Monday, 9 February 2015

Bragging vicariously through your child.

I've found it interesting how otherwise modest and humble people can get away with being arrogant by thinly veiling their self congratulation in exaggerated adulation for their offspring. When someone brags about how fantastic their child is, and this happens a lot, I can't help but think the poor child is being unwittingly paraded as a facade for that person's own professed success as a parent.


Let's bring my own parents into this so as not to be biased... 

I sat in the living room of the house I grew up in, excitedly showing off to my parents about my recent success of conquering switch on a snowboard. Achievements in boarding are such a solitary victory, rewarded in masses of endorphins and adrenaline that amplify the wonderment of what it is to be alive, yet lacking in the shared celebration of a team goal in football where your involvement in the move provokes the endorphins and adrenaline in your teammates to the point they want to hug you for your contribution. Nobody celebrates your success on a snowboard. However. I'm telling my parents because those two weirdoes celebrated on the day I wiped my own arse. 

Riding switch is basically putting your weaker foot forward, it's very counter intuitive, like inverting the axis of your control pad on a first person shooter (see also: patting head while rubbing tummy). It feels very unnatural and takes a lot more thought and analysis to stay upright than it does riding regularly. That said, it can't be achieved without face planting into the snow multiple times and spending days frustrated on the beginner slopes when you could be spending your expensive vacation having fun, sticking to what you know in less pain up the more picturesque parts of the piste. Unlocking switch doubles your ability on a board, it enhances the way you ride regularly and above all else it allows you to do some pretty cool tricks. Reader; if you're still not feeling anything regarding what I've accomplished, this is the exact point I'm trying to make. As I enthusiastically told my loving parents - neither of whom partake in winter sports - I saw a glimmer of pride in my dad's reaction but my mam just watched the words falling out my mouth as she waited to talk. 

When my mam found her moment to interject she seamlessly - I'm being sarcastic, you could see the seam from Google Earth - changed the subject to an anecdote of my four year old nephew mischievously adjusting the time on his alarm clock so that everyone had to get up an hour earlier to seize the day, she bubbled with pride at the thought of him at such a young age having the dexterity to operate the mechanism and work out the hour in which he wanted to execute this cunning ploy. Hell, I was proud, this boy is my project too, although I did have to fight off the niggling suspicion that the concept of time is probably still very abstract to him and that the precise motor skills involved in the operation could have been less measured than we were giving him credit for as he fiddled with the only dial on the plastic box. I mean, I'm not saying he completely fluked the stunt that won him the accolade of immense family pride, I'm just suggesting it as an option. 

I'm perilously at risk of coming across like the doted after family Labrador that's had its nose pushed out by the arrival of a child in the family dynamic. My position isn't one of jealousy towards a child, I promise. I'm reporting the realisation that this lovely, wonderful child who has been hailed like a prince for his every achievement, from pronouncing his name to drawing a scribble, wowing onlooking family members as he develops his skills while stumbling through life and its kaleidoscope of sensations and emotions, will soon be an adult, achieving goals far superior than those reached by his grandparents, parents and uncles. And he'll report these achievements to the same people that fervently applauded his most basic of human life skills and be greeted with a response of patient ambivalence. 

The pride generated from the achievements of the juniors in your family tribe is a bit like the team goal, you're actually celebrating your part played in the move, the returns of your investment. I'm not suggesting this simply stops when your child becomes an independent adult either, I distinctly remember my mother's pride when I passed a job interview. Of course, she taught me my P's and Q's, how to present myself, and equipped me with some good advice, she played the through ball, I put it in the net, we hugged. So how can I expect her to give a bean about me mastering snowboarding? That was achieved with none of her software. She wasn't on the pitch, she wasn't on the bench, she wasn't even on the team. I can't expect her to conjure the same emotions as when I tied my own shoelaces that time after hours of her saying loop swoop and pull. My dad on the other hand gave a wry smile, nodded and said 'cool' because he taught me how to ride a bike and kick a ball, the foundations of my balance and love for sport, it's tenuous but his influence made him feel something. 

