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Posts Tagged ‘Welcome to Nigel’s Life’

So yesterday, as technically this is posted on the 30th, was my birthday. I turned 46.

I have absolutely no idea why this number, out of all of them, was so utterly soul-destroying but, nevertheless, I had a mid-life crisis of confidence of epic proportions, which I shan’t bother you with nor with the fall out.

Let’s just say I wish it was easy to solve by buying a Porsche.

The problem was though, on top of all this which was crushing anyway, my birthday was just crap. Had it been any other day, it would have been crap. As it was my birthday, it was mega crap.

All my family (bar one) are overseas; all of my friends bailed on me with our plans for the day; I got two birthday cards, one of which was from my mortgage broker.

When my plans for seeing people all fell through, I spent the day trying to find a laundrette that specialises in cleaning dunas.  I’m sure I didn’t dream that there was a special washing/ dryer machine in the laundrettes especially for the cleaning and fluffing of dunas.

The nice thing was going to my brother’s for birthday dinner and getting my most awesome birthday cake, as decorated by my three-year old buzzing-on-sugar niece. In case you want to repeat it, it’s a mandarin cake with orange icing as you can never have too much citrus. The sprinkles are lovingly thrown on in a seemingly random, yet abstract art like, manner. You can never have enough sprinkles, either.

She has skills.

It could have been worse. Could have been a Jehovah’s Witness. Not even birthday cake then….

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OK, here we go again. I’ll keep saving this time. If it doesn’t work God does not want me to tell you this story.

So as you know I lost my luggage. Here then is the story of that fateful Saturday and really, truly, what I went through.

OK so first thing you need to remember is …. still sick. Seriously that guy did a number on me and have another blog in me about how ill I am as I think I may have turned into the walking dead and they forgot to tell me. For the moment, just know that I cannot walk anywhere without sweating buckets. There’s more but it can wait.

We are catching the bus from Disneyland Paris Hotel to Charles De Gaulle Airport at 2 pm on Saturday. As my parents are rapidly aging before my eyes, this means, in their mind, that we have to be there an hour early so as not to miss the bus. Thus it is my parents are at the Disneyland Hotel waiting for the 2 pm bus at 1pm. Even the bag carriers at Disneyland are confused as to why they are there and come out and ask them if they want their bags moved yet.  The porters look confused when you say your bus isn’t there for an hour.

Eventually the bus does arrive and takes us for the 90 minute trip to Charles De Gaulle. When we get there the driver, who happens to be Asian and doesn’t speak English or French successfully, leaves all the customers to get their luggage from the hold. It is a free for all. It is conceivable at this point someone took my luggage here. Now my father is getting the luggage from the hold. Why am I not doing this? My parents have propped their luggage smack bang in the centre of the entrance to the airport and are being abused by the French. Probably a good thing not to know French at this point. I’m moving the luggage from the doorway as the luggage is pulled off. We pile the luggage on the trolley and there is too much for the one trolley and it all collapses onto the floor. So we’re distracted and there is no actual recognition that my bag is missing yet.

I am drenched in sweat and decide on the long walk to the British Airways desk that I need to clean myself up in the toilet. I go to the toilet for big jobs when a tidal wave of diarrhea comes spilling under the cubicle next door. There comes a French voice from next door apologising, I presume, but I could not question him as to why he was unable to use the bowl. Instead I skeedaddle holding my breath before the tide hits my feet.

We get to the checking for British Airways and the check in lady requests that we show her our hand luggage. THEN we realise the bag is missing. And then it all kicks off.

My Dad immediately becomes “sick”. Certainly while it was my Dad not getting the case from the hold that caused this, I don’t blame him for the loss of luggage. Even if it wasnt for the fact that the bus driver should have been getting everyone’s luggage, it was a mistake. An annoying mistake that has impacted severely on me but a mistake nevertheless. Certainly I was annoyed but not angry that the bag had been misplaced. However Dad decides at this point that he is ill.  When my Dad is ill he speaks…. really…. slowly….. and…… sounds…….. as…… though…… it…… is….. a….. struggle….. to……. speak.

