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

Monday, 10 November 2014

Day Fourteen, Reykjavik (Iceland)

Day: Fourteen

Date: 9th November 2014

Destination: Reykjavik (Iceland)

Subject: Daniel Sloss

It was pleasant to say the least finally having some company for breakfast after two long weeks of dining alone. To my delight our promoter from the show, Berang, was already seated sipping a coffee and nibbling on some cooked meats when I arrived heavy eyed in the hotel's designated communal dining area. Restaurant, I think, would be too fancy a word to describe the minimalistic style of food presentation the hotel had opted for. I grabbed some ham, cheese and hard bread from the ration board and joined Berang in sitting. In the absence of Daniel, who chooses to end his fast late in the afternoon sooner than conforming to the conventional tradition of consuming a waking meal, we discussed whether or not the girl who rather playfully opened conversation with him (Daniel) in the street last night was of age. Although the girl who showed interest in Daniel outside of a bar was comely and could pass as an adult based on appearance alone, some of her affectations suggested otherwise, the fact her alcoholic beverage was in a vessel she owned and not the property of a publican inclined me to assume she wasn't in possession of valid identification, and her asking strangers for cigarettes opposite a seven-eleven store that sold them told me she lived off an allowance, not a wage. We concluded that her womanhood was an illusion and that Daniel's instincts to not engage in the flirtatious repartee she had commenced could possibly have saved his career and his freedom. 

Seeing as we have a day off from travelling and performing today, and Berang doesn't return to Sweden until tomorrow, we all agreed on applying our free time to recreation. Daniel joined us to eventually ingest some food as we lunched on the fresh catch of the day before our Icelandic host, Ari, picked us up. We are now being transported out of the city through an unforgiving terrain of lava and moss towards the Blue Lagoon, a natural volcanic spring warmed conveniently to a perfect temperature for relaxation by the bosom of Mother Earth herself. 

When we cast off our robes and pranced ungracefully in semi undress towards the cloud of vapour that concealed the surface of the volcanic spring water, the arctic wind cut through our bones with vicious hostility. Goose-flesh spread quickly across my entire surface, priming my skin perfectly for the overwhelming sensation of then being immersed in liquid steam some seconds later. Once submerged I was certain I could quite contently live the rest of my days neck deep in this water. Now I'm not one to the condone the commercialisation of a natural delight but I must concede that installing a bar in a volcanic spring was a stroke of undisputed genius. Just as the earth warmed water heats you from the outside in, the air chilled beer cools you from the inside out, causing an occluded front in your veins that culminates into a storm of sheer satisfaction. Meanwhile, Daniel instantly came out in a rash. 

Despite Daniel's dermatological discomfort he insisted he was fine to continue the afternoon's activities, the grotesque raised blemishes flushing across his skin tissue like a time-lapse of mould consuming a sandwich is allegedly something that happens to him quite often in water. How very inconvenient that his kryptonite happens to be the key ingredient of which he is made. 

After a wonderful day in Earth's natural spa we all retreated for a nap, when we regrouped Daniel's skin had returned to its original vitality and we went for a meal minus the company of the native Ari who had family obligations. The meal was one of pure indulgence, Daniel, Berang and I quite frugally filled the table with espresso martinis, red wine, mink whale, langoustine tails, sushi and steak amongst other finesse touches to our platter. I must admit, I forgot who I was for a moment, and although the bill translated into pounds as a lot less than we anticipated, I think I must write off any hope of this particular part of the social study as being financially beneficial and fly onwards to Geneva tomorrow of the frame of mind that I thoroughly enjoyed my holiday in Iceland.  

We followed up the meal with some beers and were joined by a friend of ours from home and her boyfriend who are also in town, I happened upon a deck of cards in the drinking establishment and taught our five strong group an exciting multi-player game that I learned from an Arabian lady when I visited Malta in 2013. On introducing this game into our circle we witnessed Daniel exhibiting an exuberant display of competitive vigour. He played that game of cards like his life depended on it, and consistently lost, fortunately his mortality was not actually at stake, but if it was, he'd be dead. 

Signing off,

Kai Humphries

Day Thirteen, Reykjavik (Iceland)

Day: Thirteen

Date: 8th November 2014

Destination: Reykjavik

Subject: Daniel Sloss

As we were waiting outside of the Stockholm Hilton for our taxi to arrive and speed us to the Airport for the next leg of the journey, a cab rolled into the forecourt with a registration plate that read: BSL055. My subject witnessed the license plate that closely, if not completely, resembled his own name, then proceeded to gather his worldly belongings to haul into the trunk of said vehicle. I noticed immediately that the cab was not from the same organisation of which we had scheduled a transaction nor was it quite yet the time that we had requested the service. As I deduced that our own chartered cab was yet to arrive, Daniel concluded that this taxi must be ours on the account of his name being in bold black font across the yellow metal plaque sitting proudly on the car's bumper, dismissing any possibility that this might be a coincidence. It made me stop to wonder what kind of ego would find it plausible that a small business should invest the financial and administrative effort involved in reregistering one of their fleet to correspond with the family name of a very specific one-time client such as himself. 

As we boarded the flight to Reykjavik and arrived at our seats 13A and 13C, the gentleman sitting in the middle of the two, occupying seat 13B, observed that we were travel companions and kindly offered to sacrifice his seat, substituting it for one of our own in order for us to travel adjacent to one another. Daniel shunned the strangers initiative then proceeded to implement the initial seating plan. To the discontent of the rueful gentleman fastened between us Daniel held dialogue with me for a considerable portion of the journey, perplexing the man and noticeably distracting him from his book. Eventually to the delight of our eavesdropper Daniel rocked himself to sleep and I picked up my dictionary. 