We're all egotistical show offs, that's why your friends will all tell you about what their children have accomplished, because they did it, they're bragging about what they achieved through their child - not the child itself. If the brag was solely to do with a child's achievement they'd probably be telling you about a different kid altogether, a kid smarter or with more athletic ability than their own, one that had absolutely nothing to do with their DNA or guidance, they'd be showing you a video of the three-year-old Chinese girl completing a Rubik's cube, but forget that kid, it's not about the child. Instead they show you an iPhone video of their own three-year-old drinking out of a cup and sit there eagerly smiling while you feign astonishment. 

If I were to say one thing to my nephew it would be - enjoy all of this, grab that teat and milk it for all it is worth. Learn from all of these people who want to show off via you, use our selfish pride to motivate yourself to success, take our knowledge and guidance and run with it much further than we ever could, surpass us all and then pass it all on to our next generation. Just know that while you're on this journey, when you eventually ride switch on a snowboard, no-one in this world will be prouder of you than me. Obviously. Because I did that. 

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Day Twenty, Zagreb (Croatia)

Day: Twenty

Date: 15th November 2014

Destination: Zagreb (Croatia)

Subject: Daniel Sloss

We've arrived too early to check in to the hotel and have sat down for lunch, I ordered orange juice while Daniel ordered Lemonade, the waiter arrived with my freshly squeezed refreshing beverage and served Daniel with a tepid glass of dirty dish water, Daniel looks disillusioned. 

I ordered the Tuna steak and Daniel ordered Turkey with dumplings, when the waiter arrived he served me with a delicious cutlet of grilled tuna fish, then presented my companion with a waterlogged plate of soggy dough that looked akin to something you'd expect to be shoved through the small latch in the door of a Bolivian prison cell. Daniel looks broken. 

Daniel has gone to bed. 

I have ventured out alone into the heart of Zagreb, I have decided not to stray too far away from the hotel as my abilities regarding navigation are little to be admired, my aptitude in this capacity is so remarkably low, I think that if the other regions of my brain that dealt with motor skills, logic, communication, etc. operated at the same level, I'd be being fed, bathed and put to bed every day by a team of care workers. 

I've taken a pew on a park bench where I have a clear view of the hotel, I like to sit and let a city's atmosphere wash over me, smell the air, listen to the buzz social animation, watch the people flow, the eccentric young professionals cantering with ambition, the zealous pensioners walking their zimmers, absorb the culture as it cultivates. My subject likes to enjoy all a city has to yield by finding an internet connection to stream a succession of 18 second motion pictures which have went into rapid circulation, of people flamboyantly failing to succeed at their perilous endeavours. I watched an elderly chap clunking his metal frame on the footpath in front of him and surmised Daniel would only like to be here if the gentleman was guaranteed to loose his footing and tumble undignified onto the gravel in a clatter. He'd probably record it on his mobile phone and post it to an online forum so someone like minded sitting in a different beautiful city could enjoy being in that city from the comfort of hotel room WiFi too. 

I've been reflecting about my weeks of work and have not yet come to a conclusion as to what Daniel wants from the world. Judging by his constant dissatisfaction with service from workers who he deems duty bound to improve his day, you'd assume he'd like everyone he interacts with to be just like him. Which is why I was astonished to find out he didn't like being in France. Extinguishing my theory that being surrounded by clones of himself would be his idea of utopia. 

Having done my final sound check of the tour, I relax back stage to the harmonic lure of a symphony orchestra rehearsing auspiciously in the adjacent room, it is actually quite unnerving being subject to real talent moments before you go out to perform a spoken showcase of humour. 

There is a sweet taste of melancholy in the air after our final show, although performance has been my auxiliary goal to observing Daniel's behaviour, it has had an addictive quality that leaves me yearning for longevity in this project so I could indulge in more of its more-ish byproduct. The last hit of this drug they call show business just so happened to be the most potent, a rapturous sell out crowd on a Saturday night in Zagreb courses through our veins in one final rush...

And so it goes the study has reached completion, I will compile a conclusive report of my data and the evidence it presents in a later entry. But for the present I am packing my apparatus and releasing my subject back into the wild, confident in the knowledge we have learnt more about the habits and behavioural patterns of a young international touring comedian. I have endured some serious health ramifications by alighting my social activity with the pace of the project that I must retreat to rehabilitate in the tranquility of my home... Wait a second... I live with the bastard! 

Before I close this file I consider it is best practice, for continuity, if we have a drink with some Croatians in Zagreb first. In the interest of science. 

