Saturday, 31 July 2010

Hungary #2 - gaining entry

Hi once again, all.

I successfully arrived in Hungary, and am currently safe sound and well slept in Moloko, a bar frequented by the friends I'm staying with. It's pretty cool. Pints are 300F Forint which works out at 90p, they have a Csocso table (Hungarian for table football) which is 50F a pop, and they have really funky lights - they're square, with little LED lights around the outside, and a mirror on top. The mirror reflects the lights off the plastic cover, so the light appears to stretch upwards into infinity when really the fitting is about 5cm high.

It probably looks better than it sounds.

Anyway, I intend to update you on how it's going so far. It may be fairly long winded, so if you aren't ready for a read then go away.

Several hours of travelling followed my last post. The flight to Frankfurt Hahn took just over an hour, then I spent 12 hours in the airport waiting for the next plane (mostly trying to sleep in awkward positions on the floor or benches). I arrived in Hungary just after midnight on Friday, and spent another 4 hours sleeping in that airport because I'd missed the last public transport. The sleep was welcome, however.

At 4.30 I woke up, went to the bus stop, and got on the bus for free (second time I've got on the first bus in a new city for free - interesting fact for you there). The bus took me through suburbian Budapest to Kőbánya Kispest, the first (or last, depending on your perspective) stop on the red Metro line. The ticket booth was closed, so I bought a "Cappuccino" from a dingy snack shack to break into a 1000F note, then bought a ticket for 320F and headed to the platform. I put Cappuccino in inverted commas because it wasn't really a Cappuccino despite being labelled as one - it was an espresso shot with whipped cream (or whipped plastic, going by the taste).

Anyway, I boarded the first train at the platform, then read an interesting notice about ticket validation. I then got off the train, went back to the ticket machine, and validated my ticket (don't wanna get fined!) Luckily the next train was only 4 minutes behind, so I waited, boarded, then travelled to Kálvin tér. I find foreign Metro systems interesting - I recall the trains of the one in Montreal have huge wheels with tyres on them, rather than the little metal ones they usually have (from what I've seen at least). From what I can gather, if they derailed the wheels would cushion the fall rather well and carry the carriage to a safe stop. My first observation of the Hungarian Metro was not such a comforting one: how most of the train carriages were actively rusty and decrepit.

I surfaced at Kálvin tér just after 5.30am, and took a traditional "first view of a new city" photo for my collection. The view was of typical Eastern European city buildings, surrounded by scaffolding and a fenced off building site. I then went to sit down and drink some water, before ringing Simon to come pick me up. The call wasn't answered. I waited ten minutes and tried again - still no answer. Then I waited ten minutes, called again, and was greeted with a message telling me his phone was off the hook. Shit.

Unsure of what to do, I decided to wander around the area I'd found myself in. A brief scan of the map told me I was near the Danube, so I headed there and absorbed the magnificent early morning view of Budapest. Over the next 6 and a half hours, I rang Simon no less than 43 times, and only the last call connected. In the meantime I remembered that I'd written down his address, so I located the street on the map and walked there. At first I thought that would be the end of it; the name "Simon" was written on the buzzer list for the apartment building, so I spent 30 minutes buzzing it, figuring that there wouldn't be 2 Simon's in all of Budapest, let alone the same building. No luck.

After a LONG time I saw movement in the lobby, and knocked on the door. After a short, awkward "conversation", a resident let me through the 2 security gates and into what was presumably Simon's building. I went to apartment #5 (the one labelled as Simon) and spent another 30 minutes knocking and buzzing before going up and heading downstairs. On retrospect I'm really glad the guy wasn't in, because he would have punched me for ringing his door so many times (it turns out there ARE 2 Simons in the building, and the one I was looking for is at apartment #11. Simon is a fairly common surname in Hungary, and is the surname of the resident of the apartment I spent 3 hours trying to enter.)

Downstairs I realised that you needed a key to get OUT of the building as well. This sparked a small panic attack - I wasn't supposed to be in this building - what if got arrested?! What if I ended up stuck in there all day?! What if I needed to do twosies?!!! I looked out of the window on the first landing to see if I could jump out, but it was way too high, and the area behind it was sealed off anyway so I'd just get stuck there. I knocked on several apartments. One knock was answered, but I was flustered and scared the resident back inside, where she would no longer answer my subsequent knocks. Eventually I sat on the stairs and regrouped, before realising that the lock was very primitive and could be forced open by a toothbrush (of all things).

I got out, and have never been happier to be on a Hungarian street.

