You will know when it exists -- Obscure journalism direct from our man on the ground.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Suffering Is Jamming - Part 3 - Unicycle adventure

(for parts 1 & 2 look lower down the blog)

Day 7: Malgrat de mar – Barcelona
Woke up on the ground.
It appeared I had slept on a patch of dirt next to the pavement. Men were playing Petanca (a game similar to Boulless) nearby. Matt was asleep on a bench. I knew the alcohol hadn’t worn off and knew the most important thing to do was to take a few photos of Matt before waking him up. When Matt came around he realised all the cash had been taken from his wallet but thanked the kind thief for leaving him with his debit card. The situation called for a joint. After smoking it and sitting on Matt’s bench for a while we found direction and decided our next move should be to eat some food.
We both ordered bikinis: the name for toasted ham and cheese sandwiches in this special part of the world. An old woman on the table behind us kept clapping her hands triggering a plastic toy man to open his toy coat and flash his erect toy penis whilst saying something like “I don’t need Viagra!” It made her giggle every time and sitting there feeling half insane it eventually made us giggle every time too. She and we knew then that everything is, and should be, ridiculous.
The sun was out and the beach was in front of us so we lay on the sand and smoked more marijuana. Then we went for a swim in the sea and I got grabby with some girl’s lilo. We were getting very playful but weren’t we supposed to be getting somewhere?
After eating again (eggs and bacon) and drinking some coffee - starting to feel like standing-up citizens again - we picked up the asshole bike and took a train in to central Barcelona.
Albert was hiding and gave us terrible directions for how to find Sarah. When we did she was at a table drinking beers with all of Albert’s eight other ‘interns’ (only one of them was male.) After a few beers Sarah showed us to her flat. It was down the darkest, narrowest alleyway in the entire city; a grimy passageway that smelt of piss and was inhabited by swarms of flies and junkies. The flat itself was a converted stable and had barely any windows, it became affectionately known to us as THE CAVE.
Sarah left to meet other friends so we took the opportunity to shower and clean ourselves. It was now about midnight but a nearby bar was still serving spaghetti. Albert finally showed up and took us to the trendy bar Sarah was at with her friends. We began talking to two of the girls. Girl number one was from Spain was attractive but plain and worked as an illustrator. Girl number two was from England with tortoiseshell glasses and a denim jacket and said she was a waitress.
Girl 1 “Oh you’re not just a waitress. Tell them about your Podcast.”
Girl 2 “ Well I do Podcast yes.”
Matt “Oh cool well maybe you can give me a shout out. I am have been unicycling from Calais and am going all the way to Gibraltar to raise money for Cancer Research UK. I could do with some publicity.”
Girl 2 “Oh no I don’t talk on the Podcast. I haven’t got a microphone. My friends from London have said they will all chip in to get me one. What's funny is a microphone only costs around 12 Euros so I could just buy one anytime.”
That’s not at all funny and your Podcast is basically a playlist. I make playlists too, but I keep them to my facking self. No - any friend of Sarah was a friend of ours. We even allowed her to train us in being hipsters. We learnt that to feel real self-important you had to produce some obscure piece of trash, give it a vintage tweaking and then make it public. But the fewer people that look at it the better; that way it’s more underground. And that’s why in all these blog posts the photos have been enhanced with a retro filter.
At the same bar another girl was succumbing to public arousal and writing like a demonic snake. Licking limes erotically, pouring water over her T-shirt, wrapping her legs around her male partner and finally exposing her beautiful breasts. Trendy as fuck! Sarah was very drunk so Albert took her home. Matt and I sat up smoking weed and recording Blokes’ chants – watch this space – first single soon to be released.