We were greeted in Reykjavik arrivals by two wonderful gentlemen by the names of Berang and Ari, who transferred us from the airport to our hotel, I listened in awe as Ari, an Icelandic comedian, waxed lyrically about politics, industry, history and culture with an astounding command of the English language most commendable for someone adopting English as their secondary language. As I absorbed and encouraged the enthusiastic and effusive knowledge that was being imparted on us, my subject confidently but unconvincingly attempted to mirror the intelligence of our host with some passionate opinions that failed to appear fully formulated. 

After swiftly dealing with our ablutions, we joined our hosts for some fine dining of which Berang kindly picked up the bill, a man we discovered has worked on the promotion side of the entertainment industry alongside some of the legendary elite, placing us one degree of separation from the likes of Al Pacino. 

Upon enquiring with the waiter I was recommended the Horse steak as a highly coveted choice of cuisine from the menu, not one to question a professional more equipped than I with culinary endorsements, I went ahead and ate a horse, calling my own bluff on how hungry I am known to exclaim I can actually be. At first, due to social conditioning, I didn't feel entirely comfortable with my order choice but consoled myself with the conclusion that I am ill positioned to place the lives of animals in a hierarchy of worth, if I am to eliminate one meat option I should eliminate them all rather than engaging in some back patting moral hypocrisy. Seeing as I'm not inclined to either become a vegan or develop a god complex, I dined on horse meat and it didn't feel scandalous at all. 

Ari shared my role as support act for Daniel conducting fifteen minutes of rapid Icelandic comedy that was so well received it almost physically removed the roof from the building, he was one punch-line away from me checking the venue's insurance schedule and ordering a quantity of asphalt for repairs. I'd love to have understood Icelandic to witness what was causing the damage, but to my ears he may as well have been talking in wingdings. There was one part of his repertoire when he  snapped out if Icelandic without warning to land a Punchline in English/Ghetto-American that went: ".... Yo mother-f***er, I'm a flower!" which sent the audience into rapture. But let me tell you, it was every bit as funny out of context. 

Ari returned home to his family while Daniel, Berang and I lubricated some deep conversation about spirituality and hallucinogenics with strong alcohol before returning to the hotel resort to watch amusing videos on the YouTube web page. We discovered this evening on returning from the tavern that arctic winds can be quite insufferable, I almost felt inclined to renounce my Newcastle heritage and purchase a fleece. 

Signing off,

Kai Humphries

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Day Twelve, Vesteras (Sweden)

Day: Twelve

Date: 7th November 2014

Destination: Vesteras (Sweden)

Subject: Daniel Sloss

I haven't stumbled upon my subject all afternoon and I dare say I have enjoyed the serenity. Daniel has become quite the nuisance of late, it isn't uncommon for him to press every button on the elevator control panel in order to send the carriage to its uppermost extremity calling at every floor en route. Upon arrival at my desired floor Daniel will quite predictably follow his puerile misdeed by attempting to obstruct my exit with an intrusive physical act that closely resembles wrestling. It is not difficult to vanquish his attempted impediment due to his meek and puny frame. I must say I do admire the heart that he applies to such a fruitless task but I have to question where he gets his unfounded optimism to achieve his goal, given that he has the physical presence of a small child. Perhaps the key to his career success boils down to this extraordinary ability to dream. Although I never initiate such behaviour I have little other option than to compromise my own maturity by engaging in the formality of fending him off, noncompliance would result in spending an extended period of time in the enclosed space for no other reason than to concede victim to my subject's sinister intentions. 

Another of his tedious stunts is to obtain a handful of crushed or cubed ice from the dispensers often found in the hotel hallways and wield it towards me as either a melee or projectile weapon depending on his range. To avoid the impending assault I must move rapidly towards the safety of my hotel room, but more often than not the hasty fumbling of my room key conduces to stall my evacuation long enough for the cold wet compound to rain down on my head and neck causing a great deal of discomfort. 

These are just some of the tribulations I must endure to conduct this comprehensive study of Daniel's behaviour. 

We are in the car on the way to Vesteras, which they care to pronounce 'Westeros' the name given to the domain wonderfully conjured by George RR Martin in The Song of Ice and Fire books. Due to the beautifully blonde constitution of the Swedish people which reflects that of the Lannisters and Targarians I feel as though all I am missing is a tunic and a flagon of ale to complete the illusion.

Before we arrived at the theatre we stopped by a local radio station so my subject could be interrogated. The host of the broadcast asked my subject what he would be doing with his life had he not found his calling as a stand up comedian, to which Daniel rather tragically responded that he'd probably be working in a job he hated, married to a spouse he didn't love, with children he didn't want. On measuring this brutally self aware proclamation I don't think Daniel considered the target audience of drive time radio. 

Tonight's gig was wonderful, we came to the mutual conclusion that it was potentially our favourite performance to date, but I truly believe we have been fortunate enough to have this feeling on multiple occasions and this time only feels so prominent because it is the most recent. It would be unfair to choose a favourite when still immersed in the moment of one such event shedding bias on our decision making skills. 

