Thirty-one years on the road to nowhere searching for somewhere without a care think I found some times and places looked like I could only understand faces looking back at the sun with summer wind on my back wish they’d been wolf, lynx and bear if I’d really been a-were!
I’ve only skied one day in my life, and that was in Australia. I don’t think I even knew there was skiing in Australia until I went there, and maybe not even until the weekend was suggested. I’d flown into Darwin, and travelled east to Townsville before heading down to Sydney, but the Snowy Mountains was the farthest south I went.
It was suggested by others on the trip, as most of the domestic ones I went on in and after university were. But all my creative writing is mine: I revisited the area just over twenty years later through fantasy rambling by mostly Google Maps and Wikipedia; along with memories of my travels in Werewolf of Oz.
In 1989 we stayed in Jindabyne, while the Werewolf of Oz highlights included characters from the Perishers cartoon strip in the Perisher Valley, berry poetry in Berridale and a pigeon cooing story from Western Australia re-emerging in Cooma, linking back to the start of the rambling storyline.
Jindabyne Skiing, Snowy Mountains
Getting kitted out:
It was the end of the season there, and the ski lifts etc weren’t working, so it was a case of hiking around and up the hills/mountains:
And then skiing/falling down, reminiscent of Eddie ‘the Eagle’:
We also had to walk across a river at the end of the day; I led the way, knowing a shower wasn’t far away!:
As I wrote my blog about travel heaven and hell on Monday morning, October 16th, I thought there was a strange sepia glow around, but put it down to city lights still being on or something, and didn’t think much about it. I wouldn’t have gone out if it hadn’t been forecast to be the last warm day of a spell of mild weather over the weekend. I went out for the forecasted brightest time in the early afternoon, but wondered why when I got out, as it was all cloud and wet on the ground. I think it was also eerily quiet, as somebody said on T.V. later, but I didn’t really notice that much at the time, or think it was for any particular reason.
Prophecy or Coincidence?
However, after I’d walked east five minutes along the canal towpath I saw the sun poking through the thick grey cloud, and it looked the pinky orange some other people also saw, and that was mentioned on the Yorkshire ITV weather report later. My decade-long website theme was the greenygrey, and towards the end it developed a PinkyOrangePurple twilight times theme after a sun-inspired ascent of the middle greenygrey Y: greenYgrey. Together the colour combinations were abbreviated to gYgPOP. The scene I saw on Monday was like a ggPO, with the classic greenygrey landscape lit up by a PinkyOrange sun; not looking Yellow!
This image of the scene accompanying an MSNstory, of sun and Liver Bird in Liverpool, does look fully gYgPOP, with the human constructions providing the green and grey!:
When I sat down the sky was all grey cloud apart from a thin band of blue on the western horizon. Within half an hour the sky had cleared, and was nearly all blue.
I thought that it was quite a coincidence, and would have looked a bit like Jesus parting the sea if there were any disciples around; and much better than King Cnut and the tide, although he was of course demonstrating that he couldn’t overcome nature.
30 Years Storm Anniversary
It was weird that it happened thirty years to the day after Britain’s worst storm of the twentieth century, and is said to have been partly caused by the Ophelia storm that was happening in parts of Britain and Ireland that day bringing dust up from the south, scattering the blues and greens of the sun’s light spectrum, leaving the reddish ones to dominate.
That’s the scientific explanation, and as I’ve been an advocate for science over the last decade I’m happy to go along with it. I’m also happy to let ‘red’ get most of the descriptions, although pink and orange were more accurate, as there were negatives from Ophelia, as all storms, and some of the dust was thought to have been from deadly wildfires in Portugal and Spain.
Leeds got a bit windy – stormy in the night, but escaped the brunt of the storm. I also missed the 1987 storm, as I’d reached Crete by then, and had started my life as a worker-traveller in a village called Pirgos, going to a certain café where employers knew casual workers hung out. October 16th was quite a landmark day in my W-T career, as I started a longish term job that day. Here’s my diary for that day, and some of the previous one:
I didn’t remember citing a Guns N’ Roses song in my diary travelling through the old Yugoslavia in 1987 until re-reading it recently, but was delighted to do so, after naming my memoir of the journey: The Guns N’ Roses Worker-Traveller.
