Brisbane Airport, March 3rd 2006, 18:40pm

"Our next stop is Brisbane International Airport," goes a sexy voice over the train's speakers. "We look forward to your return to Brisbane."

"Fuck off," replies a man with a surfboard.

It sounds like something I'd make up, but my last experience of Australia before I leave is a surly man with a surfboard. It wasn't even a particularly good day for surfing, what with the rain coming down outside. Not the kind of elaborate storm that creates death-defying breakers, more a weak patter that creates angry tourists. Perhaps we have uncovered the root of the surfer's upset.

As I write this I'm sitting in the Brisbane Airport departure lounge, having polished off a cappuccino and a croissant and used up the 20 minutes of internet time my two dollars allotted me, most of which I spent searching for my own name on Google. Now I sit writing with a brand new duty-free pen, not daring to look up at the strange man sitting opposite me whom I suspect may be watching my every move.

His legs are crossed.

Perhaps he is just entranced by my Hawaiian shirt.

Ostensibly I wear a Hawaiian shirt amid my otherwise dark clothes because I want it to reflect my status as a wild and unpredictable non-conformist alone amid the gloomy despondency of my generation. Unofficially, I just like Hawaiian shirts. You could say I wear a fluorescent green badge on the band of my hat for the same reasons.

The man has been joined by a friend. They are conversing, but I'm no less paranoid. I'm trying to tune into their discussion but a weeping child somewhere to my right is muddying the sound. If I stop writing, I have a funny feeling the men will try to talk to me. So I'm just going to keep at it. La la la, writing writing writing. Hey, fly me to the moon etcetera. My wrist is starting to hurt.

The same place, 18:55pm

What if the Swiss are up to something? What if their neutrality is a fašade? What if, rather than simply wishing to stay out of world war 2, they were secretly playing all the participating countries against each other as some kind of larger Machiavellian scheme?

The reason why I have come to this admittedly deranged theory is because I have never been in a duty-free shopping area that did not prominently display Toblerones. Once you rule out the possibility that people actually like eating the sickly muck, you must consider the idea that each Toblerone is a sophisticated eavesdropping device, placed in the most obvious location to monitor the comings and goings of mankind: the airports.

I haven't yet decided on a theory to explain this cover behaviour, but I'm working on something that involves cuckoo clocks.

Bought a mug for David and a tea towel for P and M. Figured I needed something to show for two and a half years in Australia. Also bought The Bourne Identity to read. Figured it'd be OK if they made two films out of it. Plenty of bad authors have had a film but two films? They had to be doing something right. Here we most emphatically do not bring up Stephen King.

Singapore, 1:10am local time


I've never found it easy to sleep on planes, not when the engine's roaring like an obnoxious hippo. But with my feet resting on the seat in front, the pillow cushioning my left ear and my right, slightly deaf ear exposed to the elements, some semblance of comfort can be created. But then of course come the screaming babies.


Sounds like just a few seats away. Other people are being bothered by it, I'm certain. My neighbour keeps shifting in her sleep. A woman nearby has pulled her blanket over her head like a cheap ghost costume. And every time we think it might be stopping, it starts up louder than before.


How long does it take to shut up a baby? How long does it take to run through the possibilities? Are they hungry, sleepy or sitting around in a pile of shit? If it's the second option I'm sure we can all sympathise. But how long could the process of elimination take?


It's one of those really abrasive cries, too, when the baby's got a mouthful of saliva that gurgles disgustingly in the back of its throat. All part of the economy class experience, I suppose. We've had our individual lamb kormas and twisted ourselves like wacky drinking straws into sleep positions, but the ritual isn't complete without the baby. The owner seems to be taking it away, now, perhaps to affix a piece of duct tape to its horrible mouth. No lasting psychological damage could come of that, right?

What I have to wonder is why there's a baby on the flight at all, or indeed any flight. If the family's emigrating then fair enough, but why take a baby on a holiday? I can't even remember holidays I went on when I was 6, I'd have thought before planning a holiday you'd at least check to make sure everyone at least has the capacity to remember it.

It's been quiet for a while now, marginally. The engine is repetitive enough to be lulling and the turbulence is actually quite soothing. I think… yes, it seems I'm falling asleep…


I'm sure it's wrong to wish death on a baby, but for the first time in my life I'm actually trying to awaken some kind of latent psychic ability I could use to will the life from the little pillock. Or, fuck it, maybe I'll just walk over and wring it like a flannel. I'm sure there's a precedent for being found not guilty by reason of being really tired.

