After returning from Kangaroo Island I saw a job advertised, in the Youth Hostel in Adelaide, with a small mineral exploration company which involved going out into the outback for a few weeks. I phoned the number that afternoon, arranged an interview for the very next day and the day after that the expedition departed into the depths of South Australia. It was an amazing time and experience, not least because we were working in areas of Australia which were so remote that there were no man made frequency signals of any kind – no phone, no radio and no TV – it was just us and the natural environment. Every day we would set off, from the abandoned “Homestead” of which we were based, heading further out into the wilderness while Kangaroos “jumped” at pace adjacent to us as we made our own tracks into the bush, twisting and turning with the lie of the land.
It was so serene and so peaceful, and as I began to acclimatise to the natural environment thoughts that I’d never had before began entering my head. Thoughts that appeared, as if from the ether, about my journey, about its meaning and about how to word my experiences. It felt that simply by just Being outside of the man made electromagnetic smog of civilisation my mind was able to open up completely and my consciousness was “bombarded” with information. It felt like the Universe was speaking to me and I was downloading the programme – Universally speaking!!! 🙂
I began carrying a pen and paper with me at all times, so that I could record my thoughts and wordings, and then one day, after an hour or so’s drive to the site of the days exploration, we began to work and I had the feeling that the last thing I wanted to be doing on that day was working and the thing that I most wanted to be doing was writing, and then the geophys contraption that Brian was using “packed-up”.
“What the bloody hell?!!” I heard Brian exclaim from the centre of the 100 yard square circuit we’d set-up. Then he came traipsing over with the contraption and set it down “Well, I dont know what’s up with the blasted thing” he said. “Will we have to go back and get another one?” I asked. “No… there’s not another one back at camp, I’ll have to try and fix it here” he answered and then proceeded to begin taking the contraption apart! As I stood there, in the middle of nowhere watching Brian open up this machine and begin fiddling about with its electrical components, I began to feel a bit in awe of him. I asked “Brian, how do you know how to fix it?” and he looked up and declared “Easy… because I invented it!!!”
Wow… I went from feeling in awe to being awestruck!!! He was a proper man in the vein of days gone by: self-reliant, inventive and intelligent. And he was a gentleman to go with it… the full ticket… and I felt honoured to witness his Being. He couldn’t fix it though… it was buggered… and after an hour of trying we packed up to go back to the Homestead! And all the way back I was thinking of what I was going to be writing as the “Ayers Rock Adventure” was right on the end of my finger tips!!!!!! 🙂
When we got back, Brian got on with trying to fix the contraption and I asked to borrow his laptop so I could begin to write. He dually let me and then within 5 minutes he came back “The bloody thing’s working now!!!” he said, “What did you do?” I asked, “Nothing… I just switched it on!!! It’s too late to go back out there now though, we’ll have to just take today off.”
“Nice one!” I thought, and continued to write 🙂
I did so every evening after that and Brian enjoyed reading the adventures as I wrote them. He was a wonderful fellow and after we finished the expedition (which was the last one of the season) he offered to give me one of his contraptions “If you take this to Perth, Lee, you can earn loads of bucks” he said. It was so kind of him to offer, and I think that he must’ve had a bit of a soft spot for me to have done so, but I’ve never really understood the concept of money and it didn’t feel right to earn a living by exploiting the Earth in such a way, so I declined. I was simply glad to have had the experience and was grateful for the opportunity I’d been given and all it had taught me.
I’d gained so much knowledge… in more ways than one.
When I flew from Fiji to America I crossed the international date line and so “lived” two March 14th’s…. or 14th’s of March – as we correctly say in the United Kingdom!!!! 🙂 …. so I got to live a real life and truly bonafide All Star American Groundhog Day!!!! 🙂 …… and it looked as if the Groundhog had shown its face on Imbolc/Candlemass/February 2nd/ The 2nd of February…. or simply the middle day between the Solstice and the Equinox!!!! :-)…. because California was roasting in sunshine and all its spring glory!!!! 🙂
Arriving at LAX airport was a different experience too, with regards to the “Hotel/Hostel Vultures!” They appeared to be a different breed to any I’d experienced thus far on my trip (I hardly remember encountering any in Australia or New Zealand….. they must have been almost extinct in that part of the World!!!). These ones, though, were completely unfamiliar to me, so much so that I found them to be quite peculiar and so I hesitated….. and then…… they didn’t approach me or circle me or even line me up as their “prey”!!! 🙂 They just stood there, in a line, with their cards held out advertising the hotel or hostel they represented! They were unlike any species I’d ever encountered before!!! 🙂 Who were these people?!!!!! 🙂 I didn’t trust it, so I just stood back and watched, from a safe distance, a “school” of other “backpackers” go in for “their” encounter!!!! 🙂
As I watched, safely obscured by the flocks of humanoids passing peacefully across the prairie savannah floor of the LAX airport, I observed some interesting behaviour between the “school” and the “newly discovered breed” because it appeared that the roles had been reversed, from the ones that usually occurred in the rest of the natural world, fore the “vultures” were now “discerning” which of their prey was good enough to stay at their particular hotel or hostel and the “backpackers” had clearly lost all power of barter and the ability to strike a bargain!!! 🙂 It was a sight to behold!!!! 🙂 It appeared to be a case of….. you get exactly what you pay for…. and if you don’t like it….. fuck off and go somewhere else!!!…. in the nicest possibly way, of course!!!! 🙂 Welcome back to the Western World!!!! 🙂
After I witnessed a number of “backpackers” being devoured, and the “school” diminishing in its once healthy number, I entered the fray and questioned the first “NDB” in the line about his hostel deal and he replied “Can you read?… it’s written on the card bro!…. but you do get a free ride there.” “Ok” I replied and moved on to enquire with the next “It’s all there written on the card my man!” was his answer! And I tried one more to which he answered “Man… are you for real?!!! What was wrong with those two fools you just spoke with? And you think you can come and start talking with me now?!!!! Man…. I swear…. I aint no backpackers third choice!!!! Go back to the front of the queue you no-good-back-packing-joker…. before I smash your punk-ass outta here….. you hear me?!!!!!” 🙂
No…. you know I’m completely exaggerating, adlibbing and having fun with all that don’t you!!!! 🙂 But you do get the gist because that was “sort-of” what it was like! 🙂 …. and I did go back to the first one, when I made my decision, and he did joke with me saying “Well, after you spoke with those guys maybe I don’t want you at my hostel now!!!!” 🙂 …. but he did take my punk-ass outta there and on to Venice Beach!!!! 🙂
So that day…. Groundhog Day!!!! 🙂 …. was a day for free and I settled into my surroundings and went about sorting out a ticket to the forthcoming Lakers V Timberwolves game at the Staples Centre…. or how the septic tanks like to put it….. the Timberwolves@Lakers in the Staples Centre….. Blimey….. Yanks writing things the wrong way around still bloody confuses me!!!! 🙂 After I had booked it I had to go and pick up the ticket from a newsagent type outlet and so I went and found the place and collected my ticket. Then I made a bee line for the basketball courts of Venice Beach…. and this Groundhog Day was going to turn out to be like no other!!!!! 🙂 ………
……….. When I got back from the beach I went for a burger in one of the burger joints close to where my hostel was and I had a traditional Americano munch!!! 🙂
Anyway, as I was eating my “American Sandwich….. with fries!!!” I clocked and caught eye contact with this beautiful Indian girl….. not one of the Native American variety…. but one from the Asian Sub-Continent!!! She smiled at me, so I went over to join her and she welcomed me to sit with her. She was studying German…. of all things!!!! 🙂 ….. as she ate, and finished her meal, and so I attempted to impress her with my extensive knowledge of the German Vocabulary….. and not in a Del Boy attempting to give a French lesson type way…. No!… Give me some credit!!! 🙂 …. but with elegance…. and dexterity….. and the full range of German profanities that I’d picked up from Germans along the way!!!! 🙂 ….. She was definitely impressed….. not so much with the depth of my knowledge….. but more so with the fact that if she ever had to have a serious word with a German in the future…. she was most definitely equipped to!!!! 🙂
You see…. ten minutes with me and you’re sorted!!!! 🙂
We continued with our harmless and fun conversation and I told her about what I was doing, and where I was going, and then she invited me back to her place, which wasn’t so far away. She was really nice and I felt quite complimented that she felt so comfortable with me that she felt fine taking me back to hers. There was nothing in it though, as it felt purely plutonic and I was glad because I’d learnt my lesson on that score in Fiji!!! 🙂 So we went back to hers and conversed some more and we decided to go to a bar in Santa Monica that evening. And then she offered to let me borrow her bike so I could use it to cruise along the Beaches Promonade the next day! 🙂 I was gob smacked!!!! “You sure?” I questioned. “Yeah, you can take it now and bring it back to me tomorrow evening” she matter of factly stated!!!! Wow….. what a top drawer girl!!!!! 🙂 It had only gone and happened again, and someone else – I didn’t know from Adam!!! – had kindly lent me their bike!!!!! 🙂 Blimey….. aint the world a great place….. a lot of the time!!!!! 🙂
So we made our arrangements, for me to take it to the hostel then and she would follow to pick me up on the way to Santa Monica later. So I headed off back to my hostel with her bike and a time for another date!!!! 🙂 I was truly “on it” man….. not the bike…. but the crest of a wave…. and I didn’t feel like anything could be knocking me off!!!! 🙂 …… I was simply Loving the Feeling of Being in LA!!!!! 🙂
Well, I cycled back to the hostel, locked the bike up, freshened up and waited to commence my “date”. My “date” was beautiful, as ever, and we drove to Santa Monica to attend a bar there. It was around 8 when we got there and we spent a couple of hours enjoying each other’s company, but then she had to leave at 10 because she had an early start in the morning. She offered me a lift back to Venice, but I was enjoying the moments in LA too much to return to my hostel so soon, so I declined and we hugged and said our goodbyes. It was sad actually because, although I said there were no signals given from either of us, if I had lived in LA I would have gone all out to woo and serenade her….. and I think she would have been glad of me to…. she was definitely “marriage material”….. if you don’t mind me being so coarse…. but the only drawback about travelling is that sometimes you can meet such wonderful people….. and the very next day….. you have to move on.
But I did pop around and see her the next day, and drop off the bike though, because I still had another day left in LA!!!! 🙂
I chilled in the bar for another couple of hours, intermittently chatting to a few people, but mainly just enjoying the vibe, ambience and atmosphere on my own. Most people seemed to be too into themselves anyway and I was more than happy to leave everyone to it…. you know…… just sitting there…. having a Bud!!!!! 🙂 At midnight, though, I knew I had to make tracks as Venice was “a bit” of a way from Monica and I didn’t have the spondooleys to get a cab. It didn’t matter to me though because I was used to…. “back in the day”….. walking home to Barking after spending the night in a club in either Romford or Ilford….. and I thought I just had to walk down to the beach….. follow the coast….. and chuck a left when I got to Venice….. but I’d negated to take into account the amount of “dodgy” characters I seemed to be passing and, being on my own and out at that time of night, in some of the areas I happened to be walking through, the dodgieness felt even more exaggerated!!!!! I knew I couldn’t carry on the way I was going – if I wanted to get “home” safely – but I also knew of no other way…. so I thought “Fuck it…. it’s time for a British Army Quick-Time-March!!!!” 🙂 ……
I joined the British Army when I was 17…. Well, the Territorial Army in Ilford!!!! 🙂 ….. after being advised, at the Army recruitment office, that I wouldn’t pass the medical to join the Royal Marines on account of my severe case of acne…. it would just get infected during training they explained….. and they said to join the local Royal Signal TA Regiment until my skin had “calmed itself down” before trying to apply again. It turned out to be one of the key moments in my life because I did so, and spent almost a year as a Royal Signal, before applying instead for the Camp America programme. I was successful in my application for the programme, but unsuccessful in my application for a J1 Working Visa as the United States Immigration System didn’t regard me as having a good enough reason to return to England, after camp, on account of me not intending to “study” or having evidence of “going to University”….. apparently having my entire family in England and a love for my own country wasn’t enough….. so I was refused pretty much for being working class!!!!!
I explained the situation to my CO and he said “Dont worry about it…. we’ll get it sorted” and he instructed the Units Secretary to write a letter, for me, from the British Army for the attention of the American Immigration System. I took the letter, and forwarded it on, and a few weeks later…. Roberts your father’s brother…. I had my J1 Working Visa and I was heading to….. “We’re the kids in America, woohoo, We’re the kids in America, woohoo, Everybody live for the music-go-round… Nah nah nah nah nah, Nah nah nah nah nah!!!! :-)”
When I returned to England, after Camp America and having a truly amazing experience literally travelling right the way around America and through 28 American States, I had a desire to carry on travelling and so, instead of rejoining the British Army, I travelled to the Holy Land and I did a Kibbutz…… but without the British Army I could never have done any of that and my life would have been completely different.
The British Army changed my life, and not just because of the deed it did for me, but also for the strength and discipline it instilled into me too, at a very significant age, which helped to carry me through the rest of my life and all of the experiences I have gone on to have. I can never say a bad word about the British Army, and I never will, but I do have a number of bad words to say about the corrupt and Spiritually inept politicians whom “order” decent men to do indecent things and then hang those decent men (and women) out to dry and die. I have a lot of bad words to say about them, but I’m not going to do that either. What I am going to do is leave those corrupt and Spiritually inept politicians with some good words and those words are…. Justice is on its way….. You cannot escape….. Much Love.
