Archive for September, 2007

Scotland – A brief fling.

Standing next to a beautiful Lake on route to Edinbrugh

Standing next to a beautiful Lake on route to Edinbrugh

Ah I’m just in the door from a long weekend of little sleep and moocho booze, went to Scotland with my Padre to collect some bike he bought from a Scottish lad on eBay, he’s going through a mid-life Crisis and it’s always entertaining to watch such a spectacle so I thought I’d tag along and keep him company, being the diabetic shambles that he is, he would have ended up in a coma in some God-Forsaken bog in the highlands of Scotland only to be perfectly preserved and brought back to life in a thousand years time, worshipped as some sort of living God, if you knew my father, you would know why this would be a bad thing.

There are, like most things in life, both benefits and drawbacks to spending a weekend in another country with your father, for instance… To speak of one of the drawbacks, he is, sadly… Not designed for travel, there is no middle ground when it comes to this, you are or you aren’t, I don’t mean in the physical sense of the word, certainly the man can walk and drive and endure long distance travel as well as any other primate I know, no-no… I speak of the mental disposition one adopts when one is in a state of travel,  he drove me mental… He is one of those people who cannot stop, relax, and appreciate the now of any situation on the road, he is convinced that if he stops to appreciate anything for too long, Death himself is going to come down, scythe in hand, and demand his Soul as some sort of payment for enjoying himself, so whilst I am taking in the sights and smells of Edinburgh during the hot Summers day that was Saturday, he is already trying to coax me onto our next destination, not exactly compatible travel Amigos but I made it work, it was the first time in my life I spent a weekend away and alone with him, it could have gone either way… But thankfully it was a real eye opener, a chance to bond with the old man I don’t often get, we spent Saturday night crawling through the heart of Edinburgh’s Grass-market Street and it’s collection of Pubs… Getting increasingly legless as the night wore on, he was on fine form, recounting the glory day’s of his Youth in 70’s Ireland when, if you were to take his word for it, men went out for a few pints, punched the living shit out of each other outside for  the most trivial of reasons, then went back inside to drink a few more pints, but I get ahead of myself… Let’s rewind a little..

We left late Friday night, a delayed start due to a Tooth I had to get pulled in the Dentists earlier that day, a process that took a rather uncomfortable 20 minutes of Pliers yanking action, but hey.. The bastard is out along with the Sweet jesus someone take a hatchet to my jaw I can’t take this pain any longer sensation that accompanied it the entire previous day, so it was up to Belfast in the van and onto the HSS Ferry for a rather smooth sailing across the Irish Sea to some Scottish port… Can’t think of the name right now (STRANRAR!… Or something along those lines) Anyways… We got there Saturday morning and using one of those GPS car travel thingies, we took the scenic route. I was blown away… Scotland’s countryside is the most beautiful I’ve ever seen, both my father and I paid very little attention to the fact that we nearly went off the road several times to what was probably certain death down the side of a cliff in a fiery ball of transit van death as we both become lost in the beauty around us, word’s could never do it justice so I’ll see if I can edit in one of the few pics we took along the way. They were the kind of unspoiled hills and mountains that make you want to take all of your clothes off, run naked into them screaming never to be heard from again, that primitive impulse that can only be triggered by such holy nature.

scotland-scene

After moocho hours of listening to BBC Classical FM and enjoying the highlands we finally reached our destination, a small little housing estate on the outskirts of Edinburgh, when we got out I wasn’t quite prepared for the reception, for you see, it seems two Irish people collecting a motorbike is a Celebrity event in this Estate, thousands (Poetic license) of little Scottish kiddies, along with their mothers… Came out to greet us as we loaded the bike into the back of the van, not the easiest of tasks at the best of times, but when you have lots of little Scottish bastards hanging out of you asking you every question in the world about Ireland as if you had letters in bold print on your forehead saying “I know Shit bout Ireland” while their mothers looked on with crooked smiles admiring how cute their little shits are, it can quickly become tiresome, add to that my father relishing the opportunity to act the showman, spinning tales in that booming storytelling voice of his as I gave him the evil eye…

Don’t get me wrong, I love Kids, I mean… I’d love my own if I had any, but other people’s children, strange barbarian children from far away lands ( After two days of no sleep, a mouth with an enormous gaping seeping bleeding wound, is exactly what these kids appeared to be given my condition) are no good… Finally, after much smiling and waving and bullshit banter we made it away from this Horrible place… Waving to the crowd as I secretly cursed them for eternity.

