Tuesday, 21 October 2003

Fields of Gold

Two ounces of sorrow and a hatful of shame
A cupful of tears and a pocketful of pain
I care for you completely and without exception
As I ponder my mistakes and search for redemption

Since I last held you it's been barely a week
Yet time taps my shoulder and dark shadows creep
The night draws near and the sun goes down
My heart grows heavy and my emotions spin around

When the moon is full and the day is old
The ground is hard and the air is cold
We shall share a whisper of tales untold
As we walk through everlasting Fields of Gold

The night air dances through these bones of mine
I search my heart not knowing what I'll find.
Chance to find strength for the coming day
Hoping your memory will keep the ghosts at bay

My head is all a flutter, my soul has gone astray
My tears flow freely as my happiness slips away
A head full of memories and a lingering kiss
A lifetime of mistakes forgotten in a month of bliss

When the moon is full and the day is old
The ground is hard and the air is cold
We shall share a whisper of tales untold
As we walk through everlasting Fields of Gold

You are always in my heart and always on my mind
You are beautiful and clever, sensitive and kind
I care for you deeply and miss you every day
And I remember your face as I close my eyes to pray

When the moon is full and the day is old
The ground is hard and the air is cold
We shall share a whisper of tales untold
As we walk through everlasting Fields of Gold

Thursday, 9 October 2003

Searching for Magic in Minsk


I am writing to you from Warsaw.

I arrived in Poland some hours ago after travelling by coach from Minsk in Belarus. The journey was one of the worst of my life. Ugh! I travelled on a bus with no heating, no proper lighting and two rude bus drivers.

For some reason the drivers decided to stop the bus in the middle of nowhere for four hours and we sat there, the passengers and myself, in complete darkness, shivering our socks off. It was awful and it will be the LAST time I ever travel by bus from Belarus!

However, as uncomfortable as the journey was, it has not spoiled what was a wonderful time in Minsk.

This was my 8th visit to Belarus. I arrived on the 19th of August, after spending two days in Riga in Latvia, and lived in the Belorussian capital until yesterday. In less than two hours I will board a coach that will take me back to jolly old England.

I sometimes ask myself why I continue to return to Belarus. The country itself is often very backward, though the people are often very wonderful.

I guess you could say that I have been searching for something, something that I once had but lost three and a half years ago. I don't know the name for this "something", so I simply call it magic.

Each time I return to Belarus I search for this magic, this sweet reminder of my youth, and yet each time my search has been in vain.

Until now, that is.

While I still haven't found the true and pure magic I have been looking for, during the past two months I've come pretty darn close...

I realise now that I lead two very different lives; I have my life in England, which is difficult and dominated by work, and then I have my life in Belarus, which involves visiting the ballet, helping kids, throwing parties and meeting pretty girls.

I've spent time with some wonderful Belorussian people, like Katja, Sasha, Lena, and especially my dear Emily, who is simply the kindest and most caring person I have ever met in my life. You could never find somebody like her in the West. Never.

These months have been very good for me and they have restored my faith in Belarus as a place I can go to, where I will find acceptance and kindness, when my life in England turns to crap, as it so often does.

When I first came to Belarus four years ago I had one of the best times of my life. True, there were some difficult days (this is Eastern Europe, after all) but overall they were six wonderful months.

I found compassion and kindness. I also found friendship, with an Italian boy named Michele and a multitude of Belorussians. I even found love, with a beautiful girl called Katja.

The days that I spent with Katja were beautiful and utterly perfect in every way. She never felt the same way but that never mattered. And I really was quite happy.

I've always wanted to be the centre of attention but sadly I was not blessed with the wit or charm to draw others unto me. So instead I became the centre of attention because of my clothes and my nationality, which was enough.

Coming to Belarus and working with children was a good decision I made at a time in my life when I was making bad decisions.

Not that it's all been sweetness and light, of course. Belarus is often a very difficult country to live in, for a variety of reasons.

I remember some time ago when a hole appeared in the pavement close to where I lived. Repair men were were called out and they came and filled the hole with sand until it was almost waist high, thereby creating a danger almost as bad as the hole itself.

But they didn't stop there. They then stuck a piece of wood in the pile of sand. Then some bright spark had the idea to tie a piece of thick wire to the piece of wood and stretch it across the pavement and tie it to a lamppost. Eh???? I cannot understand that mentality.

That's just one example of the way people in this crazy country think. Another example is milk in bags. Milk in bags! What's that all about? They don't stand up. You can't put them back in the fridge after you've opened them. Yay! Milk in bags!

And, finally, zebra crossings on corners! ON CORNERS! So cars zoom around the corner and knock you over as you cross the road. How wonderful. How quaint. How Belorussian.

