Learn to Fly

Posted by Alex | | Posted On Monday, 21 June 2010 at 17:40

A thought has just occurred to me, what with the sun being constantly on show this summer, and the prospect of going to two foreign towns that are big enough to warrant public transport, but small enough that public transport is only really for the old ladies and the sightseers, that I never learnt to ride a bike.

You know how everyone has one of those things they regret never doing? Some people regret not putting on that lottery ticket last week, because they were sure to win it. Others regret never being taught to swim by their overcautious parents. Me? I honestly regret never having an interest in riding a bike. I think it came from the fact that I grew up on a terraced row of houses, at the top of a hill. The prospect of going down to the main road involved a lengthy descent via one of six potential inclines - I could have gone down the three streets that connected our terrace to the road below; used the nearby park to go down without careening to my death; or I could have tried the lanes at either end of my section of houses.

However, I didn't. I remember my parents bought me a bike. It was a black one. A Wolfcub or something it was called, with this red and yellow thunderbolt on it, and a soppy looking wolf's head to boot. At least, that's how I remember it in my head. They put the stabilisers on it, and we went to the park to practice, but, to get into the park, there was a hill. That's no fun when you've not really learnt how to pedal AND not panic. So, needless to say, I had no interest in dying at such a young age. And the bike became resigned to the shed.

Now, almost aged 21, having lived in Cardiff for two years, and seen umpteen students biking to and from lectures; having been to Artà and seen the number of people who would bike just to enjoy the breeze; having been to Barcelona numerous times, and seen their amazing commuting program, making use of a bike rental (pick it up at one bike rack, and just make sure you drop it off at another one before you leave it unattended); having been to all these places and seen the fun that comes with it all...I wish I actually had put the effort in to learning to ride.

They say you can never forget how to ride a bike. Well, how about never actually learning in the first place? I think myself quite the social anomaly in terms of this. In light of this, I've been looking into how an adult can learn to cycle. It appears that the simplest way is just to get a bike, take the pedals off it, and 'scoot' until you feel you've got the knack of balancing - increase the scooting speed; increase the distance; increase the time with feet off the ground; add some corners - and then put the pedals back on, and see if two-and-two can be put together.

One day I'll master it. One day. But for now, car-less, penniless, and generally lacking motivation in this sweltering heat, I am resigned to sitting indoors, reading through my collection of Terry Pratchett novels, just to induce some kind of fantasy world which detracts from the fact that I live in a veritable Llareggub, without the sea! Right now, I've got more chance of learning to fly!

Jude Law and a Semester Abroad

Posted by Alex | | Posted On Friday, 18 June 2010 at 16:37

Another week has flown by in my ever expanding quest to find something to do. Apart from many nights of heart-racing dreams, including, but not limited to, being robbed, being shot at, being attacked, being chased, and generally being the target of the entire world, it hasn't really been an eventful week in terms of "things getting done".

It's taken me until today to fill out the application form for the Università degli studi di Pavia. It's all due back by July 9th, so that bad boy will have to be mailed ASAP, since it has to go via Cardiff's ERASMUS department. We're meant to be doing two culture modules and a language refresher course in order to 'pass the year', but, since I don't exactly want to pay €150 to study 50 hours of Italian (and neither does anyone else) we've been granted the privilege of being able to study three culture modules instead. My proposed semester abroad looks a little like this:

60 hours of Italian Renaissance Literature
60 hours of Modern Italian Literature (mostly focussed on Italo Calvino)
60 hours of Medieval Art History

So, all in all, from October to mid-January, I have a grand total of 180 hours of University to attend, which is roughly three quarters of an average Cardiff semester, by my bad math. All I have to do is get it sent off, and hope that it gets approved by the folks in Cardiff. Then it's time to start worrying about flights, transport, and general living costs for the first month, since I won't be attending the language classes but will be expected to be there from September 2nd.

All in all - this is hella-stress. And just think, I have to do it all again in November for Lleida; and I won't even be in the country, so that'll be mountains of fun! Part of me is counting down the days til I leave; and part of me is counting down the days til I can come back, finish my degree, and actually get a job and start earning proper money. Oh well, quello che sarà, sarà.

In beardy news: I am looking more and more like a tramp each day, and with the new haircut I now look like I'm aiming to be Ed Norton in American History X, but I'm not quite there yet. Anyway, we're only just coming up to Week 3. My target is 6 weeks, which will take me up to July 11th; and if it doesn't fill-out by then, I'll go back to being resigned to being clean-shaven.

We've Got Cabin Fever

Posted by Alex | | Posted On Friday, 11 June 2010 at 18:26

Well, World, I've been home exactly...three days now, which is about as close to infinity as it could ever be. Time has been sufficiently wasted eating cake, drinking tea, and playing games that most people had finished months ago. I'm so "with the times", you know? Like a real trendsetter, you dig?

I had a nice day out in Swansea on Wednesday. I mean, okay, the actual Swansea part of the day out was rather lame, because that place is a Chernobyl sans lingering radiation. At least compared to the pristine "ooo aaahh waaaaw" of Cardiff. The good part was the trip to The Mumbles. I really like it down there; it's seaside-y, but not too full-on. Sitting on a rock, watching the tide come in, whilst watching a raincloud gather across the bay is perhaps the highlight of my week. That and the purchase of 8 large, white chocolate cookies for the chiefly sum of two pounds sterling! Huzzah! I'm a veritable Alan Sugar. Or maybe David Dickinson; I haven't quite decided the level of my business acumen.

Then, today, I commandeered the television set and managed to watch the full Mexico - R.S.A. match without anyone reaching for the remote. I was, for the most part, left in peace and allowed to watch it with a cup of tea in hand and a cake, filled with butter rum, and covered in coloured marzipan to make it look like a cauliflower. Most exciting food ever? I think so.

