THE DISAPPOINTMENT OF THE OLYMPIC TORCH

I, like all other sports fans am excited knowing that not only Euro 2012 will entertain us this summer but also the Summer Olympics held in London. Day seven of the Olympic Torch relay through the UK saw it pass through the small town of Ross on Wye.

Olympic Torch Relay day 7

I arranged with my brothers and their families to meet in our small town centre to watch as the torch relay made its way through crowded streets into Wales, on route to London.

The atmosphere was filled with a great sense of community and togetherness, exactly what the Games are meant to represent. The children had flags, excitedly waving and everyone there had a smile on their face.

The police demonstrated a large presence circling the small streets and, to much laughter were waving like royalty atop their motor bikes. After this we saw numerous sponsorship buses barely able to squeeze past the assembled crowd as they rumbled on towards London.

The excitement in the crowd was set to reach fever pitch as the last police car told spectators the flame was only a few minutes away.

Then it passed us. Before we knew it the Olympic torch had passed before our eyes, hidden from view by a large truck filming the event and shielding the trophy that had drawn such a number of fans. The girl carrying the flame was escorted by four, for sake of a better word, body guards, who also helped obstruct the view.

The crowd disbanded disappointed and the organisers were cutting down the bunting before the truck had turned the corner. Those who decided to watch from home had a better view. The rest of us will have to wait another 64 years.

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FOLLOWING SANDY FOOTPRINTS

The beauty of reading is to lose yourself in the author’s mind, to be able to imagine every colour, every detail and live in a world where your fate is already decided.

When I recently read ‘The Beach’ by Alex Garland, I realised I had already lived part of that fate.

In 2004 I travelled through Thailand with the same friend who saved me from breaking my nose in the hospital car park of Brisbane, Australia.

With this friend I sat on the same set of police station steps in Bangkok as the character ‘Richard’ did in the book. We walked afraid and astonished at the sights on Khao San Road, set in the heart of Bangkok’s traveller hangout, and we too travelled to the island of Ko Phi Phi off Thailand’s western coast.

Our reasoning for the police station visit was to report a ‘theft,’ well a kind of ‘I left my passport in the Tuk Tuk’ theft. Reporting it missing was easy, the fact that everywhere was closed for three days due to it being the Kings birthday weekend meant we couldn’t get on with our plan of going straight to the beaches.

Instead we took a very slow 4 hour train journey north to the site of the famous ‘Bridge over the River Kwai.’ We walked the bridge and saw the sights before continuing our journey along the route of ‘Richard.’

We took the bus back to Bangkok which took a mere 30 minutes! Here we were able to collect our new passport and headed to the colourful beaches of Thailand’s numerous islands. The beach mentioned in the book was back then, only accessible for a day trip from the island of Ko Phi Phi Don, the larger of the two Phi Phi islands. We didn’t get this far as it turned out that I met an old college friend who I hadn’t seen for five years working on the larger island. He showed us around and we celebrated adventures, cliff jumping, rock climbing and boozing.

From the height of Phi Phi Don the view of the smaller island looks like Homer Simpson on his back, it is ‘The Beach’ Island and will have to wait for next time.

THE DEAD OR ALIVE QUESTION

Which three persons, dead or alive, would you like to ask a question to and have a drink with? And for fun, what drink would it be?

For me it would be three people who in their own right have a way with words that make people listen.

1/ Sir Winston Churchill. What question and what drink?

As a big fan of Churchill, I would have to ask; “how did you make up the quotes and phrases that caused such emotion and belief not only in the British public but to the listening wireless world?” Whether it was him or he had a team of what would today be called spin doctors, would not change my perspective of him. It was not necessarily what was said, but in the delivery. In his delivery that made your hairs stand on end. I have unsuccessfully tried to recapture Churchill’s narrative several times and failed. Whilst it has been captured beautifully by Albert Finny in the BBC film ‘The Gathering Storm’ I shall continue to practice my pause and deeper voice.

