Author: Travelling Stan
Title: Stan Trek
Type of Work: autobiography
Source: CMv1 and DM, multiple issues
© Copyright 2002, 2003 Arthur Jerrett
STAN TREK - The Story of Travelling Stan - Part 1 - The beginning
Some of you will have decided that I am not normal! If you hadn't, then you're probably dead!
When a man and a woman, who are very much in love (or lust) they go someplace and do something and as result a new child is produced. This is what normally happens (so my parents assure me) - a man and a woman get together and conceive a new life. (Mr Garrison's explanation additionally involves a selection of additional species - but I can't remember the details as I was busy cleaning up vomit at the time.)
But I digress. My point is, that all children are conceived from the input of a man into a woman!
In the mid '90s two men got together and conceived me (and a few other kids). This explains why I am different from most kids. And these two guys did not just give birth to one of me - but many! According to my label, I was born in China sometime in 1999 - just one of thousands of identical plushie toys.
The factory there was not pleasant - in fact it was a complete shit-hole. Overworked, underpaid staff working noisy machines. The atmosphere was so bad that my mouth became permanently fixed in a strange sort of anti-smile - and my facial expression one of permanent depression.
There were thousands of us - all nervous - newcomers to a strange and frightening world. Each of us an exact copy of the next - none had any sort of individual identity. Even in the deepest suffering, in the poorest village of the poorest region of poorest country each person has his (or her) own identity.
None of us did. Each, as Pink Floyd put it, was another brick in the wall. Deprived of the most fundamental human right of all - an identity, we were alone, afraid - orphaned and with an uncertain future. A plushie next to me (his name was Stan) just stood, wide eyed and sad. The rest of us (who were all called Stan) just copied him.
We were packed, by the dozen, into plastic bags - the bags were sealed to prevent our escape. Then the bags were stuffed into boxes, and the lids closed and sealed.
That was the last time I saw daylight for several months.
STAN TREK - The Story of Travelling Stan - Part 2 - Voyage Zero
I never knew my parents. Like Jesus, I am a victim of immaculate conception - there was no exchange of bodily fluids involved in bringing about my existence. I was just made, and stuffed into a box along with hundreds of other identical plushies.
The darkness in the box was absolute. We were shut-up together like Jews in a gas chamber (Cartman suggested that expression - and Kyle beat the crap out of him). We were there for what seemed like an eternity. No space to move, unable to breathe or break-wind. Just as well really, since we were all sealed in a bag! Any farting would have been intolerable - and if we had neded to breathe we would have been suffocated in just a few hours.
For several hours after the lid was closed, I was afraid I was going to die; for days after that - I was afraid that I wouldn't. None of us knew what was happening outside. A feeling of being moved into some storage area was followed later by a short yet exhilerating sensation - one that I would learn to love. Though we didn't know it at the time, we had been loaded into the hold of a giant airliner - but we all guessed that we were on our way to a far-off land.
I guess it was at this point that I learned to love flying. Anything that provided a means of escape from that crappy factory was a good thing. But being in a far-off land is fuck-all use if you're stuck in a box with several doxen identical twins. There was only one possible solution to this problem - we had to escape!
But here we encountered a problem. We had no way of moving, no way of tearing through the plastic bag - or of opening the box which held us prisoner. But we had each other, and we had a determination to be free of the shackles of the plastic bag and the chains of the box. Somehow, we knew, we would soon smell the sweet smell of freedom!
STAN TREK - The Story of Travelling Stan - Part 3 - An English Dawn
As you will by now know, the early days of my life were not enjoyable: created in a Chinese factory I found myself stuffed in a dark box with lots of identical plushies - heading for a far-off land, and planning a dramatic escape.
But then something happened. A sudden noise of steel on cardboard - and a sliver of light appeared above us. The sliver grew. I heared people talking - and realised that I could understand them. With the sound of those voices - I knew where I must be!
I had only ever heared that sort of accent before - from another group of identical plushies on a neighbouring production line at the chinese factory. These plushies all called themselves 'Pip' and were generally far to cheerful for that dump of a factory. All they ever talked about was tea and cricket - and why footballs are round, and what a great place England was. The 'Pips' were quite annoying - and provided the only source of amusement in the factory - we kept throwing those little polystyrene packing pieces at them! But when I heared the accents of the people unpacking the boxes, I remembered all those Pip plushies, and wondered if this was England.
I was one of the last to be lifted from the box. It was clear that this was some form of gift shop - for it contained many different items and hundreds of greetings cards. And on some of those cards were pictures of round footballs! I knew for certain where I was as the shelf-stacker placed me on the front of the shelf with the other Stans.
