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The Osan Crew

The CrewI’ve been in Korea awhile now, and I’ve experienced my share of cultural differences, sights seen etc. etc. – but, naturally (I think) for foreigners living abroad, for sanity’s sake one has to cultivate a group of fellow expats from one’s own culture. However, as I know astonishingly few British people in Korea, I took refuge in that most wondrously somber and infamously subtle culture: America.

Note from the author: Apologies, but there may be a number of photos of the following human specimens already seen in this here blog. As this is a post/mid/pre-nostalgia entry, however, I feel justified in this lack of originaliphotography.

Allow me to introduce…

The Civvies

See also: the teachers, the sleepers, the non-gymers, the (slight) Korean-speakers. The Civvies live their lives in Korea itself, struggling to navigate lurking pots of kimchi and savaged streetside plugogoi every day of their lives.

Moi

Heere's Sweepy!

Yours truly. But screw that guy.

Megan ‘Grumpy Cat’ Coast

Sexy WolfMy sole source of British familiarity and affection, Meg functions as long-suffering girlfriend and the group’s lion-tamer; a force of sheer bloody-minded exercise and motivation, she puts to shame most of your average Spec-Ops personnel with her 10-mile-a-minute gait and rippling abs. When not functioning as fitness poster-child, she is introducing simious (see also: gibbon) running techniques or dominating the men with her sheer indomitability.

Catchphrase: NO.

(disclaimer: I would like to emphasise that Megan is not grumpy herself, per se. She simply takes no excrement from nobody, foo.)

Hailey ‘Chocobo Knight’ GoodwinHowling Wolf

One half of the dynamic Louisiana (read: ‘Leezyana’) duo, Hailey is fellow Final Fantasy geek, lake-diver and lover of life in a sexily-bosomed package. Always the first to throttle others via hugs and embraces, Hailey is the beaming soul of the Osan chickadees – and her resonating battle cries invariably put others to shame.

Catchphrase: Assa! (see also: DRRRRRR!)

Lori ‘Hot Sauce’ Mine

Yo LoriChef extraordinaire, lavish hostess and downer of pints, Lori puts the manly-men to shame with her  multifarious skills. If ever the group manages to organise itself past alcoholism, you can be sure the adventurous Lori will be the Captain Nemo to our slightly unsteady Nautilus as we pave a path of obscenity ‘cross the nation.

Catchphrase: We do this! (with regards to drinking/travelling/immersing selves in mud/caving/bungee-jumping/tattooing/skydiving, etc. etc.)

The Manly-Men Airmen

The Fighters, the Wakers, the Munition Makers – defenders of earth, sea and pub, these gods of raw testosterone and lethality protect us vulnerable lambs in Seoul from the onslaught of the North. With American Steaks for muscles and Red Bull for blood, these are the stuff of legend.

Aaron ‘Obnoxious One’ Miller'Ard-On Aaron

My Souther brother from another mother, Aaron is the complete antithesis of conventional Britishness – which is why I love him entirely.

Chattanooga, Tenessee born and raised,
on the shooting range’s where he spends most of his days,
Rootin’ and tootin’ and shootin’ all day,
Fondlin’ shafts and firin’ blanks (not gay)…

The originator and perpetrator of the majority of the group’s obscenity, Aaron does a fantastic job of balancing precise professionalism at work with obnoxious moronity in the pub. Always the first into the fray, Aaron is usually halfway up the mountain we’ve just decided to walk to. For better (or worse), Aaron is the very embodiment of everything The South is proud of.

Catchphrase: AMERICA! CAW!

Josh ‘Pinkeye’ Peek

Cheeky PeekThis softly spoken man is not to be underestimated. Once you filter out the Aaron Noise, you realize that this smiling man is, in fact, ridiculousness given form; never have I seen a man put so much commitment into waking someone up simply by staring at them for an extended period of time. Usually requesting that you ‘put [any given item or sustenance] in his mouth’ with a straight face, Peek expresses his patriotism not through waggling his arms like an ape, but through small gestures of speech…’mericuh.

Catchphrase: ….’mericuh.

Anthony ‘Pantsony’ Shea

Anfony!I only have a vague recollection of where that awful nickname came from, and I have a suspicious feeling I may have been the one to come up with it while semi-conscious in a hostel. For that, I apologise.

Anthony (to all the British readers, in ‘Mericuh they pronounce the ‘th’ rather than abbreviating to ‘t’. I don’t know why, either), or ‘Anfony’ as I shall now name him, is our international man of mystery: while the other guys are grunting and building and blowing up stuff, mild-mannered gentleman Anfony is masquerading as Kim Jong-Eun himself! Or something. Need-to-know intelligence basis, I suppose.

Catchphrase: [on the subject of British/American spelling] – Why’s there a ‘u’ in the word?

Shawn ‘Dancing Pecs’ Hewitt

Sleepy ShawnThe recently-departed-to-Hawaii-and-therefore-a-bastard Shawn Hewitt, while in another time-zone entirely, is nonetheless still a member of the Osan Crew. He tries to escape, but Anfony can track him with Technology if he flees. Shawn is a towering obelisk of Spartan physique, and we worship him as such; any man who could pec-dance to the Macarena is not a man to be reckoned with. Alas, now he has gone to follow his childhood fantasy of roaming Hawaii painted blue, snarling at passers-by. I pity any girls going by the name Lilo.

Catchphrase: [flexing]

Any and all of the above are freaks of nature whom I value ridiculously highly as friends. I’m English, and therefore obvious indications of affection are an executable offense – but I will happily travel ‘cross the land again, that I might offend other countries alongside you.

Sorry: ‘y’all’.