…… So I set off and into the quick-time-march…. which is basically a mixture between a few steps “walking” followed by a few steps “jogging” followed by a few steps “walking” continued….. and I tend to vary those steps between sets of 4 or sets of 6 or sets of 8 paces depending on how I’m feeling and on how energetic or tired I am. It’s a great way to cover a long distance in a short amount of time…. without getting tired!!! It’s top drawer in fact!!!! 🙂 But on this evening it was even topper because it had the bonus effect of alleviating me from the other issues I was concerned about having to deal with on the “journey” that night…. namely the “winos” and the “gangstas” and “anyone else inbetween”!!!! 🙂
It was really funny actually because as soon as I switched from a normal walk to a “British Army Quick Time March” the vulnerability I was beginning to feel suddenly switched to that of absolute empowerment!!! The drunks I passed, whom before were trying to engage me in conversation….. suddenly left me completely alone and just looked at me like I was one of their hallucinations!!!! 🙂 ….. And the gangs I passed, whom before looked like they were pointing me out and saying to each other “Yo… check out this white dude…. walking on his own”, suddenly changed to pointing me, seemingly saying “Yo Yo…. check out this crazy white fool…. what the fuck is he doing?!!!” 🙂 And for anyone else in between my polite and quintessentially English greeting of “Hello” as I passed them seemed to increase and enhance their feelings of bafflement and amusement!!!! 🙂
I got back to the hostel…. safe and sound!!! 🙂 …. and ended up speaking with this Somalian refugee dude who’d somehow managed to get to “I want to be in America, Okay by me in America, Everything free in America, For a small fee in America!!!!!!!! :-)” and was TOTALLY “on it” and having the time of his life there…. I mean here…. I mean….. you know…. in America!!!! 🙂 I told him about the day I’d had, the beautiful girl I’d met….. Ok, there was nothing in it! I had received no “signals” from her and I had given her no “signals” in return because, as I said, my head wasn’t there and it was simply nice to spend some time with, and be in the presence of, such a lovely girl….. but in that moment I was in “bloke-speak” land with a geezer who was properly “on it” and in those moments, in order to stand and hold your ground, you have let your fellow geezer know just how big your bollocks are too….. without the need of literally showing them to him!!!…. and…. most importantly…. without showing any sign of being intimidated by the potential size of his!!!!! 🙂 In “bloke-speak” land the geezer who can talk the loudest and give the most examples of “how big his bollocks are” is the one who “proves” he has the biggest set of bollocks!!!… and in those instances….. size doesn’t matter….. but generally it does!!!!! J Does any of that make sense???!!!! Fuck it…. I’m leaving it in!!!! 🙂
Now, blokes that know me know that I don’t normally get involved in those kind of “bragging” conversations because I usually find them to be quite demeaning, but on this occasion I was actually really enjoying it because the “one-up-man-ship” stories this guy was coming out with were just unreal!!!! 🙂 …… and I had to keep coming back at him with something just to keep his stories flowing!!!! 🙂 Blimey, you think some of my encounters with the opposite sex are a bit hard to believe….. you should have heard about some of his!!!!….. he was hitting a home-run from every one of my pitches….. and I was loving seeing the sight of that ball flying out of the stadium!!!!! 🙂 While I was encountering beautifully intelligent girls studying hard in downtown Venice burger bars, he was out on Sunset Boulevard picking up chicks from Beverley Hills and getting invited to all sorts of functions and high end parties!!!! 🙂 He tried to convince me to come out with him sometime and I had to explain that the girl I had met was my kind of Queen and the kind of girls he was talking about never seemed to get me!!!!! 🙂
We just bantered into the early hours of the morning, and ended up sitting out in the hostel’s garden underneath the stars of the Los Angeles skyline…. it was so romantic! :-)….. No it wasn’t, because LA is so bright that you can hardly see any stars and we were just having a beer and a giggle!!!! And, without a doubt…. and thankfully without him ever showing me!!! :-)….. he “proved”…. over the course of the evening…. that he had a much bigger pair of bollocks than I did!!!! It was a fucking pukka evening and I went to bed giggling to myself!!!!!! 🙂
What a day and night!!! I was cream-crackered and pleased that the only thing I had to do that evening was go to the Lakers game!!! 🙂 That was adventure enough!!!! 🙂
I got up very late the next morning…. in fact it was almost afternoon!!! 🙂 . and cycled down to Venice Beach and along the strip there. Then I waited for the early evening when I popped around the “Missed Missus’s” 🙂 place, spent time with her and said some farewells. Then it was on to the Staples Centre to watch a Legendary Basketball team….. a team that was almost as Legendary as the Legendary Basketball team I supported from Boston!!!! 🙂 …. and as this team were the historic rivals of the team I supported…. it was quite ironic that the first NBA game I was going to ever see live was to support our greatest rivals!!!! 🙂 I actually love shit like that!!!! Turn the game on its head why don’t ya!!!! 🙂 For real!!!! 🙂
I found out where I could get the nearest direct bus from, in Venice, and I waited for the bus to arrive. I was the first at the stop and as I waited some older people began to queue too. When the bus arrived I naturally allowed them to board before me and, although they thanked me, they gave me a strange look too. What was that about? I couldn’t even work the look out…. so I just brushed it off….. and then when I boarded, and went to pay my fare, the bus driver gave me a funny too….. What the fuck was that look? I’d never seen a look like that before and I really couldn’t work it out!!!!! “Excuse me, Sir, is this bus going to the Staples Centre?” I enquired before I paid…. Fucking hell!!!!…. There was that look again!!! Only this time much more exaggerated!!! What the fuck was this look about????!!!!! “Sure is!” he replied and then gave me a big smile – I recognised that look Thank God!!!! 🙂 – as I paid the fare. “Weird!!!!!” I thought, as I wandered down the aisle of the bus.
I found a position centrally in the bus so I could have a maximum view out of all of its windows. I not only wanted to keep note of any landmarks as we passed them, so I knew where I was and could retrace my way back along the bus route if needed to, but also I was looking out for the Staples Centre…..
Oh….. I’ve just realised I’m spelling CENTER the wrong way! …… fair play America, sometimes us English put things around the wrong way too!!! ….. but on this occasion it’s not actually the fault of the English….. it’s the “fault” of the French!!!! And not just any old kind of Frenchies!!!!….. No!!!….. it’s the fault of those bloody Normans!!!!….. If only the Anglo-Saxon shield wall hadn’t lost its discipline in 1066…. then King Harold wouldn’t have lost the Battle of Hastings….. and the Anglo-Saxons wouldn’t have suffered the evils inflicted on them through their submission to Norman Serfdom and Slavery……. The Magna Carta (The Great Charter!!!!) would never have then needed to be written….. and….. ultimately….. English People would never have sought their freedom in America and cast off the reigns of tyranny they were living under in the new land of liberty they were creating!!!!….. And if that didn’t happen then the Great Native American Nations may never have fallen, many wars may never have occurred and Segregation may never have reared its ugly head!!!!…… And all this because a few hundred Anglo-Saxon Warriors, sensing a final victory, momentarily “lost their heads” in a shield wall after destroying the Viking’s in Yorkshire and immediately RUNNING the length of Englaland to confront the Normans in Sussex. That moment is, arguably, one of the most significant moments in all of Christian World history and the cumulative effects of its outcome are, in my opinion, a big part of what humanity is challenged with healing today. Englaland, and its People, fell into the hands of evil in 1066, and that evil, in time, spread around the World from its shores, and only for a brief moment did its People successfully stand again… in America.
……. I figured I would see the Staples Center before the bus got close to the nearest stop to it. Anyway, as I’m looking out of the windows of the bus – and not in a particularly strange or obvious way – I noticed that a few people were looking at me…. in that strange way again!!!… and as I became more conscious of that awareness I suddenly realised that everyone on the bus was looking at me….. and no one was talking….. “What the fuck? Am I imagining this?” I wondered to myself!!!! And as that confusion was running through my brain, it must have been clearly showing on my face because I caught eye contact with a guy sitting across the aisle from me and he had a look on his face that was saying “In your own time bud”…… and I knew then there was something blatant that I was missing….. it hit me….. and in the moment that it hit me my expression must have changed because the same gentleman raised a smile-to-himself-smile and looked away, leaving me to stand in my sudden revelation of the fact that….. I was the only white person on the bus!!!!
I couldn’t work it out because we were going through mixed racial areas, most of the way, at least I thought we were, so why was I the only white guy? It was freaking me out a bit and I thought I’ve got to ask someone. I saw one of the middle-aged ladies I’d let on the bus before me. She had a kind and full jovial face, so I approached her “Excuse me, Maam, I hope you don’t think I’m being rude, but may I ask you a question?” I politely asked “Sure thing” she replied, enthusiastically, and I, straight to the point and as polite as I could possibly be, continued “Maam…. why am I the only white person on the bus?” Her reply almost floored me “Aint no white folk catch the bus in LA honey” and she continued “They drive everywhere.”
That answer just stunned me. It was too much to take in and too much to comprehend. So many thoughts went through my mind in a millisecond – How has that happened? Why should that be the case? What were the social implications for such a thing to be real? What were the social causes for such a thing to be true? Was it the truth? I didn’t know, I just saw and heard the truth I experienced with my own eyes and ears. The kind lady saw the look on my face and smiled at me saying “You aint from round here are you honey?” “No” I replied “I’m from East London… well… Essex” …..
Right, I feel the need to explain this because I find it so difficult to define exactly where I’m from because the lines are so blurred!!! When people ask me I fall into this East London/Essex description and it never feels right!!! Others call it the East London Essex border lands, which is a better description, but too long winded!!! Another description is Metropolitan Essex which just feels like a contradiction in terms and something the council made up!!! 🙂 Also, I was born within the Sound of Bow Bells, which makes me officially Cockney, but because I was brought up in Barking the people whom live within the Sound of Bow Bells consider me to be an Essex Boy and not the other way around!!!! So you can see my predicament, I’m neither one nor the other but both at the same time!!!! But actually, if you want to get all historical about it, the Ancient Kingdom of Essex stretched right along the north bank of the River Thames shoreline, all the way to Westminster, so everyone born Cockney is, in fact, from Essex!!!! 🙂 Well, now we got that sorted, for my benefit, shall we move on?!!! Cheers ears!!! 🙂
…… “And what you doing around here?” she sincerely asked and I replied “Well, I’m travelling around the world, but tonight I’m going to see the Lakers play at the Staples Center…. you wouldn’t happen to know what stop I have to get off at would you?” She smiled again and said “I sure do, I’m going past that stop so I’ll let you know when we get close.” I gratefully thanked her, we shared a few more words and then I went back to looking out of the windows, the only difference now being that everyone now appeared to have a sympathetic and wry smile for me, as if to say “Well, I’m glad you’ve seen it!”
We got near my destination stop and the lady gave me a nudge to let me know. It was really nice as I got off of the bus too because, after we said our goodbyes, the kind lady hollered “Now you have a good time, you hear!!!” J I turned, to see her big radiant smile and a few other passengers giving me a goodbye wave too, and I called out “Thank you!” 🙂 again. Everyone on that bus must have heard our conversation and most must have seen my looks of confusion transmute to that of realisation, as they took place, along the way, and I felt a very lovely vibe as I got off the bus that day. A very lovely, lovely vibe. 🙂
As I started to walk, in the direction the lady had informed me to go, I suddenly had a bit of a panic because I couldn’t see the Staples Center at all!!!!….. I mean, how can you miss a building that size and she said it was only around the corner!!!! 🙂 …… and I momentarily wondered if she had sent me the wrong way!!!! 🙂 …… but as I rounded the corner – like she instructed!!! – there it was, in its full glory…. and it had just been obscured from my immediate perspective!!!! 🙂 So I was on and in and up to the top floor of the stadium to watch the Timberwolves at the Lakers play the Lakers….. or as I preferred to put it…. the Lakers versus the Timberwolves!!!!! 🙂
My seat was “up in the Gods!!!” and it was actually a great view from there….. with the added bonus that you could drink a beer as you watched!!!! The family next to me were loading up with pop corn, but I couldn’t do any of that and I joked with them by asking them “They don’t do any steak and kidney pies do they?” 🙂 The joke didn’t go down too well because they just looked at me like I was a mental case!!!! 🙂 They still humoured me all the same and I went and settled for an “All American Hot Dog”…… complete with Tomato Sauce!!!! 🙂
It was a cool atmosphere and I spent half the time watching the game and the other half watching everyone else in the stadium!!! J I was just enjoying the moment man!!!! 🙂 It was topper than a set of top drawers that had just been given a top drawer extension!!! 🙂 ….. with ketchup…. and pop corn…. on top!!!! 🙂
The game ended, and Lakers won, and I just stayed in my seat watching everyone depart while keeping my eyes on the court. I wanted to savour every moment and I didn’t actually want to leave!!!! 🙂 When I was one of the last people left “up in the Heavens”, and staff started tidying up around me, I figured I better start making my way down, but on the way down I thought I’d try and get down to courtside and see the stadium from that perspective. So as I got to the foyer area I approached one of the doors leading through to the courtside level and a security guard stopped me “Have you got a pass Sir?” He questioned “A pass? No, I just wanted to have a look at courtside.” I answered “I’m afraid you need a pass to go through to this area, Sir, it’s restricted” he explained “Bugger!!!!”I thought and began walking away.
I continued to walk through the foyer area and just a few courtside entrance doors along another security guard walked right infront of me while escorting a lady and so vacating his post….. and I thought…. “Blimey…. I think the Universe is giving you a bit of an opportunity here sunshine!!!” and I gratefully accepted the “present”, changed my direction and headed through the unattended courtside doors!!!!! 🙂 ….. I was in!!!! 🙂 …… and I made my way down the courtside seating steps and onto the hoarding boards of the court itself!!!! 🙂 There was another security guard at the bottom of the steps, but I just walked by him, confidently, and bid him a good evening. Although he looked at me hesitantly, he didn’t stop me and bid me a good evening too!!!! 🙂
So I was there…. not just by courtside….. but almost on the court of the Los Angeles Lakers itself!!!! 🙂 …… and I was almost as “buzzing” as I was when I reached the courts of Venice Beach!!!! 🙂 There were still some people “milling about”, so I had some cover, but I was still sticking out like a sore thumb at an injured hitch-hikers convention!!!! 🙂 …… and I wondered how much time I would have there, so I made the most of every minute 🙂 …… and five is what I got before I saw the security guard I’d actually asked clock me from inside of the door he was attending and radio down to the security guard whom I wished a good evening to, whom then proceeded to come over to me and ask “Have you got a pass, Sir?” and I replied “A pass? No…. I just wanted to have a look at courtside….. it’s amazing down here!!!” with a big smile!!! 🙂 “I’m afraid you need a pass to be here, Sir, and if you haven’t got one then I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to leave because this is a restricted area” he explained, looking a bit pissed off at me, but also like he was suppressing a wry smile too!!!! 🙂 “Oh, I’m ever so sorry, Sir, I’m travelling around the world and I just wanted to experience it here, I do apologise, but thank you, Sir.” 🙂
His smile warmed and he led me back up the steps to the entrance I had come through, and at the top of the stairs was the security guard (responsible for attending those doors) with his hands on his hips and looking at me, with an exasperated smile on his face as if to say “You’ve mugged me right off here mate!!!!” but he still bid me a good evening and so much fair play to him for doing that!!!! 🙂 I have to say to that gentleman that I’m very sorry because I think I may have gotten him into a little bit of trouble that night, but I also have to say to him – Thanks so much for the opportunity!!!!!!! It was top drawer pukka!!!!!! Big Ups!!! 🙂
I left the stadium cheerful and merry and happy-go-lucky!!!!! 🙂 …… and smiles were beaming from my face as I got the bus back to Venice!!! 🙂 I must have been emitting something because on the return journey I was just engaging with people and having a bit of a bubble…. and no one had the chance to look at me funny!!!! 🙂 Some of the people, on the bus, had been to the Lakers game too and whenever you get on public transport after the end of a big sporting occasion like that the vibe is always different from the bog-standard normal…. especially when the home team has won!!!! 🙂 But I felt very much at home and very much at ease. It was like I went to the game on a bus in LA and I returned on a bus in East London!!!! 🙂
And that was it…. that was my LA Adventure 🙂 …. I got back, got some kip and then got up to move on to the next one. And the next one would be in the Canadian City of Vancouver.
