Monday, October 31, 2011

What's mine is mine

AKA where I write like I'm Richard Littlejohn

I like my money. It helps me buy stuff. It lets me live the way I want to. So why should I give it away? When did that become a good idea? I don't mean to charity; there are at least 3 good charities out there that if I were feeling generous I might consider giving a pound to. Amnesty International is one. I'd have to think about the other 2. Most charities are pointless and don't serve any common good. Make A Wish Foundation? Just because a kid has cancer doesn't make him or her. Ore deserving of a trip to Disney. I hated my childhood, I had years of psychological abuse and felt like shit oat of the time, but did I get an all expenses trip to see a pederastical (w mouse? Let's call that child brave. On the same sliding scale where does a broken bone come? Or a cold? Isn't it braver to look after your dying mum than just contract a disease? Braver to run into a burning building than succumb to a genetic mutation? Who decides these things? They should get the medal for their piousness and sleepless nights spent wondering if they've done the right thing in denying Jonny, the kid who ran a marathon to raise money for the local drunk to buy vodka, over Marie, the girl who got a lymphoma? It's three words! Anybody who gets anything in three words shouldn't get a holiday. Give her a mars bar! Let her live her remaining days in sugarific splendour! Immerse her in a bath of chocolate - the effect will last longer.

But don't give a mars bar to the homeless drunk buying vodka. Don't give him anything. He's made that choice. Go get a job you scruffy, smelly git. Where did you get the string from to tie the dog up with? I see the label for Poundstretcher! You've obviously got a fortune stashed away somewhere so don't bother me. Actually, move away. I actually tried to buy food for one once. He turned it down and demanded I go buy him a beer instead. What? I'm not volunteering your liver for suicide, dude. Use your brains. You should be maximising the calories. Ask for Couscous! And a gas heater with water. It's the best food for when you want to eat a million of something! I'd respect you more if I saw less food in dumpsters. Every second it's in there is a second you're proving yourself lazy. How can you be hungry when there's food going spare in the local bin? Nice half bag of chips there. With curry sauce. Yum. I'd pay a lot for that right now. And you want it for free? Workshy tosser.

And yet. Both of these groups are considerably more deserving of my money than people that work in restaurants and bars. Tipping? For bringing me a beer? Work hard on that did you? Long way to the fridge is it? Ooh you've walked a long way today? Unlike the street cleaner? Or the bobby on the beat? Or the countless thousands working in factories? Or warehouses? Or other people doing low paid, shitty work? Oh, you're paid minimum wage? Boo fucking hoo. Lots of people are! They can't move jobs just like you don't want to. You know that book you read last? That 700 page opus? How long do you think it took the author to write? And you only spent £5.99 on it?! You wanker! Would you consider popping a cheque for another few quid in the post if the author was stupid enough to put his address on the back? Maybe he could use a PO BOX? Personally I've always wondered how you go about getting one of those and would consider being an author just to find out. Do the chefs in your kitchen, the guys doing the actual work, in hot, sweaty conditions, getting onions up their nose and citric acid in their wound inflicted hands from all that bloody chopping, share in your tips? Do they complain about it? Not everyone is a Gordon Ramsey you know. Not everyone gets to hand menus out and then - GASP - write down what people say for a living! Id love that job. I could do it right here right now.

"Pollo fritas, por favor"
"Si. Uno?"
"Exavtamunto. Gracias"

See how easy that is? Can i have tip? No? Im just doing your job! I worked in a warehouse for six long hateful years on monkey wages and didn't get a single tip. Why should you?

Ps that three year old blind kid in India tugging at my trousers and pointing at his mouth got fuck all so your chances are slim unless you're offering a blowie or other happy ending.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Stories from a crappy childhood

Stories from a crappy childhood

So I being my first girlfriend home. I' my....teens? Somewhere.

Her name was Loretta and lived a few streets away. We went out for at least 2 days but it all fizzled out due to me not having a clue what to do. We almost kissed. I was walking her home and my 'mate' Sammy tagged along. Cock. He stood staring there while I said goodbye making it impossible to lean in for a smooch.

