Friday, 29 August 2008

Axl's Adventures In The Mediterranean: Part 3

Tue 12th: Rome & The Vatican.

St Peter's in The Vatican is insane. Totally mad. I dunno, maybe it's from being brought up by a mother who loves tacky Christian iconography to the point of near obsession, but the whole thing, while undoubtedly impressive, seems to me to be a bit gaudy, excessive and, well, ridiculous. From the intricacy in detailed decoration covering every surface, the the grandness of paintings, tombs, statues (including one which, Micaela pointed out, looks suspiciously like the Pope lording it over his bitches. Basically a prototype gangster rap album cover.), etc, to the Vatican guards who apparently are members of the Swiss Army or the Swiss Guard, I dunno. They're Swiss. Anyway, they have to dress up like something out of Alice In Wonderland for some reason, wearing a ridiculous costume that looks like full body pantaloons. The colour scheme is bright red, yellow and blue, with a big white collar and black berets and shoes. It's all very big and very impressive and looks incredible, if not a tad silly. Basically, to me it all just looks like the inside of my mothers head, only with less gay men and science-fiction. Or the same amount, depending on your views of Christianity.
Rome has some cool graffiti covered trains, and the Colosseum, which is HUGE. We didn't go in coz the queue was stupidly long, but it's impressive enough from the outside. Rome has loads of old Roman architecture dotted all over the place, making for an absolutely beautiful city.

Wed 13th: Naples & Herculaneum.

At last! A city with flaws! This makes Naples more human in a way. Like yer in an actual city and not a European museum. The downside of this is that it makes it the worst place we go to on the whole cruise. Naples was a dirty, rough little town full of clothes shops, shoe shops
and not a lot else it would seem. Apart from Newsstands that all seem to have bins of cheap dvd's and an unhealthy amount of porn. Oh, and tobacconists that don't sell booze. Europe has a disturbing lack of places to buy booze. Europe needs more off licenses. And music shops. On a half day of looking round shops, there was a distinct lack of variety. Naples is boring. And a bit ugly. While most of the other places felt a little like a museum, I can spend a whole day in a museum or gallery if the exhibits grab me. All the places so far had. Ironically, Micaela, her mum, and a guy called Stuart we were with actually went to a museum instead of coming to Naples, and had a great time. And saw Mormons getting embarrassed by sexual art. Tee hee hee!
In the afternoon we went to Herculaneum - AKA the port town where everyone from Pompeii fled to to try and escape the sudden wrath of Mount Vesuvius. However, many people died there as Herculaneum itself didn't escape MV's wrath and got buried under smog and ash. There's been a big excavation project and a lot of Herculaneum seems to have been very well preserved. Stepping into this ancient town was like stepping into an Asterix book. I've been reading Asterix books since I can remember, so I had a bit of a moment seeing all these Roman columns, mosaics, structures, paintings, etc. It was incredible to walk around this place and see for real things I've admired in cartoon form for years. It made me very happy. It made me smile a childish grin. And there was a statue of Hercules with one hand behind his head and the other on his cock. The tour guide we were following said Hercules was having a piss, but he was blatantly wanking.

Thur 14th: Sea Day.

The first day when we were just on the boat. We went to the on board spa and sat in these heated chairs which are ludicrously relaxing, especially with the view we had. I've never been to a spa before, so it was my first time in a steam room and a sauna. Again, I found the steam room a bizarrely relaxing experience. The sauna was like a dry steam room. I preferred the steam room. Aside from spa stuff, we read, played chess, played bingo, ate food and drank booze. It was a good day.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Axl's Adventures In The Mediterranean: Part 2

So anyway, waking up at God-knows-when o'clock in the morning, on August the 9th we went to Heathrow to catch a plane to Barcelona. Now, I don't particularly like flying. I remember flying to Denmark when I was 8 and thinking it was pretty awesome. Imagine my shock a couple of years ago when I flew to Paris to find myself mildly crapping myself as soon as the plane started leaving the ground. Foolishly I had assumed that something I was fine with when I was 8 would be fine still when I was 25. Axl, you ageing plonker. So now, at 27 I was already crapping it when I got on the plane (I was crapping it even more on the flight back, but that will have to wait.) and I'm sure this made it worse. Needless to say, there were some tense moments. Taking off and landing, to be precise. Anyway, we made it to Barcelona, went straight to the cruise ship, got our Butlins style greeting, and found that we had a couple of hours to spare, so we decided that it would be really fucking stupid of us to not go into Barcelona.
We were in Barcelona for about an hour & a half in between getting our stuff on the ship and boarding proper, so I only got a first impression of the place, which was that I loved it. It's such an attractive city. Had nowhere near enough time to take it all in.
You soon realise that on these things though, you only really get a chance to have a flavour of somewhere, so most places end up in essence the same. Almost everywhere is beautiful & picturesque and has great sidestreet restaurants with amazing food. Never being in a place for more than a few hours means you rarely see a places faults, which makes for a very pleasing holiday of snapshot memories and opinions.

