Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Weekend hijinks

So this was the weekend of the Scottish Open Volleyball Tournament in Perth. It's always just referred to as Perth by those in the know. Which excludes me, obviously. Perth has indoor and outdoor volleyball on offer, but you have to be shit hot to be "invited" to play indoors in the "Division of Honour". If you knew who I knew playing indoors, you would realise that there was very little honour about.

So little ol' righteous me was relegated outside, which I hate. Outdoor play is always billed as being "fun!" and "just a muck about". Er, no, -- it's just sloppy and lazy. There's nothing fun about a volleyball dropping because people's defensive skills have evaporated. And I am not going to laugh after that 19th dropped ball, two inches in front of you. I am a true comedy connoisseur and three is the number of humour and therefore, my limit. Yes, yes, yes, I know that you had 10 drinks the night before, barely able to make it on to the court that morning. I was with you, had 8 drinks to your 10 (I'm a lightweight) and am still moving my ass like a crazy woman. And I'm old enough to be your mother! (Okay, only if it was a very, very, very special virgin conception, but the point is I'm old and you're not!)

We just had the six needed to play by recruiting a friend of one of the team-mates who hadn't played in two years. She promptly tore a ligament when went for a short ball and slid. Poor thing... thank God she gave me her money before she injured herself though. So we were down to four players, as her friend and our team-mate who gave her a lift had to go back as well. And there was my situation: outdoor volleyball, camping in the cold, not even able to play decent volleyball or volleyball at all, watching proper volleyball in the Division of Integrity with loads of envy and disgust. What's a girl to do, other than drink her 11 pear ciders that she bought with her? A true Scottish weekend.

PS -- I did twitter about it. Why don't you read it?

Friday, May 25, 2007

Little joys

I've just discovered twitter, which some of you more technically
minded peeps might have already known of. Okay, think of this blog -
here for you to get your fill of what's going on - but condensed to
140 characters. Intrigued? You can get these messages sent to your
mobile which may not be a good thing if you ask my friend Cris, my
first 'follower' (as twitter calls them). But then you get these
so-called mini-blogs in real time with the mobile service. Or just get
it via email. But it's all free. If you got an email invite, please
sign up and give it a chance. And if you didn't get an invite, feel
free to send me a disgruntled email, questioning the level of our

Don't forget about the blog, people -- britishisleslife.blogspot.com

It's all for you... it's all... for... you...

Monday, May 21, 2007

A travelling philosophy

We leave Amsterdam this afternoon. it is always nice to get back to your own bed, but I will miss this city and I'm already making plans of what to do on my next break here.

Don't ask me what I did here -- not because I'd be embarrassed to tell you. So no "coffeeshops", prostitutes, sex shops, porn shops or theatres, smart drug shops or sex museums (yeh, there's a lot of that crap here). Don't ask me what I did because, frankly, I did bugger all. Okay, went to the Van Gogh museum, albeit a bit hesitantly. Walked by the Anne Frank house. Think I saw the royal residence. Wanted to ride a canal boat, but couldn't be bothered to wait for it.

I know that sounds really sad -- I, the tragic hero in some Greek myth, thwarted by the gods -- but it wasn't like that at all. I didn't really care if I did any of those touristy things and, in fact, I was pleased that I hadn't done some. I think, after visiting my third European capital city (first Rome, then Paris, and now Amsterdam), I've developed some philosophy about travel and I'm in favour a much more authentic experience.

So, on our trip here we went to a market, window shopping, had lots of nice snacks and dinners (and not so nice), played pool in a little bar, went to a department store and contemplated buying some sheets, had a fantastic Ethopian meal, saw a comedy show... these are things that are, in my life anyway, unremarkable. Unremarkable, yet authentic. These are activities that many Amsterdammers would do as they went about their daily life -- I would do these things in Edinburgh. But the poignancy that these activities take on, the specialness, the schwarmerei, in a way, makes a person appreciate a city for what it really is. And what have I seen? Beautiful architecture, obnoxious tourists, mad cyclists, efficient trams, slums, bright and tatty markets, houseboats in which people make their life in the smallest of spaces, bicycles with buggies attached for children, racial divisions, clean street and dirty, Dutch fast food shops... a slice of life.

The text on my blog homepage, save my own writing, has been transformed into Dutch. Unfortunately, it won't let me voorbeeld, preview, my entry, so bericht publiceren -- I'm publishing now, mistakes and all.

Sunday, May 20, 2007


I'm writing you from my hotel's wi-fi. Thankfully, we were not so stupid in our hotel choice, despite being a very last minute option. It is on the outskirts of all the debauchery, very peaceful and quiet on the banks of the Amstel river. It's not too long of a walk to places and really lovely. The huge windows of our face out onto a tree-lined canal that flow into the river in a way that just screams, "I am Amsterdam and don't you think I'm just charming!"