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Day Nineteen, Ljubljana (Slovenia)

Day: Nineteen

Date: 14th November 2014

Destination: Ljubljana (Slovenia)

Subject: Daniel Sloss

I am up ahead of my subject as I have come to expect and picking at breakfast alone. We spent some time with a choice selection of Serbians last night, first we rubbed shoulders with audience members, then assembled with some charismatic individuals from Belgrade's branch of the comedy industry's global fraternity, who all instantly dispelled our unwarranted fears that every resident of the Balkans was a cold blooded psychopath that would garrotte you from behind with a length of piano wire for no other reason than because. Quite the contrary, humble and charming are my choice of many complimentary adjectives I could use to describe their manner. Oh and alcoholic. But that, as I've learnt, is the common denominator across the entirety of Europe. I think, as a continent, we simply consider getting obliterated as a pleasurable way of paying our taxes. 

My subject dragged his heels and his luggage into the lobby, loaded both his luggage and his heels into the car and continued his sleep as our happy chaperone, Mario, put the car into gear. The scheduled five hour journey across two boarders to Slovenia got off to an exciting start as a police car overtook us skidded to block the road that we were next in line to turn onto. An officer abruptly exited the vehicle blowing his whistle like he was trying to get the pea out of the thing, while flailing wild windmilling circles with his upper limbs, seemingly to indicate that we were going any way except that way. Mario kept smiling and puttered on, Daniel has no idea it happened. I watched in the rear view mirror as the authority figure sent all the blood in his body towards his hands in a ridiculously unnecessary centrifuge, simply pointing would have had the same desired effect on the flow of traffic. 
Mario cheerfully points out some derelict farms either side of the road that haven't yet been declared secure from explosives set to control territory during the war. Daniel sleeps peacefully as we pass through the mine fields. 

I have just received a translation from Mario of a recent radio transmission that made the public announcement about police sealing off a road in Belgrade city centre because an elderly male ex-military with a political agenda was stood outside a government building with an explosive device and a projectile weapon. Mario informed me that the particular road was the one we were about to utilise before the flamboyant limb slinger refused us admission for a front row seat at the terrorist's tea party. Daniel sleeps through the explanation of the event he slept through. 

I've made two solid observations about Daniel in my time in the field, and that is he sleeps an awful lot and seldom eats food. I think there is a direct correlation between these two operational traits. I suppose if you don't fuel your car it will inevitably spend the majority of its time without the engine running. 

We have arrived in Ljubljana, a title that reads more like a WiFi password than a place name, after an eight hour sleep in the Belgrade hotel and a five hour sleep in the car Daniel has  found it necessary to retire to his quarters for a nap and recharge for the gig. After opening his eyes briefly to assess the unsightly buildings wearing their ugly vandalism with no shame, my subject has concluded he is only willing to leave the hotel to uphold his contractual obligation. 

The graffiti in these eastern countries is appalling, it's uninspired, uncreative... In fact, put an 'un' at the beginning of any word you might use to describe art and save me continuing the list. There is no artistic expression present at all, just inconsistent hurried fonts without any respect for colouring within the lines. These lethartists (I've had to create my own antonym for artist) are too lazy to even find something to stand on so only the first six feet of every building is tarnished with dross like a harbour wall on low tide. 

Our prematurely conceived appraisal of Ljubljana has been swept ashamedly aside, we owe Slovenia an apology. Even Daniel, who once his opinion is made, sticks with that opinion like it's his religion and he's devoutly pious, he wears his opinions exceedingly outwardly expecting the world to conform to his views, yet even still, admitted for the first time in his 24 year devotion to his own immovable views, admitted he was wrong. 

And how could you not? As we stepped out of the 200 meter side street from our accommodation into the secluded, uncontaminated, dimly lit, symmetrical central hub of the city, I've never seen a more poignantly beautiful sight. With the back drop of a medieval fortress casting it's spell from afar, the eerie ambiance of an accordion player who has been haunting the district with his perpetual melody for thousands of years amplified the quiet. As an elegantly dressed lady walked with a purpose, the laughter of a child echoed from far away place, the wind whispered silently in tongues and a ball bounced independently, seemingly out of nowhere... The ghostly charm of the atmosphere was so evocative that Daniel put his iPhone in his pocket and asked "Are we dead?"  
Daniel is responding to the flattery of selling out a venue in a town he hasn't heard of and can't pronounce, by putting his heart into this performance. He seems to spend all of the hours he should have been awake in one condensed waking hour while he is on stage. 

