Many people are mentioned in passing, along with the others discussed in detail. In order to give the ones mentioned in passing their space in the spotlight, and to help you keep the ones mentioned in detail straight, I offer this "cast list," of the major and minor roles in my European trip.
- Prince's St. Backpackers, Edinburgh
- Dublin and Cork, Ireland
- Backpacking around the Continent
Nick: Nick is a overly gregarious Toronto Canuck with a taste for single malt whisky and talking too much. He will often be found trying to speak to people as they try to sleep or while they politely try to leave for work. A faithful friend with a tendency towards "schlimmbesserung" (the tendency to make things worse while trying to "fix" it) Nick becomes stupid very quickly under the influence of substances. Nick is also abnormally deferential to anyone with any semblance of authority (such as movie theater ticket takers), with a tendency to try to justify himself and his actions at great length. He also has the tendency to spasm violently forward as if shot in the back of the head when laughing. Nick has no sense of tact, and an inability to pick up on any but the most obvious of hints.
Catchphrase: Something suitably long, redundant, about something you're already aware of.
Appropriate Response: "This is my special sacred sleeping time!"
Associated Song: "Sweet Home Chicago."
Alcohol of Choice: Single malt scotch, preferably not the Sainsbury's brand
Annica: For the first month or so after I met Annica I was fairly sure she hated me. By the time she left, I was moderately sure she didn't hate me, and that the constant abuse was just a weird Swedish form of affection. Still, I believe Annica to be a member of the Swedish mafia; instead of leaving horse's heads in people's beds, however, she prefers to leave dirty laundry and assorted trash (the more decayed, the better). It was also wrongly predicted by some that Annica and Jeremy would hook up; instead, their relationship stayed at a pull-the-pigtails level.
Catchphrase: "For fucking hell!"
Appropriate Response: Agree, otherwise you'll find yourself a target as well.
Associated Song: Anything by Travis
Alcohol of Choice:
Ylva: Initially believed to be a quiet Swede with a Harry Potter addiction, Ylva was soon revealed to be a fairly hard drinking Swede with a Harry Potter addiction. Ylva also suffers from what I've termed "public kleptomania." She steals things, but only if you are using them at the time. Freshly lit cigarettes, newly opened cans of beer, and eyeglasses are irresistible targets for her. She also has the unerring ability to ask inappropriate questions at the most inappropriate time. In a room full of messy people, Ylva stood out by the sheer quantity of mess, which spread like the plague over the entire room. I, for the most part, managed to keep it out of my stuff (though, granted, Nick's piles o' crap also helped to fend Ylva's off), but poor Jeremy was stuck.
Catchphrase: "Do you mind if I ask you a question?" also, "I've got a funny story about syphilis."
Appropriate Response: For the first, run away as fast as possible, for the second, "Are you propositioning me?" is appropriate.
Associated Song: "Ticket to Ride," by the Beatles, "Dancing Queen" by ABBA, and "Homeward Bound," by Simon and Garfunkel
Alcohol of Choice: Vodka or wine
Alissa: Alissa and I disagree with how we first met. Our first real conversation came when one of us disagreed with a random comment made by the other. But we disagree on whether it was Alissa disagreeing with me or me disagreeing with Alissa. This is pretty indicative of the tone of our relationship (which includes a dispute now a year old on whether Margaret Atwood can be considered Canada's most eminent author--a disagreement that no one cares about at all and that both of us can get extremely riled up about). Alissa and I are rather alike in a number of big important areas, but manage to disagree vehemently about the details. Example: We are both heavy drinkers, but we're both unable to stomach the other's drink of choice (gin and tonics vs. whiskey). Alissa is a heavy reader, and believes in supernatural explanations for crop circles, but has expressed doubts towards the existence of black holes and whether man truly landed on the moon. Alissa spends more time in bed than anyone I've ever met. She just recently accidentally joined the Church of Scientology, though how you do that accidentally I don't quite understand.
Catchphrase: "No, you're wrong."
Appropriate Response: As tempting as it may be to prove her point, it's a waste of time.
Associated Song: Anything by Weezer, especially the much maligned Pinkerton album
Alcohol of Choice: gin and tonics, cheap white wine
Rhiannon: Melbourne's answer to Tigger, a chocolate addicted tornado of friendliness, given to problems with long distance relationships, and an ear piercing for every time she's broken up with a guy (currently sitting at 14). Vivacious, with enough energy to power a medium-sized city. 19 years old, but looking around 14, she for some reason chose me (22, looking 30) as a confidante. Called "Tweety" by some.
