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17/04/2006


Dear diary,


Sorry I didn’t document the 19 hour coach journey as promised, but u were in the luggage hold the whole time as I’d stupidly forgotten to transfer u to my handbag. Had 2 make do with my Prague travel book. Was just getting stuck in when they turned all the lights off. I sat blinking in the dark while all the Czechs fell into a doze around me like birds that’d had blankets thrown over their cages.


I’d love to know how ppl mange to fall asleep so quickly on public transport like that. TEACH ME YOUR SECRET. Is it Valium? Kool-aid? I tried to read by the light from the mini torch on my keyring for a bit but got too scared of accidentally flashing the beam in the face of the woman sitting beside me. She deserved her rest after finally managing to bribe her kids sat across the aisle to pipe down.


I eventually nodded off too. Somehow my boot got wedged between the mechanics of the footrest and the wall…I guess the guy in front of me – who looked like he enjoyed his food – must’ve shifted his weight + it caused my foot to become trapped. I sat there just panicking in the darkness, wondering if it wld need 2 be amputated. I wore myself out fretting & I couldn’t text Phil about it because he’d be asleep & there’d be jack shit he could do abt it anyway from many miles & countries away. I eventually slipped from self-pity back into sleep.


When I woke up I still couldn’t dislodge my foot! It was abt 5am then & the driver announced a service stop. Which I only figured out when we parked up in it. He spoke fast fluent Czech, obvs, whereas I had been still struggling with hello n thank you from the back of the guidebook before lights out. There was no translation, like there wld’ve been on a plane (y didn’t I get a plane?!) so he cldda been announcing we were under siege from a pack of zombie mutant wolves 4 all I knew. Literally everyone got off but the dude holding my foot prisoner. Turns out the loo was bust so we all HAD to use the service stops. Which I found out later after abt a dozen locals yelled @ me for opening the door to the on-board loo n letting all the stench out.


This was after I’d begged the guy’s wife when she got back to help me wriggle free. Gd thing I couldn’t feel my foot by then, b/c it ended up being FOUR of them helping me free it. Yeah. Not a gr8 start to my first trip abroad alone. If only Phil wld get a passport. Stupid jobless loveable bum. I miss him.


Does he miss me?


Ugh I got more to tell u but I’m so jet-I-mean-coachlagged & my hand hurts from writing & my eyes hurt from crying. I’ll tell u abt it 2moz.


18/04/2006


Dear diary,


Sitting with with a coffee admiring the view. Of the hotel courtyard, a mess of weeds n cigarette ends. Was worried every1 around me wld be partying all night + slamming doors but I had the best night’s sleep. Altho I feel like a marble (I lost the rest, harrr) rattling around this place. It’s more designed to sleep 4. I was expecting jail cell size from the price I paid but there’s a whole kitchen + shower cubicle. Place could use a deep clean but overall I’m pleasantly surprised.


So the coach had finally pulled in + I set off to find this hostel. Didn’t really know how warm Prague was gonna be. I’m kitted out in my huge winter coat struggling with my handbag + the bigger clutch that was in the hold, and immediately tottered off in the wrong direction. I was so hot + thirsty + annoyed + then even more so when a man whistled @ me for removing my coat. Yeah, not the start of a striptease, idiot.


But anyway, that was yesterday. Not a fairytale beginning but now I’m here I may as well go out n see the place, right?


***


So tired. I walked for miles today. (Too scared to ask for any help getting around so what I do is when I go in the wrong direction I walk for long enuf until it’s the right one.)


I set off to find that clock everyone was on about. It sure was pretty. B4 I got there I just wended in n out of streets getting presents 4 the folks + Phil. I’ll save buying something 4 work ppl until my last day here I think. Still weirded out by that list Kathy gave me of how to prepare. Under things 2 pack she’d written ‘condoms’. They’ve all met Phil tho, so wtf? Maybe it’s a jokey list, idk. Anyway, shit, I’m meant 2 b telling u abt this trip. Stuck my head in the Sex Museum (just the tip, hurrr) and saw a weird dildo machine that I got a snap of with the camera Clara leant me. Sum guard glowered @ me so idk if ur not meant to take pics or if that was just his face. Maybe I’ll make the pic into an xmas card for Kathy.


I got there in gd time for the clock to strike the hour which is when u’ve gotta c it, every1 said, but there was this sudden surge of ppl gathering n I started feelin claustrophobic. I sorta backed off a lil n got a crap view, but I got the gist of it. Then I went + got a pint from 1 of the lil outdoor vendors (cost me like 50p) & sat & drank it in the late afternoon sun while watching the horses mosey around the square. They had nappies on. It was funny. Took sum pics 2 show Phil.


I’m nodding off so will pick up again 2moz.


