It’s Hogmanay, and I must confess to being in a bit of a funk. It’s that terrible moment of knowing that you have so much to do, but little inclination to do anything.
Methinks I will tidy the house. Hopefully that will shift me from my doldrums.
Before I do that, I want to talk about Prague.
As you may know, I went back to Prague earlier this month. I had done so as a treat for myself, as well as a way of hanging out with some good friends. My trip was almost without incident, and left me feeling glad that I had gone. I’ve tried to write down as much of it as I could remember.
Well, I’ve arrived in Praha, and I must confess that it is as if I had never left. This place has such an effect on me, it borders on embarrassing. If it werent for the plans and other such nonse that I have going on, I would move here in a heartbeat. It feels that right.
Even though the Czech Republic is rather close to… …well, everything, it still took me ten hours to get here, thanks in part to a three hour stopover in London Stansted. Not my idea of fun. As I sat in the departure lounge, wishing for something to happen to relieve the crushing boredom, I began to sneeze. And not in a good way.
On average I only get a cold once a year, and the law of averages dictates that I must get the sniffles whenever I go on holiday.
Last night at Dave’s, Kelly’s and Jeff’s was fun – I spent the guts of the time making hot toddies and ignoring the fact that I hadn’t eaten for the entire day. Thankfully the whiskey, a self-disinfecting meal in itself, helped to reduce the food cravings. They were however replaced with booze cravings.
Which leads me to just now. All the sensible people who had chosen not to go out to a bar last night are now in work, happy that their bloodstream contains only blood. All the non-sensy people are still in bed, possibly containing enough liquid evil that they themselves should be tapped and poured out into waiting containers, for the lushes of the world to drink.
As for myself, well, I’m in the kitchen, writing this update. It appears that normal alcohol (even if you count the grappa and tequila shots that I took) and I still have that special understanding – I get to live without any repercussions for what I put in my body, and I once again become its special emissary – bringing new levels of wrong to the hearts and minds of my friends.
This is bliss to me.
Dave and others in the house have noticed that I am dead.
I’m popping all the pills I bought in London in the vague hope that it will help. It doesn’t. Even though I can’t hear it, I’ve been told that I don’t sound too good. An added bit of nonse is that I am in permanent need of hankies. In order to have tissues I am grabbing sheets of paper from everywhere. Should my pockets be emptied out I shall be an embarrassment of papers.
Gavin, a friend of Mirella’s, met up with me and Dave and Kelly. I think we did lunch, not sure. After a brief walk around, Kelly split for parts unknown, leaving Dave, Gavin and I to walk along Charles Bridge. This was my first time across – I had missed it when I was last here. It really is something – more so if you like bridges. Given the romantic nature of the bridge, I took a lot of photos, trying to make sure that the sheer number of tourists was not shown. After that proved to be impossible, I tried to take photos of Dave and Gavin as they walked, but by not looking through the camera when I took them. This could be read as an attempt to get a more ‘natural’ shot, or just plain laziness on my part. Gavin was easy to get, but I always seemed to have a bad angle for Dave. Only later, sitting down with Mirella, did one photo jump out at me.
Dave and I tore ourselves away from the DVDs I had brought in an effort to act responsible and meet up with various people who were arriving into the city. Nikki, whom I had met while last here, was flying in from London. Melinda and Sinda – one whom Dave knew from back home, the other a friend of a friend, were also arriving. All three are to stay with us, which should make for an interesting sleeping arrangement.
Dave and I eventually got to the airport to meet up with Nikki, whose plane was somewhat late. Jeff and Gavin had also decided to meet Nikki, so it is with us four expectant faces that Nikki gets reintroduced to Praha life.
Greetings done, we head home, leaving Dave to pick up Melinda and Sinda.
I slept on Jeff’s floor last night. Dave has given up his room to Melinda and Sinda and is camped out in Jeff’s as well.
I slept in the same bed as Jeff on my first night here, but it quickly degraded into a fight for the blankets, so when Nikki arrived yesterday, she got to share with Jeff. This means that I actually got some sleep, despite Jeff’s insistence to sit straight up in bed and shout “Kevin Bacon”.
Really, what is it with Kevin Bacon?
Today I acted as a somewhat background tour guide for Melinda and Sinda, taking them through the Old Town and whatnot. It was fun just to hang out and to talk to new people, especially people as nice as they.
