You will know when it exists -- Obscure journalism direct from our man on the ground.

Friday, 19 November 2010

If she is to be sold the camels will be hers - Shopping in Egypt















Egypt, Africa: It was my first time out of Europe, from the start I saw this would be more than a holiday, it would be an abstract lesson in cross cultural codes of conduct.

Getting through the security at Sharm El Sheikh airport did not look easy. Ahead of me a heaving mass of English, Italian and Russian tourists. These seemed to fall into two distinct sets: 'Seasoned Scuba Divers' and their counterpart 'Out Of Practice Sunbathers'. Tensions flared between both factions, apparently considering the other was less entitled to be here.

The system the airport had put in place was designed to infuriate; there was an opening in a barrier that two squashed thick lines inched forward to funnel through. After that was a winding que but the barriers were mere belts and soon the situation would make their protocol obsolete.
As the temperature raised and the crowd became more heated I looked worryingly at the handguns worn by the security.
It was a rogue Italian who made the first move. A short podgy 30-something with glasses thin hair and a youthful grin. He slipped under one barrier casually and got away with it, emboldened he used the same maneuver again not 5 minutes later. This was too much for the embittered eyes of a group of Ladies from the North of England.

"Hey there's a queue here!"
"Get back to where you were."

"What makes you think you're so special?"
His face reddened slightly as he appologised as best he could "I speak no English"

"I don't care if you speak English or not just get back in the queue."

His shrug seemed to say "I don't understand what your saying and I don't understand your need to be sticklers for queuing, I am just trying to get through security and waiting in a line isn't as effective as sneaking through gaps. If you had more sense you would do the same yourselves." I believe it was the smile he flashed before turning his back to them that made them finally flip. "WHO THE HECK DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?"
"ALL THESE PEOPLE HAVE BEEN HEAR LONGER THAN YOU"
"SECURITY! HE SKIPPED THE QUEUE"

"MAKE HIM GO BACK"

With so many people distracted by the commotion sly Russians started slipping under barriers on the left flank.

Once on the other side our buses wouldn't leave until everybody using the same tour operators filled up the shuttle buses. I wanted a cigarette, this however was going to be no mean task.
Sharm El Sheikh is a city of hotels, there is no center, no residential districts, this is a city built on tourism alone. Surrounded on one side by a mountainous desert and the other by the coral strewn Red Sea.

Me and my girlfriend Margarita left the hotel and began walking down a long road sided on the sea side by hotels and on the side of the desert by shops. These establishments seemed to fall into 5 categories:

1. Souvenir shops - Where you could get Pharaoh-themed fridge magnets, ashtrays, vanity mirrors and the slightly less ubiquitous dancing soft-toy camel (which we put on the maybe list)
2. Shisha shops - Hookah pipes in there hundreds.
3. Leather shops - Faux-designer leather bags. If you can't afford to be rich why not pretend to be?

4. Spice shops - Huge bags of spices on offer to the multitude of guests eating self-service buffets three times a day on their all-inclusive holidays.
5. Jewelery shops - For the most precious memories.


















A rare sighting of dancing cuddly toy camels.


But none selling cigarettes.
We kept walking the lone road, no longer lit by the merchants strip lights. Packs of dogs roamed in the shadows, the ancient hieroglyphic god-breed. Five Egyptian men towards us. After they have passed Margarita tells me one of them touched her arm, I hadn't noticed. She asks me what I would have done if he had grabbed her bum, I told her the truth which she did not want to hear. I would have ignored it and walked on.
She would have rather I hypothetically confronted him
"Hey what do you think you are doing?" In my mind that would have only served to escalate the situation into possible danger. I was ignorant to how women were treated here but had an inkling that certain institutions made the sight of a scantily clad lady an invitation to male attention. Shouting at this guy for acting the way his society had raised him to behave, even hypothetically, seemed wrong. I could have just swung at him, an unexpected right hook to the face then taken on his friends too; whether I won or lost that fight I'm sure the ensuing battle with Egyptian authorities would not favour the hot headed foreigner.