This is not annoying AT ALL. So we try to sort out my Dad at the same time as somehow work out how to contact the bus company and get the bag back.  My Dad sits down and recovers (not quite sure from what) while I try to work out the phone systems in France.  My mother goes off to try to find the bus company details.  I honestly was doing the phones ok as the phone insturctions were in both languages however, for some reason, I could not get the phones to work. Not even close.

Dad…… is……ok…. and the plane is beginning to board. I go off to find my mother who has disappeared off the face of the earth.  I am running through the airport trying to find her or an intercom system that could contact her.  By this time, as you will recall, Charles De Gaulle Airport is VERY long indeed and I am swimming in sweat. After about twenty minutes of searching I find my mother who has gotten a phone number off someone where I can contact the bus company. The number is 17 digits long. I have no idea which country I would be ringing if I used it. I did know that the country code was not France at the very least.

So we make a plan to contact the bus company once we are in the London. We go to the plane and Dad…. is……still….. really….. sick…. and so I am carrying the luggage. We get to the plane and the air stewardess welcomes my Dad onto the plane.  My Dad immediately recovers and, normal voice, thanks her and bounds down the aisle.

At which point I could kill him.

My computer was dying and I had no way of recharging it.  I wrote the entry that upset everyone at the end of that day. I tried to  use the hotel television internet to keep in contact but it was insanely annoying. It would take me fifteen minutes to write a sentence. I was going to kick the television in. I bought the cord for my computer when it became clear I was not going to find my case.

The problem with this situation is that it is the gift that keeps on keeping on. I know my Dad is not to blame however he couldn’t have shafted me more if he tried.

In my case was

500 GBP

400 USD

300 AUD

my camera (and data card… that really annoys me)

My laptop power cable

My iPhone power cable

My Mobile phone power cable

My bitching jacket (arrrggh)

My Electric toothbrush

A mug from Disneyland Paris

five packets of tim tams

2 packets of licorice bullets

Trey’s laptop bag

My receipts for the trip thus far

My professional tourist trap photos of me at Disneyland

Tragically there is probably more but the joy of losing stuff is remembering bits you’ve lost as you go along.  So it can be annoying one more time.

And so my stay in London was a complete loss. I spent the time in my hotel room charging up huge bills to try to contact both Disneyland Paris and the VEA bus company. Waiting for people to call back who didn’t. I managed to go to The Mousetrap and the Doctor Who exhibition but that was it. I’ve checked the insurance policy and there is a clause they wont cover computer/ camera gear lost in the cargo hold of transport. I’m not sure if they will cover this at all.

I’ve contacted the Bus company for their loss of content policies and havent heard anything yet nor do I suppose I will. I will battle with the insurance company. I have spent my time trying to replace items, such as the phone and computer power cords. It’s all been a big pain in the arse really.

I would suggest people do not use the VEA bus company should they travel from or to Disneyland Paris or the airport. The company was, in my opinion, incompetent in addressing this issue. I lost the case on Saturday. I wasn’t informed that they could not find it until Wednesday. I remain waiting for response to my request for clarification of their missing items policy.

Ah well, not to worry. Things are replaced and no one was hurt. I am just over it. One more in a long round of being shafted. Oh well. Tomorrow the Doctor Who Exhibition which will be far more jolly.

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Those Wacky French

Yesterday was what we refer to in the mental health business as A Bugger, thank you very much full moon.  So I am blaming that for the incredible Nigel moment that I had.

As explained yesterday I am attempting …. attempting being the operative word… to get my parents from Zürich to Marne-la-Vallee Chessy (amongst other tasks but this took forever).  On paper the train from Zürich arrives at  Gare De l’Est  and to get the train to Marne-la-Vallee Chessy one needs to get to the Les Halles Station  (trust me, you do) and carry on to Disneyland Paris on the A4 line.

