Month: December 2011

Initiate moaning mode

Pictured: Me. Sorta.

This neighbourhood, like many of the ones we journeyed through on our quest to find a house, is the quietest place you could possibly envisage. On our expeditions to the various estates, roads, lanes, crescents, and avenues across the top portion of Western Australia, we were lucky to see a single soul outdoors. No families sitting on their front lawn sunbathing or playing with the kids.

But at night, God help you if you try to go to sleep.

Yesterday night was probably the worst night’s sleep I’ve had here. For some reason the idiots next door decided to have their New Year’s Eve party the day before. It was a rampant cacophony of boozed-up Aussies slurring obscenities and having dry-heaving contests for what seemed like hours. Oh wait, it was hours – from about midnight until 5 o’clock in the morning, to be precise.

While this was going on there was some kind of squawking avian menace proclaiming the boundaries of its territory from the tree just outside the garden. Endlessly. At random, not-quite-evenly-spaced intervals, and in a tone that was only just out of key every single time, for maximum teeth-grinding irritation.

This also seems to be a neighbourhood rife with people who own dogs. Now, I realize that with these next few paragraphs I might well be antagonizing a whole third of my audience – that is, people who own dogs, as opposed to those who own cats (my people) and those who own neither (sane people). I have nothing against you if you choose to have a dog, but I just find it difficult understanding your point of view when it comes to the undying attachment that many of you hold towards these animals.

How the hell can you possibly feel love for an animal which has no independent streak of its own, will deposit its bio-hazardous leavings just about anywhere regardless of how you train it, and furthermore will bark at absolutely nothing in the wee hours? Please, I need to know.

D'awwww, isn't he just sweet?

One dog in particular, a tiny, yapping son-of-a-bitch – no pun intended – was obviously distraught by either something that went past its house hours ago (when it started its vocal cannonade), or something completely stationary it could see that maybe wasn’t there before but any way wasn’t going to be moved no matter how much of a yapping it received. See, dogs apparently can’t distinguish between anything harmlessly out of the ordinary, and genuine threats. Their immediate reaction to either is (1) bark (2) repeat. Cats, meanwhile, just don’t give a flying monkey. Unless it’s another cat, in which case something problematic (and possibly neighbour-awaking) may ensue.

Luckily the bastard thing has shut up for a few days. I like to imagine it’s been eaten by one of those huntsman spiders.

But that has not ended my struggles with sleeping. Apparently the heat here has been as high as 24ยบC during the night. It has certainly felt like it. That was keeping me awake even if the dog and the bird and the drunkards had all shut up. Kinda hard to sleep when you feel like you’re drowning in your own perspiration. And the window is open and is slamming the bedroom door – even though it’s closed. Or making the blinds flap about noisily.

I don’t need outward complications, Australia, I’ve got my own and I’m quite happy with them. In a relative manner of speaking.

EDIT: I’m starting to think that this whole neighbourhood doesn’t want me to sleep. That effing bird was at it again for about four hours last night. Obviously I slept in until about 11am as a result and felt like turd. Was incredibly tempted to go outside and throw the largest rock I could find in the garden at it.

Merry Christmas, all a’ y’all!

This Christmas has been a strange one for me, mainly because it feels like we’vee not actually been celebrating it at the right time this year. For example, everyone knows how much the traditionals Christmas hymns and carols refer to the dark nights and snowy winter weather.

Over here, it’s been about 35ยบC.

Yet this fazes the Aussies not. They still have giant snow globes in the middle of their supermarkets and play the wintery carols over their PA systems. They still dress up in red and white wintery gear, and decorate their lawns with sugarcanes. And Santa is still in a huge red suit that I’m sure would suffocate an actual human being in this heat – although I suppose the alternative to that is putting a fat, old, bespectacled man in swimgear, and that’s not something I want to even think about. I just hope the supermarket Santas get good air-conditioning in their “grottos”.

I’m sure I’ll get used to the weather being six months out of sync at some point – maybe next year.