Having not told her what she wanted to hear, and dishonoring her with the wimpy truth, had laid the foundations for us becoming another of the
'high incidence of a romantic breakups caused by the stress of travel.'
I was not in a good mood and started to just completely ignore the inevitable jeering "Where are you from?" that starts the generic Egyptian hard-sell script.
Blanking eager to-please Egyptians really annoys them and evenings vibe got increasingly worse as we passed them to muttering of "Shit" and angry eyes.
Eventually I spotted a shop displaying cigarettes and marched inside.
Shop keeper "Where are you from my friend?"

Me "How much are they?" Pointing to a sleeve of Camel triple filters.

Shop keeper "I can tell you don't like talking."

Me "I just want to buy them, how much?"

Shop keeper "Relax, please relax in my shop"

I started to feel bad, I am usually chilled out, what was wrong with me.
Shop Keeper "Is she your wife?" Pointing at the scowling beauty looking at single packs of Davidoff slims.

Me "Yes"

Shop keeper "Where are you from?"

Me "England"
Shop keeper "Wayne Rooney, Lovely Jubbly"

Forced laughter.

Me "I will give you 90 Egyptian pounds" (Price you would pay in the UK converted to Egyptian pounds then divided by 3)

Shop keeper puts meaningless figures into a calculator."I can give you these for 90 Egyptian pounds" Offering a less popular brand of cigarettes.
I accept.

Shop keeper seeing my St.Christopher pendant (good luck travel charm) "I am Christian too, you can trust me" - Not a Christian myself and generally one to avoid putting much trust in any religious type or anyone that asks me to trust them for that matter. Needless to say this last sentence did not work in the guys favour.

Soon he figures out that me and Margarita are not married and offers me 100 camels for her, Margarita calls his bluff "Come on! You don't own any camels" most probably true but he persists. I laugh and say okay and sarcastically reach for the sleeve of Camel cigarettes.
Jovial shop keeper "Yes, yes"
Me "Sorry, if she is to be sold the camels will be hers."

Sat over a small glass of shandy and finally smoking I couldn't stop thinking about my eagerness to buy. How rude it seemed here. Why was I so rushed? I had plenty of time. Was I so used to self-service checkouts I had lost all sense of human decency? That poor guy was interested in a foreign culture and I had denied his curiosity.


Over the week that followed me and Margarita became more accustomed to the hard-sell approach of the Egyptians and the haggling that ensued. We didn't ignore the "Where are you from?" question, just let them guess until politely conceding but apologising for not needing there assistance today.

On the last day I tested the good nature of the shop keepers again. I had become bored of the swimming pools and 5* service, being more favourable to a
slow-travel approach to seeing the world, so now it was me asking the questions.

"How many roads are there out of here?"
"How far between petrol stations"

"How many brothers and sisters do you have?"

I had been asking questions for over an hour without ever once talking about what I had come to buy.
"Do you live in Cairo?"

"Where does the tap water come from in Sharm? Is there a water purification plant for sea water or is it piped in from the Nile"


Divulging from the script the shop keepers' mastery of English language was not what they would, at first, have me believe. They answered as best they could but what most confused them was my behavior. It appeared they were not interested in talking much at all. He wanted a deal to go down just as much as I did on my first day. I don't know if this made me feel better about myself or worse about the world but one way or another things balanced out and felt back to normal.



In the huge expanse of Cairos outskirts I saw hundreds of thousands of unfinished buildings, just shells really, no fittings whatsoever, in neighborhoods completely void of shops of any kind just rows of ghost blocks and dusty streets. Mostly uninhabited except by an occasional family with enough money to buy their own windows and doors, or by ramshackle wooden shacks thrown up on the roof. High-rise-husks built buy land grabbers with an eye for building up and up when the time comes, steel wires pointing to the sun one day to support more concrete. This was a wonder.

However there was one sad sight I saw as I got back onto the shuttle bus: As two white girls in pleated mini-skirts walked along the pavement a merchant, long into his 40s, a few yards in front dropped his cigarette accidentally on purpose, he must have caught a mere frustrated glimpse of their panties.

