I shared my role as support act with a hugely successful Swedish comedian named Märten Anderson, he has provided us with his fantastic company on this leg of our tour and tonight I got to witness him perform incredibly to a very responsive Vesteras audience. Although I do not comprehend a word of Swedish, the language in which Märten conducted his repertoire, I was memorised into chuckling at the correct moments by the waves of audience laughter harmoniously washing over me to the familiar rhythm of his delivery. I was flabbergasted by the hypnotic qualities of comedy and the disconcerting effects that being part of a crowd can have on your natural impulses, it made me stop to wonder if any of our audience have understood a word of our Newcastle and Scottish accents on this tour, or whether we have just succeeded in bewitching them this whole time. 

I bed down experiencing a sense of smug satisfaction. Our customary elevator showdown resulted in me seizing my subject's room key from his possession, then tossing it through the dwindling slither of space between the closing elevator door with expert precision. As the distance grew between Daniel and entry to his room, I watched his face resign to an expression of defeat, then quietly but victoriously, walked away. 

There was a mysterious knock at my parlour door snatching me from the clutches of sleep, now I am both wet and cold. 

Signing off, 

Kai Humphries

Friday, 7 November 2014

Day Eleven, Stockholm (Sweden)

Day: Eleven

Date: 6th November 2014

Destination: Stockholm (Sweden)

Subject: Daniel Sloss

The benefits of having a day off yesterday are reaped today as we wake up in not only in the same city but the exact same venue that we will be performing in tonight. The day breaks with no pressure of early upheaval from the hotel, no airport check-in times looming, no checking every pocket and compartment of my holdall for my passport before finding it in a shoe under my bed and sighing so hard with relief that my neighbours think I got lucky. I have become so accustomed to the day commencing with a multitude of dealings that could go sour and blemish an otherwise flawless campaign. The responsibility on my shoulders that venue staff, marketing teams, agents, tour operators, ticket holders and of course Daniel himself could have their months of planning and labour scuppered if I take leave of my aptitude to hit 'snooze' one too many times. Even when I do efficiently execute the gruelling daily task of throwing my legs over the side of the bed and heaving my torso into an upright stance in order to set the cogs of the day grinding with a splutter into motion to the beat of my alarm and the throb of my hangover, I am served with a platter of internal queries; Passport? Wallet? Currency? Watch? Toiletries? Phone? Charger? What happened last night? Where did I leave Daniel? Why is my bed wet? Once I wrangle together my material possessions, find the location of my test subject and tip the maid, I relax in transit and begin to collate my findings from the previous day. Today is different, I have none of those anxieties. We exercised our freedom from these shackles up until just a few hours ago by sinking several units of a liquor given the deceptively amiable title of 'Fisherman's Friend.' At this point of the morning as the light cuts with relentless ease through the blinds, my eyes and finally my soul, I consider the beverage would be more aptly dubbed 'Comedian's Nemesis.' 

So for what reason am I rebuking this opportunity to gently close my eyes, momentarily dismissing the world and burying the side effects of my alcohol consumption under as many layers of sleep deemed necessary to regain my zest for consciousness? Why am I staring at a clock that reads 09:59 with a stirring disquiet? It is as though the sand of time has a furtive secret that I'm not privy to, that it will only divulge when its face changes in sixty seconds or less. I wrack my aching brain trying to decipher this cruel riddle that the morning has bestowed upon me before it's too late. Then with an abrupt realisation the uneasiness I've been incubating manifests into heart stopping dread as the adrenal gland atop of my kidneys has a purge of epinephrine that boosts the supply of glucose and oxygen to the epicentre of my cerebrum, charging me to bolt upright in a sudden frenzy of panic: Breakfast finishes at ten!

It's a miracle that I managed to get out of bed, get dressed, document my thoughts and make it down the stairs in time for a feed before the offering of delights was brutally revoked from those less punctual. The character trait of mine that I attribute to the town of Blyth from which I hail is that I seldom forgo complimentary food. My test subject on the other hand doesn't appear to hold nourishment so high on his agenda. 

I have made a noteworthy discovery in this very moment. If anyone ever asks me what can make a traditional fried breakfast even more superior than it currently is, I will tell them Meatballs, the answer is Meatballs. And I will tell them Sweden gave me this intelligence in the winter of 2014. 

My test subject has risen from his slumber and joined me in the hotel lobby to partake in some comedic writing, as I make notes on his behaviour he procedes to tweak a script which we have been pondering over of late. As I watch Daniel I observe that he talks with his hands even when the talking is done in his head. An onlooker might suppose he is having a Skype session with a deaf relative. I am just glad we are in Stockholm and not LA otherwise he could potentially start a gang war with a passing Crip. 

Daniel pointed out to me that my attire of block grey Super-Dry branded leisurewear is not fitting to the plush surroundings of the luxurious hotel foyer but I have resisted explaining to him that this is the disguise I have adopted to throw him off the scent of my being a supremely qualified psychiatric scientisist on a highly covert operation. 

I have had the most harrowing of experiences. As I documented my findings from my former affairs in the field I unintentionally erased my entire body of work. As I attempted to copy my accounts from the computerised document and subsequently duplicate them into my online journal I got segued into the pit of procrastination that is YouTube, in doing so made the haphazard error of replacing the copied data on my clipboard with the link to a video of a chimpanzee urinating into it's own face. Upon realising that I had carelessly discarded my backbreaking efforts for the purpose of sharing the primate's folly with strangers on an online forum I immediately checked my archives. To my dismay it was gone, I had permanently cut the data from it's source rather than copying it, then tossed it into the chasmic cyber-ether with reckless disregard. The blank canvas was mirrored by my own physical emptiness, a void that no amount of free food will ever replace. Daniel sensed my gut wrenching disarray the way rats foresee tectonic activity and his head jerked towards me, he held a quizzical gaze as I wrenched at my hair with closed fists. Upon learning the nature of my misfortune Daniel didn't laugh organically but rather said the word 'Ha' multiple disembodied times. Although he bathed me in a verbal display of schadenfreude I could tell the man showed a glimmer of sympathy for my disastrous ordeal because he extended the gesture of quietly providing me with a caffeinated beverage as I embarked on the laborious task of starting again from scratch. I don't believe he would have extended this generosity had he known the rip roaring deconstruction of his idiosyncrasies in my recently disposed documentation.   