We walked down a trendy and affluent riverside that was reminiscent of the hipster coffee culture in Melbourne with additional art installations of stone dragons and a beheaded, disembowelled granite ghoul that gave the area it's own fictitious flavour. 

Outside one bar the mystique was shattered by a fracas breaking out between a group of youths as we passed by them, the fight was short lived and nobody got  hurt as the situation resolved itself and returned to order, an incident I believe is a misrepresentation of Ljubljana's class that I won't allow to cloud my judgement in the same way the woeful graffiti in the suburbs did.  

Signing off,

Kai Humphries

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Day Eighteen, Belgrade (Serbia)

Day: Eighteen 

Date: 13th November 2014

Destination: Belgrade (Serbia)

Subject: Daniel Sloss

We've boarded the flight from Zurich to Belgrade with that hazy level of hangover where everything is vague, memories evaporate the minute they are made, nothing is done with consideration or care because being conscious is a trick. You're living in a world you're not supposed to be in and playing it like a video game that you're not very invested in, that should something go seriously wrong you'd shrug it off as insignificant because, of course, it's just a game. You're meant to be blacked out somewhere but here you are functioning like an operational human... I'm exhausted but there's a steady whirring hum that powers me and makes staying awake quite autonomous, sleep is the last thing on my mind as I buckle up, still in the throws of the previous evening's energy. 

We're sharing the crowded flight with some boisterous souls that aren't seeking tranquility like my irritable companion and I. Daniel watches in disdain as a large group of teenage thirty year olds in plastic Viking hats and capes that devalue the Swiss flag, go about their business in a way that isn't for the entertainment of their own social circle but rather a parade of their faux masculinity to an audience held captive in the steel prison with only the tempting alternative of a 30'000 foot fall for freedom. 

Daniel has resorted to gallows humour to get through the ordeal as he initiated a comedy skit where we pretend to be the future incarnation of the party-goers reminiscing about this particular jaunt... 'Remember that time we all went on a lads holiday and non of us got laid' ... 'Yeah, was that the one where Jaques got choked to death on the flight?' ... 'Oh remember Jaques, I forgot about him, no one missed him at all did they?' ... 'Not even his parents, they didn't even attend his funeral' ... 'no-one did' 

The rowdy cluster of directionless testosterone has blended into background noise but the forefront and most disconcerting element of this flight is one row forward and across the aisle from me in the form of an infant sat side saddle on his mothers lap who has had a death stare locked on me for the duration of the flight, a stare that comes from a place of pure evil. Daniel, hidden in the periphery of this satanic gaze, safe from it's demonic powers, has found my predicament most amusing. I have to endure his intermittent chuckling while the wide eyes under the furrowed brow of the possessed toddler burn on through me, fuelled by all of my sins, flaws, insecurities, failures, anxieties and regrets, which bubble to the surface of my soul, exposed for the world to see under his spell. I held out my middle finger like it was a biblical effigy to renounce his malevolence but he didn't so much as blink. 

My subject appears vulnerable as he looks out of the car onto the filthy concrete favelas that reach for the Serbian sky, jutting out of the jaws of Belgrade like rotting teeth, rarely do I look at a tower block and think 'I could have made that.' Every building looks like a group of 12 year olds on their school holidays have made a base out materials they found from allotments and fly tipping sites but got more than a little carried away. We roll past a huge wreckage that used to be Yugoslavia's ministry of defence building but is now the very picture of armageddon, the untouched carnage of a tomahawk missile blast, worn by the city like a proud scar on the face of a mercenary.  Again with the gallows humour Daniel suggests that Serbia's national anthem is just a baby crying. 

We late lunched in the hotel, fearful to leave its security. I foolishly ordered octopus as a starter, it's never a wise decision to dine on sea food in a land locked country because rarely does it arrive at your table in its best shape. Needless to say the porcelain didn't deserve what I did to it in between courses. 

