FOR ALL THE COWS – One Year on.


Way hey! One year on and i have officially accomplished a life goal; being away from the shores of Scotland for 365 days!(That’ll be a year for everyone who forgotten what they learned in school.)And why should you remember? The only thing i learned in school is that you could put on three stone in a year and that you could batter just about everything.Or better still – stick it in a sandwich.
Socially – it made me who i am. Academically? Well I’m certainly not daft. But sadly i did not apply myself the way i know how too now.Ask me to deal with the public and id achieve a gold star and my ‘I’m ace at carrying plates’ badge. Ask me to do algebra and id probably ask you what channel its on.In a sense i have learned a lot more in this past year than i ever have. And i feel proud of it.Taking the plunge and being on my own has been a truly amazing time for me. And it has definitely done me well. I can’t stress this enough.So i thought id write a bit about the moments and times, that meant and played such an important part in my progress. Who needs class? Books are boring.

The Great Wall Of China:

This trip was right at the very beginning of the year(which now feels like a lifetime ago)and i had just met my group a couple of nights before.Already i felt pretty close to a few of them and we were having a laugh. I remember the long bus journey to the wall stopping every now and then for smoke breaks and pisses down long drops. I also remember how fucked i felt after climbing a few steps up to the wall so wasn’t too keen on climbing ten thousand more. I’d lived off a diet of beer and counter fit cigarettes for the past few days.Not quite an orange and a protein shake I’m sure you’ll agree.
As soon as i stepped foot on the wall i was taken back by how stunning,marvelous and impressive it actually was. But god was it steep. And really not an easy obstacle to overcome,even for the fittest of people.
I decided to have these precious hours to myself and skipped off a head of the group for most of it.Another shock to the system was my lungs.They didn’t seem to mind and i rallied on up and down without a care in the world. It was truly memorable and everything id imagined. At the end we zip lined over a river,down to our accommodation. Yes this sounds like something James Bond would do,but it actually happened.I even took out 15 Russian terrorists with a fountain pen. All in a days work i guess.
That night after a meal we decided that the party wouldn’t begin until we hunted down some beer. A bottle of wine and some good grub later, we walked a couple of miles to the nearest shop.Our guide woke the local up from the mattress he lay on in his bedroom/business and we headed on back. It was freezing.
When we got back everyone spilled into my room (this would become a recurring theme in Asia) and we drank the crap beer,had some laughs and wasted the night away. A beer tower later – we wound it down. As everyone was leaving i remember Robb (Nice lad from Swindon) was the last one out. He put one last song song on as i lay a bit hammered on the bed and left. It was Digitalism – Pogo. I fell in love with it instantly and it was at that moment that i realised how happy i was to be there and on a level how great it felt to be away. It now has a shout for my favourite song ever and every time i hear it i feel amazing.

Annerley Football Club:

Id met Mitch and Ainsley in Vietnam and we soon became good friends. As id be stopping by Brisbane when i got to Oz,i said id meet up for a visit and perhaps work,depending on the funds. As it turned out i blew a wad and was broke by the time i got there. Put two and two together and i was soon working a job i hated but playing for a team i fell in love with. Mitch gave me a shit pair of boots one evening,in the first week of my arrival and i followed him to training.And as soon as i played my first game,i was hooked. From there i made some great friends (If it wasn’t for the club i would be in Perth right now and also not living with Josh and Alex,who have been great.) had some awesome banter and played in some memorable matches. I was never the best player and never claimed to be. However i was felt i was an important part of that team on the pitch and off. And was even overly fussed over on what was meant to be my last game by being captain. It may sound un important in the grand scheme of things but that gesture alone meant the world to me. I believe that everything happens for a reason. And looking back on it, meeting Mitch for the first time in Hanoi,makes me believe that even more.

