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Russell Crow

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Englishmen Abroad [Jul. 19th, 2004|04:08 pm]
Russell Crow
English people always make a good impression abroad. If we’re not stubborn old men sitting in French restaurants demanding ‘cod and chips’ in English, then we seem to be a bunch of stupid drunk clubbers intent on turning pretty Greek islands into Essex and starting fights. No really, other countries must be simply in awe of us. Of course, it doesn’t help that we’re not encouraged to learn other languages properly at school, and it also doesn’t help when, despite my criticisms, I act like a total dick when I go abroad as well.

A couple of weeks ago I decided to go on a day trip to Normandy, because I wanted to go to Bayeux to see the tapestry, and look at the beaches and tanks and things. However, at this point I should point out that this isn’t the first time I’ve tried to get to Bayeux. Last year I crossed over to St Malo from Guernsey after a little two-week jaunt round the Channel Islands, and thought I’d simply get a train to Bayeux from there.

It was all fine in theory – it didn’t look that far on the map, I knew where the train station was and I knew how to say ‘Je voudrais un billet pour Bayeux allez retour s’il vous plait’. What GCSE French doesn’t teach you, though, is how to understand what the person behind the desk tells you after you’ve spouted your shameful attempt at French at them. And, after a few minutes of the lady behind the counter patiently explaining something to me in really fast words that I didn’t understand, and me looking at her with an expression suggesting I’d had some kind of lobotomy, I figured that getting to Bayeux wasn’t that simple, and ended up going back to Guernsey instead.

This was pretty embarrassing, so I was determined not to screw it up this time, and after asking the Internet how to get to Bayeux, I was pretty much sorted. I get the ferry from Portsmouth to Ouistreham, get the No. 1 bus from Ouistreham to Caen and then get the train from Caen to Bayeux.

It all looked simple enough, I got on the overnight ferry, found the No. 1 bus stop in Ouistreham and waited. Then, sure enough, up came the No. 1 bus. I hopped on, said my bit in French and the driver printed me a ticket, and it all looked good. Then, when I sat down, the driver turned round and started hurling confusing French words at me again. I assumed he was making pleasantries, so just smiled at him, then he kept talking, and shrugging, and I kept smiling.

Then a big group of school kids got on, and started running up and down the bus screaming in French, the driver once again looked round at me and shrugged, started the engine and we were off. At last I could relax, I watched the French countryside roll past, watched the sea disappear into the distance and then the bus pulled up in front of a school.

The kids got off, and I stayed in my seat waiting for the bus to move off again. But it didn’t, and the driver once again turned round and started saying strange things to me and gesticulating towards the door. I got off, looked at the sign on the bus and it clicked. I’d got on the school bus. What the driver had actually been telling me was probably something along the lines of ‘look, you stupid foreigner, this is the school bus, I’ll take you to the school if you want, but I’m guessing you want to go somewhere else. You really want to go to the school? Okay, if I don’t get a response I’m going to assume that stupid smile means ‘yes I want to go to the school’. I’m waiting. Right, that’s it, you’ve had your last chance, we’re going to the school.’

And he was right. Now I was stuck in the middle of nowhere, and, it being the school bus, there wasn’t another one going back to Ouistreham until the end of school. Maybe I could ask for help, I thought, but then I looked in my French phrasebook, and it didn’t have the French for ‘sorry, but I’m a stupid foreign bell end who got on the school bus by accident and needs to find the grown up buses now’.

This time I was lucky though, I walked half an hour down the road, found another bus stop and got on the right bus that took me to Caen. But if I’d walked in the wrong direction I’d have got lost in France and would have no idea how to find my way to Bayeux, or even back home again. It’s all a bit scary really, and the next time I go somewhere I don’t speak the language, I’m going to make an effort to learn a lot more of the language first, or maybe take someone else with me who does.

Oh, and the Bayeux Tapestry? It’s a big long piece of cloth with rubbish drawings all over it. Seriously, I reckon this is one of those rare occasions where I could have drawn a more accurate depiction of the horrors of medieval warfare. I must have been born in the wrong time.
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Where's Ben? [Mar. 5th, 2004|01:50 pm]
Russell Crow
In case anyone was wondering why I haven't been out and about or in touch lately, I'm not being unsociable or anything, I've just been very sick for the last month and haven't had access to a computer or anything.

