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    Yahtzee's Australia Journal (Chapter 1)

    by Yahtzee

    Saturday, November 01, 2003

    14:51pm

    The bags are packed, the goodbyes are made, mum keeps crying whenever she sees that advert with the teenager who has apparently just escaped from a prison camp made of money. It's less than twenty-four hours to go before I leave this house forever, and I'm wandering around in a sort of daze. Every now and again the realisation stabs at me, but for the most part everything feels normal. Doubtless I will descend into mindless gibbering panic by this time tomorrow.

    I've made my last few purchases; a shaving brush, toothbrush, a CD wallet to put a selection of my games and music CDs in. I hope Sarah will be satisfied with the ones I have picked. Yes, I am henpecked. I don't think I'll be able to take my trenchcoat, lamentably; but I suppose it would have been a little childish to insist on wearing it in Australian climates.

    Sir Paul McCartney had another girl. I suppose all that vegetarian eating and saving the earth stuff is killing off the Y chromosomes in his sperm.

    WHAT I DID FOR THE LAST TIME IN ENGLAND TODAY

    Posted a topic on UD

    Packed bags

    Wore my trenchcoat

    Wore my black shoes

    Spoke to one of my old teachers in town

    Ate in a coffee shop

    Acquired something from Argos

    WHAT I WILL DO FOR THE LAST TIME IN ENGLAND LATER TODAY

    Eat chips

    Hopefully, sleep

    Sunday, November 02, 2003

    08:02am

    Hoo boy. Last day. Panic stations.

    Dad gave me a St. Christopher medallion, which he apparently wore during his world travels in the 60's. As soon as he gave it to me, I had a vision of myself several years in the future, a dark mysterious stranger riding into some hick town in the outback. I'll be a broody hero, beating up the town bullies and running them out of town, then the local beauty will notice my medallion and I'll say, in a very gruff voice, "My father gave it to me just before I left England. He wore it to travel the world. It's a St. Christopher, the patron saint of travellers." Then the next morning I'll be gone, leaving a bewildered townsfolk forever wondering who the mysterious stranger was.

    17:25pm Ė Heathrow Airport depature lounge

    Thereís a heady stench of duty free perfume in the air. Newspapers rustle to all sides of me, my rucksack sitting stubbornly between my feet, paranoid as I am of the thieves who can crawl under benches unnoticed.

    Well, that wasnít so hard. There was an awkward moment as the checkin desk man (who looked for all the world like someone from the League of Gentlemen) looked up my visa, but all was well. There was tension as I stepped through the metal detector and suddenly remembered that Iwas wearing a belt and a medallion, but all was well. Hopefully this trend will continue.

    Iím writing this longhand with the presentation pen Lee and Dave [my old bosses] presented me. Came in handy already. That, together with this musty departure lounge and the distant cackle of popular music over the PA system, will no doubt be my last impression of England.

    2 hours to kill before my boarding call. Time to delve into King Solomonís Mines, methinks.

    17:45pm

    Found a timed internet booth. I think they design those keys to be awkward, so you spend half your time typing. Or they just do it to piss me off.

    Monday, November 3rd, 2003

    7:33am local time Ė Dubai

    I seem to have mislaid four hours somewhere. From this day forth, my birth certificate shall forever be four hours inaccurate.

    When I learned I would be stopping in the United Arab Emirates, I was concerned that the airport would be little more than a tent and that I would be accosted by people in robes offering to buy my luggage with camels. Yeah, I know, Iím going to hell. As it turns out, Dubai looks like someone handed the keys over to some ultra-modern architect and told him to run amok. The airport was a gigantic palisade, like something out of Loganís Run but with more pseudo-Persian dťcor. Looking at the city as we landed, it looked like a huge crowd of giant robots had been buried far underground, only their fingers and noses breaking surface in a desperate attempt to claw their way back up.

    The metal detector is kept slightly more sensitive than the one in Heathrow, it seems. It detected metal bits in my boots, but strangely enough wasnít concerned about my belt or medallion.

    Either Monday or Tuesday, November 2-3rd

    8:15pm or thereabouts Ė Singapore

    Did you know that Singapore has banned chewing gum? And if you bring drugs into the country, you get killed? The most disturbing part was the cheerful voice of the stewardess as she announced this. I didnít see any armed military police victimising the populace on the way down, but Iím taking no chances and staying on the plane. These foreign blighters can be sneaky, by Jingo.

    I am now a seasoned traveller. In the last twenty-four hours I have watched nothing but airline telly, swapped hemispheres, and eaten three airline meals. Four, if weíre being picky. I asked for lamb, but they ran out of lamb, and gave me fish. It was only when I had half-eaten the fish and decided it was vile that they brought me lamb. It wasnít very nice, but I felt kind of compelled to eat it anyway, since they took the trouble. Itís a British thing.

    Do you know, I figured it would have sunk in by now that Iím leaving England forever, but it hasnít. Everything seems so unreal, like Iím watching it all on TV. Jet lag has me. Onto Brisbane, and soft warm bedding. Assuming my visa is jim dandy.