So that very day I headed for Mana Island and exactly what I felt I needed…. sun, sea and…… isolation!!!! 🙂 As things worked out I had five days to spend there and that felt great…. not for the reasons you would normally think of….. but because it meant that for five days all I had to think about was getting through the 5 days!!!! That felt wonderful and I applied myself diligently!!! 🙂
Man, the hotel was perfect!!!! It was high “backpacker” standard, with a beach (and complimentary palm trees!!!), swimming pool, water sports and the works!!! It was full board, had a great dining area and there were plenty of travellers and backpackers milling about!!! There were no worries, no hassles and no fears….. and if I hadn’t have brought my head with me then I thought I would most certainly have the time of my life!…… I suddenly wished I hadn’t packed it!!!!! 🙂 I swear, it’s at times like that you really wish you could be Worzel Gummidge so you could change your “head” for any occasion!!!! 🙂 But on second thoughts, after all the problems he had with Aunt Sally maybe not!!!!! 🙂
And as a result of said head, the whole time I spent, there, turned out to be a bit of a blur. Everyday seemed to merge into the next, and it was easy and hard at the same time. I just spent each day eating and sleeping, swimming and reading and listening to Ash and crying my eyes out!!!! Choose your order because every order was experimented with, and sometimes repeated, on a daily basis!!!!! 🙂 Every now and then I’d engage in polite conversation with some fellow travellers, but on the whole I tried to avoid them…. even a meal times!!!! But there was one day that did stand out from the rest….
Everyday I’d witnessed groups of “excited fun loving backpackers” returning to the beach after a “most awesome!” kayaking adventure to different parts of the Island…. and then proceed to hearing them rant and rave about their days adventure, over dinner, in true “Swallow and Amazon” excited story telling stylee!!! 🙂 To be honest, every time I overheard about one of the escapades I felt like I was missing out and I wanted to do something about it!!! But I didn’t want to join a group or experience “someone elses” adventure! I wanted an adventure of my own!!!!…… You may have got the gist by now that that is simply just the type of guy I am!!!! 🙂 …… Also, seeing as I was on my own I felt I needed a challenge to fulfil that adventure and simply paddling over to some remote little beach and climbing up a palm tree really wasn’t going to do that!!!!! 🙂
So I looked at a map of Mana Island, and I looked at the scale, and I thought “Fuck it…. that looks doable….. I reckon I could paddle around that in a day….. it’ll be a long day…. but fuck it!!!!” In all the adventure stories I’d overheard none of them appeared to have kayaked right around the island and so I went to enquire with the Fijian whom hired out the water sport equipment. I approached him on the beach, and asked him about it, and he told me that it was a long way, and the currents were strong on the far side, so it probably wasn’t possible in a day. I then asked “Well, what if I leave early?” and he replied “Well, have you kayaked before?” and I said “Well, yes, I do have a British 3 Star Award, so I’m not a complete muppet, and I’ve done some sea kayaking over in New Zealand just off of Abel Tasman National Park….. so what d’you reckon?”
He looked me over, and sized me up, and then said “If you do it you’ll have to keep close to the shore because the currents are strong.” I replied “No prob, I want to coast and the shore as I go anyway, that’s all good!” and he continued “Ok, I get here half an hour before I open, so if you get here then I’ll have the kayak ready for you so you have more time.” Sorted!!!! I was off!!!! On another Miller Adventure!!!! 🙂 I thanked him and paid him and he said “Dont thank me….. just make sure you get back before I close and I’ll see you tomorrow morning!” Wow…. it felt like quite a compliment that he was prepared to take that risk on me!!!! 🙂
I got an early night, that night, and I didn’t cry once!!!!! J And I was up and raring to go the next morning!!!! 🙂 I got down to the beach, and the hire place, early and the guy that run it was already there….. he’d got down there earlier than usual too to sort my kayak out for me!!!! 🙂 That was great…. because it meant I had a head start on my head start!!! 🙂 …. and I thanked the Fijian hirer once again!…… “Dont thank me….. just make sure you’re back on time…. and stay close to the shore!” he seriously stated…. and then wished me luck!!!! 🙂
And then I was off…. in my open topped kayak…. with my sunscreen on and my lunch packed, water packed, spare clothes packed, towel packed, first aid kit packed, mess tin of “adventure accessories” packed and my backpack packed in a plastic sealed bag and tied onto the kayak!!!! 🙂 The only thing I was missing was a hat, but I thought I could just put my t-shirt over my head if it came to it……. and look like a Benedictine Nun!!!! 🙂
It was beautiful that morning, setting off in the calm light blue waters while following a shoreline of exquisite green palm trees sprinkled with doses of sporadic golden sands. It was so quiet that I didn’t think even the birds had woken up and a complimentary warm breeze accompanied the tranquil surroundings. I quietly paddled alongside and parallel to the insignificant waves magically breaking upon the islands edges, while whispering sounds of soothing seduction. It was heavenly!!! 🙂
And I appreciated those moments for all they were worth because as the sun gained it’s elevation in the sky the ambience and conditions slowly, and naturally, began to change with it. By mid-morning the suns strong rays were beginning to feel uncomfortable and the light breeze was no compensation. It was becoming hotter than I liked or could easily tolerate…. but I pressed on! 🙂
By noon I was sweating buckets and I was wondering if I’d packed enough water to get me through the day! It was funny though because I was very aware that I had gone from “gliding like a swan” at the commencement of my paddle to “looking like an ugly duckling” by lunch!!!! 🙂 I rounded the top of the Islands headland and decided to find a beach and stop for something to eat….. and a swim to cool down!!!! 🙂 There was an absolutely perfect one, just “around the corner”, and so I “beached-up”. I was making good time and reckoned I was about half way around the island, so I didn’t mind indulging in the moments of complete seclusion…. does that mean I stripped off and went for a “skinny-dip”?….. No!…. because I discovered that I was so English that it felt a bit “improper” to do that even on a desert island beach!!!!! 🙂 You’ve got to laugh at yourself sometimes!!!! 🙂 “Yeah, I know it’s deserted….. but what if someone saw me?!!!!” I swear that thought actually went through my head!!!! 🙂
So after my “quicksilver swim-short clothed” dip, I had lunch and dried off. It was really hot by then and so the drying didn’t take long!!! Those were wonderful moments though because, although the backpacker hotel was great, the communal meal times were a bit much for me, for the reasons I’ve already gone into, and being there, completely on my own, with just nature as my company, was paradise, for me, at that time. I was the quintessential, and completely self-induced, Billy-No-Mates of Mana Island!!!! 🙂 But when you’re with nature…. you’re never alone. 🙂
When I was ready I packed up and got back into the kayak all prepared to bang into the rest of the trip and complete the journey around Mana Island! It was mentally hot by then and I was really getting worried about my water supplies, but then, about an hour after I left the haven of the beach, the weather suddenly started to change. Clouds started to form on the horizon in front of me….. dark clouds!…. and a cold breeze started blowing in my face! The sea began to become a little bit choppy and I could see the “mist” of rain approaching me from the near distance. My God, after spending a couple of hours sweating my bollocks off in Paradise…. it looked like Blighty was on its way!!!….. Hooray!!!!…… I don’t think I’d ever been so pleased to see rain!!!! 🙂 It started mildly at first, with just a pitter-patter of refreshing drops….. and then…… the British equivalent of Heaven reigned in all its true Glory!!!! 🙂 God…. what a relief!!!! 🙂
The cold breeze turned into a cold wind, so now I was not only paddling against the current I was paddling against the wind too, but that was a good thing because it meant I had to paddle hard to keep warm rather than not paddling hard enough in order to stay cool!!!! It was a difficult balance before, but now I could just go for it!!!! 🙂 The sea became much choppier and the visibility reduced considerably, but I had faith in my stamina and my endurance, and my ability to get myself out of a “tricky situation”!!! J The truth is I was suddenly in my element because I was now living on the edge…. and the edge was called…. Dodgy As Fuck!!!! What a motivation!!!! 🙂
Seriously, what’s the point living life if you’re scared of death?!!!!!!!!!! What’s the point living a “safe” life when you can be killed, just as easily, by the very measures you’ve taken to keep your life safe?!!!! What’s the fucking point of being like everyone else?!!!! What’s the point of fucking shutting yourself away at home trying to protect yourself from anything bad ever happening to you?!!!! What’s the point of a life like that?!!!!! It’s not a “life” at all…. it’s just an existence. I want to live my life…. and the only way to do that is to risk it….. because it is only in the moments when you risk your life that you realise how much your life is worth living!!!!! The problem is that the world is full of bollocked brained gonads telling you that you’re an idiot because you wish to take a risk and do something with your life!…… basically because they’ve never had the bollocks to go and live their own!!!!…… And they just want everyone else to be exactly the same as them…… sitting at home, afraid, until someone tells them that it’s “safe” to come out!!!!!!
Life is not about being safe, it’s about living with the risks of life and taking the responsibility for your own whereas keeping safe is about limiting your life and foregoing the responsibility you have to your own Spirituality. Therefore, Choose Life…. and trust in the Spirit that guides you. 🙂
My Spirits were up man…. even though I was afraid…. and I think that’s what’s called courage!!!! 🙂 And about ten minutes into the “mire” it was getting a bit “hairy” and I did wonder what people might say if my adventure suddenly went tits-up and I washed up, drowned, on a beach somewhere!!!! “Oh that silly bollocks…. what was he thinking! You see… I told you so! You should never take a risk like that….. paddling around an isolated Pacific Island on your own….. what a complete and utter bollocked brained gonad!!!!” 🙂
Yep…. I was getting into “beyond the edge” territory and with every minute that passed I was getting ever more unsure of myself!!!! 🙂 But, there is only one thing to do when the elements are against you like that….. put your head down and paddle for your life!!!! 🙂 So I did that and I was loving every minute…. it was a proper challenge….. and without the fear element you don’t get the same buzz….. or the same felling of joy when you succeed!!!! 🙂
You see, I’d rather die living my life than die not living it!!!!!!!!! There’s no point in life otherwise.
After about half an hour the crux of the storm seemed to pass and I was back simply paddling in the rain and into a lighter cold wind again. The sea had calmed itself down and the waves became more of the “fun” variety rather than of a “threatening” one. I carried on, actually feeling at peace after getting through the worst of a mini-crisis, and was enjoying the continuation of the British-esk weather. 🙂
It was really funny a few minutes later because, out of the rain-mist I saw a boat full of tourists and they were right in my path along the coast. What were they doing there?!!!! As I approached I could see some of the people on the boat were pointing at me, paddling out of the mist and in the rain, but as I passed no one said a word, as everyone …. including the Fijian crew….. just looked at me with all their jaws dropped!!!! 🙂 I didn’t know what to say or do so I just called out “Hello!” in my most polite English accent and paddled on!!!! J As I said “Hello” I noticed one woman unconsciously raise her hand to wave and then just as unconsciously put it back down!!!! 🙂 It was absolute comic genius timing, but a naturally occurring one, and just after I passed I began to crack up!!!! 🙂 No one on the boat had said a word to me…. they hadn’t even looked at or said a word to each other!….. they all just stared blankly at me as I paddled by them….. in my open topped kayak…. along the deserted coastline of an isolated Island….. in the middle of the Pacific Ocean…… after a storm!!!!!! 🙂
After I had passed I was in hysterics and I just kept repeating the moment in my head!!!! “Hello!” 🙂 It was like something out of a Monty Python sketch!!!! 🙂 Blimey, it was so funny and God knows what they were thinking!!! 🙂 I tell you what though, that moment got me through the rest of the day and I hardly thought about my aching arms after that!!!! 🙂 I eventually rounded the other cape, the sun came out and I was on the home run with the current and a new lighter breeze behind me!!! 🙂
I cruised the last short stretch along to the lagoon beach and the ambience was very similar to how I left in the morning. The beach was empty…. I figured because of the weather….. except for a Fijian gentleman who rose to his feet as he saw me! I quietly paddled in and the gentleman had a relieved smile on his face as he greeted me…. it was the guy who hired me the kayak!!!! 🙂 “I’ve been waiting for you” he said “Not good weather today… very uncommon!” he declared. “Tell me about it…… But I made it though!!!” I replied with a relieved smile and laugh! 🙂 He wore the same kind of smile too and said “I don’t know how…. I’ve been worried about you!”
It turned out that when the mini-storm struck he decided to close the hire shop and have an early day, but because of me he’d waited around because he was genuinely concerned about me. I thanked him profusely and offered to buy him some beers, but he said it was fine and he was glad I’d got back safely. Then he smiled and said “Well done!” although I’m not sure if that was for successfully paddling around the island or for getting back on time so that he didn’t have to call out the coast guard!!!! 🙂 …… if, indeed, Fiji had one!!!! 🙂
After that, I went back to my room laid on my bed, cream-crackered, for an hour and then got up, got scrubbed up and went down to the buffet area for dinner…. and I have to say I was feeling pretty pleased with myself!!!! 🙂 I queued up and got my munch, and then went to sit at a table by myself, then a few minutes later an English couple asked if they could join me. I was in really high spirits, so it was all good, and they gratefully sat down.
It turned out Alice and Jamie were from Market Deeping, a beautiful little town close to where my aunt lived, and we broke the ice by reminiscing about how wonderful it was there!!! I told them that I loved rowing down the river, from my aunts, to go the pub and they admitted that they had enjoyed doing similiar!!! 🙂 They were an adorable young couple, whom were just beginning their adventures in life and I told them of the adventure I’d had that very day!!! 🙂 They loved it and then they spoke of the adventures they’d had so far. It was so lovely hearing them speak so excitedly and enthusiastically, and it was wonderful to hear what they had been up to. Then they asked me where else I’d been, and I began to tell them about this and about that, and then Alice proceeded to want to hear my life story!!!! 🙂 She seemed to be so inspired about the few bits I said that she wanted to hear everthing, and, if you’re reading this, you’ll know by now that when I tell a story it rarely ends with an ending and usually just leads into another adventure!!!! I cant help it…. it’s just life man!!! Or Maam….. we were talking with Alice remember!!!! 🙂
No, it was really lovely, and Alice and Jamie just sat there soaking it all up as I tried to give them the best advice, about this and about that, that I could and give them the confidence to just got out there and do it!!! Of course, they already were, but it was nice that I seemed to be able to inspire them some more!!! It was good for me too because Alice’s interest in my “life story” helped me to put my life in some sort of perspective, a perspective that can be so easily forgotten along the way; I’d led an amazing life, from where I had come from to where I was in that moment, and all the things I’d achieved on the way, and it took Alice’s amazement at my journey for me to fully appreciate just how amazing that journey had been. Alice gave me some wonderful therapy that night and, for the most part, she didn’t even realise it!!! 🙂
It was such a wonderful conversation and it was so wonderful to be in the company of such a wonderful couple. As the night drew to a natural conclusion Alice and Jamie told me that they envied my life and I told them that I envied their beautiful relationship…. at which point they held hands, looked into each other’s eyes and gently smiled at each other….. the pair of soppy bollocked tit heads!…… I loved it!!!! 🙂 They were such an adorable couple 🙂 . We said our goodnights, and hoped to see each other again, and I went to bed feeling like a completely different man to how I’d been feeling a few days before.