But my new-found optimism soon expired. With each passing hour someone would pick me up, or prod me - and then buy something else. One by one my fellow Stans would be carried across the shop - placed in a bag and carried away. I knew that I would never see them again, I wondered if anyone would ever come in to take me away. Surely, someone, somewhere would have to want me. But no one came. I began to lose all hope of ever being loved by anybody - and when the shop was shut in the evening, I would cry myself through the night until the next day. I was so unhappy that I tried suicide - but throwing myself of the shelf didn't work - I only bruised my head. I was picked up by a passing shop assistant - and put right back on the shelf.
And then, just when life looked like it couldn't get any worse - something happened.
STAN TREK - The Story of Travelling Stan - Part 4 - The Mysterious Rescuer
Those of you who have managed to stay awake so far, will know about how I came to be a clinically depressed plushie in a shop somewhere in England. I had spent every day of my young life hoping that someone would rescue me from hell; would give me a life, an identity. That hope was the only thing that I had, and with every passing day hope grew a little less, and despair began to take over.
Then, one winters day, a strangely scruffy bloke walked into the shop that had become my prison. All the plushies discussed this guy, as we did with everyone who came into the shop. We decided he was probably a struggling artist or something, with no money and no prospects. We decided that this was not the sort of person that could look after a plushie properly - he wasn't a 6 foot blond with perfect boobs for a start! Also, most scruffy guys who walked in were total A-holes. He spent a while selecting a birthday card for someone and then, having selected one, turned and looked at the shelves on which us plushies were standing.
We stood, motionless, each plushie hoping that he would choose another. One of those giant hands reached out, coming closer and closer, and finally clasped itself around my little body. I was terrified, and kept thinking "check the price, check the price!" My only hope now was the price. Poor struggling artists can't afford high quality plushies! "Check the price you bastard! You can't afford me!"
Evidently, he could. He looked at the price tag, turned me upright, and held me up to his eyes. He looked at me, and smiled. I stared right back. And then, like countless others before me, I was taken to the noisy machine by the door, dropped into a bag (with the birthday card) and carried away.
As the bag moved onwards, I had a peek at the card. It was quite funny. For the first time in a long time, I smiled. But the smile didn't last long. I had always hoped that one day, someone would rescue me. But I had always assumed that rescue would be the start of a better life. Now I was no longer sure.
STAN TREK - The Story of Travelling Stan - Part 5 - First Friend
Those of you with an attention-span longer than Kenny's life-expectancy will, by now, be aware of how I was brought into existence somewhere in darkest China; was transported to a shop in England; and was eventually sold to some lunatic in Stevenage.
The lunatics walk eventually ceased. There was the sound of a key turning in a lock. A door opened and closed again. Footsteps on stairs, and a second door opened - and closed again behind us. The bag opened, the hand descended, and I was lifted out into the daylight.
It was strange, but somehow looking at the lunatic again, I was no longer filled with fear. "Que Sera, Sera" I thought - not knowing where my knowledge of Latin had come from.
The loony was smiling at me again. He reached over for something on the desk, and pulled out a pair of scissors. He cut the tags away from me - and for the first time I could move my arms without som annoying tag flaping about. He chucked the tags to one side, and held me with both hands. I was trapped.
"Hi Stan," he said in a kind voice, and he gave me a big hug. I did my plushie best to hug him back - but my arms are so short that it didn't achieve much. But, for the first time in my life I felt that somebody cared about me.
That night, after watching him send a message to some guy called Paul and some things he addressed as 'marklars', I lay on the pillow of the bed. My last waking thoughts were happy ones. I had expected this guy to be a poor hopeless tramp. How much now depended on the "King of the Britons".
STAN TREK - The Story of Travelling Stan - Part 6 - The Frogs and the Ferry
Marklars, after somehow getting from a factory in China, I had wound up in Stevenage as the favoured plushie of the King of the Britons.
My initial misgivings about my new owner soon passed. He certainly didn't dress as smartly as some - but this turned out to be a good thing. Because he didn't spend huge amounts on designer gear, it meant he had more money to spend on the important things in life - such as life! When he was out working on some madly complex thing at the university, I would sit on his bed and read the South Park digests that came in every night.
This not only passed the time, but also answered many of my questions about life, the universe and everything. It explained about who I was, why I had been created and why there were so many identical plushies being made. What I didn't know at the time, was that the friends we made through it would play a part in making me the first international plushie mega-star, loved by tens of people all over the world.
The winter days were lengthening, and spring arrived. It had been 3 weeks since I had been rescued from the shop in town, and I had come to realise that my life was quite good. This particular morning, Arthur, the King of the Britons, was busy packing up some clothes into a bag. He was evidently planning to go on holiday (we say 'holiday' in place of 'vacation' here), and I was very pleased when he picked me up, and took me along also.
