Six months in Scotland already! Unbelievable. Six months ago I didn’t know there was such a thing as a Chocolate Hob Nob.
I wrote the following late one night, the first week we arrived in Edinburgh. The entry just curled up in a musty corner of the hard drive and hid over the summer. It’s a completely unedited sprawling mess, but I decided to post it anyway, just to preserve that wild panicky overwhelmed holy shit energy of the time.
Recently I was wandering through a website called Should Exist, where people can submit their ideas for inventions that don’t exist but really should. As a naive traveller, I’ve figured out a couple of inventions that don’t exist but I bloody wish they did.
UNIVERSAL CHANGE ARRANGER
After four different flights to get here with long stretchy stopovers, my wallet was choked with four different currencies. Jet lag and chronic clumsiness turned me into a wreck every time I had to buy something. Every time a shopkeeper would bark “5 euro!” or “six dollar!” I would look down at my wallet and feel my stomach drop. All the foreign shapes and colours would blur into one big metally mess, leading me to bleat, “Sorry!” and trembly-hand over the wrong thing every time.
What I propose is some sort of Smart Wallet, so when the shopkeeper says “50 roubles!” or “30 bazillion yen!”, the wallet would understand and the correct amount of money would rise up into your hand, perhaps presented on a nice silver platter and a note that says, There you go, dickhead. All you the weary traveller would have to do it hand it over. No more embarrassing fumbling of coins! No more, “I’m new in town and still trying to get used to your weirdo money.”
AUTOMATIC COAT RETRACTOR™
How many bloody coats does one NEED in this country? It’s supposedly spring in Scotland, but you couldn’t survive without a coat. so a typical afternoon wandering in and out of shops in princes street means having to take your coat off once you leave the breeze outside and get blasted by the overheated shops. so i am forever tangled up in my coat, swearing and fidgeting, trying to wrestle handbag straps and shopping bags and baskets and sunglasses. and then when you leave you have go through all that in reverse.
If only your coat could somehow be built-in to the human body. Attached to your back and with a press of a button, it would peel away from your body and disappear like retracting a seat belt. oh how tidy this would be! Press it again and ZAP! It shoots out and curls around your body again and off you go. Being in Edinburgh, I’d also go for the optional umbrella attachment, in which a brolly pops up from the top of my head and unfurls at the first sign of rain.
CONFIDENCE BOOSTER 2000
Last week living in the youth hostel, i was intrigued by those seasoned backpacker types. these are the ones who are cocky and chat up all the skanky blonde barmaids over a cheap gin. they’ve walked barefoot though the Himalayas, blindfolded. and backwards. they Did Europe on 3 pence a day. They’ve slept with six Russian women at the same time. they have artful stubble and smell like molten gym socks.
at first i thought they were looking down at me but really they weren’t looking at all. they sit on the stairs in the hostel and block your way and carry on their conversations without so much a glance. i feel so awkward and meek, so far from home… i’m scared of their confidence… it’s like they’re just pissing all over a map of the world.
there needs to be an invention for those days when you’re wondering why you left somewhere where everyone thought your jokes were funny, all the familiar places and faces and furniture are gone. nobody knows anything about you, there’s no history, all you have is that first impression. there needs to be an invention, a nasty hurty injection, a pill you can swallow, one that feels like home, like comfort, that lets you know you’ll be okay sport, that this mood will pass and it’s okay to be shitscared and you’ll feel better in the morning.
MIDNIGHT THOUGHT DECODER
Very late at night is the only time when things make sense. It happens in that sneaky sliver of time between awake and asleep.. a blend of perfect clarity and fuzziness. In that moment all these new experiences that seemed overwhelming in daylight suddenly make sense. they arrange themselves into into nicely structured stories. The mind churns out punchlines that zing, dialogue that crackles. But the body is so very tired, fading, the eyelids feel like lead. Sleep always wins the struggle, so those ideas fade from your memory like a new photo hitting the light.
There needs to be some sort of machine, it could plug into your ear and ransack the brain, a machine that transcribes those perfect words and stores them safely while you sleep. Then in the morning you could wake up, rub your eyes, say oh my, that was a strange dream about me and Ed from Radiohead, roll over, and there would be a little jar beside your bed labelled MIDNIGHT THOUGHTS. All those words you have no recollection of thinking would be there waiting for you, as trusty and tasty as homemade jam, all ready for spreading on blogs or emails back home.