Thursday, 5 July 2018

A very British break, an impromptu proposal and getting engaged

As long as I can recall I’ve had an unfortunate ability to accidentally ruin the biggest moments that my life throws at me.

Speaking too soon, passing out before parties peak, premature ejaculation. My foot spends more time in my mouth than it does the floor and awkward is my most apparent characteristic. Which inevitably meant my recent engagement became an occasion that’s easier to refer to as ridiculous than romantic. My fault, of course.

William planned perfection and I destroyed that dream in a swift second of regret.

After finally arriving back to my family in Manchester for the first time in 15 months (via several small European reunions in my last post), it wasn’t long before Will followed to meet his soon-to-be in-laws while allowing me to play tour guide.

So far our relationship has existed solely in Australia. We swim, sail, sunbathe and spend our days surrounded by the people and places he’s known since the day he was born. We’ve built the type of life I never thought someone like me could live and dream of a future and family I never knew I wanted. Until Will walked in wearing his Birkenstocks with sustainable water bottle to hand, that is.

And although he may have had my heart since that first moment, Manchester will always have a hold of it too. Soz. So off to the estate I grew up on we went. Six days filled with family introductions, dinners with friends and days out across the country before I returned home to Sydney and he went to France on an agricultural adventure. As ya do.

“Is it okay if my friend Alisha and her boyfriend join us for our picnic in London on Saturday?” I asked over a lunch we shared with a girl Will had previously met while travelling America that was coincidentally now in Manchester too. Desperately trying to diarise as many people as possible in every second on British soil that we find spare. “No,” Will responded. “I want it to be private.”

I then quizzed, he then protested and we hit a wall as I couldn’t pencil her in while his friend wondered what was happening. Two stubborn gays with one sat on a secret. The conversation going in circles until something gave.

“Oh god, are you planning on proposing or something?” I, rather regrettably, joked as a conclusion couldn’t be found.


A very long, and very telling, silence.

Our American third-party in attendance looked away, Will looked embarrassed and I looked, well, I don’t know. Probably like a dick head that knew he’d just wrecked one of the most memorable moments he’ll ever have.

“Yeah I was,” Will blushed, while producing a ring from his wallet. We both laughed, he put the ring away again and the question wasn’t asked. Pushed aside for a later proposal as we attempted to brush over the blunder with uncomfortable laughter.

Thankfully the actual proposal happened a few hours on as we were falling asleep in my Mum’s spare room. “If I did ask would you have said yes?” Will whispered, as if I would ever have had an answer other than yes. His unnecessary insecurities making him even more adorable in the subtle moonlight that cast a shadow across the scene. “Of course I would.”

And down on one knee my slightly jet-lagged, now improvising, future husband went. 

As for the rest of my three weeks in England, they were spent amongst Loose Women, pals and pop stars while pretending to be a pop star. Carl and I headlined a slot at G.A.Y in central London just hours after watching Taylor Swift headline Wembley Stadium. She arguably pulled in a slightly larger crowd but I’m still waiting for an official head count.

And then I had a slight epiphany... as usual, bare with me on this one.

I left London, and the UK, all that time ago because I felt like I was trapped in a rat race I had no desire to run in. Everywhere I looked I watched people clawing their way up career ladders, fighting for infamy, desperate to be something. And I reached a point where I realised all I wanted was to be happy.

In my goodbye post on this very blog as I left everything behind to find just that, I described the capital as “a place where the people profit from pity and you can not afford to feel; a well-oiled machine that operates on fear while expecting failure.”

And upon my return I seen a genuine change amongst friends, family and faces I just sat and watched in the country I'll always class as home.

People prioritizing real life, relationships growing strong, work being something you leave in the office and life being something to enjoy - not endure. Well, either that, or everyone's just got lazy as fuck while the heatwave soars on with Love Island and the World Cup on everynight.

But for real, the biggest thing I've come to learn since I started this blog, is it's the smallest things in life that have the biggest impact - which seemed to be a mutual mentality during those brief moments back in Britain.

By all means aim, achieve and follow your dreams, but never lose sight of what will really make you happiest in the long run. Because at the end of the day, no one really gives a fuck what you work as, how many followers you have or how much you've got in the bank.

