Big weekend indeed

Well it was meant to be and was. Beers, a random nightclub, £55 taxi to Guildford at 3am, Scrubs, bar girls, a guy playing the trumpet, more bar girls, two nurses, a policeman, Nighty Night and plenty of bacon sandwiches. Lost my sunnies though. Damn. Only cost $1 to buy in San Jose but will cost a five hundred to replace.

<—— The Friday Night Crowd

Harps, his bro, Dr Luke, Ali and Steve.

<——-Just for reference.

I start work this week. Thank God. Can get some normality to life, plan for the future, do regular exercise (BJJ) and start my Japanese refresher course. A regular life for Dan.

Beautiful sunset tonight. Rich colours, solid and inviting.

I finished the Third Policeman by Flann O’Brien, a great recommendation by Joe. And I’m almost through a modern history of Turkey, a place I didn’t know enough about. Next The English Patient and Gravity’s Rainbow. I’ll pick up a history book too tomorrow. Any recommendations?

Off to London for the weekend

It’s Bank Holiday weekend here, one of those holidays that has no apparent reason except it ‘s August. Well anyway I’m off to London to catch up with some mates (Dr Luke, Stevo, Phivos), see my sister, go to BBQ at Anna’s and have a few beers basically. Good to get out and do something. Work begins again next week.

<—- My Indians girls in 2003.

The Forgotten Royals

You can find some amazing stuff on the Internet and especially through factually websites. For example, I took a course in anthropology a few years back when bored in Korea. That was interesting. But today I surpassed it.

Did you know there are 3 members of the Royal Family who are locked up in mental hospitals in Surrey and another which the Royal Family declared had died in 1940 but it turns out she hadn’t. Can’t belie. All fairly junior members but cousins of The Queen. They all have mental ages of under 10 and have spent their lives in institutions.

“She (Katherine Bowes-Lyon 1926- reported dead in 1961 but actually still alive) was joined at the Royal Earlsworth Hospital by three of her first cousins who had been certified mentally disturbed, all daughters of the Hon. Harriet Hepburn-Stuart-Forbes-Trefusis and Major Henry Nevile Fane – Idonea Elizabeth (1912-2001), Rosemary Jean (1914-), and Etheldreda Flavia Fane (1922-).”

Whether the births are genetic is hardly debatable. Whether from inbreeding is not worth thinking about. The story is actually quite heart-breaking, a story of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ and formality that was very prevalent in Royal dealings from weddings to mental disease until the Royal Family were forced to face the world and justify itself in the 1990s.

These family members haven’t received Royal visits for over 60 years. The Queen may have talked about an Annis horribilis, but for some Royals it’s been an aevum horribilis.

An Article I found on it is here.

Roy Keane to Sunderland

Well that’s not something I would have predicted. Keane along with Brian Kidd, trying to save Sunderland from another relegation. It’s quite a fashion these days for players to become mangers immediately after retirement especially in international football but will Keane be a Klinsmann or Tony Adams? Will Keane his family over with him, will he be able to keep his temper with the referees, his own players and the crowd. I don’t know but time will tell and as reports as saying, Sunderland will never be the same again.

Welcome to Gringo Centrale

I was sleeping. Or dozing deep from lack of sleep when they bundled in. Two young French guys, surfers and giddy. We talked. It was their last night before returning to France and they wanted to get drunk. Well…could I say no? Little did I know that at 10am the next day, I’d be sitting in a strip club with the Deputy Minister of Energy, two lawyers, two sober, fully armed policemen, the two French guys, bored strippers and the dregs of two bottles of tequila. How drunk were we? Well the politician was passed out on the stage while trying to dance with the girl. I knew I loved Mexico from that moment. Nothing changed.

One plain reason I loved Mexico was I was out of the States now. There was a noisy chaos, bustling streets, colonial architecture, markets, huge churches, a Rodin exhibit, couples kissing, old people sitting in the parks talking, policemen arresting men who refused to lie down. In short, real life. Not sanitised, privatised, personalised life. People were together and not afraid to be so. I also arrived at a great time. It was Independence weekend and a free Manu Chao concert in the main zocalo. Despite the drizzle, I loved the gig, not really for the music but the student political riot that arrived half way through and the subsequent police charge. I watched it all at close hand and got my picture taken with the riot police after. We also went to the pro-wrestling, as you can tell from the pictures. The nightclubs were crazy and the tequila was cheap. I went to the Great Pyramids at Teotihuacán and the Anthropology museum, all of which was interesting stuff, but I just loved the energy of the city, the grandeur and the challenge.

I left after 5 days and headed south to Oaxaca and then San Cristobel, two old Spanish towns. I travelled with a ridiculously tall American guy Mark. The towns were quaint and all and we visited churches and temple complexes but it all seemed rather slow after Mexico City. I left and headed north to Cancun, primarily to get a flight to Cuba (the blog is here) but there, in Cancun town, away from the Americans, I met a bunch of Swedes and French and got thoroughly plastered for a few days. In the bed opposite me was Claude, a 50-something French Canadian economist who daily started drinking at 8am (as I got into bed), first with whiskey, then beer and then wine. The guy was constantly paralytic and incomprehensible. Free entertainment per evening.