"Benjamin Yahtzee Godzilla Croshaw, you stand here accused of wringing a live baby to death, how do you plead?"

"I plead being really fucking tired, m'lud."

"This court finds the defendant not guilty by reason of being really fucking tired of that baby's bullshit and having a staggeringly awesome shirt."


That's it, I thought. As soon as we land in Singapore I'm going to write this shit down. I'm certain Switzerland have something to do with this.

Dubai International Airport, 7:01am local time

I always feel somewhat uneasy in Dubai. Maybe it's because the only thing separating me and the war in Iraq is the Persian Gulf, and as gulfs go the Persian Gulf is not a very big gulf.

Tooting, London, 9:32am, March 5th

Sitting in the front room of my brother's flat, looking out the window at a row of terraced houses crushed up together like strangers in an elevator. Of course, I had forgotten how unused I was to houses that are not detached, like all the ones in Brisbane. I had forgotten how much more crowded and industrial England is.

Everything is so strange, now. The winding roads of an English suburb, just like the ones I had lived among for years in Rugby, seem so stunted and dwarfish. The flatness of the country, the lack of rolling hills visible in the distance, evoke a sense of unease. David and I did some shopping at a local Sainsbury's yesterday evening and I found myself staring at the prices. 28p. 69p. In Australia, few things cost less than a dollar. Here, I could buy food for a week with 2 or 3 pounds, provided I don't mind eating enough beans on toast to choke a puffin. It's like taking a step back in time. The drabness of my surroundings makes me think of a British gangster film circa 1970.

Going down Greater London tomorrow. Perhaps things will seem more modern there. Tune currently stuck in head: 'Katamari On The Swing' from We Heart Katamari.

En route to Cornwall by train, March 7th

I have travelled on enough tube trains to last a few lifetimes, hopefully building up enough good karma to be reborn as some kind of Arabian prince next time around. I imagine that the special area of Hell set aside for vainglorious people who hang around in oxygen bars must resemble something like the tube train, because you're fifty vertical feet from the nearest cubic metre of fresh air and you're surrounded on all sides by hundreds of people who refuse to look at you.

I use the word 'fresh air' guardedly. London seemed very unclean. 'Claustrophobic' was the most tactful word that came to mind, 'shithole' the least. Perhaps it was just the weather. But we did get to see the Tate Modern, and an exhibit of a thousand featureless white boxes stacked into piles. Also stopped at a Virgin Megastore to buy Ico, because you've got to buy videogames when you're in Europe's greatest city, surely.

< Me standing in front of some art

David seems to have changed a lot since the days he used to twang elastic bands into my eyeballs. He's become very spiritual now, and taken up film geekery. But he still thinks it acceptable to break wind loudly when a guest is in the room, then look as pleased with himself as Oscar Wilde after another devastating witticism. And he wonders why he can't hang onto a girlfriend.

Me and my brother David looking thoroughly impressed with each other >

Camborne, Cornwall, March 8th, 13:49pm

I ended up spending most of the train ride down staring out of the window, because I came back here to see England one more time and hey, there it was. Maybe it would have been nicer to not see it rushing past at ninety miles an hour but who has time for that sort of thing in today's age?

I'm at mum and dad's house, now, a pleasant little bungalow in the middle of what would be a gated community if it had a gate. The room I'm staying in has this computer I'm typing all this up on and its own TV and DVD player. And yet mum and dad still insist that they're poverty stricken, to the extent that you're not allowed to flush the toilet. You have to throw in a bucketful of used bathwater instead. My house in Brisbane has plain wooden floors, a sofa that is only persuaded to not fall apart by force of habit and enough geckos for a bluetongue to scrum itself stupid for weeks, but we at least have a toilet that can be flushed.

For a small mining town, Camborne certainly has a lot of video game shops. Picked up Two Thrones for 20 quid (!) and I'm giving Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy some funny looks, too.

March 10th, 14:49pm

Another day, another journal entry at exactly 49 minutes past the hour. Today my parents and I walked the dog along some sections of Cornwall's north coast. We stopped at a scenic spot, got out of the car, then more or less got right back in the car and drove off until we found another scenic spot that was slightly more sheltered from the wind. It is fucking cold here right now. It seemed while I was in Brisbane I spent a lot of time pining for a good old fashioned bracing breeze, but now all I want to do is get under the Australian sun and feel the sweat add two or three kilograms to my clothes.