Had a grand old time at Scarborough Beach (the place where our Australian escapades all began) and then a hearty Christmas dinner, which consisted of possibly the most succulent turkey joint I’ve ever had.

Hope you’ve all had a good one, even if it’s been snowy and chilly for you.

The chaos continues; also I rant about hygiene

Today was another one of those days where the amount of energy spent seems horrendously out of proportion with the results you get at the end of it. Mum said, I think quite rightly, that she’d been on her feet all day – that’s possibly true for the rest of us.

All we needed to do was to haul several bags and luggage cases of earthly possessions about 8km to our new house.

It had “easy” written all over it.

You deceitful bastard house, you.

My brother and I were left in charge of the chalet while the parents went out to… uh, sort something out with the agent. I think. We were basically tasked with the overseeing and protection of everything we owned in the world at that time. A responsibility we completely ignored.

If this were some kind of tragi-comedy blog (which it would be if my life more closely followed that genre), the next few paragraphs would describe how we either (a) lost everything due to our collective carelessness (b) broke everything due to our collective clumsiness or (c) fought off a robber using nought but a slingshot and the blunt end of a keytar in an action sequence that would’ve put Braveheart to shame.

Sadly, none of that happened.

They were away for three hours, and then Mum went on to the new house, while Dad returned to get the arses of me and my bro into gear. He wanted to get to the house quickly because the guys delivering our furniture were due to be there in about half-an-hour, and he wanted to be there in case something went wrong, or something. The next twenty minutes were a blur of packing, stacking, fretting and sweating. The entire back half of the car was crammed with the entire contents of the chalet, and my brother. He had to hold an open can of sweetcorn in one hand, and precariously balance a plastic bag containing an incredibly sharp knife and a three-quarters full tub of vanilla ice-cream on top of the immense pile of stuff that he was shoe-horned in amongst with the other hand.

Again, I’d like to tell you that something hilariously tragic occurred, perhaps along the lines of the knife slitting an opening in the tub, causing litres of melted ice-cream to spill onto my brother’s face. But it didn’t. Sadly. Wish it had.

Then after all that, we ended up hitting bad rush-hour traffic anyway (and of course the furniture rentors did as well, meaning we arrived at the house about half an hour before them).

We did check multiple times that we hadn’t left anything behind, but there are of course still doubts as to exactly how thorough our checking was. (Mum still can’t find some kitchen cloths that I know I packed because I knew that they were exactly the kind of thing liable to go missing but still they can’t be found anywhere.)

So, once we’d finally arrived at our new address – our completely empty shell of a house – we started unloading the car.

Dad told us not the walk across the grass while we did this, or it would die. Okay.

Keep off the grass. This is nice grass, it never hurt anybody.

Meanwhile, the ice-cream was, predictably, not in the most solid state it had ever been in, along with all the other refrigerated goods that had basically been cooking in the back of the car for the quarter-of-an-hour or so we were on the road, so that had to be done pretty quickly. There was of course nowhere to put it because the fridge-freezer hadn’t arrived yet.

Walking around after everything was in place (read: slung unsystematically into the front room because damn it that was just the easiest way to do it), my parents began to notice how… dirty…? the place was. Personally, I thought the fact that the place was most devoid of all trace of previous human inhabitance meant that the place was perfectly serviceable already. That said, my brother and I fall somewhere between “utterly clueless” and “blissfully ignorant” when it comes to domestic hygiene. We don’t pick up the sort of things that our parents were picking up on their grime radar (and even if I did, I don’t think I’d pay it any attention anyway) – all of which was in fact outlined on a lengthy report left by the landlord, complete with bulleted lists of every impurity in the house that a cleaning crew would be around shortly to sort out.

What we were finding wasn’t anything utterly nightmare-inducing – at least I didn’t think so. Certainly not to the degree of what you see on How Clean is Your House (which isn’t the main focus of that show, let’s face it).

The shower was a bit grubby, but then it is a shower. Grub can be rinsed away and flushed down the plughole – problem solved. The upper shelves were a bit dusty, but then they are shelves. Parts of the house that aren’t used tend to accumulate debris. The oven grill was a bit… okay, that was rather scummy.

