Friday, October 31, 2003

A difference of a few days

Since my last update I have done the following:
* See three one-act musicals
* Get offered a new job and accept it
* Look at a place at the fabulous location of Belsize Park.

So a lot has happened. One of the pluses of where the office has moved to is that it is practically just across the river from The Bridewell Theatre. It is fringe theatre but nowadays since what passes for shows on the West End have become so bland fringe theatre seems so darn entertaining. Last night's show was "Notes Across a Small Pond" - the pond being the Atlantic and the notes being 3 short musicals from writers from both sides of it.

Settling down to the first musical called "Blood Drive" it was a pointless but watchable musical about a guy giving blood. The second musical called "The Happiness of Fish" was a perplexing tale about a woman with insomnia who feels better after dreaming about goldfish. At this point there was an intermission. I was beginning to think if this was fresh new musical theatre then we were all in trouble. Neither really made sense and they weren't terribly good. The stories didn't make sense or they tried to be too many things. But after intermission there was the longest musical of the night: "Re:Love". It was a mix of jazz and blues sung a capella and told the story of various relationships between the cast of characters. It wasn't really a musical but more a piece of music theatre. It was great stuff. A pity they didn't have a recording available... But they are sure to one day.

The cast were great (and particularly pleasing on the eye) and they had loads of talent and energy throughout the night. Just as well they included the third piece however as the first two didn't really show off their talents.

This morning after getting my usual coffee (well it has been usual since Tuesday) at Blackfriars Tube and walking across Blackfriars Bridge to work I noticed upon my arrival that a sign had been put up in the office kitchen. It was basically telling people to shut up when they were in the kitchen. Whatever z-grade office designer they hired to fit out the floor, the kitchen was meant to be a "networking hub". It has bar stools and tables for this to happen and brick glass on one side to make it its own space. In reality the effect makes you feel you have stepped into some hideous bar complete with pale wooden floor panels (already marked before we even moved in) and nauseating pastel colours. It also means that it is a very noisy area where even quiet walking echoes and booms throughout the floor. So it didn't take very long for those with desks nearest to the kitchen to get the shits with it and the note was their eloquent way of expressing it.

But the note in the kitchen to me highlighted what a pack of assholes I was working with. They were probably the same assholes who signed off on the shitty office design in the first place. I guess we have all worked with assholes before, but when you are on vacation like I am, you have to limit your exposure to them.

And it highlighted that all this week the new office just hasn't been doing it for me. It has great views, but you have to share it with assholes who have no taste. The area is a sterile part of London as well. The building I work in comprises mostly of white bureaucrats with pink skin and dandruff. I could have been in Brisbane if it wasn't for the smarter coats.

I missed the hobos the mess, the piss and the squalor. It was chaotic but it had character. So it was rather fortuitous that a job agency rang me yesterday about a position in South London. I had the interview today at lunchtime and was offered the job by 3pm. I accepted it as it will get me through winter... and with more pay. It was my third interview here and the feedback was I came across darn good so the ego was well inflated for the rest of the day. I start the new job on November 17...

Tonight it was raining. Real London weather has finally come. But I had agreed to check out a place at Belsize Park on the Northern Line so north I went with umbrella in hand to check it out. The Northern Line was finally re-opened after the derailment of two weekends ago so I didn't have to get a bus to get there and the house was close to the tube. The place wasn't as clean or as beige as where I am now, but it was in a great location full of sensible tapas bars and other good establishments. Not sure if I will get it as they want somebody to move in now and not two weeks from now... But I did put in a darn strong showing as a contender for the top double room with its own bathroom...

After all that excitement of the day, I caught a bus to the O2 Shopping Centre at Finchley Road to meet up with Skye and have Nandos Chicken - a cheap but popular restaurant chain in London where you get grilled chicken. I had resisted eating at this chain for so long because its faux-Spanish motifs that I thought looked silly... But hey it does taste good and not bad value for £10... Maybe image isn't everything...