Catchphrase: No exact catchphrases spring immediately to mind, but most conversations with involve obscure Aussie chocolates or "eckys," which she either got or will be getting.
Appropriate Response: "Can I have some?"
Alcohol of Choice:
Meghan: Meghan was Ylva's friend, who I didn't meet until Ylva's goodbye party--allegedly, that is. I don't remember meeting her at the time, but my memory of that week is spotty at best, due to heavy alcohol abuse, enforced insomnia, and many other significant things happening at once. So I didn't get to know her until we ran into her in southern France and connected, due in part to our dual frustration with Nick, and the fact she's an extremely cool person.
Appropriate Response: "Dude!"
Alcohol of Choice:
Jeremy: In a room full of whinging people, Jeremy stood out as the worst, because he often slipped over into whining as well. Jeremy, possibly clinical anal-retentive, suffered from the misfortune of living under Ylva and in the midst of her unbelievable piles of crap (figurative, not literal). He spent most of his free time trying to fight off Ylva's mess, along with cleaning his bed from all the random junk that Annica left in for him.
Catchphrase: a shockingly high-pitched whinge of how oppressed he is.
Appropriate Response: Point, laugh, and throw things into his bed.
Alcohol of Choice: I never ever saw Jeremy drink. Alissa believed he was a reformed alcoholic.
Elin: Maybe we didn't get off on the best foot, since Ylva introduced me as the guy who stole Elin's bed (Elin had been at the hostel about six months before, and only returned for Ylva and Annica's last week), but Elin and I have had a contentious relationship since we first met. I'm still not sure if her harassment of me is usually playful or not; I'm not sure if MY harassment of her is playful or not.
Catchphrase: "Are you stupid or something?"
Appropriate Response: The simplest answer is "Yes," while requests for her to go play in traffic are more cathartic.
Alcohol of Choice:
Sarah: I first met at the Halloween Costume Party. She was in a state that I'd see her in frequently; Sarah has the remarkable ability to hit a peak of drunkeness early on in the evening and sustain it for hours after the lesser human being would messily pass out. A loud and aggressively friendly drunk, Sarah also has the ability to coax you into a "just one more drink" that lasts close to a day longer than initially expected. A genuinely good person, she was also, impressively, the only person I ever saw win an argument against Donnacha.
Catchphrase: "Come on, open the J.D. and have one drink with us."
Appropriate Response: Save yourself the time and energy better spent on having "one drink."
Associated Song: "Romeo and Juliet," by the Dire Straits
Alcohol of Choice:
James: An easy-going Aussie bloke, fond of girls, alcohol, and the Simpsons; these three interests being about the basis of our friendship. Early on, my most constant drinking buddy and all around mate. Always good for a laugh and a pint, James kept us going to a steady rotation of clubs, bars, and parties. Had the charming tendency of referring to his genitals as his "doodle," James is also responsible for the least successful pickup line in history: go up to a girl, gesture sheepishly at your "doodle" and hint, "Well, it's not going to suck itself."
Catchphrase: "Whinge, whinge, fucking whinge." and "It's all gone pear-shaped."
Appropriate Response: Steal these phrases and use them as much as possible.
Alcohol of Choice: beer, rum and cokes
Chris and Alison: An Aussie couple who've been traveling together for far too long. After being together for two years, Chris tried to cheat on Alison and then break up with her, having a certain limited success at both. Chris is a whinger with bastard tendencies, on a bad days he's downright misanthropic. Alison is sunny, well-read, with an amazing amount of patience for Chris's bullshit (were I in her position, I would probably have killed him months ago in a fit of pique). Chris is not the most popular person in the hostel, still, I consider both Chris and Alison my friends.
Chris's Catchphrase: Loud complaints about whatever "cunt" is currently pissing him off, and, "I'm not a bastard, really I'm not."
Appropriate Response to Chris: non-commital sympathetic nods.