I have been avoiding someone while I was here. Given any other time I would normally just go straight up to them and have it out, but for some reason I was unable to. I don’t think I could take it. This person is quite intense – in a way that isn’t beneficial. He’s a good guy and all, but he longs too hard to be the center of attention, and no-one, no matter how good or how interesting, can be the center of attention for any length of time without becoming wearing.
So, in the interests of my own well-being, I didn’t seek him out.
This made bumping into him at the internet cafe later in the day all the more fun.
During our brief conversation I apologized for not receiving his last email to me, and for not being able to talk to him when he rang me (my phone at that time was broken – I could text, but couldn’t speak on it. This has proved to be very inconvenient to say the least), and told him that when I was able to see him I would let him know.
I felt somewhat bad about doing that, but it was a lot better than just grinning and bearing it.
Later on I am sure I did something.
Question: Did I drink?
Question: Did Melinda and Sinda cook an exceptional dinner for us all?
Question: Did Dave and I drink a lot of absinthe?
Answer: How much of the evening do you remember?
Gave Jeff a hug goodbye. He’s heading off to South Africa to be with his family over Xmas. I knew that the timing of my arrival meant that I wouldn’t get to spend as much time with him as I had hoped, and I was glad of the time that I did have.
I have been staring at the kitchen wall for a bit now. This isn’t some kind of wall fetish that I’ve developed, but rather a strange fascination for the drawings that have been pinned up on it. They invariably show cute little animals doing and/or saying things that cute little animals, had they been given humanlike voice boxes and the comprehension/vocab to use them, should not be saying. Ever. Evereverever.
It is amazing how this wall can silence people as they read it. Every time I look at it there is something that I haven’t seen before, something sick and twisted – a brainwrong that has leaked onto paper and is stuck up with its own gooey matter.
I’m with good people.
As hinted at, I had brought lots of DVD’s with me – mainly anime and British comedy. Dave a
d Kelly had gone on in great detail about how much they enjoyed ‘Mr. Show’, a programme that I loved, so I thought that showcasing some British comedy would act as a good framing device for ‘Mr. Show’ – a programme that played with the boundaries and the artificially enforced American sensibilities of humor.
To that effect, I brought over ‘Brass Eye’, ‘Jaaaam’, and ‘The League of Gentlemen – Series 3′.
I think the shows went down well. At the very least we all held our hands to our mouths in shock at what unfolded as we watched.
Rest of Thursday
Just did casual stuff. Hanging out, walking round, drinking. The usual. I didn’t do anything really touristy, instead focusing on doing interweb things, and general bumming around. I spent a lot of time in Bohemia Bagel, if memory serves. I met up with others, and did other type stuff, most of which I can’t remember.
Oh, hang on. I forgot. I went out with the gang in the evening to Marquis de Sade, a bar in the center of town. I remember now as, when we had all sat down, a drunk man in his mid-forties made small talk with the group, only to settle down next to me, and declare all my friends to be not worth his time, as they were American.
What a total bastard. I pointed out that he was being very rude to my friends, and such stuff, which had some effect in curtailing his asshole nature. He thankfully moved onto other matters, which was ignored until he fell asleep a few minutes later. A short time later he woke up again and left, making the evening ten times better than before.
Friday was a bit of a weird day. Such is the way of things. I spent the morning doing small things, and the afternoon hanging out and drinking, in preparation for the evening.
I attended two parties – both of which I found to be dreadful. The first was at the place where the others and I had been drinking in the afternoon – the party just sort of pooled round us. I knew several faces from the influx, but given the ferocity of volume, and sheer manic nature of the participants, it didn’t feel like something I could wholly partake of without losing my sense of self. We arose and moved on to a birthday party that was happening elsewhere.
There I was able to meet Cameron again – something which was very cool, as he happens to be one of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet. This was waylaid by feeling quite the outsider to the evening’s proceedings, as all the groups had already been formed, and space was at a minimum.
Faced with this, we hastened off into the night.
Today the impossible happened – we all woke up and met at the bus station. Dave was over at Mirella’s, and *certain people* thought that his waking up and moving about would be nigh impossible. This proved to unfounded, and we were all there, all ready to begin our trip to Kutna Hora.
Apart from the bus, that is. And the trains. They weren’t having any of it. After a few brief calculations it became apparent that Sunday was now to be the day of bones, and that Saturday was to be the day of large breakfasts and museums. This proved fortunate, as Meg, a friend of all of us, was coming into town, along with Jenn. We met up with both of them at the steps of the Museum of Natural History, and proceeded to walk around what turned out to be a wonderfully creepy museum.
