Thursday, 31 December 2009

Happy New Year...

I am an archaeologist by training. Yes, I know it is long way from filming/night bussing, but it is a passion of mine. I find the history of humanity fascinating, the intertwining of cultures a gem to behold and the similarities more astonishing than the differences. It is probably why I love the beat of traveling so much, as it not only satisfies my curiosity but it also allows me to widen my own knowledge.

But yes, it is the similarities between different people of different parts of the world that astonishes me. No matter where you go in the world, children sound exactly the same when they are playing and the old folks too. It is just us, those that are in between, the 'adults', the 'responsible ones' that seem different. But to be honest, we are not really all that different.

We all need water, then food and then a place to toilet. Next comes decent sleep, warmth then cleanliness. Afterwards sex. Trust me, that is human needs, in exactly the order your body needs it. Take away our creature comforts, our twitter accounts and fast food joints and these basic needs drive us all. And we are ingenious. Sometimes it angers me when I hear that aliens from outer space built the Pyramids or gave us technology. I prefer to trust the human mind and the sheer complexity that it holds. And as the world's population increases, the more complex as a species we become and the better we are at everything. Even looking back twenty years ago, how much smaller the world is, how easy it is to communicate with different people, in different languages. Despite the policies of isolationism, we are stronger as a whole rather than one.

That is not to say that we are not brutal beings. It is in our blood, and part of being ingenious also requires a bloodthirsty edge. It is what has given us, unremarkable and weak bipedal apes from Africa, a chance in this world where everything else is bigger, faster or better adapted to its environment than we are. But it is this ingenuity, coupled with our fantastic social skills that has allowed us to colonise the entire globe. Oh, and the fact that humans will just about eat anything available. Trust me on this...

A new year, a new decade is upon us. And yes, from a personal point of view it has been a lousy year. Sure, I have had some great holidays and a fantastic time on the radio, but the filming has sucked. However there are two ways I can go with this life. One is downward into a cycle of misery and depression, getting bitter at the world. The other is to pick myself up and dust myself down. Well, I choose life, but that is not to say that I am uninjured; spiritually, it will take time to recover from the dog's dinner of a year that 2009 has been. But I have to rely on the ingenuity of humanity, of which I am a part of, to make my life, my brief existence on this planet, a better one for myself. Happy New Year everyone! And here's to 2010...

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Seven Dials

Another brief blog. Was wandering around Seven Dials yesterday (do not ask) when I saw this:



So to all and sundry who read this blog, I hope you have enjoyed the Christmas period so far!

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

What holiday?

My body clock wants to cry.

Normal service will be resumed, shortly.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Turkey Haiku

Turkey on the plate.
It used to be my best mate.
That's until I ate.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Boxing Day Pleasure...

Well, that was it. Church (no fit chicks), turkey (dry and tasteless), TV (boring) and so another end to Christmas.

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Wow, it was amazing! Great gifts, fun family, fantastic food!

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But now it is Boxing Day. London will awake from its slumber today and get back down to business. Whatever that is. Or wherever they may go.

It is weird to see Europe's biggest city devoid of life. Suddenly it is possible to traverse the city in an hour! There are few shops open and in fact, you can get a glimpse of what the city would look like if the stone age hit and a lot of people died off.

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To be honest, it was great to catch up on some funky tv. Yes, all five hours of it! Well, it is nice to switch off for a while...

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A but of an event though. Family, friction and frolics.

I frolic too much, don't I.

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Honestly, I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and let's look forward to 2010!

Friday, 25 December 2009

London Diary (9)

(Considering it is Christmas, this is a controversial story to write, but this one has been playing on my mind for a while... remember, this is (mostly) a work of fiction, so don't get offended - CMD)

'There has to be something more to this, you know, something after this life when we all...'

I looked up from my packet of chips but he couldn't finish the sentence he had started. It was an accident, no one blamed him for it. But still, months after it happened his hands shook a little bit too much. His gaze couldn't hold your own for very long. It was as if he was still reaching out, searching for a reason, fathoming a concept far beyond his own existence.