So, this one day I, for some probably very stupid reason, brought her home. My mum knew her. It was no big secret. We're stood in the back room. We were proper worming class, like. None of this fancy 'parlor' rubbish. That's the front room, it's at the front. That's the back room, it' get the picture.

"Hey Loretta" my mum says "come look at this".

Loretta saunters over and my mum gets out one of my schoolbooks.

"See that Loretta? His handwriting's rubbish, innit?"

I burn up.

Now, my handwriting was shocking and still is. The advent of computer didn't help and it's not lie,ly to get better with my iPad. Holding a pen is so alien now. I'd get home from a long day at college and spend a few hours re-writing all my notes. I'd spend a large part of that deciphering them. Even then some of it was...illegible at best.

Loretta, embarrassed, leaves.

"you like embarrassing me, don't you?" I ask.

"I'm only doing it for your own good" she says.

Aww. She cared.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sorry, Gran

Dear Gran

Im a big one for telling the truth and being honest. I get in trouble all the time for it. in fact, I've nearly been hit for it on more than one occasion. It's one reason why I be,Ieve people to be arseholes. If you need to hide from the truth you shouldn't be allowed to live.

Anyway, you asked me a question once and I lied. I need to apologize. I need it with all my heart. I don't have many regrets, they're for idiots who aren't strong enough to live with their mistakes, but this is one.

The question you asked was this: why did you stop going to your Dads?

I remember you asking quite clearly. It was saturday afternoon, we were watching TV. Probably that crappy seventies thing about the pickle factory. You loved it and I think you thought I liked it too but, let's be honest, it was shit. I think it was before your cancer started as I don't remember you being in pain. Incidentally, I understand you not telling anyone about it; in fact I have a lot of respect for you because of it. How did you live with that knowledge? It's an amazing feat. Had you shared it with the family I can just imagine the arguments. I still remember the ones about who was going to look after you years before. Nothing like selfish kids, eh?

Anyway, you turned to me and said:

"Jamie,I wa t to ask you a question. I don't want you to get nervous and I'd like to know the truth before I go." Cancer, Gran? Was it? Hmm.

What exactly do you think exactly was happening to me at this point, Ethel? My heart was beating so hard you could use it in a band playing the Imperial March. I was sweaty, clammy and NERVOUS. But I understand you had to ask and I'd have reacted like that if you'd asked if I wanted some sweets.

It was a complicated answer. I was preparing the truth in my head. I just needed some time to think about it. But you threw me a lifeline.

"is it because of the money?"

"Yes! Yes. That's it. The money" what money? Who the fuck knows.

Job over. I made it. Phew.

The truth was this:

When we were younger my sibling and I were very different. We still are but we seem to have swapped roles. I was so quiet, she was forthright. We stopped going simply because Clare asked not to go anymore. I can't speak to her reasoning but for me, looking back, I was kind of glad. I was bored off my tits. We'd go and spend afternoons watching Cath and Hayley perform dance routines. Even to me that was boring.

Pete would sit watching TV. Now and again he'd dangle an exciting activity in front of us (we'll go for a walk in the woods later, he'd say) but we'd never do it.

So there you have it. A simple lie and not really something worth covering up. I've lived with the guilt for a long time. I often thought of correcting the initial lie but as time went on it got harder. And then you went and died on me. I'm not sure Youd have known what I was referring to in the last coup,e of years to be honest.the hours I'd sit there with you talking away as if I knew everyone younger talking about. Good times.

Is it alright if I ask to be absolved of the guilt now? I think 15 years is long enough.

Love you and miss you and think of you every day and have done for the past 11 years.


Ps if the afterlife does exist, if you can visit, why haven't you? I needed you. You were the only one that could've made a difference.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Are we connecting?

WARNING TO THE LADIES: This blog contains badassness. You may require a rest afterward.

Imagine a beach. This beach is in the middle of nowhere. And it art glorious.

Let's back up. I'd been traveling with a German woman called Lislott. She was awesome; the closest I've ever come to a female version of me. And for those of you that know me that's probably a damn scary proposition.