I'm currently being treated for Crohn's disease, which is pretty horrible so I'll spare you the details, but it has meant I've spent the last two weeks in hospital and I've also lost a stone and a half in just two weeks. I've had three blood transfusions, been on a drip for several days, and was stuck in a ward with insane old men uncontrollably plopping themselves and shouting like Father Jack all the way through the night. It's all been a bit dramatic really, and it's also something I'm going to be stuck with for life, but it could be worse, and apparently it goes into periods of remission with no symptoms that can last for years sometimes too.

Anyway, I'm currently staying in Birmingham with my family while I recover as I'm currently quite weak and unstable. After that I'm hoping to be back in Brighton next weekend, and back to work and maybe out for a drink or two the week after. I'm now looking forward to living a normal life again and getting back into the real world. Hope to see you all soon.
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Taking the ournal out of journalism [Jan. 5th, 2004|02:24 pm]
Russell Crow
I appreciate that this post is completely irrelevant to anyone who doesn’t work in IT journalism, but I’ve had to wade through two of the worst pieces of writing I’ve ever seen today, and I’d like to vent my frustrations once and for all…..

Dear Mr I.T. Freelancer,

Having read your latest piece of copy, I’ve come to the conclusion that you must have been kidnapped, killed and buried in a hole in the ground by some kind of retarded chimpanzee - a chimpanzee that has cruelly taken over your writing duties. There’s no other way I can explain the piece of gibberish I received, because, according to your email, you’re an ‘expert’ in your field and you’re, apparently, a ‘well respected journalist’.

I don’t even know where to begin, but let’s start with the introduction. This is the bit that grabs the reader’s attention, right? The bit that makes or breaks the piece, where they decide whether to read the article or not. You know this of course; you’re a ‘respected journalist’. So why have you written two of the most boring sentences in the world? More to the point, why have you used a boring historical intro that no one will ever want to read? ‘Last month HP brought out the D1566778, now it’s brought out the D176898’. Yeah, that’s great, I want to read another 1,000 words just like that.

But what about your next paragraph? You know about structure, right? You know that you can’t just write bullet-point staccato sentences containing facts – no one wants to read that. It’s easily avoided by making the next sentence or paragraph lead on from the last one. But, oh dear, that murdering ape has once again got in and written a completely irrelevant paragraph about you having a holiday in South Africa straight after your introduction about tape storage. After all, you aren’t just an IT journalist, you’re really a celebrity, and everyone wants to read about you, your house, your holidays and all the irrelevant kit you own.

They also want to read pages full of meaningless clichés and jargon, I mean, come on, who actually wants to read simple understandable words? You’re a ‘respected journalist’, though, so you should be a veritable thesaurus of original ways to say things, but this sadly must have slipped your mind when you wrote this piece of dog shit. I found over ten uses of ‘does what it says on the tin’ and ‘it’s not rocket science’, and there were also two completely incomprehensible paragraphs using phrases like ‘turnkey solution’, ‘inherent backbone of richer functionality’ and ‘standards-based application operational discipline’.

Some might say that these kinds of phrases cover up a lack of understanding, but this can’t be true because you’re an ‘expert’ in your field and you write with such authority. No really you do. Your verdict where you said ‘I don’t really know if I like this or not, why don’t you have a go and see for yourself’ will help loads of people make a foolproof buying decision. And it was really good that your 1/5 star rating wasn’t completely at odds with the positive-sounding review.

Maybe you should learn to write conclusions too. These are the bits at the end of a piece that sum up what you discovered during your research or testing, which say whether a product’s any good or not or whether a new technology will take off. You know, so you get to the end and the reader has no doubt about what your opinion is. Unfortunately you must have accidentally deleted your conclusion though, as I just seem to have some obscure comment about battery life at the end of your review.

So why did you become an IT journalist? You can be an IT specialist without writing about it, you know. You can just do the stuff you’re an ‘expert’ at, although you wouldn’t be able to cover up your lack of knowledge by writing ‘please can you write this bit Mr Editor as you know more about it than I do’ in the middle of your review.