To be honest, I don't know how I would have coped with it. As I said, it was an accident, no one blamed him for what had happened. But that does not make it any easier. A sharp sound, a yell from across the road, anything could be a trigger for the memories of that night. The mind is an exceptional tool, us humans have evolved it over millennia. And it can deal with all the traumas of life throws at you. But how does the mind deal with death? The reality of this final destination that we will all reach, maybe tomorrow, maybe many moons in the future. And how does the mind deal with death, when you were its very agent?

'You know, there has to be a purpose...'

I swallowed the chip. Despite its heat, I didn't feel it slide down to my stomach. Instead I had to think fast, on my feet. Now what could I say. I didn't just sympathise with him, he was my friend, we had known each other for years, been through way too much. But I also had to be careful, at this point not to speak entirely what's on my mind. Something that had got me into a lot of trouble beforehand.

'Well,' I started.

He looked up at me. His eyes were filled with a glimmer of hope, but holding back something much more forceful. A torrent of emotion was there, but his mind was struggling to apply some logic to that horrific night.

Come on, I did not believe in jack. Look, in life, you make your own choices. And whatever happens, happens. God does not put his hand down, touch you on the shoulder and 'whoosh'! Life is life. And then we die. We all die. It is a universal law, just like gravity, or the sun rising in the east. Life and existence continues. One day humans will evolve into something else, and all the hopes and dreams that posess today will be fossilised as coal.

God exists, God does not exist, I can't prove that and nor do I care! I have bills to pay, I got mouths to feed and I got to turn on the heat. No God has ever put cash in my pocket. My own mind, my own wits have got me to where I am and to be honest that is not very far. After all, it is a Friday night, all I have is bag of chips and a friend looking for answers. Philosophy behind a set of dustbins, and not much else to keep out the cold air.

'You know, there might be something, for us after this life. There may be an afterlife and some divine reason behind all of this. Then again, there may not be. And everything on Earth, that we experience is a result of human action. There is no guiding hand. Or maybe it is a little of both. I don't know, the Ancient Greeks and beyond were coming up with the same questions. I guess since man first looked up at the starts, we have all asked the same thing!'

He chuckled.

'Yeah, I suppose so. We're trying to answer in a night what no one else has figured out so far!'

He grabbed a handful of chips, and shoveled them into his mouth, his hands still shaking that little bit too much. I had eased the pain for now, and whatever was inside him had subsided. But no matter what, until his dying day, he would always have that horror in his mind. No matter how many times we all told him that it was not his fault, he would still lie awake at night and think, 'what if?'

He chewed on the hot chips, rapidly gasping as he tried to cool his tongue. It was a chilly night, and the vapours from our lungs filled the air. I looked at him, but he did not seem to notice. Whatever was going on through his mind, I hopefully would never know. But in this life, you are always one step away from death itself...

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Merry Christmas?

Bah Humbug.

I am not Christmassy at all.

I have no kids, no future or any prospects, such has been my 2009.

So bah humbug to the debt driven, sour tasting whole event. At least Scrooge had cash, I have very little to celebrate and all I can say to the rest of the festive world is bugger off.

Yes, I may be a Catholic, but I am cheesed off this year, and no amount of carol singing (my charity begins at home - to my broke bank balance), tacky decorations (and the subsequent electricity bill) or lousy presents (I do have an income, I buy what I want, when I want) will make me crack open a smile. There will be the forced smiles on Christmas Day, having to phone family and wish everyone a Merry Christmas. Then the usual food, arguments an make ups. People will nap in the afternoon and I will start my tax form. Bah bloody humbug to the lot. The whole event sickens me.

It has, as I have already mentioned, been a lousy year. Maybe in the future I will look back on 2009 with great fondness, but I doubt it. I am glad to stick up two fingers to this whole year and leave it well behind. No amount of joyous celebrations, nor amount of forced dancing is going to make me change my mind.

So Merry bloody Christmas.

Happy frigging New Year.

I am not in a good mood, hell, I am in a foul mood. And I am not optimistic about the future. For myself that is, not the fate of humanity. Such is the structure of the human mind, what is in your own back yard is far more important than the wider world. And so, while I have my health, and I am not in debt, there is really nothing else to celebrate.