Associated Song: "Burn One Down" by Ben Harper for Chris, Daft Punk for Alison
Alcohol of Choice: red wine
Dominique: A beautiful but highly unstable bottle-blond Aussie from the Gold Coast, I was briefly smitten with Dom, until her habit of repeatedly smiting me got on my nerves; the breaking point coming, oddly enough, during a game of hacky sack. Dom has a schizophrenic personality, alternatingly charming and fun to be around or a psychotic bitch. She can also drink like a fish, and was my partner in draining an entire bottle of tequila in five minutes. Dom is also responsible for setting me on fire and dumping a pint of water on me (though not at the same time) for no discernible reason.
Catchphrase: Various abrasive remarks
Associated Song: "Be My Yoko Ono" by the Barenaked Ladies
Alcohol of Choice: Whatever she could get others to "donate" to her
Martin: An Aussie cricketer, living in Edinburgh for the off-season, Marty was an early member of Room K before there really was a "Room K." Marty was a good guy, slightly difficult to understand due to his tendency to only talk like a stroke victim, out of only one side of his mouth. Marty also has been the only one to ever try to defend the concept of the monarchy to me (that is, other than claiming the monarchy should stay because it's terribly entertaining), claiming that royalty is a good idea because they're not accountable to anyone for their decisions so they don't fall prey to the tyranny of the majority.
Alcohol of Choice: Jack Daniels
Rob: A Canadian who, within days of arriving at Edinburgh, started shacking up with one of the Room J (ver. 2.0) Aussie girls, at the same time that he came down with a rather shocking case of scarlet fever--neither of which I managed to do in six months in Edinburgh. Perhaps tellingly, the scarlet fever cleared up just as the Aussie girl went back home. Rob cut his stay short to return to Canada to save up for a trip to Oz to see his girl.
Catchphrase: "Want to see me peel the skin off my hands?"
Appropriate Response: Watch him peel the skin off his hands.
Snorer Glen: A large effeminate Aussie, professionally trained as a hairdresser and an amateur collector of facial piercings like they're going out of style. Glen is a decent guy except for his snoring, which renders him intolerable. See Enter: The Snorer for more information.
Catchphrase: An eardrum rending brain bruising series of snores, lasting the ten hours he sleeps.
Appropriate Response: Leave the room. As in, move out, and don't return.
Kylie: A wrecking ball in human form, a two meter tall alcoholic with a propensity towards dancing on tables and kicking open doors. A nice person, just clumsy and loud.
Catchphrase: "It shits me, it really does."
Appropriate Response: Back away slowly and hold on to your drink.
Associated Song: "With Or Without You" by U2
Alcohol of Choice: way too much beer
Tall Aussie Steve: As the name says, a tall guy from Oz, known as Steve. Pretty much a permanent resident at the hostel from the moment he arrived, despite his being perpetually unemployed. A talented table painter, Steve is perhaps best known for falling through the windscreen of a car perversely parked in his way, after being kicked out of a club in Stirling.
Alcohol of Choice: beer
Tweety's Steve: Another Aussie Steve, this one gets his name from having hooked up with Rhiannon ("Tweety's Steve" rolling off the tongue easier than "Rhiannon's Steve"). Steve is a bright movie-loving pillhead, the type of guy to have on your team during Quiz Night or on the floor in a night club. Steve is also one of those guys who just can't seem to get away from the hostel, having gone as far away as Canada before returning.
Alcohol of Choice: whatever washes down the pills
Catchphrase: "I've got my eye on you, tiger."
Appropriate Response: None possible.
Alcohol of Choice: red wine, and way too many smokeable drugs
Richard: A dull dependable kiwi, impossible to understand due to his accent and tendency to mutter. A heavy drinker, nice if a bit uninteresting, Dai is convinced that Richard is a closeted homosexual primarily because Richard tried to climb into bed with him one drunken evening, "among other things." Dai refused to explain what those "other things" might be.
Catchphrase: I'm sure he has one, I just can't tell.
Appropriate Response: Lots of smiling, nodding, and trying to take control of the conversation yourself.
Alcohol of Choice: beer
Dai: The token gay member of the hostel, and one of the poorest Aussie I've met so far. From the moment I arrived in room U, Dai was in the process of leaving, just trying to get enough money to pay off his rent and to get up to the Highlands. When I left three months later he was still trying. Dai is much given to leaving his clothes and stuff strewn about Room U, but he's a great and friendly guy, with a slightly stalkerish ex-boyfriend named Chris, which caused great confusion given 40% of Room U being already named that.
Catchphrase: "Oh my god!" and an overuse of the word, "so" Eg. "That is sooo...oh my god!"