Living the Dream is sometimes a Nightmare
This page of the diary also shows that I have always preferred slim waify women, preferably blonde, or honey brunettes, considering a Samantha Fox lookalike fellow traveller a ‘bit overweight’. That’s because when I said the same after a ‘relationship’ with a similar looking woman went pear-shaped people just thought I was saying that.
It also shows that I have usually been too standoffish with women, and was usually happy to take the easier option of watching the view go by, or get drunk, than enter into a relationship, or take the necessary steps of courting to make that happen. That was down to good ol’ simple shyness or uncomfortableness, and one of the reasons I liked a drink.
It also features a meeting with an old man, that was as far as I know genuine. I didn’t try and visit him in Athens afterwards. The book does include some similar situations that were dodgy, in part featured because of the grooming situation I knew was going on in Britain and Europe, and as a general warning for youth about the dangers on the streets; as bands like Guns N’ Roses were also warning.
Warnings for youths about grooming were a constant during my decade of writing, and I also tried to do the same in (post) university and work. It was my goodbye present to youth, as I passed into middle-age; as seen in poems such as the fictional what could have been Professor Green / Plan B inspired Middle-Aged Memories.
Maybe I should still be trying to be a youth, as Lemmy of Motorhead seemed to be, and was loved for it, and as I’ve said before, the goldlilocks zone for women is still 21-40; but only if they want to be with me for me, and not gold-digging! But, to be truthful, I hanker more after mature sophisticated conversation than partying and debauchery; although it’s nice to have an occasional drink.
I’m sick of explaining everything I write, but then remember that my doctor and professor examiners didn’t seem to understand what I was trying to do in my PhD. I was beyond them then; in my head and world anyway, and their perception of me; which I think was generally classist, and sexist where applicable.
It’s quite ironic that people were trying to retire me when I was in my early 30s, but now they wonder why I don’t want to go out on the town when I’m in my early 50s! C’est la vie!!
I concluded my 30th anniversary tour of my travels starting on August 25th, 1987 with a spectacularly genius combination: returning to my birthplace of Jersey for the first time in just over 50 years! It was a week full of the ups and downs typically experienced while independent travelling. I hope to write more about it soon.
My year of returning to hobo travelling on short trips 2017 tour took in:
Scarborough to Withernsea coastal path trek in May.
Helmsley to Scarborough imprecise rest of the Cleveland Way walk in June.
Guns N’ Roses gig in the Olympic Stadium in June, camping in Abbey Wood.
Camping and hiking in Jersey less than fortnight after anniversary, and in the month of my birthday, and taking a ferry across the channel as I did in 1987.
Thanks to all those I’ve met along the way and that have played a positive part in it, and especially the awesome AAWs and great greenYliens; and Guns N’ Roses for partly reforming and touring to take part in it (little self-parody there!!).
I really hope I brightened up the day of those who wanted to see me, as seeing people I’d heard of has for me over the years, such as sports and media people in Leeds.
Sorry if I didn’t acknowledge you if you wanted me to; or if I didn’t visit your locality if you wanted me to, or enter your workplace or use your transport.
The first of ignoring people was probably because some people take offence at me looking around, and some even use it to try and entrap me within a ‘negative’ for me, ‘positive’ for them. Sorry if you wanted to be positive, but I ‘wasn’t in the mood’! Like a reality show judge once said, I don’t want to disappoint anyone, and it can be quite mentally taxing at times, hopefully without sounding too self-obsessed!
The second was probably because of either my ambition to stay true to my original travelling as possible; to prove I did it originally to others, and that I can still do it to myself, probably in a middle-aged crisis kind of way.
