So, the day is nearly here. Unless I die between now and 12.40pm on Friday, I’ll be on a plane to Mexico City to begin my travels around Latin America. When I first decided to leave Berlin and do something different, it all seemed such a long way away, so far into the future. Things like that, plans you make in advance, have a nice way of perking you up: yeh, I feel like shit right now, but in five months I’ll be sat on the beach, drinking champagne, licking honey off Salma Hayek’s boobs.
But after all the hassle and stress of packing up my stuff and getting out of my flat in Berlin, it has been a slightly strange six weeks here in England, and I’m just relieved, more than anything, to be going on Friday.
It’s kinda been like watching the pre-match build up to a World Cup final, then pressing the pause button just before the kick-off, and just hanging around with your mates and family for six weeks. That’s all well and good, but can I just press play and get on with the game please? (I used this analogy with my Mum over Christmas and she, being my mother, got the right hump.)
I think I’m excited, but I’m not sure. I’m not sure if it’s not just that I know I should be excited. I definitely am a bit scared. Having no solid plans for the future is liberating, but it’s also a bit of a weight on my shoulders. Hopefully, once I get over there, things will sort themselves out on that front.
And hopefully, these bloody migraines will be gone soon. I’m getting slightly bored and annoyed with having them again. It’s difficult to describe the pain to someone who doesn’t have them, and I know that before I’d had one, I had no understanding that it wasn’t just a headache. The closest I can get to describing the pain is quite useless for the women reading this, because it feels like being hit in the testicles and the pain stretched out to last for two or three hours, except in the head, not between the legs. It’s this fist-sized bastard behind my right eye that slowly rises, throbbing and pulsing until doing anything other than giving in to the pain is impossible. And then it sits there, smugly laughing at me inside my head, and shouting, “Look at the thin shaft of light under the door. Ha ha! That hurts, doesn’t it, you cunt! Look over there at the flashing dots on that digital clock! Ha ha! They’re like two big Bat-signals burning straight into your eyes, aren’t they? Hey, Craig! Why not close your eyes, that’ll make it all go away.. Oh, now the muscles around your eye seem to make it hurt even more, don’t they? Aaah diddums, fucker! Oooh, and that car revving up outside… Man, that’s gotta hurt! Feels like an angry hippopotamus rammed into a rucksack and squeezed behind your eyeball, eh?”
But migraines or not, before I get to Mexico I really, really need to get through this “Spanish with Michel Thomas” eight hour CD set that’s in my iPod. I bought it before I went to Mexico on holiday two years ago and only got through one of the eight discs. This time, I’ve managed to re-listen to that first CD and nearly finish the second. I don’t know if you’ve ever listened to any of his language courses before, but, from what I’ve listened to, he does seem to have a good technique for getting words to stick in the brain. I remember virtually everything that I’ve heard so far, but that’s the problem: I’ve not listened to enough. And it’s not entirely my fault, guv. Yes, I’m very, very lazy and impatient when it comes to learning a new language. Seven years in Berlin and my German skills were beginner at best. But part of the fault has to rest at Michel Thomas‘ (dead) feet.
It’s his voice. He’s got this weird accent, and he’s got quite a wet mouth. You know when people talk and you can here there’s a lot of spittle in their mouth? Well, that’s him. Like his tongue is a fish in a shallow puddle, flapping around, teaching you Spanish. And he makes a lot of spittle-y noises, and when that’s right in your headphones it’s like some someone myap, myap, myap-ing inside your brain. And, for me, as someone who cannot abide the sound of other people eating, it grates so very much that I have to stop listening when it happens.
Added to that, is the way the course is executed. Thomas has two people to go through what he’s teaching. On the CDs, the listener is the third student. One of the students – the female one – is fine. She gets it, on the whole; she makes the odd mistake, which he then corrects, but generally she’s good. The male one, on the other hand, is a fucking retard. And, I apologise, ’cause that’s being disrespectful to mentally handicapped people. He’s got the memory of a goldfish, and the pronunciation skills of a goldfish, too. I want and hope that at some point on disc three of the course, Thomas loses his rag with him and tells him to get out of the damn studio because you’re just wasting everyone’s time. Honestly, the course would be half the length if we didn’t spend so much time listening to Thomas correcting that dick’s pronunciation of simple stuff like para mí.
Still, I can rant all I want, but who is it going to be a problem for, going to a Spanish-speaking country in a couple of days with barely a smattering of the language? Para mí, that’s who.