Posts Tagged ‘ Travel ’

Flip flop folly

So in my previous post I stated that I have not done much of interest to remember in the last few years, that’s not actually true. I did travel across Europe by bike and the following story is one I wrote for someone about an incident that happened along the way. Might as well pop it up here.

So during a trip across Europe, I stopped in Rotterdam for a few days rest because the old legs were starting to complain louder than normal by refusing to work when I tried to cycle. Anyway… I camped in this nice little park area right in the middle of the city that’s hemmed in by large trees. You pay a few euro and you get to pitch your tent and use the facilities, All good and useful, lovely… So on the second day of rest I decided it was time to stock up on food and booze because the nights are quiet in the park and some whiskey would make things a little more interesting.

I headed out having absolutely no idea where I was going, the city was unfamiliar and I only realized that I had left the map behind me twenty minutes into walking around the city, street after street, so I wasn’t going back. I also stupidly wore the flip flops I used to let my feet breathe at the camp site. Long distance flip flopping, I do not recommend it, It’s absolute murder on endless paved path… But the real problem with the flip flops came about forty minutes into the ordeal, still wandering under the baking sun trying to find the shopping mall I stepped on a rather large pile of dog shit.

Under normal circumstances this wouldn’t be so bad, right? You scrape it off on the side of the pavement and move on with perhaps a mild curse, but something magical had happened… To this day I am still not sure how… But as I lifted my flip flopped foot from the dog shit… A large piece somehow launched into the air and landed right under the skin of my foot inside the flip flop, by the time I had processed what had happened it was too late, my foot was back down upon the pavement… Squish. I stopped dead.

I don’t know how long I stood there, as long as I could get away with it until passers by noticed this strange statue of a man grimacing in place, not long. I could feel it, It was against my foot, fucking dog shit, crushed… Against my foot. Disaster. I now faced a terrible dilemma… Either I turn back now after forty minutes of wandering to clean my foot off, because it was an absolutely disgusting sensation to endure even for a second, Or… I push on. I don’t know why I did it, but I decided to keep going and get my shopping done. I pretended like it wasn’t there, even though each step squished the shit more tightly against my skin…  I had to act normal, no one must know.

You’ll forgive me for being graphic with this, I have to get across just how nasty it felt. With a renewed sense of focus and urgency I found the Mall after another twenty minutes of wandering, at this point I could smell it even as I walked, the heat of midday and my foot just cooked the stuff. I walked faster and faster to escape the smell but it caught me all the same. Finally after much speed walking in my shitty flip flops I’m at the food store.

It was really busy. My heart sank… Why did I do this? Why God? Doubts gnawed my resolve. But I couldn’t stop now, If I stayed still for more than a few seconds the game was up.. People would figure it out. I’m the one that smells like shit. So I grabbed a basket and moved with surgical precision. I had my mental checkl ist firing off in my mind as I walked. Bread roll, cheese, meat, grapes, apples, bananas, cakes, assorted chocolate bars and of course… Don’t forget the all important whiskey, I’ll need it after this.

I zoomed around the entire store before I picked up a single item, recon. I had to know where everything was because if I stopped to figure something out I was lost, it was crowded and the people behind me were most likely looking for the culprit, they could smell shit all right, but they couldn’t pin it on me If I kept moving, guilt followed closely at my heels. With a rough idea I started grabbing everything I needed, Bread, meats and fruit.. I got nearly all of it. But it was time to go… My foot was actually sliding against the flip flop at this point, my skin greased with shit… I was starting to visibly walk funny, not good. Time for the biggest test of all… The Checkout.

I found the least busy one, there were still three people ahead of me and that meant standing still, and that meant doom… I was sweating badly now, not just from the heat.. But because I knew the people in line with me could smell the shit. A little boy with his mother said something in Dutch behind me, It could have been anything since I don’t know the language, but I’m fairly certain it was something like “Mom, why does it smell like poo poo”? Then it happened, an older gentleman in front of me turning with this disgusted expression, waving a hand across his nose and pointing at me at the same time.