We drove with Arthur's parents to Dover, a well-known British port at the narrow part of the English Channel. From here it is just 26 miles to France - it takes just over an hour on the ferry. The ferries that cross to Calais, on the French side, are big. You drive your car on to one of the lower decks get out and go upstairs for the duration of the crossing. Not wanting to be left alone in the car I sneeked into Arthur's carry on bag - and peeped out at the world.
We went to the waiter service restaurant - which is only a little more expensive than the self-service one (or a motorway service station) but is loads better! We also had a nice table looking out across the water at the famous white cliffs of Dover. There's a song about "blue birds over, the white cliffs of Dover", but all I could see was seagulls! And as I watched them, the ship ploughed on towards France!
STAN TREK - The Story of Travelling Stan - Part 7 - The White Stuff
From creation, to Stevenage and now France! I had been to hell, and come back again. When I got my first look at the French port of Calais, I feared I was going back to hell again. My first impression of France was "what a shit-hole - what the fuck are we doing here". I'm not quite sure where I learned those naughty words - perhaps all that censorship in the CC digest was just a fucking waste of time! Anyway, those words do provide an adequate description of the dump that seen by travellers as the approach the Calais ferry terminal.
Thankfully, France did get better! Having caught a mid-afternoon ferry, we drove south and arrived (as planned) at a motel in the city of Dijon. This area is well known for its mustard - but evidently not for its pillows. In the end, Arthur had to use me as a pillow - which was a great honour: no longer was I just a useless little toy - I was being useful!
We didn't see much of Dijon - it was dark when we arrived, and the next morning we headed straight to the Autoroute (a sort of French freeway) and headed east towards the alps. At the same time Arthur's Sister was heading westwards towards the alps - on a train from Austria. Suddenly, the terrain started to rise and become white-tipped mountains - we were entering the alps!
The plan was to book into our appartment and then go and collect Suzi from the station in Geneva. Arthur and his Dad went to do that. I wanted to go to so that I could add Switzerland to my list of countries. But Arthur told me to stay put, and keep his mother company for a few hours until they got back. I was sorry I had to stay, but duty was duty. I was told later that it was a very winding road, and I wouldn't have liked it - so perhaps it was best. I sat in the appartment and watched white flakes drift slowly to the ground as the sun set over the mountains.
STAN TREK - The Story of Travelling Stan - Part 8 - Pizza and French Fries
My first evening in the mountains ended somewhat prematurely. One moment I was watching the sun set over the snow-covered peaks, the next I was being woken up in my bed. Arthur had gone up the road to the boulangerie to get some hot bread, croissants and other nice stuff for breakfast. Outside the mountains were coming alive as other lunatics strapped planks of wood to their feet and attempted to slide down without making themselves look total dicks.
Most of them failed!
In my life's journey from China to England I must admit that I wasn't exactly an expert on ski technique. I had vague recollections about pizzas and french-fries, but this was the first time I had actually seen people skiing. Unfortunately I did not have my own ski gear - and hire shops tend not cater for plushies - so I stayed in the appartment and watched as Arthur and his family went off skiing. I was sorry to miss the fun - but as the whole family were able to french-fry with the best of them, I couldn't have kept up. But watching sitting at the window and watching the world go by was most enjoyable.
Somehow my week in the French Alps seemed to fly by, and in no time at all we were back in the car, heading back to catch the ferry to England.
My first vacation had been a great experience - and I was really looking forward to seeing some more of the world.
STAN TREK - The Story of Travelling Stan - Part 9 - My First Noel
After my first experience of foreign travel I was itching to visit some more of the world. But after that first trip, we didn't do much travelling. Arthur would often drive down to the south coast to go diving with his friends. Sometimes, when they camped overnight I would get to go along too - but otherwise I didn't get out much.
Months passed. As summer ended, the leaves started to fall from the trees, and soon winter set in. Christmas was not far off. The streets were decorated with tinsel and lights. The shops were full of idiots spending small, medium and large fortunes on their christmas shopping. It was amazing to see how stupid people are when they fall for the commercial con that is Christmas. I was pround to be a plushie - plushies don't do stupid things like that. We do Christmas properly - we enjoy good food, good wine, good company and have a splendid time without having to buy budget busting presents!
Soon, Christmas day was less than 48 hours away. This meant another road trip was due - this time heading North-West to Shrewsbury to visit Arthur's cousins for the festive season. This was great fun - and involved everyone drinking lots of alcohol, and eating too much chocolate. One thing that did happen then made me a very happy plushie indeed - we were going to be going on another foreign trip at the end of January! This time, it was destination Austria.
STAN TREK - Part 10 - world champions and plushies
At the end of the last installment, I had just spent my first Christmas with the King and his family in Shropshire, England.