So, yes, this is indeed a crazy and backwards country. However, one redeeming feature that Belarus has is its people - if you look carefully, and ignore the bureaucracy and the rudeness of some of the people, you can find an openness, an honesty and a kindness here that I've never encountered anywhere else.

It is for this reason that I will continue to return to Belarus for years to come, possibly for the rest of my life, and it is for this reason that I will continue to think of Belarus as my private, beautiful, special place, a place where I can find sanctuary when my life falls apart in England, as it often does.

Until my next entry, it's time for this wandering Englishman to leave Poland and head home.

Stay safe and stay well. Enjoy the winter months if you can and remember to wrap up well.


Goodbye Belarus. We shall meet again.


PS: I miss you, Emily. xxx.

Sunday, 31 August 2003

David Shakespeare Part II


In January, David decided to spend some time alone with his ego. As he once said: "It's hard to be humble when you're as great as me."

David returned to the public eye in May when he kidnapped Michael Jackson's son, Prince Jackson Junior, and dangled him from the fifth floor balcony of the Llanfair hotel in Fishguard in Wales.

A few sad Welsh people were offended when David dropped the child and Prince plummeted to his death. But with that famous wink and infamous Shakespearian charm, David avoided all criminal charges, and even Michael Jackson saw the funny side in the end.

David came from a large family of writers. His great-great-great Aunt, Doris Bumblecock Shakespeare, once had an letter published in Playboy in 1879 and his great-great-great Uncle, Will, wrote some plays which were quite successful during the Elizabethan period.

David started his literary career aged 12 when he wrote to TV executive Stephen J. Cannell asking him why nobody was ever killed in The A-Team. He never received a reply and two years later, when The A-Team still hadn't killed anybody, David took his posters of Hannibal, B.A. Baracus, Face and Murdoch down from his bedroom wall and replaced them with posters of Keanu Reeves.

The posters stayed off David's wall until ten years later when he relented and Murdoch and his pals finally reappeared on David's wall.

However, David swore never to watch The A-Team again and he was true to his word - from then on he watched only Knight Rider, Airwolf, Street Hawk, Chips, Quantum Leap, Auto Man and The Wonder Years, in which the body counts were significantly higher.

Some years after the Stephen J. Cannel letter, David started writing professionally. He had several books published, the most famous of which were: David's Guide to David; How to Win David's and Influence David; The Joy of David; I Love David Coz He's Me and that popular classic, David's Guide to Satanism in Wales.

David was a big fan of popular culture. He enjoyed listening to the music of R. Kelly and Gary Glitter and he was especially proud of his collection of Pee Wee Herman films.

David had a long list of lovers in the two years he was in England. These included Paul and Caroline Heaton, Mike Bauld and Sylvia, an Italian girl with big eyes.

It seemed that no young man or woman could resist chat-up lines like: "Your dress would look good on my bedroom floor" or "I'm not Fred Flintstone but I can sure make your bed rock."

When David wasn't practising his Matrix moves, talking about Mike Bauld, eating oranges, trying to dig up Princess Diana's remains or attempting to convince people that the Welsh regime harboured weapons of mass destruction, he liked nothing more than to sit in his mahogany chair, a McDonalds takeaway at his side.

He would watch his favourite film - Shakespeare in Love - while listening to Marilyn Manson, at the same time gently stroking his Dr. Evil poster and rubbing peanut butter into his nipples.

You may think after reading this that David lead a blessed life. Well, he did. But even David had his problems. We spoke to one of his oldest friends who recalled the darkest chapter of David's life...

It began one day in Toronto when David returned home after a hard day's work as a bin man to find that his wife of six days, Agatha Christie, had left him and disappeared to Cardiff with her lover, the Secretary of State for Wales, Rhyf Griffiths.

She took their two children, David Junior and David Junior Junior, with her. The kids found it difficult to adjust at first but they soon got used to the weird Welsh people and they adopted the Welsh language as their own. And Agatha found work through Beaver Employment, as Canadian Ambassador to Wales.

Agatha and the kids wrote to David regularly but, sadly, their letters were written only in Welsh and at that time David had very little knowledge of the language or, indeed, the country.

This was a difficult time for David. His neighbour at the time, Ramesh Bead Boy, told us how he would often put a glass to the wall and listen to hear how David was tackling the crisis. He would often hear David watching Sesame Street at full volume. After the programme had finished David would start laughing and then he would start screaming. This went on about for six months.

David is, however, made of tougher stuff than this. He was soon able to put this difficult experience behind him and he soon re-emerged more confident than ever. In fact, just to show that he had no hard feelings, David had the Welsh flag sewn into his chest.

