I’ve just realised that it’s been like over two weeks since I blogged last, apologies if I have any avid readers! I know this blog is about Holland, but I want to tell you about my recent trip to France to visit a good friend (who wishes to remain anonymous...)
Thinking that the easiest method of transport would be plane, I chose to fly there but had a minor running at the airport, which I describe below in a poem:
The 1 bag, 10kg of handluggage Ryanair iron rule:
Enough to make an underprepared, underpressure passenger cry, explete, stamp, collapse, slump, give-up, pay and give-in
But I am no fool and with my quick thinking, my hopes of a true economy flight not sinking
With buyoncy and cunning, I am still in the running for escaping the undemocratic and bloody annoying baggage charge with my systematic, loop-holing-logic repacking.
I’m 2 kilos over the allowance and must eject the extra weight or pay 35 euros (more than my quasi bargain flight!) for my 2-bags-of-sugar’s worth of extra freight.
Not feeling sweet, I recall the contents of my bag, consider what of my swag I can discard, but it occurs to me and should do to the airline too, that I haven’t packed items for which I have no regard like a packing retard – if this was the case I wouldn’t have overloaded my case, what a waste of space that would be and my intention is clearly to travel light otherwise I’d have checked in a larger bag for the flight, but this logic is out of sight to Ryanair who don’t want to play fair and should turn on the lights rather than remain aloof to the truth that I’ve packed what I need and won’t with any heed throw away thoughtfully selected paraphernalia and neither will I pay an excess fee, it is an outrage that my baggage should cost more than me, too uncanny to savour, but I refuse to exclude a single item and conclude with defiance that I won’t be done-over by the pseudo cheap way to travel and a plan I unravel...
With a little rejiggle, rewiggle, reshuffle, unshuffle, rearrange, realign, redesign, remix and redistribution of my luggage I can reduce Ryanair’s money-grabbing, back-stabbing 10kg 1 bag, not so genius iron rule to fluff and stuff my pockets! A puff of victorious triumph and out comes the ipod, the phone, the purse, the make-up bag and into the receptacles of my attire.
I reapproach but am reproached, still 800g over the allowance, but there’ll be no concedence or unquestioning obedience to their ridiculous enraging policy of folly.
I walk away and shove my gloves into another aclove in my jacket, take out my scarf and hat and 600g of biscuits, too delicious to throw I hide them in my hat which goes under my arm and wrapped in the aforesaid scarf, a secret niche and return to the dreaded scales with a lighter bag, but heavier person, pockets more affected by gravity than at the start of this mission, but a cavity in their bizarre regime means I defy the system and with no emission proceed to the gate and as quickly as I loaded my person simply return the freight of my disallowed extra weight back into my case and it weighs as before when they said, ‘Get rid of 2 kilos or pay’ and I thought
NOT OVER MY STUFFED-POCKETED BODY
And sabbotaged Ryanair’s pathetic, frustrating, sense-abating 1 bag, 10kg iron rule which presumably aims to moderate the overall weight of baggage + people taken on board, but their rationale must be flawed and ignored in so far as although my bag now lighter, I was a blighter and reassigned my excess stuff to my clothings’ storage sollutions with a resolution not to be defied by, but instead to undermine Ryanair’s stupid rule, which on a less-cunning day might well have made me cry.
No frills = nonsense and if we’re going to be pedants then thinner people should have a larger luggage allocation on their way to vacation – seems like a deal - with less load round their middle, that would make more sense, and save the healthy expense, perhaps raising an eye-brow of the obese-people-pleasers, but then it might just be easier if we all quit the aueronautical bargain hunts, think about the planet (as well as our figure) and reduce our carbon foot prints; not making reality of our dreams of jetting off on the rainy days or we could just do it properly and fly with good honest British Airways.
I soon got over the annoyance of airline pedantry and was greeted by my wonderful friend. She’s living in France to learn the language and as part of her language school’s scheme is living with a family there to help her more quickly progress. I too was to be a visitor in this house for the week, a little awkard considering I couldn’t speak to any of them (if my Dutch is bad, my French is worse!) and felt at times like an intruder, but saying that they were a lovely family. My friend and I enjoyed a lovely few days together, in the morning she would go off to school and I would sit trying to learn Dutch scribbling thoughts and eating pastries – I have another poem coming up dedicated to these blissful mornings! And in the afternoons we spent time at the beach, wondering around the city and just generally catching up on all the things we’ve missed over the last 2 months of being apart. At first I felt rather sophisticated, two friends away from home, both living in foreign countries, both proud possesors of a BA from King’s College London, but then came Saturday nigh, a joust to knock me off my high horse.