We were in Kanyakamari in India. Look at a map; see the pointy bit? You go there, you put your foot in the ocean and you're in three oceans at the same time. Somehow. I've never quite worked it out personally. We were there for 2 days and on the second day wanted to go the beach but the beach, as is the case with most beaches outside of Goa, was covered in dead fish so we took a tuk-tuk about 5km down the beach.

We'd bought some sheets from the hotel, made a little tent for shade, been in the sea...

There was nobody around. We couldn't see a single man-made structure. Enter stage right two Indian guys....

They were aged about 17. Take that figure with a pinch of salt as it's really hard to tell ages with Indians as they live such hard b,oody lives. Most look 70 when they're barely 30. These cow,DVD been anywhere from 12 to 25. They were immaculately dressed.

And they start talking to us as Indians do. What's your name? Where are you from? Question after question....

All the time the main dude is looking at me. Straight at me. Not even glancing at Lislott.

Eventually after asking if we were married, and we were as far as every guy in India is concerned as it made her life so much easier, still looking at me he asks:

"Do you connect?"

Eh? I looks at Lislott.

"He can't mean what I think he means, surely?" I looks back at him. "What do you mean by that?"

"You know: do you connect?"

OAnd with that he does the age old sign for sex: forefinger in-between thumb and forefinger of the other hand.


"Dude! Where do you come from that you think you can talk like that? Go away"

He doesn't. He remains. We ignore him and rresume reading. He's asking questions. We're ignoring him. More questions. Grr. Tapping my foot. Question. Eentually, inevitably, we start talking again.



Still not so much as looked Lislott's way. I swear this next bit is true.

He takes his finger, points at Lislott and moving it up and down, says TO ME:

" Can I see?"


"Just once?"

"No! Not just once"

I looks at Lislott.

"Shall we go?"

We has an awesome view from our balcony. S o we starts packing our stuff away. In the meantime four of his mates have come along. Making six. As we're walking off they start playing shoving games as young kids do.


Out of the corner of my eye I see one of them come flying toward m. I manage to grab him, pull him around and he goes flying into to sand. It's then that it strikes me about our situation: middle of nowhere, me, a tiny German woman and six Indians. Now I'm not the hardest of blokes but I reckon I could take at least two of these guys, they're made of wet toilet roll, but six?

Luckily they just run off laughing but it could've turned out a little bit different. I always tell this story to women thinking of traveling to India by themselves cuz personal boundaries just don't exist. Unless you're an Indian woman and then they can't be respectful enough.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The rules one

Rules of 1

Before my iPhone died I had a list. It was a series of rules and a way of life. I needed it because it explained how to travel. Now, whenever I happen to talk about stuff, everything is rule 1.

In no specific order these are some of the rules 1:

1) Fear is the path to the boring side

I broke my ankle a few years ago and since then I'm terrified to walk down stairs let alone down a slippery mountain side so I had to develop a verbal rule, a mantra to get me up a slope and down a tricky path. I could sit where I am and not do it accuse I'm scared but then I'd be bored and where's the fun in life then? Because....

1) life is about fun, shits and giggles

Who gives a shit if you're dirty? Or fat? Or poor? Or little Tommy ruined tour sofa? Or someone stole your iPod? Or you took a wrong turn and now it's going to take you an extra hour to get where you're going?

On the otherwise execrable TV program Loose Women they said something once that stuck with me: if you're not going to be worrying about something in a years time, why worry about it now? Live for the moment! Are you having fun, right now in your life? No? Well finish reading this and go find something better to do with your life cuz it won't last as long as you hope and life's to short to put up with shit.

Go watch the film Amelie. Listen to the lesson about just experiencing where you are.

1) Now and again turn around

Bonnie Tyler had it right. Look behind you both physically and spiritually. I was walking down a lane once. In front of me was a pretty scene. Hills and valleys and...possibly sheep. I turned around and there was a mountain! It was glorious.

And too many people don't think about how they got to where they are in life right now. How can you know where you've got to go without appreciating what you've been through to get there?