Sat 9th: Barcelona.

Spent time wandering round the centres sidestreets. Barcelona is absolutely beautiful. I want to go back sometime yes please. Barcelona had an amazing cathedral - the name of which I can't remember now and we didn't actually have time to go inside it, a really pretty square, and a guy walking the streets naked. That's most of what we had time to see.
Be careful with yer wallet/purse tho. Micaela's mum had her's nicked from out of her bag.

Sun 10th: Cannes.

Cannes was beachy. Pretty much everything was closed coz we were there on a Sunday and it would seem that the rest of Europe hasn't been quite so taken with the pursuit of money over all else just yet. Which made for a nice Sunday afternoon of swimming in the sea, eating ice-cream, seeing the line of famous peoples hand prints in the pavement near the beach (including Luc Besson & David Lynch) and wondering around the streets not going into anywhere coz everywhere's closed. Which meant that we could properly stop and marvel at the ridiculous pet shop we saw, without the scariness of actually being inside it or near the type of people who would shop there.
People in Cannes love those tiny little dogs that look like rats. There were tons of the little bastards. You know, the ones like Paris Hilton carries around with her so much that they can't use their legs properly and so are submissive enough for her to shove up her vagina and use them as tampons.
Now, people in Cannes love their little tampon rat-dogs soooo much that they have the most ridiculous pet shop in the world selling ridiculous accessories like costumes, sun visors and perfume. Yup, I said perfume. It's called (and I really wish I had a photo to prove this because it's so perfect that yer gonna think I'm making it it up) "Oh My Dog!". As if that weren't good enough in itself, it had a notice on the advert saying, in French & in English, "This product has been made in connection with animal rights workers and vegetarians." So you can use this product on your pet, safe in the knowledge that no animals got blinded or injured by the testing process and then had to be eaten to end their suffering. They made one for cats too called "Oh My Cat!" which I did take a picture of to show my mum (yet it never occurred to me to take one of "Oh My Dog!". Fool!), but I can't get it on here right now. It's a shame coz the male model they've used in the advert for it is fucking scary.
That was pretty much it. Half the time wondering empty streets (apart from the people walking their tampon rat-dogs) after spending the first half of our time on the beach. I enjoyed swimming in the sea for the first time in years, then while trying to discreetly change clothes, managed to flash about 4 kids. They giggled. I was incredibly embarrassed.

Mon 11th: Lucca & Pisa.

Lucca is a very pretty village in Italy with a big wall bordering it. It's main points of interest are a church which is kinda pretty but a little dull but faces onto a nice square which is nice to sit in when waiting for everyone else to finish looking around, and a tower that takes ages to walk up to the top of with some unsafe looking stairs towards the top but is totally worth braving it to see the area at the top which has really cool trees growing in it and provides an amazing setting to see some absolutely beautiful views from. Oh, and the fact that Giacomo Puccini either lived there or was born there. Lucca is totally obsessed with Puccini. They have statues of him and notices about him all over the place. They have bars and B&B's named after his operas. They are clearly VERY proud of him.

We pretty much just went to Pisa to see the leaning tower, which totally defies belief when you see it in person. I mean, we've all seen pictures of it and gone "Woah, that's pretty weird. I mean it like, leans a bit to the side.", but, and I'm aware that this may make me sound like a total wanker, it really doesn't actually physically come across in photos just how much it leans, coz when yer there in person, seeing this massive fucking tower that looks like it's about one accidental nudge away from crashing down, it's pretty much incredible.

On the way back to the ship, we had a fun game of "Prossiespots." A game in which you basically try to be the first person to see a prostitute. This was because we were clearly driving down the place to be for a bit of an exchange of money and bodily fluids. It was yer bog standard country road that just happened to have a lot of prostitutes hanging around, waiting for business to come their way. A couple of time we saw cars pulling off the road towards one of them for some sky rockets in flight, afternoon delight. Ohhhhhhhwuh-hohhhhhhhh, afternoon delight.
And why should they wait until the middle of a cold dark night, eh?

