Last weekend was wierd. My friend Monkey was back from Italy for a week, so I toddled off to St Albans for a visit to see him, his new girlfriend and to generally reaquaint myself with the town where I had spent so many years of my life. It was strange coming to St Albans as a visitor, staying in a hotel etc.

The days activities were of course a success, traipsing from pub to pub, avoiding popular locations and going for atmosphere, talking about art (contemporary art: overly maligned or random mess), creativity (apparently living and working as an artist in Italy works better because there is no financial safety net) and whether or not Tony Blair was spawn of Satan (the jury is still out on that one). The conversation was made somewhat more cumbersome as Monkey’s Italian significant other spoke only broken English and I only speak menu Italian (Due saltimbocas e una bottiglia del chianti per favore).

But the wierd part was the overwhelming nostalgia. Memories, both pleasant and unpleasant, sometimes tinted rose, overlaid with actually seeing the place ‘in the flesh’ was certainly an overwhelming experience. I still like St Albans, but now it’s probably more in an intellectual sense. I doubt I’d ever want to live there again.

I had an idea the other day but I don’t seem to be getting many positive reactions to it. My plan is this: In four years time campaign for a ‘smart bomb’ to be the next US president.

Okay, so they’re not as smart as they claim to be, have no heart or emotions, kill people and miss their targets substantially, but as far as I can tell, that just makes them Republicans.

I was seated next to a group of Americans in the cafe this morning. Here is what I overheard: “These French people listening to us must be be like us listening to Mexicans talk.”
Naturally this amused me….

Now that the Travelogue has been completely transferred from it’s previous home at Endless Realms, it’s time for a new format. Inspired by the Live Journal of Jules, and not a small amount of badgering, it’s time to make this journal into more of a… well a journal, dammit!

And so, as opportunity, inspiration and time permit I shall endeavour to update this journal as best I can.

Perhaps there is something prophetic about this column. I arrived in Rosendaal from Brussels to change trains. Upon arrival I find that the station is nearly empty as there have been no other incoming trains. They have all been delayed due to… suicide.

The benefit of this was that outgoing trains were still running so I had the train to myself for my ongoing journey. The stories the driver told me were most enlightening and, in some cases, downright scary. I now know which stretches of track to avoid during thunderstorms and which to avoid under any circumstances due to failing safety equipment. I could tell you which ones… for a small bribe.

Once again I was forced to Brussels for a meeting. Still unimpressed with the city, my Belgian colleagues attempt to coerce me in the afternoon with free alcoholic beverages. I sense an evil conspiracy to bribe me with alcohol for the purposes of a favourable review of their city. Do these people believe I’m some sort of semi-corrupt alcoholic?
.
.
.
Brussels, it could be worse.

One excuse for delays I have heard a little too frequently is suicide. So far in my life, two people have thrown themselves in front of my train, never once thinking of the consequences that my delay may have. Or the trauma that the poor driver must suffer. Or the cleaning crews that have to mop up afterwards.
You can always tell when these events happen while you are waiting at a station for a train, they are announced as “unfortunate incidents” when a train is delayed.

On the 2nd of July, I wrote of the sleepy village or Markyate, where I currently live. One aspect of the house I live in which I neglected to mention at the time is that any loudspeakers in the study pick up radio. Not radio stations, but taxi radios, fire engines and police radio, whenever one of their vehicles drives past.

How is this relevant in any way? Allow me to explain. I also live right next door to a pub. Minutes ago, this pub and surrounded by four police cars and a Dog Response Unit (Are you a dog? Woof! That’s the correct response.). According to the policemen and the radio which I accidently overheard via my speakers I discovered that sleepy little Markyate, middle class haven that is is, was just subjected to a major drugs bust. The police have just dragged away three people, including the son of the proprietor of the pub, for posession and distribution of class A drugs.
The excitement just never stops.

One of the most common objections I hear about France in general is that it is common for women not to shave their armpits. On considering this I decided it was time for this survey.

Paris has been blessed with lovely weather for the last few weeks, so the time was ripe for me to conduct this survey. The Parisiennes kindly obliged me in this endeavour by wearing halter tops, bikini tops and other skimpy items of clothing that allowed me to surrepticiously inspect their armpits.

The Subjects

For this survey the armpits of women aged between about 15 and 50 were inspected. The total sample size was in the region of 25 subjects. Naturally only visible armpits were inspected, no clothes were ripped off and no Parisiennes were harmed in this experiment.

The Results

From the sample size of 25, only two women had not shaved their armpits recently. On one of these two the underarm hair was not as much of a detractor as the hair on the face. Mustaches are just nasty.

Conclusions

From the results of the survey, it can be concluded that 92% of Parisiennes who show their armpits in warm weather have also shaved them. So, if you want to avoid that underarm jungle, look before you touch.