Karma in a Large Bottle of Volvic Water – PART THREE

I’m stranded over fifteen miles away from my house with no food, water or phone battery charge. But that’s not the full extent of my predicament; I’m also stuck with a lethal hangover and haven’t eaten since the night before. What do I do? I just keep on walking. But then the most embarrassing event unfolds…

At around three hours into my journey, about halfway down the main road leading to the bridge that would eventually take me across to my home county, Fife, I pass a school. I hate schools, and I always try my absolute best to avoid them at those awkward times when teenagers flood out. However, with no phone battery or watch to check the time, walking from the capital back to my house was a dangerous game because to put it frankly (gaha!), I had a more solid idea of what type of cement they used for the pavements than what time it was.

By this point in my journey, it would be a terrible understatement to say that I wasn’t in a bad state – my nose was running inexorably, my legs shaking like maracas and my entire body dripping with sweat – so when a blood-curdling bell sounded and around one hundred premature teenagers began pouring out of the exit of the school as I approached its passing, you can probably imagine the trembling shudder that ricocheted down my spine.

As much as I tried to avoid the army of students charging in my direction from the main exit of the school attempting to force my tired legs into turbo mode, it didn’t seem likely that I would be able to escape. Before I knew it, I was surrounded, scraping my legs along a pavement next to a bustling road with a battalion of prepubescent teenagers, all screaming and giggling their way down the the road as they headed to their normal semi-suburban houses. I would have died to have been able to cross the road in order to avoid the agony of looking like I was one of them, but I saw no opportunity as vehicles flew past at startling speeds.

I was trapped – a pack of what looked like thirteen-year-old girls blocked the front while a company of other loud male teenagers blocked my retreat from the rear. I was just waiting for a bottle of anything to slap me on the back of the head followed by a roar of laughter from behind. As embarrassing as it would have been to have been bullied by a group of young teenagers, it probably would have been worth it for a sip of whatever was in the bottle they might throw at me. Instead however, they all just stared at me as if I was some kind of giant hobo. I suppose I sort of was to them. After three prolonged minutes of running sweat, snot and pure embarrassment, I eventually shook myself free from the cluster as one by one they disappeared into unknown streets. Thank…FUCK.

With the relief of no longer looking like a child stalker, my levels of thirst seemed to sky-rocket as I stepped into the final two-hour push towards the bridge that would take me back to Fife. I could only hope that there was just ONE shop that had a bathroom with a water-running tap on the way. I’d already scouted four different shops, including one of the UK’s largest supermarkets, but to no avail. Even a mirage would have been nice as I walked like a lost idiot in the blazing sun. Well, I was a lost idiot.

Prior to thirty minutes of wiping an endless stream of snot from my nose, traffic lights and a lot more pavement, I reached the one thing I really did not want to see: a fucking motorway.

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Introspective (Photography)

Chill-out time: one crinkled cigarette, one rusty lighter, one less than stable tripod and one camera of the bridge variety. It’s times like these that see me through the day.

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Sunset

Karma in a Large Bottle of Volvic Water – PART ONE

The balance of life on this planet is so unbelievably toxic and frustrating. It seems far too easy for one to get themselves into a shitty situation than it is for one to get out of a shitty situation and this is something I’ve certainly learned the hard way. One moment I was blissfully snogging the face off this girl I’d recently met on Tinder outside one of the most beautifully decorated flats I’d ever set foot in, and just four hours later, I found myself trudging along a closed off pavement next to a bustling motorway while pitifully swigging from a half-empty (it definitely wasn’t half full) bottle of lukewarm Volvic water. I’m undecided whether or not I believe in karma but if it does exist then it definitely doesn’t work in the same way for me as it does for the rest of the human race. For me, it’s been a sort of spontaneous canon that spurts out pleasure and pain in unpredictable sequences at any random time. I digress, but the fact that I ended up trekking sixteen miles from Edinburgh to my house last week definitely helps my case: that life’s a bitch.

