I’m back!

books, reading, colors, art, vintage, pencils, shavings, colours

It’s been ages since I’ve posted anything here, since I’ve been on maternity leave and have been focused on littlewhitetruths, my life blog.

But once my little girl is a bit older and I’m able to put her in childcare for a couple of days a week (which I think she’ll LOVE), I should be able to start dedicating myself to writing again. I must say, I can’t wait!

There’s a lot of joy in raising a child, but – let’s be honest – it’s not the easiest thing either ; ). And writing/editing is a part of me that must be fed, so I will need to find a way to balance motherhood with my career, as so many parents must do.

Anyhoo. Writing this post is a small step in the right direction, and my little girl is happily asleep – so I’ve had a precious hour to do something small for me : )

Speak soon. I’d love to hear how others balance writing with parenthood.

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I’ve upgraded to WordPress.org!

Hi everyone. I’ve happily migrated this blog to WordPress.org (http://www.janelawler.net/).

I’ve submitted to have my subscribers moved across to the new blog. This should hopefully happen soon.

This upgrade is also the reason why I haven’t posted for a while.

Thanks!

Jane

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What is writing – some words for writers

Writing is the trade of experience.

You may have heard me say this before, and you may well hear me say it again. I think it’s an important observation because it reminds us as writers that we must stay connected to our experiences in order to explore and convey them. If we’re not connected to our experiences, we won’t connect with our readers. Simple as that. It also reminds us that we are trading our experiences with our readers, just as they trade theirs with us in their interpretation of our works. Writing is always a two-way relationship between writer and reader – even if your only reader is yourself. Celebrate that connection and don’t betray it.

Finally, the word ‘trade’ also connotes the idea of writing as a craft. Which it is. It’s not a jumble of words; it’s a collection of words carefully chosen to convey meaning. Most writers don’t deliver beautifully crafted sentences on-call and with undying consistency – these things take time, care and practice. There are of course writers who were just born with it and don’t need to keep aiming higher – I’m certainly not one of them. I need to work on my trade and always aim to improve it. Otherwise there’s no trade.

‘Writing is the trade of experience’ will be my quote when I am famous, which I’ll probably never be. This leads me to my next point.

Writing is not being published and/or being celebrated. It just is.

It’s guttural. It’s within you or it’s not. It’s that scratch that can never really be itched, that monster that screams out if it’s not fed. The beast that treads your dreams. You’ll know whether or not you have this beast within you.

Your need to write can cross the line from passion to obsession very easily, but can happily swing back the other way just as easily – like a pendulum on an old clock. Pick your moments before you take up that pen. Be careful of your obsessions when you write. Obsessions come through in your words as much as your passions do. Passion is better. Your readers will agree.

Writing is a promise.

It’s a promise to deliver emotional truths to your readers, to connect with them and understand them. It’s a promise to add something to your readers’ lives. Writing is not about you – it’s about your audience. You’re nothing but the hand behind the words, and the words take on a life of their own for each different reader. Let them go.

Writing is being both brave and humble.

It’s breaking down walls, pushing your boundaries and being courageous – despite your fears. It’s putting yourself out there and being willing to face the consequences. It is not being proud. It’s understanding the power of humility.

Writing is accepting – and committing to – failure.

Fall over. Get up again. Repeat, repeat. You may never be a successful writer. Deal with it and keep writing. What else is there?

Writing is understanding what it is to be human.

Enough said.

Writing is compassion.

Writing is accepting your own faults and the faults of others. Treat all your characters with compassion, even your worst villains. Writing is not being judgemental. If you’re writing from the perspective of a judgemental character, fine – but you as a writer must remove your own judgements from the process (as much as you can, anyway – you are human after all ; )).

Writing, of course, is life.

 

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Moving (short story)

I thought I’d post one of my short stories today. This is an old one, written in 2009 just before I moved into my house. It’s one of those stories that contains a bundle of truths about your life, but also a bundle of things that never happened. I guess your aim as a writer is to make all of it feel true. Happily this one won a placing in a competition a few years back. It could probably be improved and reworked again, and I could try submitting it to another competition in future. Maybe when I’ve finished working on my novella…

Hope you enjoy : )

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Moving

There’s something heavy about packing your life up for removal, as though it shows that’s all it really is – bits and pieces stuffed into cardboard boxes and Coles green bags. You realise how much you’ve gathered over the years, and you see exactly what you do have and what you don’t.