19/04/2006


Dear diary,


Feet r properly aching now. Haven’t heard from Phil but it cld b phone probs I guess. Clara txt a coupla times asking how I was getting on. Prob meaning have I dropped n smashed her camera yet. I can’t help being accident-prone! I stacked it on my way up Petrin hill as I was distracted by squirrels. They have red ones! I’ll just list a bunch of stuff b/c I’m tired but also b/c I don’t wanna forget:


-         Bridges. So many of them. Not been on Charles bridge yet, saving that one

-         The little shop selling all the soaps

-         The chocolate shop that smelled way better than the soap one

-         Communism memorial

-         Mini Eiffel tower. Too tired to climb. Fell at the final hurdle. Y am I so unfit

-         So much red and yellow

-         Museum of miniatures

-         Goth castle

-         Turning back 2 look @ the view. Just realised how far I’d come. Pinpricks in my eyes. I remember reading abt this feeling in Romantic literature…the sublime…I totally get it now, but those essays were long since handed in.



21/04/2006


Dear diary,


Sorry I didn’t write yesterday, crashed as soon as I got in. Maybe Kathy should’ve highlighted + underlined walking boots on her list. We don’t all drive around in beamers, Kathy m’dear.


(Mad that I’m so far away yet can still find reasons 2 b angry @ ppl far away, lol.)


These past coupla days I’ve seen a bunch of other stuff. Been tryna sneak looks in the guidebook so I actually learn the significance of what I’m seeing, y’know? But w/o looking so much like a tourist. I actually sat in a café 4 lunch 2day – getting braver! I’ve just been munching on trek bars & eating stuff in the hostel that I bought in the supermarket down the way. Phone’s been quiet. Went in the torture museum 2day. Took sum pics even tho u were deffo not meant 2 in there. It was pretty quiet n I was like, what the worst they cld do…torture me? Oh. Hahaha. I’m lovin the camera, maybe Clara will let me hold onto it 4 a while longer. Seeing the world thru new eyes.


Can’t believe I put this off so long. I mean, I’m not going out @ night b/c hello I wld like to return 2 UK alive plz, so I’m missing Charles bridge all lit up n shit, but I can come back & do that with Phil 1 day.


Went for a wander thru the huge park, just bimbled around taking my time n stuff. Saw the giant metronome thing. There were lots of sk8r bois around. Nice.


It’s good 2 not b pounding the same old familiar streets of Canterbury, but they have cobbles here too :(


22/04/2006


Dear diary,


Heading back 2day. Hope the coach has a working toilet. I’m gonna put you in the hold again and just read the book I bought or try to sleep like a Czech. Like a Czecxpert, hahaha. Thanks for coming with me tho. Felt a lil less alone in that big old room. And I cld think of worse ppl 2 travel with (Kathy).


Let’s do this again soon.


April 10, 2020 17:59

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8 comments

Leah Quire
02:08 Apr 15, 2020

How clever! Using truncated words in a diary as in a text message! That makes perfect sense. It’s notes to yourself so why bother with whole words. The only thing I don’t understand is that the profanity is always spelled out. Anyway to truncate those words? Good job.

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Philip Clayberg
21:38 Dec 03, 2020

I liked your fictional travelogue. Thank you for writing it. It reminds me a little of the 1960s movie, "If It's Tuesday, Then This Must be Belgium". Just one thing: They wouldn't use British money in the Czech Republic; they would use Euros. Unless the Czechs, like England and Switzerland, aren't using Euros. In which case, they would use their own currency, and I don't know what that's called.

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Karen Mc Dermott
10:59 Dec 04, 2020

Thanks. If the 'creative non-fiction' had been a tag option back when I wrote it, it would have been the one I picked. I really did get my foot trapped under a seat for several hours. And I'm still mortified. They still use the koruna as far as I know. I feel a korunavirus pun coming on, so I'll quickly move on to something else before I make it.

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Philip Clayberg
21:21 Dec 04, 2020

You're welcome. I'm sorry to hear about what happened to your foot. I've had a sprained ankle (which took at least a month to heal from back in 5th grade) and a sprained wrist, among other things. One of the two things that still affect me (even after 47 years) is when I accidentally locked myself in a gas station men's room when I was 6 years old. Thankfully someone finally let me out, and a neighbor who happened to be at the gas station drove me to her place before calling my mother and letting her know where I was. I still don't li...

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Karen Mc Dermott
12:45 Dec 08, 2020

Gosh, that sounds terrifying about the gas station. And that's strange about the toilet lock. I know in some shared residences and on coaches they put a thing on the outside of the door where you can slot the edge of a coin in there to bust someone one if they suspect someone's collapsed in there or something. Yikes about the dog bite too. I am more of a cat person, but even more so now. I do love a good pun. I have to resist the urge to use a pun in all my story titles on here. It's a hangover from days writing about events for a ma...

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Philip Clayberg
21:15 Dec 09, 2020

It was. And it's made me uncomfortable being in bathrooms that have locks on the outside. I prefer them with locks on the inside; I feel safer that way. It was 1973 when I locked myself in the men's bathroom at that gas station. I think that's the only gas station that had locks on the outside. The rest have had them on the inside (and you need a key to get into the bathroom in the first place). I do prefer cats (and guinea pigs). They both bite, but not usually. And it's very relaxing petting them. If you're not the person who fe...

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Swift Video
10:20 Jun 14, 2020

Great story. Keep Writing!

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Riddhi S.
01:03 Apr 16, 2020

Maybe you could make the content in each diary entry a bit shorter. This way you can have more entries. Nice story!

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