Journalists usually have a love of writing, where they carefully craft each sentence and paragraph so that it has pace, structure and authority. They at least pay attention to grammar and re-read it several times to make sure it all makes sense. This is, unfortunately, more than I can say for your jumbled collection of illiterate nonsense, which is packed with big long boring lists, a shocking lack of commas, and some apostrophes appearing in some very odd places.

I am, of course, assuming English is your first language, which makes me wonder why you write like Avid Merrion. Not only does it not make any sense, but it's also full of irrelevant comments and meaningless waffle that could easily be written in just one sentence. In fact, let’s imagine for a second that all the ‘proper’ journalists in the world produced the same standard of work as you, and that this review of The Matrix actually appeared in The Guardian:

Title: matrix

Director: I think it is made by the same person as Terminator

Rating: 3/5 (or maybe 2 or 4 what do you think?)

Verdict: I am not sure if I like this film yet if you see what I mean but it has inherent special effects functionality which I like but I am not sure if I would like to pay £10 to see this film in a cinema where it costs too much unless I was in another country like rome where I saw Spartacus. Why don’t you see it and make up your own mind

Years Ago Kenu revs was in a part of bill and Ted films now hes in matrix. It is a new film that you will be able to see at cinemas and a few months later you will also be able to get a video of it I am sure.

If you want to like to know what is in this film it has long leather coats, sun glasses, guns, the future, a big computer game that we are living in, a blue pill and a red pill, people flying through the sky although it iss not really flying as it is controlled by matrix, people staying still while other people are still doing the moving and flying, the boy who was playing damien in Home & Away, Lawrence Fishburn, agents who are wearinfg some suits, some worms in a sirinje that were not a dream in the end, it is a dark foilm with alot of grey and black inside many of the shots except for morpheuss’’s training bits where it is all white except him and Kebu Reevs and their sofa they are sitting on watching TV.

[Ben please can you write a paragraph about the director here!!!!]

Matrix will be out in two weeks Which is good just in case you would like to see another film instead. It has men and women and spaceships in it although I am not sure if they were really spaceships as they weren’t in space it’s not rocket science.

[BYLINE] Your name, you tosser, although it should really be mine as I’ll have to write the actual review that goes to print.

Look, you enormous bell end. Do you really think this kind of illiterate, lazy and pointless nonsense would make it into the national press? No? So why have you sent it to me? Despite the fact that I’ve had to completely re-write your sorry excuse for a piece of writing, I’ll still have to pay you hundreds of pounds for it, because you’re an ‘expert’ and you’re probably bumming one of my bosses. What’s more, you’ll then have the nerve to phone me when it comes out to say that you’re 'not happy with your work being re-written without consultation’.

Please, please, please get another job. And while we’re at it, please stop hassling me on the phone, asking me (in your annoying whiny nasal voice) for work that I’m never going to give you again. I’m sure there’s something else you’re good at. I don’t know exactly what, but there must be something. Don’t worry. You’re not alone. The whole industry (except for a few good people) seems to be devoid of any talent – you’ll get away with your crap writing for at least ten more years if you want to. I’m just asking, for the sake of your own pride and integrity, please stop this nonsense now.


One seriously annoyed editor
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We're All Tossers [Dec. 15th, 2003|02:48 pm]
Russell Crow
Aside from the dirty streets, grumpy wankers and over-priced housing, I’ve recently identified something else that makes me hate London. I was on the train the other day when someone’s mobile phone went off with the standard Nokia ring tone. This is usually annoying enough in itself, but it wasn’t the ring tone that got under my skin this time. What really pissed me off was the other guy in the carriage who shouted ‘HELLO’ like Dom Joly does in Trigger Happy TV when it went off. Despite the fact that this joke has already been done in every episode of Trigger Happy TV, not to mention every train, office and pub, this guy still thinks he’s funny. It’s not his joke and he doesn’t even have a big comedy phone. He is, in fact, a tosser.

Let’s get one thing straight first. I don’t have a problem with people who make the occasional quote or reference to a TV comedy in normal conversation where appropriate. This isn’t any different from quoting books, songs and films to make a point, or to see if someone shares the same sense of humour as you. The point where someone becomes a tosser is when they start reciting catchphrases just for the sake of it, overwhelmed by the belief that they’re as funny as the TV program they’re quoting.

