Tuesday 18th November – Hong Kong airport- Um… I’ve been arrested!
The police at the airport have locked me up in a small room under armed-guard! What the actual effing fuck?
We’d landed in Hong Kong with no fuss, then I’d spotted an Asian woman at the gate holding a card with my name on it. Bev and Rachel had been dead impressed, thinking I’d arranged a chauffeured trip around the city before tonight’s connecting flight. I was almost entirely sure I hadn’t, but I stepped forward anyway, curious to find out what she wanted. The lady gave a shy little bow, whispered a word into her radio, and before I knew it three armed-policemen had appeared out of nowhere, grabbed my shoulders and marched me away. No explanation, and I was too stunned to object! Now I’m totally bricking it. What if they make me ‘disappear’? I’ve always hated magic.
My first thought was that they’ve done it because I’m gay, but apparently the ban on us entering the country was lifted in the late 1990’s when they decided that we were, regrettably, legal. What their problem actually is, in fact, is that the name on my plane ticket doesn’t exactly match the name on my passport. What a lousy reason to be arrested! I had tried to explain, but they weren’t interested. Rachel had booked my ticket using the surname I use, but there on my passport were all three barrels of it. Bloody high-class heritage always gives me grief. Unfortunately, she wasn’t around to help clear up the situation because the last I saw of the girls they’d been skipping off to McDonalds, saying “at least the food there looks safe.”
After a few minutes of awkward silence, I proceeded to make matters worse by trying to take a photo out of the window. Yes, all it looks out on is the runway, but it’s probably going to be the only bit of Hong Kong I’ll get to see now, and how was I supposed to know that photography is strictly forbidden? You’d have thought I’d been trying to shoot a person rather than a picture, but the policemen seem on edge, and obviously there can be only one logical explanation. I’m here to blow something up. So to avoid the risk of an ‘international incident’ I’m to stay locked in this holding cell until our connecting flight, presumably so I don’t do a runner and cause some kind of triple-barrelled, photographic anarchy.
Luckily, one of my guards speaks a little English (I think his name is Wang, which is appropriate because of the big old weapon he’s wielding) and he has allowed me access to a computer to help fill some of the wait, even finding a QWERTY keyboard for me instead of one covered in those squiggles. Unfortunately, internet access has been so restricted that there’s hardly any point. No You-tube, no Twitter, no www.banged-up-boys.com (which is a shame as I may have been featuring on it). I can’t even get on Facebook, but I guess if they cart me off to prison I’ll be able to write on walls and get poked by strangers for real.
I do have access to email, but I’ve been away for less than twelve hours so it’s probably a little early to write home. Isn’t it? Mum would freaking flip if she finds out I’m already in trouble. I’ve not even got to Oz yet!
To: “My Great British Contacts” Group
Subject: Hong Kong – Phooey!
Date: Tues 18 Nov – 10:37
Ladies and gentlemen… Kev has left the building!
And the continent, for that matter. I’m writing to you from Hong Kong airport, 5,989 miles east of where I was about eleven hours ago.
So… Airplane toilets. It’s not the easiest thing to do, take a poo in a room the size of a shoe box, but add the overhead lighting from hell, no wash facilities for seven time zones, and an evil flush that would whip your innards out of your arse if you don’t stand up quick enough, and you’d have the mile-high experience that I’ve had. How on earth two people are supposed to get up to anything kinky in them is beyond me. I barely had room to undo my own belt.
We’d been half-expecting our Malaysian Airways plane to be full of caged chickens and shifty looking Asians wearing parachutes, but it was actually well-equipped with no poultry to be seen. I’ve never flown long-haul before, and spent much of the flight entranced by a tiny cartoon plane on the computer screen in front of me. It showed where we were flying in real time, and I watched it hover over a map of Western Siberia for hours. Now, I know my geography is bad, but I couldn’t have told you that Western Siberia even existed – and it must be huge! I’m learning already. The same screen provided access to games, TV and movies, and even kept me informed of the temperature, presumably in case I wanted to pop my head out for some fresh air. Not wise, seeing as we were 33,000 feet up and it was -85 degrees outside. Nevertheless, Bev and Rachel spent most of the journey huddled under a blanket and grumbling that someone had left a window open.