This is indeed lovely but, for the life of me, I could not work out how you got from Gare De l’Est to Les Halles. In fact, on paper, Gare De l’Est existed in a twilight zone part of Paris that wasnt connected to anything, despite it having a heavy internet presence and being one of THE major connection points in France.

I spent HOURS (accumatively between calls) trying to work out how this existed in relation to a station that on paper looked as though you could skip there. Take a look and you do better. A clue: it’s right next to Gare du Nord.

Not there is it.

Nope. Somehow my parents were arriving at  a train station that Paris refused to acknowledge existed let alone connect them to something they could go and see Mickey Mouse on. I scoured the internet for AGES. AGES and AGES. And then the stunningly simple penny dropped.

There are two maps for two services.

It is no wonder everyone hates the French.*

*I don’t really. It is true what they say about French lovers.

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Well that was lovely.

Last night was super-duper special. Whenever I mention “something is just so” or “I am enjoying this because” I jinx myself and it all goes pear-shaped. Thus it was I said this summer had been quite mild which indeed it had, all things considered. We haven’t had last year’s unending weeks of weather over 105°F, for example. (See, I’ve just jinxed myself there.) However the last few days have been just peachy with the weather yesterday hitting 110°F during the day and plummeting to the icy depths of 84° F/29°C overnight. I have been becoming psychotic.

Summer is bearable as long as you can sleep. I loathe summer but as long as I am cool enough to get some decent rest, I can cope with it without becoming too mentally ill. Though that’s debatable too, I guess.

The only way to do this is to have the air conditioners going at max, preferably two, one under each armpit. I am amazed at people who don’t need the air con on when it is this hot. Future Wife no 1 is such a person. God forbid if you turn the air conditioner on in these people’s presence, as then they get “too cold” and I have to murder them with a machete.  I will have the air conditioner running 24/7 when it is hot. Sod the electricity bill, don’t care as long as I am comfortable.

Until the power goes off. Then I am (rhymes with ducked).

I’m currently at my parents house as the air conditioner in my place has been on the blink for forever and I am at war with air conditioning company (another blog). Yesterday the mythical electricity generator blew somewhere in the local area  due to  over demand and the neighbourhood  was without power, air conditioning, lights, all the mod cons.

As is often the way when you have Nigel’s life, the exact same time you need to use your phone, both mobile and landline, is the time when both phones need charging. Clearly this is a genetic thing as my parents had the same. So without phones or computers we toughed it out in what was quite a long night (a very, very long night) without power. I had been at my friend’s house initially then he got too cold. His body is under the steps but don’t tell anyone.

In fact the power came on about 5 in the am, by which time I was a puddle on the bed and completely heat struck. You know it’s hot when you shower yourself with cold water, don’t bother to towel yourself and you are dry by the time you walk from the bathroom to bedroom. I slept I am sure but it was broken and sweaty and uncomfortable and disgusting. I feel washed out, as you do after heat sleep.  It is all I can do now to stay awake.

I am tempted to buy a generator. I wouldn’t know how to use it but having access to electricity when you need to cool yourself down and answer your friend’s emails would be considerably useful. I am not fond of generators though. Every horror film I have seen has a generator that doesn’t work or is turned off by the killer and people get murdered when they go to turn them on again. I’m not sure I should risk that.

Oh Lord I am rambling. I hope that was coherent. People shouldn’t be allowed near blogs when they have heat stroke.

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As you know if you are a faithful reader of this blog, and welcome if you are not, I am heading off to the UK before June, now pinned down to the End Of March/the Beginning Of April, for my parent’s 50th Wedding Anniversary.

Normally when it comes to travel I have booked months in advance however this time it has snuck up on me. Normally I take advantage of specials by booking suitably far in advance however, this time, not to be.

Except!

Adelaide has a Travel Expo on this weekend. I was pleased at the coincidence and held off on booking last week in anticipation of the deals available at the Expo. Having had experience of Expos before, I know it is first come first served in terms of the limited amount of sweeteners they have to entice people through the door. With that in mind I was determined to be there when the doors opened and grab the first deal. My Mater wanted to come to as she  had some questions about the traveling her and Pater were about to embark on.