Less than a month after Christmas the whole of the king's family got in the car, and drove to St. Anton am Arlberg in Austria. This was particularly special trip for me as not only did it mark my first visit to a German speaking country, but additionally our visit was timed to coincide with the world alpine skiing championships.
The family have been visiting the same house in St. Anton for several years (Arthur was about 6 when they first visited) - and we were welcomed home with open arms. The house is right next to the main lift up the mountain, yet is to one side - away from the noise of the main town. It is run by Rosemary, daughter of Rudi Matt, one of the first world champion ski racers who once had a pillowfight with Arthur and his sister during one of their first visits.
Naturally, we did not have the place to ourselves. Each morning at breakfast the table next to ours was occupied by the American TV presenters who were covering the event. In addition, a very beautiful black squirrel would come to the window each morning, to feast on the nuts that Rosemary leaves out.
This was something of a wild week. Instead of skiing with ski-poles (which is normal) Arthur skied with two large flags - one British, one South African. This may sound wierd, but it was. The family have been involved with ski racing in the UK for years, and two of their friends were competing in the world championships that we were witnessing. One, Chemmy Alcott, competes for team GB.
The other, Alex Heath, lives in South East England, but actually competes for his native South Africa.
Neither of them became world champion...
STAN TREK - part 11 - a chance virus
At the end of part 10, you will remember, I had been in Austria with Arthur and his family. Our return was not quite as joyous as it should have been, because Arthur's Gran died while we were away. Old people seem to have a habit of dying - except my Grandpa who never seems to be able to. Anyway, the next week they all had to go to the funeral. I did not go on this trip - for some reason Arthur thought that it was not seemly that a travelling plushie such as myself should be seen at a funeral. I guess he must this that the event would be too emotional for me, or something.
Life continued - Arthur was working on his PhD experiments. I was not. The main excitement in my days came from reading the digests - where some lunatic called Bob was organising a South Park convention. No chance of me going to that - not on Arthur's student budget. But Lori had sent him an e-mail saying that she was going - and urged him to go too.
It was one of these boring days that one of Arthur's friends phoned up to say that he had just received an e-mail from him containing a virus. Normally a virus infection on a computer would not merit inclusion in my stories - but this one really changed my life. Having deduced from this that his computer had probably sent this to everyone in his adress book, he had to get on the phone to each of and tell them not to open the e-mail. This was not too difficult, except in one case - the moderator of the South Park digest - a Mr Paul Wein.
Thankfully, Arthur is not totally stupid - and having read some of Paul's writings he knew that Paul worked for the department of buildings in New York City. He was succsessful in obtaining a phone number for that organisation, and having asked to be put through to "mr Wein in the press department" found himself talking the mod himself. Having informed Paul about the virus, they then talked about all sorts of things - including the forthcoming convention. Paul suggested that Arthur at least look at the possibility of making it to Denver.
It's strange how life turns out sometimes. If it hadn't been for a malicious virus, Arthur would never have talked to Paul, and I would never have got to go to the South Park Convention.
STAN TREK - Part 12 - Great expectations
those of you that are still awake after the previous 11 installments of my life history will by now be aware of the circumstances that persuaded Arthur to take me to Denver in June 2001 for the first South Park convention.
I was excited at the thought of visiting my spiritual birthplace - but I had another trip to look forward to first. Arthur had to go to Amsterdam for a conference, and somehow managed to plan it so that we had a day to look around the city before heading home. Arthur took the opportunity to add to my photo album (you can see the photos on www.travellingstan.com) but the whole trip only lasted 3 days.
Otherwise, my life was fairly dull. The daily digests from Paul were full of people looking forward to the convention, but nothing much ever happened. I decided I needed some form of distraction - but I had no idea what. I tried reading some of Arthur's technical documents, but they were way above my level, even for a plushie of very significant brain - such as me! They were also so boring that it took me almost a week to recover from the coma!
But eventually the big day arrived - and we set off on the big adventure.
STAN TREK - Part 13 - Stan Wars
You will, of course, recall that as of Part 12 I was a Plushie with no purpose in life - other than to look forward to a great expedition across the sea.
I knew that Colorado was really my spiritual home - and I assumed that a visit there might help me find some purpose to my existence. It could be likened to being on a quest to find the Jedi Master who would help me find and control the 'force' in my life. As we set off for Heathrow airport at some ungodly hour in the morning, I could not have imagined how that would be achieved.
Having Checked in, we met up with Looori - who had managed to book the same flight as us. This was a significant event, as it was the first meeting of the first SP convention! Within a couple of hours we were at 35,000 feet over the town of Kilkenny (in Ireland) - hurtling westwards at almost 600 miles an hour. We had a brief layover at Newark, NJ, before heading onwards to Colorado - where we arrived exactly on time. This was quite a remarkable achievement, as we were about the only attendees whose flights did arrive on time - in spite of having had the longest journey!