Grrr...

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Back Home (3)

'Money talks.'

Some people do not bother visiting their relatives at Christmas, nor do they buy a stack of presents to post back home. That does not mean that they do not love their family, far from it. But, for them, love is not expressed by showing up and eating nor is it shown by a stack of gifts arriving in the post. Instead, it is shown by money being wired home.

Now there are a variety of ways to send remittences. Through a bank or for those that do not want their cash to be traced, through the many companies set up to send and receive cash over thousands of miles (for an extortionate fee). Billions are sent around the world at this time. Mainly by men. That is not to say that women do not send money back home, they do. But they also do the other things, like visit and send presents. Men just send cash. It is easier than shifting luggage around or waiting at the post office. And they also know exactly what the relatives back home love. Cash.

So back to the quote at the beginning of this post. 'Money talks'

This year, I have ququed up at the post office and sent money back to the family. Unfortunately, I have not jetted off somewhere exotic, but there is always next year...

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Back Home (2)

'There are a lot of queues at the post office.'

Some of us can't go back home in person. We can't get time off work, we believe that we have important existences here in London, we have no cash to spend once we head off this wintry isle. And as we cannot join our loved ones, we head to the post office, to deliver the ma piece of our love. Usually the gifts aren't that expensive. After all, with China producing everything we need for a song, and availability being worldwide, our gifts have to have more imagination than just this lousy t-shirt.

And so back to the quote at the top of this post. 'There are a lot of queues at the post office.' And it mainly women who are queuing at the post office. Sure there is the odd guy, scratching his head, but the vast majority of punters are women, with gifts galore, a stack of cards and a lot of patience while the queue inches forward endlessly. I also feel sorry for the guys behind the counter as well as the thankless tasks of the postie. But I wonder what's in those presents being posted far and wide. Cakes, jumpers, liquor?

Oh well, curiosity will have to be satisfied by imagination for now...

Monday, 21 December 2009

Back Home (1)

'There are a lot of suitcases about in London town.'

Now, let me clarify that statement. It is Christmas. And despite the best wishes of many, it is a time that people want to spend with their families. Some jet off home to loved ones, other take a tube from North London swank pad to South London suburban family home. Whatever. But now is the time that people head off home. It started this weekend, waiting in the cold, shivering away, annoyed that they had forgot to pack their gloves, waiting for a nightbus to take them to Heathrow (for the long distance jaunts), Victoria Coach Station (for those prepared to slog it by coach across Britain and Europe) or up to Liverpool Street (and onto lo-cost Stanstead). Some of these guys are light packers, others are lugging very heavy weights. The bulk of them are women as well. Interesting that.

Does that mean that women are more homebound than men? Probably not, but they are more likely to put up with the vagrancies of late night public transport in the city.

So let me get back to that first statement, 'there are a lot of suitcases about in London town'.

And I wonder what is in them. After all, few will be leaving London for good, but they seem so...alluring. I have an inquisitive nature at heart and I would love to know what are the essential things for two weeks (without the graphic details), just a hint of intimacy at what women pack for two weeks to spend with mama, papa and the rest of the family back home. After all, it could have been many months since their last visit, so what is in the suitcase. Gifts for all, lots of underwear, a good book, liquor?

Oh well, curiosity will have to be satisfied by imagination for now...

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Police, Car, Action, Chase!

Police chases. The stuff of every good movie. Or reality...I have witnessed two police chases in my life. Surprising as I live in London. The first was in Streatham four years ago, and the second was last night in Worcester Park. In true South London style, the pursued was hopelessly outclassed by the police car in pursuit. You got to remember that our taxes are paying for flashy BMW's and Volvos. And they are chipped.

Why bother running? Are you high? Been playing too much Grand Theft Auto? Thinking of Hazzard County? Anyway, the reality is that (I assume) 99% of police chases end up with the police catching the run-aways (usually because they crash their car). 1% of the time, you can beat the police, but they have the number plate recorded anyway, so unless the vehicle is stolen, they know where you live...