It’s just as heavy to trawl through the pieces and decide which ones you’re ready to throw away, which ones you need to hang on to. It’s not a mindless process. And there’s always that box.

I remember I was in an op shop once; I can’t walk past them without going in, maybe because you never know what you’re going to find. I love the promise of chance, that lottery of goods – some damaged, some with cracks, some in such perfect condition that you wonder if they’ve ever been used, or if they’ve stayed locked away for special occasions that never came. And you might find something you’ve subconsciously been looking for, something you never knew you needed. 

That day, in that op shop, I was scouring through someone’s old bits and pieces when a woman came in with a box and dumped it on the counter. ‘That’s it,’ she said. ‘That’s the last of her.’ Then she burst into tears and ran out.

The lady behind the counter quietly picked up the box and disappeared through the curtained doorway behind her. She must have seen my face when she came back. ‘Her mother just died,’ she said. ‘She’s been in every day this week with more boxes.’ Then she pulled back the curtain to the storeroom. ‘Come in. I haven’t priced everything yet, but you’re welcome to take what you want. I’ll give you a quote.’

I ran out myself. Perhaps it was the thought that everything left of a person, a person someone loved, was sitting out the back of a crinkled op shop in boxes, waiting to be probed, fingered and priced, then put on display where it could be probed and fingered some more. Or perhaps it was the thought that I might pay fifty cents per memory of someone else’s mother. I didn’t go back into an op shop for some time.

Now, I’m dealing with my own collapse into boxes and green bags. This will be my fifth move in less than five years. I like my new house (and for the first time, it’s really mine), but already I know that I won’t fit into Prahran, itself a green bag of young couples, pregnant mothers and new families. This doesn’t matter, in the end – what matters is that I’ll finally have somewhere that belongs to me and that holds all of my belongings.

If I think about it, I suppose I’ve moved more than five times these past years. When I was ill, I was flicked between my share house, my apartment, my parents’ house, Lorne and various hospitals. It’s been a five-year period of dislocation, and I’ve learned to draw the feeling of being settled from other things – habits, customs, routines. While such things are, I think, undervalued in their ability to pay for the illusion of permanence, the idea of a fixed place in the world is something that appeals.

So I’ve spent the last two months reducing myself into bags, some of which are bursting at the seams. Perhaps those particular bags hold things from periods in my life when I myself was bursting at the seams, eager to move forward, to grow, to achieve. The other, emptier bags might be from my life now, when I seem to have fewer lipsticks and bangles, fewer things I really need, when I feel unsure of just how many things will fit into a single bag, and am not convinced that anything fits at all.

This time, packing up my life has been an interesting process. I’ve had a couple of months between the auction and the day of settlement, and every weekend I take a load of things to my parents’ house, where it lies in wait until I get my new keys. I’m doing this to avoid the need for removalists, to fulfill some unexamined desire to see the hierarchy of my belongings – and also, perhaps, so I won’t really notice I’m moving at all.

Week by week, green bags are painlessly taken away and I can pretend that my endless dislocation is coming to an end. It’s also a matter of practicality, I suppose; when I vacate my apartment and need to deal with the usual hiccups that will inevitably happen on the day, there won’t be much left to remove before I hand over the old keys.

And so far, it has been painless. Except for that box.

For my weekly deliveries to my parents’ house, I began with the things I knew I could do without for two months. The old clothes that should have been thrown out long ago (but probably never will be), the food processor I absolutely had to have, the dresses I will fit into again (perhaps in two months).

The first few carloads were easy, but there came a time when I needed to think a little harder about what I was packing. And it soon became apparent that I was no longer choosing things based on whether I could do without them, but on whether I could be without them. The photograph of my school friends that I sometimes take out when nostalgia strikes, the pile of novels on my bedside table that I promised myself I’d start reading last year, the recipe books I haven’t opened for a while but, well, I just like the look of them on the bookshelf.

This selection process has been quite tormenting. And there’s that box.

That box. It’s a small, silver jewelry box, given to me last year. It’s heavy, looks expensive, and winks like a mirror in the light.  Scratched on its surface are the words – Tutto é possible. Anything is possible

‘This is for us,’ he said when he gave it to me, showing how well he knew me – my love of Italy, my need to hang on to those words, how I’ve always kept everything in boxes.

Soon after, I told him he didn’t fit into my life, didn’t belong. I needed to remove him. I said I’d never been sure about us, because I’d met him during my illness and I didn’t trust my selection process then.