None of that stuff defines you - no matter how much you feel it should do.

PS: The wedding will be in Sydney so everyone get saving up please.

Monday, 18 June 2018

Problems in Poland, nights in Norway and saving some teens

People always say you make friends for life while travelling. 

A statement I have to say is a little questionable. You do, however, meet enough people scattered around this fucking globe that you're guaranteed a ride from the airport, free place to stay and opportunity to be treated like a Queen when you pay them a visit. 

Which is exactly why I made a pit stop in Poland followed by a long weekend in Norway with the boys I met in Bali before making it back to Manchester. 

Poland was exactly what I'd hoped it to be: really fucking cheap. 

We took an Uber everywhere, ate everything and barely broke a tenner in the process. We stayed in Warsaw which is everyone's second choice when they come to this country, but the flights were cheap as so Steffi, Alisha and I gave it a chance anyway.

The old town was cute, the city could have been any other city in the world with its million McDonalds and shopping centres, and the people weren't particularly friendly. I'm not saying all Polish people are rude, but the ones we met ticked that box. Especially the bloke that kicked us out of our accommodation because he'd messed up his bookings. Ya dick head. 

But with pints for £1 good time was still had by all.

Next stop in my quest to float around the world like I actually appreciate other cultures and cuisines was Norway to reunite the lads. And the only thing you need to know about this country is there's a lot of fucking trees.

"They grow faster than we can cut them down," Simen declared with much pride while stating the absolute bloody obvious as we drove over to his home in T√łnsberg with Thomas and Ashley. 

Everywhere was peaceful, the people were pleasant, the daylight never seemed to disappear and I no longer felt like a bit of pedophile as these teenagers I befriended last March in Indonesia were officially now in their twenties.

During my time in Bali I was clinically depressed, hating life and unsure how exactly I'd even ended up there. And then came Simen and Thomas, both 19, who were even worse off than me. Their love of binge drinking with an inability to sense an unsafe situation meant they'd been repeatedly robbed within literal days of landing and had no money, no mobile phones and no bank cards between them. 

Pissed, penniless and several weeks to survive on nothing until they boarded that flight home. The bank of mum and dad couldn't even save them as they had zero access to a single account with no technology to actually contact home. Yet they were still smiling.

"Thank god," I thought as we became acquainted one morning over a shit steak breakfast in the hotel we were all staying. "I'm no longer the most tragic person on this trip." 

I then swooped in with a bank card and offered to help - the charity of a lonely Brit bridging nations and making it rain local currency rupiahs. Half of me realising it's easier to buy friends than make them naturally while the other half fearing I'd never see them and my money again after weeks of withdrawals.

“Treat people with kindness,” my old mate Harry Styles likes to say so I hoped for the best anyway.

Thankfully they proved to be as genuine as I believed, and all this time later I landed in their homeland to a heroes welcome. "Are you the boy that saved them?" a grandparent asked in broken English. "Thank you so much," another family member gushed. 

I felt like Meghan Markle. Not in a Princess way, but more in the sense of being celebrated internationally for my minimal charity work and not much else.

It was a bit weird seeing how one small and kinda significant act on my side meant so much to a load of people I'd never even met speaking a language I don't understand - but I suppose it was kinda nice to realise.

Help people where you can, take a risk for the sake of someone else and just don't be a twat - that's the message of this post. People will always fuck you over in life, that's inevitable, but many may surprise you if you extend a hand.

Plus good deeds give you pure bragging points on social media and/or travel blogs like so.

Saturday, 2 June 2018

Returning to England, dancing with death and escaping the mountain

Here's a sentence I never thought I'd be typing: I'm going back to England. 

When I left in search of a new life and adventure all that time ago I made peace with the fact I'd never return. So adamant that I'd come to some kind of end while backpacking it alone that I even sold all my possessions and gave my twin my life savings to avoid the costly process that is inheritance tax of a deceased loved one. Kinda regret that now.

A thoroughly thought out plan to an apparently inevitable end.

Departing London I was in such a sorry cycle of nothing that I failed to see a future further than a few weeks ahead. Deteriorating mental health, uncertainty creeping into every questionable decision and an emptiness inside as I also struggled with the added decisions every millennial ponders. 