1) Given the choice try something new

I love chocolate. I love ice cream. Subsequently there's no greater thing than chocolate gelato from Italy. But I was only having chocolate. There're are so many more flavours out there. I realized I was missing out on so much. So every time I saw a new flavor or co our, thats what I'd have. But still occasionally the chocolate. Seriously, this one time my head exploded.

Not speaking Spanish and being in a country where they don't have English menus this rule comes to the fore because every menu is complete gibberish so it's just a case of pointing at random stuff. It helps to eat pretty much every thing.

1) Never say no to free food

Traveling, you lose weight all the time especially if you don't want to spend money and therefore skip meals. Combined with walking miles around a city you tend to start craving carbs. So if someone offers you a chip, or a dip, or a taste, or their remains (of their food sicko), take it. Have no shame. Let's not be having any of this 'they're just being polite' rubbish. If they've offered, it's their fault if you accept.

1) It's all just stuff

I once had an online argument about the worth of collecting autographs. My basic premise was it's just a name on a piece of paper and is therefore worthless making autographncollectors the most extremely stupid and materialistic people you can get. I used to collect books. For complicated reasons, mainly due to my ex being a bitch, I got rid of them. At the time I was a bit miffed but ultimatly I came to realize they had no worth in and of themselves. I'd read them. It was doubtful I'd do so again. They were just sat collecting dust.

Why are we as a species obsessed with amassing as much crap as possible? It makes no sense. You're not actually superior because you've got a dining room table. Or more glasses than you can actually drink out of. Go see how some of the people in the world live. When all you've got is a shack and three sets of clothes, and I've seriously seen this, you know what life is about and can focus on the important things like how the fuck am I going to eat today? So if you lose something don't worry about it. It's just stuff.

Cuz that's all that matters. Two questions: where am I sleeping? What am eating? They're the only things that matter.

I'm sure there're others. Maybe I'll do a part two when they come to me.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A fatherly story

Call me callous if you like but I think this is the perfect time to tell you all why I don't speak to my dear old Pa. Apparently, he's in hospital right now not doing too well. I say apparently because nobody has told me. I'm undecided how to feel about this. On the one hand I don't care and aren't bothered, obviously. On the other hand they know he's my Dad and not exactly how I feel.

Some background: he left when I was 3 months old (don't blame him for that; my mum is hideous in looks and personality - like me) for, gasp, another woman called Linda. But then we started talking again for a few years before aged 30ish I'd broken my ankle and was massively incapacitated and in the depths of clinical depression. Thankfully my wife gave me something to think about in the shape of a D-I-V-O-R-C-E. That's Helen: never knowingly not a bitch. So I asked my Dad, and here on in he'll be called Pete as that's what I've called him for most of my life, if I could come stay for a few weeks while I got m shit together before going traveling for a bit.


I came to stay. Almost the first words out of his mouth were:

"and you keep your room clean"

My response?

"I'm 32".

Anyway, things were going, not awesomely, but serviceable at least.

Until, suddenly, Linda stopped talking to me. Why? Who the fuck knows. This is a mystery that will last forever. 3 years later I'm still none the wiser but that isn't the point of the story. Two weeks later, after making enquiries into whatever the hell I've done to Linda, I'm sitting eating a sandwich. I've been out exercising my gradually getting stronger foot. They come in, Linda starts hanging washing out and Pete comes over to me and says in a big stern voice:

"Clean your room"

"what're you gonna do? Ground me?" which me being me I thought was rather witty.

He goes out for a bit.

Linda comes in.

"right. You've disrespected me and now you've disrespected your Dad. I want you out"

"sorry? What? Are you talking to me?" I was busy reading and it hadn't actually registered that she could be talking to me.

"Out!" she screamed and she's literally crying.

"What the fuck have I done?" I said. "Just tell me, I'll apologize and make amends"

She storms off to her sisters and that was the last I've ever seen of her.

Enter Pete and in tell him what happened. Apparent,y he didnt hear my witticism. Ya know, I was expecting sympathy because his psycho wife went....psycho. I got....indifference. Incidentally, in my defense, I should say at this point that the entire family are terrified of her and I'm beginning to see why. Manipulative, emotional blackmail, psychopathic tendencies.....They all went on holiday together and because she wasn't involved in the planning or decision making by all accounts she made their lives hell.