 

Wolf-Pack
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Snow, Sun and The Point of No Return

Frozen BridgeFor fear of repeating myself, I’ll just stop apologising for the blog irregularity. I shall instead pine over what an epic it could have been, were I possessed with even the slightest degree of self-motivation.Representative Of My Focus

Snowy BoughsThe half-way point of my Korean indenture has come and gone, as of last Friday(ish); six months down, six to go. In a manner not entirely unfamiliar to a pathological videogamer, I’ve bypassed the ‘snow’ stage and have almost reached the bossfight – the ‘fire’ stage of Korean summer. We’ve still got spring to go yet, but the schizoid weather of late has me confused as to whether or not I’m experiencing it already.Lost Dog

Puppy LoveI’m starting to feel less like a fish out of water, so much as a bloated twat (see: pre-natal fish) in its natural slovenly environment. ‘Slovenly’ in this case being restricted specifically to kicking range of my Geek Desk, thus far impervious to any tidying attempts on either mine or Meg’s part.Snowed UnderSnowy Hills

In the early months, I could feel the surprising curiosity of bypassers on the street, or hear the hilariously un-sly ‘ka-chick’ of a Samsung Galaxy SIII’s camera as I joined the doubtlessly fascinating photo-archive of Westerners caught reading, breathing, picking their nose etc. in public; now, I’m either significantly less interesting or significantly more oblivious to such things. I may still sometimes be the object of fascination to an old dear bent ninety-degrees at a bus stop, but they’re part of my everyday now.

Also, I was totally staring back at the guys sat ON the lake.

Also, I was totally staring back at the guys sat ON the lake.

Seoul RooftopsAs for what’s changed – I now teach the newly-reopened Kindergarten class of Kang’s Academy, which is a refreshingly immature and chaotic break from some of the miniature sadists bestowed upon me otherwise. Basically, it’s my job to throw things at five-year-olds and herd them, screaming, under whatever shelter they might reach in time. Suffice it to say, lesson plans are fairly redundant.Dogs On Ice

Millie is still roughly the size, shape and colour of a bottle of coca-cola with Mentos stuck to it, and suffers from a similar reaction to oxygen every morning. While she’s picked up the ‘go to your bed’ instruction like a champ, Unconscious Humans are free game in the early hours. If I wake up to the sight of a puppy’s sphincter one more time, I’ll patch Velcro onto both her bed and her bum.Intelligent Leap

Public GatheringThe Americans still won’t behave, which is ideal; if there are any fellow Englishmen/women struggling to differentiate between work and ‘not work’, make friends with one of our louder cousins. You’ll find yourself not only buying, but actually wearing food, drink and silly hats within a matter of weeks.Hat Love

Noble BeastTime and schedule will tell how the next six months will go. As with any major reinvention of your life, it’s hard to tell if I should exclaim that it’s ‘already’ or ‘only’ halfway through at this point – but I’ve no particular worries to concern myself with. I’m actually starting to save money, despite my worst intentions; I’m part of a repellent horde of immediately loveable friends who I will have more than a little difficulty departing from this September; what’s more, I’m doing something not only fun, but remotely self-improving with my wicked little life.Wrapped Up

It may be another six months before I hear a crowd of English accents or see anything even remotely resembling a field – but, half a year in (that’s one two-hundredth of a century), I’m at least happy that this has been the right thing to do. If anybody can’t say the same for what they’re doing at home, I’ve got a few email addresses you might be interested in.Winter Scene

Trilling Adventures

When one finds oneself in a strange and mystical land, one expects a certain amount of Language Barrier issues. If the geographical tables were turned, it would be a well-meaning Korean making whole conversations out of ‘Hello!’, ‘Sorry!’, ‘Thankyou!’, ‘Delicious!’, ‘Toilet!’ and/or managing an infant’s grasp on counting numbers.

Rebounding off this situation when in the company of native English-speakers, you would imagine that coherent and intelligent conversation would flow enthusiastically, if not maniacally. You would imagine.

Having just returned from a debauched weekend of Chili’s fried animal, undecanted whiskey (who needs glasses?) and Channing Tatum, I feel that I have been initiated into the coping mechanism of my fellow westerners: they make noises at each other instead. In much the same way that any species’ mother knows its infant’s cry, each member of the crew has their own noise to punctuate conversation.

Aaron/Lori: U-Ugh! (something between ‘I’ve stubbed my toe’ and ‘I’m reaching climax’)

Hailey/Juri/Meg: Dr-r-r-r-r-r-r… (the love-child of a distant pneumatic drill and a peturbed Chewbacca)

Other noises include sad whalesong, atonally lyricising hot pocket… , standing by a nearby window and crying America! Caw-caw!, diminuitising any stressful situation by explaining that ain’tnobodygottimeforthat , turkey gobbling, breathy honk-honks, – etc. etc. Miraculously, these did little to prohibit any actual conversation, and did indeed seem to fuel much of the afternoon’s/evening’s/night’s/morning’s/afternoon’s activities.

Any fears of my RAF coat coming across as douche-tastic/ tactless on the US base were allayed quickly, and I had many-a opportunity to brag mercilessly about Grandpa Roy Cumberlidge’s WW2 escapades – hence the jacket, ladies and gents. The usual deep philosophising was had with total strangers, courtesy of Mr. Ethanol, and the usual battering of senses was had the following day. Of course, if there’s one thing the Internet needs more of, it’s people whining about hangovers.

Pointing blame.

This coming weekend brings the celebrated return of my other lady, Ms. 60D, whom I will be retrieving from the repair shop and fondling lovingly in as public a space as possible. If you don’t know who she is, you will have to live with the misunderstood innuendo. For the meanwhile, Meg’s Mr. Sony has served admirably – but the somewhat lessened cam-erection has been a worry of mine this past fortnight. Watch this space for amateur pretentiousness – coming to a blog near you soon.

Juri’s drinking technique baffles us.