It was great sitting at the bar, and meeting people face to face. We'd never met before, but I already knew everyone from reading their messages. It was a long day though - and after being awake for 29 hours straight - I was ready for sleep. Tomorrow, I hoped, would be a big day. Tomorrow we would drive to Fairplay - my spiritual birthplace. Tomorrow I would set out to find my Jedi Master - and find my reason for being.
STAN TREK - part 14 - The Rockies, The Mod and The Mammory Man
Prior to my arrival in Denver I had always thought of the mile-high city as being in the mountains - but it isn't. Denver lies on a flat plain - and the rocky mountains simply rise up out of it a few miles away. A bus ride took us up into the hills one Saturday morning - and soon we were in the small mountain town that provided the inspiration for the show that became popular and resulted in me being made. (I apologise to the grammarians among you for that last sentence).
With the exception of a few altitude effects, I think everyone had a really good time - especially Paul, who got himself a job! (and Marianthi who almost got herself a husband!) I, on the other hand did not find the answer that I had been looking for. That came the next day, courtesy of a strange man - named 'Tick'!
The day after we'd visited the mountains we had a costume event at the hotel in Denver - and two of the best costumes were Tick and Kris - who appeared as Timmy and Gobbles respectively. I went dressed as myself, and presently found myself in the presence of Timmy. It transpired that the man who was dressed as Timmy was none other than the world's top expert in mammory studies from California! He explained his work, and the need for someone to help him gather data from countries outside the USA.
I figured this sounded like fun (I was right) and I agreed to assist - after all, I didn't have much else to do when I wasn't travelling. However, my next journey wasn't far off. Arthur had already made the plan to visit Paul in NY that September - once his work was completed. What none of us could have imagined, was that at that time New York would be experiencing events on a scale that the city had never seen before.
STAN TREK - part 15 - Summer Travels
My trip to Denver had been everything I could have hoped for - but all too soon it was over. We made our way to the airport, and were soon winging our way back across the continent to Newark airport. As we approached to land, we had a spectacular view of the whole Manhattan skyline. But as we did not have the window seat, Arthur chose not to photograph it - after all, it would be there when we returned in September. Time would tell.
Another flight saw us safely back to London, with the whole summer ahead of us. The next day I stayed in bed while Arthur flew to Paris for the day. With his PhD research planned for completion at the end of August, he wanted to find out about employment options. I chose not to go. For a start, I was very tired, and had no desire to get up at 5am the day after returning from the US. Besides, I had other travels to look forward to.
A few weeks later, we flew up to the Isle of Man to see Arthur's grandparents. This is an annual occurrence, and we had an excellent time. There was one problem. Arthur's experiments had not quite gone according to plan - some of the instrumentation had been causing problems - and he had now decided to postpone our New York trip to the end of October - which as it turned out was just as well. However, Uncle Bob was going to visit us at the end of August - and we were going to take a trip to see the city of Paris.
But more about that next time!
STAN TREK - part 16 - The Visitor
It was during summer 2001 that I really became 'Travelling' Stan. Trips to Austria, Amsterdam, Holland, and the Isle of Man would be all most plushies could expect in a lifetime - but I completed them all in just a few months. Still I wasn't finished. Towards the end of August an old friend arrived in England. I chose the term 'old friend' with care - for our visitor was none other than Uncle Bob.
The day after he had flown in from Stan Fransisco we (he, Arthur and me) flew to Paris for a day trip. We had to get up seriously early to catch the first flight of the day - but we got Paris in good time. Arthur (who can speak French) got us tickets and we took the train into the city centre. When we emerged into the sunlight of a warm summers day we were looking up at one of the world's most famous landmarks. We paused a moment to photograph the moment when Travelling Stan first gazed upon the Eifel Tower. (See www.travellingstan.com for the pics).
Naturally, we had to go up and admire the view - so we paid the toll and walked up. (Actually, me being a plushie, I got in free and was carried up!). More photos of the view from the top, and of me and Uncle Bob. But we didn't have time to stay long - we had lots to do in a day. Soon we were admiring the famous Arc de Triomphe, and walking up the Champs Elysees towards one of those French street cafes for lunch and a much needed drink.
Bob, being Bob, had to do a little bit of shopping - South Park stuff of course. We got all sorts of little bits and pieces - but Bob still wanted that 'really special something'. As we headed back to catch the train back to the airport we stopped in one last shop. There Arthur spotted the item Bob needed - the South Park Chess Set.
As we took the short flight back to London, Bob was happy with his purchases, and I fell asleep because I was a very tired little Stan.
Amazing what you can do in a day!
