Despite my best efforts, it would seem as though my career has come to something of a standstill in 2022. Sure, I freelance here and there where I can, but the workflow has taken a precipitous drop that is no doubt in direct correlation with my insistence on being increasingly esoteric.
Words like esoteric, for that matter, are awful for readability, and before I click publish I have to stare at the frowning face on the WordPress editor that questions my decisions. Yes, algorithm bot, I am certain that this is ready to go live, and just for that, I’ll slip in the word ‘fuck’ with such stealth you’ll scarcely even notice it’s there.
Fuck, fuck, fuck.
Fear not, though, as it has since dawned upon me that this godforsaken website presents a unique opportunity to artificially inflate my portfolio however I see fit.
“Who would approve of this trash?” prospective employers will scoff, navigating to the ‘about’ page in pure vexation. “Oh, you did. Yes, of course.”
I’ve dabbled in many dream roles over my journalistic career, covering subjects such as gaming, basketball, anime and whether big banks can restore the public trust (one of these is not like the others); however I feel as though my true calling lies in travel writing.
The reasons are clear. I like to travel, and I like to be paid to live a life of lavish excess. Unfortunately, the two have never intersected, and one of the major hurdles standing in my way is a lack of relevant material to showcase.
With this in mind, I have decided to manifest my own future, presenting to you exactly how well-travelled, well-read and well-inebriated I am. To the editor-in-chief lucky enough to gaze upon this piece, I assure you: I am willing to bribe you in whatever means necessary. Wink, wink.
Paris, France: la ville de l’amour et de la violence (that’s French for ‘the city of love and violence’… I think)
Gonna hedge my bets here by opening with one of the world’s great cities. Paris was a truly eye-opening experience that taught me exactly how bad my French is; perhaps it’s no coincidence that the phrase that has stuck with me most closely is “je ne comprends pas”, which directly translates to “I do not understand”.
Despite this, I was resolute that I would speak the native tongue, if not to appease the locals, then to stop those people who ask “do you speak English?” from brandishing their signs asking for money. Why do people assume I’m wealthy? I dress like I ran through Savers with my eyes closed.
It is most assuredly a very pretty city, though for someone such as myself with no particular affinity for fashion, all of its appeal lies in its centuries old landmarks — such as the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and Gérard Depardieu.
In actual fact, reminders of modernity almost feel wretched in a way. There was something rather upsetting about walking through the catacombs and solemnly observing the millions of skulls, only to notice where someone has scratched their initials into the wall. Catacombes de Paris: constructed in 1810, visited by some random jackass in 2010.
Once I’d gotten my fill of monuments, I kind of just started to exist for the most part, content to lumber the streets in an aimless malaise. Sometimes you’d get hit in the face by some weird helicopter toy street vendors were flicking into the air, other times you’d pass by a shirtless Iya Traoré climbing a streetlight.
This was all well and good until the night England faced off against Algeria in the World Cup, resulting in a 0-0 draw that left the Brits shellshocked.
The English contingency were disgusted, having squandered away yet another opportunity against an inferior opponent. Algerians, it seemed, were absolutely fucking ecstatic, and took to the streets to revel in this unexpected result. I only know they were Algerian because they literally smothered a motorcyclist with their flag while he was stopped at a traffic light.
It was like a silky hug from the enraptured nation of Algeria, though I’m sure he was none too pleased at the time.
Continuing down the street in search of French delicacies (read: popcorn chicken), I then passed by a group of boisterous soccer enthusiasts engaging in a heated discussion with officers of the law.
“Ooh, this is neat,” I mused, brandishing my camera like an idiot tourist. As if on cue, the situation escalated into a flurry of thrown chairs and brandished nightsticks as the two sides clashed. One of the cops turned to face me with a look of malcontent in his eyes, seeming to sense this foul paparazzi hovering in the background. I didn’t mean to make a snuff film, dude, I just liked your uniform!!
I apologised in French, which very clearly was being spoken by someone who was not at all French, and he thought better of it before turning his attention towards the assailants. I fled the scene sans grievous bodily harm, but with two seconds of unintentional albeit very exciting footage of the proceedings.
Onward I pressed, only taking a cursory notice of the bleary-eyed collection of people rapidly proceeding in the opposite direction. They must have all been quite emotional about the soccer, too, I figured, though their red faces and furious coughs would suggest something more sinister.
The further I went, the foggier the night sky grew. Did the forecast call for such rogue weather patterns? And more significantly, did fog usually sting so damn much?
In case you hadn’t figured it out by now (I wouldn’t for at least another fifty yards), I had wandered directly into the waning cloud of tear gas from an earlier scuffle and I was slowly but surely blinding myself in an alarming display of obliviousness.
Le shit! That’s not what I was after, so I hurriedly doubled back down an alleyway, ending up at the doorstep of KFC by sheer dumb luck. A security guard eyed me with uncertainty before deeming me fit to enter the sanctuary. It was like a nightclub. A nightclub of chicken.
It didn’t matter to me that the venue was completely overfilled and I had recently inhaled at least four lifetime’s worth of 2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile (hell yeah Google, thanks for the assist). I was about to be rewarded with those tender, succulent nuggets of poultry delight.
…The real kicker, however, and the tragic conclusion to this eventful night, is that this particular item was not on the Parisian menu.
Strangely enough, it was Algeria’s next World Cup match (a 1-0 loss to the United States) that would make international news, resulting in a proper riot complete with smashed windows and incinerated cars. Not coincidentally, I elected not to venture out on that particular evening.
The minor misadventure pales in comparison to the swashbuckling tales of my contemporaries in the industry, but regardless, it’s another sign that when you’re travelling the globe, anything could happen. You’ve just got to be at the ready.
Wouldn’t you like for me to do this all again somewhere else on this wonderful planet? Then make it happen, [insert your publication here]. Tony Cocking for
Miss Teen Universe 2022 roving travel writer!