Nothing extraordinary to report from our evening's shenanigans other than some wholesome socialising with a delightful mix of Swedish and Finnish acquaintances over a civilised drink post performance. All of the elements of the evening from the show to the Shiraz were to my subject's pleasure and he retreats to his chambers in a satisfied state of contentment. As do I myself after quite the rollercoaster of a day. 

Signing off,

Kai Humphries

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Day Ten, Stockholm (Sweden)

Day: Ten

Date: 5th November 2014

Destination: Stockholm (Sweden)

Subject: Daniel Sloss

Dear Journal,
Today we take a day's respite from performing, but due to a professional obligation to my studies I must remain in a contained proximity to my subject. During our journey from Oslo to Stockholm I have arranged for a bouquet of pansies and a teddy-bear to be delivered to the workplace of my beloved inamorata 'Natalie' who celebrates the completion of her 29th year on this earth today. The doting gesture of adoration is to act as a surprise accompaniment to the gift I had already left behind before embarking on my journey, and additionally aids to pacify any displeasure she may harbour towards my absence. I dare say it also selfishly helps to quell my own guilt at the situation. Regardless, Daniel has informed me that my actions suggest that I am a closeted homosexual. 

When you are subject to such intense exposure to another human being, like I have endured in the case of Daniel Sloss, you have to meditate your thoughts to ensure the mild irritation borne from that person's idiosyncrasies doesn't develope into irrational loathing. One such trait occurs when we are walking between two points and I cause a minor delay to our passage by stopping to tie my shoelace or taking a slight detour towards a litter bin. Daniel displays no patience, continuing at the same pace and trajectory without accommodating for my falling behind, leaving me to choose which is least degrading; loping after him like an obedient puppy on his heel or walking five paces behind him like an oppressed wife in a culture governed by religion. However, this display of megalomania is not the mannerism of his that grinds my gears the most, that comes when my subject becomes spitefully obtuse upon being asked a seemingly simple question. I recently inquired as to whether or not the Euro was legal tender in Sweden and Daniel quite needlessly responded with a vindictive snark at the mere suggestion that he should own such knowledge. Considering I asked this question based on my understanding that he has spent several prolonged periods of time in the aforementioned country in recent years, I am worried that if he is not being unnecessarily obtuse on this occasion and actually can't recall from his experience, that he may indeed be inflicted with severe learning difficulties. Maybe he simply isn't exhibiting the same stoic resilience as I to my own idiosyncrasies such as asking questions that don't benefit him in any way to answer, heartlessly forcing him look away from his iPhone for a moment at no personal gain. 

Despite the negative observations forged in the metaphoric pressure of our situation I have became increasingly fond of my subject, this makes it very fitting that we are heading to Stockholm, the origin of the name given to the syndrome I have recently acquired. 

In a miraculous quirk of serendipity I discovered through the black art of social media that an old friend of mine from my home town, who goes by the moniker of 'Picket' was a mere 200 yards away from my current location. On happening upon each other Picket and I spent the best part of an hour struck with awe and commenting on our disbelief by using various turns of phrase and visiting several clichés that referenced the odds involved in such an occurrence and how deceptively miniature our planet is, before we finally delved into any conversation of real substance. One thing we did immediately bring to pass was the inclusion of locally brewed ale into our extraordinary circumstances. 

My Subject, Picket and I have been accompanied by several of the vanguard of Swedish comedy, needless to say spirits are soaring as our glasses frequently clink together in cheer as we bask in the merriment of such remarkable company. Daniel seems exceptionally familiar with the Swedish contingent of our group, reminiscing with zeal over previous shenanigans from his earlier visitations, however his recollection of this nostalgia must be a facade in lieu of his stuttering memory which previously rendered him dumbfounded by the suggestion of recalling major details from his stay.   

In the competitive nature of Scandinavian countries our Swedish hosts discovered we enjoyed the alcohol and Shuffle-Board in Norway and felt obliged to indulge us in a double measure of both. The prices however are not so competitive as I discovered upon purchasing a steak pie that cost approximately the same as a semi-detached house in Fife. 

Daniel has quite deviously dispatched an SMS to my good lady asking her if she received the flowers that he sent. I don't resent his interception of the accreditation from my gesture however, because I witnessed a photograph of the special delivery she had received and what I saw was not a gift I'd be proud to claim responsibility for. The flowers looked more like a fistful of wet nettles than the extravagant display exhibited on the promotional material that inspired my purchase. On top of that, the teddy arrived shrink wrapped as though it had asphyxiated in a torturous sex act during transit.  

With the omission of a gig and the inclusion of some dear chums, the intake of firewater can escalate into a measure capable of reducing you to comatose. I teetered perilously close to this deep state of unconsciousness tonight as my eyelids began to feel as though they were resisting some kind of hypnotic sorcery that was working to knit them together. I have said my goodbyes and stumbled back to my resort. My thoughts are with Picket who must soon catch two flights then drive for three hours to return home whilst in the very same condition as I, when all he had initially planned was a quiet evening after work with a cup of tea and a box set.  