When I did this thing the specifics of which I don't know, I asked everyone who knew her and the look of fear on their faces was classic. Nobody would dare ask her! Including Pete. Anyway...

Pete goes off to find her and comes back.

"This isn't working out is it?" he asks.

"Quite clearly. I'll go then shall I?" I ask incredulously.

And he walks out.

I go upstairs to start packing. Now, admittedly, my room was a pigsty. I'd been searching for something that morning and the room was a right state. I didn't realise this and if i had id have done something about it. So I tidy up, pack my bag and leave.

I ended up staying in a local hotel, why did I not think of the hostel, as not a single relative would take me in (the start of me not giving a shit about my family). I got a phone call from my Dad later.

"Why did you leave?"

"WTF? What was I supposed to do? YOU WENT TO THE GYM"

Off I goes to Scotland for a bit. On my return I had a plan. A five point plan for getting my life back together. It went awesomely. Except for the bits with my family. See, I couldn't go to see Pete as Linda was there. I'd suggest going around - the fear!

I was staying in a flatshare and he'd come round now and again on a Friday. On his way home from the gym. For 10 minutes. I'd make him a cup of tea and he'd put cold water in it so he could be off quicker. He'd look around in disgust. And there'd be the worlds biggest white elephant in the room.

I've got some wonderful nieces and nephews. I adored them. Their mum was Hayley, Linda's daughter from another marriage and shes aces, too. They made life worth living and the only way I could see them would be to go around their house. Luckily Linda barely visited so THE FEAR wasn't in evidence that much.

Now when I moved back to my Nottingham after the divorce I had happy ideas of spending Christmas with my Dad for the first time. Yeah, right.

Father's Day comes around. Alright, Linda isn't talking to me but I can see my Dad, right? Nah. He's out with Linda and my other niece and nephew.

"But I can see you at some point yeah?" I call him from Haley's house.

"Yeah. Maybe. We'll see. Call me later".

So I pop his card through the door. There was a rage building in me at this point.

I write Linda an apology. I don't know what I'm apologizing for, I bare my soul, something I wouldn't normally do but this is how strongly I feel about it. I hear nothing. Until a year later but that's irrelevant now.

They all go camping. I love camping. It's one of my favorite outdoor activities. I can't go. Why not? Because Linda will be there. ARE YOU CAMPING IN HER FUCKING HOUSE?

I got Hayley to phone her mum to ask her if I can go round to talk about it, to apologize. No.

All this time Pete is carrying on his life intentionally oblivious. He made a choice to ignore everything, all trouble, to not ask a question, to not talk to her, to not say 'he's my bloody son, he's in trouble and I want him to stay', he took the weakest easy path. Which is what I do, so it's what I did.

It occurred to me one day, nobody ever contacted me. Nobody ever called to ask how I was, what I was doing. So I decided to stop visiting Hayley's. I'd wait to see how long it'd take for someone to ask where I am. I waited a very long time.

Soon after that I moved and I just didn't bother giving him my new address. He certainly never asked for it or asked to come round or visit.

And it's still like that. Maybe I'll get a message soon saying he's died. If anyone bothers to tell me.

Life is qualitatively easier if you don't talk to your family, if you haven't got to always worry if they're ok and be involved in their shit. But it doesn't mean I wouldn't want to be there. Some people might be asking why I don't hate Linda. The problem is, I can empathize with Linda. She's nuts and so was I for awhile. No, it's Pete who had the power to do something, to effect a change and he didn't take it. I never realized how weak he was until that point. I hope I'm stronger. Or adopted.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

I can rule worlds

I don't talk to my family. None of them. (Apart from my niece and nephew who are lovely and intelligent and their mum who's fab. But then they aren't blood relatives which I feel explains it.) We don't talk for individual reasons and I'm in the right in every case.

In the last ten years I've been involved in four or five car crashes. Again, I wasn't in the wrong. Except for that one time when I worked for Graham Archer at CEF but never owned up to it. Sorry Graham. That's what you get when you send someone who only passed their test the day before out in your new and shniy Volvo. I'd only driven a Nova up to that point! So maybe that wasn't my fault either.