Next stop was the Hotel. I was actually impressed, which was a complete shock given that my father had allowed his best friend to find and book us a Hotel, a man who, when out walking with me  in one of the fields surrounding our house a few years back, thought it would be funny to take a big stick and smack the ball sack of a bull from behind and come running with a grin in my direction, as the infinitely pissed off beast (along with its army of cow consorts) followed, but that’s another story, the point is my dads friend did good, which surprised me. The Hotel had a pool, sauna, all the lovely stuff a weary traveller needs, except I never got to avail of any of it, because most importantly, it had a 24 hour Bar… After dropping our stuff off, exhausted as we were, we immediately got a Taxi into the centre of Edinburgh city to enjoy it in the wonderful sunshine of Midday, having very little time in the country we made the most of it.

Word of warning, don’t trust those little tourist map leaflets you get your hands on… While my Padre sat in the pub and watched the Rugby, I decided to pop off and do a little shopping while I still had the time, Edinburgh Castle may only appear to be 3 inches long on that tiny piece of paper, but don’t be fooled, that son of a bitch is at least a mile long, in the pumping heat of a Saturday afternoon, with thousands of squealing Chinese girls and Fat American Tourists (“Wow Marcy..isn’t this just swell?” Fuck off.)  with Mouths agape bumping into you, it can quickly become torture,  I was quickly running out of time as the shops began to close one by one, I knew exactly where I had to get to, but the distance, and my lack of sleep… Made the journey agony, finally… With an exhausted jog in the door of the touristy store, sweat pumping from my Cherry tinted face, I ran up to the nearest store clerk and exclaimed “Where are the Daggers!” Looking back,  I can see how this would alarm someone, but at the time I was a man on a mission, after a little explaining and much sheepish grinning I got what I had come for… Mission complete, I had the gift I thought she would love, but as it turns out I would later spurn the chance to give it. Anowho, it was time for Dinner and a retreat to the hotel for some R&R.

After some rest (Whiskey in the Hotel Bar) we got washed up and went straight back out into the Scottish night, I was amazed my Dad was able to keep up, he usually requires 12 hours of sleep a day, but so far he’d been driving for nearly the same amount of hours, with no sleep, drinking through most of the day, and now as the night swept over the medieval city, he was primed and ready for a long night of drinking.

Edinburgh at night reminded me of home, I’ve never been in another country and felt as much at home as I did that night, it was perfect, we slipped with ease from bar to bar, from your standard DJ playing Rock whilst drunken idiots stand on the spot and have a spastic attack, to the more bourgeois cocktail bars, full of hush conversations and the odd burst of laughter. We had a great night of conversation, the drunker my father got the more he tried to give me practical advice on life and women.. Some of the nuggets, from what I can remember, are as follows…

“Women need security and babies Keith… Love is alll well and good but if they don’t have those fooooorget about it”

“They (Women) will pretend to be interested in you and your life until they get you, just remember… At the end of the day they’re all fuckin nuts..”

As you can tell …My father’s colourful view of women and marriage is rather tainted by his own experiences, but it was interesting to see his take on life so openly, even if I think he talks a load of bollocks at times, so it was a successful night, we got a Taxi back to the Hotel, staggered into the bar area for one last drink while my Padre tried to chat up the night staff lady (ordering me the wrong fucking sandwich in the process too I might add, fucking MAYO) and then it was off to bed for some well deserved and long overdue sleep, the return Journey was as much like our arrival to bother detailing so I don’t need to go there, all in all… A success, I will be going back to this wonderful city at some later unknown for now date for a more measured and lasting taste of its delights. One last thing before I go though, DO NOT…under any circumstances get one of those black cab Taxi’s, they will trap you in the back with those doors that only they can unlock, drive you to your destination, then charge you 40 pound for the privilege of releasing you…you can’t even run off on the bastards for overcharging you… So avoid at all costs.