But there’s another problem here, which is that they often are just as funny as the original program. It’s not like it would take much. Let’s take the worst offender here, which is undoubtedly The Fast Show. For several years The Fast Show got away with hundreds of sketches that had nothing funny about them – they were over so quickly no one noticed they were actually shit. All they had to do was introduce a catchphrase, however stupid it was, and tossers all over the UK would repeat it in the belief that they were funny.

Of course, doing this actually just makes you a tosser, but it’s not just The Fast Show that’s at fault. If you want further examples, I’ve compiled a list of the most annoying things that seem to make tossers think they’re going to be the next big thing in comedy:

Shouting ‘HELLO’ when you hear a Nokia ring tone

‘I was very, very drunk’

'Suit you sir'

‘Today I will be mostly wearing…’ – This one has been overused to the point that it’s somehow got into the English language – I even found myself using it the other day. How did this happen?

Girls who pick up an acoustic guitar at parties and start singing ‘Smelly Cat’ - The most annoying thing about this is that they usually admit afterwards that Smelly Cat is, in fact, the only thing they can play on the guitar. Yes, they’ve gone to the trouble of learning the basics of guitar technique just to repeat this lame gag that’s already been done to death in Friends.

‘We are the knights who say ni’ – Not so common over here, but American geeks think that repeating this over and over again is hilarious. It isn’t.

‘Only me’ –Harry Enfield is actually just as guilty as the Fast Show for creating annoying and unfunny catchphrases. There are countless other examples.

‘Feck, arse, drink, girls’ – Father Ted was very funny. People who continually repeat this, or have it at the end of all their emails aren’t. In fact, there should be a worldwide cull of people with catchphrases at the end of their emails while we’re at it.

Anything from Ali G – The main problem with Ali G is that the sort of gimps who repeat his catchphrases - ‘Mi Julie’, ‘Aye’ or ‘is it cos I is black?’ actually aspire to be some kind of real-life Ali G. Even more annoying is the fact that Sacha Baron Cohen seems to be doing exactly the same.

‘Hello Dave, you’re my wife now’ – Don’t get me wrong, Papa Lazarou is a very funny character, which is more than you can say for the annoying twats who’ve hijacked this catchphrase.

‘That’s you that is’ – This has thankfully gone away now, but Newman and Baddiel had a lot to answer for ten years ago.

Actually, just about anything from the Fast Show. This includes ‘Scorchio, ‘Does my bum look big in this?’ and every other pointless catchphrase that came out of that pointless show.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg; I haven’t even started on yesterday’s catchphrase-driven crap comedy like Dad’s Army and Allo Allo. Speaking of which, I actually work on the same floor as Richard Gibson who played Herr Flick in Allo Allo, which is pretty cool, but also a challenge. It’s very tempting, for example, to greet him with something like ‘good moaning’ if I see him in the kitchen, or maybe ask him the whereabouts of the fallen Madonna with the big boobies. But I haven’t. Firstly, because this would only make me as funny as Allo Allo which, let’s face it, isn’t particularly funny. And secondly, because doing this would, of course, make me a tosser.

This all came to a bit of a climax at work recently, where Dan’s phone went off with the Nokia ring tone and Josh admitted that he found it very difficult not to shout ‘HELLO’ whenever he heard it. So I launched into my usual tirade of abuse, when Gareth came back at me with: ‘so what about people who make up their own shit unfunny catchphrases and repeat them ad nauseam?’

‘How do you mean?’ I asked

‘I mean, saying stupid shit like ‘moths’, ‘stoats’ and ‘fuck you wankerboy’ over and over again’

He had a point. I’m obviously just as big a tosser as everyone else and, more to the point, I also have a tendency to pick on Tim at work by saying ‘Timmeh!’ In fact, sometimes I’ll even repeat a gag from a TV comedy and try to pass it off as my own. Surely this makes me an even bigger tosser? At the end of this I’ve had to conclude that I’m a tosser, they’re tossers – we’re all tossers.