Drink: A brandy and (short pause) as always (longer pause for effect) a Cuban cigar.

2/ Radio presenter John Peel. What question and what drink?

Anyone who heard the late great John Peel on the radio would fall instantly in love with his voice and ability to send anyone to sleep. If you weren’t interested in what he was playing his tone and slow speech acted as a cure for insomniacs. My question would have to be; “what was the first album you bought and what was your first gig?” (I know its two questions!) I often hear this question on BBC 6music to those who ring in on Steve Lamaq’s drive time show and although I’ve been to my fair share of gigs and have a healthy record collection, I can’t for the life of me remember who I saw first or what album I saved to buy as a teenager. I do remember ‘borrowing’ albums from my two older brothers, one a Blur fan, the other avid Oasis, (you were not allowed to like them both) maybe this has added to the confusion of which albums were actually, legally mine.

Drink: A pint at the Kop End.

3/ Joy Division front man Ian Curtis. What question and what drink?

Ian Curtis committed suicide on the 18th May 1980, three days before embarking on a tour of the USA with his band Joy Division. I was born on the 18th May wait for it, 1981, reincarnation? Although I insist on it, I cannot sing no matter how much I try, so I don’t think I’m Mr Curtis’s reincarnation. I would ask; “what inspired you to write such dark material?” All the stories I am working on at present have dark themes. I find this is easy to create emotion in the reader/viewer or listener but as I am of a jolly disposition friends and family who read what I write find it hard to believe that I have these ideas. Ultimately it took Ian Curtis’s life so maybe I should have a change thought before I write anymore.

Drink: A pint of bitter in a smoky pub.

Who would you drink with and what would you ask?

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME

As I continue my aging process and celebrate a birthday which pushes me into my very late 20’s/early 30’s, I have the opportunity to share with you a promotion and discount on all books bought through lulu.com.

This includes my first book ‘The Waiting Room

The first chapter is available here for free to read at your leisure.

The promotion is site wide so search for favourite titles on actual books and e-books, but it ends at midnight on 18th May so be quick.

Happy birthday one and all

ADVICE FOR TRAVELLING IN A DUO

I have been asked to give travel advice by two young travellers who recently crossed my path. At the age of 18 the pair has already done a lot more than I did at that age. I was only dreaming of distant shores and saving for my first trip which wouldn’t come for another five years for me. With this I have gained experience in the working world before jumping ship for foreign lands.

I sat them down and so began…………….

When travelling in a pair as friends, it can be hard to achieve everything you set out to without upsetting your travelling partner.

Here is my advice.

You’re going to be in the moment where you have to make a decision for yourself. Don’t think too much about the pros and cons, do what feels naturally right.

Have an argument. If there is a situation that is testing your resolve, then air the problem. A friendship should be able to survive a storm and in the aftermath you’ll feel better for it.

Trust your partner’s instincts. On the road there will be no one who knows you like your travelling partner who should have both your best interests in mind. Listen to each other’s advice, even if it is ridicule.

Don’t chase a relationship on the road. If paths allow you to travel with both the target of your affection and your travel partner then this can have advantages and problems. Allow it to continue without trying to force the situation.

Be strong enough to allow a friend to follow the attraction that you too have affection for. Jealousy is an ugly emotion that isn’t only connected with sex. Be careful not to become hot headed, patients brings reward.

Do something alone now and again. Even if it’s just taking a walk or reading a book, having some   time alone allows you to relax and focus on yourself.

Keep in touch with each other’s emotions. It can be scary and emotional to be away from home, even for seasoned travellers. Don’t mistake a partner’s mood for a personal insult. Support each other.

If you decide to go separate ways stay in touch and share experiences and advice. Don’t blame your partner for wanting to do something that you don’t. Enjoy the challenge of being independent.

Travelling throws up so many unknown and unplanned situations. Be flexible and ride the journey that unravels before you.