It has occurred to me that most of you haven’t actually met the girls, so let me give you some background. After all, it was their dream to spend Christmas Day on Bondi Beach that persuaded me to come on this adventure in the first place.
Beverley and I started work at Corks Wine Bar on the same day, just over three years ago, and we became instant friends. I guess I’d describe her as my fag hag, and she would take that title proudly and in the spirit in which it is intended. She might not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but she is stunning both inside and out. Curvaceous, blond and in her early-twenties (I’ve heard her describe me in the same way), she has waves of golden hair, a kind heart, and a crooked smile that could almost turn me. If I wasn’t, I would. I love her very much. She quit the pub last year and took a new job at the local Wetherspoons, which is where she met Rachel.
Rachel is stylish and street-smart, and always up for a drink and a giggle. She has curly brown hair that can usually be found straightened and piled on her head in an elaborate style, plus a splattering of freckles over a small nose which she says guys find ‘cute’. She’s a bit shorter than average, but what she lacks in stature she more than makes up for in heels. Able to spot a fashion label from 100 metres, she often refers to me as her gay accessory, or ‘fag bangle’, which I don’t resent at all. I’m used to hanging around making others look good so I guess it fits. Shame her voice sounds like a chavvy cat being strangled though.
The three of us intend to be Ambassadors for Essex, proving to Australia and the world that we’re not all a bunch of vajazzled, perma-tanned morons with badly-drawn eyebrows and donkey laughs like the TV would have you believe. To demonstrate that Essex isn’t all about birds-nest hair, vacant chewing-gum grins and sex addiction. That most of its residents are naturally beautiful, intelligent, and hardly chavvy at all. Cough. Unfortunately, we didn’t get off to the best start on arriving because Bev fell out of the plane. She’d landed on her over-stuffed rucksack in the middle of the tarmac and had been unable to get back up. She’d thrashed about screaming until someone helped her to her feet, but unfortunately it was neither of us as we’d been doubled-over trying to breathe.
After some minor issues at Arrivals, I’m now online doing a bit of research into our final destination. Better late than never, I guess. It seems Australia is proper big. It’s both the largest island in the world AND the only country that doubles as a continent. It is twenty-four times bigger than the UK but, get this, has only a third of the population, mainly because the centre of Australia is so inhospitable that it’s practically devoid of human life. In fact, 90% of the residents live around the edges in ten big cities, which sounds remarkably similar to the world according to Judge Dredd if I remember my old comics correctly. It is divided into five ‘territories’ and tomorrow morning we’ll be arriving in ‘Victoria’, which is both the country’s smallest state and also the first female I’m going to have entered in a long time.
Thanks for your emails. I’ll respond when I can.
Love Kev x
I’m well impressed with my email home. It comes across as cheerful and upbeat, when in truth I typed it with trembling hands, a thumping heart and a spasming a-hole. Things are worse than ever.
Wang asked to go through my diary. Of course I said yes. What better evidence of how harmless and pathetic I am is there? Unfortunately, he took the words “I am here to blow something up” out of context, and his limited grasp of the English language doesn’t seem to include ‘sarcasm’. Things escalated pretty quick. Two more guys with guns came in, both pointed at my face, and I swear my arse nearly vomited into my trousers. I’ve never felt fear like it! They wheeled away the computer, snatched my camera off me, and one of them leant over me and started snarling like a pissed off Bruce Lee on Red Bull and protein-shakes. His hand-gestures have made his intentions quite clear – he wants to give me a more thorough searching. Strip me bare and rummage through my most intimate of cavities, and I think Wang’s gone off to find a pair of marigolds… I’m flipping terrified! Nothing’s been up there for ages, and it looks like he’s got sharp fingernails.
