I: WATERLOO (May-June 2000)

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I

Waterloo

May-June 2000

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May 7th

Tomorrow I am for the Continent. I have passed the earliest months of this new Millennium studying quite vigorously all aspects of the Battle of Waterloo. My place of residence for the composition period has been Brighton, & as a bright-eyed 23-year old it is definitely a cool place to be. I feel free & young & ready to devote myself to the cause that is the perennial, pantheonic perusal of poetry. I have settled upon a singular poem 60 tryptychs in length, & I shall compose it across two trips to the continent, the first of which has been expediated by my first ever internet purchase of a cheap Ryanair flight to Italy. It is now cheaper to fly to places like Milan & Barcelona than it is to travel from London to Manchester by rail!  For this first mission I shall be accompanied by my housemate, Brynley Warlow. He has an amorous attachment to a lady in Venice, so we have decided to travel to the continent together for ten days. The first half shall be a tour of the scenes upon La Route Napoleon in France, the road the rogue emperor took on his return to Paris in 1814. The other half shall be a whistle-stop tour of Italy, the chief aim being to satisfy my friend’s youthful lust. Bring it on!


May 8th

Began day at seven-thirty in the arms of Kate. She called round last night to bid me adieu, so I’m a little tired right now. Bryn cooked up some breakfast, I made some pasta for the road & away we went. On the way to the airport we jumped two trains & had to buy a one-stop single (3-1) en route. To our surprise, the Stanstead Express was having a training session for conductors, two per carriage, but we still jumped it. On the way we stopped off at Bishop’s Stortford, a mad little Fenland market town. It was Bryn’s brother Gareth’s birthday (MC Hiaraki to those in the know) & he had some pills waitin’ fer us. We necked two, the others pocketed, & proceeded to indulge in some messy pool table shennanigins.

After an hour or so he dropped us off at the airport, where we got thro’ customs quite smoothly, despite Bryn having a small knife & being so trashed he forgot to hide the pills. Luckily the knife distracted them from any further searchin’ & we were soon on a lovely jaunt over the clouds… especially when the tips of the Alps peeped their ragged peaks thro’ the oceans of cloud. Of our two Ryanair Irish stewardesses; one was moody & the other gorgeous. We were still tryin’ to chat em up as the plane descended into Genoa, our first Italian breaths inhaling in a fine city stacked against the mountains.

We caught the bus into Genoa, which was hardly enticing, it being night & a little seedy – not like the Italy I remember. At the stazio we skinned up a skunk spliff curtesy of the birthday boy & chilled out til the train to Ventimilia came. The jump was easy, a nice ,late train & a half-hearted sweep (5-1) & we arrived at the hotels of San Remo at about half-past midnight. The town was almost deserted & as we were on a bit of a come-down it was all rather bizarre; the acclimatization not quite having kicked in yet. We wandered out of town a little & found a nice secluded beach, where we put up our tent in the moonlight & drifted into pleasant, pilled-up dreams…

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