Eighteen year old Nelson, one of the boys in the family we were staying with invited us to go clubbing with him, describing the three rooms of some huge club out of town: one minimal tech, one drum n’ bass and one apparently for Lady Gaga! I was stoked, Leiden knows nothing about nightlife and I’d been craving a good night out for ages - so what if the guy taking us was young enough to be my son (well not quite)! We headed into town with him, bought some beverages for pre-drinking at his friend’s house (our drink of choice: wine, because we’re so cosmopolitan) and the night began. I had been a little apprehensive about going to his friend’s house, thinking I was way beyond school-boy gatherings, but turns out there were just three other girls and a boy there, all of whom seemed very pleasant and mature, not that I understood much of what was said.
Maybe it was the comfort of being around a friend that knows me as well as anyone in the world and I let my barriers down; or maybe because I wasn’t exercising my mouth as much as I usually would in social situations, dibilitated by my lack of French mastery, that I kept sipping on my wine; refilling my emtpy glass and then sipping some more. I switched to Desparados and back to wine (I hear you scream, don’t mix the grape and the grain!). Feeling more drunk than I have been since I was like thirteen we headed out and I wondered why I didn’t do this more often – I was all floaty and confidently talking at the French guys despite their inability to understand me. My friend and I headed to the bus stop with them and I was arm in arm with Nelson, loving the reliving on my youth, as he bragged about his eighteen-year-old- bachelor lifestyle and made me promise I would return to visit him one day. Next thing we’re on the bus with hoards more energetic French school students all dolled up, drunk and ready to go. Julian a member of our little gang, thrusts a bottle of lime green vodka emulsion at me saying “drink Naomi, drink”. “No thanks Julian” thinking I transcend such teenage tomfoolery. My friend takes a swig and the bottle reappears under my nose, “drink, drink”. My resolve crumbles and I take a big swig and giggle like an idiot. I am wasted, but still happy. The bus journey goes on forever and involves bumps and corners which I may have exaggerated in my memory. My friend is swinging her head around heavily whilst holding onto the bus pole and I think, ‘Oh no, she’s going to really embarras us’. The gaggle of French youths are babbling away excitedly as we make our joint venture to the superclub on the otherside of town. Our crew, other than my friend are playing it quite cool, chatting, laughing, getting psyched up for the night with more sips of yellow stuff from the plastic bottle, whilst I am starting to feel very light-headed and dreamy, zoning out of the numerous buzz of conversations I don’t comprehend. With another glance at my friend the only one on the bus who speaks my language, and a concern that she really is about to do something stupid; I pass out slumping down the bus window and onto the floor, before vomitting everywhere. I hear shrieks, French ‘yuks’ and am aware of everyone edging away from me, as I feel my sick stickying my face and running into my hair. I am in the south of France, lying on the floor of a bus sardined full with eighteen year olds, passed-out helplessly massaged by my my own vomit: smooth. Turns out I do not condescend this teenage past-time. I don’t remember much more than flickers after this. Dragged off the bus against my will. BLANK. Lying on a curb with my friend slapping my face. BLANK. Being pulled into a seated position. BLANK. Puking. BLANK. Puking some more. BLANK ‘Naomi, Naomi are you OK?’ BLANK. ‘Naomi, can you hear me?’BLANK Puking BLANK Puking and ... you get the picture. Next thing I know Nelson has called his mum and she drives 50 minutes accross the city to rescue me. In the meantime, my friend who was as I suspected apparently also pretty past it, is sick (she blames it on the smell of mine – whatever!). Heroically Nelson’s mum manages to get a very stubborn comotozed masquerade of myself into her car before I pass out again. The long journey home is a blip in my memory and I only become conscious again as she undresses me and tucks me up in bed.
I sleep like a dead weight until 2pm the next day and wake up as the snippets of memory from the night come rushing into my mind. Oh no. How embarrassing. That is so not me. I can’t believe Nelson’s mum had to come and rescue me at 1am – I don’t even know her, she’s going to think I’m always like this, but I’m not. My friend is going to be so annoyed at me. We were the older ones going out with eighteen year olds, we should have known better. Not so sophisticated. Turns out thet only place your BA will get you is into the gutter. What on earth was I thinking? I touch my face and feel dried puke and try to orientate myself before taking a well-needed shower, drinking the herbal tea that Nelson’s mum has prepared and consoling with my friend our joint embarrasment.