3.15pm – Hour five of my incarceration
I know I wanted new experiences, but being someone’s bitch in a Hong Kong prison was not on the cards, and I reckon that’s where I’ll be off to next. I feel humiliated, scared, exhausted, and now intimately stretched in a way that wasn’t fun. I’m not thinking about it.
As if the (surprisingly gentle) probing of a Chinese finger wasn’t enough, my hangover seems to have finally caught up with me from Saturday night. The flickering strip-lights are bringing on a cracking headache and it sounds like there’s a dying frog trapped in my stomach. Despite my very best clenching efforts some horrendous farts are slipping out, and quite frankly I’m surprised some kind of body fluid hasn’t escaped from one end or the other. Wang’s mate has no idea how lucky he just was. Bent over, straddling his angry face, I was THIS close to saying ‘fuck it’ and letting loose. Can you imagine?
“Who ordered the Chinese with extra bum gravy?”
What a ridiculous situation. I can’t get my head around it. Yesterday I was at home having a cuppa, today I’m halfway across the world, locked in a room with four big angry Asian men, one of whom literally just gave me the finger whilst the other three pointed semi-automatic weapons at my face. Yet it feels like I’ve just popped out for milk.
I didn’t feel even remotely sad when I was saying goodbye. I was leaving everyone I loved and everything I knew, and I had no idea when I was going to see them again, but I didn’t shed a tear. Didn’t even want to. Mum had stood there in the rain, crying. Sis had hugged me a tad longer than usual. Little Tommy had stumbled after the car, sobbing his heart out, and Michael hadn’t shown up like he’d promised… but I felt detached from all of it. A little embarrassed at the attention maybe, but nothing more. As the car pulled off, I remember wondering if I should press my hand against the window and gaze out longingly to them like they do in Eastenders, but instead I’d just stared straight ahead, feeling… what? Numb? Determined? I knew a new road now lay before me and I needed to see where it led. And I don’t mean the M25, I knew that led to Heathrow.
It’s ironic really. The whole point of escaping Essex, England, and my life as a whole was to keep my overactive brain occupied with exciting new adventures and possibilities, and to get over Phil without having time to actually stop and think about it. Unfortunately, I’ve been incarcerated for hours with nothing to do but think…
“We’ll be together forever,” Phil used to tell me, and being the hopeless romantic I am I’d accepted that without question. After all, who was I to turn my back on someone actually willing to be with me? So I stayed, like a faithful puppy, even when “together forever” sounded like a life sentence rather than a promise of enduring love. Everything I did seemed to annoy him or be wrong. Was I really that bad a boyfriend? I know I didn’t make him use those websites OR force that bloke balls-deep into him, so why do I feel so guilty about it all ending? My head wants to call him a tosser and move on, but my heart has to get used to the idea. I still miss him. It pisses me off to admit it, but I do. Even with the image of him splayed and begging for it burned into my eyeballs. He’d pleaded with me for two weeks to take him back. He was desperate for another chance, and made me feel increasingly unreasonable until I’d stupidly agreed. I had allowed him only the smallest of smiles.
“Ok. I’ll forgive you.”
But it was all he’d needed. His face had changed even as I was reaching out to him.
“About fucking time too. I’m always the one that gets to do the dumping.”
His eyes had turned cold, his lip had curled back into his trademark sneer.
“And you are officially dumped.”
He had wanted me back only so he could finish with me himself. Is there any way to humiliate someone more completely? He’d left then, taking what little remaining self respect I had with him, along with a pair of my favourite jeans that he’d happened to be wearing at the time.
What a complete and utter bastard.
But you know what? Maybe being forced to do some thinking wasn’t such a bad thing. A bit of distance is helping me see things clearer, because instead of asking myself “Why did he leave me”, I’m now thinking, “Why the fuck didn’t I leave him?” After all, he put me down and made me feel stupid and ugly. I’m better off without him. And despite him specifically telling me otherwise, I do deserve better.
IF I DON’T GET OUT OF THIS SODDING ROOM I AM GOING TO MISS MY PLANE!