Day 8: Barcelona
Had some freshly squeezed orange juice bacon and eggs. Walked into Barcelona the long way (Albert and Sarah were gone in the morning and we still had no map and no idea where we were). We both needed new shoes: Matt because his had worn due to the past few months constant wear and tear; Me because, like with the tent, I insist on buying the cheapest form of everything. Matt found some red ‘Non-Verse’ high-tops for 7 Euro and to his disgust I decided I wouldn’t find a better deal and got the exact same shoes. We met a guy from the USA who had the same unicycle as Matt. A cash machine didn’t give me my cash but charged my account – I always get robbed in Barcelona! We took some tourist photos for Matt’s thinking it would be good publicity for Matt. At the Sagrada Familia and admired the scaffolding “Blokes doing Blokes shit!”
It was Sarah’s last night in Barcelona, soon she would head back to England and resume her university studies. She had been here for a year working as an intern in the marketing department of a global translations company where Albert was the boss. Albert in his own words was ‘in love with her’, which is strange as the last time I spent time with him he had cheated on his then long-term girlfriend with a drunken old age pensioner. Tonight Albert had taken Sarah out for a meal so when they returned Matt and I thought it best to make ourselves scarce. We sat in bars drinking beers that we didn’t want. We needed a break.

Day 9: Barcelona
Fixed The Cave’s coffee machine and threw away some of the dead cockroaches that were lying around. The beer flies wouldn’t leave though, even when I did the washing up. I took a walk but Matt stayed in the darkness of The Cave avoiding the light and feeding the mosquitoes. In the evening we met Albert and his brother Xavi we sat around drinking beer and smoking cigars then went on a pub crawl, buying tiny bottles of beer from bar windows as if they were drive-thrus. We ate a selection of fine tapas. We played football in the street. Matt climbed a Catalan Tower to recover the ball when it landed in a first floor balcony. We got to another trendy bar. Xavi disappeared. Albert disappeared. Matt was talking to a well-fed girl and the bar then he too disappeared. I returned to the cave and there was Albert with his friend ‘Danny the Vulture’ cutting up lines of cocaine. After a few lines we were discussing Cataluña and politics and changing the world. The vulture left as the markets opened and Albert bought some frankfurters bread and cheese. Back at The Cave I slept, somehow.
Day 10, part 1: Barcelona
Albert had gotten ill, diseased tissues lay all over the coffee table. He was sneazing but instead of sounding like ‘Atchoo!” it sounded like “Cheese!” Matt was back. We ate the Frankfurters then went back to sleep.
Day 10, part 2: Barcelona
Albert was trying to clean the flat but was progressing slowly due to the illness, marijuana and the sheer amounts of filth. We started drinking beers, eating pizzas, smoking joints, burping, laughing at the cockroaches and jamming. To begin with Albert played ‘Hotel California’ and we improvised words:
“Welcome to the cave of Barcelona,
It will make you sneeze,
You can smoke the weed,
You don’t need to leave”
Then Matt took the guitar and many songs were sung, the lyrics changed to make new rude versions that are to vulgar to be written down. Albert got the absent flat mate’s keyboard and played Super Mario compositions then started jamming jazz with Matt picking the strings of the guitar and me hollering acapella. Into the night we jammed until the beer ran out and we fell asleep again having not left The Cave for the entire day.

Day 11: Barcelona
We got out and ate a fried breakfast at an English cafĂ© called Fish & Chips. Then we went to the Gracia district and at Xavi’s flat got dressed up in freaky masks for it was Saturday night. Matt’s old guitar was at Xavi’s flat so we took it but soon discovered it was useless as an instrument. It looked good though and people flipped out when they saw us dropping it and smashing it about like clumsy fools. Xavi left after a few beers and we went to eat at Woody’s; a bar owned by an Arabic old man whom Albert was friends with. The food was good but there was nobody else there. We walked down the road and stumbled across a group of girls from Belgium looking for a place to eat. One was particularly striking and it turned out she was voluntarily mute; communicating purely with her smoldering eyes and subtle facial expressions - she was far too sexy, it was hard not to force yourself upon her. We took the girls to the Woody’s bar but decided to leave ourselves before we did something stupid. A decision was made to go and get the good guitar and perform our well-rehearsed foul-mouthed songs to an audience that would believe them to be sincere love songs.
We performed on a street near to The Cave called Paral-lel and within five minutes a group of Catalan girls had joined us and were dancing and singing along with us. By now Matt could play the Snuff Box theme tune perfectly and I could belt out the lyrics like they meant more to me than my mother. Soon some guitar geek came and borrowed the guitar whist the girls told us about a club they were going to that they had some free tickets for. We dropped the guitar back at the flat and went to the club that played cheese music all night long. Dancing rock and roll style with the girls. Singing along to Chumbawumba – Tubthumping. Matt came up to me and said “I’m having a good time!” then got dragged back to the floor by some different girls. I was wearing my tiny turquoise shorts and had to laugh when the Y.M.C.A came on. The club got very busy as the night got later and somewhere, somehow Matt hurt his shoulder. I went to sleep in The Cave at 6am.

