Yahtzee's Australia Journal (Chapter 1)
Saturday, November 01, 2003
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
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
Posted a topic on UD
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
Sunday, November 02, 2003
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 – Heathrow Airport depature
There’s 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
Well, that wasn’t 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.
I’m 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
2 hours to kill before my boarding call.
Time to delve into King Solomon’s Mines, methinks.
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 – Dubai
I seem to have mislaid four hours
somewhere. From this day forth, my birth certificate shall forever be four
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, I’m 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
Logan’s Run but with more pseudo-Persian décor. 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 wasn’t concerned about my belt or medallion.
Either Monday or Tuesday, November 2-3rd
8:15pm or thereabouts – 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 didn’t see any armed military police victimising the populace on the way
down, but I’m 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 we’re 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
wasn’t very nice, but I felt kind of compelled to eat it anyway, since they
took the trouble. It’s a British thing.
Do you know, I figured it would have sunk
in by now that I’m leaving England forever, but it hasn’t. Everything seems so
unreal, like I’m 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 – Brisbane
My visa is jim dandy.
I’m 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. I’m living in a house that is about half
the size of my old one and which seems to house twice as many people. I’m
actually enjoying the rather intimate atmosphere we have here. I’m not even
worried about the way the doors and windows are left wide open all the time,
and I’m 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 I’d 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. I’m gonna try to delve into my novel
when I’m 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.
It’s 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
Just got back from being taken out by
Sarah’s mum. She’s 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 I’d finished
checking my mail on Sarah’s mum’s computer when Sarah took my place and began
looking up porno comics. I know if I’d done that in front of my mum, she’d…
well, she’d probably start being very tactful around me and asking if I was
A thought: Brisbane seems hugely crowded
for a city in a country with such a low population density. I’m 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
Sarah’s 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 –
after all, your first doner kebab can be attributed to naïve curiosity, but to
actually seek out a second would require actual enjoyment of the stuff).
Sarah’s 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 ‘cunt’.
You know, if you look at Australia the
right way, the island is kind of shaped like the head of a Jack Russell
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 (it’s 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 I’m 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
On the way, we saw the Salvation Army
playing a big brass band (‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, presumably an attempt to move
with the times), which Sarah identified as ‘the Salvos’. Now, if I was in the
Salvation Army in Australia, I reckon I’d 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
Today’s 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
- Take the first syllable of the proper
- That’s it.
3. Stick ‘ie’ or ‘o’ on the end, depending
on what sounds best.