We took a walk along a coastal bluff and passed some time on a beach. Someone had written the words 'PIRATE SHIP' in the sand, with an arrow pointing to a small plank of wood. I helpfully appended the words 'NO, IT'S A PLANK' in case anyone got confused.

After that we headed along some more cliffs and were privileged enough to see a cluster of seals basking in the tide. They refused to do anything more stimulating than slump over each other so we quickly bade them good day.

March 14th, 15:53pm

Spent the day outdoors. The trouble with not knowing where I am or how to get anywhere is that I can't go out unless I'm tagging along behind my parents like a Labrador puppy.

Today we visited something called the Eden Project, another overly artistic contribution to tourism by the government's monument to poor judgment, the Millennium Commission. It was basically two huge plastic domes (or 'biomes') which strove to emulate the environments of a tropical island and a Mediterranean forest, in order to grow and showcase the plantlife of those climates. Of course, I live in the bloody tropics, and the tropical biome didn't exactly feel like being back there. It felt like being in a greenhouse. There was just no escaping the overriding air of artificiality about the place. Although we did see a robin.

The other attraction was a small science 'experience' that would embarrass the maritime museum of a small Hebridean island. Basically a bunch of buttons you can press to make little puppets move on their preset course, a couple of monitors displaying glorified screen savers and a wall made up of fridge doors upon which you are invited to spell out your own messages in alphabet magnets, an invitation I gleefully took up.

On the whole, was it an interesting experience? I suppose so. Not sure if it's worth 15 quid to see it (10 quid for seniors), but it's certainly unique. Of course, for the same price you could probably visit Flambard's theme park and go on the log flume six times, and you wouldn't spend the whole time being nagged by environmentalists.

After that, wasted some time in a little coastal village somewhere, where I purchased some fudge. Now that's what I call a constructive use of money. Yum yum.

March 19th, 17:29pm

There's a word I've been groping for for a while, and that word is 'boring'. There's been a sharp icy wind blowing through Cornwall for the last few days and all you can do is stay indoors looking for ways to pass the time, like the crew of a research station at the beginning of a book by Michael Crichton. The last time I went outdoors was three days ago when I visited Truro, the nearest thing Cornwall has to a big city, in that it has a branch of Subway. And I didn't even do much besides wander around their museum and admire the cathedral in the brief moment I looked at it before making a beeline for the restaurant.

I'm running out of things to do in here. I've already written two articles for Hyper, scripted my next game and added a substantial amount to my novel, as well as winning Solitaire eight times. I'm avoiding reading any books in order to save them for when things get really desperate. Today I passed the time by challenging my mother at various board games and eating biscuits. I should probably try and do something outdoors tomorrow, or I may find myself eating the pot pourri in the hope it could induce some kind of high.

March 20th, 15:33pm

With just five days to go until my triumphant return I had a look around some more of what Cornwall has to offer. We visited the Cornwall Goldsmiths, allegedly a museum for the gold and jewellery of Cornwall, but apparently that wasn't interesting enough and they have expanded to include several other unrelated exhibits. The big draw at the front entrance was one of the DeLorean prop cars for the Back To The Future films (not the one that got hit by a train, obviously) which we spent some time taking pictures of.

The other standout exhibit was a pile of 5 pound notes, apparently 1 million pounds in fivers, behind a glass case. Instantly I was struck by a vision of the museum's directors having a round table meeting where the chairman said "Okay, the Lottery Arts Council has given us a million quid to expand our exhibits, what shall we do?" Then everyone sort of exchanged glances.

After that we took a walk on a beach in the tiny coastal town of St. Agnes. The beach was pretty much identical to most of the other beaches I've seen, with one crucial difference. There was sign reading 'DANGEROUS CLIFFS: KEEP CLEAR' mounted to one of the cliff walls, which isn't very interesting until I tell you that the sign was about fifty feet above the ground. Perhaps it was put there to warn climbers not to scale the cliff they were currently scaling, but that strikes me as locking the stable door after the horse has bloody stupid. Perhaps the beach was once a bit higher up. Or perhaps the person who put it there just liked messing with our heads.

March 21st, 17:27pm

Today we visited St. Ives, and this was significant. I have memories of the place, mainly because my parents took me there nearly every bloody year when I was growing up. They've got a branch of the Tate Modern down there, where I spent some time viewing some Turner seascapes while my dad talked the disinterested ears off anyone who came within a ten foot radius.