Margarita; a happy shopper.
















Who benefits from misunderstandings?






Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Better Best Forgotten - A disturbing dream


















The second I discover a piece of writing is set in a dream I completely discount it as worthless gobbledygook, even if the story that it is set in is a work of fiction. What you are about to read is not fiction at all, it really did happen to me, it's just I was asleep at the time.
I was walking besides a dusty railway track, not much else in site, I knew I was dreaming and that bored me. I stumbled upon a heavy hardback book, the cover was black but had no title or author indeed nothing that indicated what this book might be about. It was locked with a inconsequential gold padlock just like a young girls diary might be, with one forceful twist I gained entry. The pages were empty but having beaten the decorative lock the book seemed fit to bestow its secrets upon me. The knowledge of why dreams exist.
There are plenty of scientific explanations for what dreams are but a clear explanation of why seemed before this revelation to be lacking. Imagine if nobody ever had dreams, how strange it would be if one person did, how much stranger still if after years of a population unbeknownst of the experience of dreaming the entire world all began to dream at once. When taken for granted the mystery of why we dream seems to be ignored.
Now I knew. Dreams exist to confuse, to shift our attention from our immediate surroundings, to further overwhelming over communication. To ignite our imaginations that we may tell stories, create myths and legends and monsters and lies and fear when we wake up.
There and then I ceased creating any narrative any connections out of the images flashing on my retinas. Seeing hundreds of meaningless images come and go, hundreds every second.

An autumnal tree.
A camels gurning face.
Rows and rows of grey shelves in a library, filled with thousands of books.
Three pears on a plate.
A young woman in a hat sat on a park bench.
A dramatic cliff face jutting down into a turbulent grey sea.
My uncle.
A small white dog barking aggressively.
A child blowing out candles at a birthday party.
A steep grassy hill.

Then a man with a grotty strawberry blonde beard appeared and lingered for a while, staring blankly at me with cold eyes – the pupils a misty grey.
I knew he was a wandering soul sent to me from limbo by the guardian of the secret, here to make me forget what I had learned.
I repeated to myself “Don’t let the nonsense distract you from the significant.”...
...“Don’t let the nonsense distract you from the significant.”...
...“Don’t let the nonsense distract you from the significant.”
Eventually the spectral figure stood listlessly in front spoke “You don’t really believe I was sent here do you. You must know that you created me yourself. I was born of your imagination, an imagination that cannot be stifled. It is laughable; your need for some sense of purpose. You seek greater purpose in anything and everything, just give it a rest.”
Rest,
rest,
rest. Ahhh! Yes I was just resting, I yawn, ooohh I only shut my eyes for a moment and must have drifted off. I am sat on my brown faux leather sofa fully clothed. I remember having a stomach churning dream of long straight black hairs sprouting out of my ripe burgundy bell-end. My penis a nasty witches broom dangling between my legs like a suicide excuse.
I cautiously slip a hand past the drawstrings of my comfortable jogging bottoms.
It couldn’t be real, could it?

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

A walk, but no park... - More on Parliament Square Protests

... where an outcrop of freedom once lay.


























I left London for a week and when I returned I walked from waterloo past Parliament. The courts must have finally passed a decision on the protestors there as it seems they had been ousted.

All that remain are a few of the hardcore protestors, those who have been there years and those on hunger strike camping on the pavement (supposedly doesn't fall under the park bylaws.)

I am not surprised they lost the case for their form of permanent protest there. A source of mine attending the court case told me when one protestor was called she stood up and twirled around dressed as a fairy and announced "I am the Queen of the Common People." "Your laws do not affect us. We live by the law of the Universe."

Unfortunately for her et al the law of the UK is enforced and now Parliament Square Park is surrounded by fencing. I was sad when I saw this; it seems both parties really messed up this time. The free-for-all campsite has made it harder for spur of the moment action to be taken. The huge fence up does not give me an easy feeling, not a good image for freedom. Where once it seemed tolerance abounded now security guards hide behind a health and safety notice.