Put simply, the previous tenants were probably… well, let’s face it – people like me. People who don’t mind sharing a room with a cobweb or two. (I did for roughly six years in our last house – it has its perks. You and the spider share a mutual hatred of flies, and when you swat a fly into one of its webs and provide it with a free lunch, it far outweighs the potential health hazards of living in a cobweb-caked room.)

Then the furnishings arrived – that is, a fridge-freezer, a table, five chairs, and three double beds. Everything (that wasn’t going to be slept on) was deposited in the kitchen. The two men were here for about five minutes moving stuff out of their truck and then were gone. The only point they slowed down the slightest bit was when they were carrying the table – which was almost exactly as wide as the corridor – into the kitchen. Now that’s what I call efficient.

Mum and Dad then had to depart again to buy some things that were missing from the house, once again leaving brother and I in charge of our current place of residence, during which we hooked up our laptops once more and stared at their screens for a few hours. The two cleaners came around and occupied the place in the meantime, doing their thing by spraying, scrubbing and sanitizing every bit of the house. However, we didn’t check if they’d done a thorough enough job – though even if we had, we would still probably have thought that they were doing just fine. As far as we were concerned the whole house was getting chemically irrigated.

When mother and father returned (the cleaners having left about 10 minutes prior), it was pretty dark outside, though it seemed rather early – I still need to inquire or investigate further into the solar activity on this side of the world – does the sun over here lower early like in the English winter, and also rise early like the English summer? Is it the other way around in the Australian winter – which is the English summer? Dear me.

My Dad noted that during this outing “‘[they’d] been buying out the whole of Australia”. I’d like to thing he was using this phrase jokingly, but the way he exaggerates, it’s hard not to imagine he genuinely believes it. Though I’m really not sure where he got this notion – we’re only buying essentials at present, like food, utensils and electrical appliances that we have no replacements for yet (our former toaster and kettle, for instance, are on a ship somewhere on the Atlantic Ocean right now in a smacking great container). Of course we’re paying in dollars now, and because the exchange rate is something like 1.6 Aussie dollars to the pound, there may be an illusion that we’re throwing money around like nobody’s business. Surely though, we can’t be spending that much more than we ever used to and OH SHIT BUGS. BUUUUGS. THOUSANDS OF THEM.

What the hell – aw, geez – are they… flies? Mosquitoes? Midges? Oh God they’re up my nose.

Yeah. We made the mistake of leaving the light just inside the door “on”, and the front door wide open. This is of course the insect equivalent of slamming a giant “FREE BOOZE” sign in neon and tinsel above the door of the local public house. Before any of us were even aware that we had an infestation in progress, about a hundred or two had gathered above the door.

Enter father with the Hoover of Death.

Like this, but black, with a skull for a face and carrying a scythe.

We stashed away all the shopping, all of us starting to feel increasingly knackered, and then slowly but surely the holes in the cleaning crew’s work started to appear. They’d cleaned the oven’s grill but not the tray. They hadn’t polished the entire worktop. Dust was still prevalent in a few select corners. As far as my parents were concerned, they might just as well have gotten a bunch of monkeys to run rampant around the house for two hours, and left to chance whether they could differentiate their own excrement from a bucket of soap and water before applying it to all of the walls and floors.

At this point it was late in the day and I was starving. I’d had a cup of tea for breakfast, two sausages for lunch, and the aforementioned (by my parents) “inaugural McDonald’s” had somehow gotten lost in the madness of my parents’ outing for kitchen essentials. I opted to have some bread and peanut butter instead.

Nope.

Before even that could be done, my mum had to wash each and every piece of cutlery and crockery that had just been bought. At this point I really started to think that the English obsession over personal hygiene was reaching ridiculous levels – surely the Aussies don’t even think of that? Look, if the bread that we’re buying in Australia is apparently “untouched by human hands” then surely it won’t kill us to use our eating utensils straight out of the box?

Eugh. So filthy.