I am watching Daniel perform on a grand stage in a monarchic surrounding, a structure rich in marble decor where you'd come to expect materials such as breeze blocks, corrugated rust and shrapnel, based on the pattern of construction in the building's immediate surroundings. The venue is a tiny spec on the map where time hasn't ground to a halt in an era of struggle, but I'm aware this is in aesthetics only seeing as there is no Wi-Fi, which suggests this spot is also chronologically stagnant. This being the sole reason I have resigned to observing Daniel's performance. 

I see his apprehension as he approaches topics such as homosexuality and feminism, subjects he is passionate about supporting but unaware as to whether or not the nation's ethics have been frozen in time with their architecture. As he tiptoes into these opinions he realises the audience share his views and his confidence grows with their support, comedy as a performance art has the great gift of drawing the more liberal thinking citizens from a community. 

Towards the close of Daniel's set his rapport with the audience has given some of them inspiration to interact with him, upon announcing that one particularly blasphemous segment of his repertoire caused several religious zealots to evacuate a previous performance he had delivered in Indianapolis, one supportive heckler reassured him that 'You would have to bomb us to get us to leave' which although intended as positive reassurance sounded terrifying coming from the monotone Serbian drawl of a Bond villain who has physically endured being bombed before.  

The most intimidating heckle however, came when my subject addressed the room to enquire as to whether guns were legal in Serbia, to an expertly timed response from a patron clearly skilled in the art of beat boxing who perfectly projected the sound of a shotgun being cocked, either that, or someone cocked a shotgun. 

Signing off,

Kai Humphries 

Friday, 14 November 2014

Day Seventeen, Zurich

Day: Seventeen 

Date: 12th November 2014

Destination: Zurich (Switzerland)

Subject: Daniel Sloss

My subject curiously opened his day by purchasing a curry sandwich, after greeting his morning breath with cold spiced mush and damp bread he immediately regretted his life choice and transferred the masticated pulp into a napkin throwing the rest of his sandwich under a bus in rage. I really don't know what kind of experience he expected to have. 

We have missed our train. We stood at platform six as advised by the screens to catch the 12:18 to Zurich but to our confusion 12:18 came and left but the train to Zurich didn't. It transpires that not possessing the ability to comprehend French through the metallic din echoing from ceiling mounted Fisher-Price baby monitors can cost you 160 Swiss francs. We found a gentleman who had replaced his initiative with a high visibility vest and exercised his inability to serve a purpose. I think society could have found a better use for this man by perhaps sitting him on a half stacked library shelf in order to keep the books vertical. Daniel tried to seek compassion from the rail worker regarding us not getting the memo about the platform change but it is extremely difficult to evoke human emotions from an inanimate object. 

We gambled on getting another train ticket without taking the precautionary measure of learning a second language and are finally Zurich bound. I have listened to Daniel spit acid about the unhelpful gentleman for the first 45 minutes of this journey, he has managed to viciously deconstruct the entire political regime of Switzerland based on his interaction with this one man, and thus expressed his hatred for a whole nation of people with an impressive level of vitriol.  

It's nice to see my subject with an axe to grind, as a young, middle class, white male of privilege he has never had to deal with hardship or discrimination, it must be tough for him because success without struggle holds no reward, so then where can he find true happiness without such perspective? That said, he holds on to these minor setbacks with excessive venom and spite and places them in the empty void where a person's problems should go in order to provide a ying to his yang. 

I found a packet of chocolate coated popcorn in my bag that I had forgotten about acquiring last night, as I was enjoying this unconventional treat on the train while Daniel simmered, I could see him eying them inquisitively. It dawned on me that he must be positively ravenous at this stage in the day after only sampling a swab of curried mush for nutrition since his previous evening's supper. In offering him some of the confectionary I took mischievous advantage of his hunger by holding out my flat palm with an offering, but would withdraw the offer when he reached for it with his appendages. As I raised my palm towards his face he soon realised that he would only get to sample the snack if he ate it direct from my palm. Daniel pondered on it for a moment before giving in to my bad sportsmanship and trading in his dignity to snuffle his ration face first from my palm on a crowded train. My hand now has human saliva on it but it was worth the compromise to make him look like the tip of a proverbial penis. Daniel contorted his face in disapproval at the taste and texture of the treat and removed it from his mouth with a napkin as ladylike as possible. I sometimes feel that Daniel is so precious about the signals his brain receives from the receptors inside of his mouth that he would sooner die of slow agonising starvation than inconvenience his palate.