What was really funny was that last night, it was a mini cooper doing the escaping. You normally associate the new mini with effeminate estate agents or something else along those lines. Not a couple of boys high on crack and with guns in the back seat. Ha, the comedy of watching the chase!

Saturday, 19 December 2009

What a load of hot air!

Well, Copenhagen turned out to be exactly what was expected from it. A complete waste of time. Don't believe the hype and realise that like Kyoto, the only people who won were the airline companies ferrying the delegates to and from the conference (in the greenhouse gas emitting aeroplanes).

So, what next? Well, if you're in Bangladesh, the Maldives or the Pacific Islands, you have to realise that you're just not that important. We in the West will continue to drive our cars to the newsagents. We're just too lazy to walk. So, you guys will sink.

To those guys living in SubSaharan Africa, already an area filled with incompetence, don't worry. Added to the chiefs who hold sway over your lives with AK-47's, China will keep burning coal to keep its economy running. So you get the twin prods of mineral extraction and unreliable rainfall. If climate models are anything to go with, then this area is going to get really shafted. Unless you are the one holding the gun?

And what about us guys, here in the 'developed world'? Well, everything will continue as normal. Denial, sorry, 'more scientific proof' will reign supreme, and life will seem pretty comfortable. After all, the Earth is fat and any rise in sea level will fall over the sides! All that education, and we're no better than savages!

Friday, 18 December 2009

London Diary (8)

The driver pulled up to the bus stop and opened the door. There were two people at the bus stop, an old man with a walking stick and a young woman in a tracksuit. The driver knelt the bus down and the old man hobbled on, snapping his Oyster card onto the reader. The woman came on. She held her hands together. It was clear that she had been crying, her badly applied make-up now more obvious.

'Er, can you let me on. My boyfriend's just kicked me and I've left my pass...'

The bus driver gestured to her to get on board as he shut the doors and pulled off. It was not the first time that this woman had come onto the bus and claimed she was getting beaten up by her boyfriend. But it was 3am in the morning, and the secret to the Night Bus was to let everyone travel for free. After all, at this time, who really cares about a bus pass?

As he drove through the empty housing estate, the snow began to fell. He checked the temperature on the dashboard, and it stated it was 2C. That meant that the snow would not settle and instead leave behind a slush that would eventually turn to surface water. Good the driver thought, he didn't feel like having a difficult night behind the wheel.

The driver looked in his offside mirror and saw a pair of headlights riding close to his bumper. He pulled into the next bus stop and whizzing past him went the taxi cab. In his mind, it was better to let them go. They were in rush, while he had an easy timetable to stick to. There was never a rush at this time of the night. All the revelers that had decided to brave London's cold streets had long gone home and it would be another hour before the first workers of the day would be seen shivering at the bus stops. But at this time of the morning, it was only the strange that decided to ride on the Night Bus. Those that had no home to go to, those that could not sleep, those that had too much to drink and could not wake up.

He reached the traffic light at the end of the estate. He waited at the red light, ready to turn back onto the main road. A van passed by, rushing to somewhere that was only important to him. The driver overheard the conversation of that young woman with the old man. She was telling him how her boyfriend had assaulted her. Again. But by the end of the night, she would return to him. She always did. And the next time the driver was rostered to drive this particular route, odds on that she would be back on the bus, with tears running down her cheeks again.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

'Life'

I am a space geek. It is quite clear to anyone who has read this blog in the past that I am a big Sci-Fi buff. I also love the thought of exploring, I am a great traveller if I may say so myself. Of course, this love of Sci-Fi and travel leads to only one conclusion. The ability to explore space and to nail and alien chick!

Seriously though, I really do believe in humanity's reach for the stars. It is not something that will happen in my lifetime, but there will be a time in the future when traveling beyond the confines of our Solar System to live , work and play on far flung planets will be as easy as it is for us today traveling around this globe. Of course it will take a huge leap in technology if we are ever to achieve this goal. We also need a destination. So far, most of the extrasolar planets discovered have been huge fiery balls of gas, completely unsuitable for human habitation. But there is one that has very recently been found, a Super Earth, that could possibly have water on its surface. No one claims that there are little green men (or hot alien chicks) living on this world, but scientists are getting closer to discovering a possible twin for us minute Earthlings...

