Dodged a Bullet

This is another tale from “The Hovel”.

One of my housemates and I were out at the pub. The pub was ok. Very Irish, but not in the joyful Celtic way Irish pubs often are. This place was dark, sullen and always full of grumbling bearded barflies. It’s charm came from a lot of the younger clientele. Often, especially on Mondays the place was full of alternative 20 somethings who were happy to have a conversation and listen to the local bands that were playing.

We got pretty hammered that night. Talked to some friends for a while, but by midnight we were ready to drag ourselves home.

Just as we were leaving we were waylayed by a pair of young women. One was very attractive with beautiful long hair, the other was not.

They started talking to us. They started drinking with us. Me and my housemate were both attempting to subtly (I don’t remeber if we really were that subtle) hit on the attractive girl. Her friend didn’t seem to mind, she probably sees it a lot. She was nice to talk to, but being drunk I think both my housemate and I weren’t getting our minds out of the gutter any time soon. They both ended up back at our house.

Somehow on the way we had collected their strange friend. Some hippy guy from alice springs who’s name escapes me. So there we were, the five of us sitting on our couch watching Little Brittan. I look over and my housemate is making out with the attractive girl. Sigh, I was a bit disappointed inside.

I went to bed.

I was woken up an hour later by my housemate asking if he could “borrow” a condom. I told him he could have one, I wouldn’t want it back.

The next day I got up and made myself breakfast, it seemed like everyone had gone. I walked into the loungeroom to eat my cerial on the couch.

My housemate was lying naked face down on the middle of the loungroom, moaning softly. I went over proded him a bit. He rolled over.

In his nose was stuffed blood encrusted tissues. He had dried blood around his mouth too. “What the fuck happened?” I asked him. He acquiesced.

Things were going well with the girl, obviously. They had gone into his room and started foreplay. He didn’t have an condoms so he went and woke me up. They started having sex. She was on top, upright, facing forward and he was lying down. She seemed like she was having a good time, he didn;t feel like he was contributing much.

He went to sit up and say “Hey lets change position”, but only go as far as “hey lets ch”

Mid sentance she inturupted with “Shut up!”

Then she punched him in the face.

His nose started bleeding and he started thrashing around. She was still on top. As he was thrashing the long supporting strut holding the slats on his bed cracked in half. The matress slid diagonally off the frame and hafl onto the floor. The angled matress meant she had fallen of him. He jumped up and ran out into the longeroom where he attempted to staunch the bleeding from his broken nose. He sat down on the floor.

No sound for a while. Then footsteps. She opened the front door and left without a word.

I was laughing at his story, he didn’t think it was so funny. I went into his room, the bed was indeed broken and the matress now lying in the middle of the room with a little bit of blood on the sheets.

We saw her two months later in the local supermarket but didn’t attempt to talk to her. She didn’t seem quite so attractive this time.


Healthy Eating

I once ate bacon and eggs twice a day for two months. I’m pretty good at making bacon and eggs.

I hardly ever eat bacon and eggs now.

For maybe two months I ate a 180g packet of jelly babies every day.

I hardly ever eat jelly babies now.

I could go on. I seem to eat a single type of food excessively for an extended peiod of time and then never eat it again.

My darkest food moment would be around the time my housemates and I made a friend who was a manager at our local Macdonalds. As you can imagine we ate a lot of free MacDonald’s. However that isn’t the shameful part.

One morning after a particularity mind shattering house party we decided to get some breakfast. So we wandered down to the shops. At this hour of the morning there was only fast food outlets open. I don’t know who made the decision but somebody wanted KFC. So we went and bought a huge bucket of crispy strips. There were maybe 50 strips of greasy chicken in that bucket.

But it doesn’t end there. Our friend walks into his MacDonald’s and comes out with a whole box of hotcakes and syrup. We go back home.

So there we are sitting in our delapidated backyard with the aftermath of the previous night all around us.

We start eating KFC crispy strips, wraped in Macdonalds hotckakes, dipped in syrup.

Not my finest moment.