After this, an old woman took pity on my situation, and (I think) invited me into her house for tea. My Mum told me not to talk to strangers, so I refused, and decided instead to calm myself down a bit by going to the Hungarian National Museum, which was just a short walk away.

For 550F (the student entry fee, which ANYONE under 26 has to pay, student or otherwise), I was able to peruse several exhibits about Hungary's history from the beginning of human life, to the fall of the Communist regime in 1990. It was interesting, but unfortunately too many things weren't labelled in English, and I was exhausted, so I didn't look at it all.

My energy reserves were gradually depleting, as was my patience, so I went and sat on a bench by the river with my iPod and attempted to destress. It was here that a call to Simon FINALLY got through - he casually apologised for not answering, explaining that he'd only just woken up after his trip from Serbia, then said to come back to the apartment and he'd let me in.

When I arrived he explained how the secure doors I was previously trapped by were opened by a simple buzzer mechanism that I completely missed. My previous ordeal then seemed hugely stupid. I would like to add, for the record, that the buzzer switch has a picture of a lightbulb on it however, so its function is not immediately obvious!

Finally, after nearly 7 hours in Budapest, I gained entry to Simon's flat, grabbed a drink, and sat down.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Hungary #1


I'm on a pay-as-you-go PC in the departure lounge, and have only 62 pence worth of time remaining (6 minutes 20 seconds!) so this post will be brief:

All is going well so far, despite three headaches I encountered earlier. One being leaving my passport 250 miles away. One being losing my coach tickets at the ACTUAL last minute. One setting of the security buzzer and being frisked forcefully (yet politely, I must say) at the security gate.

They have been resolved now, however, and I am now awaiting 6.45am so that I may board my plane and jet off to sunny Germany. Or rainy Germany, more likely.

I'll update more as I go, hopefully. Although I'm not sure what to expect when I arrive! The friend I was to stay with has arsed off to Siberia, and if it wasn't for a mutual friend housesitting his flat, my plans would be royally boned.

I leave you with this: who is Bill Posters? And what did he do to deserve prosecution?!

Wednesday, 28 July 2010


I'm going travelling tomorrow, to Hungary, via Germany. I managed to make it a 22 hour door-to-door journey, when really it should be about 5. but it was the cheapest way!

I'll write about it when I get back.

for now, however, I'm just happy to be getting away from the drama of it all!

so as my Mum says, ta ta for now!

Friday, 23 July 2010

go fuck yourself

have you ever been in an environment where *everything* you do wrong is commented on, even if you did a hundred things right as well? or perhaps one where people tell you off for doing things that they also do, or tell you off for massively petty issue then laugh it off when you raise a relatively major one of theirs?

I have - it's called WORK.

Job B, to be more precise.

it's reached the stage now where photographic evidence is accompanying verbal thrashings for my "poor" performance, which I find hugely patronising. and just for the record my performance isn't "poor" - our manager recognises that no shift has EVER been perfect, whoever worked it, but for some reason I can't quite comprehend I've began to attract complaints from approximately four sevenths of my colleagues.

I can take consolation, however, in the knowledge that while I may not be perfect, neither are any of the aforementioned four sevenths. nor are the five fourteenths who don't complain, and who aren't me. no one is. so despite the complaints, constant criticism and cajoling, I can remain stress free and maintain a sense of smugness at my workplace.

which is always nice :)

Tuesday, 20 July 2010


"Dear You

This email is to confirm your purchase of the following:

2 x Darwin Deez - Newcastle @ The Other Rooms, Newcastle (13/10/2010)
Cost (per ticket): £8.00, Booking Fee (per ticket, if applicable): £1.30

2 x Darwin Deez - Leeds @ Leeds Cockpit (15/10/2010)
Cost (per ticket): £8.00, Booking Fee (per ticket, if applicable): £1.30

Your tickets will be dispatched by Recorded delivery (costing £1.30) to : You, Your house. Lunatickets Registered VAT number: 758459183, VAT is charged at 17.5%
Total Cost of This Purchase is : £38.50"

snooze dreams

my alarm has an unchangeable snooze timer of 5 minutes. I usually set alarms for 60 and 30 minutes before I need to get up; the former gets turned off, providing 30 minutes of glorious bed fug sleep before the latter goes off. I then snooze for the last 30 minutes, allowing me six 5 minute snooze windows.

although the snooze windows are short, the fact that I'm not awake properly yet means I can easily fall back asleep during them. for some reason the dreams I get during these snooze windows are, despite their erratic nature, unusually lucid. (I hope that sentence is right - I mean that despite the random topic of the dream, they are clear in themselves.)

