Have Sun Will Travel.

When some people travel, they enter the scenario with the somewhat understandable attitude they may never visit their destination again. Armed with research done over a number of months, and activity filling every waking minute of their trip, they hit the nearest and furthest tourist attractions they can manage between the rising and setting of the sun.

I understand the reasoning. But to me, nothing could be more wretched. I don’t understand being exhausted and drained by work, just to then be exhausted and drained by a trip. When do these people stop? What’s more, I have never felt particularly enriched from standing in a throng of tourists, all staring and yammering, taking pictures they will probably never look at again.

On my first day in Copenhagen this time round, I almost felt obligated to start with this nonsensical pavement pounding.

Tourist attraction number one in Copenhagen – The Little Mermaid.

As we stood amongst the other tourists, gawping at a small metal statue of a fish princess on a rock, and the standardised handpan busker thwacked his metal drum bowl, I stood trying to find a handle on the moment and how little I felt about any of it. Rest assured, the story of the little mermaid has little to do with Ariel and singing rasta crabs. Check it for yourself.

Hans Christian Andersen. Terrorising little children since 1805.

We had been late to rise, and late to tourism, and we were now hungry. We swung by a pizza place with the plan of sitting on Pernille’s balcony for a quick lunch break with a beer.

Four hours later with the sun still beating upon our faces I was going nowhere. Vitamin D makes people happy. Alcohol makes people happy. Rest makes people happy. Staring at famous sights, at best, makes people feel like they’ve achieved something. Personally, I have come to find achievement overrated. And so, any thoughts of tourism and sight seeing went out with the empty beer bottles and plastic recycling. We napped, ordered takeaway food and watched horror movies.

The heroic traveller I had met the year before would have disapproved. She would have been horrified. But this was nothing to do with her. This was for me.

Over the next few days we lived with no purpose or direction. And yet, I had a first rate guide to the heart of Copenhagen, and Denmark. One day, Pernille said she wanted to take me swimming where she grew up. We caught a train up to the north coast of the island to swim in the Kattegat sea.

When a Danish Viking wants to go swimming, you say yes. But I remembered jumping into the North Sea on the Scottish side when I was a boy, which when you’re five and an idiot can be fun for about three minutes, then a cold and shivering nightmare for the next hour.

We got to the beach and put our towels out. To be fair, the Spring sunshine was warm on our backs, which filled me with some courage. Pernille went in first and I watched as she made it look like she was dipping into a paddling pool. So I followed.

The North Sea is still the North Sea. I paddled out for a minute or two, and realised that not only were my legs cold, but a strange ache had begun to grip them. Two minutes later I was back on the beach sitting in the sun again cursing her Danish name.

“It was pretty cold today.” she eventually confessed.

Like any other week off in a city, we filled our time going out for dinner and drinks, watching films and TV and lazing about in the sun. But what made visiting Copenhagen worth every minute, was the company I got to keep. The only time me and Pernille were silent with each other was in our sleep.

Eventually my final day in Copenhagen came, and again, suddenly, I faced the sadness of having to leave someone great.

I love going places, I detest leaving.

I got up the earliest I had ever felt necessary on my trip so far, and began to repack my life into three bags. I had a ten hour journey ahead of me; a bus to Roedby, the ferry then train to Hamburg, and the connection to Cologne.

Before I had set off on this new adventure, I had remembered the nostalgic joy of being in Europe many times before. What I had forgotten, was the stress and anxiety that travelling actually causes.

With every item I stowed away, a dull sense of nervousness grew.

Pernille ordered the taxi and we sat waiting for its inevitable arrival. I checked my pockets; wallet, phone, passport. I was ready.

I don’t measure my travelling in terms of destinations. I measure it in terms of the people I meet. And on this sunny Wednesday morning, even the charm and the humour of the taxi driver made me question my decision to leave Copenhagen.

“We say here in Denmark – the USA used to have Kennedy and Bob Hope. Now they have Trump and no hope.”

A killer line and now my favourite cabbie in Denmark. An ambiguous morning. As we drew up to the train station I re-checked my pockets. And with the cold sweat and panic that only such a discovery can create, I realised my tickets were sitting safely and purposefully on the coffee table in Pernille’s beautifully decorated home. There was a lot I could have done without that morning, and having to immediately take another taxi round trip to our point of origin was top of the list.

