Musings of an Englishman who literally quit his life in Devon in mid-2012 to move to Tijuana to love a girl.
They ended up in San Diego where he became a TV anchorman (yes really...), they got married, and now they're living in England together.
Simple as that really.
Follow your heart, who knows where it will lead.

Crazy. Beautiful. Madness.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Home from home from home...

APPARENTLY moving house is the most stressful thing you can do.
So try moving house twice in 10 months, from one country to another (a non-English-speaking one at that), and then to another, and see how you feel.
In less than a year I’ve lived in three different countries.
I think I need to lie down and be horizontal at the very thought of what’s happened in the past few months.
Hang on. Hmmm… I don’t own a sofa in this particular country to lie down on.
Starting another new life in a foreign land is hard.
Finding a suitable place to live, in somewhere like San Diego is also hard – especially when you start work before you find a place to rest your weary head.
I’ve had no real reference of where’s good/not good to live.
Much to my annoyance I realized that I had to find a place near public transport as California is the only state in the world it seems that doesn’t recognize the INTERNATIONAL driving permit.
Hence why I’ve now got to re-take not only my practical, but also my theory test, 15 or so years after passing it in the first place.
Grr. Yes, the French and Spanish drive on the other side of the road too and we Brits don’t have to retake the test to drive there.
Anyhow, I digress.
If there’s one thing that you can be sure of when trying to find an apartment to rent in San Diego it’s this – you will definitely, without a doubt, deal with a bunch of bastards called ‘real’ estate agents.
‘Real?’ Don’t make me laugh.
I now hold them in the same esteem as mechanics, estate agents and insurance companies.
In my eyes they are modern-day crooks with only red tape and legislation keeping them from being on the ‘wrong’ side of the law.
In the dictionary under ‘thief’ I’m sure it should really say ‘*see real estate agent’.
I seriously thought estate agents were the only people who batted one person off another in a bid to get a more juicy commission.
It turns out these guys and girls are just the same.
Only here in SD, if they don’t think you’re serious about a property they’ve got listed (i.e. willing to fork out a charge which they’ll in-turn pocket), they won’t a). call you back; or b). reply to emails.
Some also arrange viewings, and wait until you’ve arrived for the viewing to tell you that it’s no long available – unless of course you’re willing to pay a whole YEAR’s rent up front.
The real estates agents I dealt with, excusing one or two actual decent human beings, were put simply… complete bastards.
In between working full-time I’ve had to quickly get out there and deal with these people, hoping that the next property will be marketed by someone with a genuine smile.
Without boring everyone to tears with my rants I can tell you that – amazingly – within a week, I found a comfy little apartment/condo downtown.
Since finding it, it’s been all systems go to get myself comfy and settled.
It took me six years to create my 'home' in the UK, and then with love-strewn eyes, I gave it away.
I keep telling people here that I can't recreate a 'home' in six days. These things take time.
And, I'm stupidly picky about what I want in my new home.
So that's why a few weeks after moving in to this place, I'm still eating dinner sat on the kitchen work-top.

Yes, the minimalist approach...

It's funny how boys' brains are wired up too.
I'm pretty sure a girl would first buy a bed, then things for the kitchen and sitting room, followed possibly by food for the fridge/freezer and cupboards.
I immediately looked online for a Fender Jaguar guitar and huge HD television. I then scanned Google for news of when the Sony PlayStation 4 is being released, and then I bought food (mainly pizzas, pasta, coffee, and a bottle of wine).
'Priorities Nichols, priorities…' I thought. Epic fail.

Huge TV purchase (so big that I couldn't actually fit in the car with it)... check!
"What are you going to sleep on? A few pizzas and a bag of oven chips?!" asked a colleague and friend.
Good question. Thankfully another friend stepped in with the offer of an inflatable - and as I found out in the night - deflatable mattress.

Ten days after I got the keys, the world’s most friendly apartment complex security guard (that’s what he’s officially known as now) took me back to Tijuana to pick up mine, and Jacky’s, bed. (Before you ask she has another one!)
Bringing it over the border was fun I can tell you.
Border patrol officer: “What’s this sir?”
“Er… is this, a trick question? Does it not look like a bed, and… mattress?”
Cue poker game faces followed by…
“Would you mind pulling over for a secondary inspection sir?”
Yes, they’re thorough (and quite rightly too I might add!)
So yes, I have a bed. Yay me. Oh sleep filled nights how I’ve missed you.
Of course having a bed was one thing.
Having, um, stuff, was another.

Best go buy 'real' food shopping at some point eh? Aka not frozen pizza

Jacks came over for the weekend and I offered to ‘make’ dinner - of course, not realizing at first that all my kitchen utensils are 8,000 miles away in England.
No scissors to open the cellophane packaging protecting the food, no plate to put the food on, and no cutlery to eat it with in any case.
Going to a shop to ask for a single piece of cutlery was also highly amusing, if a tad embarrassing.
You see, as I've found out in the last 10 months, the English accent is often misplaced or misheard - even when it's the native language.
So when I walk into a shop, with a facial expression boasting strains of seriousness, hunger and desperation, and say simply: "Hi... I really need a fork..." you can probably work out what the shocked supermarket staff member thought I said.
In the end Jacks and I bought and ate pre-cooked chicken with our fingers, while sitting on the kitchen work-top using plastic carrier bags for plates.
Hardly fine-dining but it did the job. And it created a memory.
My first ever trip to Ikea a couple of weeks ago resulted in a near mental breakdown on my part. Wow, Ikea really is a clusterf*ck isn't it?!
I had to seriously psyche myself up for the second visit – and I finally bought a few random bits like a potato masher, (really cool) knife, waste paper bin (for the bathroom...?), and a toilet brush.
Epic fail again.
Eventually I went back with a real vengeance and bought just about everything a man living by himself needs. No plants, nothing pretty, a clock, mainly just necessities – like a bottle opener.


