Farewell home, it’s time to head home

For the past 5 months I’ve been in a self-imposed exile in a cabin near the beach in Australia. These are my stories.

I met many new creatures during my time in the cabin; here is a brief profile of my new friends.

The Ducks
Very popular amongst the human population of Rosebud. Ducks lack grace, quack and waddle, but they are not pretentious, ‘We’ll mix with anyone, as long as they don’t try to eat us’. They clumsily waddle through the caravan park requesting handouts, often heard quacking and talking amongst themselves as they explore the hot spots. While their discussions are usually jovial and good-natured, they are also prone to rabid infighting and sectarianism, often seen jabbing at each other with their beaks. However, the ducks are largely placid towards the humans (despite the extremism of those who eat them) due to the 1998 Rosebud Peace Agreement, decreeing that no ducks on the Peninsula be eaten for dinner.

Magpies
Obnoxious. They are often drunk and have been known to harass locals by perching on the windowsill and shouting, ‘Give us some of your dinner ya c***!’.
‘Fuck you ya black and white bastard, learn some manners, like the ducks!’
‘No fuck you. When you come out of the cabin I’m ganna swoop ya!’.
‘Oh yeah, well I have a cricket bat!’.
They are known to congregate in gangs and are prone to violence. Police don’t know how to control them such is their complete lack of fear. Much like the cat, they have a superiority complex and will push the limits of the human-animal dynamic as far as possible. They create a hostile atmosphere.

Purple Swamp-hen
Menacing in appearance, though this is largely a deception. In reality they are quite warm and friendly, if a little paranoid and highly strung. They snoop around the caravan park searching for food, always checking to see if the coast is clear. The Swamp-hen will be very startled by your presence if you don’t announce your approach.

Black Swans
Superficial. Vain. Narcissistic. Black Swans do yoga and pose for photos at the beach during sunset. They are supermodels. The ducks are in love with them but are too short and fat to ever stand a chance. Sometimes the ducks show off by flying above the Black Swans, ‘Look, we can fly!’. However, the swans ignore, too busy looking at their own reflection in the water.

Kookaburras
The glitterati of the local animal population. They are a world-renowned national icon with a great sense of humour. They rarely mix with humans, instead opting to mock them from the trees above, ‘Look at that one, he’s a midget! LOL! Ok, I’m off for a photo shoot, see yaz at dusk’. They are elite birds who live off royalties and will not hesitate in reminding you as such, ‘I’m an Australian icon, bit of respect, please!’. They gather at dusk to laugh over a few drinks. It’s usually an A-list event and the laughter is sometimes excessive, often audible from many kilometers away. They adhere to no noise restrictions though locals don’t seem to mind, ‘The kookies are out tonight, must be pay day from royalties’. The Purple Swamp-hen think they’re laughing at them, one of the many reasons why they’re so paranoid. The ducks offer them counseling in learning to accept their appearance.

Crows
You thought the Magpies were obnoxious? Try a crow. Wow. These guys are hardcore. They scavenge. They torment. They yell and scream with a harrowing sound that sounds like an old man being slaughtered. They have been known to make children cry. At dusk all the crows in Rosebud descend onto the local plaza. They sit atop the power lines, loitering and yelling at passers by. The atmosphere is hostile.
‘Holy shit. Something’s going down tonight, I can feel it. Look up, they’re everywhere. What’s going on?!’.
‘I’m not sure, but those crows are fired up about something. I’m scared’.
‘They’re taunting us. Shit, now there’s a whole gang approaching from the beach’.
‘Mummy I’m scared, what’s happening?’.
‘I don’t know, just get in the car’.
‘But the birds are yelling at me’.
‘For God’s sake get in the car!!’.
The car skids away, chased by an unruly gang of crows.

Ants
My cabin had a few ants. My Mum would try and kill ants during her daily visits. ‘Hey, wtf! How dare you!’. The ants and I had an agreement: they were granted asylum and/or a protection visa, the only condition being that they did not remain in the same location for extended periods and refrained from congregating in large groups.
‘Mum, you have just cast this policy into disarray!’
‘You’re going insane in this cabin, Adrian’.
‘Aaaahh, I’ve always been insane. I’ve just never been around long enough for you to notice’.
Check. Mate.

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The Greatest Show on Earth

Each morning I’d make my way to the dunes to see a live performance from a world-renowned icon. I’d arrive while it was still dark to ensure I didn’t miss the opening sequence, which was often the most impressive. Despite the enormity of the show, the crowd was usually pretty sparse. The animals, however, were always front row and centre. They probably have a deeper connection with the show; they even join in and sing along.