It all sparked from the origins of what I believed was going to be an immaculately superb weekend – and it sort of was in many aspects. I set off on the train to the capital to meet up with this girl I’d been flanting (flirtatious banter) with on Tinder for the previous few weeks and we went out into the city for more than a few drinks and a banterful time. The whole night seemed to flow astoundingly smooth and I even ended up staying at the girl’s flat for the night which on its own certainly breached my pessimistic expectations of me stumbling drunk to the train station at midnight with my trousers down at my ankles in a hopeless attempt to catch a train. As fantastic as my time with the girl had been, I still awoke from a deep slumber at her house and somewhat knew that the day ahead of me was going to be tough. A splitting headache accompanied by an unstoppable temptation to throw up all over her beautifully white cotton bed sheets was quite an explicit sign of what was to come – hell on earth.

The most painful thing about a hangover is not necessarily the piercing headache or agonising stomach pains, but the feeling you acquire when you dive into your pockets and find nothing but a measly collection of bronze coins and an empty cigarette packet. Unfortunately for me and my legs, I’d blasted all of my money at the pub the night before and to my own demise, train stations in Scotland don’t accept crumpled cigarette doubts as a valid form of currency to purchase train tickets. My only option: to ask the girl snoring to my left for a fiver so I could catch a train home. I could easily have done this, but I seriously didn’t want to strip myself of the title of ‘cute stud’ she had coined me as the night before and replace it with something of an annoying leech for her cash. So to avoid the shame and embarrassment of asking her for cash for my train, I decided not to – and left her house an hour later having only taken a few sips of water from her bathroom tap. I had eaten nothing.

It was around twelve o’clock in the afternoon and the last blip of joy from the day came from an intensely passionate kiss with the girl who knew little of the impending disaster of which I was about to embark on. Oh, and my phone had also died – not that it was useful anyway given that I had no texts or calls to use. The only useful commodity I had at my disposal was my unrelenting motivation to make it home alive. Edinburgh is sixteen miles away from my house and there are many obstacles in the way inclusive of one of the busiest motorways in Scotland and a gargantuan bridge known as the Forth Road Bridge which connects the capital of Scotland to my home county, Fife.

Upon beginning my trek in the vague direction of which I believed would lead me back to my house, I was only slightly parched and barely hungry; but after a quint half an hour of walking, the thought of H2O and homemade macaroni cheese became torturous in my head. The alcohol in my system had drained every drop of water from my body and the glaring sun overhead seemed to fry my sweaty forehead unforgivingly. It became quite obvious that if I was to make it home alive, I would need to find some source of water; whether it be through the cunning act of theft in the sketchiest corner shop I could find, or through the less than graceful deed of gargling water from the tap of the men’s bathroom in Morrisons or Tesco. You know your life has taken a turn for the worse when these are the only two options of salvation on offer in the inferno of tragicness that I found myself in. I travelled on through the craggy streets of Edinburgh, winding off into unknown lanes and alleys in search of water and the distant house that probably didn’t give a shit about my horrendous ordeal.

How to Become a Warehouse-smoking Junkie

“Happiness is the truth”