Shortly afterwards, David set off on his travels and came to the UK and the rest, as they say, is history.

We wanted to conclude this entry by speaking to some of the people who knew David well.

We visited the aforesaid hostel to interview Tiny Tim, Michael, Iker, Jenni, Reza, some Swiss people and Sylvia, who have all signed contracts to stay at the hostel for the next seven years, but the owners of the hostel, Paul and Caroline, insisted that we pay a fee.

They said we should pay twelve pounds for the first six interviews and then we could have the seventh one for free. We declined and instead tried to interview Ben Grant but he had gone to masturbate and was going to be about an hour. Fair play.

We also contacted Canadian coke dealer Deejay Dayton. Sadly, Deejay was unavailable - he had just spent half an hour on the toilet and he was busy writing a trip journal about the whole experience.

We remembered that David often spoke about a friend of his named Andrew Smithen. Sadly, we discovered that Andrew died 17 months ago after overdosing on pancakes while staying at York Youth Hotel.

David once shared a friendship with an Exeter man named Homeless Phil. Phil and David were inseparable, though they did briefly fall out when David discovered Phil had never worked for Adecco.

Phil was once a guest at the previously mentioned hostel, where he was an unhappy and lonely man. However, luck shined down upon him because one day he was kicked out and from then on he lived a blissfully happy life as a vagrant on the streets of Exeter.

We found Homeless Phil lying in the gutter outside Tesco.

After trying to sell us some rice, he agreed to talk about David. However, Phil insisted we buy him a bottle of cider. We declined and so the interview was called off. We shook Phil's hand and wished him well, then returned half an hour later and ran him over.

To conclude this entry we decided to speak to somebody who David had never met. We had hoped to find somebody intelligent and eloquent, but in the end we settled for Craig Hindmarsh.

Craig, who is the only black member of the Klu Klux Klan, said this:

CRAIG: "Well, I never did meet David. But I'm sure if I had I would have liked him. He sounded really great with hair that came down to his knees and those sun glasses. And I always did like the Addams family. I think David would really have fitted in around these parts. I'm sure he looked great in white."

On that note, we will begin to bring this entry to an end.

You don't need to read this entry again to know that David Shakespeare was, indeed, a rather unique human being who will be missed by everyone who knew him. We urge you now to join us in forwarding this entry to everybody you know. Come on! You can do it! Let's spread a little David around!

David touched people all across the Globe, from Torquay to Torbay, Exeter to Exmouth. And everyone who knew him will miss him and keep him in their hearts and minds forever.

Especially the Welsh.

As David himself would have said: "I agree."

DISCLAIMER: This entry is purely a work of fiction and any resemblance to people living or dead is entirely on purpose. David Shakespeare is not dead. He is, however, returning to Canada, which is almost as bad. Probably worse. David Shakespeare does not hate the Welsh. I, however, do. And Americans. To all my American readers: Please don't sue. I have a newt and three frogs to support - and I work for Adecco.

From the memory box of a Professional Englishman.

Saturday, 9 August 2003

David Shakespeare Part I


It is with great regret that I write to you today to inform you that David Shakespeare has passed away.

David's death has hit us all very hard and we are trying to come to terms with the loss of this great, heroic and noble man.

David was on his way to work at his local abattoir in Torquay yesterday when he was hit by a British Airways jet. He might have lived, had he not been hit by another plane 17 minutes later.

Witnesses reported seeing two men behind the controls and one onlooker said they looked like they spoke with Welsh accents.

Devon and Cornwall police, who arrived at the scene seven hours later, were confronted by a scene of absolute carnage. Nothing remained of David, save for a few tufts of hair, a strip of skin and the SIM card from a strange Romanian mobular phone.

David, who was well known for his ankle-length red-pink hair and his catchphrases "That's great" and "I agree", will be sorely missed by all of us who knew and loved him. Despite his obvious disfigurement, David was able to get through the day with just a wink, a smile, three bags of heroin, a joint and four Ecstasy tablets.

News of David's death has hit British employment agencies particularly hard. As you may have read in The David Times and David Monthly, David was voted Agency Employee of the Year for a total of seven months over six consecutive weeks last September.

There is speculation that Adecco, the UK's largest agency, might now file for bankruptcy. As a sign of respect, Adecco has given it's temporary workers the day off, on the condition that they work for seventy-three hours over the weekend and paint red and pink swastikas all over their bottoms.

We thrust a microphone into the face of Arna McNulty, of Beaver Employment in York, and she said this:-

ARNA: "David's death has hit us hard. To say that David was one in a million would mean that there are sixty David's in this country. In fact, David wasn't one in a million, or even one in a trillion or a quadrillion - David was one in a dozen. Which means there are 4,305,201 David's in the UK. Which makes him special."

