I've been home for a few days now, relishing the cool air and good beer. I popped into the office on Tuesday to do a tiny bit of paperwork but found myself sucked into a world of experiments and demos, that I hope will be ending today. Gosh, the regular working week is tough. However, my reason for writing is not to lament being dragged into the routine of the normal worker (which in fairness doesn't end at lunchtime as I manage to make it) but to force you, my dear reader, to enter into my world of statistics.
I had a bit of a stats binge last week, while sitting drinking beer in Johannesburg airport and while on the flight. I sat, supped beer, and thought "I wonder how many airports I've ever been to?" or "I wonder how many people I've met from the ex-Soviet nations?" Such vital subjects deserved much thought, so these and many others I worked out and I can now present to you here.
Total Number of Flights (excluding helicopter): 116.
I seriously think I can remember, if not each flight per se, but each occasion I had need to take a flight. It's not too difficult, just a matter of thinking of each holiday, or each place I've been to with work. Work constitutes 72 of these flights. There's a +/-1 error margin as I'm a little vague on the exact flights I took in Brazil. If helicopter flights were to be included then there'd be about another 40 added to this tally.
2007 had the most flights, with 45, and almost an entire week spent in the air.
Number of beds I've slept in this year: 12.
Alas, this has not been a first quarter of salacious mayhem. Work dominates, with three rig beds (including the 8-man container offshore Mozambique), five staffhouse beds, but only one hotel. I'm not counting overnight flights, of which there were four, as these seats hardly constitute sleeping units, especially as work persist in sending me on economy class. Me, economy! It's crazy, I know.
Total passports ever owned: 7.
In my youth, I had a passport that eventually expired after ten years of minimal usage. Since then I've had six and lost four through "mishaps". Currently I stand at two passports, but will be getting another after the unfortunate disintegration of Halliburton's main office in Angola.
Countries visited: 39
11 of these have been through work, although I've visited Egypt for recreation too. Some of the above total have only been for a few hours though, such as Luxembourg and Mozambique, and I'm not counting Taiwan or Barbados, which I only passed through in transit. I've only lived in two countries - the UK and Korea - though have probably spent an accumulative total of six months in Brazil.
Media appearances: 8.
This is, if you had somehow read every paper, magazine or comic, and watched every TV programme since my birth, how many times I would have appeared, to my knowledge. I'm not counting the internet, because it's a load of rubbish.
In no particular order, my moments of fame have been:
- Tema Magazine. The Bulgarian version of Time magazine in November 2001 featured a two page article about me and Simon, which included a full page photo of myself. This wasn't because of any inherent celebrity, but purely opportunistic as the magazine was doing an article about youth hostels in Sofia, and we happened to be the token foreigners there. As I recall to everyone when I regale this tale, the journalist was especially, achingly pretty, and gave me her phonenumber. It is of lasting regret that instead of phoning this young maiden I went to Romania.
- Dingwall Academy Magazine. This was an annual magazine produced by the school, on general sale in Dingwall and the surrounding area. I can't remember why I was in it one year, but I'm sure I did. Maybe I wrote a little poem or story.
- some TV programme on Channel 4. My father was featured on some Channel programme when I was about 13, so I was sneaked on for a few seconds depicting a "normal family scene", which was, for some reason, me playing chess with my father in the kitchen. This experience taught me that all TV is fake.
- the Press & Journal. About ten years ago, my mother won "mother of the year" in the Press & Journal, the newspaper for the north of Scotland. This was after having being nominated by my sister. As part of the article, I got a namecheck.
- Buster comic. When I was just a boy, I used to read comics voraciously. Not stupid stuff like Batman and Superman, that takes itself far too seriously for a bunch of cartoons, but cartoon strip-style comics like the Beano, Dandy, and my favourite, Buster, now defunct. I earned myself £2 by writing a very thoughtful letter into the letters page. This was something like 1988, so £2 then was worth a hell of a lot. Two weeks wages, in fact.
- Moray Firth Radio. I'm sure when I was about ten I was in the broadcasting part of the local radio station, along with a handful of other boys, for some reason that now eludes me. I recall it being on live, and the DJ - inevitably local DJ sensation "Titch McCooey" who seemed to be on 18 hours a day - asking us questions. But I'm not sure if I said much, or anything, so my subtle, understated eyebrow movements may have been wasted on radio.
