State Of Mind

Look at this! Another blog, in less than… well, less time than usual. So less than six months. In fact I’ve decided to transition the blog to be more like it should be – shorter posts, more often, and more heavily decorated with Roo’s gorgeous photos (and my rather crappy weird ones).

So, the good news? Less to read. More prettiness. And the bad? Well, you’ll be swamped with updates from me, detailing every miniscule facet of my life abroad. I might even post once a week!

Did I say swamped? Inundated, then. Positively deluged! So, sorry about that. But apparently I’m supposed to be taking this thing more seriously than I am. I’m not going to of course, but if I did it wouldn’t really be me, would it?

So, what’s on my mind today?

It’s fate. Because I think a lot about the road that has led me to be here, blogging from beside the pool in a hotel far too posh for me to afford in the western world. There is unlimited coffee refills with my free breakfast, and I’m planning on abusing that service until they cut me off.

Posh HotelAcross the road, I’m watching Vietnamese workers in conical straw hats use  medieval building techniques to construct what I assume will become another luxurious hotel. My laptop says it’s 39 degrees Celsius out there, and those guys are working hard. They’re displaying the kind of tenacity and ingenuity that makes me very glad to have been born in the UK – as I have neither.

Vietnamese BuildersAccording to those state-of-the-world type reports, I’m in the top 5% of the world’s super-wealthy – even though I own nothing more expensive than my rucksack full of stinky hiking gear and a laptop the size of a napkin. (Given to me by someone who is, by those same standards, definitely in the top 3%!).

Vietnamese Dong

Literally MILLIONS of Vietnamese Dong. And yes, there have been jokes – because that’s just how mature we are… :0)

I also feel lucky – and somewhat guilty – to have been born at this exact juncture in human history. Because with the level of technology we’ve developed thus far, I can do exactly what I want – which is travel cheaply, and still write via the internet. The world, with all her delights, is open and available to me – just before it falls apart at the seams. I can’t help but think: I may be the last generation to enjoy the planet in this form. With deforestation, over population, resource-depletion and global warming, it’s anyone’s guess as to what will be left for my children to travel around. So I do feel guilty. Not that that’s going to help overly much. But I try to do what I can, when I can, and to appreciate what we’ve all got while we’ve still got it.

Like $2 cocktails…  ;0)

Cocktails in a bucketSorry, I just realized that this post was taking rather a down-note. And I’d planned on writing about all the adventurous activities I’ve been doing, like caving, climbing and canyoning. But you know what? That stuff can wait for the next one – in less than a week, I promise – and I’ll leave you now with a ridiculously trite message, and some photos:

An idiot once tried to explain to me the concept of ‘the more you do, the more you see, and the more you see, the more you want to do.’ Only she couldn’t quite grasp the idea, and just kept repeating “the more you see, the more you see, and the more you see, the more you see. You see? The more you see…” (No prize for guessing who came up with this nugget of wisdom. Let’s just say I was stuck in a boat with her at the time, and leave it at that…)

I think what I’ll try and share is part of my own personal philosophy – though I am, of course, the biggest idiot of them all, and hence no more reliable than she was.

“Do everything you can. Experience it all. Take full advantage of what you’ve got, while you’ve got it, because, well, why not? And then – if you can – give something back. To the environment that supports you, and to those less fortunate than you. Because you might not make an obvious difference right now – but you set a good example. And if everyone lived this way, sure as hell it would change a few things!”

Well, I did say it would be trite. I’m new to this whole ‘thinking’ thing. And I’m still not sure if I like it…

Right. Enough BS from me. Here’s the pics.

A tiny preying mantis!

A tiny preying mantis!

A bigger mantis!

A bigger mantis!

And they say to always finish on a sunset...

And they say to always finish on a sunset…

 

 

Crazy Orange Monkeys

I’ve been told I haven’t written enough about Borneo. Probably because I haven’t written anything about Borneo. So, here it is folks – the true story of what happened when we went looking for orange monkeys…

We found them, of course.

They were down the back of the sofa. I ALWAYS said we should look there first…

Happy OrangutanNo. These guys were swinging happily around the most amazing animal enclosure I’ve ever seen – over 100 hectares of primary rainforest, trackless and unsullied by human-kind. On the edge of the preserve is a series of feeding platforms, and that’s where we waited to see the orangutans.

Orangutans are over ten feet tall, live for hundreds of years and eat anything smaller than themselves – including humans. Or maybe that’s dinoasuars? To be honest I had a fit of laziness (something to do with me writing this on the beach, no doubt) – so feel free to insert your own orangutan facts here via the magic of Wikipedia.