Things had gone pretty smoothly for me and my brother up to this point and we were feeling pretty laid-back at having finally finished the process of getting (and living in) a house, but now I was starting to feel my parent’s frustration with the amount of things that weren’t quite in place – although for a different reason. They were annoyed because the worktop hadn’t been scrubbed over 100%. I was annoyed because they were annoyed. They’re very good at making huge deals out of minor inconveniences, and I began to wonder if the subatomic particles in charge of controlling the various cosmic forces of the universe secretly hated us, and were arranging just the right amount of infinitesimal yet entirely perceptible problems to cause seemingly endless friction between everyone involved.

I took my frustration out on my second batch of peanut-butter-on-bread. It wouldn’t spread properly – and if you’re a spread and you screw up the bread like you screw up the fur of a cat when you stroke it the wrong way – no matter what direction I spread you in – then I’ve got a message for you. EFF YOU.

I need one of these in my life.

Three whole and one half-destroyed slices of peanut butter later, I sat down and spent two hours composing this blog post.

At least the cleaners left a “welcome” goodie-bag.

From their church.

To a bunch of atheists.

Heh.

We has a house – Stage 2 of… ???

Some kind of transaction thingy has happened or something, so now that (I think) we have…

LOAAAAADSAMONEEEEEYYYY

…we can actually seal the deal with our estate agent, which we’ll be doing in about 24 hours.

So we’ll soon be living in an actual house for a third of the original price with about eight times the amount of room to use up. We will in fact be living without all of our furniture for about two months so there’ll be a great deal more space than we could possibly know how to occupy. Some necessities (tables, beds, fridge-freezer) have been ordered and should be arriving at our house tomorrow, if all goes to plan.

Let’s hope it does.

YouTube update 19/12/11

Just uploaded four new tracks to my YouTube channel. Find them below. ๐Ÿ˜€

More to come. ๐Ÿ˜‰

“Voyage”

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“Art of the Conjurer”

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“Weather Warning”

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“Mist at Dawn”

We has a house.

And it’s awesome.

I apologise wholeheartedly for not having updated this blog in a while – especially neglecting to keep you up to date with my musical discoveries via Epic Song of the Week, and not uploading many any tracks to my YouTube page.

Truth be told, there’s really not been a lot of things happening round here. There’s been a lot of terribly boring stuff we’ve had to sort out – bank accounts, all sorts of identification checks (now that we are residents) and above all, house-hunting.

Oh, the joys of house-hunting. We must’ve looked at about twenty different properties over the last fortnight, and every day has been frought with the lingering possibility that due to our lack of useable funds and very specific requirements for a place to live, if we continue the way we currently are, we might actually soon be on the streets with nought but a shoebox to sleep in in the middle of the road. Or, if we were lucky, perhaps a cosy warm hole in the ground, covered by a nice big sheet of tarpaulin.

And that feeling gets reinforced when you turn up to a house that’s advertised as “The perfect starter for new property owners” or somesuch, with an acceptable rental rate – only to be greeted by a tiny, congested flat in a run-down apartment complex which could possibly house a small family of chihuahuas, but possibly not a family of four increasingly-aggravated human beings with sixteen heavy bags of possessions to store in it.

Currently we’re residing in a tourist park, amidst several other people (most of them Australian) who are doubtlessly seeking alternative accommodation.

It’s… small. Not a lot of spare room. At all.

This is holiday accommodation.

Every morning a bloke with a leaf-blower trudges around the park at random making an unstoppable racket. People bang on their caravans for reasons unknown. The traffic’s quite close and every now and then you hear some crazy Australian driver performing a two-wheeled U-turn in the middle of the road at 70kph. (I’m going to have to get used to the way everything is measured in kilometres over here.)

I mean good God are the drivers aggressive here. It’s probably standard practice, though – over in the UK the guy driving alongside you on the motorway in the 4×4 will inquire politely beforehand if he can carve you up. The Aussies aren’t bothered about pleasantries, or indeed about causing offense or distress. They’ll quite happily reverse an entire car-length while you are stationed immediately behind them at the traffic lights.

Our current situation is not quite Hell. But it could be better. By a lot.