Alcohol of Choice: He could never afford to drink
Donnacha: An oversexed and overconfident Irishman, much given to drinking, who got himself on the Scottish dole faster than most people find work. Aggressive in conversation, Donnacha made enemies even quicker than he managed to get on the dole. Despite his constant harassment, "Donnie" always insisted, "I'm just taking the piss."
Catchphrase: "Your man seems to be a touchy today."
Alcohol of Choice: My single malt whisky, which he'd do his best to make me feel guilty about not giving him freely
Roy: Roy came over to Edinburgh to work as a plumber. He is the only Aussie I've ever seen incapable of holding his liquor. Roy was often uselessly passed out in reception or the dining room by midnight, where he'd stay all night unless moved by someone else. Roy also has the dubious distinction of being the only drunk I've ever seen pass out and lose bladder control. As a result of this, Roy is also the only person I know informally banned from reception when Bertie is on desk.
Catchphrase: A quiet dripping sound.
Appropriate Response: Leave reception and let Bertie deal with it.
Alcohol of Choice: It all reduces him to incoherent stupidity anyway, so it doesn't really matter
The J Girls (ver. 1.0): So named because they started out in Room J (though they kept the title even after moving to Room U, and eventually to a flat). The J Girls were, at their peak, Amy, Jenna, Vicki, Jess, and Elloise. However, Elloise soon left for Portugal, and was no longer a J Girl upon her return, while Jess moved to Room E and became her own separate person. If you think it sounds more complicated than it's worth, you'd be right. Amy, Vicki, and Jenna were inseparable, creating a clique that was never again matched at the hostel; Amy was the one I got along with the most, simply by dint of her actually learning my name and bothering to talk to me. Vicki was a complete blank to me until after she moved out; then I talked to her a bit because she kept visiting Dai after spending nights at the hostel with Manager Stu. Jenna is best summed up by Reuben's comment about her after the Halloween Party, "That girl is the angriest person I've ever met." Jenna raised sullen to the level of an art, obvoiusly through plenty of practice.
Catchphrase: Not talking to anyone if they could avoid it.
Melissa and Kelly: Kiwis who were at the hostel for over a month before I spoke to them, I first met Melissa and Kelly in a drinking game (where else do I meet people?) My title as the guru/game nazi of Around the World introduced me to the pair; they returned the favor of my drinking game knowledge by making me drink as much as possible (it was only through a couple lucky rule card draws that saved my ass). These two became my fairly regular drinking mates after the collapse of Room K. Our relationship never really passed the point of assigning each other a drink for pointing or swearing (or saying words that began with S...I still owe Kelly for that), but they were fun to be around. Melissa developed a definite dislike for Marty for no particular reason. For some odd reason, I'm intrinsically connected with absinthe in their minds.
Catchphrase: "I'll give all four of my drinks to Stu."
Appropriate Response: Drink them and plot revenge.
Alcohol of Choice: absinthe, of course
Hostel Stu: Stu manages the hostel, and as our only existing authority figure and role model, often leading the pack in general sloppy drunkenness and random nakedness. Stu is enormously proud of his "doodle," (with good reason, or so I'm told) and drops his pants at the drop of a hat. Stu is nearly always found wearing his distinctive off-white jumper (which I assume at some point was once just "white"). Along with that, Stu keeps the hostel stocked with dvds, blackmarket vcds, keeps the computers running, and occasionally fixes the boiler, so we don't complain.
Catchphrase: The swish of his trousers and pants dropping to the floor.
Appropriate Response: Run away, either to hide or to grab your camera.
Alcohol of Choice: beer
Catchphrase: Christening me the "Drinking Game Nazi," for my slavish addiction to making people drink whenever the rules said they should. Very rarely did people escape me.
Appropriate Response: For christening me the Game Nazi, I kept sending drinks her way.
Associated Song: "Jesus I Was Evil" by Darcy Clay
Alcohol of Choice: cider
Georgie: A boisterous Aussie girl with the energy and momentum of a large Saint Bernard. Georgie has a staggering alcohol tolerance that is measured, not in hours, but in days of drinking. She also gets the occasional temptation to dry hump everything she can get at. Georgie can be clumsily aggressive when it comes to making sure that everyone has a good time by drinking as much as they possibly can. "Come and have a bevvy with us," from Georgie means, "You're going to drink with me until the hostel is completely dry of alcohol." Georgie's long time boyfriend is Christian, who is the virtual negative image of Georgie. Christian is a quiet calm guy who took a nearly instant dislike of me when he found out that I was totally apathetic about sports.