Fiji had definitely been good for me….. but in a couple of days I would be in a completely different place having a completely different experience….. and the excitement was beginning to grow inside of me….. I was getting ready to shoot….. to Los Angeles….. and the legendary basketball courts of Venice Beach!!!!! 🙂 ….. Swisssssssh!!!….. 🙂 ….. It’s a three point play cant you hear the crowd roar?!!! 🙂
After my “Escape from Wellington”….. (which wasn’t so much an “escape” from New Zealand, but more an “escape” from having to pay AGAIN for my air ticket home! 🙂 …… My God…. would that have been an almighty kick in the Niagras!!!! 🙂 ) …… I was heading for…. “I like to be in America! Okay by me in America! Everything free in America! For a small fee in America!” 🙂 ….. via….. Fiji!!!! 🙂
As I sat on the plane, to Nadi, I was feeling a mixture of “feelings” and, unfortunately, none of those feelings were that of excitement. I found myself absorbed in a mixture of emotions…. some of relief – at being on the plane anyway – and some of absoulute disappointment at not being able to fulfil my childhood dream of visiting Tahiti – because the plane I was on was going to Fiji. I then also felt, quite ironically, bad about not feeling excited about going to Fiji!!!! What a muppet I can really be at times and how the fuck do you get out of that conundrum?….. not of being a muppet of course….. that’s “epidemic”, as Del Boy would say!!!! 🙂 …… No ….. the “academic” fact of feeling bad about going to a place, because you had intended on going somewhere else, and then feeling bad about feeling bad about going there!!!!! Are you feeling me on this? Good…. so now it’s a “pandemic”!!!! 🙂 It’s amazing how quickly that can spread….. you just have to convey an emotion!!!! 🙂
Well, with all the “demics” put to one side, the reason why I was feeling bad about feeling bad was because, under normal “non-demic” circumstances, I would have loved to have had the opportunity to travel to Fiji!!!! 🙂 I loved their rugby side and had enjoyed watching them play live in the “Twickenham Seven’s” the year before!! Also, one of the other things I wished to experience, on this trip, was a Pacific Islander rugby pitch!!! I just thought seeing such a quintessential English thing in such an exotic location would be an experience in itself and certainly a far cry from the rain drenched mud baths of home!!!! 🙂 And if you’re going to fulfil a desire to see such a thing, in such a place, then the best place for that kind of thing is Fiji!!! I even hoped to see a match!!! 🙂 But, because of the “demics”, I wasn’t feeling it, and I felt bad about that!!!! 🙂
In all seriousness, it was actually quite horrible and I had to have a word with myself “Come on Lee, snap out of it son!!!! You’re going to be home, in England, in a fortnight’s time and right now you’re on the way to an amazing place! You may never get the chance to go to Fiji again…. so get over yourself and stop being a twat!!!!” I caught eye contact with the stewardess and beckoned her over “Stewardess…. could I have a cup of tea please?” I asked. “Certainly, Sir” she replied and brought me one. Ahhhh….. that felt better!!!! 🙂
We landed at Nadi airport and, after you get through customs, it’s like everywhere else in the world because you suddenly get pounced upon by all the “guest house” vultures giving all the same promises about all the “same” guest houses all over the “rest of the world”!!!! 🙂 So I engaged my usual “determination” appraisal and was on my way to a merry little guest house/hotel on the outskirts of Nadi, surrounded by palm trees and near the beach too! I went into the reception, which had the bar/restaurant attached to it in an open plan setting, and heard the distinct sounds of a football matched being played on the TV. They were showing a Premier League match and some of the locals had gathered to watch it. I immediately congratulated myself on my fine choice in “determination” and set about checking in, settling in and getting in as quickly as possible…… so that I could watch it!!!! 🙂
And as I’m checking in, settling in and…. 🙂 …… I noticed the Fijian lady checking me in was also….. checking me out!….. so we began to flirt a bit!!!! 🙂 Blimey, she was beautiful and had a fine figure on with all her lumps and bumps in the right places….. if you know what I mean!!! 🙂 She looked like she was in her mid-twenties, but being a Pacific Islander, I thought that probably meant she was in her mid-thirties because they age so well! She was definitely hot though and so there wasn’t any need to ask her age!!!! 🙂
After some smiles, and a few little giggles, she directed me to my room and I went to dump my stuff and get straight back to the bar to watch the footy! The locals watching the game welcomed me to sit down and it was nice watching the game with them. It’s strange though, because it does my nut in to know that I can be freely watching English Football in the far reaches of the world…. and yet….. if I was in England at the same time I probably wouldn’t be able to watch it!!!! It’s fucking mental!!!! Especially when it comes to the Saturday afternoon 3 o’clock kick-offs….. you could be in Timbuktu watching one of those ones freely, yet if you were watching it on a TV in the land in which it was being played then that act would be illegal!!! The football world can indeed be as insane as the rest of it!!!! 🙂
As I watched the game the Fijian lady came to serve me beer and I continued to harmlessly flirt with her, and in return she continued to smile and return the compliment!!! 🙂 The match came to an end and the Fijian guys all disappeared…. as I think they all had wives to return to too!!!! 🙂 ….. which left me with the receptionist! 🙂 I asked her if there was anywhere she would recommend going out to in the evening and she told me about one bar, and then she said “I’ll go with you if you want.” …… “Blimey…. that was a bit forward!” I thought, but I liked it!!!! 🙂 So I said “Cool, that’d be nice” with a big smile! 🙂 She told me she was finishing work in an hour or so and she could meet me at 8. It was late afternoon, by then, which meant that’d give me a chance to go for a wander and get back to put my glad rags on, so I replied “Yeah, that sounds good” and we arranged where to meet!!! 🙂
Blimey…. I’d only been in Fiji a few hours and I had a date!!!! 🙂 I was pleased about it though because I felt I needed something like that to take my mind of all the other bollocks! Hang on a minute…. I was actually feeling excited when I left the bar and I went on my recce with quite a spring in my step!!! 🙂 Anyway, I had a look around the manor and took in the sights (and the sites!!!) of palm trees and beaches, and sea and of sand, and of….. a rugby pitch in between the palm trees and the beach and the sea and the sand!!!! 🙂 Wow…. what an exceptional thing to see…. and it certainly beat the sight/site of Barking Rugby Club by the Goresbrook interchange in Dagenham!!!! I went onto the pitch, had a little run and immediately realised why the Fijians were such hard bastards….. the pitch felt like concrete!!!!…… fuck that for a tackle!….. it’s probably why they run and move so fast!!!! 🙂 After almost breaking my ankle…. on the quick dried cement! 🙂 …… I returned back to my “pad” in the “motel” like grounds of the hotel…. and I had my 3 S’s…. blokes know what that is girls…. and I’m not gonna tell ya!!! 🙂
So I met her at 8 and was amazed when she turned up on time….. I hadn’t really expected her to turn up at all!!!! 🙂 ….. and it was nice man….. I really like and appreciate that in a girl. She was wearing this short, figure hugging, summer dress and she looked pretty awesome in it! I began to figure that, even if she looked twenty something, she must have been thirty something simply because of the way she carried herself…. she had that self-confidence and self-assurance that a twenty something woman just doesn’t have and usually yearns for. I was really liking this girl!!! 🙂
She hailed us a cab and she took me to this “off the beaten tourist track” bar where, once again, and like when I went to the Thai boxing in Bangkok with Mint, I was the only white guy there, but unlike the time at the boxing the indigenous men didn’t look like they wanted to kill me for being with one of “their” women!!!! 🙂 And that was a relief because, unlike the average Thai blokes whom were small and quick…. the average Fijian blokes were big and fast…. and I didn’t fancy my chances….. especially as they didn’t sell bottles of Newcastle at the bar!!!!! 🙂 No, but after I had bought us both a beer at the bar we began to shoot a game of pool and I got the impression that I may have not been the first white guy she’d brought there because although I did get the vibe that they weren’t happy with me being with her, they didn’t make it obvious, and it simply felt more like a case of “here she goes again!” 🙂
It was clear, to me, that she was enjoying me being there with her too and I really admired her attitude. She had a lot of “balls”….. and she wasn’t even a lady boy!!! 🙂 …. no…. what I mean is that she was coming across as one of those really strong women, you know, the type that don’t give a fuck about what a man thinks about them because they care more about what they think about themselves…. and if any man had a problem with that….. she wouldn’t think twice about kicking him in his balls!!!! J Anyway, that was the vibe I was getting….. and I liked it!!!! J She certainly had some confidence about her….. and there was no way I was gonna mess with her….. “Do you want another beer sweetheart? I’ll get another round in. Sorted.” 🙂
We continued having a nice evening together and as the night progressed the mating game went through its “landmark” stages and we ended up getting a cab back to “my pad” in order to complete the “game”. It was late by then and as my room was outside of the main building we managed to get there unseen by anyone at the hotel. So we went in and we kissed and we cuddled, and we did all of the things that you would normally do when you meet someone you like and want to take it a step further, but I wasn’t feeling it because I was thinking about Nicole. It just felt wrong to me and I forced myself to go through the motions, thinking that’s what I needed to do, but it wasn’t. After we completed “the game” I just held her and I told her I was sorry. She knew my head wasn’t there in the moments we were most intimate, and she was understanding about it, but it wasn’t fair or right. She deserved better than that, but she didn’t ask any questions of me, she just accepted that my head wasn’t right. I held her for a while and then she dressed and she left…. and I cried my eyes out.
It’s strange how all that happened….. at least I think it’s strange when I look back…. there’s her giving the large like a bloke….. and there’s me getting all emotional like a bird!!! You couldn’t make it up….. and if you were going to….. you wouldn’t tell anyone that it was you who was the bloke in that situation!!!! 🙂 Blimey, that night I discovered that my head was more fucked than I was!!!! 🙂 And maybe that’s exactly what this whole journey was about…. not about being fucked…. but about finding the balance between the Divine Masculine and the Divine Feminine within yourself. I certainly feel that she had found the Divine Masculine within herself and I was finding the Divine Feminine within myself, or, perhaps, had already found it.
At breakfast, the next morning, I met some backpackers who told me about this backpacker resort on this isolated Island. It sounded amazing and just what I needed. I’d given myself several days to explore Fiji, but I just wasn’t feeling up for it. I just wanted to hide myself away and be in my own space for a while and this place sounded like just the ticket. So I set to finding out more and within an hour or so I was booked, packed and ready to go!
I was thinking that I didn’t want to leave without saying a proper goodbye to “the receptionist” and luckily she started her shift just before I was about to go. I told her that I was leaving and although she looked disappointed, she seemed to understand without me explaining anything. I wished I could have been more to her, but I couldn’t. We embraced and she said “You’re a good man.” And I replied “You’re a good woman.”
We gave each other a warm and regretful smile, and then I was off because I was looking to “man-up” in a place that was most appropriately named….. Mana Island!!!! 🙂
After I made the decision to get back to get straight back to Stonehenge for the Vernal Equinox…. well…. as straight as is possible when your circumnavigating the world by plane, train and automobile…. and in the hope of not bumbing into John Candy going the wrong way!!!! 🙂 …….. I literally left straight away!!! I’d been writing in my digs for several weeks….
The digs I’d been given when I’d accepted an apple picking job, but after a few days of picking, and hearing on the radio news that the British Home Secretary, Jack Straw, had announced his intention to introduce “National Identity Cards” in the United Kingdom, I simply couldn’t focus on the job of picking apples as I – along with many other free and liberty loving Britons – had other intentions…. I can tell you!!!! I’d heard that bulletin around lunchtime and for the rest of the day, while climbing up and down ladders or using a mechanical picking machine, that’s all I could think about…. what the fuck was happening to my country?!!!! I weren’t having it or standing for that kind fascism, along with most other Britons, in my country!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I felt compelled to do something…. but what? …. What the fuck could I do?….. I could write….. I could continue writing about these adventures because they were relevant to that issue….. and so for the rest of the day, that’s what I felt compelled to do and by the end of it I knew I’d picked my last apple.
I explained myself to the owner…. the guvnor!!! 🙂 ….. at the end of the working day and he was so understanding “Sometimes you’ve just got to do what you’ve got to do” is all he said and he allowed me to keep renting a room from him at the same low rent and he even lent me his mountain bike so that I could cycle into Moteoka whenever I needed to!!!! 🙂 Bloody Kiwi’s man….. I swear…. they’re the salt of the Earth and I find it so bloody hard to fault anyone of them that I’ve ever bloody met!!!! 🙂 Will you all stop being so nice already!!!!! 🙂 Only joking!!!! 🙂 You carry right on…. good and proper!!!! 🙂
….. and I was on the bus within an hour or so and heading for Nelson!!!! 🙂 I arrived in the late afternoon, sorted out a hostel and then went on the internet to arrange my travel to Wellington from there. I’d heard about the possibility of a direct flight on a small seater plane, across the channel from the South Island to Auckland, and, seeing as I felt like I was in such a rush, seeing as it would save some time going “around the houses” by bus and ferry to Wellington and seeing as I felt like I fancied the adventure of travelling that way anyway…. I booked it no matter what the cost was!!!…. and although it was a lot more expensive it wasn’t terribly expensive….. so it was all good…. I was flying man!!!! 🙂
That popped out on the town that evening, met a couple of Kiwi birds, whom made me feel very welcome and at home, and we had a bit of a craic…. but the nights always end early in Kiwiland, and it was lucky because I had a reasonably early start in the morning and I couldn’t risk missing my plane!!!!
And it was a great experience going to the small airport and catching that small aircraft with only a small amount of people…. It was just me and a couple of other passengers!!!! J What was really funny, though, was that when you checked in…. to the small check in area…. of the small hanger…. at the small airport…. they put your luggage on a small trolley, and then they wheel your luggage, on that small trolley with small wheels, across to the small plane, and then they put your luggage in a small holding place on the small aircraft…. and while all this is being done you’re walking right next to the small trolley, on its small wheels, being wheeled across to the small holding area on the small aircraft….. and…. all of that short while….. while you’re walking that short distance with the small trolley…… you’re thinking to yourself…. “Well…. I could have bloody done that!!!!” 🙂
Anyways, insane rules and regulation rules aside, the flight was awesome!!!! I really got to see some amazing sights and the ticket was certainly worth its price!!!! 🙂 It was definitely the best way to travel back to Wellington and a great way to see more of New Zealand in the process. What was a bit disturbing, though, was seeing some areas around the most northern part of the South Island that had been forested and harvested for trees. The area looked completely barren and even the untrained eye could see the desolation caused because of continued soil erosion. From the air it looked as if the land was failing to recover and, quite frankly, it looked like an alien landscape and not something you expected to see in New Zealand. But, desolation aside, it was a great journey and I was so very pleased that I’d gone with my gut feeling and not taken into consideration the health of my bank balance!!!! 🙂 And I was back in Wellington in next to no time!!!
As soon as I got into the city I made a beeline for the British Airways/Quantus office so I could sort out my air travel back to the other side of the world….. Wellington -Tahiti – LA – Vancouver – London!!!! 🙂 I was hoping that I may even be able to get I may even be able to fly to Tahiti that evening of even afternoon!!!! Things seemed already to be going my way and so I felt confident. Anyway, I tracked down the office and it still hadn’t opened yet so I waited outside, even more confident because it meant I would be the first customer of the day and should give me ample time to get everything sorted for the completion of my circumnavigation!!!! I tell you what…. Captain Cook would have been proud of my endeavour!!!! 🙂 ….. Fucking hell!!!!….. that’s such a “dad” joke!!!! 🙂 …… but fuck it…. I’m leaving it in!!!!!!! 🙂 ……. Oh….. and for all those unfortunate Souls whom have suffered the crippling historical and intellectual effects of a dumbed-down “modern” education…… one of the ships of explorer/navigator Captain Cook was called “Endeavour” and it was Captain Cook whom first mapped the coast of New Zealand…… (In fact his maps were so accurate that they are still used as reference today and he is, arguably, the greatest map maker in the history of humanity…… I fucking Love the geezer!!!!!! What a Legend!!!!! 🙂 )….. and if you didn’t know any of that best get yourself down the library, borrow some books and start educating yourself!!!! 🙂 With Much Love!!! 🙂
So the door opens, the BA/Quantus staff bid me a fine morning as they welcome me in and I approach the counter with my “Around The World” – not With Willy Fogg but Within A Year – Ticket already to go and be “sorted” unto its completion!!!! 🙂 …… And I hand it over, to the lovely lady, giving me a lovely smile, behind the lovely counter and I say “Can I arrange my flights back to England on my “around the world” ticket, please?” and she replies, with her lovely smile and with a lovely tone “Of course you can, Sir” and she takes the ticket while I smile while enjoying the pleasure of all the loveliness!!!! 🙂 But then….. Oh My God!!!!…… as she looked at my ticket her expression suddenly changed to that of concern and she said “I sorry, Sir, but it appears that you’ve missed all your flights.”