The laid-back attitude of the Australians seems to be reflected in many of the other punters in this park. It’s as though there’s a mutual understanding between everyone here along the lines of “Yeah, we’ve all gotta get the hell outta here. We might as well get along. Mate.” It particularly applies to us since we’re forking over $900/week for this god-forsaken shack. Oh, sorry, did I gloss over that bit a tad? Let me reiterate: NINE HUNDRED DOLLARS A WEEK. FOR WHAT IS ESSENTIALLY A BACKYARD SHED.

…that’s after the discount. It was TWELVE HUNDRED to start with.

Overcharged, were we? Try extorted. Christ.

Managing my own finances is something I’m soon going to learn how to do with my new bank account. Even I, as inexperienced at budgeting and financial security as I am, know that the fee of twelve hundred smackeroos for living in a cupboard is basically criminal. I swear if my dad had mentioned how rapidly we were haemorrhaging funds one more time I probably would’ve garrotted him.

But all that merriment is now over with, thankfully. We just received a phone call telling us we’d been selected for a $400/week rental property in the suburb of Wanneroo – an actual house, with four bedrooms, two bathrooms and loads of additional space that we’ll have to fill somehow. As of right now, we are no longer homeless.

Our reaction: YAY!!!!!!1

Well… not quite. It is ours the second we send over the money for it – and that will first involve translating all of our pounds sterling into Aussie dollars, then sending a sum of money to the agency in order to seal the deal – and with the exchange rate fluctuating by the second, as it does, that could be a risky business.

Also it’ll be completely clean and utterly unfurnished when we move in. Meaning that we’ll basically be living minimalist for the next few weeks until our furniture from the UK lands on the Australian shore. It’ll basically be a big, fancy shoebox.

I really believe that things are now starting to take off over here. With everything being so sedentary as of late, it’s refreshing to know that we’re finally ready to begin our life in a property of our own in Aussieland. One thing I’d really like to do in the near future is get some kind of proper driving tuition, particularly one that allows me to expand on the skills I accrued in the UK during the short time I was (slowly) learning to command a vehicle. At least they drive on the same side of the road here.

Also I’d be highly interested in maximizing my vocal prowess and my dexterity with the piano/keyboard. These are all items on my personal to-do list for the near future, although my parents might have other immediate priorities. Ones that are perhaps actually important to our continuing survival here.

As for how Australia itself is treating us, we’ve been coping pretty well. I was expecting to be in a state of shock from the drastic change of climate (let us not forget the fun I had on the last day in the UK). The pool in the tourist park is kept at a tepid 0ยฐC and everything else around us lies consistently between 20 and 40ยฐC. Our chalet has a nice air-con unit, but it only heats the kitchen/dining area, so the bedrooms (particularly mine and my brother’s) get pretty hot and stinky. It’s a wonder my laptop hasn’t overheated and exploded yet. (I have a small USB-powered fan running underneath it which should be keeping its insides nice and cool, but geez does the keyboard get hot. Every 30 minutes or so I have to get up and douse my face and hair in cold water, just due to the heat emanating from this thing, let alone that of the unforgiving Australian summer.)

Anyway. Five gold stars to my parents for playing pretty much the whole part in getting us to this stage in our lives. Only a few verbal armageddons occurred.ย 5 stars, A++, would emmigrate with again, etc.

Two decades on this planet, also Doom turns eighteen

I suppose this is quite significant to my life so I think I’ll make a blog post about it.

Probably.

(Late by ten days though it is.)

(Also that cake wasn’t mine.)

On November 30, 2011, I celebrated the 20th anniversary of my inception into this world. Two decades. 20 years. 240 months. 1,040 weeks. 7,305 days. 175,320 hours. 10,519,200 minutes. 631,152,000 seconds.

But really, it doesn’t matter how that length of time is phrased – it just doesn’t feel like it’s been that long at all. I may have existed for two whole decades, but I certainly don’t feel as though I have the same amount of experience as your average person of 20 years. I still feel like a young’un, yet my self-image should surely have graduated to “adult” when I officially became an adult two entire years ago.