It is being held at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre so the event, for those who do not know, would be huge. We arrived and managed to get the most amazing car park right next to the door. Hardly anyone was in the car park yet we were so early.

Two weeks early as it turned out.

I am not sure how my brain managed it, perhaps wishful thinking, but when I looked at the advertisement for the Expo on the web page it said that it was on 30th – 31st of January. And yet when I looked today on the computer, after the fact, the gremlins had been in and rearranged the date to 19th – 20th February. And yet, had you asked me to swear on my nephew’s lives, I would have happily done so knowing that the expo was this weekend. Sorry Nephews….

After my mother stopped laughing she rang my Dad who offered to bring down the camping gear for us to camp out so we didn’t miss the start. It is good to know my being a smartarse is a hereditary thing.

So here is a picture of the extravaganza in waiting. I had to wait half an hour for the advert to return to the electronic display. I was talking to Tony when it happened and had to hang up on him as I didn’t want to wait another half hour.

Nope. Not gonna miss that. Thanks advertisement.

And here’s the throng of people vying to get into the building.

I am not sure how I managed this. As I said, I was completely convinced of it being today. I refuse to believe I am at fault. The universe rearranged itself to make me look foolish and does so often. I understand realising this universe is after me  indicates that I may be an idiot savant.

I suspect one of those words is correct.

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Concluding the positives of 2010 then, from yesterday.

Dead Eye Dick

I have been chatting to Ray online for a good ten years now. Excellent lad and we get on well unless you discuss two issues which we have agreed to disagree on. George W Bush and Gun control in America. So it amused me greatly that I thought I should put my money where my mouth is and see what all this gun fuss is about. So off we went to a shooting range and it amused me even more that I was a good shot. Really good. Especially good when you consider I’ve never shot anything more than a pop gun before. I smelt of gun powder for days. We still disagree about gun control though.

A Completely Magic Weekend in Cardiff.

Ok so going out on the gay scene was like playing spot the person not dressed like it’s still the 80’s however,  other than that, the weekend in Cardiff was epic. Firstly Cardiff is beautiful and one of the places in the world I could see myself living. Secondly it houses (sadly now defunct) an amazing Doctor Who Exhibition which was completely and utterly brilliant, he said, his geek flag flying.

And finally it was the site of the most surreal day of exploration, all to see the shrine for a dead character in an average television series. Most people visiting whom were Ianto’s Shrine were like me, bemused and intrigued. You could tell the true fan though as they were already crying as they approached. People were crying as they put up poems etc on the shrine. Kissing the poems.  Weeping more. It was most delightful and amusing to my blacker than soot  sense of humour. Evidently the shrine still continues, so if you want the most delightful day out, to witness what people with too much time on their hands get up to, this is the place for you.

The Best Morning Ever

This

Burned into my memory, those mornings.

Home

There is this weird sensation when you go somewhere and you know you’re meant to be there. Never knew that until this year. And it’s like everything falls into place.  Nothing is easy though.  Welcome to my life.

Best Till Last

I was hesitant to put a person as the best thing of last year, largely as its rather personal and hopefully not too embarrassing. However there was no denying the reality. All in all, if you asked me to define one event that was continuously delightful in 2010; whether it was from daily tie pictures or 6 am videochat soul-searching or email tag or constantly nattering throughout each day or blubbing over the tele  or being taught so, so many things, it was the growing and amazing friendship with Wesley. When I did a list of the best things that happened to me last year, he was at the centre of most of them. In the spirit of the best of companions, I have learnt so much from him already and have so much more to learn. Hopefully this is a two-way street.

So GM, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your friendship and love this year. I look forward to years of our new, really old bond, wherever that may be. As ever, I got your back.

And it’s pronounced Mah Crah May.

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Happy 2011

I hope you had a fun/ peaceful/ eventful in the right ways start to the New Year.