As a mark of respect, Ryan Air have offered to fly David's remains in a matchbox back to his home town of Toronto.

The flight has cost his family just 35p - plus £450 in taxes.

During the course of this blog we spoke to the people who knew David to try to find out the kind of Canadian he really was. We knew in our hearts that there were was more to him than just a mass of red-pink hair, an out of control cocaine habit and a strange limp.

We spoke to Reza, who David met in local hostel which asked not to be named. Reza said this:

REZA: "For a time I harboured sexual desires for David, but it became difficult to get close to him. He surrounded himself by men dressed as sailors, construction workers and People from the local Village. But, man, my sexual yearning will always remain."

We also spoke to local alcoholic Ernest from the aforementioned hostel and Ernest had this to say:

ERNEST: "He wassh fucking intellishcent. Fucking intellishcent. But he wasnht from here. Fucker. Should get backsh to hish own fucksching country."

We also spoke to Andrew Hall:

ANDREW: "Well, I knew David for a total of two years and I shall miss him dearly. In many ways he reminded me of Kimberley. Kimberley was a girl I knew who captured my heart and still clings on to it. Kimberley was the dearest, sweetest, prettiest - "

At this point Andrew burst into tears like a big sissy girl and ran off to write a mass email.

David was nothing if not generous. He truly had a heart of gold. We all remember the day that we were sitting in David's underpants-infested bedsit, watching a BBC programme about the starving children in Sudan. David burst into tears, and the very next day he boarded a Ryan Air flight bound for Sudan.

Once there he visited the starving children and collected the meagre portions of rice that had been given to them by the Red Cross and Michael Jackson.

David returned to Exeter the following day and distributed these rice portions amongst the homeless of Exeter.

The vagrants and tramps that pollute this fine city were then able to sell this rice and use the money to purchase drugs, which David sold to them for less than half the normal price.

David was also quite an animal lover. In fact, he had sex with quite a few animals, from a Welsh mountain goat to an Amazonian ant-eater. David often shared these animals with Neil Johnson, whom he met in the aforementioned aforementioned hostel.

We had hoped to interview two sheep with whom David had sexual relations but they told us they were animals and they couldn't talk.

David and Neil were good friends up until the night that they went for a walk together and Neil almost pushed David into a canal. Their friendship deteriorated further when David had Neil killed.

Local police found a book by J.K. Rowling and a collection of records at the murder scene. Two local in-bred farm boys, Stephen Egan and Carl Buckle, were arrested but no charges were ever brought.

Controversy hit David's life back in 1979 when he was accused of introducing the AIDS virus to the world after having a long-term relationship with a Welsh monkey. David was sued for £1.5bn by seven African countries and Wales, but the case never came to court.

Spring Personnel and Adecco settled the case on David's behalf. Shortly afterwards, Melissa Smithen, Director of Spring, rounded up the company's temporary workers and had them whipped.

David took a keen interest in politics. He was a great supporter of the war in Iraq and George W. Bush was a close personal friend. He regularly wrote to President Bush urging him to press ahead with his plans to invade Kuwait, Canada, the Falkland Islands and Wales.

David was also deeply concerned about the future of the planet's children. He campaigned tirelessly to give African and Welsh children the right to work up to seventy hours per week.

Along with Adecco, David pioneered the groundbreaking scheme, Let's Get Children Out of Wales and into Work.

Children were given harsh lessons in the realities of life and were paid for their work in raw sprouts and special child-friendly money, which they could use to buy exclusive London properties like Park Lane and Mayfair, Bond Street and even get Free Parking.

David campaigned for a better, greener environment.

He often recycled his jokes, used second-hand toilet roll and, to save water, he bathed only once a month. In fact, David was so concerned about wasting the Earth's precious resources that friends would often sit in his bedsit for hours without being offered a drink.

David was a master debater and a cunning linguist. He spoke several languages, including English, Welsh, Canadian, Australian, American and New Zealandan.

David often took part in various voluntary projects. He worked unpaid in Cardiff as a tax inspector, a TV licence enforcer and a traffic warden.

David was a man with high morals. He once refused to pull off a bank-job with Carl Buckle and Stephen Egan because he thought it might be tantamount to stealing.

And he loved all black people, with the exception of Lawrence, a homicidal Christian whom David met in the aforementioned aforementioned aforementioned hostel.

We all remember the day that we were travelling on a bus through Torquay when an elderly black chap boarded the bus and sat in the wrong seat. David gently took the man by the crotch and led him to the back of the bus where he was able to sit in peace without offending any respectable, native Torquians.