Returning from Cuba, Ben and I headed south to Tikal in Guatemala. We travelled through Belize, amazed at the Caribbean feel and the languages spoken. Fluency in English was perfect and the laid-back feel of the place with the warm winds and bumbling, packed transport, was a world away from Mexico. We got stranded in a border town for the night but managed to go to a festival and be the only gringos in town. We finally got to the island of Flores, a beautiful lake-bound island, small but serviced and were fortunate to see Semana Santa (Easter) there. The town streets are decorated with coloured sawdust pictures of religious significance and then a solemn parade circles the town. The townsfolk dress up in their best and I have to say there were some cracking women. Tikal, the great rising Pyramids through the jungle canopy, was spectacular and you need real guts and stamina to climb these things.

We moved onto Antigua and got spectacularly trashed for someone’s birthday, the party becoming a clothes swapping affair. Antigua was quite a gringo hangout as was LakeAtilan, rightly described as the most beautiful lake in the world but shrouded in low cloud and rain when we arrived. We did meet Dougal and Igor and those two German girls and as usually Ben and I led the party and ploughed through 4 bottles of Rum. Igor, the EuroStar attendant proved a classic, reading tarot cards and asking too frank sexual questions. Dougal and I also had a few beers a few days later in Antigua.

After a few nights in Antigua, Ben and I went separate ways. The dude was a cool guy and we’ll have some beers in Melbourne next year. He headed south to El Salvador while I ploughed through Guatemala and Honduras to the diving islands of Utila, the warmest waters I’ve ever encountered but alas no whale sharks and an expensive trip. I had a few decent beers though. But I did love being on my own for a while, talking in Spanish, playing football, carrying my bag through the dark streets. I returned to Guatemala and stopped in Antigua, had a few beers, managed a quick trip to Hooters, Guatemala City (got the T-shirt, not many do I guess) and returned to Mexico City with Benny the Danish chick. A few nights of drunkenness left me ready to leave for my flight to New York. I had loved it. I will go back, would work there, couldn’t stay forever. But I will be back.

Monday’s good news

I’ll finally post the photos from the trip in the next few days and I’ve got a new job. Starts 1st of September. Just down the road and simple but well-paid. Travels here I come.

Newcastle United also won this weekend.Not fully convincing but when are we ever. I am still not sure about Glenn but I ma now a Shola convert. With Kung Fu Shola and the incoming Martins, we’ll threaten the best teams. Get Gravesen and Bridge in and we’re Champions League challengers. A lot of takeover talk too. If we get more cash in then fine. But a hedge fund is a strange investor.

Here are a photo from the States.

Me enacting my ‘Hug a Tree’ theory in Sequoia National Park.

Some recommendations for you

This week I’ve just finished three books.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
Waiting for the Barbarians by JM Coetzee.
The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow

All fantastic books but for differing reasons. Kesey’s book is so fluid, the characters incredibly funny and well-painted. The scene where Pete complains that he was born dead, a living miscarriage is heartbreaking. But then there is day out fishing with is just hilarious and exhilarating. The story is of a psychiatrist’s ward which get a kick when Randall P McMurphy arrives, a gambler and hustler who faked his mental state to get out of prison. His attempts to bring life to the ward and his battle with the strict nurse form the backbone of the story but it’s about re-awaking and how many people need not chiding but encouraging to be alive.

Ironically, Waiting for the Barbarians is far more psychological than Cuckoo. A personally battle and first -person narrative of a man on the frontier but leading an ordinary life. His life sedate existence is suddenly disturbed by the arrival of the Third faction, a military interrogation unit who seek the Barbarians that ‘threaten’ the Empire. The narrator knows the Barbarians are merely peaceful fishermen and other tribes that have been pushed to the edge by colonialism. If they are innocent, why do they run then? asks the Colonel.

Coetzee’s writing is very honest, revealing the deepest emotions of Man yet never explaining or justifying. There is a bleakness in his writing but it’s never depressing. He deals with the details of man’s thought in extreme positions. And he does it very well. Read The Life and Times of Michael K and Disgrace as well. Both excellent books.

Augie March is a mammoth travel through 30 years of Augie March’s life. A born recruit, people are always trying to mould him into something, from his grandmother to his brother to women and the neighbours. He doesn’t know what he wants but seeks real life, happiness and an identity. I really felt attached to Augie. As he jokes in the last line of the book,

“Look at me, going everywhere! Why, I am a sort of Columbus of those near-at-hand and believe you can come to them in this immediate terra incognito that spreads out in every gaze. I may well be a flop at this line of endeavour. Columbus too thought he was a flop, probably , when they sent me back in chains. Which didn’t prove there was no America. “

Two dicks

<——– Not these guys

Man with two penises loses wife

A German who persuaded doctors to give him a second penis has lost his wife after he showed her the result.

Those crazy Germans. The dude didn’t tell his wife and kept it as a surprise!!
I wonder how the sex was meant to work….. More here