So today I will be mostly being a tosser. Feck, arse, drink, girls.
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Hair and Houses [Nov. 21st, 2003|08:52 pm]
Russell Crow
[mood |cheerfulcheerful]

Well, I figured it was time for a change and decided to have all my hair shaved off. So my hair really has gone from one extreme to another, literally Joe Elliott to Scott Ian in the space of a few months. Faye very kindly did the honours with her clippers on level 1 and I now look quite scary - I'm wondering if I should complete the look with some racists tattoos done on my scalp now as well. Either that or I look ridiculous, I haven't decided yet. Have also regrown my goatie by the way for anyone that hasn't seen me for a while. Still, it'll only take a few weeks to grow back again if I decided i don't like it. All a bit weird, although I'm sure it will mean lower maintenance.

Have also found a lovely flat by the sea in Brighton. It's got two balconies (well kind of half balconies, I'm sure you know what I mean) with double glazed window-doors that overlook the sea and it's got lovely big rooms too. Can't wait to move now, living by the sea is going to be great and I'm really looking forward to having my own flat. It's currently a quite nasty shade of pink, though, so I'm going to have to spend next week painting it up in a manner more fitting with my new hair. It's life is good and I'm really looking forward to getting my life together again now.
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Up North [Nov. 5th, 2003|07:07 pm]
Russell Crow
Well I've been up in Queensland for the last week, and it's been absolutely great. Not only is it much hotter up there, but it's also absolutely beautiful.

The most beautiful part has to be the Great Barrier Reef, which must be the best place in the world to have your scuba diving training. I'm now a certified scuba diver by the way - passed the four day course and everything. But the reef is amazing, you just can't believe it's real. It's like you're swimming in some rich guy's giant aquarium. The fish are so brightly coloured and patterned they almost look like toys. I also saw a really cool white tip reef shark while I was down there - apparently they've been known to take the odd bite out of a human but they've never killed anyone so far. Cool!

I've also met an ace Aussie guy called Harry who likes the same old school sad heavy metal bands that I do. Even the obscure ones. Harry took me to a place in Cairns called the Karva Hut, which sells this weird Fijian drink called Karva. It's non alcoholic, but it has a very relaxing effect on you - no hangover either.

This is good, which is more than you can say for the drink itself. It's a bit like drinking a cup of water with dry mud mixed into it - has the looks to match too. Apparently it's made from the pepper shrub, but it could have been taken out of the Thames for all I know. The Karva Hut's great though, it's really relaxed, the people in there were all great and incredibly friendly and they even have guitars dotted about for you to play on, which I did. I then tried to teach Harry how to play Backgammon but the Karva was really getting to him. He kept sleepily forgetting the rules at the end of every game, so we gave up in the end and just talked about our favourite old school metal bands. Heaven.

The best bit of this night, however, had to be this old guy called Shaun that i was talking to. I've no idea if this is true or not, but apparently it's all a bit chaotic once you get up to the North of Australia. There's so much land, not many people and the government has little control over what goes on there. Apparently a lot of people go mysteriously missing to the crocodiles (I saw a baby one in the river by the way!), but the best story was the one about Cedar Bay.

In the 1920s, this guy called Bill was living in England and got told by the doctor that he only had two days to live. So instead of staying in Blackpool, he (very wisely) thought 'screw this, I'm going over to Oz for my last days'. So he sailed into Australia himself and ended up in this place called Cedar Bay on the North Coast. No one else was around for miles, so he built himself a hut in the middle of nowhere and lived off the land. Then a few more people found Cedar Bay Bill and built huts near to his one. About ten years later it had turned into its own self contained community that the government knew nothing about - a real life version of Lord of the Flies or The Beach! So it followed that there were murders, conspiracies and all sorts of strange shit going on there, not to mention a huge marijuana plantation they were tending to and later selling over to Indonesia.

But it was the marijuana that gave them away in the end. In the early 1980s (Bill was still alive and in charge of his village sixty years later!) the Australian government tracked them down and sent in the army. They burned down the huts (the remains are still there) and sent Bill to a home in Cairns where he sadly died a year later. But there are apparently a few people like Shaun living in the surrounding areas who were part of the Cedar Bay community and have all sorts of cool stories to tell. If I was here longer I'd have tried to find some of them. How cool is that?
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The Sort Of Thing That Only Happens To Me [Nov. 5th, 2003|06:02 pm]
Russell Crow
If you've known me for a little while, then you'll also know that I'm often one of the unluckiest people in Western Civilisation. Obviously I'm not living on the street or queuing for soap, but generally if anything can turn into a stupid saga, it will.

