Sunday, 16 April 2017

A Breakup Letter To Thailand

Dear Thailand,

Our time together has been short, but neither of us can say it hasn't been memorable. You are undeniably beautiful and I must admit that I was completely taken with your cool, laid-back attitude. You've shown me incredible things, from your stunning cliffs to your sweet coconuts. We have had a wonderful time together, soaking in your emerald sea, laughing at the wild monkeys running across the hotel rooftops and, yes, even eating plenty of delicious foods that didn't poison me. But, as with all things, there was a darkness beneath the wonder that would inevitably come out - and this time it came out of both ends. I don't want to lay all the blame on you - though you do deserve most of it. I ignored warnings and gave in to temptations like your deep fried fish and mango salad, which - though delicious - turned out to be the catalyst for this message.

Thailand, you are not clean and I think that I and all your other visitors deserve to be notified. A deep fried fish and mango salad is much less appealing now that it has journeyed in more than one way through my digestive system at frankly unnatural speeds. Im writing this in bed feeling hollow, empty and betrayed. The pain you put me through is unfair, when I gave you nothing but love.

This is not the first time you have hurt me. My first day here you burned me and yet I still accepted you, accepted that it was simply your nature and I should have been more prepared for it. Do you hear me Thailand? I blamed myself for your abuse! Well I won't be doing that any more. This is it, Thailand. I've had enough of your shit. And, God knows, I've given you enough of mine. Well I can see you clearly now for what you are and it's time for a few uncomfortable truths, Thailand. I suggest you listen to them and take them to heart.

1. You smell. I mean you really stink, all the time. Like raw sewage and, well, bad fish. The two are probably connected. I suppose I even contributed a little of that to the bushes outside my cabin. I'll take the blame for that one, Thailand, but you're a big place and there are worse smells than what I left. Please get yourself seen to by a specialist.

2. You're not as cool as you think you are. Oh you put on a good show of it, and you've got everyone convinced, but deep down there's nothing really there. You brag about your "authenticity" with your shacks and your bad wiring and your comfy trousers and your (seemingly) fresh foods. But we all know it's just a show, put on to convince innocent travellers that they're getting a "real" experience.

3. You're lazy. You lean back on your good looks and you wave away anything else to pass yourself off as cool, easy and uncaring. But in the end, what do you really achieve, Thailand? A string of empty relationships with travellers who say they love you, but ultimately all go home.

Sort yourself out, Thailand, because there are plenty of other places out there who treat their visitors better, without abusing them and making them ill. I've seen pictures of Vietnam - that's right, your sister - and she is at least as beautiful as you. Or there are plenty of stunning, fun, clean places closer to home. I never had this problem with Spain. Or maybe, after all this, I'll just go home. Because home may be familiar, it may be cold, it may even be a little dull. But it's safe, Thailand. It's clean. It always takes me back and accepts me.

Goodbye Thailand. I will try to remember the good times we had, but I will not forget the pain and disgusting discomfort that you put me through in one fateful night. Maybe one day we can get together again, when we are older, stronger, more experienced and (in your case) disease free. But until that can happen, this is it for us.


Friday, 5 September 2014

A Guy I Kind Of Knew Died.

His name was Chris and he passed away earlier this week. I didn't know him very well. I only found out this morning - and only because it popped up on my facebook feed. Someone who knew him better than me had liked a comment made by someone who knew him better than her on a post that someone who knew him better than her had made. So I'm pretty far down the line as far as personal connections go. But I met him and spoke with him and knew him briefly at university. And now he's dead.

I'm not sure what to do with that information.

On my second week at university I joined the snowsports team and went out with them on their first social of the year. I didn't know anyone else on the team at the time, but it was the beginning of the year and one of the points of the night was to get to know everyone else. The other point was to get drunk. I probably met Chris in the club at some point during the evening, but I mostly just remember getting a taxi back at the end of the night. Everyone was leaving and splitting up in to various groups at the taxi stand, and he said his house was close to my halls so I went with him and another guy. We chatted on the way back and he mentioned that he and his housemate had a case of beer and asked if we'd like to carry on drinking back at his. So of course we both did and we went back to his house and sat in his living room playing stupid drinking games and making daft jokes. Everyone was really relaxed and friendly the whole night and it turned out to be a lot of fun. The sun was up when I finally left.

That was really the only time I spent with the guy. I saw him a couple of other times at team things or in the pub, and we'd say "Hi", but never really spoke much past that.

Other people knew him a lot better than I did, and I'm sure he meant much more to them than to me. To me he's really just someone I spent a night drinking with a few years ago. But he invited me round, and he was really friendly, really funny and really nice and it makes me very sad to think that he doesn't exist any more.

Monday, 30 June 2014


A conversation I semi-regularly have with people I don't know that well:

Person: "How long have you and your girlfriend been together Nick?"
Me: "About 6 years."
"Ooh. Any plans to get married?"
"Ha. No, we're not planning on it."
"I bet she wants to though."
"Oh, of course you think she doesn't, but she really does. You'd better hurry up, she's not going to wait around forever you know."
"No, she really doesn't want to get married right now. Neither of us do."
"Of course she does! Trust me."

So you think that:
(A) You know my girlfriend, who I've been with for six years, better than I do - even though you've never met her - because;
(B) as a man, I am too dumb to understand that;
(C) all women want to get married as soon as possible, but just won't admit it.

And (A) means that you have to inform me of this, otherwise she will leave me because of (C) and I won't understand why, due to (B).

Well it's a good job you know your stereotypes better than I know my girlfriend.

Monday, 23 June 2014


An average day at 14.

Arrive at school for 9 am. 

You will begin the day by reading Shakespeare for an hour, and discussing his use of language, ensuring you take detailed notes on everything that is said. After a short break you will go in to a different room where you will spend an hour speaking and writing in French. Then you will be given a series of increasingly complex equations to solve until lunchtime. 
After lunch you will look at diagrams of World War One trenches, and précis a chapter of a text book in to a short essay on soldiers' conditions. Then you will create spreadsheets full of fictional information, which you will present as a range of different graphs and charts. Finally you will get changed and play a quick game of rugby before the day is over.

Finish at 3:45 pm.

You will be given extra work on each topic of the day to be completed in your own time. You are encouraged to take part in any of a range of extra-curricular activities available in your spare time.

Tomorrow will involve:
An hour spent speaking and writing in German. An exploration of the origins of Judaism. A continuation of a term-long project to design and build a small wooden toy. A collection of poems to be read and analysed, line by line, with a full written description of what each one "means". More equations to be solved. 

An average day at 24.

Arrive at work for 9 am.

You will read and respond to a few emails regarding the sale of bedsheets. You will print off some labels, stick them to parcels of bedsheets and then move the parcels from the warehouse to reception for collection. You will check that listings for all bedsheets being sold online are up to date, and fix any issues you encounter. 

You may be required to print a few other things, or move some other boxes. 

Anything you are asked to do will revolve around the sale of bedsheets.

Finish at 5 pm.

Tomorrow will involve:
The same.