“What?!!!!” I replied, completely confused, “How could I have missed all my flights? I haven’t used them and I’m here?” I continued. She then showed me the ticket and pointed to the dates of the flights which were all lined-up, one after the other, on consecutive days in the first 10 days of February…. we were now in the first 10 days of March!!!! As she showed them to me I said “Yeah, but they’re fictitious dates, so what’s the problem?” Her expression then went from “concerned” to “very concerned” and she said “No, Mr. Miller, those dates were real, they were real flights and you’ve missed them.”
“WHAT THE FUUUUUUCCCCKKKKK!!!!!!” I thought, as my expression went from “confused” to “extremely confused”!!!! 🙂
“What do you mean they were real? I was told by the agent when I booked the ticket that the flight dates he was putting on the ticket were all fictitious and that I didn’t need to worry about them. He told me that he had to enter dates for the flights so that the ticket could be recorded on the system, but they didn’t matter as all I had to do was inform the airline of my intended days of travel when I chose to use them.” I explained. “No, you were meant to change the dates of the flights before you were due to take them” she replied, while trying to explain. “Well, if that was the case, then why wasn’t I informed when I booked my flight from Sydney to Wellington? That was on 28th January, so why didn’t the British Airways staff, in Sydney, inform me that I needed to change the rest of the “February” flight dates when I changed the Australia – New Zealand connecting flight from what I was told was the “fictitious” date of 5th February to the “real” date 28th January? Why didn’t the staff then advise me that the following flight dates on the 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th February needed to be changed too?” I asked, while beginning to panic!!!! 🙂 “I don’t know, Sir” the lovely lady said….. while beginning to panic too!!!!! 🙂
“I actually questioned the guy I booked the ticket with on this and he did use the word “fictitious” to explain; and using the word “fictitious” implies that the flight dates don’t really exist” I continued to deliver my case!!!! “That does appear to be unfortunate wording” she expressed “No, Maam, that’s not unfortunate wording that’s an information directive. I was informed that the status of the flight dates were fictitious – and the word fictitious means “unreal” – and I was directed that I didn’t need to worry about those “fictitious” dates and only needed to change them when I chose to travel” I explained. “Also….” I added “….. if the flight dates were “real” then why did the agent book them all together at the beginning of February and not at the beginning of June, just before my ticket expired?”
To be fair, she didn’t argue with me and appeared to completely believe my testimony…. because it was true!!!! 🙂 ….. and she also appeared to not be able to comprehend how this had happened either. There was more as well because, although I could see that she was on my side, I also saw in her eyes that she had no idea how this matter was going to be resolved…. and if it was…. then it appeared that it was going to be bloody difficult!!!!! 🙂 “I’m so sorry about this, Mr. Miller, I understand what you’re saying and I’ll have to see what we can do about it.” She sympathised and caringly explained “If you’ll just take a seat and wait, I’ll go and consult my manager.”
With that she headed directly into a back office and I went to sit down, panicking, because I only, just about, had enough money to get home and not enough money to pay for another ticket too, but I also felt very reassured that at least I wasn’t being dismissed out of hand….. I had everything crossed….. even my eyes were crossed at that point!!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂
I went to sit down and as I waited I could see a hive of “activity” behind the scenes, but none of the staff either looked at me or spoke with me…. so I waited some more. After more than half an hour the lady finally came over to inform and acknowledge me, but her expression of concern hadn’t departed her “Mr. Miller” she began “At the moment it’s not good news. This is proving to be a very difficult matter to resolve because, as it stands, British Airways officially regards your ticket as expired and you have no cause for recourse…. but we’re working on it….” she thankfully added!!!! 🙂 …. “In order to resolve it we’re going to need some authorisations and we’re also having to work directly with the British Airways Head Office in London, which, with the time difference, is making the situation even more problematic. At this stage, we cant promise you anything, but I can tell you that we are going to do our best for you…… but it’s going to take some time.”
She explained that it might be best if I went off and did something during the day and returned later, but I couldn’t go anywhere. I couldn’t focus on anything and all I felt to do was stay right there, in and by the office, and wait until I had an answer one way or the other. So that’s what I did, and in between the kind staff supplying me with copious amounts of tea, I waited…. in the office…. and in the street outside. I didn’t eat anything all day, I couldn’t, I just wasn’t hungry and in fact I actually felt a bit nauseous such was my unabating feeling of stress. I just zoned out… bewildered.
During the day one of the staff members had asked me what – if they could get authorisation – new dates would I like on the ticket? I thought about it and we went through them one by one, but then she told me that I couldn’t get on a flight to Tahiti for two weeks because they were fully booked and the best bet, if I wanted to get back to Stonehenge for the Equinox, was to go via Fiji as those flight dates would work out. I was gutted at the thought of not being able to get to Tahiti. After reading about Captain Cook’s visits to those Islands, and with Captain Cook being my hero when I was a kid, they were the absolute magical dream destination that I had “planned” on my “around the world” ticket. In fact, I’d even paid a bit extra for my ticket to include those Islands on my route! God…. that was a kick in the stomach….. but at that point I didn’t even have a ticket so it was the least of my worries!!!! “If Fiji’s the best bet, then Fiji it is then” I confirmed.
At around 4 pm I was sitting outside when one of the kind ladies came to the door of the office and said “Mr. Miller…. would you like to come in?” I got up “She had a smile on her face….. I swear she had a smile on her face…. she has got a smile on her face hasn’t she? She has got a smile on her face….. she got a fucking smile on her face!!!!!!!!!!…… fucking hell…… she’s got a fucking smile on her face!!!!!” I was thinking, as I walked through the door and towards the counter. Not only that, but I noticed that all the other members of British Airways and Qantus staff had quiet smiles on their faces too. This was looking good. 🙂
The lady member of staff went behind the other side of the counter and I approached the public side, and as I reached it she said “Mr. Miller….. it’s been a very difficult day today…. but…. here’s your ticket” as she “definitely” gave me a big smile and presented me with my ticket!!!!! 🙂 I picked it up and quickly checked it, and then I could have cried, kissed and cuddled her all at once!!!!!! 🙂 Instead I just gave her the biggest and most grateful and relieved smile I think I may have ever mustered, and, with tears in my eyes, I simply said “Thank you…. thank you so very much.” I was actually too emotionally exhausted to have said or done anything more, but the smile of quiet contentment that she gave me in reply…. and the quiet smiles, that I noticed were getting even quieter, amongst the other staff members in the office….. told me that that was all I needed to say or do. It was a lovely moment. I was wished well on the rest of my journey…. and I was off!!!! 🙂
I went and checked into a Youth Hostel and that evening I went for a quiet beer and I began to say my goodbyes to New Zealand, because, the very next day I would be saying hello to a most unexpected destination, and land, as I “knew”, by this time tomorrow, I’d be in Fiji.
You can never “know” exactly where life goes…. but I did get to Fiji! 🙂
The plane landed in Heathrow…. I was back in Blighty!….. and it was the 20th March, 2006….. the day before the Vernal Equinox…. I’d only gone and made it!!!! Lovely jubbly!!!:-) But, not quite…. I still had to “navigate” my way to Stonehenge….. and there weren’t any direct train or bus links from there to Heathrow!!!! Time was of the essence too because West Ham happened to be playing Man City in the quarter finals of the FA Cup that evening and I wanted to have sorted out some “digs” in Amesbury and to have found a pub that I could be sitting cosily in to watch it!!!!! 🙂 Come on Irons!!!!….. I had a good feeling this year!!!!! 🙂
I collected my backpack and went through customs. It felt so good to be back in England! I know England isn’t perfect, but I love it all the same!!!! 🙂 And just hearing all the familiar accents made me feel so much back at home!!!! I walked out to the “pick-up” areas and sized up the chances of hitching from the airport (I’d actually written a “hitch-hiking destination banner” while I was on the plane), but it wasn’t looking good… with too many people running here there and everywhere…. and it was clear that the last thing that anyone would be thinking about was picking up a hitch-hiker…. even if they were going the same way!!! 🙂
So I went and checked at “information” about possible public transport links to Amesbury, but I was right in my assumption! I had fuck all money and I had to think fast. I did so and figured that the only chance I had would be to get to the nearest motorway service station and hitch from there…. and the only way to do that would be to get a taxi….. Taxi!!!! 🙂 So I bowled over to the taxi rank and hailed the first cab I saw…. which was this Indian fella. He winds down the window and I explain my predicament and I asked him how much it would cost to get to Fleet services on the M3? He milled it over and then came up with the figure of £75.
To be honest, that didn’t seem too bad, and I weren’t in any position to barter anyway….. so I accepted!!! The only thing was, as I explained, was that I didn’t have any cash on me and would have to draw the money out from a cash machine, at the service station, when we got there. He hesitated at that moment, but then said “Ok…. you have honest face…. we go to Fleet, I come with you to cash machine, you leave bag in car, and you get bag back when you give me money, Ok?”…… “Mate, that sounds all good!!! Sorted!!!” I replied…. you see, I told you how good it felt to be back amongst all those familiar accents!!!! 🙂
I bunged my backpack into the cabs boot and went to sit in the passenger seat…. and me and the chosen Cabbie commenced our road trip together!!!! 🙂 It was quite a clear run and we appeared to get to Fleet Services in no time, although we had been talking quite a bit enroute, with me telling him about my travels and where I was heading, and also mentioning that if I could get to the A303 it should be plain sailing to Amesbury from there. We parked up, headed into the service area and found a cash machine. In all honesty, I have to admit, I was a little bit apprehensive at this point because my bank account was empty and although I knew I could draw out up to 150 notes on my credit card…. I hadn’t done it before…. and I hoped that everything was going to be gravy!!!! 🙂 So I pressed the buttons on the machine…… and…… didleedo, didleedo, boo…. £150’s worth of the finest English promissory notes magically appeared!!!! 🙂 Thank God!!!! 🙂 The chosen Cabbie immediately put his hand out and I went “Fuck off….. I want me bag back first!!!” and he laughed!!! 🙂 And as we’re walking back to the cab he suddenly asked “So where you really want to go?” and I replied “Well, Popham, on the A303 would have been ideal…. but I aint got the money to go that far.” And he said “No problem, I take you!”….. “What? Are you sure mate?” I said in surprise “You fucking diamond!!!!” I continued and he replied “No problem!” 🙂
So I paid him the notes in the car and we continued on our “road trip” all the way to the 303 and Popham Services!!!! 🙂 At which point he got out, took my bag out of the boot and, while giving it back to me, said “Good luck my friend!” and I simply replied “Cheers geezer…. Thank you!!!” 🙂 The chosen Cabbie then drove off into the distance and I was left to consider the next part of my plan! I was about to take my sign out when I saw a van driver filling up with fuel…. fuck it…. I’ll just chance him first….. I thought…. and I walked over to the bloke…. and asked if he could give me a lift to Amesbury.
He turned out to be a Londoner, so it was all good, and I had my lift the rest of the way….. straight away!!!! 🙂 I grabbed a tea, and a bit of grub, from the petrol station shop and I was off again, on the home straight…. to Stonehenge!!!! 🙂 It was nice chatting with the fella…. I caught up on all the football gossip and he was amazed to hear some of my travel stories too…. and then, I think as a result, he didn’t just drop me at the junction with Amesbury, but took me all the way and dropped me in the town centre itself!!!! “Nice touch!!!” I thought and thanked him profusely once again!!!! 🙂 He headed off, pleased that he could help, and I stood there….. in Amesbury…. feeling like Hannibal from the A-team…. as I loved it when a plan came together!!!! 🙂
So…. I was on the way back to London from Devon…. to spend my 30th Birthday with my family in a rub-a-dub dub in Essex!!! 🙂 ….. and thus far all my wishes and desires (that I’d had in the tree house in Laos) had come true. I’d had fish and chips on the sea front at Lynmouth – CHECK! 🙂 ; I’d walked to Watersmeet…. and back!!! – CHECK! 🙂 ; I’d visited the Valley of the Rocks – CHECK! 🙂 ; I’d surfed (ok…. body-boarded!!! 🙂 ) at Croyde – CHECK! 🙂 ; I’d had a pint and a Full English at The Thatch – CHECK! 🙂 ; and I’d spent an hour to talking with Nicole…..
We’d met in the town centre and walked down East St. to Barking Abbey. Although we hugged and kissed when we met, we didn’t hold hands as we walked, so something was definitely different, and all Nicole talked about was her sense of “feeling broody” and wanting a “mortgage”. She asked me what I wanted in life and if I wanted those things? I explained that I did want a kid one day, but I wasn’t planning on it yet, and if it did happen then I’d prefer it to just happen. And as for a mortgage, well, I explained that I didn’t understand why people say it like that because, I’m sure, when I was growing up people used to say that they “wanted a house” and not a “mortgage”. I said that I didn’t get where this new terminology had come from and the last thing I wanted, in life, was to be enslaved by a bank with a “death pledge” which is what the word “mortgage” actually meant.
“Oh… don’t lecture me, Lee” she said. And that had changed too because she seemed to really like it when I went off on one, speaking my truth, before. I knew I was losing her if, in fact, I hadn’t done so already. “So what do you want in life, Lee?” she asked me again, ever so sweetly. “I just want to be happy, Nicole, and I’m happy to just get by doing the things I want to do.” I answered honestly. “Get by?!!! Dont you want better in life? I’m not just getting by… I want the best!”Nicole said, equally honestly. “To me, being happy is the best, Nicole”…. I explained my perspective to her and then she explained hers to me…. “But, to me, Lee, the best is what makes me happy.”