It seems that one of the core aims of this establishment was to capture and stuff as many things as possible. As such it turned out to be a remarkable cavalcade of sudden death, as hundreds of animals stared back at us, all glassy-eyed and rigid of limb. It reminded me of many business meetings I had been in, and I pitied the poor creatures.
After we headed out, it became apparent that Nikki hurt her ankle. Our group then fragmented as Meg and Jenn headed off, with a promise to see us later. We went home, by way of internet, and thence to a small restaurant near the house. Due to the injury, Nikki didn’t come out to play. As a consolation, I connected my laptop to a pair of speakers and left her with the ability to play DVD’s. For an added bit of fun I left series three of ‘The League of Gentlemen’ playing. Nothing quite like watching a South Carolina girl experiencing British comedy…
After a great deal of nonsense we all managed to meet up with each other in a bar in the heart of Praha. It was great to see Meg again. Out of all the people I had met in the month I had lived here, she was the one that I wanted to talk to but had been unable to, for various reasons. While everyone was getting plastered, we talked nonse and did a spot of confiding. For some reason we also talked an awful lot about clothes, which makes the entire night all the more memorable.
After that we went to a trendy bar (Nobo? If I’m incorrect, I’m sure I will be told), and I switched from pivo to vodka and coke – the logic being that I didn’t want to get drunk. Melinda had told me previously that Dave didn’t dance, and I politely informed her that tonight was going to be an experience. It seems that Dave, surrounded by American culture, is unable to get his dancegroove on. Melinda, having only seen him in America, did not know that he has since morphed into the ultimate Eurostyle dancer – a man who would dance at the drop of a hat, and who is unafraid to shake his booty.
As the music swelled, the number of people whose jaw dropped at Dave’s performance had risen to include everyone in the room, myself included. Once Dave had concluded his antics, I saw countless other guys who had previously kept themselves seated get up and dance, almost as if tribal custom dictated it.
Last night Meg and I had agreed to meet under the horses ass (left cheek) at Muzeum. It was a brief chance to hang out together, drink coffee, and talk more nonse. Unfortunately, both of us were tired, but we had a good time.
As it was Sunday (Kutna Hora day), we both headed off to the train station – for me it was to hook up with Dave, Mirella and the rest. For Meg, it was to meet someone to whom she owed money – she’s going to Italy in the summer for a beach Frisbee tournament.
After Meg left, we all headed off to find the right platform. As we stood, staring at a train we were told was not ours, I went off and did a little exploring. I managed to find myself in what looked to be a station official’s office. Given as I hadn’t opened a single door to get here, I felt partially free of guilt/mostly bricking it. I headed back to the others forthwith, only to find out that the train that wasn’t ours actually was, and that it was time to leave.
The journey was pleasant, providing you like trees.
It only took an hour to get to Kutna Hora, which was a lot less than we thought it would take. This was, for all of us, our first foray away from Praha and into the Czech Republic.
Kutna Hora is a small town in Bohemia, the land where rhapsody took its name. The church itself, just on the outskirts of town, was rather small, but the interior was something to behold. A blind monk in the 14th Century (possibly mad to boot), had taken all the bones (over 40,000) and decorated the interior of the church with them. It was nothing short of marvelous, and we all took happy snaps. I especially liked the chandelier, and constantly made references to making soup and learning interior decoration tips.
Walking through the small graveyard that accompanied the church, Mirella remarked as to how creeped out she was by the whole affair. I on the other hand found it a far saner experience than the Natural History Museum.
It was about then that the weather turned nasty, and we were pissed on from a great height.
We took refuge in a local restaurant, and had lunch there. This turned out to be a le
surely affair, as it seemed the kitchen staff had to make everything by hand, including the plates. While the food was passable, I carried a moment of consternation as part of the meat in my dish was green and resembled nothing that I had ever eaten, let alone was part of my original order. I imagined it to be processed children, and carried on.
After lunch we took a long walk through and around the town itself. I have only one thing to say about the town – it needs more coffee. How else can I explain the total emptiness of the place – we were the only people out, with the exception of an old man and his west highland terrier. I would’ve likened this to a horror movie, where all we could see was the twitching of curtains, but there wasn’t even that. Kutna Hora is a place that has no life on a Sunday.
It felt like being back home.
Nikki’s leg was really starting to hurt, so we pressed on. I lost count of the time, but was under the distinct impression that others in the party felt as if we were going to miss the train back. Dave and I, in a moment of alpha-maledom, began to walk ahead, realizing that we had each focused on various landmarks for the last few hours, so we had a good sense of which way to go.