One thing I will say is that Orang-utan means ‘Man of the Woods’, and the word ‘Orang’ – meaning ‘man’ – is one of the most commonly used words in the Malay language. Seriously – it crops up in every conversation I hear around me, leading me to believe it’s used like ‘bloke’ or ‘fella’ – as in, “So I was playing pool with these three orangs in the pub…”

The apes, when they showed themselves, moved slowly and effortlessly, not scampering like monkeys but sort of draping themselves across the trees and letting them bend down and deposit them where they wanted to go. Seriously, if they were any more laid back, they’d have been horizontal. Peace-loving vegetarians with brown, soulful eyes, they definitely qualify as the hippies of the animal kingdom. I think I saw one wearing a Bob Marley t-shirt.

Mellow OrangutanWe were lucky enough to be there before the feeding, when a younger orangutan was strolling along the boardwalk fence, beckoning us to follow him, and to stay until the bitter end, by which point we’d seen about ten of the scruffy beasts.

And a little while later, we met their closest human relative.

For three incredible days and nights we cruised on, and hiked around, a massive jungle river called the

Kinabatinanangananagana… ananagan… agan agan… a nanna again? …an anagram game? Anyway, the point is, it’s a river. With a ridiculous name. And while we were there, we found evidence that not only was there a Missing Link between apes and humans in the distant past, but that the Link is alive and well today (and, apparently, lives in Maui). Oh yes – short, dumpy and slow-moving, our strawberry-blonde cruising companion Annabel was a dead ringer for an orangutan. She had the kind of intelligence level where, if she were caught waving a stick in the air, you’d be tempted to say, “Aw, look! She’s learning to use tools!”

But don’t worry! I’m not going to be needlessly mean to a defenceless woman. I’m going to tell you what she said, and let you decide…

A good example came on our first dusk cruise. We’d been lucky enough to see several orangutans in the wild, nesting in trees just back from the riverbank, and several troops of macaque monkeys, who swarmed around us as though we were invisible on their way down for an evening drink.

But when our guide pointed out a crocodile gliding silently on the surface of the water, Annabel asked him for his binoculars. “Wow,” she said, after a few seconds studying the creature, “it almost looks like a little reptile…”

I couldn’t help myself. “That’s because it IS a little reptile,” I told her.

“Yeah…” came her reply – not only blithely unaware of my sarcasm, but clearly not appreciating she’d said anything stupid in the first place.

Annabel

Annabel – getting stuck in on the jungle hike

Her ignorance was matched only by her ability to be so annoying it made my hands twitch with the desire to choke her.

Next morning, on the dawn cruise, we were all staring at a bird our guide had spotted. Roo (my wife) was checking it out in the bird identification book.

“Hey, can I see that?” Anabel asked. But rather than leaving it there, she did her trademark trick of asking again – and again – without pausing for breath. “Hey, can I see that one from yesterday? You know, the one we looked at in the evening? That little bird? Is it in there? Can I see it? The one from yesterday? Remember? Can I see that one? From yesterday? I want to look at that one. The little bird, from yesterday? Can I see it? Can I—“

At which point Roo just shoved the book at her and said “Take the damn thing.”

Quite unaware that she’d done anything out of the ordinary, she started flipping through the pages. “Oh, there are lots of little pictures in here! Lots of little birdies!”

She flipped a few more pages. “Wow, there’s more pictures! That’s amazing! The whole thing is pictures! And they’re all birds!”

She closed the book to study the cover in wonder.

It was called ‘The Borneo Book Of Birds’.

“Wooowww…”

Now, in case I didn’t make it clear, this was not some eleven-year-old child; this woman was clearly in her late forties. On the one hand I feel I should applaud her spirit, to be traveling at that age, and all alone. Well done her! On the other hand, I think it’s quite likely that she was alone because in all her forty-odd years on the planet, she’d never found anyone who could stand to be in the same room as her for more than an hour.

She was at her worst on our last morning, when, just as the sun was rising, we spotted a big male orangutan, sitting with his back to us in a tree about thirty metres from the boat.

orangutan back“Oh my goodness!” Annabel exclaimed. And then it began. With her eyes glues to the screen of her camera, her whining voice ratcheted up several notches in volume; “Oh, you beautiful creature! Please turn around! Pretty please! Say hello to us! Say goodbye to us! Hello there! Oh please turn around! Please? Turn around! Say hello! Say goodbye! Give us your blessing! Please say hello! Say goodbye! Say hello! Please turn around! Please say hello! Please turn around! Say goodbye to us…” And on – and ON – for the next five minutes.

I had to do something then which I’ve never done in my life (other than, occasionally, to my long-suffering sister). I put my hand on Annabel’s shoulder and said rather firmly, “Shut up.”

But I was sorely tempted to push her into the river.

River

The River

When it came time to leave, Roo and I were gutted. We’d had an amazing experience, staying in a little wooden hut, seeing giant monitor lizards, endangered hornbills and monkeys a-plenty, trekking the jungle day and night, feeding our fingers to fish (some kind of perverse justice there) – and we didn’t want to leave. As we sat enjoying our last breakfast in the rainforest, Annabel stood up to go.

