Friday, September 22, 2006

Monday, September 18, 2006

in the event of gas....

I don’t where to’s been a while.

Which could be the opening line for various different subjects, so let’s draw a veil over the more sordid possibilities and move right along.

Out of the last ten days I’ve spent three ‘in transit’. I feel like a sort of person-parcel, sent second class, and I’m just grateful that my baggage arrived at the same time and places that I did. There’s nothing more comforting and refreshing than a clean, crisp pair of undercrackers at the end of a long-haul.

Any kind of ‘hauling’, long or short, is made all the more tedious now by the heightened level of security at all of the international airports. At Heathrow the security status is now Dildocom One, meaning that anyone attempting to smuggle such apparently life threatening artefacts as toothpaste or lip balm on or upon their person is promptly marched into the car park and shot. The bodies are hung from the top storey in the manner that farmers display dead crows to dissuade other vermin.

And of course they take anything capable of lighting a cigarette (why oh why do I never remember to pack a stone and flint in my luggage) so that when I arrive in the good old USA with two tiny little hours before I have to board my connecting flight – instead of heading for the transit lounge I brave the incredulous stares of passport control, customs and security (“how long are you staying?”, “one hour and fourty five minutes”, “excuse me?”, “I’d like a cigarette” (“but you b#stards, in your infinite wisdom have decided to criminalise poor f#cks like me who are paying the price for having bought a pack of ten when we were twelve years old and have neither sufficient will power or time to break the terrible burden of habit portrayed by the rugged, lariat-wielding, heroic yet coughing and spluttering Marlboro’ man who just a few years ago epitomised everything clean and wholesome and American – may I go now, we are using up the time that I would rather spend killing myself?”, obviously - unsaid), I smile and try to look just a little pathetic, but genuine.

London, Miami, Sao Paulo, Rio – Rio, Sao Paulo, New York, London. I was graced with a whole row of empty seats, an inquisitive person (who I scowled at and sneezed on), and a very (extremely) large lady from Buggered Hut, Wisconsin, (I thought she said) who damn near suffocated me during a troubled sleep. I sat determinedly for ten hours pressed against the cabin wall while her fleshy elbows rose and fell like enormous pink metronomes. I didn’t pee the entire time, and I’m sure I went a whole hour without exhaling during lunch, which she ate with gusto accompanied by a gale of crumbs - while I deliberatley picked at my food and to her consternation took a bite out of everything (each of 3 crackers) even though I had no intention of finishing them.

I had hoped to meet someone in Miami, but I couldn’t make myself understood over the noise of the bar I’d managed to find, and my mobile was acting up – but probably just as well because no one wants to spend time with someone who has spent ten smelly hours on a flight and has a lit cigarette in every bodily orifice.

(Is it just me or do aeroplane farts have a particular and nauseating odour? Is it the food or the re circulating air, or perhaps the effect of pressure differentials on passengers intestinal tracts. Whatever it is it’s loathsome, and it’s viral, it starts with a single trouser cough but soon after there is general botty burping and the resulting reek would send a Victorian sewer cleaner out for air).

Lawks, I sound like the grinch don’t I?

Rio is amazing. I knew it would be but I didn’t know in what way, I was just prepared to be none specifically flabbergasted. But I know now: It’s so vibrant, so full of life, there’s a joie de vie that’s almost palpable.

I’d been told to be careful, it could be a dangerous place. To be sure, I’m certain that if I’d walked through certain areas with my camera in one hand and mobile ‘phone in the other I would have been mugged – and just as sure of the same outcome if I’d have walked through some areas in London, or any big city for that matter.

Obviously I was spoiled. I stayed literally twenty five yards from the Copacabana, where everyone played during the day and promenaded or exercised on in the evening. I wasn’t exactly thrown in amongst it. Nevertheless the joy and carpe diem spirit of the people is obvious. I was talking with a young lady in a bar one night and asked her “is it still beautiful to you?”, “what?” she said. “Rio, is it still beautiful?”. She looked nonplussed for a moment and I thought I would have to explain (thank goodness her English was far better than my non-existent Portuguese) that I meant that sometimes people who live in a place can be inured to it’s beauty and she said “of course” as if it were an idiotic question. Of course it was. So we had another Capirinha which is remarkable a combination of life blood and jet fuel, makes it impossible to be unhappy - and absolutely should not be drunk by the pint.

I could have spent the entire time on the beach. But obviously I was there to work, so I found a compromise, a rhythm. The conference I attended was an hours coach trip away (I spent every day glued to the window), starting at noon and finishing at eight in the evening (night drops like a stone at six pm). So every day I dragged my sorry behind out of bed, laundered and fed it, and spent two luxurious hours on the beach before putting on a suit.

It was in excess of 35deg some days, completely devoid of air conditioning and stuffed to the rafters with outrageously beautiful women who’s sole role in life appeared to be to take your business card and make you sweat. (At one point during the week I recalibrated, for two days I had been thinking “she’s beautiful, oh and so is she, oooh and her” until I realised that in order to make any progress at all I would have to discard the simply ‘beautiful” and only spare a glance for the ‘absolutely stunning’ – I think it was after I walked into a concrete pillar).

And it was hot. Fortunately it was quite dry too so there was no sweating, but what with the ambient temperature and the visual stimulus my underwear simply melted one afternoon and slid down my leg into my shoe (and they ask us why we wear dark blue suits?!).

Home now, with two dogs fast asleep and snoring gently on the sofa, it all seems so very far away. Well..of is.

(And as per usual, the blog god will not allow me to publish photo's).

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Cap'n Grumpy Guts

please give me the strength to be, at the least, civil.

Two ten hour flights separated by a nine hour stopover in Miami on the way to Rio....not to mention a 4 am start. If the person next to me on either flight introduces themselves cheerily and chatters away - I will bite them, I will.

I am the long haul grinch.

(Still no internet at home so I hope you are all safe and well out there).