I’d rather have been spending more money on beer and food, and occasional hotels and transport, but I was on my own little personal mission, and if I’d strayed too far from it, or even a little, the negatives would no doubt have made a mountain out of a molehill, as they’ve tried to do with my writing and running.
Anyway, I don’t want to dwell on the negatives too much, and I’m delighted to have accomplished the anniversary I wanted. Thanks again to all those who took part in it positively, helped along the way, or tolerated me hiking and camping around.
The greenYgrey decade also finished with the greenygrey3 subscription running out on September 4th, the day I travelled to Jersey, in a triple synchronisation of my writing career significance. ‘Mastermind genius’ used in a great way, but that will no doubt be ignored by the mainstream media and publishing; or turned negatively!
The books are there are as a greenYgrey legacy, and I really recommend them, especially the last two, and hope to write more about the greenYgreyology philosophy in the future, but as me, Doctor Marc Latham. I’ve tried to be very ethical the last decade, such as reining in promiscuity, mainly because the greenYgrey could appeal to all ages, and was oppsoing the child grooming disgrace, but some people even turn that into a negative.
I’ll be keeping this site going, and hope to have a new project or three soon, with lots of ideas, but no clear direction yet, in true greenYgrey style. If there are any experts or specialists in exercise, travel, media, sport or publicity etc interested, maybe now would be a good time to contact me.
30 years ago yesterday I left home and today’s the anniversary of me landing on the continent, after taking a ferry from Dover to Ostend. I reached Athens in time for my 22nd birthday just over a month later, after hitch-hiking most of the way, first heading west to northern Spain.
Athens Photos and Alcohol Labels
I visited the Acropolis in Athens, and took three photos, but collected more alcohol labels, which pretty accurately showed my priorities at the time: I wanted to see major sites I knew, but was more interested in the experience of travelling, meeting people and socialising. Here’s the photos from the Acropolis in Athens, followed by photos of the Acropolis entrance ticket and alcohol labels:
Commiserations to the traveller victims of terror, and all the other victims, this week. That was one of the reasons I stopped this blog, but they tell us to carry on as normal, so that’s what I’m doing. Everybody should know the risks by now, so it’s up to you if and where you go.
People think I’m a pseudo-enlightenment (perhaps real?) overnight success, but I’ve been on an introspective self-analysis self-improvement journey all my life. For a lot of the people in my life that I’ve discarded and now avoid, one of their biggest flaws for me was that they didn’t know/accept their parts in my life: which was a small piece in a big jigsaw over half a century old.
Second Batch of Diary
In the last batch of my 1987 travel diary I mentioned deciding to take public transport through Yugoslavia. I kept writing my diary on the paper notepad until sending my next batch in a packet from Crete; it contained the days September 18th to November 13th, 1987:
Here’s the pages of my diary from journey to the Yugoslav border detailing that decision-making process, where I discuss with myself whether it was worth making it into my own personal expedition. If it had been a proper expedition, or training trial, I probably would have kept going, but it wasn’t, and I had been using public transport in and out of cities as well… as far as possible. It also includes a hitching day through thick fog, and poor sleep in difficult conditions.
There were a lot of times when I was travelling I wished I was totally free of humanity; with no relations to worry about, or worry about them worrying about me; but family is good in other ways, and has benefits such as being a base. The way I travelled back in the 1980s, before all the portable and online technology of today, I may not have kept a diary together, and been able to write the book I did.
First Batch of Diary
The arriving in Rome day of my diary, scanned into a couple of posts ago, was the last of 17 pages of what I think was originally a notepad I sent home to myself from Rome; containing my journey hitch-hiking from west Wales via Belgium, France and northern Spain from August 25th to September 16th, 1987.
Here’s a scan of the envelope, with the postage wrong in typical traveller style:
I don’t know what the situation is now for long-term travellers, I guess most just do it online, but back then you usually relied on getting your mail sent to ‘poste restante’ at post offices around the world, providing a post office address that you planned to visit in a couple of months.