The anticipation begins to build around an hour before she enters the stage. This is usually a period when dark silence and hypnotic calm cede to what will be a colourful and noisy show. As the colour of the sky slowly begins to transform, the animals voice their excitement, ‘She’s almost here; I can feel it!’ The birds know it. The moon knows it. The stage is set.

When she finally enters, the singing amongst the birds can be heard throughout the entire hemisphere. They are ecstatic, ‘Suns up suns up. Everybody, wake up and make some noise!!’. They are her biggest fans. The humans just sit back in silent awe.

The moon, who had enjoyed all of the attention overnight, slowly concedes defeat, ‘I can’t do it. She’s just too powerful. No one can compete with that! I’m off to light up the north, See ya tonight.’ ‘No worries, you had a great set last night, sad to see you go’.

Hello sun. It’s the reason we’re all here. If there is a God, she is it.

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The Albatross

At dawn, the Albatross likes to stake out a position on the pier and stand defiantly against the wind, feeling it rush through her. For hours on end they would stand staring into the wind, looking very content with life. No matter how cold, or how windy, this was their favourite part of the day. This was their favourite part of the world.

Albatross are a bit like the Magpie; they don’t really believe in altering their position for a human. They will either remain where they are (eyeballing you as you pass), or they’ll say, ‘Nup, you got too close’, and reluctantly fly to another position.

My morning walk would often cause great disruption to the many Albatross’ meditating on their pier. I could feel the resentment. As I entered the pier, I’d see them ahead, all with their backs to me staring into the wind. As I inched closer, I’d notice their heads start to tilt ever so slightly towards me, as if to say, ‘What’s this guy up to? Is he coming out to the pier? No-one comes out here when it’s like this!’. They’d go back to meditating, assuming I’d eventually turn back. Then their heads would tilt again, as if to suggest, ‘Sigh. He’s coming all the way. Ok guys, better move ahead, he’s coming’. Collective sigh. Onwards they would move to the next set of poles.

I heard a rumour that the land birds thought the sea birds were weird. I once heard a chick being berated by his mother for flying down to the sea at dawn during a storm.
‘What are you doing hanging around with those birds?! They sit there in that wind all day, in that cold, it’s weird! You should be nestled into your nest during inclement weather!’.
‘It’s not weird, just different! You don’t understand. They are connected to the sea and the elements in a way you’ll never understand. You’re just a tree bird’.
‘It’s a cult. All they do is squawk, they can’t even sing. What sort of bird doesn’t sing?! You will not be hanging out at the pier with the seabirds anymore. They’re queer. End of discussion!’.
‘You’re not a bird, you’re a dinosaur!’.
‘Very well, find your own worms then. And wait till a crow gets his eye on you. It’s a jungle out there; I’m just trying to prepare you for life when I’m not around. Our entire purpose in life is preservation of the species. You’ll understand one day’.

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The journey from Nouakchott to Atar

Sorry. I know I’m going to keep losing more readers with these excessively long posts. This one is a monster. It’s basically a novel. If it were a novel, it would lack cohesion. It would be shit. It goes off on rambling tangents, and then comes back. Basically like when you chat to someone at the pub. I don’t ramble when I speak, just when I write. The good thing about my rambling is you’re not forced to politely endure it. Unlike when I talk to someone at the pub who has a spectacular inability to tell a story within the 20 minute allotment. And also lacks any ability to see that I’m so bored I’m about to cry. Oh for fucks sake, get to the bloody point man. In fact, don’t bother. I’m leaving.

But I invite you to stay, and click through to the other side….

Continue Reading

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Coffee in Mauritania

I have a very high tolerance threshold when I travel. I can endure the unspeakable. I’ve certainly mastered the art of mute suffering. There’s one exception to this – coffee. Or lack thereof. Weirdly, for all the cultural currency that travel provides, many of my favourite memories involve nothing more than a coffee (or if legal, a beer) and reading one of the many newspapers or magazines I buy on my day of departure. They remain crumpled in my bag for the duration of the trip. I enjoy this pastime at home too, but it’s not quite the same. Either way, if I can’t start the day with a coffee and some reading, I get uncontrollably irritable. Emphasise irritable. Underline uncontrollably. At home I can more or less control this. I have a coffee machine. And I get the paper delivered. Thus, in the mornings I’m capable of achieving a non-sexual orgasm.