I think that may be because, as I think it’s safe to say, I’ve led a rather sheltered life. I’ve spent most of my time cooped up in my comfort zone, fiddling about making music and playing games that are nearly as old as me. I haven’t exercised any of the new rights and privileges that come with being a slightly older person. I’ve not voted yet – I tend to stay as far away from the trainwreck that is our current political system as possible. I don’t drink at all – alcoholic beverages of any kind just revulse me for reasons I can’t really explain. I still can’t be trusted to drive a vehicle – lessons were taken but I soon proved to devolve into a brainless klutz whenever put in front of the wheel of a car. And you probably couldn’t give less of a shit about my sexual experiences but let’s just say they have not been that many.

My parents have gone well out of their way to make sure no unnecessary hardship should come upon me or my brother. One of the major reasons we emmigrated was to ensure we both had a good chance of further education and to open up a myriad of new opportunites, after the UK proved to be rather limited and less-than-enthralling, what with the state of decline its economy is now in.

In the coming years I’m going to try and be as responsible and outwardly proactive as possible. In the twenty years to follow, I’m going to find wealth, knowledge, love, and happiness through whatever means I possibly can. And I’m going to (try and) do it with as little help as possible.

Anyway, that’s enough of me ranting about the obstacles I’ll have to face throughout my continuing existence on this Earth. Let’s talk about something that matters a little less, shall we? ๐Ÿ˜€

Today, Doom turned 18. At least in the UK, it, like myself, is of the age where it can legally vote, drink, drive and procreate (though let’s hope not at the same time, or those privileges might well get revoked fast).

18 years ago today, the game that would forever change the face of computer gaming and set the standard for survival horror games was uploaded to the FTP server of the University of Wisconsin, and was immediately set upon by zealous gamers who, in their frantic bid to get an early copy of the game, crashed the server.

Let’s face it, Doom is arguably the best videogame of all time. Not just because of its timelessness and its technological feats considering the hardware and software available to developers at the time, but because its community is still a thriving and incredibly creative force that is showing no signs of stopping any time soon.

I for one am definitely not going to stop loving it, or making maps of my own for it, at any point in the near (or distant) future.

Cacoward

Also I done won a Cacoward. This was for my 32-map single player mapset “Jenesis“. This is the first Cacoward I’ve won for a project of my own (although I’ve contributed music and the occasional map to a few community-made projects which also won awards in previous editions). Still, this is a pretty happy moment for me. Jenesis took me since October of last year to complete and only hit the archives at the end of November this year. Yep, more than a years’ worth of on/off work, bugtesting, finetuning and the occasional hiatus went into this project. Of course, not all of this year’s Cacoward winners took that long to complete (in fact, Khorus’ 32-map project took him exactly a month), so I guess my next goal is too see if I can pump out something of equal quality within a shorter amount of time. Hopefully I’ll release something to match or even outdo Jenesis in 2012. Possibly even that friggin’ Chip’s Challenge remake I’ve been sitting on for a while now.

Chaos in Pictures: An odyssey of insanity as described by James Paddock; illustrated by Ben P

Well, this has been hell. Thank Christ there’s no return trip this time around, so we won’t have to repeat this whole series of events. I wouldn’t wish the chaos that comes with the arduous process of emmigration on my worst enemy.

This emmigration thing has spanned roughly three years of systematic chaos, and three days of the kind of utter havoc that would impress Eris herself.

The night before we were due to move out of the house (27 Nov), I and my mum pulled an all-nighter, subsisting on multiple cups of tea, Kit Kats, and shortbread – with a view to regaining sleep during the 30+ hour journey to Australia which would soon follow. I managed well to begin with, but the sleep deprivation soon started to hit hard. When my body’s tolerance toward caffeine started to null the effectiveness of the torrents of tea I was forcing into it, it began to feel as though injecting concentrated coffee into my eyes was the only way forward.

What sleep deprivation does to me.

