Monday, August 07, 2006

Ups and Downs

I have to admit that last week was one of the most stressful of the last few years. Several things which I've mentioned in passing and several which I won't be talking about on the blog all added up to a constant nagging feeling and a knotted stomach to such an extent that I could barely eat the last few days. For one who eats anything and everything all the time, this is a little disconcerting.

Anyway, I figured that I would be able to hide myself for a little while in a newly purchased i-pod. I pre-birthday present from my parents before I left England once more. Having uploaded as many songs as I could mange before heading off I was content to sit in my own little world away from all the worries which have been getting to me. As I ran for the train at Munich station having missed the last bus, time slowed down as my i-pod flew from my jacket pocket and sailed balletically to the floor. Time slowed down sufficiently for me to think "It can't possibly be heading for the train tracks" as it glided off the platform and onto the train tracks. I stood aghast, not knowing whether to laugh or cry so instead I stood and swore a great deal for some considerable time. The thought of being taken off by the Munich police (watching the exact spot on CCTV) and my own sensible streak stopped me from getting on to the tracks to retrieve it so I searched frantically for someone official looking to help me out. Ten minutes later back in the airport I finally found someone who was uniformed enough to be of some assistance. I gushed my stupidity to them and they took pity, getting another official to come and help me out on what was turning out to be a pretty rubbish day (I'd already been ignored by the bus driver who would have taken me straight to the hotel and shouted at by a taxi driver who accused me of playing a joke on him when I quoted a price to the city which I'd been told by another taxi driver). Worried that somebody with less scruples had already picked up my i-pod we quickly went back to the spot where it was still standing. The official said that he wasn't going to get down there, and before I could offer, a short plump German man was on the tracks retrieving my key to sanity. It seems to work and thankfully landed on its backside leaving a large dent there, rather than on the screen. Having missed the train, I caught the next one and finally arrived at my hotel around one in the morning.

This gave me a day in Munich to go to the Deutsche Museum which is well worth a visit and I may talk more about when I'm less jet-lagged.

Anyway, I've arrived safely in Beijing and when the talk is over tomorrow that will at least be one thing off my mind. Due to a dead computer I've had to write the talk today having had an hour of sleep on the flight over last night. Though I was crammed into a window seat on a technologically backward Lufthasa flight it turned out to be one of the most spectacular flights I've been on.

The cloud depth was vast and we spent the first two or three hours skipping atop the highest layers as they played on the turbulence. I've taken a couple of videos as the strata swept over the wing and made amazing colours passing in front of the sun. If I can upload them I'll try and put anything worth seeing on the blog. An hour or two later as it got dark I spotted a flash outside and for half an hour we passed over a series of thunderstorms lighting up the sky beneath us. A strange combination of my slight obsession with the weather and my mild fear of flying made this an altogether exhilaration experience. It didn't stop there though as not only did I get a small show of shooting stars but the backdrop for this was a sheet of nacreous clouds sitting much higher than most. Anyway, all in all a pretty stunning flight and definitely worth the pain of the window seat.

Right, I'm beginning to lose it and really must make sure the talk for tomorrow isn't complete gobbledygook.


Anonymous said...

We don't have anything in common

Anonymous said...

By the way Biscuit, in a battle of train vs ipod, train will always win. But I'm guessing you know that now...hope you're insured?

Michelle said...

I had a similar experience recently, although not nearly as dramatic!

I was walking home and saw, on a busy street, a sick pidgeon in the road. It couldn't stand upright, had its wings out, and was pushing itself around in circles.

I wanted to save it (cars were zipping by) but not touch it (it is a *pidgeon* after all). So I walked another block and found a big stick.

My idea was to guide the pidgeon out the road, maybe help it stand up. So there I was in the middle of a busy street poking a sick pidgeon with a big stick while traffic zipped by.

The whole stick thing wasn't working very well. The pidgeon was still going in circles.

A guy stopped his truck in front of us, hopped out, gently picked the pidgeon up and moved it to the sidewalk. So swift and deliberate. And there I was with a giant stick!