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Bicycle Diaries - Dec '09



This morning, while cycling back from work, London had its first taste of freezing temperatures. In fact I got -2C on the bus' thermometer. Not exactly the Arctic, but definitely nippy. And all the remaining puddles were frozen solid. Also took the cycle ride a bit slower this morning. You could feel the frost on any smooth surface and it was a little unnerving to say the least.

Now I am fully wrapped up when on the bike. The gloves have been on and off since October, the scarf on since November and now the hat is on, under the helmet to keep my bald palette warm. Need to start wearing thermal socks with my boots too! Also tightened the brake cables as I need to make sure I can stop the cycle in time. Roll on March and the promise of warmth and more daylight!

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

The Noughties - nothing but a B-Side?

One of the sad things about the so called demise of vinyl was the rise of the 'remix' and the end of the B-side. You see, vinyl was fun because it was like a frisbee, but also because there were two songs for the price of one. Then came the CD-Single which sucked as it used to cost £1.99 and although there were usually three or four tracks on the said 'single' they were all sucky remixes. Sure, there were the occasional great remix hits, but these were few and far between.

And so onto the remix. The rehash. The remake. The homage. The piss take for those who pay for their entertainment. Lazy writing designed to maximise profits, although again not all remakes are bad. But hey, it was starting to take the mickey.

Music over the past ten years has sucked. So has the (western) films. You think about the eighties and you think about the great tracks, hell even the 1990's were great for music. And the films were also astounding too! And we are not just talking about classic American entertainment ('Pulp Fiction', 'Desperado', 'Clerks'), but great Brit films ('Trainspotting', 'The Crying Game', 'The Long Good Friday', even 'Four Weddings and a Funeral') and a golden era for Bollywood ('Dil Se', 'Bombay', 'Kuch Kuch Hota Hai', 'Hum Aapke Hain Kaun') were all fantastic.

And then came the noughties. Digitised, safe and dull. Absolutely nothing to remember it by. There have been some great stuff, but the bulk of the decade has been characterised by incestuous links within a bloated entertainment industry. Old stars that refuse to retire, new ones discovered via talent contests and the greatest hits of too many guys who have done far too little.

I am merely a humble director, a speck on the ointment of this world. And I also have to prove myself with far more effectiveness than what I have done to date. But if I was to look back for inspiration on the course of my life. I would rather look outward to the world in the 2000's than to the so called entertainment of the past ten years. For a decade that represented a golden time in terms of prosperity for much of the world, it has surely been lacking in the risks taken to tantilise the senses...

Monday, 14 December 2009

Strike!

From Strike!


There are a lot of angry workers in the UK at the moment. BA workers are planning a twelve day strike (something of international importance as can be seen by the link source), railway workers are peeved off and the government seemed intent on grinding Royal Mail into the ground.

The reason for this anger? Quite simple. The past ten years have been a boom time in the UK. A boom time if you were already rich to begin with. The rich have been able to take advantage of huge house price increases turning the humble home into an investment portfolio. Land prices along with other costs such as fuel, food and utility bills have grown massively, vastly outpacing the level of pay. In other words, you can have the latest mobile phone, wear haute fashion and drive a flash car, but you still cannot afford a place to live. Such is the skewering of the cost base of the average shopping basket. Luxuries have become relatively cheap (thanks to Chinese factory workers) while basics have become unaffordable.

And the straw that broke the camels back? Last year's government bailout. Now this year, we are seeing the beneficiaries of those bail outs granting themselves massive pay cheques while ordinary people are looking down the barrel of a shotgun. No one complained while these businesses were self sufficient. But as soon as they had recourse to our taxes, something was going to give.

There are going to be a lot more strikes coming your way, look forward to it! And I do not blame the workers...

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Telanagana?

The big news in India this week is the creation of a brand new state. Telangana will become India's 29th state, carved out of what is now Andhra Pradesh (it used to be the Princely State of Hyderabad). There are protests around India, many are welcoming the news while a lot are bemoaning the creation of another fiefdom. Of course, the cockroaches are stepping up to entrench their own political positions and to fill their bellies on the backs of the indentured below them.