I’d lost her and I knew, there and then, that she wasn’t the right girl for me…. but emotionally I still wanted her…. so what do you do? What you do is you keep to yourself the fact that your greatest ambition for a home, in life, was to pay rent to the council for a council house!!!! 🙂 My God…. if I’d told her that then it would have been most definitely have been game over, set and match!!! And I didn’t want it to be. I still wanted her, even though I knew she was wrong for me….. blokes hey!…. what can you do with them!!!! 🙂
We continued into the grounds of Barking Abbey and sat on the grass in what was formerly the Nave. It was such a beautifully English summer’s day, the kind where it’s very warm, but with no humidity, and a soft breeze blows the scent of flowers and cut grass through the air. Barking Abbey looked exquisite that day, with the surrounding trees bellowing their shades of green while being silhouetted by a deep blue sky with its cloudy sundry. There were a number of other people enjoying the peaceful space that day too and as we walked I clocked almost every geezer there checking Nicole out as we passed! I didn’t mind, and I didn’t blame them, she was so beautiful and she radiated a stunning sense of femininity and sex appeal, it was no wonder that every man looked like they wanted her, and no wonder that, even though I knew she was ultimately the wrong girl for me, I still wanted to be with her….. blokes hey….. what can you do with them!!!! 🙂
We sat in the sun, and surrounded by the Abbey ruins, and continued to talk about what had happened to us, where she was at and travelling. She still wouldn’t say that definitely wouldn’t join me on my journey around the world and so I invited her to join me on my little recce to Devon. She said that sounded amazing, and she’d think about it, and then we just spent some time together, holding hands, on the ground, in the grass. It felt amazing to be with Nicole and I cherished every second I was with her. It felt massive to me just being able to hold her hand again and I began to think maybe I hadn’t lost her after all as I continued to feel lost in the moment.
A group of young lads, whom had been sitting close by, watching us, began conversing with Nicole from a distance, and being cheeky with her too, but not in a disrespectful way. Nicole gave as good as she got back and I just smiled because it was just like how I was when I harmlessly flirted with the check-out girls in the shops we visited on that Saturday before I left. It was nice to be on the other end of that experience because you can only take the harmless flirting as a compliment. The lads clearly thought Nicole was “a sort”, but she was with me, and that felt good…. at least for that hour!!! 🙂
After the brief cheeky interlude the lads apologised for disturbing us….. and gave me a respectfully envious nod, wink and smile out of Nicole’s eye-shot! 🙂 …… and me and Nicole spent some last moments quietly holding each other…. in the grounds of Barking Abbey. Then we walked out of the Abbey, and through the Curfew Tower, and back along East St. to Barking Station where we said our goodbyes and went our separate ways.
Although I didn’t expect that Nicole would be coming with me, to Devon, I clung to the thought that with Hope, there is always a Bob, and I might see them together on stage again!!! 🙂 However, that evening I received a number of text messages, that I didn’t really understand, but the gist was that something unexpected had come up. I tried calling her, but she didn’t answer my calls and then she texted me to let me know she wouldn’t be able to see me again. It wasn’t unexpected, but it was heartbreaking all the same. I tried to put a brave face on it and thus…. I went down the pub!!!! 🙂
I walked up the town and bowled into the Spotted Dog, had a pint, but didn’t know anyone in there, so I popped across into the Barking Dog, had another pint, but still hadn’t seen anyone I knew in there…. Gor Blimey, Barking had changed since I was a teenager!!!!…… so I wandered down the Station Parade and passed the Brewery Tap, popped in there and happened to see an old mate, Nicky, who I hadn’t seen in years. He was a face from the manor whom, although we had never been bosom buddies growing up, had always given me time and respect, as I had always done to him. It was good to see him!!! 🙂 I bowled in, bowled up to the bar and bought a bottle of Newcastle. Nicky was playing pool, but had clocked me too and so I bowled over to him. He looked pleased to see me and he told me he’d just got out after doing some time. I didn’t inquire where or what for as he immediately asked me what I was up to these days. “Well, would you believe I’m on trip around the world and I’ve just popped back for my 30th birthday! A few days ago I was sitting in a tree house in Laos!!!”
Blimey…. even if it was the truth it probably wasn’t the best thing to blurt out straight away!!!…. because…… quite frankly….. it did sound like bullshit and I could see the split-second look in his eye when he weighed up whether to believe what I just said or call me out on it!!!! 🙂 Instead he took the most non-committed and respectful option and just carried on as if I hadn’t said it at all!!! Cool as….. I had to laugh at myself!!! 🙂
Nicky continued to play pool and we continued with a bit of catching up as he played, minus my talk about travelling…. even if I was still in “backpacker” mode!!! 🙂 It was nice to be in the company of a face that I recognised and I was starting to feel my old jovial self again. There were a couple of birds standing around the pool table too and so I just thought I’d “break the ice”….. so I just said to one of them “Hey sweet, how are you doing…. you alright?”……. “I’m engaged!” she said sternly in reply while looking at me like she wanted to smash my face in!!!!….. Blimey, I didn’t expect that response!!!…. but I tried to make the best of it!!!!…… “Ah lovely…. so when’s the happy day?” I said, while attempting to keep jovial and being genuinely interested and happy for her at the same time!!!…. “Look just fuck- off!!!!” her friend suddenly shouted out at me!!!!
Blimey…. wasn’t it nice to be back in Barking!!!! 🙂 I didn’t get the chance to respond because then a geezer suddenly bowled up to me and said “Oi….. That’s my fiancée you’re talking to!!!!” while pointing at me! I just replied “Yeah, I’m pleased for you and I just asked when the happy day was!” while still trying to keep a jovial tone!!!! 🙂 To be fair, I don’t think he expected that kind of reply, and it seemed to knock him back a bit, but he had clearly already decided that if he was in for the penny…. then he was in for the pound…. and so he continued “Look, she doesn’t want to talk to you so fuck off!!!!” while intimating that, in his opinion, we were petering on the edge of “mayhem”!!! “No, I’m quite happy standing where I am, thank you” I replied, while changing my tone and letting him know that I didn’t give a fuck about the edge or his opinion.
“Come on” he said, to his fiancée and her friend, and they left me and fucked off outside!!! Blimey, Thank God for that…. what a load of bollocks!!!! J Nicky, in the meantime, had finished his game and shook my hand saying “It was good to see you, Lee” and then fucked off into the other bar. I’m not sure if he felt uncomfortable by what had just happened, but it left me standing there, in the middle of the pub, with half a bottle of Newcastle still to drink. It was awful. I was very on my own, very out of place and felt very not belonging to the very place in which I’d grown up. I didn’t know where to go or what to do, so I just stood there, in full view of everyone looking at me awkwardly. My jovial state had rapidly left me and then I suddenly had the urge to go to Barking Abbey.
I walked out of the door of the pub, with the remainder of my Newcastle in hand, and as I went outside I happened to see the “fiancée fellow” sitting on a bench and he caught eye contact with me. He stood up and, at first, I actually thought I saw a look on his face like he was going to apologise to me and I was getting ready to say “No prob bud, all good!” and wish him well for his wedding!!!! But then his expression suddenly changed and he started looking all menacingly at me again…. for fucks sake!!!!…. and I just rolled my eyes and walked on!!!….. then I heard him shout behind me “YEAH….. FUCK OFF!!!!”….. I just let it go again and continued on my way….. but then…. as I was about 30 yards away and almost going around the corner…. he shouted out again…. “YEAH, FUCK OFF YOU WANKER!!!!”
Well, by then I’d already started to feel quite upset, but at that point it turned into anger…. he’d told me to “fuck-off” three times and I wasn’t accepting being spoken to like that anymore…. I quickly changed the grip on my bottle, turned around and started “storm-walking” directly towards him shouting “WELL COME ON THEN!!!! YOU FUCKING WANT IT SO LETS FUCKING DO IT… YOU CUNT!!!!!” I walked about 15 yards in his direction and he then just sat back down with a blank expression on his face!!!! “WANKER!!!!!” I shouted as I stopped walking towards him “WANKER!!!!!” I shouted at him again. Then I changed the grip on my bottle once more, turned and started walking away again. I heard him, half-heartedly, call-out “Wanker” towards my back, as I walked, but I couldn’t give a shit. I was too upset to care by then and he’d had his chance. I was suddenly in pieces and it took every bit of whatever self-control….. I didn’t have left….. to stop me from bursting into tears as I walked along the remainder of East St. in order to get to Barking Abbey.
As I walked, I just couldn’t get over the fact that I could travel around the world and get accepted……. by people that didn’t even know me…… wherever I went….. but when I came back to Barking….. to my own manor….. and tried to be myself…… I got that. It hurt man. It fucking hurt. I got into the Abbey, found a spot and then I just cried…. I sobbed, uncontrollably, for about an hour…. but it wasn’t just about that…. it was about everything…. it was about Nicole and what happened there…. and there was something else too….. I didn’t know quite what…. but there was a pain I was feeling that went beyond that of a lost love or a community rejection….. I felt like I was grieving for something…. and I didn’t know what.
I don’t know how better to explain that, I’m just pleased that I was in Barking Abbey when it happened. I’ve never felt emotional pain like I did that night and I thank the Heavens that at least I was there when it happened. I pulled myself together, I said some Prayers and I left.
….. And so, after all that I was heading back to Stonehenge!!!! 🙂 You forgot where we were didn’t you!!!! 🙂 Fucking hell…… I know I did!!!! 🙂
I arrived at the Stones, parked along my usual spot on the Drove and went to complete my usual ritual and routine. It felt good being there again and as I wandered back I happened to see an Indian family walking along by the corner of the Salisbury Plain side of the Drove. I thought about the ring and I wondered whether they may know any Sanskrit or be able to shed some light on what any of the words meant on the ring. I caught the family up and then politely asked the father if he could help me. He took the ring from me and examined it in the late afternoon sunshine. He looked at the wording on the inside of the ring and then looked closely at the wording on the exterior. Then he shook his head and said “No… I cant see any words I recognise.” I felt my heart sink a bit as my expectations had been rising as he was closely examining it and he went to give the ring back to me, but then he suddenly recoiled and looked even more closely at one of the words on the rings exterior “Oh” he said “I do recognise one… there’s a word in Hindi.” I suddenly felt like J R Hartley finally tracking down his book in the Yellow Pages TV advert!!!!! 🙂 “There is?!” I said, with exclamation 🙂 “What does it mean?” I asked, with absolute intrigue! 🙂 He smiled at me and as he handed it back to me he said “It means…. greetings.”
Wow!!!! Wow!!!! That was the moment. That was the moment when I felt elevated and I knew that something very special was happening to me, and I had to complete this journey, whatever it was, and wherever it was taking me. That was the moment when I felt like I was walking on air!!! Wow!!!!! 🙂
I thanked the gentleman, his wife and his family and I bid them a good day and an enjoyable time at the Stones!!! 🙂 Then I headed off to spend some time at the mounds and the Circus (my spelling!) while continuing to “walk on air”. I was blown away by that, I was absolutely blown away, because some things then, suddenly, began to make a lot of sense.
God, I loved my life sometimes… and all the bollocks… Well, you’ve just got to get through it… haven’t ya!!! 🙂
As the sun set I lay down in the field, between the Mounds and the Stone’s, and I finished another book that I had been reading. And then I just dozed as I momentarily watched the Sun fall behind the western horizon. The air became chilly as dusk began to set in, but I didn’t want to leave my spot as I was enjoying the dewy feel that tells you that, although not quite here yet, autumn was beginning its approach, but there were still going to be some warm sunny days to come!!!! 🙂 It provoked a strange sensation in me… one of a sense of loss along with the excitement of making the most of whatever was left. I guess I was relating to the feeling of sorrow for the near end of summer coupled with joy of the fact that it wasn’t quite over yet!!! 🙂
Either ways, I knew that whatever I felt, and however I would go on to feel, I had to make the most of this journey and what was left of it…. and I couldn’t let any amount of “soppy bollocks” malarkey stop me!!!! 🙂 So it was back to East London and Essex, my family and my 30th Birthday, and a restart with a new start!!!! 🙂
I didn’t wish to leave Stonehenge that evening, but I said my goodbyes because it was game on!!!!…. Come on!!!!…. Then it would be back to Thailand!!!! 🙂
So it was August, 2005, and I was back in England. Several days before I had been sitting in a tree house, in the deepest jungle of Laos, on a “Gibbon Experience,” farther away from civilisation than I had ever been before, and on one night, during that exceptional “experience”, I made a choice…. no…… I had an impulse and a desperate calling that I had to get back to England and see Nicole as soon as possible. After I had made that decision I felt well and I was (amazingly!) sitting on the London Underground within 72 hours of making that “decision” in the tree house, in Laos, but, my God, what an adventure that journey was!!!! You wouldn’t believe the synchronicities that occurred!!! 🙂
Now, the decision wasn’t completely Nicole related, even if she was the absolute catalyst. When I was in the jungle, that night, I had also felt a bit “homesick” and I thought “Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to go to Lynmouth (my favourite place in the World!) and have fish and chips on the sea front there!” Then I thought about my forthcoming 30th Birthday. I was due to spending it in Bangkok and I thought I really don’t wish to be spending it there surrounded by lady boys and ping pong shows…… with no offence intended towards ping pong shows or lady boys…. I love table tennis as much as the next man…. even when it’s being played by boys impressively dressed as ladies!!!! 🙂 ……. No….. it wasn’t my scene….. and certainly not the scene where, on reflection, I desired to spend my 30th. What I wanted…. what I really really wanted 🙂 …… was to spend my 30th in a pub surrounded by my family. So with all those thoughts and considerations flying around my head making the decision to come home, in that moment, wasn’t as difficult as it would have otherwise appeared. It was just getting home that was the problem!!!!! 🙂
I also thought that at least with those other reason telling Nicole I was coming home to see her wouldn’t sound as “crazy” as it might have otherwise had done, but, in my attempt to not sound too “crazy” over her and trying to play it as cool as possible, I put the emphasis of my return on seeing my family and my 30th Birthday, rather than purely on her, and that seemed to go against me somehow. You just cant win with women sometimes, you’re either too much or you’re not enough, no matter what you try to do or be! I’ve given up trying now and I’m just being!!! Life’s simpler that way!!! 🙂
On the plane home, from Bangkok to London, I’d just wished to be able to spend one hour with Nicole to find out where her head was at and what was going on. Was she going to join me? Did she wish to be with me? Did we have a future together? If I got the answers to those questions, with her saying them right in front of me, then I’d be happy and I could move on either way. I wished to God that she’d have the courage to be with me, but I also knew that being with someone like me was a massive step for her. I just needed those answers so that I could sort my own head out and I knew I couldn’t carrying on the way I was. Well, I was gifted that hour and I had met Nicole, in the grounds of Barking Abbey on a beautiful English summer’s day. It was wonderful spending that time with her and I did receives some answers, but unfortunately some text messages I received upon the evening of those answers made things so much more unclear again.
Upon my return to my Mums I was staggered to open a letter from HM Revenues and Customs with a tax rebate cheque for over 900 notes!!!! That covered my “impromptu” expedition home and the hire of the car I required to get to the West Country!!!! 🙂 I was ecstatic about that and felt the “Gods” were indeed on my side and smiling down upon me!!! During our time lying and sitting on the grass in Barking Abbey I’d invited Nicole to come to the West Country with me. I thought that maybe some time together like that would instil in her some confidence to travel… with me…. if she chose. She said she would consider it, but the text messages I received had put an end to any hopes of that occurring due to circumstances, she explained, that were quite unforeseen. In fact, she expressed that she couldn’t and wouldn’t be able to see me again. At least I knew now. I was heartbroken.
But the next day I had to be off to Devon and, to be fair, it was the best thing for me as I was able to stop at Stonehenge, say some Prayers, and go and be at the place that I loved most in the World!!! 🙂 The nature around Lynmouth and Lynton is exceptional and I think that’s the main reason why I love it so much there. I get lost in the nature there, not literally, but Spiritually! 🙂 Other than that it’s the fish and chips, the pasties and all the Public Houses!!!! It’s Top Drawer and I love it! 🙂 After Stonehenge, however, and on this occasion, I felt I needed to see Vicky too and luckily she lived en route. So I phoned and arranged to pop by.