A stressful career or carefree casual employment? To rent or to buy? To live or to die? Nothing to do and no will to carry on. With so many questions having so few answers, off I fucked. And now, back I go. 

Obviously not for good. Just a month or so to reacquaint myself with my roots and show my mum that I'm no longer a twink - but not yet a daddy. And also to introduce her to my dearest boyfriend I've met along the way.

A friend recently asked why it has been so long since I updated this, and upon reflection, it's because I just cringe now at the idea of being another person sat behind a screen baring their soul online.

It's mental health awareness as I write this, probably won't be when I post it because I'm lazy as, and to break free of the usual cliched sentiment of 'it gets better' for a moment: It doesn't.

Social media seems to have become some kind of safe space of self-diagnosis, self-loathing and self-destruction more than ever these days and everyone's got something they're oversharing while wanting some sympathy inboxed their way. Yet most of them are doing fuck all to actually sort themselves out.

The lack of action behind the online breakdowns and tweeted and deleted cries for attention is actually a bit alarming. Your issues will never leave you, you need to leave them - and if action doesn't follow acknowledgement, you'll drown in that depression as soon as the likes stop rolling in.

That's my advice anyway, kids, and that's what I've learnt from actively trying to spend less time online and more in the real world. Let's make this slightly less fucking miserable now though, yeah? 

This year has been consumed entirely between a quiet life with William and the life we're building together in our new gaff with Winston the dog - while causing all kinds of showbiz scandals with the work crew at NW. The two rarely cross, the balance is healthy and things are, dare I say it, kinda decent.

And before embarking on this European adventure (which apparently sounds like the start of some old Mary Kate and Ashley movie), I thought I'd spend my final week in Sydney for a while living my best life with Will.

Which quickly went to shit as we found ourself fleeing the quiet mountain getaway I'd booked us after finding ourselves in the centre of Australia's now infamous circus sex abuse cult.

Yep, bare with me on this one.

So off we drove into the picturesque Blue Mountains in New South Wales for some loooving in a little wooden cabin type thingy I'd found. We're talking big fireplaces, Emmerdale village vibes and nothing around but crazy views kinda romance.

Just call me Romeo, right? And it truly was perfect... for approx 0.8 seconds until we discovered the owner of the property was a little eccentric. And by that, I mean, she wouldn't leave us the fuck alone to enjoy some mini-break bumming. Sorry, mum. Jk. 

Within minutes of confining us in a small kitchen she'd rattled off stories covering everything from her life on the streets as a homeless teen and travelling with the circus to her disappointing sex life since her hubby decided to go all Call Me Caitlyn and identify as a woman. She seemed lonely, we apparently seemed interested? It was a heartbreaking battle between us not wanting to seem rude and her doing her best to make us feel uncomfortable.

Things sadly then took a sinister twist as she answered a phone call while urging us to stay put. “I just have to take this it's my friend in prison,” she said with such pride. “I have a lot of friends in prison.” Held hostage by her refrigerator and unable to hide our growing concern - she didn't stop there. “They're from town too... they've all been arrested for satanic rituals and stuff.”

Of course they have.

As we finally broke free with a forced smile on our faces, now sweating a little, we fired up Google as we got to our room and discovered the casual “other stuff” her dearest and nearest were awaiting trial for involved 127 collective charges of raping and torturing children at the local circus training school.

Katoomba, the small town we'd randomly selected to spice up our love life, which apparently is big enough to have a circus training school but not a McDonalds, has been at the centre of the world's media for months now as the case awaits trial.

But obviously slipped right past me, the journalist, that freelances across publications in Australia, America and England, literally in the middle of the world's media on a daily basis.

“Just going to grab some food in the town,” we explained to our host while hurrying past and back to our car while fearing for our lives. “Will I even make it back to England?” my mind pondered while expecting some kind of hellish clown with his cock out to catch up to us first. “What if I never taste a Greggs sausage roll again?”

It's odd where your mind wonders in an emergency, isn't it? It's also odd how I arrived in this country expecting to die - yet as the end started to seem nigh up that mountain, I suddenly had everything to live for.

Over and out for a while, Australia.  And shout out to the NW crew (and MAFS cast) for such a wondeful six month's on this countries best magazine.