Signing off,

Kai Humphries

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Day Nine, Oslo (Norway)

Day: Nine

Date: 4th November 2014

Destination: Oslo (Norway)

Subject: Daniel Sloss

It is to our delight that we are leaving Paris, although the gig itself was a bastion of enjoyment and our host was the perfect gentleman, the remainder of our experience was in stark contrast to more preferable impressions instilled in us by our previous destinations. I found it difficult to adapt to the manners of which proprietors of service were proudly lacking. When you courteously part with currency in exchange for assistance as advertised you shouldn't expect to be subjected to such unnecessary disdain when this transaction is the very goal of the provider's business model. What I'm trying to express is that based on my findings public sector employees in France, as a rule, are generally contemptuous pissants. 

Daniel presented me with his carefully formulated theory that Paris acquired its status as the paragon of romance due to the fact that bringing an intimate companion here for an amorous retreat would result in having to indulge her with flattery, grand gestures and affection to compensate for your geographical err, it forces you to rise up and provide the charm that the city so clearly lacks. As he eloquently put it "its just a bunch of miserable ****s tutting at art depicting wars that they ****ing lost."

We are currently in the cab to the airport and the driver is sighing an audible breath of displeasure with every exhalation, I am getting increasingly concerned that he may deplete all of the oxygen in the car and suffocate us with his scorn, I have lowered the window a smidgeon just in case. It is interesting trying to decipher the internal monologue silently projected from Daniel's facial expressions, I imagine it might go exactly like the sighing that is being emitted from our sullen chauffeur. 

Arriving in Oslo we each draw a breath of fresh, friendly air. It's a pleasure to be in such beautiful and affable surroundings with our dwelling situated pleasingly overlooking the fjord.  Given that we have time to kill this will be a good opportunity to explore our immediate catchment and study my subject as he spiritually detoxes from the negative flavour of France and further recuperates from the physical fatigue of Amsterdam. 

As I delivered my luggage to my room I made the mistake of perching on the bed to slowly blink, in doing so four hours of time which I planned on utilising accelerated past me in a dark dreamless warp of the cosmos. Upon waking and in negligence of my studies I felt the urge to inquire how my subject deployed his time in my absence, in an attempt to obtain some information on his behavioural patterns in the city of Oslo. It transpires he spent the afternoon watching YouTube videos of failed public marriage proposals rather than absorbing some of the city's delights. 

The Norwegian audience were very responsive with their enjoyment as we regaled them with our colourful anecdotes. This was as much to do with a perfectly structured and expertly developed working environment as it was to do with our own aplomb. They say a bad workman can't blame his tools but I believe any workman can credit his workshop. I am now sat in a bar with a small pouch of tobacco pressed between my top lip and the gum of my incisors, I'm not sure to the purpose of this Norwegian past-time other than making you feel like you have a harelip. My subject is also partaking in the custom with minimal elegance as he unattractively prods at it with subconscious repulsiveness whilst flirtatiously chatting to a harem of admirers.    

We shot beverages of high alcohol content in Norway from vessels the size of an average household vase. After several of these refreshments we challenged some of our newly acquired Scandinavian acquaintances to a friendly game of their national sport, Shuffle-Board. Shuffle-Board is an indoor sport that requires you to carefully slide a smooth metal weight from one side of a lengthy wooden surface, which has been varnished and lightly sanded, to the other. Their are zones at the far end of the board which should your measured toss land the weight within, will result in points for your team, over shooting these zones will put your metal weight in a gutter of sand nullifying your attempts. Mix this game with alcohol and split the teams into nations and it can be quite interesting how competitive this event will become. At one point my subject took a particularly good shot knocking our competitor's weight out of the scoring zone and into the gutter then he proceeded to unashamedly extend his arm and subsequently his middle finger then present the vulgar gesture an inch away from her face to a back drop of belly laughter. His humility also ebbed when we won the game and he did a victorious lap of the gaming table which he concluded by sliding on his chest across the bar room floor in a fashion reminiscent of the way German footballer Jurgan Klinsmann would celebrate his goals in the early 1990's. I've never seen him this happy. 

Signing off,

Kai Humphries

Monday, 3 November 2014

Day Eight, Paris (France)

Day: Eight

Date: 3rd November 2014

Destination: Paris (France)

Subject: Daniel Sloss

I am beyond alarmed that I woke up in my bed at the Hilton hotel to a 09:00 wake up call in preparation for our 10:30 pick up, allowing time for breakfast and ablutions. This situation shouldn't be alarming seeing as this was the plan all along, but my wonderment stems from how I could possibly have executed these plans. Peculiarly, my final memory of last night's mischief in Amsterdam was not that of climbing under the duvet after arranging a sensible waking hour with the concierge like my current situation suggests. The most recent memory I can bring to cognition at this point in the morning is in fact a one of me bidding a fumbled fairwell to my chums then rambling alone through the streets in a state of marvel following the queer patterns and lights generated by the mushrooms I ingested for supper. I recall one vague flashback of showing a stranger the pastel coloured lines flowing across my face in the bathroom mirror, and another of hiding under a table so as not to draw attention to myself while possessed by uncontrollable and inexplicable laughter, how on earth I negotiated a safe landing in such psychedelic turbulence has rendered me awestruck. 

