Polar of Leek

He blinked out of existence after Dawsons Creek,

dawson_crying

It’s talent-free, overly Caucasian, James Van Der “Least successful of the four” Beek

Well aren’t you a saucy fellow? All sitting there, reading my blog and such.

The past few days have been really busy and are only getting more so. Last weekend Meg and I wandered  over to Dublin for super-early Christmas dinner with the family. They’re all doing their own thing on the day this year, partially because Meg and myself will be ladelling scoops of maple syrup onto a moose-shin as goes the traditional Canuck Christmas. We hit all the standard Boyle-Dublin classics: wandering the shops in a merciless rain-blizzard; taking an unnecessarily circuitous route to Powerscourt garden centre (buying nothing, crucially) and straining our bladder walls with pot after pot of scalding tea.

It was nice.

In the week I had to pop into London for work. The crowd I work for are keen to buy a premises instead of renting any more, so I have been viewing offices for them. Some were in better shape than others.

shack_in_pigeon_forge_tn_by_zachary_davies

It’s a real fixer upper. The smell? That would be turds.

The one I saw Wednesday used to be a nursing home up until two years ago when it was boarded up and they re-purposed it as the world’s premier destination for damp toilet-stank.

As I was led in, there were buckets everywhere collecting water sopping down from the ceiling.

“Umm, I don’t remember it raining recently. Where is all this water coming from? Is it coming from… inside?”

It was. It had also collapsed a lot of the ceiling. As we journeyed deeper there was a lot of sweary and confusing graffiti scrawled on the walls.

Some innocent enough of the sort: “Sharon luv Darren 4eva.”

Some less so with a rather more piquant and combative tone: “fooking Prime Shitister givin han-shandies to that Subsway Jard bassterd.”

After hiking up to the second floor and being enveloped by whiffiness of redoubled intensity, I noticed a bike through a doorway and a bottle of red wine on a table. Walking up to the doorway, there was a man sitting on an unmade bed wearing a crumpled suit and watching a huge flatscreen TV. He did not turn to look at me.

Turning to the team of real-estate turkeys that accompanied us, their memory was jogged “Oh yeah, that’s Thomas, he’s the guardian.”

A new one on me but it’s apparently a common, if resolutely depressing thing in London. Instead of paying a security company, let some destitute Phd. student live in your crumbling cack-magnet of a property so that if anyone does break in, they run the risk of extending their prison stay by being forced to murder the defenceless tenant. Think squatters with consent from the landlord and malevolent squeezing of value out of the inequality that is eating this country alive. Woo! <slumps>

As well as taking advantage of the overqualified and underpaid to add to and protect it’s horrifying stink, this hell-hole that people definitely died in was a grim reminder that humans, are not allowed to live in London. As the price for this was 4 million pounds.

saud-al-faisal

That’s not to say that Saudi Princes aren’t human. Look at this loveable bastard.

At the end of the week we welcomed newlyweds Colleen and Steve to London for booze and food and booze. A fine time was had by all and we scooted home on the second last train like absolute mad yolks.

Once we were on the train, I popped to the bathroom to widdle out my piddle spout. As I returned to Meg I saw that someone had sat into our six-seat section facing her. Her head shot up, eyes meeting mine with panic akin to being chased by a polar bear with a machete. Clumsy image perhaps, but I’m watching a David Attenbourough thing as I write this and a bear is turning a seal inside out with her hands and it’s hard to conjure an image to compete with that. Unless of course the bear was heavily armed. Maybe a red bandana.

Anyway some local goober had sat down opposite her and engaged her in conversation on the recent massacres in Paris in the context of Northern Ireland.

I smiled and nodded  while he patronised me (Meg went immediately into a fake and subsequently real nap) with a proviso that of course I was too young to know anything about it and that there was nothing like it where I was from. Wherever the feck that was meant to be.

I mean, yes he could assume I was Canadian as my accent makes it sound like I was raised in the wild by a families of geeses mooses and hell even meeses (a secret Canadian insiders only animal). And probably a BBC cameraman or two on the evidence in front of me.

the-hunt-ice_3488863b

I would be 100% more badass, but 100% more used as bait.

But this goob was really bad at guessing where people were from. A young couple sat into our section after a minute or so, him white as a Van Der Beek, her obviously with some South-Asian heritage. The tool turned to her:

“Whoa! Are we in Jamaica or something?”

