Shit. How deep had my sleep been?! Annie’s flight was 11am, and we’d been intent on staying awake all through the night ahead of it. We’d failed, obviously – and as an extra kicker, apparently I’d been irretrievably catatonic. After everything – our three week adventure – we hadn’t even been able to say goodbye. My stomach twisted with guilt and confusion. Surely not. How?!Continue reading
On our final day together, Annie and I spent the afternoon in a relaxed fashion: we found a cafe near Leah’s place and sat down to write and eat cake. It was a trendy, young place, Scandi-chic, far less intimidating than the bistros of central Paris with their chalkboard menus covered in dense, illegible scrawl. On one of the cafe’s exterior walls, facing a sidestreet, somebody had spray painted a vaguely left-wing proclamation in French, translating roughly as ‘down with fascism!’. A little further down the street, someone else had written ‘hipsters fuck off’.Continue reading
We did Paris stuff on our second day in Paris; tourist bits, lots of walking. I love walking in big cities – doesn’t matter how far. I love walking anywhere, just trundling along chatting and looking at things. It might actually be my favourite thing to do, now that I think about it. I’m 30 years old and I’d genuinely rather take a one-hour stroll through a park than spend five hours in some swanky rooftop bar with a pool. Annie is not as fond of walking as me, which is why I always have to lie to her about the distances it says on the map.
“So how far is it to this cemetery?”
“It’s just, uhhhh…” I glanced at my phone: 43 minutes to Père-Lachaise. “Another twenty mins or so.”
“So you do all the maps and navigating and stuff. What do I bring to the table in this travel duo?”
We were in a taxi on the way to the airport, for an 11am flight to Paris.
“Don’t be daft. You contribute loads. You make me do things I don’t want to do.”
“Yeah,” said Annie slowly, looking out of the window as Lisbon’s trams and tiles flicked by. “Yeah, I do. I introduce you to a wealth of interesting new experiences.”Continue reading
“Why does God love to smite me?” I lamented. “And where’s Milky Boy?”Continue reading
As the sun rose on our second day in Lisbon, I lay in bed dreaming a strange dream. It felt like an astral projection: I could see myself asleep in my bed, see Annie asleep across the room, but I was able to get up and walk around – and Annie too. I talked to the dream Annie as the real one slept.
“Let her sleep dude,” said the dream Annie. “Let’s go explore until she wakes up.”Continue reading
It meant a lot to me, that little hotel room halfway between Bristol and the airport. Nothing particularly interesting happened: we just dropped our shit, showered in turn, and lay in our beds vaping and watching Peep Show until we fell asleep past midnight. But it was important to me because it felt like an adventure – and not like the adventures I’d known recently. Over the years, I’d come to associate adventure with being alone, and by extension with the fear that comes when you’re on your lonesome, far from loved ones, and you find yourself huffing up a dirty great mountain or darting through some alien humid cityscape and you realise that if you fuck up, there’s not a soul within ten thousand miles who gives a rat’s knob about you. I got such a kick from that crappy little four-hour bungalow nap because, for the first time in years, that adventurous feeling was there without all the bad stuff. I’d begun to believe they were welded together.Continue reading
Wheeeew –- had a week off from writing. Went to Berlin. Will write about that later. Got to catch up on my Annie diaries first. Much to get on with. Where was I?
Annie and I arrived at my mum’s house in the same state we did in September of 2021: poorly, dishevelled and underslept. My mum likes Annie; she finds her funny and interesting and refreshing. I think Annie was a bit nervous to meet my mum again – as they stood chatting in the kitchen I noticed she was babbling a little, talking faster and louder than she had been with me on the bus. It makes me smile when Annie is nervous, worrying about being liked. Ironically enough it’s what made me like her so much in the first place.Continue reading
It’s hard not to view Manchester’s EasyHotel as a sign of the times. Only a few years ago – what, ten? Five? – fifty pounds a night would have gotten you a large room with breakfast included. You’d have probably been given a trouser press, a television, and a mini fridge with one of those choded Pringle tubes and two tiny little bottles of wine you daredn’t drink for fear of the check-out bill. You might even have gotten a little bit of patio, and almost certainly a complimentary breakfast.
Well – not anymore, because in the United Kingdom we love to watch ourselves spiral ever inward and downward, grumbling and grunting but not actually doing anything to prevent it, nation of wet lettuces that we are. It’s almost schadenfreude, except instead of taking joy in the downfall of others, we bask in the tragedy of our own downfall – we get our kicks from it, we get our rocks off, like the people in that film who crash cars and then knob in the debris.Continue reading