Sunday, 5 May 2013

That's entertainment...

“SOMETHING nice for your lady...?” the make-up shop assistant asked with a genuinely pleasant and helpful smile on her face.
“Um... no.  You see, well, er... I’m on TV... and I’ve been told to get make-up... for, well... me...”
I don’t think I need to describe anymore how weird and awkward this moment was.
I’m pretty sure Macy’s doesn’t usually see many men asking for make-up. Let alone English ones.
“You’re on TV now, so you need make-up,” my producer told me last week.
“You’ll look shiny under the studio lights, go and buy make-up,”
So there I was, on the bosses orders, visiting Macy’s in downtown San Diego to get some sort of the foundationy, blushery, concealery stuff. Whatever you call it.
“Can you make me less, um... shiny?” was my plea to the young shop worker.
“Sure,” she replied.
She then began talking in some strange foreign language that only girls understand, mentioning things like ‘tones’, ‘skin’ and ‘shades’.  I just nodded politely like I knew what she was talking about.
Jacks, at this point, was no help at all – unless of course I wanted my very own hysterical audience for this production.
I sat down in the make-up chair feeling the way you do when you visit the dentist – unsure, apprehensive, and definitely out of my comfort zone.
The shop worker left us for a moment to get kitted out, and Jacks and I discussed what I would need.
I’ll never forget the next 10 minutes of my life. The girl returned and began ‘painting’ my face with so many different shades I looked like I’d had a very VERY bad experience on a sun bed.
“What do you think? Which one is better,” she eventually asked handing me a small circular mirror.
“I think I want to crawl up into a ball and die,” is what I wanted to reply.
But, being polite, I smiled, looked at Jacks, and diverted the question to her instead.
“Are you likely to get a tan on our face?” the make-up girl then asked.
“Because if you are we don’t want anything too light because you’ll look weird.”
Oh dear god. More and more people then began entering the store and glancing over.
My face’s ‘shade’ quickly turned to red in embarrassment and my hands became clammy.
“You know what... that’ll do,” I said, now in a semi-mad panic.
“That one with the... er... the one that... yes the... er ....  Lancome Paris 300 Bisque mattifying silky pressed powder?! – THAT one. The translucent one!
“Sorry? Oh, do I want a brush to apply? Um... no... yes... *panic-stricken glance at Jacks...* yes!”
“And SORRY... How much?!” Wow.
Job done.
Does it feel weird to wear make up?! Hell yes.
Will I ever get used to it? Hell no.
I have to admit that I have worn it before once or twice for catwalk shows and shoots and things but NEVER on a daily basis.
It's always been applied on/for me.
I've never really taken note of how girls do it.
And I've sure as hell never gone shopping for it.
You see, once again, I have no term of reference.
Too much application and I look like the Satsuma-skinned English antiques expert and TV presenter, David Dickinson.
Too little and I look greasy.

WARNING: Too much application is bad for skin, and popularity

And how do you do this?!

Nope, haven't a clue...

And I have to put it on myself which, I can tell you, has been met with some hilarity from co-workers.
But my producer’s right, if it’s a choice of wearing this stuff and temporarily rescinding my man card, or looking like a greasy weirdo under the bright and hot lights, (yes if you didn’t realise from the above verse, I’m vain!) I know which I’d prefer.
So yes... it’s been an interesting couple of weeks.
The ‘training’ for my new job consisted of me doing my first ‘live’ in the studio.
Nothing like being thrown in the deep end eh? But it’s the best way to learn right? Sink or swim.
Within two days we established some silly habits that I have.
When reading the tele-prompter I seem to occasionally clap my hands, tap the desk in front of me, or lean my head to one side – or do all three. Why? Not sure, it’s weird.
I’m working on it, and I think it’s just down to gaining confidence in this new role.
But hey, I couldn’t do it without giving people the chance to rib me about something right?!
I’m just glad I didn’t say “sh*t” and “f*ck” live into the camera on my first day like an American anchorman did on his first day – which bizarrely happened to be the same day as I started.
Anyhow, as far as first weeks go, it's been awesome. It’s stupid amounts of fun, and we’ve got an amazingly talented and super lovely team at U-T TV.
I finally realised the meaning of the word ‘promotion’ when I opened up the paper last Sunday to see a full page picture of me staring back at myself.

I tell you, I nearly choked on my cornflakes.
My mum’s response...? “Nice tan, or is that make-up?!”
Thanks mum.
Anyhow aside from the new career on the box, I’ve also had to deal with beginning my new life living here in San Diego.
Starting from scratch doesn’t even remotely cover it.
I felt like a Bob Dylan-type character arriving in California with nothing but a bag of clothes and a guitar.
Still, it’s all rock and roll right?