We raced against the clock, and my teeth, hands and bottom were clenched in fearful excitement. The worst thing that can happen to an idiot is they are rewarded for stupidity. We made it back in time to find the first coach had been filled to the brim and had already left, leaving a second coach for the last five of us to take to Roedby in luxurious space and comfort.

I didn’t know how to say goodbye to Pernille, but we hugged. I boarded the bus, put on my headphones and prepared myself for the jump into Germany.

Pernille and the Copenhagen Rain.

Before I left, my best friend pointed out that my vanity while writing was infinitely more important to me than my writing.

Given my pre disposed notions of travel writing, half the fun, actually perhaps all of the fun, would be the posturing on sunlit balconies or in busy cafes, drinking fine wine with a laptop open for all to see. Of course, chain smoking cigarettes would be the only way to complete that over used and tired image.

Ernest Hemingway for a new age.

But I kicked the smoking habit a few years back and really wanted to keep it that way.

And so my first internal struggle of many has begun, and as she takes a long puff on her vape, she clearly has no intention of helping.

Pernille lives in the beautiful district of Osterbro near the lakes of Copenhagen. Her flat is remarkable. Her flat is where adults live. I have no business being here.

When I first met her six months ago in the miserable November rain of a Danish autumn, she claimed she was a nurse. Not untrue, but also, pretty fast and loose with all the info.

She is a nurse. She is also one of the leading researchers in ALS and Parkinson’s in Denmark.

In Europe.

In the world.

In November, I didn’t know this. In November, I just wanted to see if I could get a date in a foreign country.

But this is one of the greatest things about random meetings in random cities. You can meet anyone.

I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I entered the coffee shop, late, looking exactly like a guy who had been walking lost in Copenhagen in the rain.

As a Scot, I am no stranger to the rain. The rain, although not my friend, is a familiar foe I have a well worn tolerance for. There is Highlands rain. There is even Glasgow rain.

And then, there is Copenhagen rain. It doesn’t just soak your skin, your hair or even your bones. It cuts to your soul, swiping through any good humour along the way.

But I was determined to meet this blonde Viking, and I had the screenshot google maps to prove it.

She didn’t drink coffee, she drank chai. She didn’t muddle through English with a Danish accent. She spoke English with the upper class diction of a British aristocrat. And it became quite clear within a very short amount of time I was outmatched, outgunned and out charmed.

The first clue that she was one of the most prominent in her field came at the end of the date when, with all the charm and sophistication that a man who’d been sitting in wet clothes for two hours can muster, I clumsily tried my luck. Five minutes later I was walking back to my accommodation in the heavy rain alone. This was not the clue.

Life can really have a bizarre and coincidental nature if you allow it to. This was not the end for me and Pernille, this was just the beginning.

What defied belief, and should have made me understand a bit more about who I was talking to, is that she would be in my home town in only four days time. Her department was sending her, along with a group of delegates, to an international convention on motor neurone disease. In any other world, at any other time, I would have never seen this person again. But life came calling.

Now it was my turn to be difficult. When you’re in a full time bar job it’s pretty hard to get a free moment to meet anyone who works in more conventional careers. Their time off is my time to be neck deep in graft, even if, like me, you try to avoid graft at all costs. Thursday rolled around, and we couldn’t meet. Friday, she was tired. Saturday was the last chance and I was beginning to lose faith. But I met her and her friend half an hour before closing time in an over priced cocktail bar in the heart of Glasgow hipster heaven. From that point, we could safely say we were in each other’s lives. The next morning, we discussed my desire to travel Europe. Why not start in Copenhagen?

Me and Pernille messaged for months. Over those months, more and more came out. Pernille moaned about having to attend yet another conference dinner. This time it was an international conference for leading women in science. The good news was, at least for this one, she didn’t have to present, and give a speech like she had the previous year. The penny began to drop. This time, when I set off for Copenhagen, I wouldn’t be meeting up with a nurse. This time I was apparently meeting one of the top mental health researchers in the world.

I’ll actually be seeing her again during my trip, when she will arrive in Barcelona as one of her stops across Europe to present her findings to the rest of the world’s scientific community over the coming months. In spite of this, she still introduces herself to people as a nurse.

I love going places. I detest leaving.

Copenhagen – Osterbro

About a million years ago, when I was setting off to find my fame and fortune as a journalist in London I had a leaving party the night before.

Thinking about it now, it had been a stressful week beforehand. I had flown down to London only a couple of days earlier to find a flat. Three days on my friend Sofia’s couch in Shoreditch to go house hunting, two days back home to pack and put my life into a few bags, then off to London forever. I executed the plan perfectly. It was an absolutely horrific plan. I’m not sure how exactly to describe what transpired at that leaving party, but “spoilt teenage meltdown” comes close to doing it justice.