“Well everybody,” she announced, “I’m Oh-Eff-Eff!” She glanced around smugly, quite pleased with her joke –  but she couldn’t resist letting us in on it. “Off!” she explained, beaming with her own cleverness. And then, thank God, she was off – leaving us all to bask in the warm glow of her wit.

People wonder if I make these characters up, and I’m both shocked and ashamed of the answer: no. Not a word of it. Sad to say, these individuals really are out there – and are at least partially derived from the same genetic material as the rest of us.

Be afraid.

And now, here’s a couple of Roo’s fascinating pictures to further illustrate our adventures!

Feeding Fish 1fEEDING Fish 2

Big camera lens

Roo was seriously out-lensed on the river!

Troubles in Paradise

So, on leg one of our journey, we have arrived in Koto Kinabula, the capital ‘city’ of Malaysian Borneo. I use the word city in inverted commas because, whilst it sure looks like an Asian city – grimy concrete high-rises everywhere you look, crumbling pavements and constant gridlock – you can walk across it in about five minutes.

Kota KinabaluThis isn’t exactly a bad thing though, as a miniature city like this is a great way to prepare us for the more dramatic capitals later on in our trip – like Beijing, which I have to admit to being a bit scared of.

We’d booked to stay at the ‘Summer Lodge’ – or at least, we thought we had. When they never showed up to collect us at the airport, I convinced the Tourist Info guy to give them a call. Yup,  they’d never heard of us. So we jumped in a taxi and edged our way through 40 minutes of standing traffic to get there.

The first room we were offered was so dingy I half expected to find Terry Waite in there chained to a radiator. We went back to the desk and asked if they had anything less squalid. So, for only a few dollars extra, we got to climb an extra two flights of stairs, to a room that, allegedly, had ‘a window’. Oh yes! Make no mistake, we were upgrading!

Summer Lodge RoomThe second room – complete with window – also was not the Hilton. But we took it anyway, because we were dripping with sweat, knackered, and hadn’t slept in two days. So we paid cash, braved the stairs once more, and collapsed onto the hideously stained mattress.

Summer Lodge The WindowThe rest of the evening was one of discovery. First we discovered that the window didn’t work (it was covered with a blind which ripped out of the wall when Roo tried to raise it to look out). Then we discovered that the toilet leaked. Then, around midnight, we discovered that, had we been able to look out of our window, it would have offered us a view of the open-air karaoke bar directly below. That place seemed to heat up around 1am, but didn’t really kick off until 3. Murdering the hits of Lady Gaga and Katy Perry at 500 decibels turns out to be a popular pass-time here…  It was in this way that we discovered the vibrating walls of our room – including the exterior one, housing our foot-square inoperable window – were made of thin plywood. Now, you kind of expect this with internal walls. Sure, it means you can hear every burp, scratch and fart for ten rooms in every direction, but that’s pretty much par for the course. But external walls? This was an eight-storey building, and we were on the sixth floor. I was kind of hoping it was built of concrete, or something similarly sturdy. Closer inspection (of the cracks in our walls, through several of which we could see daylight) revealed the truth. The frame of the building was concrete – great beams and columns in a grid pattern. But the walls in-between were filled in – not with bricks, or more concrete, or high-spec glass – but with plywood. If a shabbier high-rise exists anywhere in the world – well, I don’t want to stay there.

Found the window!

Think I’ve found our window!

Nevertheless, stay we did. After a brief jaunt around the night (fish) markets, where scores of locals were eating (fish), we returned to the room to wash the (fish) stench off our weary bodies. This was when we discovered the drains also didn’t work, so that showering created an ever-rising pool of water in the bathroom that quickly became ankle-deep. It stayed there for as long as we did – which, to our shame, was three whole days. Not because Kota Kinabalu (or ‘KK’) was so enticing, but because we couldn’t seem to get out of bed. I know what you’re thinking – inappropriate! But no – we were just dead tired, both of us – and we spent more than half our time in KK fast asleep.

Bathroom

The Bathroom…

Flooded bathroom

…submerged!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being the terribly organised types we are, neither of us had given much thought to where to go once we actually got here. But in our bizarre state of exhaustion, we bravely made the decision to head for the beach…

And now, here we are! As different an experience as it’s possible to have, from the cramped, depressing room in the filthy, claustrophobic city, to where we are now… which is paradise!