I  was going to write a piece about my new years resolutions and how I never keep them ( and I probably will still do that tomorrow) but I am really over it right now. No one is around, everyone is doing their New Years recovery so I shall do the same.

I will divulge a Vanstone tradition/ superstition on the way out though.  We Vanstones are a very superstitious lot. (This comes from my Gran, God rest her soul, who had a litany of superstitions she practiced. While I logically know these superstitions are silly, out of respect for her I still observe them.)

Essentially you cannot wash your clothes on New Years Day less you wash a relative away (ie a relative will die).  Now my family has practiced this all my life and my grandparents before them. I looked up on the internet where this came from but no clue there. Logically I know it makes no sense either.

However, my sister-in-law firmly believes that the whole thing is codswallop and, in a flagrant act of  living on the edge and flaunting her disbelief,  she has deliberately washed her family’s clothes  on New Years Day.

My mother is looking at funeral plans for herself.

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The Bird

So I am minding my own business at work ( for those coming in late I work alone at night on a telephone crisis line). The colleague I have replaced hands over and goes home. When I arrived she had the door open to allow fresh air in. I am a big fan of fresh air however we have not been allowed a screen  door on this doorway (as it will upset the air conditioning or some rot ) so I close the door so as not to spend the evening with a thousand bugs.  This is important. I close the door at 2030.

I also close the one other door to the hallway for the night. My theory being if a killer comes in at least I will hear either door open so I can be aware and terrified before I am killed as opposed to not knowing it’s gonna happen…. hmmmm, wait a second…..

So I am sitting in essentially a closed room all night, other than when I go to the bathroom down the hallway, and am minding my own business. I go to the bathroom at 6 in the morning and there on the floor, in front of the door to the hallway is a bird. Quiet, head under its wing, not moving.

I assume it’s dead and get something to pick it up and it scares the bejesus out of me by moving its wings. It clearly is a very sick bird and I have no idea what to do with it. So,  when in doubt, ask. Fascinatingly the first person who I think will know what to do and who will be awake is Wesley who I try to call but end up texting cos the phone line doesn’t want to work for me for some reason.

Now stop a moment to marvel at this. In a situation of which I am unsure, the person I am able to rely on lives in the US AND I am able to contact him incredibly easily. This is the most incredible age. Ten years ago I would have sent him an air mail and waited a few weeks for him to respond.

While I wait for his reply I remember that one of the security guards  is a complete Grizzly Adams and would be able to care for the bird. I ring security but the person I am thinking of isn’t on shift tonight. However, I am told, another one of the security lads also takes in stray birds who need getting back to health. (Why do all these security guards take in stray birds? Is it a sideline?). He will come around and take a look.

Wesley writes back with some sound advice and I do as he suggests. The security lads come to see the my poor bird and deem him to be “stuffed”  (I also thought that was probably the case as the bird must have been in the room with me all night and didn’t make a peep.  It was clearly dying a long time.) 

One of the security lads takes the bird away to ‘take care of’ the ‘stuffed’ bird.  I am not sure what taking care of it entailed and I am sure I do not want to know either. He brings me back the empty box though which was thoughtful. Sheesh.

I dread to think what they do with the birds they take home.

So, there you go. Poor Bird. Evidently it was one of those bastard birds that swoop at you as you walk so I am not as upset as I probably should be.

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with apologies to John Denver

All my bags are packed (to the brim!!!!) I’m ready to Go (as long as I dont pay excess luggage – bastards)

Im standing here outside your door  ( no, no problems there – barged the door down and woke you up and told you to feed the dogs)

I’d hate to wake you up to say goodbye (well Im leaving in 8 hours Still Im preemptive)

But the dawn is breakin’ It’s early morn (It’s going to snow. It’s going to fricking snow. I am fricking leaving and today is the day it snows. I LOVE snow. I am so, so, so, so, so annoyed and I don’t think Wesley realised I had such a colourful vocabulary. Welcome to Nigel’s fricking life!)