STAN TREK - part 17 - Ol' London Town
When I woke up, the day after visiting Paris with Arthur and Uncle Bob, I had a strange thought. 18 months had passed since Arthur had rescued me from that shop, and since then I had travelled to America and much of Western Europe. But somehow, I had never actually visited London - even though it was only about 20 miles from home. This I considered was a major omission - no Travelling Plushie could show his face if he had never visited the city that is the centre of time, and had once been more powerful than any city had been before - or has been since.
My Old Grandpa, from that show you guys seem to like, has sometimes told me of the days of his youth - a time when Britannia ruled the waves - and about 1/4 of the world's population. This was the city under whose rule industry had grown from a mere dream into the force that built the modern world. This was a city that had withstood invasion since 1066, but now had to face a new type of invasion force - Uncle Bob and his credit cards!
Our trip to London started with us getting in the car, and driving 100 miles in the wrong direction! This was quite deliberate - we had to go and get Mark, a pervert - no, THE pervert - from Nottingham. The 4 of us began our visit to London with a boat trip down the river Thames, starting from near Big Ben - and ending at Greenwich. Greenwich is home to the Royal observatory - from where time itself is measured.
From there, we made our way back to Central London - where we soon found ourselves taking photos of Buckingham palace. This was the place that had seen extraordinary scenes almost exactly 4 years earlier - following the death of Princess Diana. Much of the rest of the day was spent chasing after Uncle Bob, as tore around town - credit card in hand. No item of SP merchandise was safe from purchase - except for me. Uncle Bob does not have enough credit to buy me from Arthur! Indeed, I doubt that the Queen has that much money!
As always though, time was passing and all too soon we were waving Uncle Bob off at Heathrow - and looking forward to seeing him again, on top of the world in New York. But not before two Arthur's more worrying concerns became terrifyingly true.
STAN TREK - Part 18 - An quick trip and an accurate prediction.
It will come as no surprise to you, that the owner of a Travelling Plushie should be just as fond of going places as I am! So when, just a week after Uncle Bob had returned to Stan Fransisco, Arthur's friend Tim asked us if we'd like to join him on the flight deck of his Airbus during the first week of September- we went! Tim is a pilot with one of the charter airlines here, and this trip was to be a quick flight to Spain and back. In fact, we had done this sort of flight with Tim 2 times that year already - and were looking forward to more in the future.
I'd never been to Spain before, and this trip went some way towards alleviating the frustration I'd been feeling. If Arthur had finished his PhD on time (instead of spending his time making silly animations) we'd have been on our way to visit Paul in NY about now. At least we'd now booked that trip though - and the view from 30,000ft on that clear summers day was most pleasing to a travelling plushie's eyes.
We didn't get the chance to do much in Spain. We basically landed, switched passengers,and flew home again - but not before I got a picture of me sunning myself on the steps of the plane. Then an hour and half of flying back home, which gave us a chance to further discuss the shapely figures of the stewardesses!
When we landed, Arthur's sister Suzi met us at the airport. Were Suzi not family, I should probably comment on her figure - instead I shall leave that up to Mek! Suzi, unsurprisingly, found it odd that anyone would want to spend the day on a charter flight to anywhere - and asked us if we were worried about crashing. Arthur, being Arthur, is a bit of an anorak about air-safety and explained about how there hadn't been a major accident for many months. There is a general feeling in air safety, that the longer you go without an accident - the worse it will be when it happens. Arthur punctuated that observation with the remark "we're probably due a big one".
Sadly, he was right. Just 5 days later, the "big one" happened.
STAN TREK - part 19 - The day that changed America
Every so often there dawns a day that will be forever etched on the memories of those who experienced it. September 11th 2001 was one of those days. That day promised to be different right from the start - Arthur left for uni early (as was usual), but today he did not take any lunch with him. This was not normal - the CFD department at the uni were going to the local pub for lunch - and I had no reason to expect Arthur to return until late evening. So when, in the early afternoon, he ran through the door and grabbed the phone, I knew something must be wrong. He grabbed the TV remote out of his housemate's hand - and switched on the 24 hour news channel - and I saw what millions were seeing.
And I felt the same shock, disbelief, whatever you want to call it. You felt it too - so I don't need to describe that feeling.
I also started to think about what might have been, had we gone to New York when we'd planned to. Where would we be now, what would we have seen and felt? Would we have embarked on the final great adventure? Who can say, and what would be the point. What's passed is passed, and you need to make the best of the present for who knows when your time will come.
