Saturday, 24 August 2019

The Mexico Diaries

I visited Mexico City on five separate occasions between 1999 and 2005. I'd been reading, writing and generally obsessing over Mesoamerican culture for some time and had reached the point at which I simply had to go there. I didn't have a passport, had never been outside of England, my Spanish left a lot to be desired and I was travelling alone, but it was something I had to do. It became easier after the first time, but nevertheless remained something of a leap in the dark.

Being a generally antisocial person travelling alone, I ended up with a fair bit of time on my hands - mostly evenings spent alone at the hotel rather than out and partying with complete strangers, as I would have done were I a fucking simpleton; so I spent a lot of time keeping a diary, recording everything I did, saw, and thought in pornographic detail (literally so in a couple of cases). Visiting Mexico seemed like the bravest (or possibly most reckless), most exciting thing I had ever done and I was determined to record as much as I could of the experience because it seemed important to do so, at least to me.

The first couple of diaries were eventually passed around friends who had expressed an interest in reading them. I'd written the things in part so as to amuse myself, and it was nice to be told that they were a generally decent read and funny in all of the right places. Rob Colson, co-author of Seaton Point (Spare Change Books, 1998), said he would be prepared to transcribe my handwritten scribble for publication if I was interested. I took this as an indication of my Mexico Diaries apparently having some quality beyond the spirit of cranky self-indulgence by which they were produced.

So here they are, nearly fifteen years later. I've transcribed, scanned, edited, proofed, re-edited, and gone over them again and again in an effort to elevate the material to the sort of standard I would expect of others. It's taken a while but I think it's been worth it; and my wife has now read the things with a gratifying quota of chortling and not too much rolling of the eyes. They're published as five individual volumes because that was how they were written, and because the sum total page count would be a little too much for a single collection; they're illustrated and include some photographs, at least one of which was sourced from a bongo magazine found in a hedge; and they tell an occasionally painful story through the media of anthropology, travel, toilet humour, swearing, and despair with humdrum episodes of my former English existence provided for the sake of contrast. Thrill as I climb the Pyramid of the Sun, puzzle over the nature of refried beans, eat worms and crickets, visit the temple of Tepoztecatl, fall out with my best friend in Oaxaca on Independence Day, turn forty, fail to have sexual intercourse, meet kids with guns, hang out with the family of the late Cornelius Cardew (which admittedly wasn't in Mexico), and throw up at a Ceramic Hobs gig (which wasn't in Mexico either) - or if not thrill, then just read about it. The choice is yours.

Buy your copies today at my Lulu store by clicking on this link. Collect the set. Ideal Christmas presents. May contain incongruous references to sexual acts. Etc.