He spoke of the random circumstances of our meeting, of the few opportunities the universe will ever give us, of our duty to follow the hands of chance and be life’s passengers sometimes. I said that wasn’t enough. He told me to let go, although he didn’t say it so nicely.

We met in our doctor’s waiting room. We’d both changed our appointments at the last minute and our doctor was running late. When he came in, all the seats were full of impatient patients, but the woman beside me told the receptionist she’d waited too long and left. He sat down.

Destiny is something I’ve always tried not to think about – if you believe, this shows you can’t hold responsibility and decision. If you don’t, it shows you can’t stop holding.

I let go of him. But I kept the box.

It’s the sort of box you put on display and people say nice things about, but for the last year it’s been hidden beneath the I’ll-never-wear-but-won’t-throw-out-for-some-reason clothes in my bottom drawer. Where it belongs, perhaps.

I’m annoyed with myself that I’ve kept it. The same way you’re annoyed if you have a sex dream about someone who’s treated you badly or whom you don’t particularly like. You wake up, burning, feeling like you’ve given them something, something that’s yours, something you can’t do without.

And I do. I feel like I’ve given him something. Because I’ve kept the box. Not only that, I keep giving him something because the box didn’t go to my parents’ house in any of the early bags. I’ve kept it here, ‘till now, when there’s little left to remove and my apartment feels barer than it ever has, even when there was nothing in it.

I haven’t put the box into the last green bag. I’ve kept it hidden, like I’m trying to convince myself it’s not there, that it’s been thrown out or shipped off with the things I can do without, that I haven’t given him something.

I move in three days. All that’s left is my mattress, those bedside-table books (ridiculously), some clothes and toiletries. Even the fridge was carted off this morning to be hidden in the back shed of my new house (don’t tell the vendor), until I finally get the new keys and relinquish the old.

I can live without a fridge for three days, but I can’t live without that damn box.

Or maybe it’s not the box I can’t live without, but what’s inside it. A telephone number, scrawled on a torn envelope. The number I deleted from my mobile in a fit of rage, to send him a never-to-be-received message through the universe that I never wanted to speak to him again, and to stop any late-night dialing when things got dark. The number I wrote down before deleting, in case it became something I needed. The number I’ve wanted to call so many times but never have; the number that hums in my sleep.

I’ve spent hours staring at that number, when night falls and my mind hangs on to spooling pictures of happiness, bickering, despair. I’ve even had it keyed into my phone, ready to hit the green button, ready to tell him that my life is nothing but green bags without him, or something just as dusty and stale.

I’ve never called it. I’m holding the box now – shimmering, blinking, warming. I breathe and put it down, letting my hand fall away. Why is it that empty rooms always smell like dust, like old op shops, even when you’ve scrubbed? I stare at the box. Maybe I’ll lift the lid, take out the envelope scrap and call the number that’s held me at night for so long. I’ll call him and tell him the truth – he beat the fridge.

I’ll tell him I couldn’t bear to send him off with all the things I don’t desperately need, and that he doesn’t fit into any of the green bags because he’s inside them all. I’ll say I didn’t feel I could stuff him into one of those bags because, one day, they’ll be all that’s left of me in some op shop. And he doesn’t belong there.

I’m heading out soon because there’s (another) inspection today and I don’t want to be here when the droves arrive. Before each inspection, the agent warns me (again) that I’m not to leave anything lying around – jewelry, watches – because they tend to go missing.

I look at the box. Silver, terrible, wonderful.

There’s a built-in shelf beside the front door, about hip height. My agent said hoards of people are coming through today, because it’s the last inspection before I vacate.

I pick up my handbag and check my keys are inside, wondering briefly how many more times I’ll use these keys before handing them back, never to see them again. They’ve been good to me, these keys. They’ve let me into a period of my life when, although the green bags haven’t been bursting at the seams, they’ve been gently, weightlessly full. These keys have taken me, day by day, away from my illness, and they’ve unlocked the door to a place where I’ve waited for, and felt, impending settlement.

But it’s time for new keys.

I walk to the door. I’m holding the box, knuckles white. Quietly I place it on the shelf by the door, where it shines against the dusty stillness. I open the door, close it behind me. That lottery of chance.

Soon, I’ll be ready to move.

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Overcoming writer’s block

 

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I’ve been wanting to write something on this for a while but have shied away from it – probably because, when it comes to overcoming writer’s block, there’s no such thing as a magic wand. Sorry.