I have darker memories of this town, too. This was the place where bastard seagulls pinched my cheeseburger right out of my young, innocent, unmolested hand, not once but twice, reducing me to childish bawling. Come to think of it, there are quite a few places in Cornwall with which I associate lingering unpleasant childhood memories. I will certainly never forget that one fateful day at Flambard's theme park. I won't go into the story, but I still have an irrational phobia of people in bear costumes.

March 23rd, 13:44pm

Yesterday the Cornwall Tourist Attraction Of The Day was Goonhilly Earth Station just north of the Lizard, the most southerly point of England. This was basically the site of all the gigantic dishes that collect data from satellites and broadcast stuff all over the world. It was an interesting day out, although my arch nemesis the screaming baby made a reappearance while the tour guide was trying to tell us about all the cute names the dishes have.

Tomorrow I set off for London again in order to be ready for my flight leaving Heathrow on Saturday. I'd be lying if I said I wouldn't miss my parents, my dog and having an internet enabled PC in my bedroom, but my home is Brisbane, and I've seen far too many Cornish pasty shops over the last few days. I will also not miss being cold enough to freeze the bollocks off a brass monkey. I am writing this perched on a stool with my knees up against my chest and my jumper stretched over them.

Heathrow Airport Departure Lounge, March 25th, 2:12pm

I don't really consider myself a 'traveller'. I've only seen one or two places. England, Australia and Dubai. And what did I do to get there? I sat in a box and waited a few hours. For all I know all the windows were sophisticated 3D television screens and all the places I've been are contained within the same large warehouse in Greenwich. Same could apply for every time I travel in a train or car. Until I walk or ride a horse from England to Brisbane I will never completely trust my surroudings. And even then I could be in virtual reality or something.

Two hours 'till takeoff. The carpet is vaguely interesting, maybe I shall stare at that for a while.

Dubai International Airport, March 26th, 4:06am

Arrived a bit earlier than expected (yay), now have to wait four and a half hours instead of just four (boo). I've already walked all the way from one end of the terminal to the other and back, now I'm kind of lost. Oh yes, and I freshened up in the toilet, by which I mean I washed my feet in it. At home I am the man. Here I am just the man who washed his feet in a toilet. I could have used a sink, but the toilet was behind a locked door at least and I was concerned about people thinking me a weirdo.

Had a look at an electronics shop while trying to figure out what currency they use here. There were audio cassettes. I don't think I know anywhere in the UK or Australia that still sells audio cassettes. A huge selection, too. And a shitty selection of video games. They had, like, an entire shelf of that new Leisure Suit Larry game. Uncut version, natch.

4:12am. Luckily, I still have one third of the Bourne Identity to get through. Maybe I'll get totally engrossed and the time will flash past.

5:10am. Maybe not.

Everyone looks so tired, especially the ones lying snoring on the floor. I almost stepped on two people, thinking they were just piles of discarded clothing. For you see, piles of discarded clothing irk me so.

7:49am. So tired. Didn't trust myself to sleep in case I woke to find rosy-fingered dawn poking me in the eyes and my plane sailing off over the horizon. Slept maybe 1-2 hours in the last 24. Hungry, now, too. Sucks, because now I'm so hungry I can't sleep.

Singapore, 22:45pm local time

I have never seen Singapore, which is odd, because I've been physically standing in it three times now. It always seems to be night-time when we touch down, though, and the windows fog up like buggery (buggery being proverbial for fogging up all the time). Don't think I would actually leave the plane, though. I'm just paranoid that some cheeky scamp (possibly from Switzerland) might have secreted drugs onto my person, and the Singaporeans will just get completely the wrong idea and shoot me in the face.

There has been a screaming baby on every single fucking flight I have been on on this trip. I wonder if there's some kind of annual award for not committing murders when it makes so much sense to do so.

Chateau Yahtzee, Brisbane, March 27th, 9:15am

Home again. Going to bed. Fuck off.

March 29th, 11:55am

Finally getting the chance to type up all my notes in anticipation of putting up some poor excuse for travel writing on the site. Seem to have picked up a bit of a cold. Of course I didn't get one all the time I was in England, the cold country, no, because that would make too much sense. So I wake up on the Tropic of Capricorn this morning with a French tickler lodged in my throat.

I guess this piece needs wrapping up, so let me conclude this journal with the moral of this adventure. You should appreciate your family while they're around and your home while you're still there, because tomorrow you might get beaten to death by a Swiss baby for knowing too much.

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