Could the internet be the platform for starting a true democracy? Is there power numbers? 
Or is this website a distraction? "Get them off our lawn and give them a website" Will they listen? Will enough people speak?









Security. (Doesn't make me feel secure.)














Evicted.











Go Green.













Even more, of an eyesore. 





Monday, 5 July 2010

Hal Far would you go? - Sleep-over at a refugee camp in Malta












March 2007
I arrived in Malta with a few hundred pounds in my bank, 3 nights stay booked in a cheap hotel and no skills or trades to offer other than those of a disillusioned art student.
Within a week I had a room in a nice shared flat and a part-time job at a bowling alley – Superbowl! Suited me just fine…
After a few weeks of working the paperwork caught up with me apparently I needed a Work Permit. “Just tell them you will start at the end of the month.”
To pick up my permit I had to go, with my passport, to the ETC head office in Hal Far. I left early (ish) but it took 2 buses and a good while to get there, I arrived just as they closed the gates, desperately I explained I just needed to pick up a permit but “We close at 12. Man. You will have to come back tomorrow, we open at 9am.”
Feeling slightly stunned (who closes at midday?) I wondered around a bit - not much in the neighbourhood; a few workshops and warehouses. An army truck drives by following the sign to the base… and… what’s this? – PEACE LAB – I look in through the fence; some modest statues, some nice plants and flowers, some empty tents. Perfect: I will walk down to Birzebugga, spend all day snorkelling and on the beach then come and sleep here so that I don’t have to take all those buses home then back again and this way I will certainly get into the ETC offices before 12 tomorrow!
In my backpack [A litre bottle of water, a snorkel and my passport.]
The walk down to Pretty Bay is pleasant down the rural side-roads. I pass a Boy Scouts HQ (more tents – seems luck is on my side). Whilst snorkelling I talk to an old Canadian man who is prizing shells from the rocks and collecting sea urchins called Rizzi, eating them as he goes. He opens one up with his knife and offers it to me. Its deep orange tastes of the sea with just a hint of days gone by. I swim out and look at the Freeport, cargo ships come and go, I guess they named it Pretty Bay before the heavy industry moved in next door.
Swimming in the clear water I wonder what those ships stories are and what freight is in all the large faceless containers. The whole operation is anything but transparent casting a slight mystery over the area, looming like an ignored secret.
After drying myself on my T-shirt and letting it dry in turn in the sun, I stroll into Birzebugga to get something to eat (A pizza slice and a Pea Pastiz.) I see a bunch of teens skateboarding and watch for a bit, then ask to have a go and soon I am hanging out and skating as one of them, down by the seafront on a large semicircular concrete seat. We jump on and flip off. I get taught what becomes one of my favourite phrases in Maltese, I do not know how to spell it but this is how it is pronounced “Jer-e-oo-lee ha nist-ree-ahk.”
The day passes quickly – having fun, then the sun goes down and the skate rats head home. I head back the way I came. The scouts tents are full of muffled chit-chat and activity (Who’s lucky now?) I continue past the ETC it seems a much longer walk this time.