I've just enjoyed an exquisite cooked breakfast and while I'm sitting contemplating the whys and the hows of my respawning in a safe haven, the waitress approached me and asked if I'd like a warm apple turnover direct from the oven? Would I? I nodded happily to indicate my desire to receive the tasty snack, but to my bewilderment she nonchalantly placed the pastry onto my leftover breakfast. I just assumed this to be a custom and I'm sat mopping up egg yolk and beans with a sugary desert treat on a Monday morning, if this isn't the actions of a chronic stoner I don't know what is, nonetheless, a clichéd look I am more than happy to adopt in such a city as this. 

I met my fresh faced subject in the lobby, Daniel had ended his evening ahead of my good self on the grounds that I had stopped making sense. When he laid eyes on me in the lobby he shot me a look that suggested we shared the astonishment towards my curious fortune, to which I replied "I know." 

The only thing more annoying than an irritating child being rambunctious on a crowded train, is a child conducting himself in such a manner in French. There is something rather excruciating about hearing incomprehensible high pitched words produced from the back of someone else's throat when you are already of a nauseous disposition. During one particular tantrum from the minor Daniel made the astute observation that he didn't know it was possible to cry in a French accent until he witnessed it today, I had to concur. My main gripe was that the parents made no attempt to quell their offspring's exuberance, at least when Daniel has one of his outbursts on public transport under my jurisdiction I have the decency to shake my keys in his face. 

We had two hours at our disposal once we arrived here in Paris so I suggested paying a visit to the Eiffel Tower, Daniel responded immediately with the suggestion that there is wifi in the hotel so he would just google it, and although he admitted that pixelated images didn't exactly offer the same impact, he quite rightly indicated that you can see an electricity pylon from the back bedroom of his house so he would just wait until he returned home to enjoy the experience. I hinted an undertone of sarcasm in his voice. 

Instead of venturing out alone into the downpour of rain in pursuit of an overrated landmark I decided to sit down in the shower and cradle my knees until I was hungry.

I'm sat in the hotel lobby having a nightcap whilst watching my subject talking with his hands into a journalist's dictaphone. Tonight's gig went most favourably, it was our least attended show of the tour yet the crowd consisted of more British ex patriots than we've had in attendance at the remainder of our previous events put together. I don't think the French people care too much about learning the English language. I actually get the impression they don't favour the British very much at all. I initially developed this inclination upon working out that zebra crossings don't serve a purpose here despite being in abundance. When I spotted that motorists didn't care to acknowledge the pseudo-pedestrian crossings, I devised that they were merely in place to lure British tourists who have been conditioned by their traditional function into traffic in order to reduce our numbers. 

Signing off...

Day Seven, Amsterdam (Netherlands)

Day: Seven

Date: 2nd November 2014

Destination: Amsterdam (Netherlands)

Subject: Daniel Sloss

I'm feeling positively charged already at the prospect of being in a city that allows you to be sovereign of your own consciousness without risk of incarceration. This in my opinion shouldn't be a luxury afforded to you in a very specific geographical location, but a worldwide liberty as an individual. How can society be considered fair and just when the mere exploration of your own mind could result in an elected body of people revoking your remaining liberties? I am very much looking forward to the impending respite from this oppression. 

As the train hurtles towards the promised land my subject is sat to my right carefully deconstructing a sandwich then reassembling it in a way that will best pacify his unnecessary desires, I'm urged to believe he didn't receive enough praise from his parents when passing a stool at the age of three and developed an anal fixation that he has carried into adult life. Or maybe he doesn't like tomatoes. 

Daniel is cheerful today because we are being accompanied by my fellow professionals; Professors McCabe, Haughton, Stanley and Silver. My men are joining me in the field to aid in my project. These gentlemen are also posing as UK circuit comedians so as not to arouse any suspicions, it will be a pleasant adjustment for Daniel to interact with some new companions as thus far he has only had myself for company and I spend most of my days staring at him and making notes. 

The clinical trials have been a great success. Professor Andrew Stanley has brought with him his signature device which has been informally dubbed "The Stanley Banter Laser Beam" it is a highly volatile technique and when focused on an individual he will emit an intense ray of sallies, quips and wisecracks for a prolonged period of time at the expense of his target. If you are in the vicinity of Professor Stanley all it requires is something as simple as the mispronounciation of a word, a clumsy fumble of motor skills or a slight violation of accepted social norms and this will trigger his verbal flourish of witticisms in your direction until someone else engages its focus. Now I myself, have have often been the recipient of such jocularity and have discovered that any attempt at defiance only acts to intensify his verbal destruction. I sometimes wish I had a kind of mirror that I could use to deflect his focus, I'd hold it out with both hands and angle it towards passing strangers in the street so they unwittingly received a torrent of jest on their commute. I like to daydream that his Laser is so powerful I could direct my hypothetical deflection shield towards the stratosphere on the off chance I hit a satellite then serve everyone on the O2 network with an forceful but friendly ribbing. The network would be inundated with complaints regarding the unannounced and unconsented upload of doggerel onto their handset, depleting their limited storage and data allowance. Much like the interference by U2 earlier this year. 

Based on that fanciful vision I must conclude that my mental imagery is reacting to the catalyst of sativa marijuana I recently inhaled. I don't usually take illegal substances before I go on stage but in this country that rule changes the line in the sand completely. 