In Africa and the Middle East, however, this is beyond my control. I was in a desert settlement in the Sahara, Chinguetti, staying with a part-time nomad (sound travel wanker alarm bells, now). I anxiously knocked on his door with my coffee satchel and said, ‘boiling water?’ ‘Yes, my friend, wait’. He wanted to give me breakfast and coffee all at once. It’s too difficult to explain that coffee is best enjoyed with a book, rather than with food. ‘Ah, maybe now?’. He walked away.

All I ever need when abroad is the boiling water. I always have the coffee. So I never understand why they never let me access the tap. It was the same in Turkey, Iran, Lebanon. Everywhere. Just give me access to the fucking tap.

An hour passed. This is ridiculous. I want my coffee. I walked back over and lightly tapped on his door. ‘Ah yes my friend. Soon’. ‘But you have the tap in there, I can see it. Let me use it. Please.’

Another half hour passed and I was starting to see some weird stuff. I started giggling to myself. Uncontrollably. At nothing. Then I danced to the music in my head. Still giggling. Oh shit, I’m cracking up. I need coffee.

I marched back over. No tentative knocking this time. ‘Hey!!’. I banged very loudly on the door. I banged it so hard it came off. The nomads were all sat on the floor. They looked up in horror. ‘I wanna read my fucking book. And I can’t do that till I have a coffee. Give me the fucking boiling water. Give it to me!! Give it to me!!’. That’s when I walked into the room and started man handling the lean little nomad, shaking him quite intensely. The donkeys, observing the scene from outside, shuffled anxiously. The kids stood up and ran away. I then went to the tap and turned it on. I pointed to it. ‘See. Water, water. Now boil it. Boil it. You fucking cunt. Boil it!! Boil the fucking water!!’. I splashed it at all of them. I then descended into racism. ‘Ay! You speak the English?! You speak the English?! Ching Ching Chong. Watuh. Watuh’. The nomads had a horrified look on their faces, as if to say ‘oh dear. This man is not only stupid. He’s insane’. In my mind, it didn’t matter that I was being racist towards the Chinese, even tough I was in Africa. All the same to me. It’s white or it’s coloured. White power!

An hour later, after I’d unleashed terror on the entire village, storming through doors and demanding boiled water, the village elder caved and gave me boiling water. Before breakfast. I scurried back to my room, talking to myself in a way that reminded me of Gollum. I had my coffee and read 23 pages of Franzen. I felt very content. Aaaaah. That’s when remorse kicked in. ‘Shit, did I say ‘Ching chong?’. I walked around the village, bowing my head and profusely apologising to everyone. ‘I’m deeply sorry mam. I didn’t mean to sexually harass you. I’m not a misogynist. I just go a bit ‘cookoo cookoo’ without my coffee’. I handed out money. Hush money, pity money. They were all very understanding. They’re used to institutional racism, theft and rape from the west. From colonial times to UN peacekeepers. The IMF to the world bank. It’s all in the script. We fuck you. Profit from it. Then we give you money (foreign aid) to preserve the appearance of magnanimity. The generous uncle handing out gifts to the savages. Yesterday it was colonialism. Today it’s globalisation. Tomorrow it’s climate change. White man’s burden and all that. It’s our world. But you’re free to live in it. If you must.

Sorry, I went off on a bit of a tangent there. I’m back now. Anyway, I got my coffee in end. White man always gets his way. Same time tomorrow?

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The Daddy Longlegs

This is a long, self-indulgent post. And I understand that most readers prefer the short, sharp anecdotal posts. But this is an important topic, so I won’t be silenced. So if you’re one of the hardcore, highbrow fans of the blog, settle in, grab a cup of tea and read my latest. Otherwise, scroll down to some of the shorter posts, which have a laughter track and broad target demographic.