Why do I share this with you? Well so you can all laugh at my expense, but also because I’m human and I do stupid things like the next person. Sometimes I can be so self-righteous, thinking I am beyond drunken folly, but I’m not. I’ve been in Leiden for like 2 months with people all around me getting smashed, but thinking I’m not like that! Sunday morning was truly humbling, having to face Nelson, (probably wishing he’d never volunteered to take two twenty-somethings out with him and his mates, doing more damage than good to his street cred) and his mum, but also Jesus. As I lay in bed with only my terrible hang over for comfort, I prayed, God I’m sorry for being an idiot. And I just felt Him remind me, that it’s not about my behaviour and that He knows I’m an idiot and that I’m gonna do stupid stuff from time to time, but He loves me all the same – this Christian thing is not about keeping Him sweet. It’s funny cause I’ve been reading in Judges (a book in the Bible) about God’s people messing up and Him always redeeming them. I’m glad He’s the God of the screw ups and that I don’t have to be all holy and religious. I’m also grateful that other than receiving a terrivle hangover I was reminded that the reason that I don’t normally get wasted is not because I have a duty to keep God happy, but because it sucks. Despite the brevity of feeling like I could fly, I hated not being in control, definately didn’t enjoy being humiliated infront of youngsters I thought I superseded and an achey chest from persistant vommitting for three days after wasn’t good either, not to mention missing out on a night of dancing to drum n’ bass nutrients, or the wasted mongy next day in bed ... Jesus knows what’s best for me. Can I just say for the record that I LOVE red wine in moderation - that way you enjoy its silky smoothness slipping down and not its acidic burn on the way back up!
Anyway I’d like to end on a sweeter note by sharing another poem inspired by my delicious mornings spent in French cafes:
How that word does speak to me
Not so much the satisfying combination of syllables
But that promise which your names stands for –
Your salivatable goods within.
Your pan eux chocolat calls to me
Tickling my nostrils as I try to walk past
No chance, as I glance
You’re on my mind and I want you in my mouth
That chocolatey scent is foreplay to me
And I reason that making a transaction for you would be a euro well spent
I anticipate the warmth in my hands
As I walk with you to a bench
All the while the delicious stench
Fueling my impatience
And I can’t wait – I will bite you
And enjoy you whilst still in motion
And your texture, your flavour, your buttery flakes are a love potion to me
Putting me under your edible, erotic spell
It’s that smell that takes me to some place else
That only an invasive sewage-or-similar aroma could call me back from
You’re the little black dress of pastries
Classic, reasonably-priced and guaranteed to be tasty
Giving me everything I need and yet
Your seduction is flailing, failing, dimming
By the radiance of the macaroons beside you.
They’re exciting, inviting, sense-stimulating
Promising the sweet peak of oral pleasure
The array of colours representative of exotic flavours
An assortment like a tapas of puddings: perfect
Is it my greed that I lust for more than one taste?
I don’t just want my fill, I want the thrill of variety
The spice of life and I feel
That the macaroons will give it to me.
But then I catch a glimpse of the chocolate tart
And I know what it is to want to start my life with the one
You’re casketed with a protective pastry case
Not giving away to much too soon, chaste
An outer shell to conqueor
(You are driving me bonkers)
I will pursue you and when I’ve undone you
I know we’ll have a richness of bliss
With your warm chocolatey kiss
And a depth of indulgence that makes for a romance
That tingles right down to the core of me.
Raspberry and almond brioche, raspberry and almond brioche
I thought I had everything I desired, but it’s not enough
You didn’t appear appealing at first
But I caught a glimpse and developed a thirst
For your hidden sticky red suprise
The sweet raspberry red syrrup within
Layers of nutty wholeness
And a burst of berry boldness
Adding zing to our growing passion
You’re the plane Jane I hadn’t noticed before
I repent, once I start I always want more.
How that word causes problems for me
You’ve thrown me into confusion
You offer so much
But it’s not that easy to choose from you
I’d hate to objectify your honest apple pie
Only to satisfy my current desire, so flippant
When tomorrow reveals my lack of commitmant
As I struggle to make up my mind.