Here is my health tip: don’t do anything mentioned in this post.

Aside: I also attribute my poor eating habits around that time to having only male housemates. Healthy tip number two: live with at least one female.


The Acid Bath

At one point in my life I was living in a house that we had been know to refer to as “The Hovel”. With a fairly self explanatory title, The Hovel was what you would expect. A run down early 70’s dilapidated structure that we did nothing to improve. True to early 70’s decor we had quite shaggy carpet. The floor in my room was the shaggiest. Now I’m not proud to say this but somehow we were probably the only house ever to have shag carpet and no vacuum cleaner.

Needless to say I’m sure there was a variety of dark horrible organisms thriving in our shag ecosystem. I would have been happy to never encounter anything that evolved enough to leave the carpet. Unfortunately I didn’t get a choice.

I awoke one morning to find a strange rash on my hand. I didn’t think much of it, dermatitis maybe.

A week later and the rash was on my arms, legs, hands, and feet. It was slowly making its way towards my torso from the edge of my limbs. I was fairly alarmed.

I went to the doctor. By now the rash was itchy and comprised mainly of small red and white bumps. The doctor told me it was probably fleas in my carpet biting me at night. So I flea bombed our whole house.

It wasn’t fleas. The rash was now coming alarmingly close to my thighs.

I went back to the doctor. He suggested a dermatitis cream. It didn’t work. I went to a different doctor for a second opinion this time. He informed me it was a parasitic bacteria like life form that was eating dead skin and living on me.

I had been invaded by parasites. He asked if I had long haired carpet. Apparently this is commonish in people who don’t clean their shag carpet regularly enough. He prescribed me a special cream. When I gave the prescription to the pharmacist he read the paper then looked at me and smirked slightly. Yes I have a horrible parasite, please give me the damn cream so I can get rid of it.

Now I’m at home. Everything is ready for me to finally rid myself of these stowaways.

I’m sitting naked on a towel on our couch. My two housemates are sitting over on the other couch high as kites. We’re all watching Star Wars Episode 2. It’s not very good.

I pick up the cream from the coffee table and read it. Apply to affected area. Fair enough. I apply it to the effected area in liberal amounts. I slather it all over my arms and my legs. I even decide its a good idea to put some on my groin should there be a few of the bastards attempting to colonize my manhood.

I sit there for 5-10 minutes letting it soak in.

I start screaming.

and screaming, and screaming.

This is the worst pain I have ever felt to in my life to date. I had been dipped in an acid bath. I was incapable of doing anything but scream.

My housemates were beside themselves. Why the fuck did he just start screaming? The movie isn’t that bad is it? (They didn’t say anything, this is just what I imagine they were thinking.) Eventually one of them grabs the bottle of cream and reads it. Apply to affected area. Fair enough. He turns it round.

WARNING: Test before use. Apply to a small patch of skin. If burning ensues dilute one part cream by ten parts water. Test again. Repeat as necessary. Apply conservatively.

I’m still screaming. My housemate picks me up and drags me to the shower. My screams are wearing but still coming. He puts me in the shower and turns it on. While i am huddled on the floor of the shower unable to do anything but babble, scream, and shout he calls the poisons hotline on the bottle.

“Hello, my friend has rubbed this stuff all over him, now he’s screaming”

“Is there any broken skin? Has he ingested any?”

“No it doesn’t look like it…. it’s all over his balls though…”

The poisons lady starts laughing “He’ll be fine give it ten more minutes and it’ll die down”.

I had now stopped screaming. The pain had receded into being an ache in each of my limbs. I was now unable to move. My nerves were shot I couldn’t feel or move much at all. My housemate picked me back up and took me back to the couch. He lay me on the towel, still naked. They both went back to getting high. We all continued to watch Star Wars.

I’m still paralyzed when ten minutes later 4 friends come in the front door with a case of beer. We had all forgotten we were hosting some pre-drinks before going out that night. They all stared at me.