He looked down at my shorts, so did the woman behind the till, they think I shat myself, they think I am some kind of pant shitter. I had been with this lie for so long now, invested so much into it, that I wasn’t going to give it up. All I could do was shake my head and shrug.. I don’t know his damn language. A security guard standing along the aisles came over and said something dutch and stern to me after a brief discussion with the lady at the till. My mouth flopped and I jerked out a few words while pointing at the checkout. I am not going without my items. Not after everything… Please, you don’t know what I have been through you Dutch bastards. They think I’m a vagrant and perhaps I am, but this ordeal has to mean something… So I refused to budge until she scanned my items and I paid… Walking out shame faced, flanked by watching faces with the security guard who kept talking to me in Dutch even though I clearly did not have a clue what he was saying… So I just nodded and carried my shame… Along with my shopping.

After another near hour of walking back under the hot sun I made it to the park… Slipping and sliding on my flip flop the whole way. Finally this nightmare can end though, I made a beeline straight into the fucking showers because this shit has got to go. The sole of my foot was pure brown, I scrubbed it for all I was worth, again and again and again until my foot was as new. So smelling fresh as a daisy I walked back to my tent with the shopping bags in my bare feet, the flip flops were thrown in the bin along with the shame. I unpacked everything, Bread, cheese, meat… The lot, but I had forgotten the whiskey. I almost cried.



(Not correcting Typos..too legion in number..also Blog is intentionally ranty to give it that authentic feel)

I’m sitting here in bed on the laptop trying to recall the last few days, I really should clean everything off this bed too, there is so much piled on it that only I… In my infinitely skinny glory..can somehow mould myself between everything into something approaching comfort.

Anyway, I left here Friday at around 5pm, the plan was to wait in Enfield (A nearby weener town) for the Bus to Galway, which leaves every hour.. while I waited I was supposed to call a contact I had there for some tasty Orange bud grass for the lads down in Galway, which was of course badly needed as they had run out… But the God of timing combined with the fact that I was already stoned combined so that the bus arrive earlier than I had off I went.

Few hours of travel later.. Although actually… One person of interest on the bus, a Galway man.. Old man to be precise, big bushy fricken beard on him, old matted white and grey …Baldy head… Haggard creased wind beaten face… Sat right across from me. I’ve no idea why I found him so interesting or calming, he had a very calming face… Ithink it was the likeness to Santa, which brought back all of those soothing childhood memories of a man with a white beard who would crawl down my chimney to leave me presents because I’d been a good boy, which… Every time I think about now, is not really that soothing at all. Had the look of a fisherman, you could tell his face had a million arguments with the Atlantic gales and lost every damn one of em… It was an interesting face, I could have studied it all day, anyway kudos to old man for being the single interesting point on the journey.

Got off the bus, Daithi Collected me in his car.. Which again is an odd sight to see… I’ve spent years traipsing around with this man on foot without transport to get to places, usually in shitty awful weather… As well as insulting him fiercely from my window when I used to live in Dublin and he would stagger out of my house in the middle of the night, his little huddled self straining against Irish hate wind as it did its best to freeze my poor friend all the way to cold hard bone… Walking up that old The Lawns road to a chorus of my ranting about how warm my room used to be… To see him now, sitting behind the wheel of a large hunk of metal hurtling towards me… Was strange indeed, that said..he’s a good driver… So it’s one more car I get to be a passenger in.

Got to the house and settled. Phil was already well oiled having drank the entire day I think… So I only saw him for a few minutes before he was out the door to some college ordeal of debauchery. Spent night with Dave watching epic four hour movie on Tom Petty…Smoked whatever little crumbs I had brought with me, uneventful but enjoyable night in, relaxing sleep soon followed.