Don't get me wrong, I am no leftist idealist. But what I hate is corruption. We have enough of it here in the UK. And the creation of new states just means more pigs lining up to the trough. I am all for good governance and for the devolution of power away from central governments and closer to the populace in order to serve the people better. If that is what people demand, then why not? But for every Kerala in India, there is also a Bihar. What direction will Telangana take?

Friday, 11 December 2009

London Diary (7)

Our eyes met across the vegetable aisle at the supermarket. It was well past midnight, and the shop was mostly deserted except for the night workers stacking the shelves.

She was talking on her mobile phone while pushing a trolley, I was holding a packet of pak choi.

The eyes are the window to the soul. In that instant, a multitude of opportunities opened up before us as our souls connected.

And that is what is so scary and yet thrilling when you look into the eyes of 'the one'. The fact that the life you had been leading up until that magical moment was been completely meaningless. What I had thought important, my priorities, my convictions, they all went flying out of the window, when my eyes and hers locked onto each other.

The moment was brief, almost instantaneous. If I had blinked, I would have missed her. She would have been another midnight shopper, roaming the aisles, looking for packets of chicken soup and bottles toasted sesame oil. But instead, she was something, nay, someone so much more. That one look revealed to me a soul that matched mine, if only we both reached out to each other.

But this is London. And in this city, two wonder struck individuals walked past each other as if nothing happened...

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Pak Choi or plain old Cabbage?



Pak Choi, otherwise known as Chinese Cabbage. A recent inclusion in British cuisine, and something that is considered a bit above the normal veggie. It is not exactly exotic (as it is fairly easy to cook), but there is definitely an impressive quality about the vegetable whenever it is eaten by someone who is not of Chinese descent. It is a little bit like someone eating Mackerel for the first time. It impresses anyone who does not realise that us Seychellois use it as dog food.

Now, I felt really guilty about buying the Pak Choi. After all, with all the furore about greenhouse gases, I should have bought something that was grown a little closer to home. What I needed was a little less 'authenticity' in my noodles and a little more consideration for the amount of miles my food has had to travel. The vegetable would have been grown somewhere in Asia, chucked onto a tractor towards the warehouse, put on a (refrigerated) lorry, taken to an airport, put in (another refrigerated) warehouse, dumped on a plane, flown thousands of miles, ended up at Schiphol, put on another plane, ended up at Heathrow, trucked to a distribution centre off the M25, then trucked to a warehouse for the supermarket before finally being delivered to the supermarket where I purchased it and drove back home in my own car.

Damn, all that to obtain a texture to my vegetable not normally found in cabbage. I should have just bought the cabbage...



Considering that you can get a whole cabbage for a third of that price, something tells me that I have been swindled by the supermarket. Damn, if I am paying that much, I expect my vegetable to have been flown in on a business class seat!

Well, to look on the bright side, at least the UK is self sufficient in Pak Choi. Hey, it may even be the start of a whole new export industry! I see taxes for this new thriving enterprise...

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Crossings of the River Rangeet (1) - The Mangitar Bridge

Last month, while I was reminiscing about my second trip to the North East of India, I related a rather jolly stroll that I took, from Darjeeling to the market town of Jorethang. On the way I crossed the River Rangeet, which marks the border between the two states of West Bengal and Sikkim. And so what better way to round up my journeys through India this year, then by ending my rambling words on a tiny little footbridge strung high above the valley of this raging torrent of the Himalaya...



This is one old bridge - 110 years old to be precise. And it is pretty good nick all things considered. This has had to put up with the freezing winters, monsoon rains and the 'cyclones' that come up the valley. In fact it was a cyclone that necessitated the construction of this footbridge as the old cane bridge was washed away in a nasty storm.



A little history is needed here. The whole area was once part of the Kingdom of Sikkim, but the British leased some land south of the Rangeet River for the hill station in Darjeeling. Sikkim remained a Princely State, which meant it was de jure independent, but the reality was that the British controlled the affairs of the area. On India's independence, it retained its autonomy as a Princely State until 1975 when it joined India after a referendum. And so, to cut this down to basics, this bridge was once an international border crossing!