It was good to see Vicky and after she invited me in she made a cup of tea and we had a little catch-up on things. I began to try and tell her about Nicole because I really couldn’t get what had happened out of my system; the sense of loss, the lack of understanding and the sense of frustration at being powerless to do anything about anything! But, being the Spiritually enlighten woman she was…. she wasn’t particularly interested!!!! 🙂 ….. and instead her head “flicked” and she told me to go over to her bookcase and pick out a book.
So I walked over to the bookcase and “randomly” picked out a book, then I proceeded to equally “randomly” open it to “any” page; and the page I opened it to showed a Roman/Greek picture of a Lion being held down, and trodden upon, by a Scorpion. I was a Leo and Nicole was a Scorpio! “Did you get your answer?” Vicky asked “Yeah… fuck-off” I thought, but simply nodded in full acknowledgement of Vicky’s greater wisdom. A picture can indeed paint a thousand words and I was painting like a decorator for the council!!!! 🙂
Vicky was so enlightened she didn’t even ask about what I had seen, but instead just went straight on to the subject of the ring because it was that in which she was interested. She asked to hold it, so she could dowse it for information, and I dually gave it to her. She closed her eyes and held it for a short while, and then she opened her eyes and gave the ring back to me. Her intuitions about it were very similar to my own and so we didn’t get much more from the exercise; but then she walked across the room and her head “twitched” again; and she stopped in her tracks and closed her eyes. When she opened them she immediately asked me “Are you recording the experiences you’re having?” to which I replied “No, but I’ve been thinking about doing that.” Then she said “You’re on a special journey and you need to record your experiences” as if the words had just come through to her. It was a lovely thing to hear because I’d really been thinking, quite a lot, that I wanted to write about the things that had been happening to me, I just didn’t think anyone would be interested to read about them or would understand. Hearing that gave me, not so much a kick up the arse, but more a push in the right direction.
Vicky then put a chair in the middle of the room and asked me to sit upon it. I sat down and Vicky said to me “I want to see who’s with you” and then continued “Or rather, I want you to see who’s with you. Put your hands on your knees, close your eyes, relax and see what picture appears in your mind.” I did so, but after a few minutes nothing was coming and I told Vicky so. “Dont worry” she replied “Just relax, empty your mind and wait…. What do you see?” I did as she asked, but nothing immediately came, and so I waited, and then, after several minutes of quiet and nothingness…. a picture of a Lion formed in my mind’s eye. I told Vicky and all she said was “Interesting.”
To be honest, I wasn’t completely convinced myself because I thought that I always identify myself with a Lion so what other picture would come into my head?!!! But on deeper reflection, much later, I realised it wasn’t the picture of the face of a Lion that I had seen in my mind’s eye…. it was the picture of the face of a Lioness…. and I’d never identified myself with a Lioness before. Make what you wish of that.
My time with Vicky had naturally reached its conclusion and I had to be getting on. We said our farewells, with Vicky repeating her message to me and me acknowledging that I would most certainly begin to do so.
And so, with my hire car at the ready, I was off to Lynmouth and Exmoor feeling ever so much better than I had done so before! 🙂
This particular “adventure” is one of my original emails and I’d like to let you know, in this moment, that the “adventures” from my originally written emails are ended “Love and Light” and the ones I have written more recently are ended “Lots of Love”. I feel the need to explain that because this particular “adventure” goes so much deeper than anything else I have written or am (probably) ever going to write and I feel the need to preference this because at times, in my original emails, I feel I went too far in the things that I said and the things that I shared. That can happen when you write so much “on the edge” sometimes you “overstep the mark” and reading back, on this particular one, I “overstepped the mark” more than it was right for me to do and I don’t feel good about it. All I can say is at the time I felt the need to write with complete freedom, and I didn’t hold back at all, and if I hadn’t had the courage to do such a thing none of these “adventures” would have ever been written, and certainly not in a the manner that was completely authentic to who I am…. and I think that was the biggest point… being true to who I am. I am very sorry for the things I wrote that may have been “too much”, but I don’t regret anything because it was all part of the path I had to take for this journey to be recorded.
I’d also like to make you aware of this:
At the end of 2009 I returned to Barking, after making an attempt to live in Cornwall, and I was on the floor again. I had no desire to continue with life and over that New Year period I hardly got out of bed as I waited for my life to end. My Mum was finding it very difficult to help me, but then Nicole miraculously appeared in my life again. She saw the state I was in and then wouldn’t leave me alone! She popped around to see me every day and phoned me constantly (with some of the conversations lasting hours!). She had a go at me (in a good way!), gave me advice and constantly motivated me. She simply wouldn’t let me fall… even if I wanted to… and I had no choice but to get back on my feet… and as soon as I did… she disappeared from my life almost as quickly as she had arrived back in it… but I was so very grateful to her… and even my Mum is thankful for what she did for me at that time.
During that time we spoke about the “adventures” and what I had shared, and although she said she was shocked about what I had written, she didn’t have a problem with it; a few years later I went on to start sharing the “adventures” on an “Adventures of Miller” facebook page and I did so with her blessing. I was so very grateful to her for that too because it meant a lot to me and I felt her blessing was needed. And now, I am equally grateful too because I feel the next part I am about to share is so important to this story and I’m pleased to be able to tell the parts that matter.
Thank you for giving me that freedom, Nicole, and for being there for me when it mattered.
“Free All Angels” 🙂 ……. With Lots of Love, Lee …….
About a month before I left England, to go around the World, a girl started working at a place where I worked…… and from the very first moment I saw her…. I wanted her. I noticed she had a ring on her wedding finger and I asked her cheekily one time “Are you engaged then?” …… “Well…. practically” she replied, almost in a non-conclusive way. I didn’t know what to make of that answer and so I simply left it at that.
One day, after I finished work (and on the day of West Ham United’s victory parade after winning the play-off final and getting promoted back into the Premier League!!!) I started heading home in my usual direction, and then, all of a sudden, an intuition stopped me dead in my tracks. I stood there for about a minute wondering what I should do, and then I had a feeling that I should walk the opposite way back through Barking town centre. God knows what I must have looked like to someone who might have been watching me!!!!….. some kind of monkey I guess!!! 🙂 But I followed the intuition and walked back into town.
As I passed the bus stops, there was Nicole looking quite down and….. stressed? I caught her eye and she gave me the biggest smile……. she looked so beautiful… it was the type of smile which, when you receive it, makes you just melt inside. J I asked her how she was and if she wanted to go for a coffee or maybe a cup of tea 🙂 “Why not!” She said, with a beautiful smile, once again, while jumping coolly at the offer :-). So we went into the Vicarage Field shopping centre and headed for the coffee bar…. to buy a cup of tea!!! 🙂
We sat down at a table and for the next 45 minutes or so I was just telling her my funny stories of the shit I’d been getting up to, and she was loving every minute! I was already noticing that she was looking at me in a very special kind of way and I couldn’t help but be mesmerised by her eyes……… they were so deep….. there was so much there. I told her of my latest episode of funny experiences…….
…… I’d finished work one Friday and was gonna meet up with a bird and do one up London…… but the bird had blown it out…….. something to do with her hair…. or her hair dryer!!! 😉 I was pissed off, but thought…. fuck it…….. I still wanna go up London and so I walked into Barking. I was passing the Spotted Dog pub when “something” told me I should go in there. Whatever was talking to me said I would know someone in there…. which isn’t anything special considering I grew up in Barking!!! 🙂 . So I bowled in and had a butchers around the pub….. but I couldn’t see anyone I knew!!!! What were the odds in that?!!!!….. whomever you are you’re a twat!….. I thought to whomever it was who was guiding me!!!! 😉 So I began to walk out the door and then, just as I was walking through it, I turned and some geezer nodded and waved at me….. it was Mark, a bloke I used to work with, as a lifeguard when I was a teenager, and who I always seemed to bump into whenever I returned to live in Barking! 🙂
I went and joined him and his friends….. Dave (who I also knew from my days at college) and Laura…. a South African girl working in Barking. After a few beers they were talking of going up London!!!!….. I’m up for that I enthusiastically informed them!!!! 🙂 So we leaves the pub and jumps on the underground, heading for London Town…. and while we’re sitting on the tube me and Mark starts getting into a deep conversation about relationships….. He revealed to me that he was Gay and we talked quite openly about our relationship experiences (his being homo and mine being hetro) in full earshot of everyone around us…. it was Friday night so you can imagine about the amount of people who were on the train!!!! 🙂 At one point I noticed a geezer staring at us, wide eyed and in disbelief!!!!….. and I goes to Mark “I think we’re freaking this fella out……. you alright there bro?” I then said turning to the guy!!! 🙂 He instantly turned away and at the very next stop ran!…. Yes, I said ran!!!!…… outta the carriage and I saw him get on the carriage next door!!!!!!! 🙂 QUALITY!!!!!!! How funny was that!!!!!!! 🙂
We got up London, had some bevies and when we was in a club later, Laura (who was Mark’s best friend) told me that that was the first time that Mark had ever spoken out in public about his homo-sexuality…… and that it was months after they’d become friends that he had even revealed his sexuality to her. She told me she was amazed to hear our conversation on the tube. “Along with that freaked out geezer!” I joked!!! 🙂
The club was shit, so we decided to move onto another one and, as we were walking down Tottenham Court Road, we passed G-A-Y Historia….. the biggest gay club in Europe. I immediately goes to Mark “Lets do one in there mate….. you never know…. tonight might be your night and you might meet the guy of your dreams!!!” J. He goes “No, we cant…. I dont expect you guys to go in there.” I goes “I dont mind…. I’m up for it…. I aint ever been in a gay club before and I’m pretty cool with my sexuality, so its all gravy to me.” Laura goes she didn’t care, but Dave…… well… being your average Dagenham boy…. he was finding the decision quite hard to take…….. as I think he was afraid of taking something quite hard!!!!!! 😉 But he gave way and came in….. while hoping that his decision would be the only thing he’d be taking for the rest of the evening!!!! J I’m only joking….. he was good as gold!!! 😉
An amazing thing happened to me when I went in though….. and a thing you would think only happened in American student movies!!!….. we went straight up to the top floor, to put our coats in, and I clocked this blonde bird who started to walk over to me. She walked straight up to me and said “I’m a straight woman and I wanna convert a gay guy”….. as a heterosexual man, what are you meant to say to a line like that…. “I’m converted!!!!” was the line that came straight to my head and I snogged her!!!! I’d been in the club 3 minutes and I’d already pulled!!!! What kind of night was this gonna be?!!!!! 🙂
More of the same it turned out!!!!! I had a fantastic time. As I’d not changed after work I was wearing a thick jumper and it was so fucking hot in there…. I’d seen all the gay guys walking about bare chested….. so I thought… “What the hell…. fuck it!” and ripped me jumper off!!! At this point even Mark looked at me and said “Are you sure you’re not gay?”…”No mate…… I’m all gravy!!!!” I shouted above the sound of music and gave my jumper to Dave for him to look after. Dave didn’t leave the same spot all night. It was handy…. because while he was looking after his arse…. it meant he could look after our stuff too!!!!! He was good as gold!!! 🙂
At one point I started chatting to this bird and she goes “I’ve never been here before. I’m only here cos my brothers gay”…. and I was like “I’m the same…. I’m only here cos my mates gay”. She goes “No way!…….. you’re blatantly gay!!!!”…. and I goes “No I’m not!!!”…. and she said “Yes you are…. no straight guy would ever go about a gay club like that!!!”…… and I said ”Well…… you’re looking at him!!!!”…. but she wouldn’t have it!!!! Later on though, and in between me snogging another bird on the dance floor, she came up to me and said…. “Ok…. I was wrong!!!!” and gave she me her number!!!! 🙂 …. Blimey!!!…. Gay Clubs Rule OK!!!! J
And that was the thing was……. it was such a great night in the gay club because there was no hassle and no insecure “small little big men” wanting to prove themselves….. and all night long I only had one gay guy try and “pick me up”, and all he said was “You look in good shape…. you must work out”…. and I replied “Well, I do a few press-ups every night, you know what I mean” with full “Del Boy” guise and expression!!!….. and he scarpered!!!!! 🙂 You see they know…. they just know if you’re straight or bend the other way!!!! 🙂 I had a fantastic time and pulled 5 birds by the end of the night…. and Mark pulled too!!!! 🙂 …. what a night!!! 🙂 In fact, it was so good that me and Laura went back there the following week!!!! Sweet as!!!! 🙂 ….
……… Nicole loved listening to me and was cracking up!!!! But then she started telling me how unhappy she was in her relationship. She said she didn’t feel like she had any freedom and didn’t even go out anywhere. She was only 19 and every moment of her life appeared to be ruled by her relationship. She’d been in it for years and was wondering what to do….. “It doesn’t sound positive and you’ll have to find your way” is all I felt I could say.
She wanted to go out and have fun, so I mentioned that West Ham had got their victory parade that evening and we could go and do one down the pub afterwards if she wanted “It should be a good night” I said. She appeared to love the idea, so it was sorted, and we started making our way out of Vicarage Fields. We said our goodbyes and Nicole wandered off to get her bus and I began to walk the opposite way but then I suddenly felt stuck to the spot once more….. there was that voice again!!!! I stayed there for another minute or so, and then started running back towards her bus stop. I didn’t know what I was doing or what I was gonna say, and as I got to the bus stop Nicole was just getting on the bus. She looked at me and I said “Whatever you decide to do, just follow your heart”. She said “You ran all that way just to tell me that?”…. I nodded and she smiled and looked at me with the kind of eyes that no one had ever looked at me before :-). Then she got on the bus and kept eye contact with me, for as long as she could, as the bus went along the road and into the distance. At the time I said them, I never knew that those words had anything to do with me….. but I also knew that this girl already felt special to me….. I just knew it…. I’d never felt this way about anyone before……. I desired her so much……… and on more than just a sexual level.
So I went home and put my shirt and glad rags on ready to meet her at the parade, and on the way there I got a text saying that she couldn’t meet me…… I was absolutely gutted…. more than I should have been…. but continued on, all the same, and watched the parade on my lonesome with about 50 thousand other people!!! And it was great seeing Anton Ferdinand doing his jig and hearing Alan Pardew giving his speech from the Boleyn Ground balcony…….. and seeing Teddy Sheringham with his big smile….. he seemed to be very happy wearing the claret and blue!!!!!! Irons!!!! 🙂
After the parade, I walked down Green Street and then chucked a left by the Boleyn Pub and into Barking Rd, where I happened to see Nicole, across the road, with her family. Nicole clocked me and signalled she’d come over, so I waited across the road. She came over and I felt a bit uncomfortable with her family being so close, but she looked so happy to see me and impressed by my attire…. I just thought she looked so beautiful and so sexy….. I just wanted to take her there and then, and kiss her with all of my being…… and I wanted to know how she’d feel in my arms.