When we got to the train, we jumped in, and got comfortable. As I was absolutely tired, I spent half the time with my eyes closed, thinking through various issues for the novel I’m currently writing, and staring at Mirella. I think Mirella took this in the spirit it was given, because whenever our eyes met there was the odd smile, which signified she was humoring a complete weirdo.
At a later stage in the train journey, Mirella grabbed Dave’s camera and took shots of people in the cabin. This proved to be a nice bit of fun, not only for the photography, but because I could see, by way of glass reflection, the people in the other cabins, and their reaction to the entire photoshoot.
After we got back, Melinda, Sinda and myself went shopping for some food-type nonse, as Mirella had invited us round to hers for dinner. Dave went with her, while Kelly and Nikki headed home.
We had a most excellent spag bol, accompanied by loads of garlic. Afterwards we settled down to watch Delicatessen and Pirates of the Caribbean – two films I had neglected to watch upon their release. Both were magnificent, albeit by the time they finished it was rather late. Dave was staying at Mirella’s that night, so Melinda, Sinda and myself trudged off towards the late trams in what quickly turned out to be a hailstorm. Now between you and me, I love the stuff. Anything that is snow-based is a joy in my book. As we trekked from Muzeum to Mustek, the world turned white and I was at peace. I was also soaked through to the skin, but I was at peace. Soggy is a small price to pay if you can appreciate the moment.
Monday turned out to be a horrible day for everyone but me. I just lounged about, did a bit of sightseeing and checked the internet. Meeting up with the others, it turned out that Nikki had fallen and hurt herself, and that workwise everybody (bar Dave) had experienced at least one thing that they didn’t need in their lives.
Sinda left us today. She’s off to Budapest. She and I spent part of the morning eating some weird baked goods that we bought at a stall, and just generally hanging out, before timetables caught up with her, and she had to leave.
I was sad to see her go, not only because she was a good person to hang around with, but because it is a reminder that I too shall be buggering off.
A whole bunch of stuff happened today, none of which I can remember, save the fact that Dave and I watched anime. The last thing we watched, when we should’ve just curled up and gone to sleep was ‘End of Evangelion’. As we watched, with Melinda fast asleep on the bedroom floor, it became clear to me just how juxtaposed this film was – it makes a great deal of sense to me every time I watch it, save this last time, where I placed myself in the role of outsider – unknowing of how it all built up to this. Placing myself in such a position was informative as it made me realize just how much Eva can draw you in, and how much more rewarding it is when you surrender to the impact.
I woke up early to see Melinda off, but couldn’t manage it. The bed was too comfy. I sank into it like a happy bunny and rested for a few more hours.
With that I began to pack, hauling my belongings into the case I had brought. I was surprisingly stealthy in this approach, and had succeeded in not waking Nikki up. As I checked the clock and realized that my time was drawing near, I woke Dave, and we all proceeded to hang out in the kitchen.
I was floored when Dave gave me a pencil sketch of the Praha skyline from Charles Bridge. It really meant a lot to me, and my speechlessness hopefully conveyed that.
After all was said and done, it was time to trundle off. Dave was heading partway (he had to go to work), but Nikki was to go with me to lunch with Mirella, and then to the airport. As Dave stepped off the tram we said our goodbyes to each other and Nikki and I were left with me looking a tad sadder than when we had left the house.
Thanks to either the power of shortcuts or my own navigational skills I was about forty minutes late for my lunch with Mirella. I was quite upset about that, but we still had a few minutes we could spend together before she had to get back to work. Gavin was there as well, along with another friend of Mirellas, which made for some particularly distinct banter where I spent my time casually insulting Gavin, but in a very playful manner.
With lunch over, it was more hugs as I said goodbye to Mirella.
Nikki and I got onto the metro, thence to the bus, disembarking at the airport, where, after a brief moment or two, I said my goodbyes for a final time.
Flying off I reflected on the notion that thanks to my last five years in America, I am a man without a home. I have become accustomed to not settling down, to not having that part of my life that I can relax in. Such exposure has left me somewhat fearful of relaxing in a new environment as I know that if I do I shall grow to love the place and the people there, only to have to leave and go somewhere else soon after.
I relaxed in Prague, which is why it has taken me so long to write this, as it officially confines my experiences to memory. This in turn hurts as for the first time in a long time I felt what I had been missing.
And, as you can see, I’ve added another section to my site – photogalleries!. As time allows, I’ll be putting more up. Right now I have three galleries of Prague photos. Click on the link above and check them out.
Oh, and happy Hogmanay.