Day 12: Barcelona - still
Matt returned and crashed on the sofa. Albert and I went and bought the silicon used to fix bathroom tiles and some duct tape with the intention of fixing the wheels so that they would last long enough for me to accompany Matt to the next town. There I would ditch the bike for good. Our repairs didn’t work. We got a pizza each for breakfast. Then went back to sleep. I woke up to Albert cleaning the flat again, this time more successfully. I walked to the Port and back to get some fresh air. When it got dark I woke Matt up. We ate the remaining pizza and magnum ice-creams. Albert left. Matt and I walked to Las Ramblas and watched a Chinese man dressed in a tatty monkey suit creep up behind people. Back at The Cave I wrote notes for this bloody blog and Matt watched Youtube clips. Oh what a day!
Day 13: Barcelona
Matt was now very sick plus his damaged shoulder was getting worse. What had I done? I had ruined his mission, I had dragged him down into an unhealthy pit of filth and excessive boozing. I felt so bad I began ready a copy of Steppenwolfe that was in the bookshelf. We realised all we had eaten for a long time was either bacon & eggs or pizza. Some vegetables from the market and medicine from a pharmacy was the answer. I cooked an amazing meal of oven roast vegetables with rice but Matt was too sick to leave The Cave and I was beginning to catch the cold. I got news that the flat I was meant to be moving into when I returned was no longer available even though I had paid the deposit. This meant when I got back I would have six days to find a place to live or be homeless. The debacle with the bike, the bank stealing my money, the flat falling through – everything was going wrong at the same time.
I took the absent flat mate’s shitty trendy antique bike and rode along the waterfront – we had been in Barcelona for a week, it had been sunny everyday and we hadn’t even considered going to the beach. The bike ride cleared my head and I felt began to mellow out: suffering is jammin’.
When Albert returned he took us to eat gourmet burgers. Then we returned to The Cave and smoked hash. Tomorrow Matt would hit the road once again, ill or not. Tomorrow Albert would have to begin catching up with the couple of month’s worth of work he had been neglecting because of Sarah. Tomorrow I would return home to face a host of evil bastard estate agents and piles of bills and bad luck. We all looked out of The Cave and saw brown clouds forming on the horizon, there was a shit storm brewing but we were finally ready once more to face it. Just one more night of innocent carelessness: the jamming before the storm.

Day 14: Barcelona – Valencia – London
I wake early and muster Matt and Albert from their slumber with coffees. Matt and I take the underground to Sants train station saying farewell to Albert on the way. We both have a McShit then I say “Goodbye and Good Luck” to Matt. I sunbathe outside the station for a couple of hours waiting for the train to take me to Valencia. It is a high-speed train shaped like a spacecraft. I get given headphones and the train’s radio station fills my ears with moving songs from film soundtracks. I look out and I see the roads I failed to conquer – if only. The track runs on the flat stretch between the green mountains and the glittering sea. Past purple flowers growing on hedges, past huge ploughed fields, past warehouses and desolate industrial estates, past castles, past small towns crowned with Arabesque church steeples, past holiday resorts and campsites. For a time a cycle path runs alongside the flat of the train track then it veers off and ends in one of those unknown towns waiting to be circled on a map.
And that is where Matt is still. Out there, on some road – the most direct one he can find on a route to Gibraltar. Staying alive and keeping going, as bewildered faces catch a glimpse of a bloke on a unicycle out of their car’s window. Suffering is jammin’ Matt – you will get there in the end.

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