Past examples include being locked in a bike shop in Derby and interviewed by the police because I looked like a local bike thief, not to mention the time I had no money for a month after someone (somehow) bought a motorbike with my bank card . Needless to day, the last few days have proved to be just as lucky.

A few days ago I tried to get on a coach from Airlie Beach to Cairns. I phoned up, booked myself on the coach and got told I would be in seat 13C. So I turned up the next morning, got to the back of the coach and saw that the last row was number 12. As far as I could see if row 13 was anywhere it was in the toilet. So I asked the driver....

'oh they probably had a map of the old coaches, they went up to 13'
I looked around, and saw the whole coach was now full
'so what do I do?'
'oh there's no more coaches today, you'll have to get one tomorrow'
'Can't I stay in the toilet?' I joked
'No sir you can't, the other passengers might need it' he replied with no sense of irony.

I could see there was no way round this, so I turned up the next morning, and gave the new driver my ticket number and details.

'ah it says here you were supposed to get on yesterday but failed to board - we'll have to charge you an extra $53 sir'
'but I tried to get on yesterday and got allocated seat 13 and then there wasn't one'
'no, all our coaches go up to 12'
'that's why I couldn't get on yesterday, the driver said they must have had an old coach map or something'
'well I've been working here 15 years and we've never had coaches that go up to 13'

This conversation went on for a few more minutes, and the driver was getting more and more unhelpful as it went on. I had to get to Cairns that day as i had my diving trip booked, so I ended up paying $53 to get on the fucking coach. Took me three days to get my money back too. This does, however, become insignificant compared to what happened today.

I'm currently back in Sydney for a day, and I'm supposed to be flying to Bangkok at 10pm tonight. I'd booked my tickets with a travel agent back in September, and I dropped in to pick up the physical tickets this afternoon. The guy in the agency remembered me as the mad bloke who was trying to walk to Brisbane when I left. I felt quite good about this; little did I know it would work against me later on. I handed him my receipt and he punched the details into the computer...

'Hmmm, it says here that you picked them up on October 5th'
'Well I can't have done, I was somewhere between Sydney and Newcastle then' I smiled
'I wonder why it says that then, I'll phone the other branch'

He phoned the other branch. They didn't have my tickets either.

'I think this one's going to take a while to sort out mate, is there any way we can get hold of you?'
'No, I don't have a phone sorry'
'OK, well entertain yourself as best you can in Sydney and come back at 4:30, is that ok?'
'Yeah sure, I'll see you then'

So I wondered round Sydney for a couple of hours, and got back to the travel agent at 4:30pm as agreed.

'Oh mate you won't believe this, but I've been constantly on the phone since you left'
'So no sign of my tickets then?'
'Well no news is good news'
'Doesn't matter' (I still don't understand why he said this)

So he made several phone calls, and after about a quarter of an hour it looked like he had it sorted. Or so I thought. He paused for a while and then looked up at me.

'I bet you're quite fit after all that walking aren't you?'
'Yes' I said, stupidly
'Right, what I need you to do is run to the Thai Embassy, they've got your tickets there.'
'The Thai Embassy?'
'What are they doing there?'
'Doesn't matter, they close at 5pm and it's 4:47pm now - by the time a cab turns up they'll be closed. You'll have to run and get there before 5 - it's about 3km - here I'll give you a map'

I couldn't believe it, but it looked like I had to run 3km in 13 minutes to get on my flight that I booked over a month ago. It also looked like I didn't really have a choice in the matter, so I ran, and ran, stopped and had a mild asthma attack after about 2km, then ran some more and collapsed in a sweaty heap outside the Thai Embassy at 5:03pm. The staff were just walking out the door and locking up. I stopped one of them and explained my situation. She looked at my bedraggled state and said 'you're lucky, any later and we'd be gone'. Funny, I didn't feel particularly lucky at that time, but I suppose she had a point.