– Pharrel Williams

Blue cheese and Scrumpy Jack cider – an interesting combination of items that offers a night of unprecedented pleasure, tearful laughter and broken lighters. If you’re familiar with this combination then you’re likely on the same boat as me; a boat that is of a very old age, in dire need of a paint job, and possesses a gaping hole in the hull that’s causing the boat to sink rather expeditiously. However, if you’re not familiar with the two commodities above, and have no idea how these two items could possibly decipher a blissful Tuesday night in an abandoned warehouse with a friend, then you’re not only missing out, but you’re also probably not a junkie. Tuesday is the day of the week in which nothing significant ever seems to happen. It’s the day of the week that just seems to float by in the calendar without as much as a glint of purpose . Even Monday and Wednesday uphold more crucial purposes than Tuesday whereby Monday represents the beginning of another riveting week ahead and Wednesday signifies that there’s only half of the week left to endure before the next. But Tuesday however, only holds the purpose of informing everyone that there’s only three days left until Friday, nothing more. This is likely the reason that Jimmy and I received a lot of concerned looks last night in Asda as we where shockingly spotted by late-night shoppers attempting to drag two crates of Scrumpy Jack cider over to the check-out in the hopes that our Tuesday night would be considerably more eventful than that of any of the frowning onlookers. Perhaps another reason for the bewildered looks of passing shoppers was due to the fact that stuffed in Jimmy’s pocket was two grams of the most pungent, formidable blue cheese cannabis I’d ever had the pleasure of inhaling in my entire life. It’s eight o’clock on a Tuesday night, and Jimmy and I have decided to meet up at our usual spot in anticipation of our first smoke together in over a month. The rain is pathetically drizzling down and the crisp glacial air is fighting its way through the multiple layers of clothing that I had squeezed on just an hour before. Jimmy also looked the part. His shaggy brown cotton hat in partnership with his untamed patchy beard made him look like a drug-addicted serial killer, while I just appeared chubbier than usual due to the three jumpers and two pairs of trousers that I decided model upon meeting him. Due to not having a house to smoke in that night, we decided to rendezvous at the all too familiar abandoned warehouse just five minutes away from my house. After hastily dragging two crates of premium Scrumpy Jack cider we’d purchased just ten minutes before from our local superstore over to the entrance (gaping hole in the wall) of the derelict factory, we slowly began to trudge our way in. Directing ourselves through a pitch black warehouse on a Tuesday night in an ambitious attempt to the find the seating area we’d conjured up with a few planks of rotten wood and an ancient crate of beer the previous time we had smoked in there, was not a challenge for the faint of heart. The whole warehouse had been trashed by our junkie predecessors. Every inch of the floor was hidden by some form of rotten debris and the structure of the ceiling was bare and open. Sharp elements of splintered wood, shattered glass and twisted metal posed as common obstacles as we stumbled our way through the eerie corridors and rooms of the darkness. After taking a few frustrating wrong turns, we eventually managed to reach the pitch black room which we planned to reside in for the rest of the night. The room was stuffed with familiar aromas of corrosion, waste and smoked cannabis but our make-do seats still sat in the corner in immaculate condition, touched only by a few droplets of moisture since we’d last seen them. However, it was at this point that we realised a new challenge awaited us; the rolling of the joint. Of course, Jimmy had been rolling joints since his prepubescent days and had done so in almost every environment imaginable, but the ice-cold consistency of the night was clinging relentlessly to our numb fingers and the room lay in a thick blanket of darkness that not even a bat could survive in. The fiddly job of rolling the joint seemed impossible, even for the masterful joint-rolling abilities of Jimmy. There are three components required to roll a joint of cannabis: paper skins, marijuana (or pollen) and some form of ignition. Unfortunately, it came to light at this moment that not one us had remembered to bring any skins, adding to the impossible problem that faced us while we stood motionless in the centre of the visionless room. ‘Fuck! How did not one us remember to bring the skins!?’, Jimmy blared, enraged by our complacency. We began to recklessly hunt through the abundance of pockets that hung from our endless layers of clothing, digging up a Narnia’s worth of ancient receipts, empty cigarette packets and other pointless miscellaneous items that not even a homeless person could find a purpose for. To our own terror, not one of us had bothered to bring the first most essential item for any cannabis joint, the skins. A return to the superstore abruptly appeared back on the cards. One (or both) of us would have to trek all the back to Asda and purchase skins from the same woman who had reluctantly just sold us the cans of cider and cigarettes just twenty minutes previous to this dilemma. Jimmy hesitantly volunteered for the mission and I sat like a duck on the two corroding planks of wood, sipping away at a freezing can of Scrumpy Jack cider while he was destined to embarrass himself asking for one single packet of skins in the superstore at half past eight on a Tuesday night. I had an eternity to contemplate my life over the fifteen minutes that Jimmy was away. It was then that I stumbled upon a surprising revelation; that the only problems I really faced at this point in my life was the petty issues caused by a lack of money, such as that our lighter wasn’t working too well, or that we only had half a cigarette left to roll the last joint with, or that Jimmy didn’t have