- Israeli TV. While in Tel Aviv with Simon, in the youth hostel, an Israeli satellite TV broadcaster took a few shots of us on the hostel roof at sunset. I can't remember what the programme was called, but I do remember that every Israeli I asked about it had never heard of it before.
- TV. There was a football game on at Pittodrie a few years back between Scotland and the Faroe Islands, Scotland winning 2-0, and I was standing next to a piper. Upon seeing the highlights, there was a shot of the piper and surrounding area for a couple of seconds. Blink and you miss it - but there I was.
Number of fingers: 10
Number of jobs: 12.
This covers any paid employment, and I'm including my first ever job here, which was potato picking in a local field. I was only about ten, and got paid £1/day for 8 hours work, or was able to opt for a bag of potatoes instead. This seems so unlikely that I feel I must have mis-remembered. Other jobs have included Wimpy chef (and dressing up as Mr Wimpy once), old folks' hospital cleaner, dishwasher, glass collector, door-to-door salesman (didn't last very long), English teacher, and my current position as pioneering acoustical engineering specialist, or something like that. I'm not counting being a property baron here, though I suppose it brings in more revenue than a bag of potatoes a day.
Number of ex-Soviet nations from which I've met a citizen: 5.
A disappointing tally, to be honest. I've wracked my brain, but I can't recall meeting a single Latvian, Lithuanian, Estonian or even Georgian. I mean, you don't expect to meet many Tajikstanis or Turkmenistanis, but you think I'd have met a Georgian by now. Anyway, I've met the following:
- Uzbekistan. A couple of lovely 19-year-olds when I was in Korea. Gosh, they were lovely. I had such wicked intentions, but they were far too sensible.
- Kazakhstan. Also in Korea, I met a mental, tough-looking guy with gold teeth while waiting at a fountain. He was surely a gangster.
-Russia. I've surely met many Russians, but the ones that spring to mind are the two room salon girls that Matt befriended, and introduced to me very late one night. All very civilised, I'll have you know, I treat women like actual real people. One was called Linda, and was from Vladivostock, and was lovely, but no stunner, the other... oh, hang on, I think the other was another Uzbek. She was quite pretty, but a total maniac. Not even Matt would touch her - and that's saying something.
-Ukraine. While in a Tel Aviv hostel, a different one from the one that televised me, I befriended a Ukranian guy, surely called Vlad. He was a nice guy, but couldn't drink alcohol due to a road accident. He offered to buy my passport off me if I ever shaved my beard, as we would look alike. I said ok, but alas have still not shaved my beard.
-Moldova. I think Moldova used to be Soviet. Or did it break off from Romania? Anyway, on the overnight train from Bucharest to Sofia, a Moldovan called Antony joined us in the compartment and let us have some of his meat. No, really, he had some meat in a bag that he generously offered us. I never questioned what type of meat it was, and never, ever, would.
Goals scored in international football: 0
Number of football stadiums visited: 18.
Seven of these have been in Scotland, with Ross County's theatre of dreams, Victoria Park, notching up multiple visits. I've been to some seriously obscure foreign ones, like Slovenian "4th division" SK Piran's field with an embankment for the 50 fans and castle walls overlooking the pitch for those who didn't want to pay the £1 entry. Toftir's mountain-top stadium in the Faroes is probably the most scenic stadium, and the biggest is probably the main stadium in Seoul, although I was only there for a visit, not a game.
Homes I've lived in: 16
The first six homes were before the age of five, my gypsy-like family evidently being hounded from town to town. From then, the next thirteen years were in the same place in Dingwall. Since 2001, I've averaged a new home every year, although I'm quite settled in my current dwellings (though the hookers outside have dried up... I mean, that is, that there aren't really any hookers there any more)
Airports visited: 47 or 48.
Do you want the full list? No?
Vehicles owned: 6.
The accumulative value of my first five cars was £870; the Ford Transit at £750 was a real budget-breaker. You'll be unsurprised to hear that all six vehicles no longer exist except as scrap metal, and that I was the last driver of each.
Number of national pub quiz victories: 2.
In 2000, I won Scottish (student) pub quiz finals, and trips to both New York and Cairo. The New York victory was pretty much deserved, but the Cairo one is a dirty tale of cunning and dastardliness. I also won a pub quiz in Mauritania a couple of years ago - as the rest of the country is Muslim and doesn't go much in for the pubs, I'll warrant that I was probably national champion back then.
Number of words written so far in this blog entry: 1849.
And that's quite enough.