I don’t really know the best way to relocate in a stressless environment, but I do have a few perfect examples of how to get off to a terrible start.

I was notified I had the position in Brussels only a fortnight before the job started. It was approximately 12 days before that same job started that I discovered my passport had expired. After I’d renewed it and booked the fights, changed my entire life savings of about £500 in to euros, packed and said my goodbyes, all that was left was to entirely relocate to my new home city and find a place to live.

I’m just saying, if there’s an easy way of doing it, it still eludes me.

This time, leaving for Europe I knew one thing: there would be no leaving party. I intended to sneak out the back door. To me I was just leaving for a trip.

However, over a far too extended period of a fortnight, I seemed to be spending a lifetime saying goodbye. The stress of a leaving party, spread concisely over weeks. And so it was, I got it wrong again.

But here I am in Copenhagen, the sun is streaming through the fourth floor balcony and open door, and instead of the happiness of being about to start a new adventure, I’m sitting here having second thoughts.

I made the decision to finally leave and go wandering in December, probably by being the living embodiment of every mid 30s cliché in the book.

I had just got out of a long term relationship earlier that year, I was in a job going nowhere and suddenly I had an inflated sense of freedom, along with my usual feeling of self importance. It also seemed that everyone I was meeting at the time was travelling.

Wonderful and captivating anecdotes of the freedom of solitary travel.

One of these heroic travellers I met last year was a girl who wanted no commitment, didn’t see a future between us and didn’t feel that we should have any obligations of fidelity to each other. This wild and free feeling of complete liberty was a heady sip of wine.

But when that girl drives you to the airport months after you first met her, it’s never as straight forward as you’d hope. That had never been part of the plan. This really fucked with the plan. But that’s how plans work when they get hijacked by life. I think you can either have one or the other: A life worth living, or a set of plans. They mix as well as oil and vinegar. They jostle for position and you really have to pick one and stick with it.

And so, under a cloud of doubts and indecision, I set off for Europe.

Russia and Saudi Arabia to Initiate World Cup with Human Rights Violations

With the 2018 World Cup Football Kicking Jamboree set to begin, all eyes are focused on what world-class Russian and Saudi Arabian basic human rights violations we can expect to see in the forthcoming weeks.

As the two powerhouses are set to clash, football fans across all world nations are speculating wildly as to which strategies will be employed by the two respective governments, deciding once and for all the winner of best worst human rights records in the world.

A representative from the Saudi Arabian Consulate had this to say:

“We intend to shock and intimidate the Russian infidels by marching a team of innocent women onto the field and stoning them to death. That is if the rock throwers have not had their hands chopped off for eating meat that has not been butchered appropriately.

“if this is ineffective we will hijack some planes, crash into football stadiums then tell Russia Afghanistan did it, meaning Iraq get invaded by USA. This is a cunning strategy, Russia go to pieces against Afghanistan.”

A Russian spokesperson however, remained unrattled:

“Ha, we fear nothing. To prove this we stage beatings of homosexuals around grounds. That way we beating men as well as women, this prove we are braver and more man.

“And if we’re honest, we hope they do begin reign of terror. This was our plan all along.”

Russia did however wish to reassure other nations not to worry too much.

“If things get out of hand, no cause for concern. For half time we have prepared special tea to help our Saudi opponents. We make extra stronk.”

FIFA released this statement:

“With the upcoming sports tournament about to commence, we hope world opinion can focus on what is important here which is how easily we can be bribed to bring massive revenue streams to countries where people are killed on a regular basis in spite of the deafening roar of almost unanimous world opinion against the decision.

“As for the fixture between Russia and Saudi Arabia, we are eagerly anticipating excellent performances from both sides.

“This is the Saudi’s first time abroad since invading Yemen, we expect their tactics will mostly be taking shots from distance then running away.

“Russia on the other hand, fresh from another doping scandal, will become tired after 10-15 minutes, yet return in the second half strangely envigorated to sneak the win. Should be even easier if everyone else is dead or missing which is a strong favourite with the bookies”

Russia had this to add:

“Of three points claimed, two will go to Tsar Putin while the remaining one will go to Mother Russia. And by Mother Russia we mean Oligarch Gangsters. This leave Russia stronk at bottom of group with minus six.”

“If the competition comes down to a tie, the game will go down to sudden death.