Ta-ta for now

Icarus

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To those entering College and University.

I wish you all the best and leave you with these wise words from Barbara Ehrenreich.

“Welcome to Fleece U., where our mission is to take feckless teenagers such as yourselves and turn them into full-fledged citizens of our economy, meaning, of course, debtors.

 

 

Many life-changing things will happen to you in the next four years. You will make lasting friends, including perhaps the love of your life. You will drink more than you ever thought possible and bitterly regret it in the morning. You will lose your virginity, if you happen to have brought it with you.

 

 

Our stellar faculty ardently hopes that along the way you will be amazed by calculus and charmed by the tipsy conversation between Alcibiades and that wily old radical, Socrates. There is also a general expectation that you that you will come out of here with some hazy notion of spelling and grammar.

 

 

But never forget that your real purpose here is to shake off the pointless freedom of youth and assume the burden of debt. To this end, we have just raised our tuition in an attempt to keep up with such top-of-the-line institutions as George Washington University (now weighing in at $39,210 a year, or $50,000 with room and board). You will find us also charging a plethora of additional fees — a “student activities fee,” a “technology fee,” and an “incidentals fee.” In addition, we will be experimenting this year with a “snow removal fee,” a “lecture hall seat-use fee,” and the installation of pay toilets in the dorms.

 

 

It would be short-sighted to resent these fees, since they provide valuable experience in bill-reading, and will come in handy when you confront your own personal monthly utility statements. At present we do not charge any additional tuition for this training in bill- reading, though we are considering adding a special “fee fee” in the future.

 

 

Another thing that will help ease you into the status of debtor is the price of your textbooks — about $120 to $180 for a new, graffiti- free copy. True, this seems high when you could buy a hardcover of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows for $20 or less, but the aim is to teach you that a book is something to treasure (and, again, we charge no extra fee for this lesson.)

 

 

On average, you will graduate with a respectable-sized debt of $20,000, which will enable you to establish your all-important “credit history.” If we have succeeded in our educational mission, you will be a first-rate debtor, capable of making minimum monthly payments much of the time. As fresh offers of credit cards and home equity loans pour in, you will beam with pride at your achievement.

 

 

Please note carefully that Fleece U degree cannot guarantee you a future income that will allow you to pay off your debts. Many of our most promising graduates are now, three or four years later, working for $8-12 an hour serving up lattés, counseling disturbed youth or creating business computer networks. They are set for a lifetime of debt, and we are proud that they first began to accrue it right here, on our lovely mock Oxfordian campus.

 

 

We don’t have to remind you not to stigmatize debt as a condition associated with poverty. In 2006, for the first time, the average household’s debt exceeded its income. By becoming a debtor, you will have entered the American mainstream! We have confidence that you will go on to mature effortlessly from college debt to car loan to mortgage to medical debts occasioned by the ever-growing gaps in coverage.

 

 

You will see the value of all this debt when the day comes, as it inevitably will, when you wake up and ask yourself, “Who am I and what am I doing here?” You will be tempted to take long walks, read the Upanishads, or try out for a new career as a trophy spouse.

 

 

In a crisis like this, you could easily spend thousands of dollars on life coaching and motivational DVDs. But you won’t have to, because you’ll have debt to keep you going. You will get up, shower, and toil faithfully in your cubicle year after year until, in the fullness of time, your family acquires the debt for your interment (at which point we trust you will have remembered Fleece U in your will.)

 

So think of debt as the great motivator. Think of it as our gift to you. Because for at least the next academic year, we are not even thinking of charging for it.”

The message is Universal, even if said Debt in my own country is not nearly as high as other places, but our charming political class will see that change in time, good luck Amigos.

Published without Permission from Atlernet. (Not sure i even need it.. so relax)