“I’d put some clothes on but unfortunately I am currently paralyzed”


Thailand, Part 2: Chang Mai, Feral Dogs, and Bar Fights

We had wanted to do something better than just sitting around cheap bars and partying with other tourists (which, how it turns out is exactly what we ended up doing) so we walked into a Thai travel agent and booked a jungle trek through an area of wilderness up by the Burmese border. The closest town/city/somewhere in-between to that area was Chang Mai. One night train later and we were walking around picturesque Chang Mai.

The hotel/hostel we had booked for us was one that was run by the people who organised the jungle hiking. Our trek was a total of three days, two nights. The nights we would spend in the villages of our jungle guides. Let me tell you it was definitely jungle that we were in. At some points we were waist deep in jungle swamp, other times the guides would cut a path with their machetes.
There were seven other members of our group (excluding my housemate). Three English girls, two English guys, and a Polish? (If I remember correctly) couple. Here is a photo:

trek team

Walking through the jungle was fun. It was a great experience, but that’s not what this story is about. This is about what happened after the trek. It is worth noting though; on the last night, in one of the villages I hung out my clothes because they were so damn wet from all the swampy terrain and wet plants. I awoke the next morning to find all my clothes gone save the ones I had been wearing the night before. No-one seemed to know where they had gone.
As we were leaving all the kids from the village ran out to wave goodbye. They were all wearing my clothes. Nothing fitted them very well… I decided they could have them, they seemed so happy with their new attire.

As soon as we were back in Chang Mai I went to a market and bought a new wardrobe. I still have those fisherman’s pants and a bunch of singlets. I somehow really liked that the children had taken my clothes.

We had become moderately close with our fellow commonwealthians over the last few days, so we all decided to celebrate our new friendship with a whole lot of booze. We all met up at a cool looking reggae bar in the middle of town. We started drinking, a lot. After a few drinks the flower kids started making rounds. The flower kids were wide eyed children who pressed you to buy flowers.

For some reason Harry (not his real name) took issue with the tiny sales people. He got up and beckoned them all on to the dance floor where he waved 100 baht in front of them and then proceeded to demonstrate an elaborate dance move. This dance move I realized was impossible for children to perform, maybe due to arm body proportion… I dunno. So the whole bar watched on as Harry laughed at poverty stricken children falling over themselves. Finally someone took umbrage with Harry’s behaviour.

A redheaded Scottish girl who was sitting with some unsavoury looking Thai men stood up and strode over to Harry.

She started yelling. Harry yelled back.

The Ska band had stopped playing.

She pushed Harry, Harry pushed her back. The unsavoury looking, tattoo covered Thai men stood up and started yelling in Thai. I was painfully aware of the machetes two of them had at their hips.

I was pretty sure their tattoos were gang related. Everyone was still yelling. It was getting pretty tense.

Now I was really angry at what Harry had done. But I wasn’t the one to try and stop him. Probably because I was so shocked when I realized what the fuck he was doing. However I didn’t really want to see this escalate into Harry being dismembered by Thai gangsters. So I stood up and went to Harry’s aid with the other guys in our group, Adam (not his real name) and my housemate. This meant still more shouting only now from us as well. Eventually the decibels lowered, I don’t really think anyone wanted this much trouble. The Thai guys were still seething, so we offered to buy some rounds. This didn’t seem to impress them too much, maybe because I don’t think they were paying for drinks in the first place. The Scottish girl (who was now calm) managed to talk them round. We all sat down and made good on our promise of more liquor. Harry and the Scottish girl weirdly started hitting it off. No-one seemed to care anymore.

Everyone got very drunk.

After a while one of the girls, Sally (not her real name), got up and slurred something no-one understood then walked out of the bar.

“Ah isn’t someone going after her?” I asked her girlfriends.

“nah she’ll be OK. I bet she’s gone for some food or somthin'” was the general response I received. I was unimpressed at the lack of interest in their hammered friend’s welfare. Not that I think women can’t take care of themselves, but a heavily intoxicated white person alone at night in Chang Mai doesn’t sound like anything anyone should want to happen.