Conflict and coexistence – the Daddy Longlegs and humans

There has been a recent spate of incidents involving the resident Daddy Longlegs and my shower (why Daddy? I’m changing it to Mummy). As a general rule, I won’t kill any living creature. I generally relocate spiders, worms, beetles, bumblebees, dragonflies, leprechauns etc, so they can start a new life outside. I actually enjoy the company of moths. I do, however, sometimes ask why I have so many different species residing in my house – how did they all hear about me? They just know. I have different strategies for different species, the deployment of which is based on the weather. If it’s raining, rather than condemn the little creatures to a volatile life in the wet, I’ll simply grant asylum and place them in the spare room until the weather improves. While this is usually met with some form of resistance from spiders (running away, playing dead, biting, disagreements over area of resettlement), it has proven to be an effective strategy in preserving the lives of these misunderstood creatures. However, this policy has been tested due to the recent influx of Mummy Longlegs insisting on residing in my shower, the most hazardous region for a spider. Continue Reading

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I Went To Copenhagen

I recently ventured to the Danish capital. There are Great Danes everywhere. And I mean everywhere. More Great Danes than humans. And you can ask them questions for directions, because they’re generally quite accommodating. Just don’t try and pat them though. Upon seeing my first Great Dane (waiting in a queue at the airport) I excitedly ran over and tried to pat its head, and say ‘Hurrow, you’re a good boy’, only to be sternly rebuked, ‘Don’t touch the Great Dane!’, in a very deep, fast bark. Apparently they consider it demeaning. He then proceeded to lecture me (in a Queens English accent), about the class system in Denmark. Not only are dogs considered more prestigious than cats, they’re also in a higher caste than humans. I then profusely apologised, bowing my head a number of times before kissing his paw. He raised his head and graciously accepted. ‘Very well, you weren’t to know. Now carry on’. ‘Oh thank you Great Dane, thank you’.

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A Night Out

I recently went to a bar for a friend’s party. I’ve decided I’m never going to these things anymore, unless these two criteria are satisfied: 1: I know more than one person. 2: The volume of the music is low (unless I arrive pissed, in which case it can be loud). The volume was blaring. I was sober. And I only knew one person. That meant I needed to be ‘on’ all night. Because after you’ve had the initial catch-up with the one person you know, you’re then on your own. That means you need to be affable and drag-out conversations to avoid being alone. Y’know, latch onto people. Which is really hard when you can’t hear what anyone’s saying.
‘I’m Adrian’.
‘What?’.
‘Adrian’.
‘What?’
‘ADRIAN!’.
‘Oh, it’s over there’.
‘Cool, thanks’.
I then walked over ‘there’. I walked with intent through the crowd as though I looked like I knew where I was going. Like back to my friends or something. I found another group. In the end I just mimed and nodded. At one point I kept miming after the recipient of my miming had left. I even used my hands to animate the conversation, a bit like a miming clown. I then burst into hysterical laughter, as though the person I was miming to told a joke. That’s when people starting looking at me.
‘Who is that guy anyway, he’s making me feel weird’.
‘I don’t know, he was just, kinda, there’.
That’s when security approached, ‘Excuse me sir, can you please stand over there, you’re making these people feel weird’.
‘I just need someone to talk to. The only person I know has already gone to the dance floor. And I can’t hear what anyone is saying’.
The guard walks me away, ‘C’mon mate, let it go’.
‘Oh right, sorry’.
I gave the partygoers a sorry wave as I was ushered to the corner. I then walked into a bin. The music stopped. Everyone kept their distance. I then pretended that someone called me on my phone. That’s when I was asked to leave.
‘But this is my scheduled night out. I didn’t want to come, but I try and make an effort from time to time. If I had my way I’d spend my time reading the paper, watering my plants and trying to woo the neighbourhood cat into my flat’.
‘C’mon mate, take it outside’.
I pretended to keep talking on the phone. But my phone was on the floor. So I was really just talking into my hand. And because I was so nervous, my mouth was moving rapidly. A bit like I was chewing. Chewing into my hand.
Oh shit, it’s happening again.

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Letter from Australia

I’m back in London now, and I do miss my family. I enjoy hearing stories about my little nephew. He’s three. It’s amazing the pace with which they change. I heard he’s started speaking with a thick Spanish accent and now only communicates through song. He already has a job. He delivers milk to pensioners while riding his white Labrador, Leroy. Leroy is now apparently the size of a small pony and has become very gracious and charming. His dedication to personal hygiene equals that of a cat. My mum has grown a moustache and become a wrestler. Her husband is her manager. They travel the country in a Mini Minor looking for wrestling opportunities. And my sister went travelling! She went to the Turkey/Syria border and joined IS. It’s the quiet ones you have to watch. Ted disapproved but it’s hard to be taken seriously when your pleas are communicated in the form of a tender Spanish melody. ‘Ah, give it a rest Ted! Non! Non,Ted! Allah mak bah!’. Ted picks up his guitar, crying, and climbs aboard Leroy before galloping off into the distance, singing emotionally about his mum being lost to IS. He smashes the milk bottles into the pensioners windows, cursing them in Spanish’. Oh Ted, they won’t want you as their milkman now.