enough money for his taxi home. These are only problems fought by people who sit at the bottom of the chain of society, the bottom feeders. For normal people, if a lighter stops working or they lose a few cigarettes, the problem is swiftly resolved with a casual five-minute drive to the nearest store for a few cigarettes and a new lighter, but for Jimmy and I, it’s a night ruining experience that involves a panicked walk to Jimmy’s gran’s house in the hope that she’ll have a lighter that can be smuggled from the counter of her kitchen. Every time we venture out together, there’s always an issue, and it’s usually derived from some for financial trouble. This caused me to ponder about what the future holds, and if I’ll still be craving this lifestyle in the years to come. Jimmy returned with a full packet of skins and a look of despair on his face. He’d been questioned over the purpose of buying the skins and asked to present formal proof of age before being allowed to make the purchase. ‘I’m never doing that again you wee fuckin’ dick!’, Jimmy cursed, the embarrassment still evident on his blood-red cheeks. ‘Got asked loads of questions and the woman looked at me like I’m some kinda fuckin’ drug addict or something!’, he continued, fuming by what he’d just had to do. All I could do was apologise and excite over the fact that in five minutes, we would be igniting the strongest joint of weed I’d smoked in over a month. To our own amazement, the joint rolled beautifully, with the skins unwrapping smoother than a babies bottom into an immaculate rectangular shape and the miniscule beads of cannabis crumbling delicately into the bed of nicotine and paper which proceeded to roll elegantly into an impeccable cylinder. The joint was ready and all that awaited was ignition. Jimmy proceeded to pluck a lighter from his jacket pocket and held the mighty joint up to his frozen lips. Click, click, click–silence. Click, click, click–silence.  Not a single spark flew from the dark grey metals of the lighter, not a single hiss of flame. ‘Fuck! What we gonna do now!?’, Jimmy spurted, still incessantly trying to force any form of fire from the forsaken lighter. Subsequent to around ten minutes of frustration and discussion of our next move, Jimmy furiously asked me if I had any money so he could march all the way back to the store once again to purchase another lighter. We both began scouring through our pockets, digging out crumbs of nicotine and cannabis from the depths of our clothing until eventually Jimmy stumbled upon the skins he thought he never had before and I discovered just enough loose change to buy the cheapest plastic lighter. Jimmy snatched the money from my brisk dry palms and stormed off through the engulfing darkness of the warehouse, clattering into metal objects hanging down from the ceiling like bats as he did. Once again, I sat in the stingy room of the warehouse, contemplating the future and what it may hold. Jimmy returned with even more rage in his voice than when he’d left ten minutes ago. Jimmy returned with even more rage in his voice than when he’d left ten minutes ago. ‘I didn’t have enough fuckin’ money so I had to pay the rest with my card!’, Jimmy ranted. I couldn’t believe it, Jimmy had actually had to whip out his debit card in front of the woman he had already seen three times in the previous hour and pay for the rest of the lighter with the crummy change he had left over on his card. ‘How tragic is that?’, I whispered him nervously, to which I received a look of disgust from the ashamed man. Nevertheless, the only thing left to do now was pop open another can, and inflame the fetid joint that seemed to be crying out to be lit. We lit the joint, and the euphoric sensations and emotions commenced. After a couple of cans of cider and the first joint, I couldn’t even engage in human conversation – Jimmy would toss invoking conversations of deep meaning and sincerity towards me and I’d just laugh hysterically in his face or stare at him as if he’d just spoken to me in Mandarin. My altered brain could only concentrate on the tunes of happiness and truth echoing through the murky corridors and halls from the rusty speakers of my phone. It might sound crazy what I’m about to say, but what I felt at that moment was genuinely the most euphoric sensation I’d ever felt in my entire life. Feelings of absolute relaxation and elation slowly began to shiver down my addicted spine, alleviating every burden of stress and pressure as it did, leaving me in a floating state, away from the corruption and exploitation of Earth, placing me in a nirvana of freedom, truth and paradise. I think it’s safe to say I was quite out of it, untouchable by any external forces and unable to even think about the walk home. We triumphantly demolished both crates of cider, and that’s all my memory permits me to remember. I was awoken abruptly the next morning to the loud thud of my laptop crashing from my bed into a heap of dirty clothing, cigarette packets and crushed cider cans. I love my life. The only thing that seems to frighten me at this stage is the uncertainty of the future – but that’s everyone’s worry, right? I can only hope that in the years to come these will be the sort of tales that I can enlighten my grand children with on some cold Tuesday night in a hospital bed attached to a feeding tube while I ferociously battle my late eighties. Youth is what defines you as a person. Youth is your one opportunity as a human being to indulge in the sort of lifestyle you choose – whether it be studying every night for a business degree that will eventually see you work in an office run by some sanctimonious bitch that treats you like a scrunched up piece of paper, or whether it be taking a gamble every night and doing something that will ultimately lead you to crawling home in the freezing cold of the night praying that your has mum left the front door open so you can raid the fridges and tumble into your bed. Life is short, and I plan to make everyday as joyful an experience as possible. Even if I am junkie, I still love my life, and everything that it entails.