The taxi’s waitin’ he’s blowing his horn (yeah, that part aint true. Late afternoon flight and Wesley is dropping me off. Some artistic licence here)

Already I’m so lonesome I could die (that’s a really good line, cuts like a knife)

So kiss me and smile for me (if you don’t weep buckets, you’re gonna be in so much trouble! lol)

Tell me that you’ll wait for me (so not an issue.  An aside: the very first time I heard this played was with my friend Robert Debenham and I was eight. He played this for me on his guitar. An easy song to learn I guess. I knew I was different after that song)

Hold me like you’ll never let me go (ok, that one cut like a knife too)

Cause I’m leaving ona jet plane (please don’t crash, please don’t crash, please don’t crash)

Don’t know when I’ll be back again ( this is true. The lap of the gods is a big one)

Oh baby, I hate to go (ouch)

To everyone invloved in my most excellent holiday, old and new friends alike, thank you for a fabulous time. You know who you are. Love you. Please don’t let it be too long before we can hug again.

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Big night and day, I’m packing like a mad thing AND will take pics of my thing of beauty suitcase.  In the meantime here’s some random thoughts been jotting down:

Things I have learnt since being here (and that I haven’t blogged about yet. At least, as far as my Alzheimer’s memory allows).

Macaroni and Cheese is a vegetable here. Think that through.

If people raise their eyes or look disdainful (in what, in Australia would be deemed as annoyance), this is them being playful and not being hurtful (despite the clear contrast in the body language which only southerners get, I guess.) I spent the first fortnight here thinking I was pissing everyone off but now… evidently the opposite. (Seriously this was insane. I felt so awful and I still struggle with it. When I rule America this is changing.)

Crossing the road is a challenge here, almost in the same league as toilets. I merrily step onto the road thinking the path is clear, while looking the other way and almost get bowled over. Traffic lights give you how many seconds you have to cross the road which is a Godsend.  People therefore feel they have the right to zoom off over you if you still cross the street after the countdown has ended. After all, you have been warned.

The red hand at traffic lights intersections means stop. The white walking man means go. If you wear sunglasses this is tricky to see. Walking across the road at the incorrect time  as cars try to kill you and yelling at them “I have an accent” is not helpful.

People do not walk here unless they are homeless. I walked back from the shops today and I was alone on the street except for homeless people and mothers jogging while pushing their babies in prams. The babies were screaming their heads off as they were presumably having such fun however the mothers all had iPods so only I could hear their children’s wails.

Do not be surprised after asking a question to receive uh huh as a response. Uh -huh ( pronounced with ten uhs and twenty huhs and in a southern drawl) can mean anything from” I understand your question and I am seeking to answer it” to ” Have you considered leaving my face and taking your questions elsewhere?” to “If it weren’t for the fact I am southern i would be whipping your ass right now”. there is an emphasis on the uh that indicates  how close to death you are.

Everyone is uptight here, especially shop assistants. I think there is some type of big brother god standing over shop clerks that shocks them with electricity if they do not ask me how my day was. One woman looked visibly fearful after she mentioned I had bought a few items at the Hallmark Shop (where I had presented her with  8 Christmas ornaments that are kitsch with a capital K). She kept looking over her shoulder  in case anyone had heard her. I reassured her I had found her humour amusing and she visibly relaxed and stopped sweating. And the tic in her eye stopped twitching.

Fast food here is an art form. And there are seas and seas of it.  The food is high calorific crap as everywhere however the presentation is inspiring.You feel as though you are failing the world if you don’t eat their products. I will do a blog about that soon.

I do not understand American health insurance systems. Nor, I think,  do Americans. I’ve had it explained to me repeatedly and the sheer inequity of it is flabberghasting.

I write these blogs, publish them once, look at them online then make multiple, multiple corrections. I am not sure if people who get these posts emailed to them get the finished, refined versions of the first, flawed-till-it-hurts entries. I also don’t know if you get pictures.

It is going to snow on the day I leave here. This is typical. I love snow and would kill to see it.  It will start five seconds after I take off.  Welcome to my life.

Frieda has naturally curly hair.

 

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