So I went after her. It took longer than I thought and she’d somehow got much further than I thought, but I eventually found here talking to an old street stall holder who didn’t really speak English. I pulled Sally away.

“What are you doing? where are you going?” I asked.

“jussss goin’ ….. home” she managed to finally answer.

“I don’t think you should run out into the night like that” I told her.

“ssfine im goin’ home” she said, just before she ran off for the main road.

I caught up with her attempting to hail a Tuk Tuk. “are you coming too?” she asked when she saw me. “to make sure you don’t die on the way, yes” I replied. She got into a Tuk Tuk. It was difficult to try and make her hold her vomit until we got out of the Tuk Tuk. As soon as we reached the hotel she jumped out and ejected the contents of her stomach onto a golden lion statue while I was paying the driver. We went up to their room (the girls had a shared room).

Sally started taking her clothes off while putting music on. All of her clothes.

“Oh no” I said “I have a girlfriend”

“come on, why did you commmmmm…” she trailed off.

“You are crazy wasted and you know I have a girlfriend, we are not having sex” I was a bit more stern this time.

She took me by surprise as she jumped up and yanked me on to the bed.

“Goddam it! stop, you are so goddam attractive, I don’t want the temptation, stop doing this.” I yelled frustratedly.

I had stood up and walked over to the arm chair in the corner. “go to sleep” I said as I flopped into the chair “I’m staying here”. She looked at me, lay down and passed out almost instantly. I was awake all of maybe two minutes more before I too passed out.


I woke up, startled. There was someone banging loudly on the door. I got out of the chair and looked at the window. It was still dark. Sally was still dead to the world, though sleeping naked and without a blanket (granted it was maybe 35 degrees Celsius). I went to open the door. It was my housemate. He was on the verge of tears and stained with what looked like a little bit of food, or blood, or something. He said it was blood.

“What the fuck happened to you?” I asked.

“You have the fucking room key you fucking dick” he said shakily (the expletives may have been different but you get the idea).

Before I could answer the next door opened and Harry came charging out followed by Adrian who was yelling something like “leave it Harry”. I didn’t know they had the room next to the girls, apparently it was a coincidence. Harry started getting aggressive with me.

It was mainly drunk rage drivel but from what I could make out he was angry because he thought I had slept with Sally. Harry had a thing for Sally so naturally he wanted to fight me because I had stolen her, according to him. Adam was half halfheartedly trying to calm Harry while also laughing.

My housemate didn’t care much about Harry at this point, he started loudly straining out words.

Now everybody was yelling in the hallway.

Two hotel staff members walked into the hallway and started yelling at us in broken english.

“Too much noise! outside!” they yelled, it wasn’t bad customer service they were yelling because Harry had flown off the handle and started yelling at them as soon as they opened their mouth.

Adam calmed Harry down and they both went back into their room. I promised to stop making noise and the two hotel staff left. I turned back to my housemate who was still angry.

“I killed a dog” he said.

“what?” I didn’t know what else to say.

My housemate recounted what had happened after I left the bar. After a while he had thought I went back to our hotel so he got a Tuk Tuk back to our hotel. Only when he got there he found I was not in fact in our room. So he went searching for someone who worked there. No such luck. The place isn’t staffed until the morning.

He realized that if I wasn’t there I would have gone back to the hotel where our English friends were staying. Unfortunately he had used all his remaining cash to get from the bar to our hotel. So he resolved to walk.

Now if you’ve been to Chang Mai you’ll have noticed, there are a shit load of feral dogs. Maybe even more dogs then people, I don’t think they count them though. So walking around deserted streets at night is dangerous because packs roam around looking for food or trouble.

He walked down an ill lit side street.

He was met by a pack of feral dogs.

My housemate is quite smart so he knew not to run, he made himself seem big and imposing by bellowing and waving his arms in the air. All of the dogs backed down, except one.

It charged for him.

It was at the other end of the alley so he had a few seconds.

