Nooooo… It’s Not Fair!!

I need to do something DRASTIC about my life!

(FYI: I was born in 1969.)

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If I Only Had Some Eau De Cologne

I’m back after the Cologne experience… half doubting that I actually made it.

I was supposed to get up at an hour yesterday morning previously unknown to man, and take the bus. Well, I got up alright, but then my stomach decided to ask me for an encounter of a kind which will be of no interest to you, I hope, that kept me from getting to the bus.

I tried waking my wife up to drive me to the Metro, but to no avail. Few people have the same capacity for comatose sleep in the wee hours, and it as just as good that I was unable to contact her because who knows what ditch she would have landed in on the way back. But luckily, my neighbour was going to work very early that very morning, and I htched a ride with him to a suitable bus stop, only vatching the last possible bus to the Gare du Midi station by throwing myself across the heavy rush-hour traffic of a thoroughfare in complete darkness.

I hurried into the train station and realised that I needed to withdraw some money as well. Racing around the entire station area  revealed the ONE cash dispenser (ATM) in the entire station area at the diametrically oposite side of it to where I was. I did make it, strangely enough, and even had a few minutes left to walk back towards the platform at a normal pace… only to glance up at the informaition board that my train had been CANCELLED.

“This doesn’t begin very well”, I thought.

Complaining at the information desk, of course, was completely pointless. Even an apology was beyond their imagination.

“It’s the Germans who haven’t sent us the train. You’ll have to complain in Germany”, they said, shrugging their sholuders and raising their hands in the gesture, which I have come to detest, which means “I don’d know and I don’t care“.

They did, however, book me and all the other passengers fro that train onto the next one. Two trainfuls of passengers on one train, thus. You imagine the rest.

At least, I did get some work done while waiting, and the next train, which was one and a half hours later, was only delayed another 20 minutes. (“Signal failure”, they call it. I don’t believe one whit of that. I’ve heard “signal failure” being blamed so many times on different trains in different coutries that I believe it’s the standard international rail excuse for anything from the driver being late due to hangover, to the train needing to stop to let the guard go buy a doughnut).

Anyway.  Thus two hours late, I tried to break into the Kölnermesse. Which was easier said than done,because the entire fair has moved a bit (I kid you not) and the whole area is a huge construction site. When I eventually found the entrance, I realised I had entered on the opposite side to where one of the two press centres was. Which was where I needed to start.

“OK”, I thought, “I’ll just look through some of the halls on the way, I have to do that anyway”.

Now, the Kölnermesse is the size of Wisconsin, with about 17 exhibition halls each large enough to accommodate the collected fleet of British Airway’s aircraft. “Some halls” means trekking rather than walking – with my portable newsroom across one shoulder.

Correspondingly flat-footed, I eventually reached the press centre. It was closed. The other one was at the diametrically opposite side to the north of the area.

Same kind of expedition once again, this time across and through different halls, getting lost in about every one of them because they have changed the entire layout logic of the fair. All the time thinking what on Earth I was going to write about all this.

I did eventually reach the other press centre where I could start working, with feet the size of Yorkshire.

That is where I was reached by the news, from my wife, that we had received some unjust fines from the Flemish authorities for services we are not supposed to pay for.

Like I said – it didn’t start very well.

However. I decided to make the best out of the situation, and work myself around the area by focussing on the Swedish exhibitors it was my main task to cover. It worked. There was a lot of good and interestng material evolving from there, and I felt increasingly encouraged by the minute.

Last on yesterday’s programme, as I said, was a Swedish event in a restaurant off the Rhine (or maybe more accurately on it), across the river and well away from the trade fair area. I did reach it on time thanks only to riding a bus across the Hohenzollern bridge, which I so loudly scorned in a previuls blog entry as being the most unnnecessary ride etc etc (I did walk across the bridge on my way to the fair, though), and taking a taxi the last bit. I carefluuy calculated how long I would be able to stay before having to leave to catch the last train home.

However… I never had a good grade in maths.

I left the event in good time, I thought, and asked the staff to help me call a taxi just to be sure. That’s when I discovered that calling a taxi in a city crammed full with people visiting the same trade fair as I had was slightly challenging. To say the least.

They could not reach the switchboard.

I waited a little too long… and then decided to start walking, It was longer than I had expected. It was dark. I was loking for taxis to flag down – but there were none. Oh yes, there’s one. He didn’t see me. It’s dark and I’m wearing black. Oh dear, I’m standing in the middle of the road trying to catch the cab and there’s a car coming straight at me. Better jump out of the way.

The train was about to leave NOW.

I ran with all the heavy bagage that you accumulate at a trade fair, soaked in rivers of sweat, gushing sweat that would have raised the Rhine water level by a few feet. A glance to the left – there’s a taxi leavng a restaurant and it’s for hire! I all but threw myself across its bonnet (hood), ripped the door open, and landed in the passenger seat without looking if anybody else was there. In fact, by then, I wouldn’t have cared; I would have just sat on the lap of anybody who would have happened to be there and simply hijacked the taxi.