On top of the tiredness, my body had to overcome further tests of endurance and outward complications. Early into the following morning, frost began to appear outside – the first of the winter season. The house started to get cold. Like, really cold. Stupidly cold. Fridge-freezer-in-the-Arctic cold. It always seemed a physical impossibility how cold our house was capable of getting. Colder than it was outside, for Pete’s sake.

Previously I’d felt warm and rosy-cheeked, wrapped in little more than a thick T-shirt, a fleece and thermal socks, and now suddenly I felt as though I was going to die of pneumonia at any moment. My extremities began to feel genuinely frostbitten. Desperation started to set in. I wore ridiculously large gloves on top of my fingerless gloves. I put on a woolly hat, heated it by breathing as much of my searing, stinking breath into it as I could, periodically smothered my face in the hat, and even resorted to wearing it over approximately the top two-thirds of my head. I even wore one of my dad’s large woolly jumpers on top of my fleece. All of this was merely an exercise in humilation and futility, as my body temperature just continued to decline. Not to mention that all throughout, I’d been slipping in and out of consciousness as the sleep deprivation started to take its toll on my slowly perishing mind.

This was a new low for me.

Things did not improve even by noon. Quivering like a mound of pathetic jelly, I opted to take to bed. I say “bed”, it was actually just a mattress in the spare bedroom because the sheet and duvet had already been packed away by the removal men (as had nearly everything in the entire house by this point). There I lay, in the fetal position, using my second woolly hat as a makeshift pillow, attempting to get comfortable and still my seemingly dying body.

…I awoke (about an hour later) in quite possibly one of the foulest of moods I’ve ever been in. My family know well how screwed my body clock is, and for the last few days, the removal men’s labour had awoken me before my body had decided that it had gotten enough sleep. As my family’s well aware, if my body is even slightly below par, all bodily functions become a torturous ordeal. My brain virtually ceases to function, and my muscles scream in agony whenever they are called upon to do anything remotely physical. (Yes, you guessed – I’m not fit.) Imagine this feeling, but on top of that, you’ve crawled naked into a half-frozen lake during the night and tried to replenish what little energy you could that way. This is roughly how I now felt.

Morning frost can be an unforgiving bitch.

My family were preparing to leave the house to be relayed to the train station and the house was in a state of absolute bedlam. My laptop case had been stuffed lovingly full of rubbish by my brother, in an effort to file it away somewhere. Everyone was in as foul a mood as I – basically it had turned out that the house still hadn’t actually sold. We weren’t going to get the money from it until the mortgage company got their arses into gear and completed the transaction – and the phones had been cut off by our provider so we couldn’t contact anyone about it. This naturally got my mum and dad into a visible state of… unrest. Or perhaps complete despair.

Still, we continued to pack our things, but we were rapidly approaching the time that the taxi driver was due to pick us up. The last few minutes were a flurry of blindly stuffing suitcases with belongings we probably didn’t even need to take with us, but were lying around unsorted so had to go somewhere. We still couldn’t take everything – in fact, my dad had to leave a few valuable and perfectly saleable things behind, which he was quite cut up about. We ended up with about sixteen fully-packed bags, many of which were large and unwieldy to carry (including two or three open-top bags with handles consisting of what felt like titanium-wrought rope that dug right into the flesh when held for any length of time greater than 4 seconds), and other bags which were broken and unreliable for storing what they were allocated, but there just wasn’t enough time to sort things into a sane manner.

To be honest, sanity itself was in direly short supply.

Example one
Example two
Example three
Example four

Eventually the taxi driver dude arrived to take us to the train station – a friendly man with the looks of Mel Smith and the build of Shrek, who was mighty helpful in getting our bags onto his huge people-carrier. (He also helped us out stacking our overflow of stuff onto a trolley so we could get onto the train. Lovely bloke.) As we stacked the car, the removal guys who’d packed all of our stuff with unstoppable zeal – also lovely guys, overall – bade us good luck and farewell on our travels. The eventual departure from the house (and the last six years of our lives) was so frantic that there was no time for last-minute regrets. (And I was so cold by this point that I couldn’t have gotten away from that frigid, hollow iceberg of a house fast enough. After all that, the only thing I think we’ll genuinely miss about that place is Scotty.)