We've been kidnapped by a group of ex-patriots from every English speaking nation, we got scuppered up after the gig by a cheerful horde comprised chiefly of  Australians, Americans, Irish and Brits who seem bent on getting us drunk, a scheme I don't oppose being the victim of.  Daniel seems to be reinvigorated by their company, I think he's delighted they aren't Swiss after writing off that entire breed thanks to their ambassador at the train station. 

We are still in the same bar playing darts for measures of aniseed spirits which the loser must purchase, all the doors are locked and a haze of indoor smoke, a strange sight in the 21st century, chokes the air.

My subject is highly inebriated and has discovered there is a microphone behind the bar, the captors have become the hostages. Those who were in attendance for his earlier performance are enjoying his ad libbed remarks but the one or two who are unaware of his résumé as a stand up comedian are glancing at him as though he is just a very confident young man who is up past his bed time, drinking on an empty stomach. 

Signing off,

Kai Humphries

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Day Sixteen, Geneva (Switzerland)

Day: Sixteen

Date 11th November 2014

Destination: Geneva (Switzerland)

Subject: Daniel Sloss

Last night was the first since beginning these trials that I have not used an abundance of alcohol as an instrument for my studies and as I lay clear headed in my hotel bed I completely forgot how to initiate sleep. Every evening I retreat to a new surrounding, new illuminations creeping into the darkness from new windows and new door-frames and LEDs, new density and texture of new bedding, new noises from the pipes, the streets and my new neighbours. Without the cocoon of intoxication to close me in I couldn't distract my thoughts from the awareness of these unfamiliar sensory stimulations to entice them down the chambers of nonsensical internal illusions and ramblings that usually, happily preoccupy my consciousness for many hours while the cellular structure of my being recuperates in a state of hibernation. I spent the duration of the earth's slow moving rotation teetering at the mouth of this ethereal tunnel until the sun's protons finally scattered upon Geneva as I submitted to explore the cavernous depths of their wonder.  

It appeared by my subject's dishevelled demeanour that he didn't get to sleep until really late either. Fatigue sat uncomfortably on the throne usually occupied by a mighty hangover, however the usurper hadn't earned its crown. 

We were tired. 

We hung unattended at the restaurant for thirty minutes after being seated before we decided that this establishment surely can't be a profit making business model and must fund its operation by using the pseudo-service as an ulterior front for a more sinister means of income such as human trafficking. We decided to no longer associate with such criminal activity and instead purchased a sandwich from a street vendor. 

We had a highly productive day formulating ideas for comedic output in my subject's hotel room, he really responds to creative midwifery and seems at his most content when his fingers rain on the keyboard of his computer birthing ideas into data.

As I left his room to compose my appearance for the performance ahead I struck my shinbone on the corner of Daniel's bed frame, all of the world's suffering, torture and unfairness intensified as a black-hole of pain that exploded into a universe of agony through my nerve endings. My expression remained impassive, my response was mute. Had Daniel not been present I'd have let out a scream that would have shattered all of the windows for eight blocks, but the impact need kill me before I gave him that satisfaction. 

After obliging my facade as Daniel's support act I was approached in the interval by a very complimentary lady from the audience, who after several beats in our innocuous back and forth, threw down the frank proposition that she would be keen to engage in sexual intercourse with me, to paraphrase her four letter slang. I met this unexpected change of direction with a bashful stutter and malfunctioned body language. Had I been physically eligible, I consider Daniel would have one less audience member for his headline segment but having much grander responsibilities than gaining the temporary pleasure from meaningless fornication my systems failed to process the algorithms and my face may as well have read 'Error 404: Page not found.'

Her flirtation diminished at at my glitch in response and she returned to the auditorium as I went back stage to reboot. It's a solitary moral victory to retain chastity in monogamy in the face of such opportunistic temptation, it's a victory you can't easily share with the person you share everything with, information you cannot expect them to receive with equanimity. Personally speculating, the moment I encourage the topic of declined offers of sexual advances to become a featured conversation in dialogues with my girl is the moment she has a lot more to say about the day's events than I do. I suppose I'll gloat about my resolve internally on this occasion. 