She reopened the doors, switched the power back on, took me up to the fourth floor and then said 'do you have your passport with you?'. I didn't - I'd left it in my bag at the travel agent. 'Well do you have any photo ID?'. I didn't. So I then had to phone the travel agent and describe to him whereabouts in my bag my passport was so he could fax a copy to the Thai Embassy - this took a lot longer than it should have done. At about 5:30pm I finally had my tickets, and at 10pm tonight I'll theoretically be on a flight to Bangkok. Hopefully not in seat 13C.
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Sunny Melbourne [Oct. 25th, 2003|07:39 pm]
Russell Crow
Last Sunday I decided to come to Melbourne for a bit. Tomorrow I'm flying back to Brisbane and I'm really really glad about it. Melbourne's a nice place, the scenery around it's beautiful, but it's cold, wet and miserable half the time. I've also had a shit time and feel rubbish at the moment - email and ask if you want to know why. I haven't talked to anyone from home for a while and it would be nice to talk to some of my mates again. I have, however, lost everyone's mobile numbers with my phone - email yours to me again if you don't mind, although bear in mind that I'm probably going to whinge at you.

I'm now going to put this behind me, learn from it, try to make myself a better person as a result and then look forward to the rest of my travelling. I have the Great Barrier Reef, my scuba diving classes and two weeks in Thailand still to look forward to, and nothing can get in the way of that (I hope). As it says in The Beach, travel therapy always works, and boy am I looking forward to tomorrow.
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No Sleep Til Bedtime [Oct. 24th, 2003|10:02 pm]
Russell Crow
As some of you probably already know, my new-found invincible ego has actually proven to be somewhat vincible (if that's the word, or is that like infamous and actually makes it more?) over the last couple of days. I won't go into the details, but if you're familiar with the usual Ben disaster scenario then you've probably got a fair idea. In fact, what happened wasn't really that bad at all, but that hasn't stopped me being a miserable fuck the last two mornings. This morning I woke up and was still feeling sorry for myself, which was a shame as I was about to go on a tour of the Great Ocean Road.

So far the two tours I've been on haven't been to bad, but I had a bad feeling about this one as I noticed the hoards of old grannies and fat weirdos clambering on board the coach. The cheerful coach driver kicked things off by asking if we'd heard any good Aussie music, and then said 'well, you're in for a treat because I've got Lazy Harry's new Great Aussie Songs album to listen to on the way'.

I'd never heard of Lazy Harry before, but he's rubbish. The music's kind of like Ralph McTell's Alphabet Zoo, but without any talent (or any surreal lyrics about goats eating aeroplanes). And the songs... I'll give you an example. The first one was about a BBQ that all went 'hilariously' wrong with a cheerful catchy chorus: 'It's an Aussie institution, Australian through and through. G'Day mate, grab your plate, let's have a barbecue'. All the old ladies managed to learn this chorus after the first time, and then joined in singing and clapping their hands (as did a couple of mad Japanese families) when it came round again.

To make matters worse, I was set next to an enormous weird bloke who had somehow managed to combine his bad breath and BO to create a new smell that was a bit like turning on a dusty radiator after it's been off for several months. This should have been funny, but now was not the time to be nice and cheerful, I'd already decided that I was going to be a miserable fuck today, and there was no way a stupid situation with old ladies singing shit songs was going to change that.

So I sought refuge from my MiniDisc player, which I'd prepared with my Pink Floyd compilation. I pressed play, waited, and then heard 'Bed Time Boys! - Oh Mum!' and groaned. It was the beginning of the Stutter Rap and I'd got the Pink Floyd MiniDisc mixed up with my MP3 downloads one. Yeah, I know, most people use MP3s to pirate whole albums or research new and unheard of artists. Not me. I use it to download shit novelty pop songs that I'm too tight to buy. Then when I sold my computer I put all the songs on to a Mini Disc - all 5 hours of them. With lines like 'there's something wrong with your vocal technique when the 12" mix goes on for a week' there was no avoiding the cheerfulness now - I remembered making this compilation and knew all too well that the next three tracks were Wild Wild West, Snooker Loopy and the Inspector Gadget theme tune. There was no way I could complain about old ladies singing along to Lazy Harry when I had Chas n Dave in my Walkman, and there was now no way I could maintain this misery any more - I just had to smile.