for example today my snooze dreams included a chase through a sauna-come-kidnappers'-den. I came in accidentally through a tunnel in a back room, was seen, and then had to run away from some angry kidnappers through a series of (empty) steamy rooms.

then I was woken up by my alarm going off.

then I pressed the snooze button.

and fell back asleep, dreaming that I was at a meal with two twins from an old school, and their mother. the twins told me that they had separated after a massive argument, (separate as in divorce - not even sure twins can do that?) but that their mother wasn't aware of this. so when they were talking to me they were arguing and bitching, but they were all friendly in front of their mum.

how weird.

so basically, if you want some really random dreams, I recommend experimenting with your alarm's snooze setting.

that's all for today :)

Saturday, 17 July 2010

unstructured rant

I've realised* recently that there are discrepancies between our perceptions of life and the lives we actually live. (*I think I need to define realise - I don't mean realise as in notice for the first time, I mean it as in making something real. as in I was aware there were discrepancies before 'recently', but only recently did I actually apply the knowledge to my own life. if that makes sense.)

I touched on the subject (albeit accidentally) in my last post, where I stated that on a "pleasant Summer's evening, shared with good drink, good food, and good company, [where] absolutely nothing untoward happened", I still "had a completely inexplicable feeling of sadness afterwards".

this struck me as unfair - why the hell should I be susceptible to being let down by my own deranged fantasies of how life should be?

I then thought that maybe, although these discrepancies are inevitable (otherwise everyone would have to have the same, unaltering, true view of life which is impossibly unrealistic), we can control the effect they have on us.

for example, some people get angry when their expectations are not met. they lash out, pass blame and ignore the actuality (however good or bad) of the situation. this is (from what I can tell) a fairly common reaction. my old RE teacher told our class a story once wherein a child was taken out for a day to a theme park, rode all the rides, was brought expensive souvenirs, ate his favourite food for lunch, and nothing went wrong until, in the car park before heading home, he saw an ice cream van and demanded an ice cream. his grandparents (or parents, whoever he was with) refused, citing that they had treated him all day and had run out of money, and that it would make him feel sick on the journey home. he could not understand this, and threw a tantrum, ending the day on a bad note, tainting it forever in his (and their) memories.

quite a tragic outcome in my opinion.

and although the above was only a story told to highlight a moral, too many times have I seen something similar occur in real life. I've experienced it many times myself, but beyond that I won't mention names, places, times, events or anything remotely incriminating because there's no point, but I think it's something we're all guilty of doing.

another reaction is to deny that discrepancies exist, and continue living a life with which you are not satisfied, for fear of having to confront the fact that nothing is going how you expected (and maybe wanted) it to. this is more tragic than the last, and probably much less easy to reverse (or even notice) once it's started happening. the thought of ending up in such a mindset in life genuinely scares me - I have visions of myself drudging away at something I hate to feed myself and keep myself alive merely for the purpose of continuing the drudgery.

then I realise that it's a lifestyle that only exists in films, TV shows and songs to make consumers feel better about themselves because they're not trapped in such a life (Photosynthesis by Frank Turner jumps to mind).

then I realise that it's a lifestyle that many people around the world are confined to. drudging away at menial tasks to earn barely enough money to keep their family alive.

then I realise that this lifestyle is shown to us regularly, along with pleas for donations and promises of bettering peoples' lives who are stuck in such a position. and that this just acts to make consumers feel better about themselves because they're not trapped in such a life.

then I feel guilty for being scared of drudgery when I have so many opportunities that millions of people across the world will never have, and even if I were to waste ALL of these, I wouldn't be in as bad a place as some of them.

then I realise I'm rambling, and that it's 1:56am, and that the six espressos I drank today are wearing off, and that I need to go to bed.

Thursday, 15 July 2010


greetings, friends, fans and foes alike,

please excuse my recent lapse in blogging. the past ten days have been like a fucking rollercoaster, when realistically they should've been no more than a carousel, and this metaphorical alteration of amusement park ride intensity has taken its toll on me.