Woke up… Daithi gone.. Though I think I remember him coming in to say goodbye.. But my answering machine replied, you know those conversations you have with someone when you’ve just been woken up and you can speak and discuss things clear as day but in actual fact you’re still asleep? I’m fairly sure that’s what happened. Spent morning and early day pottering around by self… Phil was back home but completely obliterated… That man arose like Jesus himself at 5pm… Looking like he’d been crucified the night before for his many sins, that said… Phil is a hero, almost straight off the bat we got ourselves into a couple of bottles of vino and it was off to see a band neither of us had seen before. Dark Room Notes, a little Irish group of newbies hoping to make a name for themselves… We got to talking and drinking in the smoking section of the Roisin Dubh before the gig began, I can remember some ludicrous discussion about how infinitely incredible the human mind is and how little of its potential we use. I always get great conversations with Phil like that, the pair of us are little wonder babies… Wondering at everything and being genuinely humble about how amazing life is.. These conversations usually end with “Yeh… Man.. Jesus…… Fucking incredible.. Yah… It’s amazing!”

Armed with a renewed sense of amazement of my own existence (thank you Phil… Best thing you can say about a friend is that they help renew your vigour for too complex life) We heard the music start… False alarm though, it was generic Indie band 67234 playing as support act, they filled the room with a sound that comforted and massaged the earlobes, but little else.

We stood amidst a crowd of young folk about our own age, the gig area was quiet for a while but slowly began to fill as Dark Room started to play.. Drank copiously and listened to the wonderful go-beat-go sound this band produced. Been a while since i’ve been impressed by an unknown live band but they had me bopping around and trance like with their sound… Throwing Vodkas down my throat like a Bolshevik in heat (whatever the fuck that means). Just remembered a funny image, This old man… Must have been at least 65 years of age, up at the front of the stage dancing with these killer moves, he put every young person in that room to shame.. I think he was on E. He certainly chewed his face enough to suggest he was on something… But boy, dressed up in smart shirt and pants and grooving… Young at heart… Certainly younger than I.

After the gig was over things started to blur… I know we decided we should leave so we went to head in the direction of the door but somehow we managed to get sucked in towards the bar again, like some force of nature took us there… So we stood at the bar, growing increasingly hunched as time passed for God knows how long drinking and drinking and talking like men possessed about everything going on in our lives and our relationships and yes… Even our mothers, we cut ourselves open and let bleed all those things you store up and wait to say to a friend you know will listen and basked in the warm glow of friendship renewed and strengthened with the blood of old wounds.

Now the leaving of the Roison Dubh until the next morning I have no solid consistent memory of… Vague images, walking… Abuse at random strangers… Subway sandwich beef and cheese just fucking beef and cheese nothing else, please… Security man… English, Afghanistan, good night and good luck cold damp wet alleyway, phone calls… Never get a taxi home doomed to die here… No! Wait! Watch this get taxi… Vroooooom… GO. Home. Photos. Music… And man oh man I need to take a piss darkness.

That about sums it up in stream of consciousness.

Woke up next day in the afternoon and sat with Phil as we tried to remember something, Anything about the night before, he had phone calls… One in particular to a friend of his mothers logged at 2am in the morning… Which could have turned out to be a bad thing… A very bad thing if you know what Phil’s mother is like. Strange drunken call in the middle of the night to a fifty something year old woman about God knows what… So far no word though, so no damage done. Also spent morning watching “Future Weapons” what an insane show… Baldy head Military nut Mack showing the world the weapons of the future the US of Murder is going to use to give us Full Spectrum Dominance and Freedom, lots and lots of Freedom. Never seen a man so horny for weapons in my life, kind of whack job that sleeps with a giant hand cannon down at his crotch getting off to cold hard steel sensation and now I don’t even want to go down that road of thought any longer so moving on.

Decided to spend the afternoon and early evening watching a movie in the theatre… Great place to cure a heavy nights drinking as long as you pick the right movie, nice giant dark room where you get to sit around and munch too salty popcorn and rehydrate yourself with a drink so large you could beat someone to death with it, that’s my benchmark for all things over sized, if I can beat someone to death with it.. It’s big.