Paradise!A jungle lodge built out of sticks, in the traditional style of the native Rumpus people, and, a mile away – the kind of postcard-perfect beach that everyone dreams of one day discovering. Oh, and it’s EMPTY! Yes, this is the undiscovered bit of Borneo, right at its northern tip – and the only tour operator here is a bloke called Howard. We’re staying in his lodge, and eating in his beachfront restaurant right now – all built himself, staffed by locals to whom he pays a fair wage – and never have I found a more secret, tranquil slice of paradise on the planet. Believe me – you really wish you were here! As of course, do I. :0)

Jungle LodgeThe only fly in the ointment – apart from the flies, and the lack of any kind of ointment – is that we’re both more sunburnt than we’ve ever been! At this point we put two and two together, and figured out our malaria meds were to blame. ‘Increased sensitivity to sunlight’ and ‘lethargy’ being two of the potential side effects… but holy shit! Both of us were wiped out for 12 to 14 hours a day, and we got so burnt from walking to the bus station we can hardly lie down! So, out went the malaria pills, damn them. And out went any chance of kayaking, sunbathing, taking long, leisurely swims or strolls on the beach…

The upside of this, is that a six-month supply of doxycycline just about fits into a shoe box, giving us a bit of space in our rucksacks to play with. Consequently, Roo has started shopping for shoes…

I’m not sure if that qualifies as good news, or bad.

But anyway. Here’s a few more photos, to whet your appetites…

Enjoy!

Borneo BeachInside Jungle LodgeBorneo Beach Sunset

Now THAT is a big jelly fish!

Now THAT is a big jelly fish!

 

Getting To The Bottom Of Things

Every so often people ask me if it’s true – all the stuff I write about, about my amazing ability to be in the wrong place at the wrong time – or just to be doing the wrong thing.

My answer is always the same: come and live with me. See for yourself. Although you might end up regretting it…

Case in point. I decided to get the wife to film me, sneakily, as I went to get my colonic irrigation. Why? Well, why not? I knew the people there would refuse to let me if I asked, so I went ahead and did it anyway.

And suffice to say, it wasn’t pretty.

But that’s not the strange part.

Oh, no!

What’s stranger than a grown man being filmed whilst enduring a rectal invasion paid for by his sister?

Well, it started like any other day. We stopped at the pharmacy to pick up our malaria pills, and there happened to be a special promotion on a product that seemed disturbingly appropriate:

Anusol

No, I don’t know what it does either. But I can guess where it goes.

So, on to the Perth Colon Wellness Centre, where I planned on having gallons of water pumping into my areshole. Just for, you know, shits and giggles…

So the lady behind the desk was very nice. She got me to fill out all the paperwork, and sign a disclaimer informing me that “I am responsible for the insertion of my own rectal tube”.

I was quite relived about that.

Colonic Disclaimer

Then I was shown into the room with a big plastic bed, designed to keep you in a position most familiar to women who have given birth. I was shown the pumping apparatus. It was all very scientific.

Then I was given a lollypop stick full of anal lube, and left alone to apply it.

Awkward – especially with the wife not only watching, but actually filming the process (discreetly, of course) – but I managed, and hopped up onto the machine.

Then I very gently, very, very gingerly – pushed the probe into my bottom.

Apparently I made some odd faces during the process… but luckily I’ve decided to spare you all from the sight of such things. You lucky, lucky people!

making facespre colonic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anyway, the nice lady wandered back into the room and turned on the water. At this point was braced for anything from a tickle to agonizing pain – but felt nothing. Nothing. I told the lady – so she twisted the valve a little further.

And was rewarded with a face full of bum-water!

“Ugh!” she moaned, recoiling from the spray.

“Is that… supposed to happen?” I asked.

“Ugh! No!” she said, wiping her face on her sleeve. “It must be… broken!”

And it was.

“I didn’t do anything, I promise!”

“No, it’s okay. The lady before you has MS. I think she might have kicked it.”

She put her hands between my legs, and fiddled with my nozzle.

“Yes, your nozzle is broken, I’m afraid.”

I guess there could have been worse news. “Oh. So is it fixable?” I tried to keep the hope out of my voice. Couldn’t have her think I was actually terrified of having this done.

“I think we can fix it,” she said. “Hang on. I’ll just get Gerry.”

She nipped back to the front desk, and suddenly there were two of them, stood “oohing” and “ahhing”, as I lay there, legs akimbo, arse in the air.

“Have you had a look at it?” Gerry asked – presumably referring to the broken nozzle, rather than my exposed undercarriage.

“Oh yes,” came the reply – and then both of them had their hands down there, tugging back and forth on something, up to their elbows in the trough between my knees.

At least ‘Gerry’ was another lady. I half expected some paunchy, bearded maintenance bloke in steel toe-cap boots to come and have a rummage beneath my towel.

“We’ll just get you to hop off,” said Gerry. “We’ll leave you in privacy, of course…”

And the two women disappeared, allowing me the small mercy of de-impaling myself with only my wife watching. I can’t decide who had the more disgusted look on their face – her, or me.

We retired to a small adjoining lounge to wait, while the two women re-emerged armed with a variety of adjustable spanners and wrenches.

“Do you need a hand there?” I offered.

“Well, yes, actually…”

And so it came to pass that I spent the better part of an hour on my back underneath the shit-sucking machine, attacking the underside with a pair of spanners.

Me fixing colonic irrigation machineMe fixing colonic irrigation machine 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Me fixing colonic irrigation machine 3

Roo works on machine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poor Roo ended up there too – just as the staff had given up, and were on the phone to Jim the repair man – the faulty nozzle gave, and came out of the machine. I screwed a new one into place, and hey, presto! Fixed.

