The Melbourne Coffee Expedition.

Trying to find a good coffee in Melbourne is like starting a small conflict in the Middle East; it never bloody ends. Considering all of the hype and general wank levels that abound with what should be a quite simple exercise, you would think that getting a good coffee in Melbourne would be a simple affair. I had a simple affair once; it lasted a single night.

I’m sure that anyone reading this now who lives in Melbourne is immediately thinking to themselves, ‘What is he talking about? I know a really great place to get coffee where they extract the coffee essence directly from the foreskin of the original grower from some third-world shithole in Africa, and then their baristas infuse this with the sweat of their art-history professor’s armpit.’

Just shut up, you imbeciles. The coffee you think is great is just dishwater. There is no good coffee in Melbourne, or the whole of Australia for that matter. None, nada, niente. Continue reading “The Melbourne Coffee Expedition.”

A sight to make all river-runners quake in fear.

The title of this post does not refer to an empty crate of beer two days into a week long expedition trip. This is a video of a whirlpool on a Latvian river a couple of years ago. Whirlpools happen when two conflicting currents  create a funnel effect. Anything taken into a whirlpool will be sucked down to the bottom and out along the floor of the river. So if it’s a deep river and you’re in a kayak, down you go.

Which is exactly what happened to a kayaker on the White Nile when I was working there. It was a big water day, three gates, and just before the lunch spot we had to navigate through a section of tiny islands. There were no rapids to speak of, just moving currents. But they were ferociously strong and very deceptive. What appeared to be a ripple on the water sucked the entire back end of my raft down. I held on by immediately threading my arm through the outside line and hanging on for dear life. The kayaker wasn’t so lucky. All he could do was ditch his paddle and wrap his arms in a bear-hug around his boat, his head resting on the front deck, all the while praying that his skirt wouldn’t pop. He spent around a minute underwater in his boat the whole time, which as we know has a fair bit of buoyancy.

Anyway, here’s the Latvian video. It gets interesting after the 4 minute mark.

A blast from the past.

The sequel to ‘Pushing Rubber Downhill’ is going well. I cranked out almost 5000 words in the last three days, and most of them are keepers. The book is going to be an amalgamation of a few of my Italian rafting seasons in the early part of the 2000’s, so it won’t be a true linear storyline of real life events. More like an interpretation.

However, I have struck upon a pot of gold, a true blast from the past. Back in 2003 when I made the decision to stay in Italy full-time, my first winter was a little bereft of work. To whit, I didn’t have any. I sat in a cold mountain cottage with my Italian girlfriend at the time and I did the only thing I could do – I wrote.

I wrote over 170 pages of material before I finally ran out of steam, and all of it was a dramatization of the events at the rafting base the previous season. The events were fresh in my mind and I got them down.

And I found that old manuscript, and it’s dynamite.

Don’t get me wrong; as far as writing ability goes a good deal of it is bad and some of it is downright awful. But what’s left is very good indeed. I reread it last night and I had tears of laughter on numerous occasions. That’s got to be a good sign if I was the one who wrote it in the first place.

But the real dynamite is the sequence of events. It goes down into great detail of the petty insecurities, the dramatic jealousies, the feuds, the love affairs, and the bitter confrontations. And that’s just in the guide’s house.

There was no way that I could recollect events to this level of detail, it’s just too long ago. The events in ‘Pushing Rubber Downhill’ were more general in scope apart from a few key scenes, and these had been such a big deal that they were literally imprinted on my brain. But the stuff I have now in my hands from over 12 years ago just jumps out of the page.

The challenge will be to incorporate it with what I have already, as well as to keep the freshness of events for the rest of the season. For the manuscript finishes at a point in the season when things are just getting going. I got to the end of it last night and I literally cursed aloud at myself. Why the hell hadn’t I gone on with this all those years ago? It’s frustrating, but it’s a good challenge. And I think it’s going to make a great book.

“Do you believe in spiritualism?”

Somebody the other day asked me if I believe in spiritualism. I suppose it’s because I worked for that meditation guru all those years ago that I get asked this stuff. So for the record I want to put this one out there.

I don’t believe in spiritualism, I don’t even know what the hell it means.

Here’s the thing; you can believe in as much crap as you want. You can believe that homeopathy is real medicine, and that crystals will heal your energy chakra, and a whole bunch of other stuff. But what only counts is where you are in the scheme of life. And one thing that I’ve noticed over the years is that the more someone believes in this sort of stuff, the less successful they are in the game of life.

Your personal success in is inverse proportion to how much kooky stuff you believe in.

Continue reading ““Do you believe in spiritualism?””

Things don’t have to work out for you.

A reader sent me a link yesterday to a youtube review that a guy at everything geekdom did of ‘Pushing Rubber Downhill’:

It’s always a thrill to hear what a reader thinks of my book but it’s even better when the person really gets it. Two things struck me while listening to the review. The first is that the reviewer mentions the word, ‘growth’ a number of times. It’s another way of saying ‘change’ which is the word I use to describe the same thing, but I think that I like growth even better. And if you’re not growing then you’re decaying. Continue reading “Things don’t have to work out for you.”