“I’m from London mate.”

She was also bombed and kept trying to pat her fellas private area and  when he blocked her a few times she just pawed his face. But was still a lot more with it than Goobs. As we approached our time of departure the announcement went out that “We shall soon be leaving London Waterloo.”

“What the fuck!? When did we get back here?”

“We never left.”

He finally asked me where I was from and was obviously taken aback to find out that despite being “Irish in his heart” his level of Irishness wasn’t really worth anything in the blue book of being a Paddy. He then waffled  on about France, not really making much sense at all.

“Man they’ve like decided a path. And when the hammer comes. It says  once, twice three times a Commie.”

Dumbass crap like that.

He also asked me:

“Do you have what it takes man, to hold the fire in your hand?”

To which my response was, now frowning at him “Well it depends on lots of stuff, like are you covered in petrol? Are you in a childrens home?”

“I’ve written shit man, shit that fucking terrifies me” <leans back nodding and staring>

Eventually after everyone stopped responding to him he got grousy and wandered off muttering: “I guess I’ll go sit down on the floor.”

Typical Jamaican… or something.

In other news, I’m off on the road this week. Hong Kong and mainland China via Istanbul. Anyone for some knock-off Kindle covers? Wait no, it’s too close to Christmas. I’ll save it till then. Buy a Kindle. Don’t make me a bad present giver.

Polar of Leek

Advertisements

The Leekly Review: Travel edition -Hong Kong

How now spirit? Whither wander you?

I put it in the title. I thought that would… never min… IT’S HONG KONG!

So I went to HK for the first time in 2010. Incidentally, sorry for the ooh lah lah abbreviation. Usually hate anyone who purposefully shines a light on my region-specific ignorance by using a locals-only term. But I can hate it and do it at the same time. Like the National Lottery. Meg often says “don’t hate, discriminate.” I don’t think she has that right. She also watches a lot of Jodie Marsh now. And I KNOW that isn’t right.

jackson_01_wenn5748744

Jodie Marsh: Glamour model, TV presenter and surgically-enhanced amateur woodpecker.

Hong Kong (Honk Konk) is the badass bigger brother of Macau (check my review, but don’t bother going https://thetonerofleek.wordpress.com/2015/11/05/the-leekly-review-travel-edition-macau/).

Hong Kong is one of the true global cities of the world and was one of the choicest plots of land the rum-addled mutton-chopped British navy wrenched from the grasping hands  of Johnny Foreigner (who invariably “conveniently” had always lived there.) After a skirmish with some sailors led the local head honcho (Honcho Koncho) to burn a big pile of Queen Vic Brand opium (very moreish), the canny Brits sailed half-way around the world to set up shop and require everyone to boil all their meat.

When I first went, it was 2010, the Summer of Glove (when a glove puppet crashed an oil tanker into the Alps, no survivors, or fatalities). My folks were meant to be visiting Japan where Meg and I were living at the time. Then there was a tsunami, nuclear meltdown and general chaos. Assume it was caused by a glove puppet (I’m prejudiced now). Instead of pursuing the plan, we decided to meet in Hong Kong (Honf Konf) and spend a few days there instead. Good move past-Mark!

As this was, in part, a holiday from my more restricted Japanese life, highlights included late-night inner-city horse racing (with on-site McDonalds), favourite UK brands (in particular Lucozade) and Kangaroo pizza. After arriving solo, I decided to have a little walk around the block to orient myself. From the crimeless environs of rural Japan it was invigorating to see people with other skin colours (not a thing in Japan), real shady dudes offering you literally “whatever,” tropical birds and basically all the madness of human society shambling the sidewalks.

happy-valley-hong-kong5-lores1

Late night gambling on animals surrounded by skyscrapers. Now add booze and chicken nuggets. That feeling? That’s life that is!

As I reached the end of the street, it ended abruptly in… the sea where there was a mega-yacht with a whole Arabic family, clearly richer than God who were encouraging the boat-pilot to get closer to the footpath so that several women in ballgowns could join their tuxedoed partners on land. On the other side of this effort was the coast guard, who had several boats around with megaphones telling them “this is not a port, it’s just the street.”

When I finally met up with my mother, I told her how good it was to see foreigners again. She responded that she had just seen more Asians in the past ten minutes than she had in the rest of her life put together.