I was rather proud of myself, in a smug, masculine kind of way.

Until the ladies reminded me that now I could get back onto the thing.

And they left me another lolly-stick of lube…

Thankfully, the rest of the procedure went as planned.

Apart from the bit where, just as I was thinking ‘Thank the Goddess, it’s nearly done-“ – they returned to demonstrate their gratitude for my patience and assistance – by giving me an extra-long session.

Oh MAN, was my colon cleansed by the time that was done!

And for those brave (but foolhardy) few who have ventured thus far throughout my narrative – as kind of a reward/punishment…

Well, you’ve got to be curious, right?

I know I was.

So here it is – the (carefully edited) footage.

Of me.

Having what little remains of my dignity well and truly stripped away.

So to speak.

Enjoy!

:0)

VIDEO BLOG!!!

Yes folks, here it is – my first ever video blog! Please don’t judge it too harshly – I feel like a proper plonker as it is, just from talking to the camera. You know when I said I was crap at acting? Well, I wasn’t lying… I hate seeing myself on film. Partially because my nose is bigger than most peoples… um, noses… and… well, other things. But before I put you off with too much whining, go ahead – check it out!

Please do let me know what you thought of it in the comments!

All the best,

Tony

My-Grain Headache

As some of you may know, a few weeks ago I did the unthinkable; I turned traitor. Yes, folks, I broke my solemn vow, taken at the end of 2009, to never again work for anyone else – and I got a real job.

Well, kind of.

In my defence I’d like to say that, firstly, I thought it was a voluntary position when I applied for it, and secondly – they’re paying me a shitload of cash for the privilege!

Now, you could be forgiven for wondering, just what it is that I do at this job.

As it happens, I’ve been wondering the same thing myself.

I’ve been working on the show for three weeks so far, and I still haven’t got a clue what I’m doing. But it does seem to involve a lot of rice.

The Rice Show

Basically, I’ve been hired to be part of the art installation ‘Of All The People In All The World’, created by British theatre company Stan’s Café. Quite how I landed a job as an artist is a matter of debate. I’d just like to point out that at no point was I required to sleep with anyone. For any reason. Unfortunately.

So this is what happens: we use one grain of rice to represent one person (whether it be you, the Prime Minister, or Michael Jackson). Then we build up piles of rice to show off different numbers – the population of Australia, for example, is represented by a large mound containing twenty-two million grains of rice!

It’s very nearly as big as the pile representing all the registered gamers of World of Warcraft

Big Pile Of RiceIt’s this kind of juxtaposition of different statistics which makes the show what it is. Once you can see a hundred million of something in one place – and with a grain of rice in your hand as ‘you’ for comparison purposes – you can actually understand something about the scale of these numbers. Otherwise, I find any number containing a big string of zeroes to be a sort of abstract concept. I hear it, on the news for example: ten million people… blah blah blah… and I think to myself, “Wow, that sounds like a lot.” But without the ability to visualise it, a number that big doesn’t really have much meaning to me. Now, after not only seeing ten million grains of rice in one place, but actually counting the damn stuff out – I can fully appreciate how big these numbers are.

I can honestly say – they’re really, really big.

Maybe even bigger.

So, I pour rice. I started off by carrying and stacking sacks of it (which weighed 25kg each) – in assorted pyramid shapes to form the largest piles of the exhibition. It was bloody hard work, and I sweated so much I decided to wear underpants the following day. So it didn’t look quite so much like I’d pissed my pants, y’see.

Pyramid of rice sacksEight hundred and six million grains of rice.

And no, I didn’t count them one at a time…

I counted the bags though. 348 of the buggers! And one trip to the chiropractor, to get my spine to bend the right way again afterwards. It’s been through so much, it’s got more kinks than my Dad’s CD collection.

Anyway. With the stacking and the pouring mostly taken care of, my job has devolved to that of a sweeper. I constantly roam the piles, seeking out dust and dirt to remove (as no-one wants to get a face full of fluff when they crouch down to appreciate the number of people who had plastic surgery last year).

I hunt spiders; I talk to the public, explaining why they would benefit from spending half the day staring at huge piles of rice. I occasionally caution a bad-mannered child, or tackle a drunk who is convinced that underneath our rice is the only place he can hide from the government helicopters…

But most of all, I walk around and around the hall, approaching pile after glistening pile of rice – and sweeping away all the pubic hairs.

Pubic Hair On Rice

Pubic Hair On Rice: Not even popular in Asia…

Yes! Where the hell do they come from? Well, to be honest I’d rather not know. But someone is distributing them, fairly evenly, around the entire exhibition – day after day after day! They’re short, black and curly (the hairs, I mean) – and any more than that, I shall not say.

Other than to wonder – to marvel, really – at how this can possibly happen, in the middle of a wide-open public space, without anyone noticing.

