island.

victoria marina

Victoria city centre. Not a bad lookin’ town, eh.

the gorge

The Gorge, which runs through Victoria. Our holiday rental in Victoria overlooked it.

totem pole

Totem pole, Victoria marina.

thetis lake

Thetis Lake. I went swimming here.

sooke potholes

Sooke Potholes. I went swimming here too.

chinatown restaurant

Shanghai City restaurant in Chinatown. So good we ate there twice.

bc museum

British Columbia Museum.

bc museum 2

British Columbia Museum. I love this room.

tim hortons doughnut

I couldn’t let the trip end without having a proper doughnut!

Bigger off

1. I sent a text message the other day and wrote ‘bigger off’ instead of ‘bugger off’ (this was in reference to myself and was not an instruction to anyone else, FYI) and had to send a follow-up text message reading just ‘*bugger’. Which was enormously pleasing.

2. London place names that are LIES:
Oxford/Piccadilly Circus – nary a clown
Covent Garden – is a shopping centre
Crystal Palace – sounds like the Fortress of Solitude but don’t get your hopes up
Elephant and Castle – NEITHER
Cockfosters – has nothing to do with this topic, but heh

At least Swiss Cottage is telling the truth.

3. Wish me luck in my travel hell. I’m off at 6.30 tomorrow morning to get to Heathrow for my 10.25 flight to Vancouver, which will last nine hours and which will then be followed by TWO connecting ferry rides (Vancouver to Vancouver Island, then Vancouver Island to Salt Spring Island). I could very possibly die of being tired and uncomfortable. I am not a good traveller. Oh and on my return flight? I will be stopping over in Frankfurt for three hours! UGH. I mean, yay holiday! and all that, but can it somehow be arranged that I can be teleported straight there and back Star Trek style and not be cooped up in a metal tube with other people’s farts/children/farting children for a whole day? Can we all agree that this teleporting invention needs to happen already? What do we pay you for anyway, science people??? Get sciencing!!

I’ll try and post some photos of the spectacular scenery while I’m away, because your envy is what keeps me going.

Taking the maple syrup??

1. Edward James Olmos has been in two roles featuring sentient mutinous humanoid robots referred to as ‘skin jobs’ (Battlestar Galactica and Blade Runner). Catherine Keener has been in two films where the first words on the soundtrack are songs beginning with a count-in (“One, two, three four…”) (Friends With Money and Please Give, both directed by Nicole Holofcener). These are the kinds of things my brain decides to keep hold of. And yet I can’t parallel park.

2. I am on board with pretty much all of your British comedy. This country may no longer have an empire, a manufacturing industry, a viable economy, a strong presence on the international stage, or a hope in hell of ever winning another World Cup, but it is still the funniest nation on the planet, and I stand by that.

However. I do not understand the national fixation on Only Fools And Horses. The frickin’ show is beloved – BELOVED – and I do not get it. I mean, I get it, but I don’t like it. The jokes are hacky and obvious and I’m sorry but David Jason is just annoying. Why does every British person love it so much?? I DON’T UNDERSTAND.

Here is Stewart Lee, the best of all possible comedians, having an existential crisis about the fact that ‘Del Boy falling through the bar’ is consistently voted the funniest thing that has ever been on television. Stewart Lee knows what I’m talking about.

(For the record, I can’t stand A Touch Of Frost either. Go away, David Jason.)

3. On Saturday morning I am off on my first proper holiday in…wow. So long I can’t remember. I guess since that time I went camping in Scotland and the tent blew away, which the jury is still out on whether that can be termed a ‘proper’ holiday. I’ll be spending two weeks with my family on Vancouver Island, my first trip back to Canada in six years.

SIX YEARS! I’m trying to remember how to talk like a North American. I don’t want to get funny looks because of my foppish Anglicised speechifyin’, so I must remember that “vitamins” has a long i and “yoghurt” has a long o and that it is “four thirty” not “half four” and I must not say “that was a doddle” about things that are easy, or even worse, “that was a piece of piss”. And speaking of urine-based slang, what is the Canadian equivalent of “taking the piss”?? “Having me on” just isn’t as much fun to say…