About three weeks after leaving home I reached Rome and spent a few days in Camp Nomentano. The shed beds were cheaper than pitching a tent, so I took that option. It turned out to be good on a social level too, as there was a cool crowd of people there. It was my first community away from home, and one I look back on with nice nostalgia. There was hot sunshine, and Rome being on the doorstep was a bonus.
Idyllic History Time Blurred but Still Recognisable
Knowing more about humanity now, I wonder how long it would have lasted, and put the good atmosphere down to the time and place, rather than any inherent goodness in or about anybody. It was a great time because it was brief and shallow, without work or competition, new interactions with people who shared my old dreams.
It was special to me because it was my only such experience in my travelling around Europe, before reaching the stationery worker-traveller communities on Crete. For the others I met at Camp Nomentano maybe it was just another campsite; one of many they stayed at in Europe; or just another weekend for those staying longer, like the busking team.
But however much I try and diminish it, with the benefit of 30 years worth of experience and knowledge, now living in middle-aged grumpiness, knowing some of the current young hunt people like me with the ferocity of rabied rats; as I then viewed older people!; unable or unwilling to recognise anything other than their own disgusting desires (money, sadism etc), it still sparkles in my memory like the sun through greenY leaves while lying in one of the hammocks revelling in youthful laziness.
Here’s some photos, flyers and receipts from my time when Rome became my first home from home:
Rome Campsite, 1987, Photos
I’m in the green in front of our ‘shed’, with the sunshine and trees visible in the background. Homophobic conspiracy theorists will probably consider it evidence of gayness, but I put my distraction down to my self-diagnosed ADHD.
My fun-loving-not-caring-about-acting/looking-the-fool personality was evident in this photo too, when I fumbled over taking the photo, but that brought out an even better one; I think, not remembering the original; with much merriment amongst my fellow travellers:
I didn’t take any photos in Spain or collect any memorabilia, apart from a couple of pesetas; I probably would have in Barcelona, but as my diary extracts show, my lift took me straight past it. I kept a coin or two; or note if that’s all there was, as in some countries; from each country. Here’s a photo of the two peseta coins I kept:
Hitch-hiking in Northern Spain
As my diary extracts show, hitch-hiking in northern Spain (Basque region) was difficult, but the lifts were eventful when they happened. Some Germans lifted my mood playing the Scorpions, and a local put AC/DC on.
The German ‘Scorpions’ lift, walking above Zaragoza and arriving in Figueres (I found out while there it was Salvador Dali’s birthplace: the museum was closed as it was a Saturday!) all made it into my fantasy fiction travel around Europe to Google Maps original concept XaW Files: Beyond Humanity book; cross-referencing through time and writing genres, via the motorways and crossroads of my mind; neurons of memory and creativity perhaps travelling from different parts of my brain, and meeting at the greenYgreyesque corpus callosum.
The Zaragoza to Figueres lift started off a spaghetti western storyline in Chapter 6 Episode 18: ‘I had felt shimmering significance in Figueres, time distortion in Barcelona and at a crossroads in Zaragoza.’ I had made it to Barcelona in 2013.
The German Scorpions lift was referenced in a fantasy storyline with the real Scorpions singer Klaus Meine, twisting it around to him having read my memoir, which is of course separate to the greenYgrey trilogy: ‘Klaus was very understanding about it, and gave me a lift to Hannover, his home town, which was on my way west. He played the Scorpions’ Worldwide Live album on the way, which is one of my all-time favourites. I told him I’d referenced a couple of Scorpions songs in the opening paragraph, and he said that was a coincidence, because our drive reminded him of one in The Guns N’ Roses Worker Traveller.’
My 1987 Diary
Here’s my diary recording my brief time in Spain. I had intended spending longer, but as I write in the diary, the hitching wasn’t very good.
In 2005, after a decade in further education I became Dr. Marc Latham, the Chav Philosopher; possibly Blighty’s best value and poorest doctor of philosophy. My memoir, poetry and fiction books are available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Marc-Latham/e/B004SP40J0/
Salvador Dali artwork is available on Artsy: https://www.artsy.net/artist/salvador-dali