Sunday, January 17, 2010

Leeds again

I haven’t written anything on this blog for about a month and there are a variety of reasons for that which include, in no particular order, rats, job centres, snow, snooker, beer and Where’s Wally.

Being back in the UK and Leeds is slightly strange. Everything is familiar and yet at the same time different. In my home city there are now more strip clubs than bookshops (apparently). Local buses are brand new and yet still have a faint whiff of sick. Leeds United beat Manchester United but we’re in different leagues. And it’s a multicultural city full of nightlife and interest and yet, to me, it feels painfully ordinary. If it were a colour it would be beige.

Quite predictably i spent the first few weeks back in Leeds getting repeatedly drunk. I went to a bar called Sub-urban (it was, literally) where i went to the toilet, stood at the urinal having a piss and was greeted by a man who said hello, blatantly stared at my cock and then asked everybody in the toilets if they had any cocaine. That’s one thing about Leeds that perhaps isn’t ordinary; the people.

Another thing i’ve noticed about people since i’ve been back is their size. Now, i’m not a large person. If you’re being polite you’d probably call me “svelte”. If you weren’t being polite you’d probably call me “a skinny little tosser”. But there have been times here where i’ve looked positively anorexic. In one pub last month i felt like a chopstick in a room full of space-hoppers. Brits are big.

The weather also occupies people’s minds way too much as well. For some unknown reason we British people expect this country to have a climate similar to that of Miami. We are genuinely surprised when it throws it down with rain and cannot comprehend a weather phenomenon called “snow”. Snow in Britain is like Kryptonite to Superman. It just makes us go weak and little bit mental. If we wake up in the morning, open the curtains and see a carpet of white we think world is going to end. And this behaviour isn’t limited to winter. Just wait six months. Everybody will be equally amazed and goggle eyed when the sun comes out for a few weeks and, surprise surprise, it gets a bit hot. It’s like this every year. You would have thought we’d have got used to it by now but for some reason it’s headline news. Snow In Winter! Heat Wave In Summer! We are actually factually stupid.

Like a lot of people here i avoided the winter weather by staying in pubs. I drank so much and so frequently over Christmas that i decided to give my body a rest by keeping clear of beer for a while. Since then my Dad keeps reliably informing me that proving you can stay off the drink for a few weeks is a classic sign of the first stage of alcoholism. First stage? I’ve been drinking solidly for ten years. How many stages are there? One memorable night was my brother’s 30th birthday where, through circumstances that are still quite hazy, i got so drunk that i found myself in the centre of Leeds in a gay bar searching for my lost coat whereupon a transsexual DJ insulted me by telling me i look like the 1980’s cartoon character Where’s Wally. I told you we’re not ordinary.

I’ve been hunting for a job which is probably the easiest way of lowering your self esteem that i know of. Write your life down on one piece of paper, send it to potential employers for jobs that trained chimps could do and then watch them ignore you. Or walk forty five minutes to the job centre in the snow to save money on bus fares. It’s great to be back.

I’ve done a few other slightly interesting things such as find and dispose of a dead rat that had been partially eaten by a fox in my Mum and Dad’s front garden, i’ve read two and a half books and i’ve laughed at snooker. You might think that watching snooker is boring and you’re probably correct but the saving grace is the commentary. It’s as if the TV channels just grabbed two old men, sat them in front of a microphone and told them to chat vaguely about the sport they’re watching whilst inadvertently inserting more double-entendres into a few frames of snooker than you thought was possible. They say things such as, “Well, he’s on 69 and he’d just love to get the pink into the corner pocket,” or, “Well, he wasn’t expecting a double kiss on the brown,” (sorry) and one genuine quote last night from British Eurosport’s coverage of the UK Masters Championship was, “Ohhh this boy is quick. Down. In. Hit. Score.” Accidental genius.

So, that’s my life as it stands right now. I’m trudging through snow and slush to a job centre, clearing vermin from gardens and giggling at snooker commentary. Rock and roll. Was i really stood on rusting ships on the Aral Sea? Did i really hike around Shikoku? What happened to that guy? And when the hell is thinking of making a return?


  1. And here we thought that everything is brilliant in Leeds.

    I'm going to be in Leeds tomorrow during the day if you want to catch up and get this in time (I don't seem to have your e-mail address and your Korean mobile is probably long discarded).

  2. So and I wonder what happened to the guy dancing wild with the polish in Tbilisi? Hey I have THE business idea for you: open a book shop in Leeds, there seems to be a need :)