That night, I lay awake in deep thought - while being hugged by my owner. Already people were saying that this was the day that changed the world - and for a while it I guess it did. But looking back now - people are still starving in Africa, Arabs and Israelis are still killing each other - and the American government still thinks it can police the world. But America, I think, has changed. Almost every nation on earth has known the sorrow of war on it's soil, seas or in it's skies. Now Americans knew what it is like to have their homeland's security violated by a perceived evil from overseas. And they knew what it is like to have friends and neighbours taken from them.
In that way, September 11th 2001 was the day that America woke up to the places that lay outside it's borders, and became part of the real world.
STAN TREK - Part 20 - The long wait
Ask whoever you like where they were on September 11th 2001, and they'll be able to tell you. Paul was on the scene. Arthur was in University. I was at home. Cole, uh - OK so Cole couldn't tell you because he hadn't been born, but you know what I mean!
It was not until the next day that Arthur managed to get in touch with Paul. We were all relieved that he was still alive - and looking forward to seeing us 6 weeks later. Those few weeks were not easy. We would speak to Paul 5 or 6 times a day - every day. There was no sign of his friend Doug, whose office had been right at the first point of impact - and we all knew that there never would be.
Those weeks dragged by. Arthur would call Paul first thing every morning - the hour difference meaning that Paul got woken up at 3am, thereby providing him with a convenient alarm call. At some point the folorn hope that Doug might be alive out there somewhere faded away. I wanted to be there to give my big mod friend a big plushie hug. And eventually that day arrived.
It was time to show Osama bin Asshole that it would take more than he had got to stop Travelling Stan from flying!
STAN TREK - Part 21 - The Big Apple
A quick recap, for the benefit of those of you suffering from oldtimers. I am a plushie with a fondness for travel and a boob fetish. I started life in a factory in China, was delivered to a shop in England from where I was rescued by a king. From that point on, my life consisted of trying to visit as many far-off places as I possibly could.
At this moment in time, I was on my way to visit another far-off place. The long wait was finally over, and we were winging our way to New York at last. This time I had another friend with me: not-quite-so-well-travelled Kyle had decided to come along for the ride. Kyle is about the same size as me, and is also a plushie. The only journey he had ever made was the time Arthur bought him from the shop in town and took him home.
This was my first visit to the Big Apple - although I had seen the famous (and now forever scarred) skyline a few months earlier when we travelled back from Denver. It was dark when we landed, and Paul was at JFK airport to welcome us - and to thank us for coming to visit him. We met up with Paul's friend Brian (who had been meeting Uncle Bob in another terminal) and drove to Paul's place - where Christine, Montel and most of Paul's home crew were waiting for us.
Only one of them was missing - and he always would be. Paul's friend Jay told us what he had witnessed that day a few weeks. I had never seen a grown man cry before, let alone a hard New York City gangster. But one good thing had happened. The days that had followed had brought us all closer together, and by the time we arrived at Paul's we were not just friends - but honourary New Yorkers.
STAN TREK - Part 22 - The pile
My first visit to New York occurred at an interesting time, and we were there as the guests of a very interesting party. Paul had been working for the Buildings department, and had been looking forward to starting a new job at the taxi commission in September. But that was without the input of Osama bin Laden, and now Paul was working at OEM - the office of emergency management. And as guests of a city employee, we felt like we were guests of the city itself! When we drove down the West Side Highway in Paul's city car groups of people waved and cheered.
As such we visited the usual tourist sites - but not the Statue of Liberty which was closed. I got my photo taken at the top of the Empire State Building - which had reclaimed it's title as New York's tallest building. But we also got to see several other things reserved only for the most important of guests. First was a Broadway show - which had been laid on for the city workers who were coping with the rubble at ground zero. We also got invited to the cast party afterwards, so I got my photo taken with the leading lady. (I think she was hot for me - but you can see the pic on my website).
Perhaps the most amazing example was our visit to the OEM command centre itself. Very few visitors ever got to see this! Perhaps the president, the occasional head of state or prime minister. Arthur and I got to pay the heroes a visit - I guess I must be a really important plushie, although being with a King probably helped! The OEM centre was really impressive organisation - especially as the whole place was set up in less than 72 hours!
But the nothing could have prepared me for what I saw next. After we left the command centre, Paul drove us down the West Side Highway and through several checkpoints - and into ground zero. Two things struck me instantly: the sudden darkness, the drop in temperature, and the huge size of the pile. (OK, so that's 3, but I was in serious shock). You cannot begin to imagine the size of the pile, especially for someone who's only 11 inches tall. It's strange, but it took 3500 miles to get here and make me realise that those pictures I'd watched were not just pictures. Those things had really happened, and the remains lay at my feet.
When we left, none of us spoke for a long time. Sometimes silence says more than words ever could.
STAN TREK - Part 23 - The News
As I boarded our plane to go home, I felt that I was leaving New York as better plushie. I had seen things that I'd rather not have seen - but somehow felt better for having seen them. I had also seen lots of JFK terminal 1 - we got delayed by 3 hours and it was 2 or 3am the next day before we departed for home. Another plane at JFK was delayed that morning - and that one made the news.