But if you’re reading this, and it’s you that’s doing it – please, please bugger off! Or at least, go trim yourself in the privacy of your own home. And dispose of the evidence in a similar fashion.

Because I don’t care what anyone says – it’s just not art.

I also remove footprints from the otherwise pristine white paper on which the rice piles are placed. No-one ever walks on it while I’m looking, but every bugger in the place must be tap-dancing on the stuff as soon as my back is turned, given how many footprints I get rid of every day. For this task I use my trusty eraser – and I can honestly say I haven’t done so much rubbing out since I worked as an assassin for the British government.

What? No, I mean… um, let’s just forget I said that.

[PICTURE ‘Tony-mid-assassination/uploads/facebook.jpg’ HAS BEEN BLOCKED BY THE OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR GENERAL]

We (by this I mean, my fellow pube-sweepers and I) get asked a variety of questions each day, but there are some that crop up fairly regularly. Like: “What do you do with the rice afterwards?”

The answer, of course, is that giant betentacled robots descend from the heavens and annihilate it with bolts of pure anti-rice from their navel-lasers. Oh, but we get to eat any bits that they miss.

We also get asked, “Has anyone ever taken a running jump into the rice?”

The answer, of course, is “No, of course no-ooOOOOOOOOO!”

*CRUNCH*

Because a four-year-old child had chosen that precise moment to do just that.

And so, out came the brushes.

Luckily enough he didn’t dive head-first – because, as I have a habit of pointing out to people considering it, rice is actually quite dense. Not to mention, most of the piles are cunningly constructed from those fully-packed 25kg sacks, with just enough loose rice drizzled over the top to maintain the illusion. So, diving into one of our piles is rather similar to diving into a large pile of bricks.

But no damage this time. Other than to the OAP population of Europe, which took a beating… I’ve never seen pensioners move so fast. The culprit survived with a vicious tongue-lashing from his mother. His friend, nearby, was distinctly unimpressed.

Disinterested Boy

Working on the show has also given me chance to ponder many of the more sobering statistics we showcase. Like how each day, nearly twice as many people are born in the world as die in it – making it disturbingly obvious just where the our population is headed.

And then there’s the positives; like when weighing out 3,327 grams of rice to represent the planet’s 200,000-person population increase since yesterday (scary, eh?!) – I had a ‘YES!’ moment.

I opened a sack and tipped a load onto the scales – only to get it exactly right, to the grain! In one go!

I looked around in excitement for someone to share my triumph with – only to discover that no-one was watching.

And even if they had been, they still wouldn’t give a shit.

But it made me very happy nonetheless.

And on that note, I shall leave you with a couple more pictures of Megan Fox naked. No? Really? Sorry, my mistake. That’ll be more pictures of piles of rice then… you lucky, lucky people!

And please, use the comments box to exercise your very best rice-based puns, because I hear so few of them. Go on – I dare you!

:0)

 

Rice Show Religious ControversyDunno if you can make this one out, but it’s a fascinating insight into the nature of religion in Australia. In that, the sixth largest religion (according to the Census) – is Jedi. Both Roo and I are in that pile…

Rice Show China

Yet More Big Piles Of Rice at The Rice Show

The Next Big Thing

My good friend Joe Cawley, author of the brilliant (and mega-successful) book ‘More Ketchup Than Salsa’, has nominated me to answer a few questions about my current Work In Progress, as part of ‘The Next Big Thing’ blog hop.

So, if you’re looking for something to read, please do check out Joe’s book – it’s the story of how he gave up everything in England to go and open a bar in Tenerife. With no language skills, no experience – no clue, really! It’s awesomely funny and completely true. I loved it.

And now without further ado, here are the questions, and my answers…

What is the working title of your book?


Currently it’s called ‘The Kangaroo Suicides!’ – though I’m hoping to pull a wittier remark from the book’s dialogue once I get to writing it. Something that makes you go “WTF? What the hell is this book about?” It’s a strategy that seems to have worked so far. By which I mean, no-one knows what the hell my books are about.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

The idea came from ‘The Adventures of Rusty’ – a book my sister always wanted to write about her adventures around Oz, in a van, with her best friend and me. I have now stolen it.

What genre does your book fall under?

Crazy travel comedy! It’s a genre I coined to fit my books. In this one I’ll visit about 7 countries, take up several hobbies very unsuitable to my skill-set (including climbing without ropes, parkour and snowboarding) – and injure myself fairly consistently in the process. That’s the crazy – the comedy derives from the fact that I was never quite clever enough to see it coming…

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie
rendition?

I think I would have to be Michael Cera – he seems stuck in the same perpetually-awkward adolescent phase as me. I can just see him struggling to lift my big hammer… I think Gill (my sister) would benefit from the sarcastic poise (and stature) of a young Janeane Garofalo. As for the lovely Roo… well, I think Scarlet Johansen would do a fine job! Especially if I got to play myself… No, not with myself!