The Peace Laboratory smells of cooking there are lights on in a little cabin so I go in, I am greeted with confused looks from the three African men sitting around a small table but those lying on the bunk beds don’t sit up to look. I ask if there are any rooms to stay in the tents and once I manage to explain it is just for tonight one of the men goes to find someone he says can help. In he walks my saviour in a retro Manchester United shirt. He says follow me and as I do he tells me his name is Beckham and smiles pulling on the red football strip. Strange I think as we walk out of the Peace laboratory I thought there was room in the tents there but I follow him faithfully.
Soon we get to an open gate in a high fence and go on in, there is a sort of security block with its lights on Beckham says not to worry about signing in, I am only here for one night and asks if I want any of the clothes laid out on the floor there, they all look about twice the size I take so I tell him I’m alright. Then through the darkness I see where we are; hundreds of old military tents set up in rows with a few fires burning in petrol cans here and there, I presume it is a sort of refugee camp. We walk through and Beckham sees a man being very loud and confides in me how this man takes all the women and does not seem to pleased about it. He advises me not to look at his women, believe it or not I take his advice.
Beckham speaks to some people outside his cousins tent, two women clean clothes in a bucket (I watch, hoping they have nothing to do with loud man) then I get showed in. Inside is unlike anything I have seen before; bunk beds turned into four person rooms by segregating them with cardboard boxes. A lot of the people are out in the middle corridor (?) and look like they are enjoying the evening seeing my white face they seem slightly amused but carry on doing whatever they are doing.
In the makeshift room I am assigned a bed (Beckham’s cousin is away) the bed has silky sheets and is very pleasant. The guy opposite offers me the only food he has which is a jar of mayonnaise, it makes me feel sad and also chuckle. He tells me to sleep on top of my bag; again I take the advice given, wanting to keep a hold of my passport.
I drift off to sleep feeling warm from the generosity shown by these people who obviously have very little to call their own.
I drift off to sleep to the whispers and shouting and laughter of a community.
I drift off to sleep to the sound of joyous singing.
I wake up early and it is now very quiet and still. I look at the picture pulled from a magazine of a woman in a bikini posing sexually and here she looks more unobtainable than ever. Everyone else is asleep, the note I write reads:
Thank you for your hospitality.
Chris Cooley
It is only 8am as I walk out of the camp, there is dew on the grass and the sky is a white shade of blue. I wait for the office to open as the sun comes up. I see some more people come out of the camp wearing heavy work boots, their clothes covered in paint.
The office opens and after sitting in the waiting room for over an hour I go in and after a short talk and signing some forms I get my permit. As I walk out into the courtyard pink flowers glow in the sunshine. Waiting at the bus stop I feel once again feel that luck is on my side.
Afternote
I hadn’t known anything about the immigrant situation in Malta before that night. Afterwards I read bits and pieces in the newspapers. I heard people talk about them in scorn. I walked into a nightclub and the bouncer turned away the black guy behind me saying he didn’t have an invite. Neither did I. Neither did anybody.
Thankfully not everyone is against their fellow people though:
... and of course - http://www.peacelab.org/