Winter is Here – And it’s Not What I Wanted

Winter is upon us, and for many nations around the world, it’s a time of lavish snow, snowplows, snowmen, snowballs and an abundance of other snow-related commodities. But for the few people living in the same county of Scotland as me, it’s quite the opposite. Just take away the ‘snow’ from the list of things in the first sentence and that should give you a solid idea of what kind of winter I’m currently up against – it’s going to be an interesting one to say the least. However, after many years of enduring torrential rain, gale force winds and snow flakes that are only able to touch the drenched concrete for a split second before vanishing into the soaked ground, I’m slowly beginning to accept that these are the sort of winters that I’m just going to have to get used to, and try my best to enjoy and survive.

I can’t lie, this sort of weather is perfection for me as a writer – perching by the fire on a cushion devoured chair by the roaring fire while the furious wind and rain try their absolute best to take the roof off, is a mildly therapeutic writing experience for me. The only downside to the severity of this gloomy weather is the fact that I’m unwilling forced to go through at least three cigarettes and a decent hairdo every time I step an inch outside for one smoke.

Despite this, there’s definitely a real sense of Scottishness that comes with this type of weather. Last night, I was forced to drag two very reluctant border collies on a walk into the woods at around eight o’clock at night – which promised a monsoon worth of rain, cyclone winds and pitch black vision. Of course, it wasn’t one of those experiences that I’d put on my resume, but despite its harshness, I somewhat felt like a true Scottish warrior as I battled my way through the slapping branches and leaves of the forest, as the two collies took flight behind me on two stretched leads.

The absence of snow around here is of course due to the fact that I live contiguous to the sea, which I’m yet to visit in these vicious months. I caught a glimpse of the fury last night while on my way to an interview for another chef position and oh boy is it not a force to be reckoned with – the treacherous wind and rain certainly pay great compliments to the unforgiving waves. It’s times like these that I wish I had a half-decent camera to capture these moments of mother nature at her most livid.

IMGP3423An Image I took last winter on the West Coast of Scotland showing off those bustin’ stormy waves!

This is the most riveting time of year for me. The weather gets frightening, the temperature of the house is heightening and every other nation on the planet is whitening! Why not us!?

Happy winter people, embrace it!

Bridge of Nightingale (Photography)

1390592_683813938297754_1537600835_nThis is a photography series where I dig up some of the old photographs found on the half-broken netbook that I used to use and store my work on two years ago. Tonight, I present an image that I snapped on a muggy winter night of 2012 while cycling down the coast of North Quensferry, Scotland, in an ambitious attempt to capture a picture of the famous Scottish Forth Road Bridge, which connects the county of Fife to the capital of Scotland, Edinburgh.

Evidently, there was subtle editing applied to this image upon it reaching the netbook I was using at the time, hence the sleek plummy purple and garnet red colours that flow through the sky and water of this image. This not only invigorates the night scene with a sophisticated amount of energy and rigor, but also symbolises the pure tranquility and peacefulness that I personally felt at that moment, braided in the deep silence of the night.