This page has been posing disingenously as a travel blog for so long now that it must be time I actually posted something on it. After all, I have been travelling more or less non-stop since the end of March. I’m now on the final leg – from England back across Europe to Istanbul, where I’m going to give up nomadism and be sensible for a while.
Of course, the problem with travel blogs is that the traveller’s life is so full of pressing urgencies – drinking enough vodka to avoid offending your host, recovering again until you can stand without assistance, finding a functioning internet connection so you can boast about it on Facebook, and so on – that blogging is pushed into the background.
Moreover, the process of travelling is so tiring that it’s hard sometimes to find the energy to write.
My brain has been finding it hard to function well enough to produce creative work. I can barely organize my day’s activities, let alone focus on the elevated art of writing a blog.
To be fair, my life, whether in stationary or hyper-Bedouin mode, has always has been a degrading spectacle of absent-mindedness. I have all the organizational skills of a sockful of newts. I couldn’t manage a piss-up on a Kazakh train, a far easier venue than a brewery.
But the combination of hard-core travelling, partying and tramping around strange cities hunting for cheap coffee has accentuated my tendency towards anarchy. It has more or less reduced my brain to what it looks like: a slimy, gently wobbling mass of grey jelly with virtually no useful function.
As a result, I’m losing valuable property at a terrifying rate. Seriously, I’m jettisoning stuff like a removal van with no back doors, being driven up a steep mountain by a maniac. In Kazakhstan, I lost one of my dearest possessions – my iPod. Thankfully, I’d backed up the music, but I lost more apps than I care to think about. In England, I left my computer charger at my Aunt’s house in Devon (fortunately Royal Mail made that one redeemable), then left my comfortable, well-travelled trainers at my parents’ house and left wearing a pair of pain-inducing brown things better suited to torture than footwear.
I haven’t had my own pack of toothpaste for two weeks, because I keep forgetting to buy it. Time for an admission: if I have stayed at your house in England this month, I stole your toothpaste. Today, I didn’t even have time to do that, because I set my alarm wrong and had to run out of the house within 3 minutes of waking up. I just made it to the train on time, and spent a good part of the morning sleeping in a park in Paris.
Objectively seen, of course, even if this is all caused by fatigue, it’s self-inflicted. Late night parties and early morning trains are a lethal combination, especially over a long period, and it’s me that chooses to do both. The pleasure of taking my sister’s almost-three-year-old daughter to Bristol zoo was a social contribution well worth the subsequent tiredness. But do I really need to do all the other stuff?
The answer is yes, of course I do. In February I’ll be thirty. I have a well-founded fear that in the few hours between sunrise and sunset on the day of my birthday, I will transform from an insurrectionary, debauched party animal into a responsible, mature member of my community, an upstanding citizen who reads the Financial Times (terrifyingly, I’ve started doing this already) and drinks a single gin and tonic once a week whilst watching Newsnight.
Actually none of this is true, but it’s a fine excuse for having a good time. I was far too sensible for the early half of my twenties. I went to Leeds University and actually studied. I got to bed at a reasonable hour most nights. I handed essays in early. What a geek. It’s time I did some living irresponsibly. That’s always best done in countries where the police can be bribed, and whose jurisdiction you will leave the next day.
Right, back on the road. Meet me for a pint in Belgrade.