Category Archives: Uncategorized

Are you experienced?

“Why don’t you like the UK?” I hadn’t expected the question and, to be honest, didn’t have much of an answer. I don’t dislike the UK, I don’t really think about it all that much. I just don’t want to … Continue reading

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Carthage Stalled

“Delenda est Carthago”                                                      Cato the Elder Forgive me, reader, for I have sinned. It … Continue reading

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Back in the USSR

Stalin shouted over to me. He’d seen my pipe and wanted to compare. I wandered over. Stalin liked mine. He asked me what make it was. I told him it was from Ireland and asked if he wanted some tobacco. I had some good stuff. Lenin laughed and told Stalin he was cheeky. Stalin didn’t care. He stuffed tobacco in his pipe like a starving man would bread. He asked me for a light, but my lighter wouldn’t work. I said I was sorry and left him there, with a pipe full of fresh tobacco and nothing to light it with. Continue reading

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Schroedinger’s Cat

Southeast Asia has been reinventing itself in the reflection of tourists’ expectations for a long time now. Similarly, tourists project a reality onto Southeast Asia – and Vietnam specifically – that has never really existed. This is where they come to lose themselves, get their hair braided, buy long baggy clothes, discuss the natural simplicity of the people and lay the groundwork for the hundred anecdotes they’ll tell over a hundred dinner parties. Continue reading

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Thrills, spills and chills

I was on a beach in Quang Tri province, again, in the centre of Vietnam. It was incredibly hot. The kind of heat that causes the sand on the beach we were stood on to burn your skin. Anyway, there I was, staring at a rusted piece of American Ordinance, while the bomb expert was explaining its blast capability, (one hundred and fifty metres) and how, due to its age, how incredibly unstable it was. I took pictures. Continue reading

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Light in a Dark Place

It’s 5.30pm on Wednesday and the Children’s Cancer Ward at Cancer Hospital is busy. Families make temporary camps down the hallways, taking turns to rest on the mats they have brought with them. Rooms designed for four, strain to accommodate numbers of up to forty, as everyone makes themselves as comfortable as they can to best get through another day in the ward. Continue reading

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Read All About It

The point I’m trying to make is about experience. If yours won’t stand up to scrutiny, then it’s probably time you changed it. For that reason , and no other, I’ve started work as a stringer for one of the English language dailies here. I’m going to talk about expectations in a bit, but to avoid creating any false expectation of my work as a writer here, let me state; I have no intention of holding Bill Hayton’s ideas up to too rigorous an examination, neither do I want to expose or lift the lid on anything. Similarly, I have no ambition to be a journalist. Continue reading

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Opposites Attract

What happened here was essentially rape on a national scale. American impotence became American rage and, ultimately, American viciousness. You’d think the bitterness scars such as that would leave would all but define a national consciousness; would leave it as warped and embittered as its history effortlessly justifies, but you’d be wrong. Continue reading

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Continuity Error

In any event, the night and a cheap bottle of cognac wore on, with Oleg raising chipped tea cup after tea cup in any number and variety of toasts as the dim outline of the steppe rumbled past outside. I remember trying to take stock of the situation, to step outside of my circumstances and somehow apply a context to it all. However, Oleg’s endless toasts and his firm pronouncements on the clear connection between a man’s alcohol intake and his ability to satisfy a woman – nods were made in the direction of the harassed Uzbek woman here – proved too great a distraction, and it was soon enough to sit back, relax and listen to Oleg’s cheerful boasts as the sun slowly climbed up over the steppe. Continue reading

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The Whole Wide Worlds

You see, and this is really where I’m going here; taking a look at the world can be tough. It’s hard to make yourself an alien. We’re human beings. We’re herd animals and, without a herd of your own, life can feel pretty vulnerable. I think it’s this that sort of underpins both my understanding, mistrust and occasional revulsion at any Ex Pat Community. Continue reading

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