Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Pour ceux qui n'aiment pas lire (Gui)

He was rather scruffy

A 30-year old man gets off the bus in Liverpool and is simply awed at the grand buildings there, built with giant yellow stones, blackened with age. Statues perched on tall columns greet him with a symbolic gesture. The streets are larger than the claustrophobic Manchester and are lined with small cafes. A visit to legendary band The Beatles museum, not immortalised in statue but rather in music. A short stop in a tiny book store filed to the brim and tended by a grey, aged man, locked in conversation with his friend, about the fact that apparently people in California pay a ridiculous amount of money for old books.

The next morning, the traveler exits the hostel he was staying in at quite an earlier hour, for a symphony of snorers kept him up all night. He roams the waterfront and finds a quiet spot nearby where a piano sits outside, unattended. The passersby are not too interested in the object and stay the course, intended on getting to work on time. Calmly, a man that looks in his early 70s, sharply dressed in dark blue suit, sits down and warms up his fingers.

He proceeds to play what must be his whole repertoire, an impromptu concert lasting close to half an hour. When done, he gets up calmly, with a smile on his face, and walks away slowly. Startled by the stranger standing up and clapping, this scruffy traveler that silently watched, he turns around and with a wave of the hand accepts the ovation.

The traveler starts roaming once more until his tired feet bring him to a museum where he spends some time, half learning, half dreaming up medieval stories of his own.

The man, days later, feels himself becoming a boy once more, as him and his friends walk in ancient castles, visit rooms where kings and knights once walked and dined. He feels a deep sentiment of satisfaction, as if an urge that gnawed at him his whole life finally let go. The boy within the man drinks and eats with his friends, trying to remember every moment of this rare time, for his friends come from a land far away and their meetings are sparse and short.

Enjoying beers and laughter over the Tymes river, he smiles.

A day later, the boy within the man discovers that it is possible to fall in love at first sight, he who has over the years built himself a castle to defend against such assaults of the heart. He falls in love not with a woman, but with a city called Edinburgh.

He spends time with her, drinking in her beauty, listening to her story. After a day away to neighboring Glasgow, he is infinitely happy to be reunited with her and despite his battered legs he walks uphill to the royal street to gaze longingly at her.

The boy, arched over his tablet, writes these words sullenly, for he knows that tomorrow he must leave her for a long time, maybe forever.

The lady called Edinburgh does not pretend to be moved or even touched. Many are her suitors.

The boy feels tired, and the grizzled traveler picks him up, brings him up high for him to see the horizon and all they have left to see.

The boy nods, and smiles.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Right, cheers mate!

I'm sitting at a nondescript wooden table in the kitchen of Hatters Hostel in Manchester. There is also a common room and a tv room but everyone is getting smashed in those, the kitchen is the quietest place - I'm feeling anti-social tonight and don't feel like mingling. I can hear drunk people outside though, from the pub next door...

So far in my travels almost every country boasts that they are a nation of drinkers. England sure enjoys its golden nectar!

The day after arriving in Leeds our traveling trio got in a white van (apparently the guys driving these have the same reputation as our pick-up drivers, construction workers so we pretended to be "hard" for a while) and drove to a place called Gargrave, maybe an hour away from Leeds. The scenery of brick or stone houses and shops quickly gave way to running green hills, old stone walls separating grazing fields full of sheep and holy fleur de lys was it ever pretty.

This was a week ago and I'm still not used to that sight. Absolutely beautiful.

That day was spent making sure the wedding preparations were going smoothly (setting up a tipi, amongst other things) and driving around the country side. Jenny and Ben seemed afraid I would get bored but the trekk turned into a crash course of England customs, with tea, pork pie, fish n chips, beer, and more beer.

Over the course of the week leading up to the wedding I visited the Leeds city museum (which was free) and enjoyed more pints.

The wedding in question was ridiculously fun and I dare say, magical. The backdrop to the ceremony was a nice English stone B&B, and the celebration itself was in a giant tipi (dance floor, disco ball, fire place, elk pelts), the tipi itself in a field full of sheep grazing on a hill, with a line of tents that looked like Mongolian yurts as accommodation for some guests.


Topped with a visit from our Irish Don Det friend, Ben and Jen looking ridiculously nice, a night sky lit up with countryside starlight and a horde of festive Brits...

(A special thank you to the family of the newly married for being ridiculously nice and warm)

When the Beerlao and Kraken rum started doing their work I decided that I would forgo the B&B room so generously provided to me by the hosts to sleep by the fire under a pile of elk pelts, joined by Shaun the Irishman (true to tradition he did not sleep on a mattress)!

The next morning I nursed a hangover by a field, observing sheep community life and realising that there was absolutely none, just a gathering of absent minded dumbies constantly grazing, and I decided one and for all that I did not feel bad about eating them (except lamb, eating babies is weird).

Since then I've been in Doncaster, where a north Irishman got me hammered.

I've been to beautiful York (the ORIGINAL one), with its ancient streets, Roman column, medieval pubs, cathedral, city walls and hilarious Viking museum (including an automated ride taking you through a recreated medieval York with a few robots, one of which was shown on the privy behind a short wooden fence, it's facial expression forever locked in anal agony - a nice touch).

I've also enjoyed a night out in Leeds with Ben and since we're basically the same person he took me straight to this 300 year-old pub hidden in a small alley with pic-nic tables. It was called the Turk's Head and I've seen a bunch of them named so since then... don't know why they like to decapitate Turks yet. The inside was once again awesome comparing to maybe the Old Dublin back home but with more leather benches and less light. We also went to this geek bar where they had a X-Wing arcade (one pilot, one gunner) and we were playing two young men arrived, one dressed as Skywalker and one as Solo! I SWEAR! There also was a Street Fighter arcade but when you start playing it becomes King of Fighters?

Today was quite a hectic day, I arrived in Manchester with my small backpack and shitty shoes and went straight to the Manchester museum (free admission) where I saw a T-Rex skeleton - childhood dream! - and their impressive collection of taxidermy animals and skulls.I then proceeds to walk to the Manchester United stadium... took me about an hour! Last time I tell myself "it looks close on the map".

I got the picture but didn't go in (I know) because my feet were absolutely killing me and I only had 30 minutes left to get the last admission to the Imperial War Museum (free admission, again!) which was close by. Thinking back, I wish I had gone in! Boo to physical pain and cheap shoes and making excuses to myself.

Took the tramway to my hostel and I did NOT get lost, enjoyed all the brick buildings that reminds me a lot of the Brooklyn you see in the movies, got some ok food and got lost again, after spending 3 hours organising my upcoming trip to Scotland.

The girls have just finished singing spice girls in the street to give way to a live musician trying too hard.The air is nice and fresh coming in through the window and my Carlsberg is going down quite nicely. Taking it easy tonight, tomorrow is Liverpool!

Last thing: nobody looks at each other in the eyes on the street here, guy or girl. In Montreal I always gaze at people and say hi with my eyebrows or wink randomly but here they avert their eyes instantly... except one guy in York who was pretty drunk, this sort barrel chested man with faded tattoos on his forearms. I smiled and he did not seem to appreciate so I looked away...

Enjoying everything but more excited about the weekend coming up, Jenny and Ben are spoiling me... Gonna check another box of my childhood dream list!