Our performance in the Toomler comedy venue of Amsterdam was received with much satisfaction by the local crowd, although it was noticeable to the trained eye that we were under certain influence, it did not hinder our articulation when conveying our thoughts and ideas, if anything, I feel we drew creativity from our altered condition and improved some aspects of our delivery. The Dutch people seemed to enjoy that we had been indulging in their customs. 

As suspected, pre and post performance, our subject was a major beneficiary of the Stanley Banter Laser Beam therapy. My fellow professors and I did our best to guide the beam in Daniel's direction over the course of the day, it was quite the spectacle to observe him being reduced like this. With an ego such as the one in the case of Daniel Sloss it is essential treatment to receive such frequencies as the ones projected on him today, with the reoccurring adoration from his admirers and the champagne treatment he constantly receives from our hosts, he runs the risk of being consumed by his own hype. With frequent interventions such as this one from close associates his vanity is unlikely to graduate into full blown narcissism.

I was feeling peckish so treated myself to a small portion of mushrooms, this local delicacy was far from flavoursome, I have no idea why it's so popular over here. 

What is time!? 

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Day Six, Ghent (Belgium)

Day: Six

Date: 1st November 2014

Destination: Ghent (Belgium)

Subject: Daniel Sloss

This is the first morning of the experiment that we haven't been required to vacate the hotel and catch scheduled transportation to another destination. This is refreshingly pleasant for me because not only did I get some much needed rest to nurture the consequences of last night's Pinot Noir but it chiefly provided me with an opportunity to distance myself from my test subject for long enough to remember who I am. 

The trouble with the morning upheavals is that we encounter multiple transactions with personnel from various outposts of the service industry, who if less than adequate at their profession, sculpt Daniel's temperament into that of a cantankerous old man with children on his lawn. You'd think life had to throw you war time depression, the loss of your betrothed and a life time of shattered dreams, then finally having your bones claimed by arthritis, notifying you that your best years are over and you haven't won but you must keep playing until those same bones are claimed by the dirt, before you could be ground down to a state of such vehement bitterness. Wrong. Daniel, at the ripe age of twenty-four finds himself of this emotional constitution if you take fifteen minutes getting his latte order wrong while he's in a hurry at 8am. 

I was eating a platter of cold meats and cheese in the breakfast bar when Daniel spotted me, took a seat and ordered a drink which arrived promptly, I saw the ghost of what looked like a smile on his face before he said "last night was fun." Today is a good day. 

We've spent the afternoon scratching our heads. Although we were handed the opportunity to explore the beautiful city of Antwerp we rather maturely decided to invest the time granted to us by our prolonged residency in working together on a humorous manuscript. The time was wasted. We attempted to water some ideas in the hope that they'd bloom, but unfortunately the soil lacked some essential nutrients today so the ideas undeniably wilted. It would have been a fruitful harvest had we been willing to compromise our personal integrity, however, arranging words in such a mystifying way that they appear to have the structure of jokes but are inconsequentially void of any impact or reward is something that has already been done by Chuck Lorre and we didn't want to steal his formula.   

I have not let this erode my spirit as we are being chauffeured to a gig in the neighbouring town of Gent very shortly, which I am happy to anticipate. We have an exciting day on the horizon tomorrow as we will descend upon the liberal haven of Amsterdam where we will indeed be joined by some of my fellow professors who will accompany me in the clinical trials of my subject. I predict they will provoke some behavioural anomalies for me to report, of which I am very much looking forward to. Being mindful of our impending debauchery we have concurred that it would be best practice to simply enjoy the sights of the castle tonight then bed down early, free from intoxication. 

That didn't go to plan, it turns out when all of the key components of an exquisite evening are of the highest standard; great venue, expensive gin, nice weather, outstanding company... It really tests your resolve when it comes to bringing the day to a premature conclusion. In short, we wanted it to go on forever. Belgium, I salute you. 

Signing off,

Kai Humphries

Day Five, Antwerp (Belgium)

Day: Five

Date: 31st October 2014

Destination: Antwerp (Belgium)

Subject: Daniel Sloss

I have spent the last hour of this flight from Estonia to Latvia losing a sustained conflict over the arm rest with a robust gentleman to my right, seeing as I am in the middle seat and he has the entire cabin aisle to liberate his starboard limbs, I consider it my unlegislated right to occupy the small border separating our positions, however he has shown no respect for my territory and I've resigned to abandoning my position to avoid further contention. I think he might be Russian. To my left a small amount of saliva is working its way down the contour of my companion's chin as the sandman works his devilry.

We had a three hour layover in Riga before proceeding on to Antwerp, I attempted some small talk with my test subject and he rather discourteously placed his palm brashly on my face and said "Snooze" we didn't talk to one another for a further eight minutes. 

Having failed with base level communication I engaged Daniel with more meaningful discussion about our respective childhoods, this topic seemed to be of interest to Daniel, I suspect this is because it gave him an opportunity to talk about himself, something he highly enjoys doing regardless of tense. 

At a prominent point in the lengthy exchange I regaled a particularly harrowing anecdote from my secondary school years about the time I presented a Valentine's card to a female classmate named Catherine in attempt to win her favour. Not only did the girl rebuke me but she went on to use Tipp-Ex branded correction fluid to remove my prose from the inside pages of the card, once dry she then used her own gel pen to rewrite the card to a new recipient named Darren who went on to perform lewd acts on her behind the bicycle shed. Allegedly. When I looked up to see Daniel's response it wasn't one of somber empathy deemed appropriate for such a sorrowful tale. He was in fact wearing a mask of extreme merriment that radiated out of him with insuppressible glee, this expression held on his face like he was buffering until the comprehension of the story had fully loaded onto his system, like he was stuck on 99%. When the download was complete he exploded into a rapturous guffaw of laughter that raised mild curiosity from the entire contingent of the departure lounge. This response was a stark reminder that his relationship to me is merely that of a test subject, a case study if you will, and that I must not let an intense working relationship manifest into a bond with a person who would have such a malevolent disregard to the struggle of prepubescent teens. 

