Cracker by Damian Christie

You know what's wrong with this world?

Okay, well, one thing first off.

Travel to Europe is so cheap in the UK, which is great. It literally costs me less to book a flight to Amsterdam than it does to get the bus to the airport. But what sort of perverse business model makes it one-third as cheap to book a return ticket (£47) from Paris to London as it does to book a one way ticket (£150) for the same journey?

I don’t need to go both ways. And I figure they can’t make me return, can they?

So what happens? Well I book the return trip, knowing I’m not about to use the return part. It goes completely to waste. In my mind, there's a little Parisian orphan with tuberculosis who really wanted to see his English penpal before he dies is coughing blood on the train platform, while an empty seat returns to England.

And that’s what’s wrong with the world.

Yeah I know, booking continental travel, sucks to be me. Sorry.

So Oxford isn’t the most alive of towns. Who’da thunk it – medieval architecture isn’t synonymous with “party central”. So I’m living for the weekends, and London. Each weekend sees me exploring a different part of the city, because that’s where the party’s at. Whereas in Auckland most of my friends live within a few square miles (in Sandringham I’m almost on the outskirts), in London everyone is spread about fairly randomly, from Islington to Whitechapel, Old Kent Road to Park Lane, from Community Chest to Go To Jail. It's like (geographically) going for a night out in Papatoetoe or Albany (or Stokes Valley/Ashburton/Mosgeil for those of you in other parts of NZ). Any given night sees a combination of tubes, buses and good old fashioned walking into never before explored realms.

Fortunately the iPod makes life all good. My friend Smacked Face once wrote about how sublimely perceptive the iPod random song generator could be. On a crowded tube I need to chill, so I put on the extended mix of Odyssey’s ‘Native New Yorker’ (because it’s about riding the subway and stuff, but with a great groove)… the iPod chooses the next song – GnR’s ‘Welcome to the Jungle’. It’s like it knows, dude.

Seriously though, don't consider travelling the tube without music in your ears. For this kiwi at least it makes everything seem more like a cool, gritty, urban movie set in the big smoke and less like skanky, unreliable, public transport.

What else?

Well, I’m a little bit over being called names.

Not only does every English person I meet call me Australian(!), I was walking through Camden the other night when a guy walked past me muttering something.

“I’m sorry?” I asked, stopping to turn around.


“Sorry mate, I can’t hear you.” I said, as I walked up to him.


“No, it's Damian, but I’ve been getting that a lot around here. Does he look a bit like me?”

“No mate… Charrrrrrrlie?”

“Oh right! Stupid me. No, sorry, I’m totally out. I’ve got some loose change though, or a cigarette, if that’s any help.”

And then he just walks off without saying anything. I mean, you try to help these people…

Which reminds me of something someone emailed in – my first bona fide London joke.

“Knock Knock.”

“Who’s there?”


“Biggish Who?”

“No thanks mate.”