    Thursday, 06 November 2003

    10:36am Ė Brisbane

    My visa is jim dandy.

    Iím only getting an opportunity to type up my journal now, on the computer Sarah has mounted on her bedroom floor, the bed to my back and the keyboard on my lap. Iím living in a house that is about half the size of my old one and which seems to house twice as many people. Iím actually enjoying the rather intimate atmosphere we have here. Iím not even worried about the way the doors and windows are left wide open all the time, and Iím learning not to let all the flies bother me.

    The sheer magnitude of my move here kind of sank in for me yesterday morning, when Iíd been reading a little From Hell, and I experienced a moment of screaming torment as I considered that all my dreams of writing professionally would be as naught. Sarah calmed me down, assuring me that my primary objective is to holiday. Iím gonna try to delve into my novel when Iím done here, and hope I can do more than the one or two lines of dialogue I managed to add yesterday.

    Brisbane would be a good place to be Spider-Man in, assuming all the crime took place in one particular area of the city. That part, a hubbub of activity with more shops than I can count, is a stark contrast to what I saw from the plane, and what I see in the suburbs. Itís like a collection of houses and a forest trying to occupy the same space.

    I mentioned to Sarah that I saw a documentary about sharks which stated that some really deadly ones live in the Brisbane river. She found this very amusing, as apparently there is very little that can live in the Brisbane river.

    Friday, 07 November 2003

    15:48pm

    Just got back from being taken out by Sarahís mum. Sheís an interesting character. She took us to some place called Mount Coot-tha or something, which had a view of almost the entire city. Then she took us back to her place, where she played the banjo and fed cheese to some birds who live in her tree. Like I said, an interesting character.

    I was a little surprised when Iíd finished checking my mail on Sarahís mumís computer when Sarah took my place and began looking up porno comics. I know if Iíd done that in front of my mum, sheídÖ well, sheíd probably start being very tactful around me and asking if I was feeling alright.

    A thought: Brisbane seems hugely crowded for a city in a country with such a low population density. Iím thinking the population of Australia outside of the major cities consists of two elderly gentlemen and a lot of sheep. And maybe a dog.

    Sunday, 09 November 2003

    8:49am

    Sarahís dad turned up yesterday, presumably so as not to be outdone. He took us down to where I had my first ever doner kebab (a large milestone) and bought me my second (an even bigger milestone Ė after all, your first doner kebab can be attributed to naÔve curiosity, but to actually seek out a second would require actual enjoyment of the stuff).

    Sarahís dad is a decent enough fellow, who surprised me by bringing up his knowledge of my online work. I have a feeling the website is going to come back to haunt me should I run into any more people who have read it to any great degree. There are only so many times, I am sure, that elders can overlook the use of the word Ďcuntí.

    You know, if you look at Australia the right way, the island is kind of shaped like the head of a Jack Russell terrier.

    18:33pm

    I am seeing Brisbane in dribs and drabs, gathering the various bits like a jigsaw puzzle. Sometimes I get to see the picture on the box. Today we went down the Southbank Market (itís a market on the south bank of the river) and after crossing the bridge I could turn around and see all the gigantic buildings of the city centre clustered together. The city is a curious one, with a blend of architectural styles. 19th and early 20th century buildings rub shoulders with the more modern blocks and smooth curves of newer structures. The first day I was here I saw a traditionally-built church among futuristic skyscrapers on all sides. The city is like a huge chunky puddle of vomit, with breakfast, lunch and tea sitting alongside each other in perfect harmony.

    So yes, the market. One thing Iím finding of this place is that everything is much bigger and better than their equivalent in my old home town. Back in Rugby, the market was a few stalls in the town centre, and the best we could do was a stall that sold a variety of European cheeses and one manned by a big man in dreadlocks that sold smiley face and cannabis leaf themed accessories. The market in Brisbane was much bigger, selling all sorts of funky stuff. There are stalls that sell chocolate bananas and snow cones and funny Mexican pastries. I counted three caricature artists plying their wares, and a place where you could get your photograph Photoshopped amusingly and laminated for a small fee. There was also a sweet shop that sold this weird sweetie equivalent of roll-on deodorant which almost destroyed Sarahís tongue.

    On the way, we saw the Salvation Army playing a big brass band (ĎBohemian Rhapsodyí, presumably an attempt to move with the times), which Sarah identified as Ďthe Salvosí. Now, if I was in the Salvation Army in Australia, I reckon Iíd be a bit pissed off if they took my kickass macho name and made it sound like a brand of soothing skin cream.

    Then we went and saw Kill Bill. It was alright.

    Todayís most interesting fact about Brisbane: the pedestrian crossings make noises just like ones heard in the first three Commander Keen games.

    HOW TO MAKE AN AUSTRALIAN SLANG WORD

    1. Take the first syllable of the proper word
    2. Thatís it.

    ADVANCED LESSONS

    3. Stick Ďieí or Ďoí on the end, depending on what sounds best.

    *

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