The night train in………emmm………..somewhere in Asia:

Shamefully i had been hitting the cheap, Asia alcohol for a month straight,and i had built up a reputation as a bit of a loose cannon.Nothing I’m proud of and sadly,nothing new.
I had been getting on great with the group(some from the first trip in China but mostly new faces) and we had been getting a bit loose in recent days with drinking games,big sessions and hitting the town.
I was getting on pretty well with Stew, a fun loving,Northerner who admittedly wasn’t too keen on me at first but we soon found common ground (i.e – getting fucked up).
And Alex,a cute,witty blonde girl from the States who enjoyed a drink just as much as us two clowns.
We had boarded a night train late afternoon and it wasn’t due to stop until 4am the following morning. We had bought a few beers but it didn’t last us long(again – another recurring theme). At every stop some scruffy looking locals would knock on the windows and heckle you to buy warm cans from them. It got to that point in the evening where it was clear we we’re going to keep drinking so we ended up buying a bottle of cheap and nasty vodka. It may have been a litre – im not to sure of this.Was a while ago now. We had a couple of cans of coke which was never going to last so we stomached it and went to town on it.
We left the book readers,early nighters and i pod listeners to their own devices and found a carriage to ourselves. A couple of hours later and we we’re fucked. Well i certainly was. And my head had barely hit the pillow and it was 4am. I’m not sure if anyone has tried to carry a backpack when you are hammered but its a bit like carrying a baby elephant over a frozen lake,in roller blades. Needless to say – i was legless.
To make matters worse i had pissed off j
ust about everyone in my group. I couldn’t find my way back to bed so i had opened every door on the train looking for a place to crash,wakening everyone up.We then found out our hotel didn’t have us booked in. We all had to squeeze into three rooms. We had pissed off our group to the extent that no one wanted to stay in the same room as us so they all crammed into two,hanging out of drawers and draped over bath tubs,whilst me Stew and Alex shared one massive bed to ourselves.
The next morning i knew we must of been rowdy.Stew was sporting a lovely shiner and i was covered in red marks. Apparently we went slap for slap. Which may of went punch for punch. We are not really sure.Terrance had requested to share a room with someone else(anyone but me.) Karen the Canadian bird was still disgusted with me (we didn’t get on.I jumped on her bed and refused to leave her room one night to wind her up.Ended in me getting rugby tackled to the ground by a couple of the boys and physically dragged to bed.)After carefully eating some breakfast and passing out on some wooden bench at reception, it dawned on us that no one on the bus wanted to talk to us.
We cowardly sat at the front and spoke about the night before.The silence was a long time coming for me. I had been teetering on the edge between being a laugh and being a dickhead,and been getting away for it for years back home. I realised then that this wasn’t the light i wanted to be seen in and stood up and apologised to the bus. These people didn’t deserve to be stuck with me at my worst.
My loutish ways was accepted in Aberdeen. Most of my friends act the same.But after talking to everyone personally a few words about me got thrown around in which i was embarrassed to be perceived as.And to some extent ashamed of myself. And from that day on i made a promise that i would never act as bad as that again.
And a year on and i haven’t. I’m still as chatty as ever and still have just as much fun. But i have a bad side of me bottled now. And to this day – the cap is still screwed on.An intend to keep it there.

I think of myself as a human jigsaw that i have been working on for years. I know i will probably never finish it and may not even find some of the pieces. But the more i fill in,the more the picture becomes clearer. And for that reason – i will keep on going.

So I’ve made my peace with the Brisbane bus drivers. It seems they have laid off me a bit. In fact not only have i had a stress free journey consistently for weeks now,but they also understand where i actually want to go! Its a miracle! No more repeating myself.And if i do i seem to be greeted with ‘pardons’. I put it down the complaint getting read, that i posted into the local free newspaper, about people telling me ‘speak English’ all the time. That really does piss me off i must say. Not a lot of things get to me but that certainly does. How ignorant and rude. In fact i stopped serving someone the other night for it.
But anyway – thank you bus drivers. You may be slow and never on time but its cool. We are at peace.

The ball is in motion for saving and I’m on my way out of here in 7 weeks now.Time has flown by.Id probably expect another reminiscing blog entry in the not so distant future. This magical piece of ever lasting Internet paper is great vice for me. I intend on using it more often as I’m contemplating starting work on a book. It will be a work of fiction. Hopefully i find the motivation to go through with it. I would love to achieve this.
Anyway.I’d like to thank everyone who has helped me over the year. You’ve been awesome.Take it easy folks.

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About Darren Crocker

Thirty one year old Support Worker from Aberdeen, Scotland now residing in Edinburgh. View all posts by Darren Crocker

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