Catchphrase: "SURELY...", "Oh, beauty!" "Oh, cheeky monkey!" "Oh, pish!"
Appropriate Response: Give in to the fact you'll soon be beginning every sentence with "Surely..." and every exclamation with "Oh..."
Associated Song: "Hey Boy Hey Girl" by Chemical Brothers
Alcohol of Choice: Anything that comes within reach
George and Scott: George (short for Georgina, unlike Georgie, which is short for Carissa), an Aussie, and Scott, a Canadian, were married so they could stay in Scotland. I'm not exactly sure how that works out, but it does. George was on desk when I first arrived at Prince's St., so I was quickly introduced to her "customer service" method. She managed the desk with a Soup Nazi mixture of abuse and derision that endured some of us to her and drove others away. Scott is much more relaxed when it comes to work; he worked on day cleaning at the hostel to pay his rent, and spent most of his time drinking and smoking. Two weeks before they left for Australia and Thailand, he worked for the Royal Mail for 72 hours a week, saving up nearly two months work of wages in two weeks. Scott and George have a special place in my heart because it was their befriending of me (through drinking games of course) that cemented my acceptance at the hostel.
Catchphrase: George emphatically complains about stupid people, while Scott talks about Radiohead.
Appropriate Response: Complain along with George, and talk along with Scott, of course.
Associated Song: "Karma Police" by Radiohead
Alcohol of Choice: they both mostly drank cider or cheap wine, because it was the cheapest way to get drunk
Carlo:A Saffie with extremely bad posture, Carlo was, as Quiz Master for Quiz Night, my arch-rival for two months, a rivalry that ended when I found that he has a zippo with "Fuck Communism" emblazoned on it.
Catchphrase: An incredibly difficult movie quiz question.
Appropriate Response: the correct answer
Alcohol of Choice: free beer from the Globe
Jessie: Perhaps more than anyone else, Georgie and Jessie really defined Prince's St. Hostel for me, having been there for the entire time I was around, and generally being present for nearly everything hostel related. One of my favorite memories from the hostel is staying up all night just to talk with them. Jessie is one of the most relentlessly friendly people I've met on my travels; one of those people just designed to live in hostels. She is also one of the most tireless partiers I've ever met.
Associated Song: "Born Slippy" by Underground, "American Music," by the Violent Femmes
Alcohol of Choice: cheap Sainsbury blended scotch
Alcohol of Choice:
Alcohol of Choice:
The Irish Cast
Andy and Malachy: Andy and Mal worked at the internet cafe where I spent most of my time in Cork, and we quickly became friends, based solely on us playing Medal of Honor and Counter-Strike against each other: Andy and I were among the best regular players at the cafe. Eventually, I was invited back to their place, where we switched from computer games to board games: Monopoly and Risk in massive doses, with Mal usually winning. Andy decided these games of Risk were mini-metaphors for his life, but it's not entirely clear to what extent he meant it. Andy plays through a drug and alcohol induced haze that leads him to what seems to be suicidal recklessness, which makes an interesting contrast to Malachy's stoicism and cryptic poker smile. Watching the two play is like watching an expert swordsman (Mal) fight someone who's never picked up a sword before (Andy). The expert knows what attacks he should be expecting, and so is a bit bewildered while the novice swings blindly and recklessly, scoring points and chopping off limbs from the sheer stupidity and insanity of the attacks. Something like King Arthur vs. the Black Knight in "Monty Python & the Holy Grail." I tend to try to just sit around and wait for a sure opening for me to stick a knife in...once I get that knife in, I twist and turn as much as possible, trying to make that one attack point be the fatal blow while leaving myself open to attacks from the other sides, since you can't really defend yourself all that well with a knife that's on the point of snapping off in someone's ribcage.
Catchphrase: Mal just grins secretively, Andy tries to convince you that what he wants you to do is the best thing you could possibly do for yourself.
Appropriate Response: Ignore him; spend the time he's ranting at you figuring out your next five moves.
Associated Song: "In the Sun" by Joseph Arthur
Alcohol of Choice: An Irish moonshine called poteen (pronounced "pot-sheen"), but mostly we just smoke a hell of a lot until we can't move our legs.
The Touring Cast
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