The last three months have been a blur, and in some ways, I am yet to catch myself up to the reality of my surroundings. It all started on my return to London, where I began my two month stint living (the dream) in hostel dorm rooms full time.
Living in a hostel full time is about as relaxing as going for a swim in the Amazon River. My main Hostel residence was in London Bridge. Having the middle bed of a triple story bunk (a 15 bed room no less!), I was based at this hostel the longest, mainly because of it’s proximity to work, but also because they had free Coco-Pops for breakfast. It was here I confiscated someone’s plastic bags, after a 10 minute period of bag rustling at 4am. These bags were used by me for a revenge rustling session the next night. The rustling battle grew as the nights went on, growing from plastic bags to garbage bags to popping bubble wrap (my brainchild), the latter a key weapon to my rustling victory.
Other hostels included a stay in a cockroach infested dump in Paddington, a week up in Hendon, where getting mugged is fashionable, and down in marijuana scented Brixton, where I was offered every drug under the sun per every ten steps. In between this all were stints on friends couches, a method of sleep I am now very familiar with.
THE LAST JOB
After continual hassling of recruitment agencies (who generally return your call 2 years after you contact them), I finally landed a job doing the highly entertaining task of Data Entry. This job entailed completing a 33 second task, over and over again, from 9am to 5:30pm. It was an interesting company, and we death with such characters as (names have been slightly changed to protect identities):
- The Earl of Portsmouth (who was outraged we would not refund him £2)
- The Countess of Cornwall (who rang up, devastated that our mail to her addressed her as Countess of Cornwall, and not THE Countess of Cornwall)
- Lord John Gash (no bracketed comments needed)
- Rear Admiral Cecil (I cant provide his last name due to the Data Entry-mans Code of Conduct and Confidentiality, and also due to the fact I can’t remember it)
All in all, my last two months in England were in some ways my best months there. I discovered the Jamaican backbeat of the Brixton markets, got lost in the Yorkshire Dales (only for a sheep to lead me to safety), bought a suit for $20 quid complete with clip on tie (breaking my $30 record of 2008), and saw a man walk down an ascending escalator at a tube stop, leading to a very comical unplanned cartwheel (never board escalators whilst playing Tetris on your phone).
Other highlights included being questioned in the street by a London detective about a shooting (that will teach me to participate in MOvember), heading up to Sunderland and Newcastle for a third and final West Ham away game with my mates from the North East, and stumbling onto a tube at Tottenham Court Road at 7am, and waking up at 10am as the train pulled back into Tottenham Court Road (unsure if I went for one lap or two!)
The decision to come home was made randomly and unplanned in approximately 10 minutes, and only a month before I left. Air Asia was my airline of choice, and after a wild farewell to London (which ended at 4am in a chicken shop with a leaking roof, discussing the history of leaky roofs with a mad Irishman), I boarded my flight very much from another planet!
Air Asia is a unique airline. No entertainment, you have to pay for your food, and legroom is ample…if you are 10 years of age. Luckily I had loaded my iPod with films, smuggled aboard a piece of stale bread, and pinched some legroom from the aisle (still got the bruises from the trolley bumps)
None of my family knew I was coming home, and so it was, when my folks arrived back from work at night, I casually strolled out of the kitchen and said “about bloody time, I’m starving what’s for tea!” I was hungry, so it was a reasonable question to ask.
My first night’s sleep in Australia was only the second night in 10 months that I had slept in a room on my own!!! After a majority of the year spent roughing it up in hostels, on couches, in bus stops, on beaches, in hammocks, on concrete floors, in cars, in buses, on trains and on a slide in a playground, my first nights sleep was oh so sweet!!
BACK TO THE FUTURE
Now I find myself back in the same job as before I left. My first day back, I was asked this – “Hey, haven’t seen you in a while, have you been doing different shifts?”. That question instantly made 2 ½ years away evaporate! It almost seems like I never left!
It is now back to Uni for me, and back to saving money so I can find that eject button again at the years end, when I will be ready for my next adventure, and with it, my next tale!