But I can give you some of my own experiences with this god-awful phenomenon and, hopefully, you may find something useful in there. Even if it’s just the knowledge that you’re not alone!

Every block is different

Most writers will tell you that the process for writing every book is different – just as any mother will tell you that every pregnancy is different. Writer’s block is the same.

It can happen for endless different reasons, for combinations of reasons and, seemingly, for no reason at all. But it’s worth thinking about why you might be blocked, since this may help steer you towards a solution (if there be one) for overcoming it. Time to dig deep.

Where are you emotionally?

Writing is an emotional thing and, when you’re going through an emotional period in your life (whether up or down), there’s often nothing left at the end of the day for writing. Unfortunately there’s unlikely to be much you can do but wait for the period to pass; unless of course you’ve identified why you’re emotional and it’s something you can change (eg do you hate your job? Get another one).

Are you too happy?

Most artists will understand this. To write, I need to be a bit sad – wallowing in a gentle state of melancholy works best (at least for me). There’s music in sadness, and without it I can’t write. I remember when I fell in love a few years ago and, prior to that, I’d been in the peak writing zone of my life. But after the fall, my writing went out the window and no amount of listening to mournful music could get me where I needed to be. So I had to wait it out. Nothing else for it.

Are you too sad?

Similar to the above, if you’re in the depths of depression, you may be able to write but you’ll likely hate what you produce. Believe me, I’ve been there – and what came out in that time was mostly self-indulgent drivel. Having said this, some of that drivel made a useful starting point when I dragged myself up to the surface again, so don’t discard it. And if you haven’t heard of narrative therapy, Google it. Writing helps, whatever its purpose.

What’s going on in your life?

My husband and I migrated to Berlin for around two years at the beginning of 2012. We’re back in Australia now, and thank god for that. My writing suffered over there more than it ever has before; anyone who’s migrated will know just how much that process can take out of you, particularly when things never level themselves again or take a long time to do so.

I had actually thought that migrating would help with my writing because it would give me new material. I based this on the amount of writing that emerged when I moved into my house in 2009. I was wrong. Migrating depleted my energy levels and nothing was left for the white page. Again, I had to wait it out.

Is it self-imposed paralysis?

Are you too critical of your own work? Are you not getting enough encouragement from yourself and/or others? Have you been reading too many books by brilliant writers recently and is this making you feel like an incompetent baboon?

Ditch the good stuff. Read crap. I’m serious. You don’t even need to buy it – searching the net for various blogs and articles will show you just how many people can’t write, can’t spell and don’t understand grammar. I realise this sounds a bit mean, but in the service of getting our pens moving or our keyboards clacking, sometimes those downward comparisons can work (‘Well at least I know the difference between “your” and “you’re”, so maybe I’m not that bad’; or ‘Even if my grammar sucks, at least I know how to create good characters’).

Also, give your writing to some friends. If you’re lucky, you’ll have someone who can provide useful criticisms and encouragement.

Walk away

You know that thing when you see a new movie and say, ‘Oh, that’s the actor from that film and his name is…’ and you don’t remember the details until the film has finished and your friends have left so you can’t tell them?

Same principle – looking at things directly doesn’t always help. I remember in my final year of school that I would do jigsaw puzzles when I was writing assignments/essays and didn’t know what to say. The answers would often come to me when I was concentrating on something else, like finding all the edge pieces. Let your subconscious mind do its own thing. Free it. It’s smarter than you are.

Work on anything but your novel/story/article

If I’m having trouble with a novel I’m working on, I often force myself to write something else – an email, a blog post, something for work. Writing other stuff can get things moving in your mind, or at least make you realise just how much you prefer working on your primary project instead. That in itself is helpful.

Critique someone else’s work

I’m lucky enough to have a few writer friends to swap work with. I’m often asking to see their work – not only because I want to, but also for selfish reasons: seeing holes in others’ work can help me see them in my own. My friends say the same. It really does help to have a network.

Go back to old stories

Have no ideas? Rework something old and make it better. I’ve done this a few times, and it’s resulted in re-casting some short stories, a few of which have gone on to win placings in competitions. You don’t always have to write something new or have new ideas. Go back to old ideas/work and see what you can do.

Research

Whenever I’m not in the mood for writing, I research instead. As writers we need to be accurate about historical details and the like, so go through your project and fact-check anything that needs checking. You’ll feel like you’re writing even though you’re not, and you’ll be moving your project forward even if you’re not writing those beautiful sentences you’re so desperate to write.