Good Movie (In Bruges)…very complex in subtle and humerus ways… The Ending is just fricken genius, dark comedy genius. I laughed about it on and off for two days every time I remembered it… Just no holds barred nothing is sacred humour that if you allow yourself to let go creates laughter enough to make you weep, Phil being the sport that he was put up with my random outbursts of laughter and mumbling about Midgets with exploded heads and Dum Dums.. I think that night we stayed in.. I made a home made second hand Joint that put Phil into a jittering Coma and coupled with the wine… Had me in noddy land a short while after.

St Paddies Morning was a beautiful mix of Sun and light cloud… Too lazy to head into the city to see the bullshit parade we actually had a plan to get a bus all the way to Dublin and back purely to collect drugs… Having a change of heart at the bus station we decided to buy alcohol from an off licence and drink it as we soaked up the atmosphere in town, leaving the acquirement of said narcotics in the hands of Daithi and Vinny… Which in hindsight did not work out so well except for the wonderful day that followed for the pair of us vagrants.

Galway was alive with special touristy bullshit catholic holiday energy, a really nice friendly vibe helped mainly by the large contingent of tourists with their amusing Giant green hats and green hair and painted faces.. A lot of Spaniards around strangely enough… With serious mysterious faces looking all lovely and dark… A beautiful Spanish lady in particular fucking me with her eyes later that evening in a pub, but being my stoic shy self I couldn’t go near her, I wouldn’t know what to do with some beautiful stranger in my hands for a night, sad eh? Anywho… Everyone was Irish for a day, no one exactly knew what that meant of course.. Except to ingest large quantities of alcohol… We bought some cheap Australian Merlot and spent a couple of hours either wandering to avoid the Police… Or sitting at the Docks drinking… It was all very paranoid, been a while since I have had to do that… Brought back a flush of youth, eventually we made a big trek out to the rocky sandy beach and sat and drank and wondered and talked and laughed as the sun started to decline in the sky…Bringing the frickin temperature with it, a move was in order.

It grew pretty cold pretty quickly so we made a beeline back to the city with the wind humping our backs, to a fish and chips place for some drunken food and that furnace of heat a nice big warm meal produces when stuck in the element of cold for protracted periods… Another trip to the off licence later we purchased some more Vodka and stuck it into sneaky bottles of water so as to get the Fuzz off our backs… Sitting around on Eyre Square we had another conversation/debate that will stay with me… I thought I was disagreeing with Phil at first and I’m pretty sure he felt the same but in a roundabout way we came to the same startling conclusion, that we were freezing our nuts off and we needed to find a pub… So the Kings head it was, more drinking… Watching, Talking… We made our way up each level of the bar until somehow we found ourselves in some strange little alcove of a place called the Ruby Lounge, a nice little crimson bar full of tourists and strangely effective dancing women who knew how to throw their curves around in the most pleasing of fashion… Eventually Phil got a powerful lust to get his hands on some E Pills, so broke as I was at that point… I followed him on a strange quest to a student apartment to acquire some, friends of his, a grubby little place (as student hovels often are)Filled with beer bottles majestically stacked against the wall in ever decreasing numbers until they reached a pretty little mountain peak at the ceiling, eventually leaving I was too tired of the prospect of spending the night at home wired to the moon on a drug I had never taken before, so it was back home to bed for an anti-climactic nights rest.

Next Morning ( I am realizing how long winded this blog has become, so cutting it short) it was goodbyes and sitting on a bench in Eyre Square with wonderful sun beating down on my head as I waited for a bus, broke and smokeless… Providence came in the form of an old man who sat down beside me, I inquired about a trade… My newspaper for one of his cancer sticks, one smiley nod later and I have sparked up an old man Ciggie with extra death length. Squinty eyes watched as legions of tourists with hangover heads trundled past like the walking dead. It was a fitting end to an excellent weekend… Many Thanks to Phil for playing the amazing Host, hope to get back soon, I really am falling in love with Galway.