David also helped a number of young black men aged 18-35 to find employment through another scheme he introduced with the help of Brook Street Employment, called: Let's Bring Back Slavery.

There were only two things in life that David disliked: One was the xenophobia that exists within Great Britain - the numerous, silly prejudices people hold towards other cultures and countries.

And the other was the Welsh.

To Be Continued...

From the memory box of a Professional Englishman.

Tuesday, 8 July 2003

Email from the Edge Part II


This is a tale of sadness.

It's the tale of a young girl called Kimberley Dryden and her struggle with anorexia.

It's also the story of a man who may well be a serial killer and the tale of a city I have come to know well during the past two years.

So, make yourself comfortable and let me take you on a short walk down the cobbled steets of an ancient city called York...

I returned to York on the 1st of April of this year after spending a few days in Paris. Paris is my favourite city - it's the most romantic place I have ever visited. A place which seems to have been created for lovers to walk hand-in-hand through its streets.

I returned to York for one reason and one reason alone. Kimberley.

Perhaps I told myself that I was coming here for another reason, but I know now that it was her who brought me back here.

It's funny, but Kimberley will never know just what I have been through during these past three months.

After arriving in York I stayed for two weeks at the worst hostel ever - York Backpackers on Mickelgate. Don't ever stay there - it's a nasty place full of nasty people.

After two weeks I made a decision to remain in York and I started to look for somewhere to live. It was then that I met the serial killer.

I was passing a post office and I noticed in the window an advert for a room for rent. I called the number and arranged to meet the landlord. What first made me realise that this might prove to be an odd encounter was when the landlord insisted we meet at a quarter to midnight.

We arranged to meet outside a telephone box on Mickelgate. He was late and so I called him and he told me that he was delayed because one of his windows had been smashed. Uh-oh.

So, a little disturbed, I waited.

After 20 minutes, a dishevelled looking man turned up with two dogs in tow. He told me he was in his forties. This later turned out to be untrue - he was actually around 55. He also told me his name was David. This was also untrue - his name turned out to be Jason. Memories of Friday the 13th started spinning through my head.

Jason took me to his house and showed me around. I couldn't help but feel a little strange as he left all of the lights out, except one, and he showed me the house in near darkness. This was, apparently, because he was afraid his windows would be smashed again.

This is all absolutely 100% true, by the way, and it gets a little worse. The room that would be mine was a pokey little box room and the last person to sleep in the bed was Jason's Mother, who, it's worth mentioning, had died in that very same bed two years earlier.

So, I left the house that night thinking that there was no way that I could ever live there. Then, as the hours went by, I slowly started to change my mind. All he wanted for the room was £20 a week - and £20 a week is a small price to pay for death and dismemberment.

So I moved in. And that's when things became even stranger. I soon found out that David - or Jason - was on a variety of pills. He was taking medication for a 'psychopathic personality disorder.'

When I foolishly mentioned that this made him a psychopath he insisted that, no, he just had a personality disorder. Okay, but that doesn't explain a few things - like the time that I was watching a video of The Simpsons with him, in total darkness, and he ran behind the settee and hid. (It happened).

One day I made the mistake of telling Psycho Boy that I had a secret. It's true - I do. I did something in my early youth that I'm ashamed of and I've only ever told a handful of people about it.

Serial Killer Boy then started sleeping downstairs on the settee and would rarely venture upstairs or anywhere near my room.

When I asked him why, he told me it was because I might go to the toilet during the night and he would "see" my secret. What? What on earth did he think my secret was - a sixteen inch penis!?

This went on for a few weeks and then came the day that I saw Jason/David's Princess Diana memorial. (He was in love with Diana). He put it in the window for all of the world to see - a huge collection of pictures, letters, framed photographs and other titbits. Wow.

Despite his strange behaviour, I eventually came to the conclusion that Jason was just a lost soul, someone who had been treated badly by people, and I vowed not to be like that. I started to buy him cakes and presents and things.

It's funny, but I remember that whenever we had a disagreement, he would say to me, "Oh let's not fall out" and I distinctly remember thinking to myself: Well, we never actually fell in!

A few weeks later Jason told me that he had decided to move away to be with his sister and so I had a week or two to pack up and find somewhere else to live.

I soon found somewhere - a nice, Italian-run Guest House, where I'm staying until tomorrow morning - and so I said goodbye to Jason and wished him well.

I thought nothing more of Jason/David until a week ago when I saw him just a few roads away from the House from Hell we had both apparently moved away from.

He told me that he was there to see an old friend and straight away this aroused my suspicions - Jason never had any friends.

So, a few days later I cycled past his house and, lo and behold, there they were. A hundred pictures of Princess Diana, staring out at me with their dead eyes...