 

That’s all from me for now! Do you have any ways of overcoming the dreaded block? If so, I’d love to hear them.

 

 

 

 

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Being human – quirks and gripes

I’ve mentioned before that, as a writer, one of your tasks is to observe. That includes observing your own behaviour and perhaps finding some good/bad/neutral traits that you can use for your characters, or even finding some common humanisms that others will recognise and relate to. As humans we like knowing we’re not the only ones who do weird things.

I’ve made a list below of some things that make us human, including quirks and gripes. (Some of my friends will have seen a few of these before on Facebook – apologies if so. Another task as a writer is learning how to recycle material so you can get the best mileage out of it hehe.)

The list

I’m the kind of person who will never bring the groceries in from the car in two trips. I will get the bastards in one, goddamn it – even if this results in personal injury.

I really hate things that beep at me to remind me they’re there – the microwave (no, I haven’t forgotten my soup), the dishwasher and washing machine (yes, I know you’re done – I just wanna finish this sentence). Gen Y Whitegoods, I’m calling them. Wish you could turn bits of them off.

No one looks glamourous when running for a tram.

My husband often cooks something for himself and keeps it in the fridge. Even though I’m of course welcome to eat some, I prefer to do this in secret when he’s out, nibbling away at the edges so he won’t know I’ve been eating it. Consumption by stealth. This makes me feel like a spy. I love it.

Life will be the death of me.

When going into public bathrooms I’ve used before, I always return to the same cubicle. Because it worked the first time and is therefore superior. The others remain suspect.

I fill my coffee/tea mug right up to the brim each time I use it. And ninety per cent of the time I spill some and have to clean it up. I don’t know why I do this.

Eighty-five per cent of women can’t walk in high heels, and yet persist in wearing them to the office. How can you expect to be taken seriously if you can’t walk properly? The mind boggles.

Everyone’s elbows do wees in the shower.

I only buy clothes that don’t require ironing. Enough said.

Nothing makes you feel like a bigger a*sehole than eating a big, fat, juicy steak in front of a dog.

I hate people who lick their fingers before turning pages, particularly when it’s completely unnecessary, and particularly when they’re reading a communal newspaper that I’m planning to read when they b*gger off from this cafe. Boo.

You know that thing when you accidentally turn the tap on too hard and the water recoils from the bottom of the sink and sprays all over you? Well, I’ve done that three times today. Three different sinks. Superb.

A world covered in crisp white snow is sublimely beautiful. For about two seconds. After that it’s just freezing.

When having dinner in front of a film, I can’t take the first bite until the film is playing and the credits are over. Because starting to eat before the actual film is just plain wrong.

Why do I continually persist in painting my nails and then doing things like opening a can of tuna? Why do I expect a different result when finger meets ring pull? And why do I always get 564 itchy spots as soon as I’ve painted them? And haven’t I learned yet to go to the bathroom before said painting? Indeed, why do I paint them at all?

I’m one of those water-conscious people. We have a water-saver shower head and I really do have four minute showers. Except in hotels. In hotels I shower for at least half an hour. Because hotel water doesn’t count.

 

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Travel observations from a writer

So someone really thought through this design…

This post is a variation of one I just wrote for my life blog (http://littlewhitetruthsblog.blogspot.com.au/2014/06/little-white-travel-truths-and-quirks.html), but I’ve re-cast it from a writer’s perspective.

As a writer, one of your tasks is to observe – whether with an objective eye or with a subjective one (when you’re writing from the perspective of a particular character).

I’ve been fortunate enough to have done a good deal of travelling – fortunate in the sense that this is where most of my disposable income has gone in the past, and I don’t regret it. As part of these travels I’ve lived for a few months in Florence, Italy; Seville, Spain; and New York, Yemen (had you there for a second…; ) ). My husband and I also migrated to Berlin for just shy of two years at the beginning of 2012 and returned to Melbourne in late 2013. Over my travels I’ve noticed various quirks about different countries – including my own – and I wanted to share them. I’d be excited if anyone wants to add to the comments below about their own travel observations. They always make me smile, and please note: they’re meant well and not meant to be taken the wrong way!

Also, if I’m lucky, some of the observations below might be useful to fellow writers and spark off some ideas about content to include in their own writing. That would be really cool : )

The list!

Nowhere else in the world does washing strung high between windows look so amazing as it does in Italy.

Greece: I totally agree that a large bottle of beer should cost less than a small bottle of water.

Laughter sounds the same in every language.