But enough politics and onto the bridge. Now there is no wikipedia entry for me to paraphrase, so I will have to go on my own observations. It is basically a narrow suspension bridge, designed for pedestrians, but I am sure that the odd scooter will roar over this bridge. The flooring is of wooden planks and so you can quite easily see the torrential flow of water below (and I was in the dry season). Unlike other crossing points into Sikkim, there is no one from the Sikkim State Police entering your details into a book and checking for your Inner Line Permit (an easily available piece of paperwork needed by foreigners to enter the state). So it is a whizz for anyone who just wants to take a peek into a life a little less known. Just like I did...



(Getting there and away)

The Mangitar Bridge is a two minute stroll from Mangitar village or a long jeep ride from Darjeeling. Alternatively, you can do a day hike to and from Darjeeling, or if you have an ILP, you can approach the bridge from the Sikkimese side. And take a look below the bridge as well, there is a lot of life on the river banks of the Rangeet. This is a place I must return too...

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

A very British Haiku

Rain, rain, go away,
Come again another day.
Sun, sun, come today.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Caution Wet Paint - A look back at 2009...

I rarely double post, but this was an imprtant comic strip that I decided to also publish on this blog too...



This is quite a personal comic strip. It has been a tough 2009 for CWP, but rather than blog about it, I decided to illustrate it. The big question I am asking myself is 'what do I do next?'

And to be honest, I do not know...

A look back at 2009

Sunday, 6 December 2009

The new whipping boys...

Bankers are the new public enemy number one. Like politicians and journalists, bankers are the new kids on the block when it comes to pointing the finger. The public need a scapegoat and so, there they are, ready to bend over ad take the whipping like the public schoolboys they grew up as. Well, we are paying their wages, and as government employees/receivers of government subsidies/loans they are subject to our scrutiny.

But one wanker is standing up to this. He has had enough. He wants his precious throne back, and will do anything to get it. So he is after the teacher of his son who called all bankers sleazeballs.

It seems that getting state handouts to ensure his luxury lifestyle is not enough. He is now after the people who pay his wages - the honest taxpayer (rather than the tax 'avoider'/offshore wealth merchant). You see ego is a fragile thing. Obviously, the man must have a really small dick to go after someone on a fraction of the wage that he leeches off the voting public. And unlike 'Skip Mcgee', the teacher in question works for a private school, and so he is not on the receiving end of government handouts or soft loans. So while our investment banker labels our private sector teacher as a leftist, he is quite happy to manipulate his government's policy to ensure that his industry gets as much state aid as possible. Whether it is favourable tax policies, government bail outs or the distortion of our own (rapidly depreciating) cash in order to maintain the status quo...

Comrade, don't you just love capitalism?

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Car Tyre

I came home this morning. Via the bicycle. In fact, I have not driven the car for the past week. So lo and behold my annoyance at seeing the front near side tyre, punctured. I have not touched the bloody car! Ugh, tea finished and now off to change the bloody thing!

Friday, 4 December 2009

London Diary (6)

'Fucker!'

The cab nearly knocked her over as she attempted top make her way across the Euston Road towards St Pancras. The station always looked imposing and now free from the scaffolding that pieced it back together before the Euro trains whistled in. And that is why she was here, she needed two tickets for the first train tomorrow morning. No questions asked, cash paid in full and a sweet smile was all she wanted from the ticket clerk as she entered the station.

St Pancras is a vast station, but she ignored the surrounding splendour on entering the main concourse. Instead she headed straight for the ticket office and waited in line. There was not much of a queue but she still did not take time to admire the surrounding beauty of restored Victorian Architecture. Instead, she kept her eyes down to the ground. She fiddled with her wedding ring, smiling at the irony of wearing that band of gold. It was with her lover that she was escaping the country tomorrow morning. Escaping to a new country, looking for a better life and a new beginning. Buying the ticket was the easy part of the plan she thought. What would come later that night would be the difficult task ahead. How to extract herself and her cash from her marriage...

'Next Please!'

She looked up and approached the counter.

'Two tickets to Paris please, leaving on the first train tomorrow morning.'