But that was what I needed to do. After that I really enjoyed seeing the beautiful scenery on the Great Ocean Road (really big cool limestone rock structures in the middle of the sea - saw some wicked penguins last night too), and once again felt glad to be alive. Not even the film (I think it was called Rivers Run Wild or something - it's rubbish) or the Muzak version of Love Lift Us Up Where We Belong that we had on the way back could depress me now. This was the cheesiest and tackiest tour I've been on, but it was fun. Sometimes you need something like that to knock things into perspective - unhappiness is rarely worth it, and (as a wise woman once told me) it's often just a bad habit that once started is difficult to break away from.

I will, of course, resolutely ignore anyone who gives me this kind of advice the next time I fell like being miserable.
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I Met This Irish Girl... [Oct. 17th, 2003|11:54 am]
Russell Crow
I love meeting mad people, which is lucky as most of the people I've met here have been complete nutcases. I don't mean that in a 'you don't have to be mad to work here but it helps' kind of way, I mean mad in an actual mad way.

This morning I woke up at 11am and saw that Donald had packed his bags and left, but by the time I got back from seeing Lost in La Mancha at 4pm he'd been replaced by a new guy. He was an Aussie bloke in his mid 40s and already curled up in bed. He got off to a cracking start with his opening line:

'What's your name, is it Steve?'
'No, my name's Ben, but pleased to meet you anyway'
'You look like you're in a band. Are you in a band Steve?'
'No I'm not, and my name's Ben, what's yours?'
He chuckles to himself for a while and then says 'My name's Steve'
'Your name's Steve?'
'Are you sure about that'
'Yeah, and you know what?
'No, what?'
'I got up at 5am this morning'
'Wow that's early'
'And I went downstairs and saw this Irish girl'
'And you could see she was wearing a g-string underneath her jeans'

Steve was looking at me with a huge expectant grin on his face like he'd just told me the funniest story in the world. I waited, then I waited some more and after a few seconds I was pretty sure this was the end of Steve's story. I couldn't fault it - it had a beginning, a middle and an end, but it was missing something crucial. A point maybe. Steve looked like he had the potential to be funny though, so I decided to press on:

'So how long have you been travelling for?'
'A long time, a long long time'
'Wow, you must have seen some amazing things'
'Oh yeah' He chuckles again 'I've seen some things you wouldn't believe'
'Really? What's the most amazing thing you've seen?'
'Well I got up early one morning, about 5am I think it was, and I went downstairs and saw this Irish girl'
'Really? Was she wearing a g-string underneath her jeans?
'Yeah, that's her. You know her?'

It was difficult to tell if he was taking the piss or not, but I had a feeling he wasn't. I could see that this conversation wasn't going anywhere, and I had to go out to the cinema again anyway. Kill Bill was sold out, so I went to see 28 Days Later instead, which has only just come out here. When I got back, all the beds were filled with new room mates, but Steve was now curled up in my sleeping bag on my bed.

Room mate 1: Is that your bed mate?

Me: Yes it is

Room mate 2: That guy loves it in there, we tried to get him out but he was loving it too much.

Me: So I see, how did he get there?

Room mate 1: Well we were all watching Crocodile Dundee II in the common room, and then Steve comes out and says 'I'll show you how to piss off a croc, I'll show you'

Room mate 2: Yeah, then he goes out to the swimming pool and just starts pissing in it, and there were these two lassies in there too.

At this point Steve starts chuckling to himself again.

Room mate 1: He got a right bollocking from the manager, and then he came back and got into your bed. Says he loves it, especially your sleeping bag.

Steve: I love your bed Steve, it's the best bed in the world.

Me: Yeah, you like my sleeping bag do you?

Steve: Yeah, and you know what?

Me: What?

Steve: I got up at 5am this morning and went downstairs and saw this girl.

Room mate 1: Really Steve? Was she Irish?

Room mate 2: Yeah, was she wearing a g-string underneath her jeans?

Steve: Yeah, I met this Irish girl downstairs, had a g-string underneath her jeans. She was amazing, you should have seen her. Had a g-string underneath her jeans.

Steve had undoubtedly told this pointless anecdote to everyone in the entire hostel by now, but I've now realised that Steve was probably the most interesting thing that happened to me that day. I think the moral is that if you have a shit story, just repeat it enough times and it'll become a good one, especially if you piss on some girls and sleep in someone else's bed in the process.
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