Wednesday, 25 March 2015

The Travel Lie


What you see in the image above is, well, horse crap. A big steaming pile of it. It gives off the stench of many a keen traveller who likes to wrap up their hobby (and it is nothing more than that) with the notion that travel is essential to a full life. They gladly stand on their sanctimonious soapbox and tell you this. Tell them why they are spouting horse crap and you will be judged by a majority that doesn't like to accept the truth about extensive travel. The truth is that people want to escape what they see as the mediocrity of life. Anything to get out of the rat race. They think that if you don't crave the chance to flee from the run of the mill days, you're a miserable soul who needs to broaden your horizons. I say to them, you need to appreciate what you have around you.

You see, I have been to many places abroad and not once have they broadened my horizons. I didn't start out antagonistic towards foreign holidays but I soon did when I saw them for what they truly are. Expensive distractions. You spend forty eight weeks of the year to pretend you live a glamorous life for four weeks. The fact is that people who crave travel are not happy with their day to day lives. They are crack addicts for that distraction, rather than finding contentment with what they have, or having the endeavour to change their situation.

Let me qualify where I have been and what I learned:
  • France - I now deeply hate French people.
  • Spain - I hate humidity.
  • South Africa - My birth country is a land of crime and anarchy.
  • Cyprus - Decadence knows how to turn a blind eye to poverty.
  • Israel - They make their own enemies.
  • USA - They reverence their dead but would walk over your face for a cup of coffee.
  • Switzerland - No one cares. Hell, if you want to kill yourself, we've got a company for that.
  • Ireland - Every city should offer free wifi.
  • Canada - Add garlic and Parmesan to grilled Corn on the Cob.
I also learned that there is a McDonald's practically anywhere. I learned that people can be just as stupid and predictable as anywhere else. All things that are not important. 

What about different cultures? I don't care about culture. I don't find that fascinating. I don't know why anyone else does. It's not like I visited South Africa, my nation of birth, and felt an overwhelming urge to adopt Zulu practices into my life. I live in Wales. I don't find the Welsh road signs, littered with the slowly dying Welsh language translations, interesting at all. Nor will I ever. I don't care why people are the way they are. I don't need to know the roots of a tree to enjoy the fruits it bears. I don't even need to go to the tree. In the this day and age of advanced logistics and technology, there is very little of the world that cannot be delivered to my doorstep or brought close enough to drive to.

People say "It's not the same." Of course it isn't. Experiencing something in the country from which it originates is always more authentic. That doesn't mean I have an overwhelming desire to eat vegetables at the farm from which they were plucked, cooked freshly minutes after they were pulled up. I can wait until they land in a supermarket and then cook them in my own home. I don't feel like my experience has diminished, nor do I believe that eating them on site would enrich my soul for having experienced it! If your only selling point is authenticity, then you do not have a sound argument that travel broadens your horizons.

Travel is a hobby, nothing more. There is no sound evidence to say otherwise. If you love it, that is fine but don't tar the rest of us who don't enjoy it like we're some uncultured oafs who know nothing about the world. I know plenty about this planet that we live on. That didn't come by bathing in the sun abroad or watching sunsets in foreign climes. It came from educating myself about those things. Those who don't like travel do not need their horizons broadening. They just need the travellers among their friends to stop being narrow minded about people who don't like to travel. 

Saturday, 7 March 2015

50 Facts About Me

I have told a few people recently that people don't know me as well as they think they do. It's true. I think it is true of all of us. No one is an open book, as much as they would like to kid themselves that they are. We fear the repercussions of it or the invasion it is on our lives. Me, despite having a public blog, being a pretty opinionated on social media and a published author, well, I appear to be a simple, plain character. But that isn't the case. So, in an effort to show that everyone is interesting, I have compiled 50 (possibly) interesting facts about myself.
  1. I was born in South Africa.
  2. I'm a Mormon.
  3. I have written and published three novels (as of the posting date of this article).
  4. I have starred in a major theatre production of "A Christmas Carol" at Theatre Clwyd.
  5. I have lived in 4 different countries.
  6. I have had dinner with a Tamil Tiger.
  7. I have been stabbed.
  8. I once broke into the place I worked at, set off the alarms, confessed to my mistake... and kept my job.
  9. I survived a car accident involving an 80mph head on collision with a 2 tonne truck.
  10. I organised a major convention weekend for approx 1000 attendees for 3 years.
  11. I have planned my suicide. Twice.
  12. I have been hypnotised by Derren Brown.
  13. I was 32 when I had my first filling at the dentist.
  14. I went to Spooky World in Warrington and scared one of the performers without even trying.
  15. The first Premier League game I attended was Everton vs Arsenal. I'm a Man Utd supporter.
  16. I didn't get into football until I was 13.
  17. I have done a bungee jump.
  18. My favourite superhero is Batman.
  19. I have no phobias.
  20. My favourite film is Inception.
  21. I applied for a job with MI5. I was interviewed but never got the job.
  22. I have auditioned for a Hollywood movie (Dragonheart).
  23. I have family living on three different continents.
  24. I have visited Las Vegas but I didn't gamble a single cent.
  25. My favourite musical is Les Miserables.
  26. I have auditioned for Britain's Got Talent.
  27. And ITV's The Chase.
  28. I have received around a dozen death threats via email.
  29. I have had my Facebook account cloned at least 5 times.
  30. I have talked a woman out of killing herself.
  31. I was one of those missionaries who comes knocking at your door.
  32. I hate pets.
  33. I hate dancing.
  34. I once ate 30 slices of pizza in one sitting at a Pizza Hut all you can eat buffet.
  35. I have been a Best Man 5 times.
  36. I have been an Usher at a wedding 14 times.
  37. I have been to over 90 weddings.
  38. Whenever I do attend a wedding, I do a satirical Twitter commentary on @sparkyjcs.
  39. I helped organise a snowball fight in the middle of August.
  40. My favourite kind of music is movie trailer music.
  41. My favourite song is Supermassive Black Hole by Muse.
  42. My favourite TV show is The Shield.
  43. My first crush was a sales assistant in the Clarks shoe shop in Chester called Louise. I was 11 years old at the time.
  44. I've been to Disney World in Florida and Disney Land Paris. I hated both of them.
  45. I watched all the events of 9/11 in a Dixons store in Tunbridge Wells.
  46. Once, I managed to pay to see one movie in a cinema and hopped between screens and saw three.
  47. At school, one boy would constantly call me gay. I said it was because he was gay but everyone thought it was my get out. He now lives with his boyfriend.
  48. I have never seen Grease.
  49. A sad fact is that when I see books in shops, I look up at them and wonder what it would be like to see one of my own novels up there.
  50. I have submitted scripts to the BBC but none have been commissioned.