After the show Daniel and I visited a pizzeria for a spot of supper, I cut my folded calzone down the centre and to my confusion a yellow substance flowed from my meal, it wasn't viscose enough to be melted cheese yet it was too opaque to be olive oil, I dabbed inquisitively at the strange liquid, smelt it to no avail then sampled it with my taste buds. To my sheer delight I witnessed the taste of egg yolk, I authenticated my conclusion with a visual on its source. There was a perfectly poached egg folded into my pizza, a stroke of genius I've never considered let alone observed, the Swiss had thrown me a culinary curveball so late in the evening, a reward for my righteous principles. It is a long time since I've felt the spirit of Easter in November. 

Daniel watched in disdain as I devoured my evening's bounty and suggested only a lizard could enjoy a chicken's menstrual discharge as much as I. 

Signing off,

Kai Humphries

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Day Fifteen, Geneva (Switzerland)

Day: Fifteen

Date: 10th November 2014

Destination: Geneva (Switzerland) 

Subject: Daniel Sloss

I have checked out of the hotel but await our scheduled 15:30 transportation, I have arrived in the lobby before my subject, made myself comfortable, connected to the wifi and checked what was happening in the outside world beyond the confines of my insular project. It appears there are many cases of public figures making sexist remarks on various media outlets such as ITV2 and Facebook fan-pages which blur the meaning of what it is to have fans. I am warmed by the public's outraged response to such bigotry, it's a response that comes from an educated place, in the past we have witnessed similar if not worse sentiment in the media which has previously been met with public tolerance however I am comforted that my society has changed the line in the sand for what is acceptable. My comfort is coupled with shame that this ever changing line in the sand will soon cross my own previous lack of education. I have been known to use terms such as "man-up" or "grow some balls" or even "stop being a pussy" as teasing encouragement to coerce my fellow people (male or female) into tasks that might require testosterone to accomplish, I didn't consider however that this was an unnecessarily gender specific call for bravery. Being a male isn't a prerequisite for showing courage yet I've been conditioned to make such statements from a place of ignorance. Rather than looking back with the aforementioned shame I'd like to instead show gratitude to the paragons of feminism for showing the less educated of us the error in our ways, it is now down to us to toe the line. We have to be careful in society to do what is right not just what is perceived to be right, for instance if Alcohol was seen as a drug, which it is, a lot of us have to admit to having a drug problem.  

Daniel has just arrived looking rather hungover, nodded in my direction to acknowledge my existence then sat at a separate table. 

I took a minor expedition to the bakery and returned with some provisions, I placed some in front of Daniel, he mumbled a nondescript syllable, I nodded in his direction to acknowledge his attempt at appreciation then sat at a separate table. 

Our friend Ari picked us up and whisked us to the airport, the introduction of Ari into the dynamic injected some life into Daniel who held his own in a conversation about cult rock band, The Beatles, a subject in which he knows very little about but still proceeded to fuel Ari's passion for the topic. I believe if the airport was only slightly further away he'd have been left with no choice but to put his hands up and concede that he was only regurgitating things he'd heard from other enthusiasts and the words coming from his mouth were little more than the sum of their parts. We embraced our host at the terminal who then drove off taking any hope of conversation with him. 

We have boarded the flight to Geneva, for the past two hours we sat silently next to each other in departures completely ignoring each other's presence, fixated on our electronic devices. To the outside world we must look like a same sex couple who have had a major disagreement on holiday and are enduring the journey home in an amicable silence with underlying rancour. Little would they know that we are absorbed in jovial spirited conversation together with non-present comrades via the electronic connectivity of a group messaging application. Without any Internet or company in the cabin of the commercial jet we're currently locked into, I pick up my book and Daniel closes his eyes, I visualise this to be the picture for the next four hours. 

I have just arrived in my Geneva hotel room after nodding a farewell to Daniel as I exited the elevator and it has occurred to me that my subject and I have quite comfortably spent the entire day together traveling the longitude of Europe without uttering a single word of verbal communication, other than words that passed through Ari or cyberspace. Without the presence of a catalyst we no longer feel the requirement to fill the silence, a silence that would feel heavy around someone less familiar is as welcome as the quiet you enjoy in your own solitude when in the company of someone you have had this much exposure to. There is no discontent or animosity, no loneliness or fear of judgement, no expectations at all, just operating alone as though you are both one person. 

I just received a text message from my subject; Breakfast at 11?

Signing off, 

Kai Humphries