We spoke for a bit, but then I had to say goodbye. It just felt so difficult for me to stand so close to her and not be able to hold her. I could feel myself falling head over heels for her, uncontrollably so, and all I could think to do was continue walking along the Barking Road to get home. I had a peculiar sensation all the way back home…… I felt ill….. I felt like something was overwhelming me and making me feel sick. When I eventually got home I immediately went to the toilet and wretched above it, but nothing came out. I actually wondered if this was some kind of Spiritual warning to me or if this was what it was like to be “Love sick”!!! The truth was it was probably both. I wanted this girl too much and it wasn’t going to be good for me!!!
The next week, after work, Nicole came home with me. In the car she asked me “What’s your perfect woman was like?” And I said… “Pretty much like you” with a smile on my face and she reflected it back :-). We went in, spoke for a bit and ended up making love. It felt so special and when I was inside her she spoke sweet nothings to me which made me feel so good. As I continued feeling inside of her, I looked deep into her eyes. I felt like I was swimming in her soul……. she felt amazing to me. Every time our lips touched, I felt sensual sensations vibrating through my body……… and after we reached our climax…. I immediately started to feel concerned….. I hadn’t used anything and I’d promised myself that I wouldn’t do that…… but she reassured me and I felt better……..the thing is, the fact that I came inside of her made our bond feel even stronger…… I didn’t regret it and nor did she……. it felt right.
I was so into this girl…. the next day at work it took every ounce of our strength to keep us from kissing each other and stay professional. I felt so good around her and no one, in all of my life, had ever looked at me with eyes like she did before…….
A few years before, I was in a pub with my dad on the Lancashire moors, and I asked him about love and how you would know if you’d met the right girl. My Dad then said to me the wisest words I’d ever heard. He said:
“You know when you’ve met the right girl, Lee, because when she walks in the room, the room lights up and nothing exists in the world but her.”
It was a proper father to son moment….. I felt like could even hear Boyzone singing their cover version in the background!!!!! 🙂 And that’s exactly how it was with Nicole….. it had finally happened to me…….. and I’d never felt like that for anyone else before in my entire life.
………. her eyes were so deep and the expression on her face was full of so much……. devotion, it was as if every time she looked at me, she reached in and touched my heart. I felt mesmerised in the most wonderful way by her at times……. and I’ve never felt the same sensation walking down the street holding a girls hand before….. it felt amazing to be with her…….. I felt like everyone was looking at us …….. but no one could touch us…….. I’d never felt so good and secure with a girl before……… and it was a revelation to me. I felt like she was truly mine and we were full of so much adoration and affection for each other.
It was my last couple of days before I was due to leave and go around the world, and Me and Nicole went back to my place, after we finished work, and made love……. a couple of times…… and after the second time I remained inside of her….. then she looked into my eyes and told me that she loved me…….. and as I looked deep into her eyes…… although I couldn’t quite say that yet, something within me told me that I would do so…. and soon.
Later, we went to the Spotted Dog and had some farewell drinks, then, on the way home, I asked if Nicole wanted to pop in and see my family. “What…. you want me to meet your mum?” she said and gave the biggest smile “I’d love to!!!” she said holding me even tighter. So we popped in and I introduced her to my little brothers, and my mum and her fiancé. It felt so comfortable and not awkward at all. It felt soooooo good. 🙂
After that we returned back to mine, and the feeling of love was beginning to overwhelm me. She felt so special to me and I felt so special to be around her….. the thing was we’d connected on all levels…… sexually, spiritually, emotionally and intellectually. I felt like I could share anything with her and she seemed to understand. No matter what I talked about with her…… I didn’t get that blank expression which says…. “What the fuck are you talking about?”. And I felt I understood her more than I’ve ever understood anyone else before in my life. I just felt like I knew her.
We spent a beautiful night together and it was so good to wake up with Nicole for the first time……… to hold her and caress her face and her body. She felt like poetry in my arms…… surrounded by the most wonderful music! 🙂 I couldn’t believe I was leaving the very next day…… life seems so cruel at times….. but then I wondered if she would come with me!!! 🙂
We got through my last day at work and that night Nicole joined me late….. and I felt so pleased to be spending my last night in England with her. The next morning we were going about Barking buying all my last bits and I felt so free with her……. I was doing my usual routine….. by making the female shop assistants laugh and harmlessly flirting. Nicole was great with it and seemed to enjoy it as much as me…… she knew she had my heart. Then in the afternoon we met up with my mum, little brothers and Dave for a last Pie and Mash at the Eastbrook before I left. I cant tell you how happy I felt sitting with her, and my family, in the pie shop that day….. all I can say is that I’ve never experienced a happiness like it before in all of my life.
There’ve been many times in my life when I’ve been ecstatically happy for long periods of time….. but this was different….. this was broader and deeper and so much more complete……… I’d never felt such a complete happiness before………. I felt like I was bathing in it…… I was swimming in it….. I felt so much warmth and completion….. I had the most beautiful and wonderful girl by my side……. she looked like an angel to me….. she was so feminine and especially so in her pure white dress….. I simply adored her :-).
Afterwards, my mum dropped us off at mine and I had an hour to pack…… I always leave it to the last minute!!!! 🙂 And Nicole just watched me :-). I gave her the shirt I’d worn to the parade and down the pub for her to “look after” while I was gone……… she held it close to her heart and cherished it…… I fucking loved this girl!!!! She randomly offered me some stamps which I declined saying “Babe…. I’m leaving the country… what am I gonna do with them?” She just smiled. 🙂
Then we went to the station with my mum, little bros and Dave, saying goodbye to them there as me and Nicole got on the underground. It was tough saying goodbye to my family, but I still had Nicole with me and I asked her if she wanted to see me off at the airport. She said she couldn’t because there was something she had to do. I didn’t want to let go of her!!!! The train rolled into her station and we kissed and said our farewells…… and as the door on the train began to close Nicole called out…… “Dont forget me!!!” ………… How the fuck could I possibly do that?!!!!
As the train pulled away I got my last look of Nicole standing there on the platform and she looked like the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen in all of the world and in all of my life. I realised I’d fallen head over heels for her and she sent me a text saying “I feel like I’ve just lost a part of myself”…… “You and me both” I thought as I read her text on the train.
When I got to the airport I realised there was a book I wanted to send to her and so I had to buy some STAMPS!!!! She was proving to be quite intuitive too and I loved her all the more for it 🙂 ….. but that love was coupled with an amazing sense of loss……… and when I boarded the plane, to fly to Bangkok, I felt an emptiness and sorrow that I’d also never experienced in my life before…….. and that journey, from London to Bangkok, was the loneliest journey I have ever made.
It was Valentine’s Day, 2005, and I was at Avebury Stone Circle, in England. Avebury is one on the biggest, or perhaps the biggest, megalithic stone circle in the world and is a very powerful and symbolic place. Some say even more so then Stonehenge……
I’d reached there through a chain of events. I’d been working up in and around Manchester since the turn of the year (after returning from working in the French Alps and then spending the New Year with friends in Weymouth) and had felt it was time to move on…….. so I departed for Cardiff in order to complete some training so that I could participate in the aid effort for the aftermath of the tsunami.
On my way to Cardiff, my car completely died on me….. right at the junction for Droitwich Spa, along the M5 in England. I’d arranged to be in Cardiff that evening and was a bit miffed that it wasn’t looking like I would make it….. I was wondering why? Then I remembered that one of my best mates had recently moved to Droitwich…… so I gave him a bell.
Dave sounded pleased to hear from me and said it was cool to stay at his….. the only thing was that he had to work till late that night… but I got around his before he started and then, after he’d settled me in, had the house to myself that evening. I informed the charity of my situation and then just started flicking through the channels on the TV. Within a few minutes I “happened” to flick upon a channel with a programme about crop circles and it was immediately very interesting………..
*A couple of scientists were investigating the crop circle phenomenon and made some startling discoveries. They were investigating the energy created within the circles, trying to determine which circles were authentic and which were “hoaxes”. What they discovered, using their equipment, was that every single circle they surveyed had a change in energy field from that of the surrounding area. On each occasion the electronic monitor went up on their scale (I cant remember what the frequencies were) whenever they entered a circle……… even…… and this is the important thing……. EVEN IN THE CIRCLES THAT THEY KNEW FOR A FACT WERE HOAXES!!!!!!
They also discovered that it is possible to detect a “real” crop circle from that of a “hoax” without looking at the delacacy/detail of the circle or by the use of equipment…….. they found that if a crop circle has been created by a force yet unknown to man, it has been created through micro-wave energy. This energy mades the water in the stalk of the barley/wheat expand and so that water sometimes had to escape from the barley through the weakest point……. so creating a hole in the knob of the stalk. Known “Hoax” circles did not possess that characteristical evidence….. because they had been created, quite easily, through the physical efforts people pressing the barley stalks down manually, somehow.
The scientists, however, had no explanation of how it was possible for every crop circle to show a change in reading, whether it be a hoax or otherwise……… but I thought I do……. if reality responds to the power of your thoughts then it’s no surprise that an individual attempting to copy such a crop circle phenomenon would changed the energy simply by the creation of their thought patterns while they focused of their minds on creating a “crop Circle!”……… And if that is the case then wouldn’t it be quite ironic that the very act of trying to create a hoax….. infact….. had the effect of “energetically” create the real thing!!! It’s an interesting “thought” and it may only go to prove that there is nothing more true than the old saying of “Be careful for what you wish for because it might come true!!!”
………… Early the next morning I was up and attempting to get my car started to complete my journey to Cardiff. I still had time to make the beginning of the course and I was “willing” my car to start……. and in the end…… after I’d probably woken up the whole street!!!! :-)….. it did!!!!…. and I was on my way again!!!…… Well….. at least temporarily!!!!! 🙂
Just as I had got onto the M5 again, I was cruising along at 70 – 80 mph and I had a blow out on my tire!!!! I managed to control the car over to the hard shoulder and I gave Dave a call again, telling him what had happened and saying that I didn’t think I was meant to do this course after all or help with the Tsnami aid effort. I had no idea what I was meant to do next or where I should go….. so I just changed the wheel, returned to Dave’s and stayed another day to “wait” about it.
*The best thing to do when you’re not sure of your direction, is to sit tight and wait for a sign*
That evening we went out and had a good night tenpin bowling with some of his work buddies and then having an Indian meal with them over in Cheltenham…. and in the meantime, my good friend Hazel had let me know that she was at a trance party at a Manor House in Somerset. So the next day I was off to Plumber Manor!!!! It was great to see Hazel and Max (her son) and although I only planned on being there for the evening…. I ended up staying there for two Days!!!! It was pukka…. so chilled and full of the coolest people!!!!! 🙂
And then, on the Monday, I felt I should go somewhere I’d never been before and I suddenly felt it was time that I made the effort to go to Avebury Stone Circle.
So, I said my goodbyes to Hazel and Max, and made my way to Avebury, arriving in the centre of the circle at around 2pm. Before I walked and had a butchers hook around, I thought I’d treat myself to a nice meal and a cheeky pint because….. you see…… right slam bang in the centre of Avebury Stone Circle is……….. A PUB!!!!!! :-)……. I had deeper thoughts about that……… but….. if it’s there……. Be rude not to use it!!!!! 😉
I felt I shouldn’t be in any kind of rush so I had another cheeky pint and read my book for a bit, leaving at some time around 3.30pm. I started walking around the Stones, once one way and then the back round the other (Not sure why I did that…. it just felt right to). On the way I passed a group of 4 people, who were doing their own thing, but a couple of them made me feel uncomfortable for some reason. The second time around I noticed an avenue of stones going about a mile or so into the distance. It was once part of the system which linked all the spiritual sites in the area together (including Stonehenge), but which had been taken down over the centuries by farmers and the like for building materials or just because the Christians linked them to heresy and evil!!!!!! It’s a wonder how the circles have survived at all…… especially with the British need for a Rub-a-Dub dub!!!!!! 😉
Even though it was beginning to get dark I thought that I should walk along there, but then I saw that the group (from before) had just started to walk along the avenue and so changed my mind…….. but then something inside me insisted that I walk along there…… “Easy geezer…. I’m walking already!!!!……. chill-out will ya!!!!” I said to myself and something else!!!! 😉
On the way I passed the group, who it was clear were doing something spiritual, and I carried on to the end of the avenue……… feeling at peace and appreciating the moment. As I stood at the end, and by the last stones, the group were getting closer to me, and as one of the women stood by one of the stones, she took the hood of her coat down….. and….. IT WAS VICKY!!!!!!!!…….
Now Vicky is one of the most spiritually enlightened people I’ve ever come across. Some of the most significant steps I’ve made along my path, these past few years, have been through knowledge I’ve gained while in her house and in her presence. CONFIRMATION OF THE FACT THAT I’M NOT FUCKING CRAZY BEING ONE OF THE GREATEST GIFTS!!!!! 🙂
Others who’ve made a great impact on me with their enlightenment these past few years, and who I also want to acknowledge are Hazel, Jan and……….. my Mum – I dont know if I could’ve got this far if it wasn’t for you, thanks Mum x 🙂 .
…….. As I walked toward her, as dusk began to fall, I called out “Vicky!”. She looked up in surprise and couldn’t believe her mince pies!!!! 🙂 “How weird! What are you doing here?” She asked me. “It’s the first time I’ve been here” I replied. “Me too! We were doing a legend walk….. were you doing one too? How weird!” she said. “It’s not weird….. it’s perfectly natural…… like energy attracting like energy and all that J” I replied. What I did find strange though was the fact that Vicky was finding it so strange!!!! J. Stuff like that happened to me on an almost weekly basis…… so it didn’t feel weird to me anymore……. I’m pretty well over that “weird” sensation now!!!!!!! 🙂 But I have to admit that one was the cream of the crop!!!! All we needed now was a circle….. Oh….. we just came from one!!!! 🙂
Vicky invited me to join her and her friends as they were then going onto Silbury Hill, a huge conical mound nearby (also one of the biggest in the World). I felt I should get back to my car and so declined, we said our goodbyes and I heading back, not knowing where I was going next. But, as I got back to my car, I had the thought to phone Leyton Orient (the football club in East London I’d worked for, on and off, for the previous year or so).
And from the middle of Avebury Stone Circle – the pub car park! 😉 – I phoned and spoke with Paul to ask if there was any work at the mo. Paul had recently got the job as basketball co-ordinator after Leyton had got a big contract for basketball as a result of the summer league I’d set up the year before. Paul said “It’s good to hear your voice bruv, come whenever you can, the sooner the better. I need someone down at Docklands tomorrow for the Olympic bid.” and I replied “I’ll get back to London tonight then, as long as my car lets me! I’ll see you tomorrow” and then we made the arrangements for the next day. Sorted….. as long as my car started….. it was all gravy!!!! 🙂
So I got back to London and the next day I’m standing in the London Arena, coaching basketball and watching Steven Redgrave, Frankie Fredericks pass and the rest of the Olympic committee pass by as I continued to deliver a session!!!! And then that evening my brother Ross (who’s a mechanic) had a look at my Maestro to see what was causing the ignition problem. It turned out that I’d burnt out the distributer and when he’d discovered the problem he turned to look at me and said “There’s no way the car should be even starting!!!! How do you do it?!!!” in disbelief, but with a smile on his boat race!!!! 🙂 “Sometimes I dont know myself!” was all I could reply.
So, I was meant to be in London, at least for the foreseeable, and then one thing led to another and life took some other unexpected turns.