The removal men and the taxi driver were unfortunately the last legitimately nice people we’ve talked to since then.

Once we (and our sixteen pieces of luggage) got onto on the train, we were seated beside a pair of women with a baby that every five minutes or so sobbed for it’s mummy like the little attention whore that it was. An annoyance, but nothing much else, and we only had to endure its unwanted company for about 10 minutes because the family got off the train about two stops into our journey. At least it ended.

The taxi driver who took us from King’s Cross to Heathrow seemed nice, but about 30 seconds into the drive, I collapsed onto my brother’s extraordinarily comfortable shoulder, and slept like a log, for about 40 minutes. Which I’m sure he appreciated.

The best 40-minute sleep I’d ever had.

On the next step of the journey (a 12-hour flight) we were seated in front of some kind of damnable thrashing she-demon who on an hourly basis woke up, realised nothing was wrong, and instantly shattered this set of circumstances by screaming as though it was some kind of tortured, soulless wretch confined eternally to a swirling abyss of fire, demanding a death that would never come. Had it been legal for me to do so, I would’ve gladly provided it with such a fate, possibly through the blunt end of my keytar, which I would’ve crawled into the baggage compartment of the plane while it was in mid-flight to retrieve, had I the physicial capability to do so.

Pictured: Hell. TWELVE HOURS OF IT.

I slept for most of the second flight – a comparatively endurable five hours in length – but I’d still not technically had a decent night’s kip in about 72 hours. The lack of sleep is still getting to us all. The insanity is not quite at Jack Thompson levels yet but they are rapidly being approached.

I’ve been finding it increasingly difficult to talk to either of my parents without inadvertently sparking off some sort of full-scale nuclear war. It’s almost to the point where I know exactly how each argument is going to go. I can understand their frustration with the whole affair – between them they’ve poured infinite effort and heart into the process of getting us into Australia, and the whole time there seem to have been troubles or annoyances, major and minor, which have all added up into an odyssey of pain. They’ve literally worked their hands into states of ruin, sacrificed almost everything, and suffered needlessly throughout the whole thing. They’re entitled to feel hard done by. However, it’s now gotten to the point where, whenever an unexpected upset occurs, a verbal war of attrition is immediately sparked off, that seems to last hours. The intensity of the arguments are so disproportionate to the issues at hand, too. Temporarily misplaced some money? THE END OF DAYS. Left a spare fleece behind at the airport? ETERNAL DAMNATION IN PITS OF BURNING SULPHUR. We’ve been overcharged for our room? OH DEAR GOD WE’RE ALL GOING TO BE FLAYED ALIVE BY FACELESS DEMONS AS SCORPIONS CRAWL DOWN OUR THROATS. WHILE LISTENING TO COLDPLAY ON INFINITE REPEAT.

They’ve agreed (sorta) to cool down a bit, though, and to try to focus more on resolving these issues where possible, instead of fighting over them for inappropriate lengths of time. But it’s really been obstacle after obstacle and ripoff after ripoff. We really have to ask when it will end.

We just got to our rented accommodation and – let’s just say it’s small. I’m personally happy to have somewhere to sit down finally, but to my parents, we might as well have booked a week in an iron maiden. It’s at least clean, but pretty damn cramped – especially considering the sheer number of luggage bags we have – and the fact is that we’ve probably been overcharged even if we didn’t pay double after all. The landlady has been headachy and apparently dealing with the police lately so she’s been… less than cooperative.

…I’ve gotta say, I’ve had better birthdays.

PARTY HARD.

Here’s to twenty years on this planet, wankahs.

______________________________________________________________________________

P.S.

Many thanks to all of you who did write out cards, for the love and well-wishes. And the money, heh. Although it’s in British pounds, I at least have an Australian bank account that I can store it in (as Aus dollars) now. ๐Ÿ˜›

Don’t worry about all this, everyone. This has simply been a tough time (that I’ve somewhat overdramatised for comedic effect) which I’m sure will blow over sooner or later. Love to you all. x