Sunday, October 21, 2007

Why the British Empire never really happened.



I can't believe it. The whole last week has been a nightmare of organisation. It's been stress, stress, stress, aside from the 2 wedding days in Cuiaba and Bath which were fantastic. But anyway I'd kept telling myself during those dark hours trying to get the right songs on my ipod that once I got on the plane everything would be ok. Not that this seemed very likely when I arrived at Heathrow yesterday suffering from a major hangover and dicovered that Terminal 4 had been closed due to a broken luggage belt. How... why.... what.... who....!!!!!! A broken luggage belt!!!!!! It was probably at around this time, as I stood amongst hundreads of rather damp fellow travellers outside the terminal, that it occured to me that the British Empire can never really have happened. Just like the moon landings, the death of Elvis and England winning the Ashes in 2005 the whole thing was faked. There's no way this country could have conquered and then administered 25% of the planet. No I refuse to believe it is possible. And this thought has only been strengthened today when I arrived in Beijing (the flight did eventually take off) only to find that my luggage was still somewhere in London (where it will probably be blown up by an over enthusiastic bomb disposal man when he finds all the batteries, alarm clocks and other devices stuffed inside).

So I'm in Beijing with a couple of winter coats (it was 32 degrees centigrade today), 3 cameras (but no batteries) and an order of service from Toby and Helen's wedding (I'll not be singing Jerusalem I'm afraid). I can't smell good, although hopefully I smell better than Beijing itself, I could do with a shave and all I have from BA is a piece of paper with a reference and two phone numbers both of which turned out to be for little old ladies with no history of employment for "The World's Favourite Airline" or indeed anyone else.

So whilst I wait in hope for my faith in Imperial Britain to be restored I've seen some more of Beijing. It's been a little strange even though I avoided the inevitable disastorous and just plain wrong taxi ride from the airport by hiring an executive car and driver (highly recommended if only to see how driving gloves should be worn). During my subsequent wanderings a woman invited me into her shop for a shave which turned out to be a haircut which then looked like it might be a massage. On declining her offer I was then subjected to a barrage of rather heavy blows. I'm not sure what signals I must be given off in my dischevelled state. Later I met a Brazilian saxophonist who invited to come see his jazz act at Suzy Wongs. But due to exhaustion I'm here, not there and will soon be trying the air conditioning and taking advantage of other hotel comforts before a month of camping in Mongolia, Siberia and Kazakhstan. Assuming Britannia finally comes through for me that is....
This was originally written on 16 July 2007. It is from my summer trip from Beijing to Birmingham.

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