Whilst the match was a total "edge of your seat" "rabbit's nose" fest, and I uttered the word sangano no less than 28 times in the course of 90 minutes, thanks to the wonderful David-Beckham-feet of Giovanni Dos Santos and Cuauhtemoc Blanco (amongst 8 others...), it really didn't help the whole "World Cup fever". I can't commandeer any televisual set later on for the France-Uruguay match, and I'm definitely not in the mood to cram into a warm, sweaty, drunk-filled pub just to support the underdog in the name of all that is Hispanic. I could gladly do with an ice cold glass of cola/cider (delete as appropriate), and a sit down in a beer garden (or an air-conditioned room), but the effort of getting showered again, changing, and going out currently escapes me.

On the bright side, the sun is shining; I have the prospect of drinks on Sunday with folks. I just need to survive the cabin fever until then.

In beardy news: the sideburns were patchy, and I'm self-conscious, so I couldn't cope with weeks hoping they'd fill themselves in. However, I have faith in the rest of the growth, and shall leave it in the hope it thickens out. All I need now is a haircut. Self-done, again?

This Beard is for Siobhan

Posted by Alex | | Posted On Saturday, 5 June 2010 at 00:13

Second year is over. There is no more of it. It is an ex-year; deceased; it has breathed its last and run down the curtain to join the choir infernal. Lovely. Maybe it ended too soon; maybe it didn't come quickly enough. I'm not quite sure right now how I feel - apprehensive about the year abroad, and my exam results? Maybe.

However, now it's all done. It's summer. Sure, I need a job, but, while that's being sorted by the agency, I have time to plan out my life. I mean, there are so many things I plan to do this summer - actually, I lie. There's not much I've got planned. I'd like to go to Brighton to see an old friend of mine, and spend a day with her for once. I've got to sort a mountain of paperwork before I get anywhere in this dreary little life, too.

I'm not quite sure what else I'd like to get done this summer. Maybe actually attempt to grow a beard. Or at least see the extent of my beardy growths. I've never bothered before - I've managed 4 days, at most, I think; and then I think I begin to look scruffy and I feel the pressure of society to be a clean-shaven youth. This week, however, I left my shaver at home, so I have been subjected to 5 full days of growth. Suffice it to say, I went to LIDL today and bought some razors as I have bar work tomorrow and they like us "neatly presented" - scruff-beard doesn't cut it.

However, since I've had no calls about jobs in the near-future from the agency folks, I'm going to actually sit back and let the good times roll as of tomorrow night. I can't exactly go out and socialise (yay Natwest and their money screw ups), so nobody will really see me during the first 10 days of the scruff stage. By then, I should have a decent idea of where my beard goes; the full extent of how patchy it is; and whether I should just keep at it and attempt full-growth, or, trim it back to a circle-beard, which I know is achievable (with a few days more growth right now, it'd be thick-enough to be 'passable' I think).

And that's that: I look forward to days of sunshine, cider, and potential slavery just to bring in the dollah-dollah. I also look forward to keeping y'all posted about the goings on in my life, and any potential growth of beardage as the days go on. Huzzah for attempting to be a man for once! Huzzah, I say! Huzzah!


Posted by Alex | | Posted On Tuesday, 1 June 2010 at 13:38

It's rather weird when I feel the urge to blog about a dream, but, this one's been stuck in my head since I got up. It's like it's going round on a loop in the back of my mind, and when I'm not thinking about something else, there it is. So, enjoy the cinematic theatricality of "My Dream from Last Night":

Our scene starts in a strange, futuristic town. Everything seems to be connected by metro stations. One night I decide to go out with friends, and we head to this dive bar on the other side of town. Unnaturally, we walk there, along the garish, neon streets. We enjoy some kind of weird dinner-show, without the dinner, before my friends take it as their cue to leave when the police arrive to shut it down. 
I then decide to catch a train to the other side of town. Apparently, there's a Spanish politician onboard. He happens to talk to me. He enjoys my company until I finally reach my stop, and head to a restaurant to get that dinner I missed. It just so happens that this restaurant will end up being a Wetherspoons, but, inside a cave. Weird. It's all decked out with strange blue hues, and pinkish-purple gauze curtains.
Behind one of these gauze curtains I spot a familiar face, with three not-so-familiar ones. The ones I don't recognize are rather 'buff', jock-ish looking chaps, all done up in shirts and bowties. They're all leaning, on one elbow, on the table, chatting up my ex, the face I recognise. It doesn't affect me. I turn back to the table and continue eating, but then I hear sobbing. It's her; she's spotted me. She's crying.
I get nudged by one of my table friends, and suddenly I'm calling her over. "Come and talk..." She does - "Your letter...you didn't want to speak again...it's...it's...." and she broke down sobbing, so I offered her a seat at my table while she cried away, talking about some letter I've never sent. I put my arm around her to comfort her, and then she bolted upright and walked off. Strange.
So, I took that as my cue to leave. The crowds at the bars made it rather difficult to pay (obviously this place worked on the Spanish system of order-eat-pay, rather than order-pay-eat that 'spoons always uses). But, as I was approaching one, she came up to me and said "Shall we say goodbye then?", and still sobbing, she reached up to kiss me. I tilted my head, so all she got was a hug and a kiss on the cheek. Her ex-boyfriend was sat behind, watching it all, and shook his head. I walked off, paid, and left, leaving my coat behind...the rest of the dream then descended into chaos involving the coat, the forces of darkness and stuff I could not understand. Thankfully I woke myself up before I got too into it. And that was that. Weirdddd.

And in the crush of the dark, I'll be your light in the mist. I can see you burning with desire for a kiss.
                                                                                                       Tigerlily - La Roux