Where does my arrogance come from? I wish I knew but it makes for a wonderful feeling. I'm never wrong! Glorious. If I ever chose to bet on horses the whole universe would have to realign to my way of thinking.

I could reenergize the oil industry! Jamie, where is the universe's largest oil deposit? Africa. Which bit? All of it, 3 meters down.

The food industry: Jamie, is fat really unhealthy? nope. It's womderul stuff and it tastes of custard while reducing cholesterol and making you drunk. Kids'll love it.

The starving millions: Jamie, what's the best cure for hunger? Free food, for everyone.

Aaaah welome to my world. Jayworld? Jaypiter? Open to suggestions. I should be magnanimous in my awesomeness.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

I lost my shit in 'Nam. Man.

Aaah overnight buses how I love you so. I'm never at my best when I've just woken up. It takes a few hours, a shower and tea before I'm up to speed (currently 3 days tealess) so arriving at 6am in a random Vietnamese town was hard.

It was a sleeper bus which means it had beds. Awesomeness. If everyone were the height of a Vietnamese Pygmy and you didn't like turning at night. And will that person over there please stop moving the curtain as the lights from outside are annoying. 9 hours of this....

"Sapa! This is Sapa!" shouts the bus driver.

"Wah? Oh...."

It might be better to give a few minutes notice don't you think? I didnt even have my bloody shoes on. 3 panicky minutes later I'm off the bus and they're already unloading all the bags into one mahoosive pile. I can't see my bag and all of a sudden I hear them closing the bus up. I runs around the other side of the bus:

"My bag! Not there" I say. Pigeon English FTW!

"Yes, yes. there" driver says.

"OK. I'll believe you. I'm tired. Wibble"

I goes back to the pile and the bus pulls off. There are 3 bags remaining and, surprise, mine isn't one of them. Oh no! I should warn you: there's a cultural zeitgeist always wanted to do that type moment coming up. I jumps on a motorbike taxi amd point, shouting: FOLLOW THAT BUS!


The bus has gone around the corner in the distance and so we follow.

Zoooooooom! My terror of motorbikes has disappeared and been replaced by fear of no clean underwear and GASP having to go shopping. My bag is my life. It contains everything. Without my bag I am worthless; without me my bag is worthless (if only that were true, eh, Mr pikey bus driver)

We go around the corner and the bus has disappeared. Street after street there's no sign of it.

"Go to the main road!" I say. I've no idea where this bus has gone or where it was going after dropping us backpackers off.

We drive for another 10 minutes and still no sign. I've resigned myself to having lost my bag. Oh well. Bigger things in life, eh? Not many, true...I direct the driver back to the hostel in dejection, hoping that the hotel has a phone number for the driver. They're all related over there. It's why the bus stops there after all. Or threr're bribes being paid. Either way: they know him.

Motorbike pulls up and there in the middle of the floor is my bag sitting pretty and proud. Where had it been? What would have happened if I'd caught up to the bus only to discover my bag wasn't on it? How big a cock am I exactly?

Questions that may never be answered....

My sibling is special

Dear Clare

We share genes, right? It's been hard to see for most of my life to be honest.

How can two siblings be so different? One so intelligent, good looking, arrogant and confident. And the other...well, you. Is that what you resent? Did I present a threat? Cuz lets face it there was never any chance of me taking our mothers love away from you, what little there was to be had. I know you've repressed most of the bad times like the trifle incident and the time you couldn't do the maths so got told I could do it while being pasted but I remember.

Ignoring the letter I sent, cuz let's face it the animosity you feel for me goes way before that and you were the cause of the letter being sent, do you ever wonder why? I know we disagree on pretty much everything ever, I know we have two wildly different personalities (you're shallow, materialistic and kind of dumb which is all anathema to me) and I know categorically we'll never be in the same room ever again, so why Clare? What did I ever do? I wasn't always this antagonistic toward you. You made me this way. I even told Nana once it became enjoyable to piss you off. And it was so very easy because you're ready to hate. Or at least where I'm concerned.