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Axl's Adventures In The Mediterranean: Part 1

So the reason I haven't updated this blog for ages now is that I was on a cruise around the Mediterranean. Oooh la de da, look at me why don't you. Yes, a cruise.
The cruise ship itself was a 13 story metal behemoth, a floating hotel and holiday complex.
And this baby has a name.
"Brilliance Of The Seas".
Now, a cruise is essentially a flash, upmarket package holiday (or is a package holiday just a cheap version of a cruise?). I guess if you were to analyse it, the comparison is pretty obvious. It wasn't something that had occurred to me tho, until the Butlins style greeting we got. Some poor girl was being paid to applaud us as we went inside the ship. Yup, we were greeted by clapping and "Yaaaaayyyyy, you made it! Well done!", which to me echoed the forced enthusiasm of the greeting we recieved when we went to ATP (Seriously, what better way to greet a bunch of "cooler-than-cool" indies to a festival than to have an equivalent of everything they hate about music personified and pushed at them, blocking their way in?).
Off the point, I don't know about any of you, but I found that the runner up in the U.K.'s "The Apprentice" (Claire) this year really reminded me of an evil Butlins employee. I got the feeling that if she wasn't so sure of herself, she would've been the Butlins equivalent of Michael Douglas in the film "Falling Down". Scary thought.
A lot of the employees on this cruise ship have that Butlins sort of forced enthusiasm, which I personally often find slightly sinister. I find it hard enough enough being courteous to people at my job sometimes, let alone being nice to them. If I had to force enthusiasm and "FUN" at them on the level these people seem to permanently have to, I think I'd go apocalyptic. I'd probably end up like one of those disgruntled U.S. postal workers you often used to see or read about in the news years ago coz they'd finally snapped and gone on a killing spree.
Luckily, none of this lot do. Although if they did, there were a few people on that boat who could've probably done with a bullet in the face. OK, that's a bit harsh. They only really deserved being beaten up a little. A couple at least deserved to be Vanilla Ice to my Suge Knight. A bit of a dangling over the side of the ship. That would've shut them up.
American in a lift (the cruise ship has lifts): "Hey, did you guys go off the ship today?"
Me & Caela: "Yeah, yeah we did."
Him: "Oh yeah? Wha'd I miss?"
Us: "We saw some Roman ruins, you know, baths, columns, an amphitheatre. We saw the old port..."
Him: Chuckles, then dismissively says "A bunch of rocks then."
NO YOU FUCKING IMBECILE! YOU BRAIN DEAD TOSSCOCK! Just coz your idea of culture is eating a Chinese take-away while watching the Discovery channel. Here's a tip, if you have no interest in anything another country has to offer, stay at fucking home. At the very least, don't let that stupid flapping mouth of yours ejaculate your stupid fucking "opinions" at me. Look, I realise that as your mouth's primary function is consumption of lard, you've probably forgotten how to use it properly, so I'll go easy on you. Come with me now to Deck 13. Actually, Deck 12's balconies are more over the water, we'll do it there. Come with me, and I'm gonna dangle some fucking sense back into that brain of yours. Let's get the blood to yer brain rather than that bulbous belly of yours. Now, I warn you, you are pretty heavy, so once I've started dangling over the side of the ship, I don't know how long I'm gonna be able to keep a hold on yer cankles for. What? I'm back in my cabin. Oh hang on, I didn't actually say any of that did I. This last diatribe has all been in my head hasn't it. Balls. I was really enjoying..... Micaela's undressed. Hang on, what's she... oh hello...........

Monday, 11 August 2008

55 Cents A Minute... do this on a cruise ship means I don't have enough time to convey just how gutted I am to hear that Isaac Hayes has died. Absolute legend.

Proper blog when I get back.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Possibly The Best Customer Story Of My 6+ Years At HMV.

Can't remember if this happened early this week or late last week:

Customer walked into the basement. He was on his phone. He walked up to me.

Customer: "Do you have any brown items?"
Me: "Sorry?"
Customer: "Do you have any brown items?"
Me: "Brown items?"
Customer: "Yes. I think he's a blues musician."
Me: "I've never heard of Brown Items. I'll have to look it up."

I was walking over to the computer when he stopped me.

Customer: "Sorry, sorry. Brown Idols."
Me: "Brown Idols?"
Customer. "Yes."
Me: "I'll look it up for you."

I looked for Brown Idols on the computer system. Nothing came up.

Me: "Nothing's coming up for Brown Idols I'm afraid."
Customer: "No?"

I double checked just in case.

Me: "No. Nothing at all I'm afraid."

Guy listened to whoever was talking to him on his phone.

Customer: "......................................................................Bryan Adams."

Pause as I force myself to not laugh.

Me: "Bryan Adams is in the Rock & Pop section on the ground floor."
Customer: "Oh, OK, thankyou."

Customer left. Then I nearly laughed up the contents of my stomach.