As the clerk typed on the computer, she looked around and checked behind her shoulder. Of course no one was following her, but-

'That will be £290 please.'

She paid the money and received the tickets. Heading out of the station, she took one more glance around. No one was following her. She hoped. There were a lot of things she was going to miss about London. After all it had been her home for twenty years and no matter what, she had built a life for herself in this city. But she was starting anew, and needed to get out fast. She lit her cigarette and attempted to cross the road. A cab driver nearly ran her over.

'Fucker!'

Thursday, 3 December 2009

And so it's good bye from the 'Noughties' (2)

Unlike yesterday, this is a much more personal recollection of the decade. Well, what a decade it has been! The one that is clearest in my memory, and definitely the decade that will shape my years to come. And so how was it for me? Well, that is a very good question, that could only properly be answered in a few years time as I look back and contemplate the happenings of the past ten years. But it has definitely been a decade of two halves. At the beginning of the decade, I started it in revelry on the streets of London. And by the end of the decade I also will be on the streets of London, but not as boisterous as I will be working the night shift. In between it has been an eventful ten years.

The first half of the 2000's was spent studying and travelling. I studied far too frivolously and travelled far too hard, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I visited a war zone to reconnect with my family, I climbed temples in the jungle, taught English to kids and adults, nearly died in a desert and hiked across the lands of the Moors. And then in 2004, I made an about turn and decided to pursue filming with a vigour. I surprised everyone that knew, me, alienated quite a few of them and got stuck into the business of making films. Now, six years later, and with very little to show for that decision, the big question to ask myself of this decade is 'has it been a waste of my life?' After all, these are supposedly the 'best years', and if I fail in my quest to make a (decent) living out of writing and directing my own feature films, than I would have wasted those years on nothing more than a pipe dream.

Looking back can be almost as dangerous as looking forward. Fear grips our paths towards the future, regret litters our paths behind us. All that we really have is the present day, and the hum-drum safety net of work, eat, and sleep. And yet, as I look back, I think to myself that it has been an all right decade, but something has to give soon to make it a really spectacular one...

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

And so it's good bye from the 'Noughties' (1)

We have under a month left until the end of the decade, and so how was it for you? Was it hell? Certainly if you look at world events we had major terrorist attacks in NY, Madrid, London, Mumbai and Bali littered amongst the multitude of events worldwide. We had massive natural disasters. The Tsunami and the 2005 hurricane season were the big natural disasters of the decade but let us also recall Cyclone Nargis, the Kashmir Earthquake. Bam in Iran and Sichaun in China also suffered from massive earthquakes. As a tail end note, Mozambique suffered from massive flooding at the beginning of the 2000's .

Oh, and if you are in the west than look no further than the economic meltdown of the past two years. Plus we in the west elected some of the worst tyrants in recent history, who instigated more wars and suffering amongst the most destitute people on the globe. At least we are not in North Korea.

In the UK we seem to be quite happy to give over our hard won freedoms to governments and law advisors more interested in controlling the population instead of listening to it. So now we have CCTV up your backside (the cameras in my job can see me pick my nose), a new expensive compulsory ID Card system and a populace too scared to live because of the no-win no-fee parasites that bombard your cable television channels with cheap adverts, promising you the world (the money had to come from somewhere).

On a personal level we have also given up much of our individual freedom. Shackled by debt, the average UK resident is no better than the bonded labourers of the 19th century. Now striking has become a byword for treason despite the fact that is was here in the UK that led the industrial strike movement and the establishment of basic workers rights (we need more men like him).

And so, that's it. The Noughties, the 2000's, the beginning of the new Millennium and the 21st Century. Tomorrow, a more personal view...

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Timbuktu

This is a quickie blog, but it was something that I saw on the Beeb, and had to share it with you:

The Ancient legacy of Tumbuktu - Video.

The Ancient legacy of Timbuktu - Article.

I'm an Archaeologist by training (you wouldn't think, eh), and I love it when you see something like this in the news. Uncovering the secrets of an Ancient civilisation. You know I love my travels, and Timbuktu, Mali as a whole is very much on my to-do list...