We had promised Paul that we would call him as soon as we got home. Arthur did as promised - and held a very short conversation before hanging up and switching on the telly. When I saw the news story I was shocked - Rudy Giuliani was giving a press conference - and our friend Paul was behind him, answering his phone. I had the strangest feeling then - because I knew who was on the other end of the line! Paul hung up (as we knew he would) and carried on the work of coping with the crash of the other delayed flight from JFK that morning.
Again I was left wondering 'what if' - what if we'd stayed on in NY for just 1 more day? I guess we'd have ended up at the scene with Paul - after all, Arthur is something of an expert in civil aviation. But again we were thousands of miles away from where we were needed.
STAN TREK - Part 24 - The price of all those travels.
By the time we flew home from New York it had been nearly two years since Arthur had rescued me from the shop in Stevenage. In that time I had flown tens of thousands of miles, and I'd run out of fingers to count all the countries I'd visited. I'd had more good times in those two years than many people get in a lifetime. But it had all come at a price.
Mentally I was fine - except for a minor boob obsession. Indeed, my analyst concluded that that was a healthy thing for a guy to have - and even admitted to being jealous because I was getting more action than he was! But physically I was not so good. My li'l plushie feet had really taken a battering, and we full of holes. The soon-to-be-doctor informed me that I had a simple choice - either I had to go under the knife, or else it was likely that I would lose both feet within a few months.
The procedure was complex. The king consulted with his mother - who felt that the operation was well beyond her capabilities. His sister, who had been excellent at needlework at school a few years earlier, also felt unable to help. I needed a major operation to rebuild not one, but both feet, and nobody knew if it could be done - or how. Thankfully the king is smart - and came up with a method of solving the problem. The solution was simple in theory - and worked brilliantly in practice! With some nice soft black fleece material, and a needle and cotton, he was able to build me a new pair of feet over the top of the old ones.
One day I'd been facing life in a wheelchair, the next I had a pair of lovely new feet - the nicest softest, bestest feet that any plushie has ever had. Just the sort of feet that a travelling plushie should have.
STAN TREK - Part 25 - The Second Nowell
The nights were long, and the days minimal. Frost dusted the ground each morning, which could only mean one thing: Christmas was coming! Last year we had been to visit Arthur's aunt - this year we were going to Austria! Arthur, his parents, his sister - and his lil' travelling plushie.
This meant another road trip - through France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany - before arriving at the Austrian border. This usually amounts to 9 hours of driving. This time it took nearer 20. Snow was falling thickly all the way across Europe - and we were reduced to driving at a fraction of the speed that we would normally expect. But we got there eventually, and found the house we had booked. The snow was thick on the ground, so I had to be carried in otherwise I'd have got wet feet. (Actually, being a plushie I can't actually walk at all - at least, that's what I tell Arthur!)
This was where we spent Christmas week in 2001. Each day Arthur and his family would go off skiing - and I would remain at the house to admire the views and the contents of the drinks cupboard! I really enjoyed myself, even though I didn't get out much. Christmas day itself was much the same as all the others - except we got presents, and ate too much. (They ate too much - I'm a stuffed toy, so I didn't eat much at all!)
As with all travels, this one had to come to an end - and with it came the end of mixed year. 2001 had been mixture of great times and hard times, a year of new friends - and of one lost forever. But the past is (and always will be) the past - and now I prepared to face the future that 2002 had in store.
STAN TREK - Part 26 - A new Dawn
The end of the last part of my story, saw the end of the year 2001. So perhaps a quick recap is in order.
I am, as you will recall, a plushie with plenty of experience of travelling and a healthy appreciation of certain parts of anatomy. You all love me, and love all of you. The same was true at the start of 2002 - which otherwise started with a minimum of interesting events. The reason for this was that Arthur was busy finishing off his PhD. We were back living with Arthur's parents. The days were fairly dull and repetitive. He would spend most of time at the computer or reading reference materials.
There was something to look forward to. Arthur was planning for us to visit New York for a week before going on to Denver for SPC2. But in early February something happened that would have a major effect on our plans for the summer. Arthur managed to contact one of his best friends from school - they hadn't heared from one another since they were 13. Stuart had recently become a father, and was now living in Sydney, Australia. Within days they decided that they should meet up - and so Arthur decided that we should stop in for a few days on the way home from Denver.
By the end of February life had become much better. Arthur had not only passed his PhD, but had booked the tickets for our big trip to the USA and Australia in the summer. I had a full three months to wait before I could add a whole new continent to my places list. How I was looking forward to it!
(to be continued???)