In a superb venue for performance forged from an abandoned factory with meticulous attention to detail we had the pleasure of entertaining a glorious collection of Belgian citizens in splendid atmospheric conditions for spoken comedy. Once I'd finished my repertoire and Daniel was on stage I heard him beckon me from the wings to join him, we went on to tell the crowd embarrassing stories about each other that would be otherwise inappropriate to reveal to strangers outside the platform of stand up comedy. Although the story of my boyhood woe never came up, I now understand why Daniel found it so hilarious. Because it didn't happen to him. As I conjured happiness from the onlookers at Daniel's expense in a trade for him doing the same to me, I considered that I could possibly subscribe to Daniel's particular brand of schadenfreude. 

What a night we had, drinking wine alfresco on the cobbled streets of Antwerp with my Belgian comrades; Tom, Arbi and Bo. Their humour and attitude to life really appeals to me, their placidity and laid back nature is as though life is moving in slow motion for them, giving them more time than the rest of us to measure their concise responses and actions. It's just the Belgian way. 

I returned to my quarters positively buoyant from my biological reaction to such high value alcohol and social stimulation, my apartment is a luxurious abode with a bath in the floor of the bedroom, a full mirrored wall and remote operated blinds that can conceal the vista of the city and plunge the room into intimacy at the push of a button. It is reminiscent of a boudoir inhabited by Seth Macfarlane's animated creation Glen Quagmire, for want of a literary reference. At risk of coming across crass, I can't help but imagine what my girlfriend's posterior would look like with the visual enhancement of the mirrored wall, but I refuse to act on my mental imagery because nothing adds tragedy to self gratification like your own reflection. The yearning for my significant other in situations like this exhibits the sacrifices I've made to conduct this study. 

Signing off,

Kai Humphries

Friday, 31 October 2014

Day Four, Tallinn (Estonia)

Day: Four

Date: 30th October 2014

Destination: Tallinn (Estonia)

Subject: Daniel Sloss

We are taxiing the runway in Vilnius bound for Estonia, already my subject's consciousness has lapsed and the vehicle of flesh and bones he uses to express himself in the physical realm has been left unattended while his mind meanders through a distant dreamland. It must take a lot of work for Daniel to keep his face together in his waking hours because it's natural fall is that of a 'Chronic' as described by Ken Kasey in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. If I didn't know the man already and this was my first impression of him I'd make the fair assumption that he is paralysed from the neck up. 

As the cabin readies for take off, I have taken it upon myself, rather mischievously, to alter my subject's surroundings while he is unaware. I have lowered his tray table, elevated his arm rest, reclined his seat, unclipped his seatbelt and closed his window blind, the stewardess is heading methodically in our direction closing the overhead storage bins and checking the conformity of her temporary hostages. I am fighting a wry smile in anticipation of the impending confrontation. 

The experiment was a huge success, I imagine if my subject was attached to an ECG monitor the display would be a colourful array of activity, it was magnificent to witness the way his loose face tightened instantaneously as his skin vacuum sealed to his face meat when the hostile interference of our dictator caused him to rapidly regain operation. His eyes widened, awake but not yet sentient, I saw anger and confusion flash through him from opposing directions and clash to create an emotion yet to be named by the English language. It was a joy to behold.

Daniel is asleep. 

We have spent the afternoon with one of my field agents, Louis Zezeran, a cheerful Australian gentleman who has infectious optimism and ambition in abundance, an asset to Estonia's entertainment industry. Louis  has spearheaded this particular mission and managed to sell upwards of 450 tickets for tonight's show in Tallinn. Just to put that into perspective I must point out that Estonia has a population of 1.3 million residents, so by that ratio it is the statistical equivalent of filling 23'000 seats in a British arena, a feat that the football club Crystal Palace often fail to achieve. Despite bearing the weight of such an operation Louis still took the time out to casually show us around the aesthetically charming sights of Tallinn's old town. Then Daniel had a nap. 

The adrenalin and alcohol have entered my subject's blood stream in perfect measure this evening, I of course have maintained the same level of consumption in order to conclusively monitor results, and I must say, this is starting to feel a lot less like work. My subject and I experienced one shift in emotion tonight when we entered the realm of bemusement on discovering the Estonian people who we had fallen in love with are so casually racist (amongst other unnecessary ist's and ic's) that it almost surpasses offensive and becomes comical. It was brought to my attention that there is a popular TV show in which white Estonian public figures 'black up' for the purpose of entertainment. I was also informed by a group of lovely young gentleman that during the live radio coverage of the Eurovision Song Contest they partake in a drinking game in which they consume a small vessel of vodka every time the broadcaster uses derogatory words beginning with N or F to denote the colour or sexual orientation of the show's competitors. Allegedly this activity can result in you being rather intoxicated by the end of the radio transmission. Daniel and I quite firmly stated our disagreement with this cultural behaviour and questioned the authenticity of the facts we were receiving but the gentlemen insisted their information was not fictitious and despite being immersed in this environment they appeared to share our bewilderment.

Signing off,

Kai Humphries