Did I mention I took a tram with Man Utd old-boy Nicky Butt? God what a place!

I returned about 4 months later for two days and  I will be departing Blighty for Hong Kong (Hotch Kotch) next Monday, hence it being my topic. Right now. In this sentence you are reading. Now.

Maximum yes!

The Toner of Leek

The Popp-oner of Leek

Watch out for his sooty, wandering paws,

It’s seasonal letch, Father “Call me Daddy” Santa Christmas Claus!

The first git that moans that it’s too early for Christmas references, I is comin’ fer ya. Christmas brings me back to my childhood. And as it was an Irish childhood from the late 80’s and early 90’s, we were all very keen on threatening to knee-cap each other, IRA style, just like we heard about on the news. A simpler, more terrifying time.

So yeah Christmas = childhood = kneecapping = watch out. Also = a lot of Alvin and the Chipmunks. Who knew that was a revival by the way? They were originally on in the 60’s and then again in the 80’s when I experienced them. Still, great times. Can you tell that I’ve had a quiet week? Didn’t even go to Africa or nothing.

Capture39753Haven’t heard much, assume everything’s fine over there.

Meg and I put our Christmas decorations up (warning you guys), including our tree, wreath, stockings (purchased in Japan but with messages in Portugese for no reason, a Buene Feste to you all) festively scented candles and more lights than are required to land a 747 in heavy fog. This is more of a Meg project than something I push, but I still enjoy it. But perhaps not enough for Meg. As we were putting up the decorations on the tree, I started singing along to “Driving home for Christmas” by Chris Rhea. This was deemed a lack of festivity, because “I don’t know that one” along with my lack of ribbon-work and to right the balance of festivity we were both dealt a heavy dose of the thing that is Raffi.

“Christmas taahm’s a comin’, an ah know Ahm go-in home.” Also I murdered a man for this hat. Funny story actually…

This past weekend, Meg and myself pottered into town for one of our last shots at Christmas shopping between now and Turkey-Ham day. Between now and then we are going to Ireland twice, also Canada and I am going solo to Hong Kong and China. It’s a fitting end to a year in which I’ve ticked off 5 new countries, a new continent and overall got to 15 countries in the year. And that’s not even counting Wales.

Because no one ever has.

I departed this year with my normal policy of not wearing a poppy. This has always been something that Meg and I have debated because for Canadians, it’s a simple thing of remembrance. In the UK however, as one can assume with assured disappointment, that would be far too simple and nice a thing for it not to be ruined by the tawdry rags that masquerade as journalism here.

Remembrance is a pure aim, but like anything pristine it is a magnet for shit (ask anyone in a newly-cleaned car) and for being tainted by the agendas and cynical manipulation of those that should (and perhaps do) know better. In the past few years the wearing of the poppy has turned from a way to raise money for retired/injured servicepeople and to show that you have spared a brief moment to consider those that have been sacrificed to conflict, towards being something else.

Instead of being a sign of something, it was the not-wearing of a poppy that became the new mark. This has been mainly down to the push of the… fascists (term isn’t used here, but it’s honestly what we’re talking about) and the lack of any kind of cogent debate or will from pretty much everyone else. That’s just the country that this is. Otherwise explain to me the primetime turd-festival that is “The Great Pottery Throwdown.” A lack of ideas means any idea, however rubbish is automatically consensus.

Enter Britain First. Britain First is a guilty pleasure for myself and Meg. Maddening click bait, patriotic foolishness and insidious racism. The EU? There are things they’re keener on. Anyone look a bit different? You are shizz out of luck friendo. Can you perhaps guess how they feel about paedophiles? I bloody bet you can.

Taking our country back from who? Who indeed… And isn’t it marvelous they managed to get such a good deal on all those flags? Buy in bulk, that’s the trick. Also, threaten loads of Asians. What? Oh nothing, never mind. 

And inevitably there’s the sniffy Guardian backlash, where anyone that wears a poppy is either a foaming mouthed xenophobe (see above) or a cow-eyed deadheaded drone, so worried about being accused of being “offensive” they would rather walk out into the sea holding stones than make eye-contact on the tube.