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My Concerns

This post will canvas a host of concerns, beginning with the pervasive confines of corporate gyms. In order to maintain my health and sauna addiction, I’m a member of one. Always have been. I’ve written extensively about gym culture and the calibre of self-obsessed arsehole it attracts, so I won’t recycle it here. I will point out, however, that there’s another sinister undercurrent to the gym. If it weren’t for the gym, I would quite literally never be exposed to chart music or any of the useless products companies heckle us with. I would happily sully my purity in the ivory tower of intellectual enlightenment within which I live. Perched high on my throne, scornfully mocking the sheep and the ease with which their minds can be contorted and controlled. Instead, I find myself in the dubious position of having teenage-like knowledge of all the latest chart-topping tracks, and have even begun to find some of them catchy. I find myself saying, ‘Oh yeah, I know this track, it’s a good one’, and start bopping my head, eagerly awaiting the chorus. That’s when I pick up the pace of my workout, ‘Oh yeah, I’m feeling it. Might check out a club tonight too, dance the night away!’ My head happily sways from side to side as I chew gum and attempt a PB in my revealing leotard. Life’s great! (Please take a moment to picture that scene). I also know a lot about cars too, as that seems to be Australia’s greatest passion, occupying around 90% of the media space. They’re like fucked up families, everyone seems to have one. When you tell people you don’t own a car, and have no intention of ever buying one, you may as well say you’re a Boat Person too, such is the scorn with which you’re met.

On a general note, I’m concerned about the guys who refuse to converse in normal conversations. Instead, they feel the need to hector you with quips. Really unfunny quips. So unfunny that they’re really annoying. One or two quips in a verbal exchange is acceptable. But when they pound you with an endless assortment of unfunny jokes, it’s like someone is jabbing you in the leg with a scalpel and forcing you to laugh. So you painfully chuckle, ‘Oh I get it, the woman is a Curry, that’s funny’. ‘Oh right, yeah, now you’re speaking in a funny voice, you are funny’. ‘Oh, and another quip, again, it’s really good’. I’d rather stare blankly, as if to say ‘Are you done?’. But society demands that I converse politely. To be honest, I just feel like abruptly slapping him. Or arriving to work with a large sack of mulch and casually pouring it on his desk. And then strapping nipple tassels to his nose before kicking him forcefully on the arse and bursting into a loud, obnoxious laughter as the fat bastard falls over. Now that’s funny. Take notes, bitch.

I’m concerned about males. I’ll begin with police officers and then branch out to a more general critique of the sex. In Melbourne, the enlightened powers that be devised the genius idea of dispatching male police officers to patrol the streets in very large packs. So, that’s large, bulked-up men with egos and too much time on their hands, patrolling the streets in gangs… that’ll work! It’s one of those ideas that you just wish you’d thought of. So simple yet so stupid. Because nothing ever goes wrong when feral animals, operating on instinct rather than thought, prowl streets in packs looking for something to do.

So now whenever there’s the most innocuous incident, you’ll see 15 burly males surrounding a petrified drug addict, homeless person or disaffected teen. All pacing around, hectoring the hapless pleb and anyone who should happen to cast a curious eye on the antics of the Gestapo brigade. They jot down notes in their little books, stuff like, ‘Remember to pick up milk on the way home’. They also like whispering into their little walky-talkies, ‘Yo, I have a 15 year old school kid in uniform, he didn’t have a train ticket, there’s 20 lads here, what do we do? Over’.

One male is tolerable. Put another male in the equation and it’s precarious. Herd up a bunch of the cretins and it’s a recipe for disaster. Because males are herd animals. And generally pretty dumb. Confident and brash with a false sense of entitlement, but dumb. Why do you think football players pack-rape? Why do soldiers burn Afghan farmers? Why do radical Muslims treat woman as caged animals? Because men are the inferior sex. Physically stronger, but vastly inferior. Why do I never read stories about two woman getting in a fist fight at the pub? Why is it never two females splitting each others skulls open in road rage? Why aren’t any woman manipulating children with pedophilia? Males are a plague, I’m certainly a self-hating one. I apologise to my girlfriend everyday. ‘Wouldn’t you rather be a lesbian?’, I ask. ‘I certainly would’. 

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