Yes, Serial Killer Boy had lied to me. He wasn't moving - he just wanted to get rid of me! And he even went as far as to pretend to speak to his sister on the phone about leaving when I was there!

So, needless to say, I have absolutely no sympathy for Freak Boy now and the whole experience has only served to confirm for me many things I believe about humanity. This guy promised to send me a cheque for the kids in Belarus and this, along with almost everything else he said, turned out to be a lie.

Perhaps, in an Internet cafe somewhere in York, Jason sat down and typed a similar entry to this one telling his friends how he'd had a close shave with an odd guy with a crazy Versace coat! Who knows...

So, the four weeks I spent with David/Jason were an interesting, bizarre and unpleasant experience - and one that Kimberley Dryden will never know about.

But there are so many things that Kimberley will never know. She will never know that I have thought about her every day during the past three months. She will never know about this entry. She will never know that during the past few weeks I've come closer than ever before to taking my own life.

Every moment I spent with Kimberley was precious and wonderful. I felt utterly at ease with her, completely comfortable, and that's rare for because I often have problems relating to women.

Kimberley and I met when we worked together at York hospital. I still remember the way she looked as she walked the halls, with her brown hair and brown eyes, wearing an overall that was two sizes too big for her.

Kimberley and I spent a great deal of time together during the few weeks that we knew each other. Then in September of 2002 I moved away from York and began travelling around Eastern Europe.

I know that my leaving hurt Kimberley. I told her we would meet again. And I was right - we did see each other one last time. But it was different from anything I could have imagined.

I returned to York in April and I went back to the hospital to see her. She had not responded to any of my letters and I couldn't understand why. All I knew was that I had realised that Kimberley was the best friend I had ever had and I wanted to see her again.

So I saw her at the hospital and it was horrible. Very painful. She told me that she didn't want to spend any time with me. She didn't want to have feelings for me again. My last words to her were: "My heart is broken" and then I left and I never saw her again.

What Kimberley did to me wasn't nice and it hurt me a great deal. Being treated like that, knowing that I did nothing wrong, knowing that I only treated her with kindness and compassion, has been difficult to come to terms with when I cared for her so much.

But during the past few months I have begun to understand why Kimberley behaved the way that she did. You see, Kimberley is an ill girl. She has anorexia and she gets by on just a bowl of cereal a day.

I was like a little whirlwind in her life. Before me, she didn't really have a social life. She stayed at home with her long-term boyfriend who tries his best to control her. She had her little safe existence, with her routines, where everything was familiar, and then I came along and changed everything.

Suddenly she was going out and meeting new people. And she was starting to get better, too. I told her good things about herself, boosted her self-esteem, and encouraged her to take vitamin pills. She was starting to eat more. She was looking better, feeling better.

And then suddenly I left and she had to go back to the life that she had before. I know that I hurt her, though that was the last thing I ever wanted to do. And though nothing of a sexual nature ever happened between Kimberley and I, I know that I caused problems in her relationship with her boyfriend.

After I left, she probably apologised to her boyfriend and realised he was the only person that she could depend on.

And then when suddenly I reappeared seven months later it was just too much for her to take. The best thing for her to do, to protect herself, was to push me away.

Which is exactly what she did.

I know that Kimberley had feelings for me - she told me so - and I used to marvel at the fact that I wasn't in love with her. She was pretty, sensitive, funny - everything I could ever wish to hope for in a woman. And yet I didn't have feelings for her.

Then a few weeks ago I was lying on my bed, in the guest house, staring at the ceiling, when I had a realisation. What I realised, simply, was that not only have I been in love with this girl from the very beginning, but she is also the love of my life and the person I think that I should have married.

Kimberley was my salvation. These past few years I have moving around the UK, from Wales to York to Exeter, searching for that special someone. It has been a very lonely existence. And then I found that someone but realised it too late.

And I think, too, that I was Kimberley's salvation. Kimberley may not have long left to live and I think that I could ultimately have helped to save her life. And it is knowing this that hurts me the most.

So I have remained in York these past three months in the hope I might bump into Kimberley and strike up a conversation.

I have no friends here, they have all moved away or we have lost touch, and it's been a lonely three months. I stayed in the hope that I might see her again one last time. But it never happened. I never saw her again. And she never replied to my letters.

And now it is time to leave York and these difficult times behind.

I will always miss Kimberley, the love of my life, and I will always think about her and what might have been. I have given her three months of my life, waited for her for three months. But I should try to move on, although that's very difficult to do, especially as we once sat and shared a joke together in this very Internet cafe.

So, until next time, it's goodbye to Kimberley and goodbye to York.

