Sunday, 23 September 2012

Episode 6: Ikea, where art thou?

I have a bit of a situation with my bed. We've had quite the tempestuous relationship for the last month we've laid together. Rather than welcoming my open arms, I am met with menacing coils, begging for release from their foamy kingdom. If I didn't have deal with this almost hourly pleasantry, perhaps I would not be so sour about the reverb that comes from my wonky bed- as it clashes, suggesting to my housemates that I am encountering far more exciting liaisons, I am more sure than ever that three wheeled objects only belong in Only Fools and Horses. However, I have one problem that is well within my realm of control- one month into living here I still do not have a duvet sheet, which after trailing around numerous overpriced shops, left me no option but to travel out in search for an Ikea in a galaxy far, far away.

In all of its Swedish glory, the Ikea outing was top of the list for the Andersson clan. My Dad's unwavering loyalty to all things Swedish could remain in tact whilst he boasted about the cheapness of "Billy", "Ofelia"and "Henrika", which swiftly made their way into my house/the Ikea showroom. My sister and I could really believe we were half Swedish there, as we were met with insane plastic products with English prices. If I'm not concentrating, I still get the real place and the store mixed up.

However, it seems Madrid are not as keen on their Swedish brethren. Shunted to the suburbs of Madrid, I was given a 50 minute metro journey to La Peseta, it in itself a relic of Spanish past. Rather than questioning this dubious travel time, I grabbed my copy of The Female Eunuch as a battle weapon to prevent the gaze of slimy metro creeps. A satisfying amount of pages through, I made my way out of the station, to see rows and rows of apartments with no other sign of life available. I tried blaming apple maps, I tried blaming google maps, and any other map I could get my hands on- but I knew it was all down to me- I had decided to trust some twat on google answers to send me in the right direction. Twenty miles away from my Swedish homeland complemented by my twenty years of stupidity, I feigned from throwing my phone at the wall and decided to come home.


Making my way to the nearest (and only) cash point, I went to withdraw ten reluctant euros for the ride home. Thinking I must have entered my pin wrong, I watched the machine reject my pin twice. Unavailable funds, please try later. x 2. Out of the several bank cards I have, I thought one of them might have some money on. Oh, no. 1 doesn't have a pin yet. No. 2 has no money on. No. 3 has passed its expiry date. I made the mistake of looking at my phone to see exactly how far I was from the centre of Madrid. Oh, an hour and twenty minutes? That would be great- IF I HAD BIONIC LEGS.

The residents of La Peseta must have freaked out whilst I jogged up and down the streets to find another cash point. Considering they already think I am some replica from day of the dead, I wasn't surprised to hear a child scream as I went by. Trying not to sob like a five year old, I made my way down into the Metro station, wishing I would have asked the beggar I gave five euros to for some tips.

Ready to demolish my card for the third and final time, I submitted it into the murky depths of three metro card machines to get a response. When it came to the final card machine, I got it stuck. At this point, I was ready to sob my life story to any passer-by available. Shame there wasn't any, so the guard got this (best Spanish accents please) :
Me: "My birthday card, sorry, my bank card, is in this machine. It will not say bye. I don't know why it won't say bye. It won't leave... my Spanish is not very good."
Guard: "It's just gone into the machine now. Can you not use the machine?"
Me: "Oh it's okay now! It's in it's in, I never wanted it to say bye, more hello."
Guard: "Do you need some help?"
Me: "Not the type that you can give me."
(Guard misunderstands broken Spanish)
Guard: "You have to get ten trips because if you spend less than five euros it's cash only. See? (points to massive sign)..."
Me: "Oh yes, that makes sense. Thank you for your help. (sheepishly abandons paying two euros on card)..."

As I got off the final metro stop, I was caught in the rain. I got some penny sweets, and skipped the rest of the way home. It seemed apt, somehow.

One day, we will be together.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Episode 5: An even bigger slice of reality (creative titles at their best)

I envisaged a rather romantic goodbye from my family and boyfriend on our trip to the airport. Leaving for my flight to Madrid for the year, I wanted tears, heartbreak, and a little slice of somewhat unnerving breakdown.

My Dad dropped me off at the five minute departure zone and asked if I wanted anyone to come with me.

Letting that sentence speak from itself, my mother and boyfriend were rudely alerted that they needed to accompany me after realising I had in fact been dropped of at the wrong terminal- my doing, as per normal. With ten minutes of check in time remaining before my flight, I blubbered underneath my optics whilst my mother carried my suitcase. I awaited outside the garish orange easyjet sign- I should have known all that was novel had died then- when I got a long hug of my Mum, and five swift kisses off my boyfriend ranging from motherly peck to a touch of the cheek, WITH NO WATERWORKS WHATSOEVER. I gazed into their eyes. Mum had ill-timedly decided to have her tears back home when we were all trying to eat a nice bun, whilst my boyfriend didn't utter any emotional semblance whatsoever. Wondering if my loved ones were clones, I rang my mother after making it to the check-in gate in one piece for her to lie and tell me Joe had been in hysterics all journey. It seems I know where the real acting comes into play.

Slightly dishearted by our mutually weak reaction, I bought an overpriced salad and lunged towards the gate, determined to run and barge in a non-British manner, only to realise I was flying solo. Making a rather bathetic stop at the back row, I deprived a middle-aged man of the right to fly to next to his partner on a romantic trip to Madrid, and spoke and spoke about university, moving to another country and trashy magazines. I quickly learnt that he slightly resented university students, and especially me because I refused to give him peace and quiet for the remaining two and a half hours. I must remember not to pack my in-flight novel into my actual suitcase next time.

Awaiting inside the airport was my other half, Christine. I say other half, because since our friendship has endured me picking my nose, me getting up way too late, me having no sense of directional skill whatsoever, and her awful skill of buying really nice clothes. Our womance has shared a claustrophobic room, awkward Spanglish moments and a decent amount of alcohol. Finally secure in our much-desired apartment, we are perplexed as to how two people who chat to each other fourteen hours of the day could possibly live with an anti-social rabbit killer. Okay, that is perhaps harshly worded, but factually correct. A foreign masters Genetics student, the girl shares both an enviable command of Spanish and English, which we deduced from the one conversation we have had from her. After her avidly detailing her various skills as a rabbit murderer- despite protesting that I was a vegetarian- she has retired to her room, complete with strange electro sounds and world of warcraft (actually seen by self).

And on the job front? Give me another week. I have written about too many beautiful women to have a shred of self-confidence. I am currently compiling a list of "women who need to be kept away from the rest of humanity so the rest of us have a chance." Well, that's a nice way of putting it. The actual title is "women who need to be quickly shot to give the rest of us the chance."

Must abandon awful right-wing rags and go back to lovely, left-wing intellectualism.

... either way I sound like a bit of a twat.