So I decided… feck the lot of them. Anyone that swallows the line that they need to go off to shoot at a bunch of people (and crucially, get shot at) for the good of their country has been the recipient of a pretty rum deal. Even before the PTSD and non-traditional numbers of physical features are factored in, people who are institutionally encouraged to give up their safety are probably worth helping with a pittance-y financial contribution. And if the effect of wearing a poppy is me remembering (or more accurately imagining) exactly how crap being in a war might be (I’m imagining a really long bus journey with zero toilet breaks and a lot of getting murdered) then that’s reason enough. For me.

In other news, me being home more means Meg is watching more news than she’s used to. For example, she recently noticed that Angela Merkel has a ventriloquists “puppet mouth” which as you can see below, is fair enough.

“I would like a… ottle of eer. Also to ee a real oy. And to ee the greatest Ger-an stateserson since illy randt.”

But then she got confused and started assuming she was Bernie Sanders’ girlfriend and even elaborated graphically on that point but I’m not totally sure she wasn’t picturing the guy with the fried chicken. Not that makes the image any better. Well at least I guess they would have had a hearty meal of poultry and potato before getting down to it.

I’m overthinking things.

The Popp-oner of Leek

The Leekly Review: Travel Edition – Macau

Yesvember ahoy you negative nellys!

So myself and a few noble chums are experimenting this week with trying to put a podcast together. No mean feat, as we all reside in different countries and one among us is a solid 8 hours off our timezone. I deserve literally zero credit for this sudden burst of ambition but in honour of the impending further infliction of me on the internet I will this month be reviewing some of the many travel destinations I have ticked off in my 28 years of sweet sweet life.

This week, I have opted for the island quasi-nation of Macau.

Macau, like Hong Kong and Taiwan is one of those bits of China that is to some degree or another, less than 100% just-more-poxy-China. For those other areas they have a long, complexand even fraught political history with Beijing. But Macau has… gambling!

Not classy. Classay…

Macau was to Portugal as Hong Kong was to Blighty and even today a lot of the savory meals come with weirdly generous amounts of fruit and everything is plastered with unnecessarily (albeit pleasantly) ornate and colourful ceramics. Portugal being quite keen on such things. However over the past 15 years or so, it has transformed itself from weird Portugese colonial oddity into offshore Vegas of the East.

All the major Vegas casinos have pitched their tent here and revved up their money hoovers to the “obscene Friday night private(s)-time” suction level and gobbled up the new wealth of the new Chinese elite. But the people going to Macau are not the happy idiots you see in Vegas, “Woo”-ing at inanimate objects and poisoning themselves with huge cheap shellfish. These guys are serious gamblers.

  I would say, too serious.

I was there with Gridzer (my dear mother’s preferred nomenclature) and we decided we would do the gambling thing though it didn’t appeal massively to either of us. The whole time we were there, all one could hear were was Chinese men shrieking angrily at the staff in between raspy and guttural coughing fits. After realising we were not in the kind of happy-go-lucky atmosphere we had hoped for, we both broke slightly less than even and agreed  gambling was simply something other people did.

Bar on sensible things like random numbers coming out of a bucket on TV. Or on horses running. Or thin dogs running. Or the Eurovision. Anyway, it was shit. We then walked out to wait out our final hour before taking the ferry back to Hong Kong (an immeasurably better place to spend ones time). As we waited, I walked to the edge of the pier looking at first outwards, then down into the salty depths.

A second or two passed and a snake emerged from the sea making a beeline for me rasping cusswords at me from the surface.

That frigging place. The pineapple chicken thing I had was alright though.

The Toner of Leek

Windhoner of Leek

He’s so wealthy he pays people to hate what he hates,

It’s billionaire super nerd, Bill “gaters gonna” Gates

Who knew he was such a little saucepot back in the day? Melinda Gates, that’s who. The whole charity thing is another one of their mad erotic games. It’s just how they get off. Curing malaria.

So I left you as my flying tube touched down in Windhoek airport. The weather was seasonably hot as everything’s reverse ways with regards weather there. I wouldn’t have been surprised if they, if they… put salt on their desserts. Seasoning. Reversed. Jokes.

I got a lift from one of the local chaps to my agreeably swish hotel and proceeded to try and fight sleep for the afternoon as all I had succesfully done on my 11 hour overnight flight was stink up a blanket with sweat and altitude farts and watch 95% of Jurassic World. I assume everyone was eaten and processed into dinoturds.

The rugby was on soon after I arrived at the hotel and was showing in my room, so though I really should have napped I spent the run up getting anxious, the game itself shouting vowel sounds and afterwards I was angry at our high suck level. God we sucked. There was like 15 minutes where we didn’t. But then we sucked again.

