|London Liverpool Street after my MEL-LHR flight.|
25hrs = easy peasy
After 6 years living in NZ and Australia, I thought it was time for a surprise visit back to the UK for Christmas.
This was my last chance too. And it went perfectly.
My mum's reaction - expecting someone else at the door - was just to stare for about 3 seconds while her brain worked out what was going on. My brother managed it in about 1 second, before blurting out "Holy FUCK".
It wasn't quite like you see in the movies, but it was pretty bloody good.
All year I told absolutely everyone I was going to Thailand to travel over Christmas and new year, except for 5 people. 5! There were:
- 2 workmates when I booked my flights, who I'd probably never see after finishing the contract that week,
- my 2 friends in Thailand who would actually be bummed out by me not turning up in Thailand (sorry guys!), and
- a close UK friend who could buy me a ticket - MUCH SECRET VERY CONSPIRACY - to the Manic Street Preachers "Holy Bible" gig on the same day as my friends.
Telling the colleagues was careless. Telling my Thai friends was difficult but necessary. Telling my good friend was a unexpected necessity - but I really really didn't want to!
I lied to everyone. My family. Close friends in the UK. Close friends in Australia and New Zealand. My housemates. Colleagues. People I barely knew.
The lie became so deep I started believing it myself - that I had actually bought a ticket to Thailand, and just secretly changed it or something. I never bought a ticket to Thailand.
Things started getting fairly weird last week:
- I had a 30 minute conversation with a colleague about where I should go in Cambodia. She later sent me a whole email with helpful links she'd found. (I'm so sorry.)
- I had to invent an itinerary for my mum about roughly where I'd be over the 6 weeks, looking up different flight codes and bus routes. (She sent my Christmas present to Thailand about 3 hours before I knocked on the door.)
Why such massive secrecy? Couldn't I have told anyone?
Firstly, I'm a bad liar. My face gives everything away. To convince people about this weird idea - that I was leaving Australia to spend Christmas and new year in Thailand without any friends or family - I knew had to believe it myself. (I passed it off as "well, it's a weird plan, but I'm weird, so it kinda makes sense!" - and people believed this, because it did kind of make sense. And actually, I stand by the idea that travelling over Christmas is totally okay.)
Secondly, the world is a small place, and social media makes it smaller. You don't know if telling a stranger at a party in May means your secret gets to your Facebook friends in October. Absolute lockdown required.
And finally, it's about basic psychology. Telling 1 person a big secret doesn't just mean 1 extra person knows. It means you're both thinking about it. If you see them again, you're going to talk about it again, and the risk multiplies. And if you're thinking about it, it makes it 1000% more likely you'll tell someone else. This is why I even lied day after day to my housemate and good friend @desdrata. Sorry T!
Of course, looking back, maybe my intentions look "obvious". And I've already had 3 predictable people claiming they knew all along I was coming back for Christmas, despite not saying anything all year ;)
I didn't lie about anything else. I'm still headed back to Melbourne for the summer (January-March), and I'm still off to Chiang Mai for a couple of months before finally moving back to the UK.
You can totally trust me on these things. No really. Really!
So here I am, back for my first UK Christmas since 2007. It's pretty bloody chilly and I'm not quite sure my Aus winter clothes are up to the challenge.
I've already been to London and felt the mad, crowded busyness which simply doesn't exist in Melbourne.
I've had British ale pumped by hand, and been out with my mates.
It's good to be back.
And you know what? I'm not that sorry. I still have a big grin that I pulled it all off.