I just wanted a sister. I still do. Not you, obviously. But I see siblings travelling together! How!?! I ask myself. It seems an alien concept to me. Surely it's the role of the sister to be a bitch? Nope. Apparently there are some nice ones.

I would like to clarify some things if I may.

You once had an argument with Hayley over the origin of Clara the dog's name. Arguing for it to have been named after you is tragic. Truly.

Sending me a text message, when we were still talking, saying "what have I ever done to deserve a brother like you" when all I'd done is arrange some time with my Dad was a bit extreme don't you think? I do. Funny how you find him acceptable now, eh? Especially as you dissed him and his house's tits off. That text set off a long chain of events that I'll despise you for forever.

And yes, it was me that broke Shereen's Walkman. (sorry Shereen. Im sending a psychic hug by way of apology). It was an accident; it just came off in my hand. Quite why it took you so long to accuse me I'll never know. And I once stole £1.50 out of your purse. I think I was 14.

Here lies Clare Starbuck: Queen bitch, world champion of denial and all things fake.

Your genetic sibling (not brother; I was never that)


Ps I'd recommend for fully understanding this letter.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

The land of the not so free

I heart the US. It's a land of opportunity and awesome people. So varied and, well, ethnic. It's possibly the most mixed country ive been to. Step outside JFK airport and you're beset by a tsunami of blacks, browns, whites, jaundice, pink and the odd grey. It's glorious. Traveling through the 'States there are often pockets and sub-pockets of race, gender, class, sexual orientation and nationality. I was never treated with less than respect and welcome. Which is a shame as it seems to an outsider that the same can't be said for most of their own citizens.

Americans have an obsession and it's colour is green: money, and grubbing every last bit of it they can get. Yeah, they do it in India and Asia but there they don't have any to begin with. So many times you get turned over by a corporation, basic requests ignored as it'll cost them a cent or two, services not given or plain denied. They might wish you a nice day but the customer service sucks big time. American Airlines definition of a flight meal is an apple. They charge for baggage. Any baggage. Not just over 100kgs but the tiniest thing you want to stow.

Greyhound, the largest US bus service is awful. They go everywhere but they're overpriced, the buses are shit and the drivers surly. Thank god for young upstart Megabus.

Ask any shop,person for anything out of the slightly ordinary and you may as well have spat in their face. OMG! How dare you ask for less ice? Well I'd like some coke in the glass, thanks. And no that doesn't justify me giving you a tip.

Most of the time I came across these....discrepancies just because I'm a cheap-ass traveller and don't want to spend money but for a lot of Americans it's day to day. I'm talking about the poor. It doesn't matter what their colour or race, sex or anything else, if you've got money you're made, if you haven't tough shit. It gets worse the further south you go.

America is the richest nation on the planet and you'd never know it. I've seen some of the worst poverty in a first world,nation I've ever seen in the US. The gap between rich and poor is so ridiculously wide as to be the Grand Canyon and this is in a land awash with shopping malls. There are entire armies of homeless, people made of bones, wandering the streets. Detroit looks like a zombie wasteland until you look in the restaurant windows and see the rich, eating their tasty food.

It's a tragedy and an embarrassment of epic proportion. But it's not just rue rich against the poor. The poor hate their fellow poor just as much. There's no camaraderie, no friendship. It's a human eat dog world, and this dog is mine so get your lice ridden hands off it.

Americans have so bought into the concept of making it good, making it big, making your own way in the world that they've developed a national psyche that says "this is mine and I also want yours" to such a level its surprising they haven't invaded Mexico yet. I often talk with fellow travelers about how insular Americans can be. Very few are aware of events outside their border, be it town, state or country (I have a wonderful anecdote about them not knowing the UK was at war with Argentina) but it's hardly surprising when they have to focus so much on retaining what they have. Why worry about the starving in Africa when there're people dying down the block?

I think I'm right in saying that no other major nation on earth denies it's citizens basic fundamental needs and rights yet comsistently AND (presumably and allegedly) DEMOCRATICALLY votes in people that won't give them these things. There is a cancer in America and it art you.

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