Chang Mai is really in some ways quite idyllic (except for the dogs, and there is a bit too much litter), especially it’s side streets. People live in houses with white stone walls around them, a bit like Japan. Outside their walls people put big pots with flowers, vegetables, and vines. Most of the time there is a thick bamboo pole to hold up some of the more vine like plants.
He grabbed one such pole from a pot nearby.

As the dog was mid lunge he hit it in the head. The dog went sprawling.

It went to get up and start growling so he hit it again, in the head.

Then again, and again.

The dog was dead.

Inadvertently my attempt at chivalry had resulted in my housemate going through a life threatening traumatic experience.

We left Chang Mai without talking to our English friends. We bumped into them a few days later back in Bangkok, the conversation was awkward. Then we all went for a drink…. at a reggae bar no less.


Thailand, Part 1: Why were we in Thailand?

In January 2009 my then housemate and I went on a trip to Asia and Finland. You might ask “Why Asia and Finland? Those places are completely incongruous both culturally and geographically”. Well it goes like this. Originally we had booked to go to Scandinavia for the whole month. This plan was thrown aside when our departure date was fast approaching and we realized we didn’t really have very much money for the trip. We spoke to our travel agent who said that maybe it would be more economical to spend some time in Thailand where our plane was landing for a refuel. After looking at the exchange rate and cost of travel around Asia we realized he was correct. So we extended our stop over in Asia. Our arrival point was Suvarnabhumi Airport Bankok.

Being the first time I had set foot outside Australia I had expected some kind of culture shock. I don’t feel like that ever happened. Rather I became reasonably paranoid for my entire stay. I finally knew what it was like to be a minority and looked upon differently. I was seen as white (which I am) and rich (which I was according to Thai cost of living). In other words, a big walking bag-o-money. It sucked. I don’t feel any ill will toward Thai people, rather just that I was struck by the reality of being a westerner in quite a poor country.


The Pharmacy

This has nothing to do with the ape species the Gibbon*. This is blog by me, Remy, to whom has been given the alias “Fitzgibon”. The title refers to a joke my housemate (who is also my best friend) keeps making. It was him who gave me the alias Fitzgibon. Recently he has decided that the best thing for me to do is to publish a book of beat poetry under the name Fitzgibon entitled “The Gift of the Gibon”. Though I have never tried I don’t think I would be very good at beat poetry. So I have made a blog instead. The first few posts may be erratic in terms of the chronology of my life, but once I have told you about my past I will start posting once a day about the day’s events.

As an introduction I will recount an experience I had in a pharmacy today:

I walked into a Melbourne city pharmacy to have a prescription filled.

At the prescription counter there was a strikingly attractive attendant. “Hello how can I help you?” She asked.

“I have a prescription I need filled” I replied

“Sure” She said. I handed over the paper. “Have you used this medication before?”

“The same active ingredient yes, but not the delivery”. I said. Then clarified “I usually use the spray not the powder inhaler”

“Have you been with us before?” she asked.

Without thinking, and probably from my subconscious I replied with “No, I’ve never been with you before…”


She gave me a smile and a knowing look. I had accidentally used a line on her. I was quite happy she hadn’t taken offence.

“That would sound funny out of context” She remarked finally, then went off to get my medication. She came back. They didn’t have any left. Not wanting to leave completely empty handed or on a a low note with the attendant I asked for an Asmol inhaler, I needed one anyway. She handed it over, we exchanged pleasantries, and I walked out.

Five minutes down the road I realised I had strode out of the pharmacy without paying. I went back. I walked up to the attendant and admitted it “I’m sorry, I just walked away without paying”

“Thank you for coming back” She replied.

I defended my action “I didn’t do it intentionally, I was just distracted…”

I’m not sure if she understood what I was alluding to. I paid for my inhaler and left. Today when I recounted all this to my friends who work at the café I go to every day they told me I should have asked her out, that there was a perfect moment in there somewhere. At first I thought “Yea, maybe I should have”. Then I reigned in that line of thinking. If I ask out every pretty girl who I interact with I’ll get myself into trouble. Anyway there is already someone I’m interested in so I don’t think asking out random pharmacy attendants will help my case there.