Ahem.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Three fools in search of Adventure – one sister, one sister’s best friend, and me – all wrapped up in a knackered old van, and bound for the remotest parts of Australia… what could possibly go wrong? Ha! See how I used punctuation to make all that into one sentence! I’m learning. But better take a big breath before reading it

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Self published – unless anyone rom Amazon is reading this…? I’m ready to deal, honest! How’s about this: everything stays the same, but you put my picture up on the Amazon.com homepage. Possibly with my bum out…

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

It doesn’t exist yet! But the last one took me 10 months. I reckon I should have this one surrounded in six… but then, I AM planning on spending most of those six months pony trekking across Mongolia, so it’s hard to say for sure :0)

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?


‘Round Ireland With A Fridge’ is what opened my eyes to the possibility of writing my stories down. I figured my adventures were at least that amusing… An Idiot Abroad (the TV show) is the closest in terms of style – but everyone in my game loves to be compared to Bryson, so why not? Though I think he’s a little more… erudite than me. At any rate, he makes less poo jokes. So, my book is like all of Bill Bryson’s books – but with the cleverness removed and replaced by an endless procession of toilet humour. Wow, can I over-sell something, or what?!

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

Well, I lived (just about) through the adventures! So it seemed crazy not to write about them. It was, after all, one of the most significant – and peculiar – times of my life. Plus, I tell these stories all the time. Everyone I know is heartily sick of them. So, it seemed like a natural progression – to go from waffling at a few close friends, to waffling at the whole world. At least most of them can’t hit me for it.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Um… tough one. Because it’s set in Australia, and no-one is really interested in Australia, are they? And it’s full of mundane, everyday occurrences, like getting lost in the desert, and being hosed off the side of gigantic national monuments. Suicidal kangaroos aside, I’m not really sure what this book has going for it. So, for now I’ll just say ‘the sex’. Because there’s quite a lot of it in this one…

:0)

That Feeling of Release…

Well, whaddaya know? We all survived! Looks like December the 21st 2012 will always be remembered for… absolutely nothing. Ah, well. At least we’re still around to appreciate the delights that December 22nd will bring us…

Like my third blog post this week!

I know! I’m so sorry about that. After this, I promise you won’t have to read any more of my crap for ages.

Well, apart from one little bit.

That little bit, incidentally, is my second book, which I am releasing TODAY.

In fact, if you look out of your window… no, not that window! The magic window. The one looking out on the invisible and electronic world. Point your broswers at Amazon.com, and you’ll see… well, you’ll see the Amazon homepage, I guess.

But if you go here:

http://www.amazon.com/Dont-Need-The-Whole-ebook/dp/B00AP3R2Z8/

Or here, if you’re still living in the UK:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dont-Need-The-Whole-ebook/dp/B00AP3R2Z8/

You might just find THIS:

Book Two Cover Picture

After a lot of internal debate, polling both of my rabid fans, checking with my Mum and then going back and second, third and twenty-sixth-guessing myself – I decided to call it:

‘Don’t Need The Whole Dog!’

Because that fitted on cover.

And also, there’s a story about a dog in it.

But I have to mention, that this book is NOT about animals. Not really. So PLEASE – don’t buy it expecting it to be, and then get all annoyed when it isn’t! I get enough bad reviews because my grammar is so shockingly poor (and because I have been known to swear on occasion…).

So, yeah. The book is about everything that happened after I got back from Ecuador. Some of which was painful. Most of which was my fault. It had always been my dream to steal Toby’s dream (of going to Thailand and becoming a diver). But it’s never quite that easy, is it? Not when you’re me, at any rate.

So, this is the story of what happened while I was trying to pursue that dream – and, of course, what happened when I finally achieved it. (That’s where it gets a bit messy…

I do hope you have a look, and enjoy it, and say lots of nice things about it to your friends and family! But I fully understand if you don’t buy it. Or if you buy it, and hate it. Or if you borrow a friend’s copy and feel kind of ‘meh’. It happens.

And as you all know, I LOVE feedback of any sort. So if a waffley bit bores you or offends you – please do let me know! I always see my stuff as a work-in-progress, and I’ve made several corrections in my first book based on what readers have told me.

If it’s not very good – you can help me make it better!

Because I’ve been working on it for a year, and to be honest I’m getting quite sick of it… :0)

Enjoy!

And from the bottom of my heart, thank-you – all of you – for reading my stuff. I LITERALLY couldn’t be doing this if it wasn’t for you!

And to celebrate that fact, I have decided NOT to put a picture of my bottom on this blog post. You see? I do do requests… :0)

End Of The World Sale!

Apocalypse forecast

Well, we’re all going to die tomorrow!

So in the spirit of ‘Must End At Midnight!’ –  I thought, I’d have a little sale to celebrate it.