I will continue to keep this city and that wonderful girl in my thoughts, and I will remember each of them until the day that I die.

Goodbye York - I will miss you.

Goodbye Kimberley - you were the love of my life.

From the memory box of a Professional Englishman.

Tuesday, 8 April 2003

Email from the Edge Part I


How are you?

I don't know where this is going...

I'm going to sit here and let the words flow and see what appears on my screen. This could be a very personal entry, so if that's not your thing, go and take a walk and when you return I'll be gone.

I'm sitting in York library - my bum has graced this seat many a time - and I'm writing to you on a warm and sunny afternoon.

Life is a bizarre thing, man.

I often marvel at people who manage to breeze through life, hardly a care in the world, meeting all of the challenges that confront them on a daily basis and accepting and adapting to this crazy little world which human beings have shaped and conquered.

Life for me, and many of us, is not that easy. My heart was broken a few days ago, as it has been broken many times before, and now I am trying to recover the fragments and piece them back together.

I guess it's this that I want to write about today.

I'm aware that my entries sometimes have an air of tragedy to them, and I really try my best not to be self-absorbed, but despair and heartache confront me on quite a regular basis and an outlet is needed for the emotions that often threaten to overwhelm me.

If that outlet is a library, a computer screen, a keyboard and oodles of electronic space, then so be it. I don't know anyone I can talk to about my trials and tribulations, and so that's where you come in.

But before we go into that and before I tell you about Kimberley Dryden - the girl who is the cause of my latest troubles - let me tell you how things have been going in my increasingly bizarre and surreal life since I managed to get away from that damn hospital.

So, I visited London recently. I bought myself a nice Versace coat. It cost the equivalent of almost two thousand dollars. It 's covered in distinctive patches. I think - and hope - it's cool.

While I was in London, I bumped into Michael Portillo. He thought I was stalking him. (Michael Portillo is a high-profile ex-politician). It happened when I was travelling around London by tube. I noticed Michael Portillo standing opposite me. He was immaculately dressed, wearing a suit, with his hair gelled; frozen in perfection.

He was looking at me, because I'm wearing a mad coat covered in patches, and I was looking at him, because he's Michael Portillo.

This went on for a while - him looking at me, me looking at him - in a non-sexual way, you understand - and then the tube pulled into a station and he got off. This was also my stop, and amongst dozens of people, I ended up walking right behind him as he left the train and made his way across the platform.

I unintentionally followed Michael Portillo as he walked and suddenly he became aware that I was just a few feet away from him.

I'm sure that the poor guy thought I was some sort of nut. Maybe it was the fact that I was blasting Sting's Don't Stand So Close To Me through my personal CD Player. (Perhaps Mad About You would have been a better choice).

As soon as he got through the turnstile, he was off, faster than a race horse. He veered to the side, took a right turn, went in the opposite direction of the exit and disappeared.

As for Sting and I, we went on our merry way and thought how funny it was that we'd managed to spook Michael Portillo.

So the moral of this story is that you don't need a degree or wealthy parents to make a difference in politics - all you need is a two thousand dollar Versace coat!

So that was my first bizarre trip to London. My second strange visit to London happened about two weeks ago when I visited my nation's capital with the intention of purchasing a pair of Versace trousers.

I arrived at London Victoria coach station and joined a queue to purchase a ticket for the tube. I noticed that somebody had left a white envelope lying on the counter in front of me. Thinking it was empty, I took a look inside anyway and, to my amazement, I found that it was stuffed with crisp, unused bank notes!

My heart skipped a beat or ten and I looked around. There was a guy behind me but he seemed unaware that the envelope was there.

I contemplated leaving the envelope on the counter but thought that if I did the guy behind me would probably take the money. I considered handing the envelope to the ticket-seller but he was rude and I thought that he might keep it as well.

So I took the envelope and the money. I counted the money on the tube and there was one hundred and forty pounds there. And yes, I did rather guilty about it later, but it did pay for the Versace shirt that I'm wearing right now as I write this blog entry!

So that was my second bizarre trip to London.

There's a lot more to write about it. I want to tell you about my brief visit to Paris last week. I want, too, to tell you the Princess Diana obsessive and possible serial killer that I'm about to share a house with in York. I also would like to share a thought or ten with you about the whole Iraq situation.

And, of course, I want to tell you about Kimberley Dryden. She is the reason that I'm writing this entry and the reason that I'm in York. She's also the reason that my heart is in pieces...

Until next time, thank you for reading my words.


From the memory box of a Professional Englishman.

Thursday, 2 January 2003

These Crows Feet Run Deeper


How are you?