Captain of the USS Enterprise, Jean-Luc Picard. Clearly an Irish rugby fan.

That evening I was brought to a restaraunt where my diet for the coming week was clearly etched out. My first meal consisted of 5 kinds of meat: kudu (curly-antlered deer), oryx (pointy-antlered deer), springbok (non-antlered deer), zebra (stripy-horse deer) and crocodile (underwater-lizard deer) all on a large skewer and flame grilled to deliciousness and ripe for my puny innards to struggle with. The food was super good, but my tubes were having none of it, forcing me to ask “why so little?” and then almost immediately “WHY SO MUCH!?” later that week as my meat gauge tipped over into full Maradona.

The rest of my time in the capital was a couple of work engagements and then a long drive south. A long drive through a flat dry land of flattest dry. I watched that new Mad Max movie on the plane, the one with Bane in it. It was like that. More Toyota pick-ups. Less water.

They are on the wrong end of 2 years of drought there. Let that sink in. Not that anything would as the ground is bone dry but you get me. If I don’t get my full quota of 42 cups of tea a day my wee turns Colmans mustard yellow. And once I set foot in the homeland my blood runs the terrible tar black of wet sloshy Guinness. I’m a guy who enjoys his fluids and drought is a particularly horrible fate in my moistened opinion. At some of the dandier hotels and even at people’s homes there are swimming pools, but they were either dry as a pink wafer biscuit or filled with the kind of water that likely breeds worms that  climb up your dink pipe and lay eggs in your appendix. Appendeggs they call them.

We were sitting around the hotel foyer, when someone got a phonecall. “What? Rain!?” The call went out that there was rain… 6 hours away. It had already stopped. When flying in, I saw what I thought were rivers. Though I couldn’t see the water itself, there were clearly trails of green trees. But when asked about these my guide flatly told me, “No, there are currently no rivers in Namibia.”

Despite the ground being pretty unforgiving, the people are really proud of it and now its vastness like we know our bedrooms. They have a few options for squeezing sustenance from the ground including farming some particularly well adapted and hardy animals, olives and the very occasional date. And that’s not just my social life in university… heh heh.

Women, were not attracted to me.

1505483_10155232361940422_512140756172585080_nStuck-up bitches…

As well as pride in their national agricultural products they also have pride in their national institutions. So much pride that they looked at the architecture of the free world and thought, “not quite.” With this in mind they opted for contracting North Korea to come in and build all their new national stuff for them.

Though you wouldn’t know it

Nothing says freedom from oppressive overlords like hiring some architects that have never seen daylight to build you your national palace of lies. Freedom!

While in Namibia I also got to see a game reserve with zebra, babboons and various (as I had learned super-tasty) deer-variants. There was even a chance to see some rhino up close including a baby and mother. Our guide spotted them maybe a mile off, at the point where they might well have been a gray pointy shrub. But sure enough as we approached it became clearer, the first baby born on the reserve. And we kept approaching. And a bit more. Approaching. Right before we dinged them (maybe 50 metres, I’m a bad driver ask my driving testers… multiple) he killed the engine and inquired, “Okay who wants something to drink?” He then told us to get out and laid out a tablecloth on the bonnet.

There is no kind of nature that can’t be appreciated more with a cold beer and the terror associated with staring at a living gray van with a sword for a face that might want to go crazy and trample everything it didn’t give birth to. To be fair, the whole thing was pretty deadly.

So that was Namibia. A better integrated, less mental South Africa where everyone was basically super-sound and all the meat, was double meat.

On the way back I got to see the full terror of urban Johannesburg as I bravely took the metro on my own, touristy backpack and all.

It was really nice. Didn’t die. Not even close.

In other news the rugby world cup has not brought out the most tolerant side of Meaghan. I got her to watch the New Zealand pre-game war dance, the haka once. I forgot this detail and while the final started I directed her to watch for what I thought was the first time. Her reaction was to angrily and loudly sing something which my closest reference for is the intro to Blue Swede’s Hooked On a Feeling.

You know…

She’s normally pretty tolerant, but I think the cultural diversity against a backdrop of hour 1008 of the rugby world cup (including a standing room only 3 hour train ride I made her take) pushed the boundaries of her love for the oval-ball.

Windhoner of Leek