I'm finding Amsterdam better than I thought it would be. I really loved Rome but the difference is that I could see myself living here in Amsterdam. It's got all the characteristics of my childhood home, Okinawa -- safety, friendliness, peacefulness -- but in a quirky, urban setting. True, the bits near the central and the Red Light district are tatty (actually, the phrase "dirty as fuck" would be more appropriate), but the further out you move, the nicer it gets.

So what have we done here? Surprisingly few touristy things. The Van Gogh museum was a revelation, but packed. In my heart I knew it would be this way, but Boy was really excited about it, so I went. I love art, desperately, in fact. But being sardined among ill-mannered people, I felt the despair of a herded cow set for a unknown fate (can I be both a sardine and cattle?). This is why we resisted the Mona Lisa on our Paris trip. But I guess you can't miss all of the tourist stuff.

I'm still waiting on getting some authentic Dutch food, like raw herring or smoked eel. Maybe today...

Friday, May 18, 2007

Recent amusings

Yesterday, I went to my volleyball club's AGM -- the first one they've
had in nearly 6 years. There were 13 points on the agenda, most of
them having numerous subpoints and the subpoints having subpoints. Do
you think we got through it all in two and a half (!) hours? In the
end, I walked out because the whole thing was frankly ridiculous.

One of the more ridiculous bits was the treasurer's part. He reported
that we had a £3000 shortfall. His solution to making up the money:
to ask us to continue paying dues, even when the season and training
was over.

However, what should have really been raised was this: why was there
such a financial discrepancy? Most obviously, it was that people were
not being responsible enough to pay their £25 a month on time. Less
obviously, but, to me, more of a causation, is the attitude and
culture of the club oligarchs that values quantity (the biggest mass
of people possible) over quality (nurturing and retaining the existing
players). But really, it came down to an admission by the treasurer:
he didn't like to ask people for the money. So really, the club had a
£3000 debt because he was embarrassed to ask people to pony up? But
he sure as hell wasn't embarrassed to ask me and all the other mugs
paying their fees pay more money.

Let's see: inequality (my big pet peeve) + money = the appearance of
ghetto Autumn. This side of Autumn doesn't usually show herself to
these nice little British people, but it was just so absurd that she
wouldn't stay down. I mean, really people, it's fairly simple: you
don't pay, you don't play. See, Johnny Cochrane isn't the only one
who can come up with the rhymes.

Monday, May 14, 2007

A decree of 40 days mourning

In my devastated state I cannot even wait to make it home to write this: my father, my dear, dear father, has sold my beloved softball glove. My own beautiful golden brown glove - cast away like some cheap tat. It did not deserve its fate, sold on some paltry 50-cent table of a yard sale, no doubt. I'm the one who wore it in by putting it under my pillow at night so it would cradle caught balls just so. I chewed on the leather straps just as some kid does today, oblivious to the former glory we shared. Would that little bugger who owns it now even care? I'm truly grieving - does anyone care? Goodbye esteemed glove - I very much loved you.

Friday, May 11, 2007

The Stupids

I have a children's book called The Stupids Die. It's about a family of very dense people. Well, we here at Team CG, we are the Stupids.

We decided we would to take our long dreamed-of city trip to Barcelona. We have the perfect time, an upcoming three-day weekend. We found the perfect trip -- price perfect, departure time perfect. And we sat on it. Didn't book it. And guess what? The price doubled. Isn't that amazing and strange? Well, after my tantrum, the Stupids decided on going to Amsterdam. Well, we couldn't have been that stupid because we immediately booked the flight. However, we did wait two days before looking for accommodation.

Finally we started to look for a hotel. The past two days has been spent looking, not finding a thing. It seems like an exaggeration to say that there was nothing available, but it there wasn't. And actually, we weren't far wrong. On the weekend of our visit, I learned that not only is Amsterdam hosting a literary festival, it is also a national Dutch holiday. If we were going to find a hotel, it would be requiring a minimum 4-night booking. Remember I mentioned it was only a 3-day weekend booked? Well, at least we'll enjoy Amsterdam. It shouldn't be too hard for such stupid people.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

the hassle of an easy life

my lovely new mobile allows me to email, thus allowing me to blog and
be able to leave a message for you whilst strolling down our fair
princes street. actually, classifying my speed, while ridiculously
trying to squeeze a trip to the bus office to get a new card before my
eye exam, as a stroll is very generous. and i've got no capital
letters. don't no why and i can't change it. convenience, a wonderful

PS -- You're now reading entry number 200. Congratulations for sticking it out with me. (This bit was added later in a wi-fi cafe.)

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Which the what?

The Scottish don't say the phrase "all the way". As in, "Go all the way around the block to get to the park." And they don't have the measuring unit of a block either, but that's not why I've assembled you. It's about "all the way". What they say instead is "right the way".

Every time I hear it, it makes me smile at it's silliness: "Go right the way around." It sounds a bit like a spoonerism. It sounds quaint. It sounds... foreign. But I still say it.