Friday, 4 June 2010

A Walk In The Park - Parliament Square Protests

Thursday 4th June 2010








I turn up to Parliament Square wearing my favourite navy blue Calvin Klein shirt tucked into brown GAP chinos and shoes of the purist white.
I start to take some photos and notice two Asian men milling around near the Nelson Mandela statue wearing the uniform of a mysterious security organisation.
A rent-a-van pulls up and some people start offloading a winch and two car engines. I ask the old man orchestrating the proceedings what is going on and he begins to tell me the engines are going to be used as feet for a ‘Goddess of Democracy’ structure they are erecting. He gets taken aside by a police officer whose colleague tells the mixed crew offloading that they have to get the equipment on the grass a.s.a.p. (the reason for this goes unquestioned.)
I take a look around the camp that lies at the heart of Westminster surrounded by busy roads. There are tents upturned and collapsed, bikes and various objects laying around creating a chaotic environment. There are peace flags and sloguns painted on many tents, however this does not seem like any place to be for people who appreciated peace. I can’t grasp the harmony here. I guess the peace they are advocating is something different, something we currently enjoy in this country; no wars.
I ask around for what exactly is going on and soon I am sitting with two English guys Dom and Joe, roughly my age, who previously lived in a squat in Berlin together. They have a lot to say (unlike the two girls sitting with them) and rapidly inform me of many things. They tell me that there are all sorts of people here with different views but the main thing they agree on is that the war in Afghanistan should stop and that our soldiers should be brought home. The camp even houses a few returned soldiers from the war who agree wholeheartedly with the protest. A man behind us from the Stop The War Coalition is giving a talk on legally withholding tax as opposition to the war.
Dom and Joe go on to explain that there is a lot more to it than a simple protest (subsequently this will be a long article). There have been people protesting and camping on this spot outside the Houses of Parliament for years (one of whom regards all the new influx of protestors as spies sent by MI6) but on May day 2010 a larger number decided to stay due partly to the recent sunshine. Since then there has been a growing sense of community amongst the protestors. Now meetings are held everyday at 7 to plan actions, discuss issues within the camp and arrange workshops. Joe adds “There is a lack of young people” which he feels is due to the fact that a lot of people see it as a camp full of old hippies, but this is a view he hopes will change. He says here you can learn a lot about all sorts of issues and it is important that the youth gets politicised.
We go on to talk about the most important current issue faced by ‘Democracy Village’; the court cases of The Greater London Authority v The Peoples Assembly on Parliament Square, concerning the Serious Organised Crimes and Police Act 2005 and various park byelaws in accordance to the European Convention on Human Rights. Depending on the outcome an injunction could be put in place to stop assemblies in Parliament Square without prior permission. As we chat about it somebody announces on a megaphone that the case has been adjourned until the 7th of June, good news for a community not at all wanting to leave on this day filled with sunshine.
The guy with the megaphone sits down beside me and introduces himself as Sam. He tells me he is not a hippie (he is dressed in a black T-shirt and jeans) and just does his own thing but it kind of lines up with what is going on here. I ask him how they get food to which he explains they intercept it when shops are about to throw away out of date stock, known as ‘skipping’ it reduces landfill waste, is free and does not help advance capitalism. He goes on to tell me how he wants to build a solar cooker, a washing machine powered by a bicycle and compost toilets (that directly feed a vegetable or herb garden). During his time in Spain he says he even saw a filter for human urine and the filtered water was being used for washing but he drank it and it tasted fine. He says they aren’t allowed all these luxuries here but that this site is linked with places and initiatives throughout London and the world “It looks disorganised but that’s not the case.”
A girl crouches next to us and says they want to arrange a party to celebrate but can’t do it here so are looking for a squat. Sam says he is here to fight for essential freedoms, express oppressed views and hump, then in a very tongue in cheek way says “but I only hump trees, not humans” and smirks whilst smoking a cigarette. For some time there has been no mention of the war in Afghanistan.
There are a lot of environmental activists and eco friendliness is generally another unifying ideology here. I think it has also been accepted by society as a whole to be environmentally responsible already and personally don’t think camping in the heart of London is the best advertisement for this cause. I am also unsure about the large “Capitalism Isn’t Working, Another World Is Possible” sign; I know of no better system at this present time. Surely highlighting how it is possible for companies to be socially responsible is better than showing the public negative statements that give no viable alternative.
Democracy Village is full of passionate people who feel strongly about a lot of the worlds issues, here they can be part of a community of people with the same mindsets. However the average citizen should not be underestimated, their mindset may be different but the values they hold are often the same and as worthy just less intensely held. With a court hearing on 7th June 2010 to decide the fate of this form of permanent protest here, will Democracy Village be a thing of the past? Leading to the only form of protest held here in the future to be pre-organised (and more focused?) but only if permitted by the Greater London Authority.
Although I may not appear to be on their side, It makes me happy to know there are people like these out there doing what they do, its not the life for me but if they are forced to move I will miss these people, they give a nice contrast to the inaccessible grand ornate buildings of the men and women in power.
The main strength I see of Democracy Village is to make people aware of issues outside of the newspaper and encouragement to others to become active politically.
I leave Parliament Square wearing my favourite navy blue Calvin Klein shirt tucked into brown GAP chinos and shoes specked with earthy tones.

For more info:




