I'm writing this a day after the dawn of the new year. How was yours, by the way? Mine was okay, but I don't really think that the coming of a new year is a cause for celebration.

I hate to sound like a pessimist, but this will be another year in which humanity gets it wrong again. A year of war and madness, tragedy and sorrow.

This will be a year when people will be blown to bits in Iraq and Israel. A year when innocent children will die in poverty. A year when all of us reading this entry will get a little older and become a little more cynical. And a year when the crows feet around these blue eyes will run just a little deeper...

No, the coming of a new year should only be celebrated if people are prepared to change and are ready to try to make the world a better place. But people aren't, so now things can only get worse.

I've recently found myself thinking about the days that made up the last 12 months of my life. If I close my eyes, I can almost relive those days.

I remember the sounds and sights of a city called York. I remember the smiles and laughter of people who came to be very dear to me. People like Urko, Cesar, Kimberley and Chris.

Now I'm faced with the bitter realisation that those people are out of my life and all that remains are these crystal clear memories, which are kept ever close to my heart, and which often threaten to overwhelm me with their sweetness.

I have a wonderful memory of a bike ride Urko and I took together through the Yorkshire countryside in July of 2002. I know that I've written about this before, but it was such a perfect day. It was beautiful, sunny weather and we just got on our bikes and rode together across fields of corn and through little villages.

We found a remote farm along the way and stopped off to pick some strawberries. Later we joined Cesar - another wonderful man, from Mexico, whom I miss dearly - and we all had a meal together. It was very nice and one of my personal highlights of the year.

However, not all of last year's happy memories came from York. In April I visited Brussels to spend time with a girl called Patricia Leduc.

I met Patricia in York and we spent a very nice week together. We got on very well and I felt very comfortable with her. And I was quite attracted to her. In fact, I was thrown out of a youth hostel in York because I was caught in the shower with her. This little incident increased my male friends respect for me no end! Ha ha! Yeah, baby!

In April, Patricia left York and I missed her very much. I arranged to go and see her in Brussels but, sadly, our relationship totally fell apart within an hour of my arrival in Belgium's capital city.

Patricia didn't know that I had come just to see her - she just thought I was visiting Brussels anyway - and this made things uncomfortable between us. It all ended with her telling me that I was a 'victim' and she didn't like me or my appearance.

I was upset about that for a day or two. Then I got over it and spent some very nice days in Brussels. I didn't meet anybody, but I did travel around the city and I saw some nice places and it gave me a great deal of time to think. I thought like I had never thought before: About life, God, death, everything. It was very spiritual!

In the same month my aunt Annette died after a long battle with breast cancer. It was a difficult time for her family and my heart goes out to them and to my Mother, who still misses her sister.

In June my dear friend Maxim also passed away. Maxim was a little boy I knew who lived in Minsk in Belarus. He was terminally-ill; he suffered from a muscle-wasting disease called muscular dystrophy.

Maxim's death came as a great shock to me. In September of 2002 I returned to Belarus and spent both a pleasant and sad evening with Maxim's parents, Sasha and Lena, who are two of the strongest and most welcoming people I have met.

Maxim's memory will continue to live on amongst everyone who knew and loved him. He inspired me and I shall never forget him.

In September I left York and went travelling across Eastern Europe. I went to Hungary - which was great - and Romania - which was not - and then briefly to Poland and then to Belarus.

I sampled frogs legs for the first time in Romania and had some adventures with pornography (see a previous entry) but didn't really enjoy my time there. I got the impression that everybody I met just wanted something from me, and so I left with quite a negative view of the Romanian people.

Hungary was different, however. And that was partly due to a wonderful little hostel called the Museum Guest House. I remember having a wonderful massage there. And I went caving in the bowels of Budapest, which was simply stupendous!

And those were some of the main events of my life in 2002. I don't know what 2003 holds in store for me or for any of us on this planet. But one thing I do know is that, sadly, the future is not bright.

I don't mean to depress you (though I will) but the truth is that there is little hope left for humanity now. It's only a matter of time until terrorists acquire some sort of dirty nuclear bomb and when they do, all hell will be let loose.

I guess all we can do is try to make the most of the time we have left. It's still a beautiful world, despite the actions of America, Israel and my own country, and things have not come to a head just yet.

So enjoy your life, travel, widen your horizons and cherish each and every day.

Wrap up warm and be careful when you take the Christmas decorations down.

Take care.

Skyler Black.

About Me

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London, ENGLAND, United Kingdom
This is me. Read a few entries and they will tell you more about me than I can fit into these few paragraphs. Many of these entries started their lives as mass emails. That was before I discovered blogs. Thanks for stopping by and thanks for visiting my blog and reading about my life. Both a work in progress.