(At this juncture I’d like to point out AGAIN, that the ancient Mayans never made any sort of doomsday prophecy about the end of their calendar. I’d say it only ends when it does because the guy doing the calculations got bored, or ran out of paper, or dropped dead in his Cornflakes. Or all three.)

Mayan Calendar Joke

Anyway, here in the western world, the most important thing to do when The End Is Nigh is, of course, to buy stuff. Shop ‘til you drop, people!

Y’see? Capitalism DOES work.

So, I’m having a ‘Whole-Planet-Is-Going-Out-Of-Business’ sale – by reducing the eBook of ‘That Bear Ate My Pants!’ to 99c/99p.

So if you know ANYONE who still hasn’t grabbed a copy – and I mean ANYONE! – now’s their chance! I probably won’t put it on sale again, because I’ve done it a few times already, it involves a boatload of hard work, and, well, we’ll all be dead anyway.

Rumour has it that Book Two is very nearly ready for mass consumption.* Don’t miss out – read Book One first, or you won’t have a bloody clue what’s going on when you get to the second one. Hell, I don’t, and I wrote the damn thing…

Here then, are the links to ‘That Bear Ate My Pants!’ on Amazon:

UK: ‘That Bear Ate My Pants!’ on Amazon.co.uk

US and Rest Of World: ‘That Bear Ate My Pants!’ on Amazon.com

And as always, reviews are VERY gratefully received! Even if you read the thing six months ago, and never quite got around to reviewing it – honestly, there’s no time like the present! Of course there isn’t. The world is going to end tomorrow.

Oh, deary me. Aren’t we going to look foolish when we wake up on December 22nd? Particularly those of us who went to bed in a full radiation suit and night-vision goggles…

And no, that’s not me. What, you think I can afford night-vision goggles? I will, of course, be wearing my R2D2 onesie.

:0)

Sleep tight!

 

*Rumours that it is, in fact, already available, are almost entirely unfounded. So there’s absolutely no point in looking for it. At all.

*** NEWSFLASH *** NEWSFLASH *** NEWSFLASH ***

Fear not, faithful readers! There IS news in here, but no flash – so, no animation that upsets your iPad, no strobing photography, and no pictures of my arse.

Okay, maybe one picture of my arse.

But the point is – I have NEWS!

This week I had an exciting delivery. Several actually, which is one of the benefits of buying all your own Christmas presents – no, don’t feel sad! Trust me – it’s better this way. I get exactly what I want, and friends are over-rated anyway, and… and… *sniff*

Um, where was I? Oh yes. A delivery.

I received the FIRST EVER PAPERBACK COPY of my book ‘That Bear Ate My Pants!’

paperback copy in package

Now, I was tempted to do a proof copy unboxing video, like the very awesome, uber-succesful indie author Hugh Howey does for his amazing ‘WOOL’ books.

(NB – if you haven’t bought the WOOL books already, you’re freakin’ crazy. Go get them ALL – right NOW. No! I meant after you finish reading my blog p… oh, what’s the point. You’ve gone already, haven’t you?)

Echo…?

ECHO…

But. No video. Because I’m too damn ugly. Plus I’ve spent the last week pulling 18 hour days trying to get my second book edited, so I’d look like hell even if I wasn’t damn ugly.

Instead, here is a pretty picture – of the book itself!

Paperback copy

Oooh! See, I told you it was pretty!

Here’s a less-pretty picture of what happened to me last night during the editing process. I nipped to the toilet, and when I came back to my computer the ENTIRE FILE of Book 2 had been overwritten with bold asterisks?!?!

Screen shot of computer error

If I hadn’t just been to the loo, I’d have shit myself on the spot.

To cut a long story short, my trusty MacBook had spazzed out – probably because I haven’t turned him off in the last three months – and he was fine again after a reset. The document, however, was ruined, and I had to find my most recent back-up (from the night before) and re-do all that day’s edits.

So remember kids – ALWAYS back-up!

If I hadn’t, they’d be talking me down from the top of a tall building right now.

Anyway, before this gets too long, let me reiterate: ‘That Bear Ate My Pants!’ is now available in paperback! So for all those technophobes in your life, who refused to read it no matter how much you whined at them – now’s the chance! Get one for Christmas. If nothing else, the paperback version makes considerably better fuel for the fire than the electronic one…

Hm. I might start an ad campaign based on that. Buy my book – burn it – save a pensioner! (From the cold of course. I’m not suggesting you normally burn pensioners…)

Burn my book - save pensioners!Sorry! I’ve got lost again. Oh yeah. Buy my book! Because at long last, it’s a real book :0)

Amazon US: ‘That Bear Ate My Pants!’ Paperback

Amazon UK: ‘That Bear Ate My Pants!’ Paperback

And now that’s all done, I hate to leave a promise unfulfilled. So we might as well end on the bottom; literally, metaphorically, and in terms of tone. Not that it is particularly toned…

My bum!

Oh, sorry! I meant to say: Look away now if you’ve got a weak stomach. Too late now, I guess…  :0)

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