Joe





Dom






















Friday, 28 May 2010

This is Germany? Tropical Islands in Berlin









I was in Berlin. I enjoy travel and one of the benefits I see is that it lets you witness other ways that things are done. I think the sought after exhilaration that comes from this is when you personally consider other ways of doing things, when ideas are sparked. My trip to the capital of Germany was no exception.
I saw men cooking and selling hotdogs from backpack style devices that even featured an umbrella, one-man-band style.
I saw the Maze World; a gay cruising club that had its own labyrinth! I was not open minded enough (or perhaps not foolish enough) to go in but the idea of a maze as a social setting seemed brilliant. I’m almost certain Jorge Luis Borges would have approved.
I saw houses made almost entirely of multi-coloured conservatories,
cafes with astro turf gardens,
deck chairs by the river.
I had to leave the city centre though for a spectacle that would truly blow my mind.
I was staying with my Dad who had recently moved to Berlin to live permanently. Alongside me as a fellow tourist was my brother and mid way into our holiday of an evening our Dad spoke of an indoor water park. Our first response was “…and you only thought to mention that now?” Maybe it was because my brother was 19 and I was 23, but no matter how old I am I think I will always enjoy rubber ring slides.
So the next day we were on the autobahn heading towards Dresden. Following signs for ‘Tropical Islands’ we drove off the main road through some trees with no sign of any civilisation. Until in a huge clearing there it was: A huge pill shaped silver structure. Originally designed to be an aircraft-building yard and hanger, this construction was now home to a tropical holiday world!
As entered we were given electronic bracelets that could be used instead of money to purchase anything within the dome (just pay the total on leaving) They also opened our lockers which in no time at all were full of all our clothes except our swim shorts.
We walked into a humid world, the sounds of exotic birds and children playing filled the air.
We strolled along the South Seas beach looking for a spot to lay down our towels but all the sunbeds had already been snapped up, a harsh reminder that we were in Germany. Soon enough however we found a spot on the sand heated by the suns glorious rays. Looking at the horizon of painted blue sky and fluffy cotton (literally) clouds I recalled The Truman Show movie.
Later we enjoyed the 32°C waters of the Bali Lagoon, stroked Koi Carp, ate Indian tandoori cuisine at one of the many restaurants, walked alongside Cockatiels in the rainforest, played mini golf, relaxed in Jacuzzis and of course went on all the waterslides.
As stand alone activities maybe these would not stand out but having it all housed in this one bizarre setting gave the day a dreamlike quality (especially on stepping back into the chill air of the real world after a heady cocktail or two).
The strangest experience of all however was had by my father who, as an Easter gift from my brother and I, took a trip suspended face down underneath an egg-shaped helium airship. With orange wings strapped to his arms he navigated the air paddling like a lost turtle. To stop the airship floating away it was held at 30 meters up by an assistant holding a string.
I left thinking about the whole concept; it was even possible to stay overnight with a range of accommodation including tents! This enterprise gave a whole new meaning to creative capitalism, this was inspiring innovative capitalism.

Lets hope the future is full of more fantastic ventures to invigorate our concept of living.


















































































Saturday, 1 May 2010

They say if you go forward in time and see yourself that one of you must die - Jude Law


It was a typical April afternoon, the grey threat of rain being largely ignored in the sky. Little Venice was full of a convergence of boats from London’s outlying canals.
A white Lurcher with a red neckerchief slinks past a scraggly grey Irish Wolfhound. Real gypsies sell movie inspired cuddly toys and travel pillows that support your neck. Fake gypsies all dressed up sell ‘traditional’ canal giftware and paint faces.
An array of cultures, classes and ages bustle amongst one another on the urban towpath without a hint of animosity.
I am giving out information about the Pirate Club, a charity I help out that provides narrowboat trips and kayaking for community groups. I am mainly approaching families with children as today we are running free half hour canoeing sessions for kids over the age of 8.
I see a man with his two sons walking towards me. His sons are on either side of him and are holding his hands. I begin speaking:
“Do you know about…”
In mid sentence I look up and see what appears to be myself in 15 years time.
“… The Pirate Club?”
Jude Law replies
“Yes I do, thank you”
in a soft yet powerful and polite tone.
I say okay and we pass on our ways amicably.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

There wasn't always a lot to do when I was working as a night receptionist. So it seems.....





















Monday, 22 February 2010

You can’t change the way people think (the death of journalism)


He was on the run. 
Down a flight of steps.
A fire exit.
They had traced him.
He knew it was dangerous.
Just not THIS dangerous.
Who would have thought it?
He was a journalist.
Not a terrorist.
Who would have known words could be so effectual.
Adrenaline flows. 
He begins to see the positives. 
If his writing has been ordered to be destroyed...
then it must be good. Right?

(Published in Fuss Magazine)