“Of journalists.”

More guns clearly definitely most effective solution against guns “except in any situation involving guns”.

As another massacre with legally obtained guns unfolds in a state with an open carry gun law, many are very convinced that good guys with guns is still clearly the best deterrent against gun crime “except in cases involving guns”.

As the debate rages on as to what can possibly be done to decrease school shootings while not actually making any sustained effort to change anything, people are left perplexed as to what is left as the next course of action.

Gun owner Troy McPartlin had this to say:

“As a gun owner I’ve already sent my thoughts and prayers. I don’t see what else can possibly be done. We could discuss taking guns away from the general public, but then the number of people getting shot might begin to decrease.

“That just won’t work for the US. Sorry, me. That won’t work for me. How else will I keep my own family in a constant state of danger?”

A spokesperson for the Department of Thoughts and Prayers had this to say:

“We here in the American Government have seen in other countries with low gun crime rates that making guns illegal, or at least heavily monitoring and regulating gun ownership is the key to preventing mass gun murder on a genocidal level. But sadly it’s a very difficult situation involving taking an actual political stand and implementing legislation. Who do you think we are? The Government?

“We’d like to make guns illegal, we really would, but well. We aren’t going to. Because. Look, just because.”

An alternative solution to gun crime being proposed is the introduction of a heavily dangerous firearm into every household and workplace in the US.

Troy had this to say:

“See that at least makes sense. If everyone has a gun, no one will get shot anymore.”

Yelling loudly at sport on pub TV “not” vital to game progress

Recent studies have shown that yelling at sport while in a pub has a drastic and direct effect on precisely fuck all.

The shocking revelation comes as a surprise to no one except the halfwits that find themselves yelling at inanimate objects with flashing screens.

Terry Hobbs who likes to shout loudly had this to say:

“Oh yeah, I mean really it’s about the tribal hierarchies of men crammed into a room desperately trying to appear more valid and important as an alpha male. But you can’t just punch each other, you’ve got to do it by shouting something like “you blind, ref?!”

“That’s the best attention seeking behaviour, I find. Make sure you can demonstrate more knowledge of tedious game law than a highly trained man who gets paid to do it as an actual profession.”

Pub owner Ben Smith is worried about the news.

“I mean, it’s my bread and butter isn’t it? My main revenue stream comes from people who think their opinion on sport matters. They actually think it matters! If they have that taken away from them, where does it end?”

Acclaimed sport scientist Johnny Newmonic said

“Look we’re not saying that watching sports and screaming loudly as if someone gives a shit is a complete waste of energy and time, we’re just saying it’s not useful to anyone for anything ever. I hope that’s cleared things up.

“Really these people might as well go to the park and call the ducks French. It would be just as useful.”

Racist Thug Surprised by Presence of Other Racist Thug in Party of Racist Thugs

Last week, a racist man who enjoys punching things was punched by a racist man who also enjoys punching things.

All spectators were surprised that racist thugs punch each other despite them being members of a political party noted for its racist punching.

The racist man who got punched said:

“You know, you’d think when you’re in meetings with racist thugs you’d be able to avoid dwelling on hate and just get on with a bit of unity. You know, unity in hating everything, but that’s still unity, isn’t it?”

The punchy thug said:

“Fucking dick. I hate him. Almost as much as I hate everything. 9/10 would totally punch again.”

This latest incident in the Racist Thug Punching Party has sparked speculation that grouping racist thugs together and giving them any kind of political standing is “fucking stupid.”

A non racist person who once thought of punching someone but then didn’t had this to say:

“Well, really as long as they’re punching each other I’m pretty much fine with that.”

The racist thug who clearly takes punches really badly luckily received hospital treatment free of charge due to the fact that his right to healthcare in the foreign country in question is legally protected through legislation voted on by the organization he is 100% against.

The remarkably stupid man had this to say:

“The healthcare I received was first rate and I hated it. The medical staff were excellent, but French. The fact I didn’t have to pay a penny was a perfect example of how progressive the EU is and I find that completely unacceptable.”

Further debate has been sparked as to whether leading this group of absurd lunatics should be left some kind of Farage shaped lunatic.

Many thinkers that are more pragmatic have voiced plans to herd them all onto a racist island where they can be as racist as they like, but then realized that’s pretty much what has happened already.

Government Launches Bars for Dickheads

The government has announced plans to launch a new chain of pub restaurants, which will cater exclusively to unbearable cocks.

