Never Too Late!

Never Too Late!
any resemblance to anyone real or imaginary is mere bad luck
we are all lying in the gutter, but some of us are trying to get up


The Return

for many of us, all roads have led to norway.

that is an oblique tangent on which to start the story.

tomorrow: remember to buy soap, a good knife, some alprazolam, and a surge-protected 4-way extension lead.


let’s start with something more sickly, sickly familiar, then. waking up at 0600 after a horrible sleepless night in deep dark, still distinctly withdrawally, forcing myself out into the pre-dawn black chill of winter london with nothing, not even a valium to take the edge off...

no, wait a second, we’ve heard this one before. i think.

some of the parameters are different, though. i would like to think.

the extraction operation begins with 2 large cans of monster energy drink, a quarter of vodka, and finishing off the thai and the moroccan in between bursts of frantic packing, phoning, organising, tying up loose ends in a desperate rushed fumble.

fast forward 28 hours and four time zones or so in a blur. (i get the emergency exit seat on the emirates B777-300, giving me all the leg-room, and a pretty and chatty slovakian air hostess sitting opposite me for take-off, before she gets up to keep the passengers fed and me supplied with magical endless absolut miniature bottles.)

dubai. i am sitting in a bar half-way up a reproduction in pale yellowish stone of the great pyramid - complete with giant statues, hieroglyphs and glittering pharaonic gold - only better, because it has terraces with palm-shaded multi-level swimming pools with swim-up bars set into the side. fans of peacock feathers wave mechanically overhead to stir the cool air and eddies of cigarette smoke inside.

i am drinking what turns out to be one of several hideously over-priced vodka tonics. i haven’t slept, and my foot still taps convulsively occasionally. i am waiting for a visa. nervously. i wonder if they will take notice at the consulate that i have travelled many times before to afghanistan, but on a different nationality passport. whether they found it curious that i ticked the box saying i had never applied for an afghan visa before but addressed the clerk in dari.


[to be continued. we are another 28 hours along now, and despite my best efforts to bludgeon my consciousness into a blissful coma, still sleep has continued to elude me]