“HAUPTBAHNHOF BITTE, SCHNELL, SCHNELL!!!!” I roared, in a tone of voice borrowed from the Captain in the marvellous film “Das Boot” where he is trying to get his submarine to escape heavy bombardment from Allied aircraft, and slammed a fiver in the driver’s hand. It had the desired effect, for he took off through the Cologne night traffic at a speed that somehow made me think of Henri Paul, Dodi al-Fayed and Lady Di. Especially since I, for once, wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, in order to be able to throw myself out of the cab.

Throw myself out I did, indeed, and zoomed into the station,  fellow passengers elbowed to the right and left in my wake. It was departure time. Where’s the train? I can’t see it listed! Quick, is there a train number on the ticket? Where is the ticket? Oh for crying out loud, I can’t find the ticket!

I looked up through wet and misty glasses at the announcement board. Oh, there the train was. With an accompanying notice.
“Train to Brussels delayed a few minutes. We apologize.”

Apologize?!?! I would have kissed their feet.

I have very vague memories of the train ride itself. Only that I landed at home very late at night, to a nice cup of tea and the company of my Mrs.

Am I the star of some candid camera reality show or something?

GI Blues

While constantly bemoaning my motor vehicle-style airbag, which popped out from somewhere under my shirt around the time I completed my third decade in this world and has stayed there ever since, I came across an old friend from Elementary school the other day, courtesy of Facebook. As i got a bit curious of what had happened to him since then, I did a quick Internet search as I sometimes do, and lo and behold: He turned out to have been interviewed in a major daily some years ago for having lost 54 (!) kilos, using mainly the GI method.

(He also used to be the biggest Elvis Presley fan I’ve ever known. For those of you who know your King, hence the headline.)

Anyway. For those of you still blissfully unaware of the GI method, it can be summed up with an expression coined by one of its earliest proponents, Dr. Robert Atkins:

“Fat is good, carb is bad.”

That essentially means that you skip all carbohydrate-rich foods – pasta, bread, and anything else that’s tasty – and stick to veg and even meat.

Sigh. I put out a general question on Facebook – “How do I get rid of my potbelly?” – in search of alternative methods. But it only so happened that it was that very school friend (or what’s left of him) who produced the first response to it:

“Don’t, see it as an insurance for harder times. Your skinny body nead some meat on it”.

I am currently celebrating that insight with a large plate of spaghetti, as I write this. WHOLE GRAIN pasta, that is. Eat that.

House of Hangover

Today, August 15, is one of the absolutely biggest holidays in the entire Catholic world: the Feast of Assumption, commemorating the event when the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus, according to Roman Catholic doctrine was taken alive to Heaven and crowned Queen there.

Consequently, the village here in Belgium where we live decided to put on one of the highlights of the last week’s village fête yesterday, and there was much rejoicing and dancing to vehemently loud music all night long. (Well, at least until 2-3 in the morning when we finally fell asleep, I can’t vouch for when they wrapped the party up.)

Consequently, today has been eerily quiet. You could probably go to the village limits and put up large signs saying DO NOT DISTURB. HANGOVER IN PROGRESS without straying too far from the truth.

The local Catholic Church across the street had announced a Virgin Mary procession this morning from the largest local Virgin Mary shrine to the church building (last year I think they walked the other way; maybe they want some change every now and then), but I missed taking a look to see if they managed to gather any faithful. If they did, they certainly were a quiet lot, because there was no discernable commotion from them.

Louder, then, were the church bells, which rang once at the beginning of the event, and, in order to really wake the rest of the village up, once again now at what I understand was the end of the mass, at noon. And to further make sure that no partygoers from last night would remain unaware of their condition, there was a brass band marching off right now to the music of wind instruments and drums. (“Showtime!” exclaimed my four-year-old son at the sound of it. My boy!)

It’s on mornings like these I enjoy most waking up sober.

Back

…from six weeks’ R & R, four of which in sunny Sweden. 1.6 kilos richer. Arrived this morning after driving all night, went straight to work. Asking myself if I should have stayed.

Today’s Ohnosecond

Just as I thought I had lost weight.

I Don’t Remember

I Don’t Remember, I don’t recall/I got no memories of anything at all…

I’m quite sure there is something I’ve promised to do on Saturday, but I just can’t remember what it is!! Isn’t that scary when it happens?

I have a flashback memory snippet of me being asked to do something, then turning to my wife to double-check that there wasn’t anything else going on on that day, and then accepting. But what was it?

Readers of this blog must be getting worried about my mnemonic capacity (or, rather, the lack of it) – just think of this, and this, and some other blog entry that I’ve forgotten.

I bought a couple of upgraded RAM memory sticks for my stationary computer the other day – no, I haven’t forgotten to put them in, I’m just waiting for the heatsinks that I ordered separately – and that made me wonder why on Earth I can’t order some extra RAM for my brain as well.

However, at least you have an explanation for the periods when there are no new entries on this blog: I’ve probably just forgotten to write something new.

Now, there was something else I was going to say about that… oh bother.