Rich Childs, from the Ministry of Eats and Drinks explains the decision.

“For too long, waiting staff have been on the front line of handling arseholes. And not in the fun sense.

“Given only medium wage, yet selling their souls, these poor bastards have to deal with some silly shit.

“We’re opening a few places which will hopefully act as a beacon, drawing all the tosspots away from good bars and restaurants. Not only will it prevent the eventual shootings and alcoholism predictably caused by waiting staff abuse, but will actually make all other bars and restaurants a pleasant place to be.”

Management consultant, Dick Jones, dislikes the idea.

“As someone with, oh coming up for well, no experience in the hospitality industry whatsoever, I feel it is my god given right to complain about all elements of my pub experience as soon as I enter.

“I like to begin by pointing out the branded glass selected does not correspond to the beer I have ordered, as this has absolutely no affect on the flavour, but is very important.

“Next I demand a menu when there is one sitting on my table. This is vital, to make sure the waiting staff know who is in charge.

“Once I have ordered, I tell them that my order is more important than everyone else’s, and needs to be made quicker. I’m sure the kitchen staff are taking their sweet time dicking about unless I do this. If they are working as fast as they can, then they need to rediscover the entire physics of food preparation in order to satisfy my outlandish needs.”

Ophelia Murphy-Smith, a part time consulting manager with three vegan children, also felt her opinion was important.

“Speaking as a mother, when I bring my children to completely inappropriate places such as bars, the entire world has to stop what it’s doing and adhere to my every whim. I’m a mother, for Christ sake.

“When I order on behalf of myself and the children, I make sure to change at least three different elements in every single dish. Makes you wonder why I didn’t just stay at home and make it myself. To answer your question, I ran out of Pinot Grigio and if I make the mistake of becoming sober I might actually smother myself.

“I then leave very quickly, as my mewling brats have turned a large area of the bar into early 90s Sarajevo.

“Tip? I have three children to have other people clean up after. You must be barking…….”

Trainee managerial consultant Johnny Prickson is also sceptical.

“Will they do cocktails, these new bars? It’s fine if they don’t, instead of finding a bar which does, I’ll just continue to demand cocktails until I get them.

“I’m not even that bothered about cocktails, I’m a lad. I just need to make sure everyone in the bar can see how fun and rich I am. Lad.

“By ordering cocktails, the crowd of people waiting for drinks grows monstrous in size and temprament, and they all are forced to watch me and my elaborate order. Pure lad. Plus it might get the girl I’m with to sleep with me. Begging and crying still hasn’t worked. Lad.”

Rich Childs tackled the criticism.

“These bars will be staffed by prison guards. Not that we’re telling anyone that. We won’t actually be serving anything either. Really, we’re just rounding them all up. We’re then sorely tempted to seal the doors and windows and drown them in the cheap lager a lot of them always demand due to the fact they clearly have never understood why humans drink.

“But let’s face it, with that much self entitlement crammed into one room, they’ll probably kill each other in seconds anyway.

“Fingers crossed.”

Clegg breaks political convention by stating “anyone could win anything ever, or not.”

Nick Clegg dramatically announced today that voting in the next general election could indeed result in the possible election of an elected person.

The Liberal Democrat leader, and part time mobile phone salesman, clearly explained that by voting for anyone on ballot day, the country could end up with yet a whole other government.

“By voting for any of the political parties, such as Labour, The Tories UKIP, SNP or us, almost any of these parties could gain seats. It’s just like the democracy we’ve had before, except this actually involves people and voting.

“This means that people really have to be careful in choosing who they vote for. If there’s one thing we’ve all learnt, it’s that governments do things. Probably”

The news comes as a revelation to everyone with no memory whatsoever.

John Everyman had this to say:

“When I voted last time I voted for the yellow puppet because he made fun noises on the TV. This then resulted in the other puppets being around. I just didn’t like the dour puppet, he was rubbish.

“All in all I think I’ll vote for the box closest to my pen when I pick it up, that way I’ll have a real influence on things.”

Political commentators countered Clegg’s argument:

“Well, look what happened this time four years ago. Five years? Whatever. Listen, Clegg came along telling us to vote for him and this then resulted in government existing and some people liking it, with other people not liking it. So to be fair, he’s clearly been paying attention.

“Indeed, if people do go and vote for parties that put up candidates, these parties could very possibly then gain seats. It’s quite difficult to follow, but that’s politics isn’t it?

‘Who will win? Fuck knows. Politics. Yeah, politics will win.”