Dear Germany: there’s more to life than potato and sausage.

Dear Australia: There is no need to treat your citizens like two-year-old children and over-regulate to the point where breathing the wrong way may soon be a punishable offence (which of course will carry an extortionate fine that most of us can’t afford to pay).

If we all smiled as much as the locals in Thailand, the world would be a happier place.

Mexico… Where every salt shaker is filled with salt, and every pepper shaker is too.

The Swiss embarrass me. They speak better English than I do.

German is a useful language when one is in a foul mood.

Egypt: I get that tipping is standard when you provide good service in restaurants. I’m not sure the same applies when you remove all the toilet paper from the cubicles in public bathrooms and then hand it to me in scrunched bundles, expecting payment for this ‘service’.

So Canada… What’s with the gross yellow cheese? You know that’s not the only cheese on the planet, right?

Melbourne: Where you can get off a train at a station you don’t know, in an area you don’t know, and yet be certain that decent coffee is a stone’s throw away.

Italy, I like your style. Smoking in underground train stations might be illegal but when people do it anyway, ‘eh’ is a great response.

Um, Germany… For all the hoo-hah about the brilliance of German design, you do realise that your traffic lights are placed in such a way that you can’t actually see them unless you bend over your steering wheel, cock your head and peer upwards, right?

Having said that, dear Germany – I LOVE your autobahns. Please publicise to the world (and particularly to my own dumbarse country) that you have one of the lowest road tolls on the planet. Speed limits do not always mean safety.

Oh Australia, I am happy to drive at 40km per hour in school zones. I am not happy to do same for phantom roadworks.

You learn things when you travel. Like snow really does fall on beaches. And Texans really do speak and act as they do in films. And even the smallest country town has an Italian restaurant, a Chinese one and an Irish pub.

Hi Mexico, just a suggestion – not every dish has to be drowned in condiments. If I order meat, I want to taste meat – not a gluggy, soupy mass of seven or more unidentifiable sauces.

So, um, America… Portion sizes, obesity… Yeah? Speak to the French for more information.

Dear Europe: Light switches should be placed just inside the room you intend to illuminate, not in random positions in the room outside it.

Dear Europe 2: I love the large bathrooms you have in many of your hotels, really I do. So luxurious, so much space – I could play mini golf in some of them. Do you not think, however, that the showers could be enlarged at least slightly? As it stands, I don’t have enough room to wash my hair without smashing my elbows on the shower screen. And I often accidentally turn the tap off with my arse when I bend down to pick up the shampoo. Not ideal.

G’day Australia, I’ve been thinking – if you want your citizens to prosper, perhaps you might consider reducing your prices so we can all afford to eat? And speeding/parking fines shouldn’t bring one to the point of bankruptcy. Just a thought.

So Belgium… What’s with the local attitude? Are you still p*ssed over the fact that the French claimed fries as their own?

‘Ladies and gentlemen, our sincere apologies for the delay in opening the boarding gates. However the hostess tells me that you are all on board and seated and your luggage is correctly stowed, so we can in fact leave 20 minutes early.’ (Christ I love Germans.)

Hi again Mexico, another suggestion: If you’d like to solve your traffic problems, you might consider introducing rules and actually enforcing them.

Dear Western Europe: Why can’t I ask for a glass of tap water with my meal? I mean, what’s the problem? Do I need to pay for air too? And can’t I just use a public toilet without paying for it? Please???

Dear Eastern Europe: Thank you for giving me tap water with my meal without me having to ask for it. And for not charging me to use public bathrooms. I love you.

Oh Australia and your over-regulated ridiculousness, the whole cigarette plain packaging thing didn’t really work out, did it? You turkeys.

Asia… I thank you from the bottom of my heart for bringing us some of the best cuisines on the planet. I have to ask though, what’s with the desserts? Is bean curd flan really such a good idea? Really???

South America, I ask you kindly to please reconsider your bus system. Tiny two-way lanes high up on mountains, paved in gravel and with no lighting, and crazy drivers doing crazy turns at night are not a good mix. I do rather like travelling with cages full of chickens though.

Someone seriously needs to explain to the Germans that a coffee is not a jug-sized cup of boiled foam.

Attention: India and France. Please learn how to queue.

Turkey… Why do you get angry when I want to pay in your national currency? I’m not European and I don’t want to pay in Euro. Thank you.

If Italy and Greece can’t stick to timetables for public transport, why have them at all? What a waste of paper.

 

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