I'd like firstly to say that I was very flattered to receive a comment expressing what I perceived to be disdain after just a week of not posting. without sounding self-centred, knowing that people (or at least person) read(s) my blog makes me feel all rosey and glowy inside, so thank you.

now I feel it is my duty to describe through prose some of the events that have made the last ten days rollercoasterish. if you've read this post (or this, this or my particular favourite, this) you'll know I like a band called Darwin Deez, and on 29th June I received an email informing me that I'd one tickets to see them at the iTunes festival (supporting Kate Nash).

obviously this was awesome news. that the tickets were arranged via direct correspondence with mr Deez only made the news more awesome, as did the fact that 4 of my friends from my time Canada would be coming along. (I lived in Canada on exchange from university between September and December 2009, and spent two of those 3.5 months in a student house in Downtown Toronto. it was probably the best time of my life. aforementioned friends were to be my former room-mate, former house-mate, his girlfriend, and our friend who lived in a house nearby. three of the four I had not seen in seven months.)

this combination of awesomenity increasing factors made me extremely excited about Tuesday 6th July, or what was dubbed affectionately as "Deez Day". so it was with enormous disappointment that I was informed on Monday 5th July that Darwin Deez had been removed from the support slot, in favour of an act called Peggy Sue. I also discovered the reason for this, although out of respect of privacy I'd like to keep it private (good sentence there).

what, a fucking, JOKE.

regardless of the centrepoint of the day, Deez Day still went ahead. we all met, wondered around Camden updating each other on our lives, sharing stories from Canada, discussing Summer plans and much else. we went to a pub, then drank on the island thing in the middle of Camden Lock. it was a pleasant Summer's evening, shared with good drink, good food, and good company, and absolutely nothing untoward happened.

yet, and this is where events began to take their toll, I had a completely inexplicable feeling of sadness afterwards. I think I learned a valuable lesson not to hype things up too much (I was so, so excited beforehand), but I hate the fact that the human brain (or at least mine) is capable of taking a day that was amazing in every respect, and making it the subject of deranged and unfounded fretting.

from here onwards it was mainly tiredness that prevented me from blogging. I worked a lot of hours at Job B between Thursday and Sunday, and after my 4-10pm shift on Saturday I made my way to London to meet two of the four Deez Day attendees at a club. again it was fun - there were balloons and gin & tonics, as well as dancing and other various club-related activities. we left at 2am, then it took me 2 hours to get home, meaning I had only 5 hours sleep before my 12-6pm shift on Sunday.

Darwin Deez did a free concert on Tuesday to make up for their absence at the iTunes festival, which was attended by me, my cousin and 3 friends (2 Canada, 1 non). (I say "make up for", but that's not the right phrase (I can't think of a better one); their absence was out of their control, and as I mentioned before, a fucking joke.) to gain entry you had to buy their single (pushing the "free" part of free concert in my opinion), but I intended to buy it anyway so no worries. we walked around Brick Lane eating bagels and wearing sombreros until the gig, then had the best hour of live music ever.

the set list was great, the dances were there, the banter was excellent, and we got to meet him afterwards! I was shaking like a schoolgirl which was kind of tragic, although totally awesome at the same time. we had a photo with Mr Deez, a brief conversation, and he signed the single I bought before I had to be escorted from the premises (too shaky to walk).

so all in all a good, but time consuming and mentally draining week.

all the best,

your friend,


Monday, 12 July 2010

harshest critic

↑ I've found mine.

he's always watching me.

he doubts every decision I make.

as soon as I trip up, he recounts all the mistakes that led to it.

it's so easy for him to make me feel like shit.

but to be fair he always helps me better myself.

seems to be swings and roundabouts

Friday, 2 July 2010

three things I hate:

  • people who deal in absolutes
  • generalisations: they're always wrong
  • double standards

Thursday, 1 July 2010

dapper Zappa

it was my friend's 20th birthday yesterday, and being such a thoughtful friend I bought her the following items:

the goal was to get her drunk enough to wear all 6 pieces of self-adhesive facial hair, but unfortunately this was not achieved. instead I wore the Manly Moustache and Swingin' Soul Patch all evening, the birthday girl wore the Enticing Eyebrows for around 30 minutes before wussing out and removing them to go to the bar, and the Sleek Sideburns were worn by a friend, who was subsequently referred to as Hugh Jackman, The Janitor, and A Twat. the Enticing Eyebrows were passed around the group as eyebrows, a moustache (joined together and rotated 180°), sideburns, and at one point, pubic hair.

je suis un funky homme

one guy, who had a very similar real facial hair assembly to the counterfeit one I was wearing, complimented me, saying that I looked French (wait, is that a compliment?), and advised me to grow a real one, learn to "play guitar like a God" (to be fair he didn't know that I already can mwahahaha) and start a Frank Zappa tribute band.

anyone wanna join?