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Teething troubles

Moving into the new office with sweeping views of the City and on the river Thames has come at a price. Apart from being away from colleagues I worked with at Elephant & Castle (as only half the office could move), I have found the following:
* The building is a bit mid-eighties-hotel-chic. Maybe it is because of its height (11 storeys). Or maybe because it was built in the eighties. But whatever the reason it has the look and feel of a hotel with its brass fittings and pale marble floors. The cleaning products used even give it that hotel smell... There is a restaurant on the second floor with a great view of the Thames and a dodgy gym in the basement which also adds to the hotel feel about the place.
* There is no Flavia coffee machine. Ok so the coffee wasn't that great, but there was a roast that was the equivalent of a Robert Timms coffee bag that I used once back home so that was enough to get me going in the morning and it was enough to restart my caffeine addiction. Fortunately at Blackfriars tube station there is a coffee kiosk that makes great coffee. I will be stopping there to get my fix from now on as I walk across to the office.
* The place is still a bit under construction as glass panels need to put in and cables need to be wired properly.
* My workspace is dark. There is a whole section of the office that is dark as there is no light switch. By 4pm yesterday as the sun had set it was really dark. Today it is extra dark as half the building has lost power. An announcement has come over the PA system saying they are looking into it which means they have no idea what has happened.
* The office layout is a bit of a rabbit warren, but we are near a fire escape should today's power blackout mean something nasty...

What's happening in the world?

Haven't been ingesting my usual diet of news from all over London as I start searching The Gumtree over The Times for the latest... in where to live. Still everyone is talking about Son of Squidgy (er our future head of state) meeting up with that Butler. Paul Burrell says everything could have been avoided (I think that means all that stuff he put in his forthcoming book) if somebody had given him a call during his trial last year. Just goes to show that you should never work with (or for) children, animals or members of the aristocracy.

Monday, October 27, 2003

Okay, the last update was a bit angry. You know you're in trouble when you read that you put the words "modernity" and "shit-hole" in the same sentence. Next thing you find out that your housemates are having second thoughts about wanting you to leave... But more on that later in the week...

Concorde

Three Concordes flew past Elephant and Castle on Friday. It was a moment when I wished I had my camera. Not just to capture the planes as they flew past as we had a fabulous view of them from our office, but to capture the madness and the phenomenon they inspired. As each one flew by people stopped what they were doing and ran to the windows. As we could see them circle the entire city we had a great vantage point from every side of the building so people ran to every side. Of course I joined in (not one to miss a phenomenon even in Elephant and Castle).

I was probably a little bit light hearted about it after the great Italian lunch we had nearby. My colleagues and I went for a farewell to the office lunch and ended up staying for a few hours. It was mainly because the service was slow. Fortunately the non-stop eighties music and the antics of the peculiar waiter kept us amused. Since we waited so long there was red wine on the house. Several bottles later we were singing along to the eighties tunes and creating all sorts of merriment.

Paul goes to Essex

Saturday saw me venture to Southend. Its only an hour out of London and by the sea. Okay I've been there now. They have a really long pier that you can walk on and take in the not-so-gentle breezes coming off the North Sea.

Later that night I saw Finding Nemo at a multiplex near West Hampstead. Seeing it with Skye and Alicia and Dan there was a noticeable collective gasp at the sight of a computer-generated Sydney Harbour. It was a semiconscious nod to being homesick.

At the beeb

Today after a sensible lunch at Notting Hill, Skye and I went to a taping of Celebrity Mastermind. Which is just like watching the show on TV, but all the more tedious. We sat behind the contestants who included Home Secretary David Blunkett (which was very exciting as he is probably the most human politician in the UK parliament).

There is another TV show at Pinewood Studios I am going to on Friday, but I think the radio shows are much better. We don't have to wait around for hours to see them or have to wear dark clothing, and they are recorded closer to Central London.

Still waiting in line is a great way to meet the locals. While waiting outside the studios at White City we were able to say:
* The weather is 30deg back home and that is centigrade not Fahrenheit
* The Victor motor mower is very popular back home even though neither Skye nor myself have ever used one...

Thursday, October 23, 2003

The Necessary Business

I am a little bit tipsy as I write this update thanks to the UK taxpayer and some farewell drinks as the office moves (I see it as a small rebate for the huge amount of tax the government takes from you here)...

Anyway last night I had the discussion with my housemates that I was avoiding all week. It was the I won't be alone in a few weeks and I need to know if I should be moving out conversation. And yes I will have to move out.

It was a polite sit down conversation over supper... but one that I had to have as I need to give four weeks notice and it is now less than four weeks.

I have mixed views about leaving beautiful Haringey. Well lets face it the neighborhood is a shit hole because it is full of Turks and illegal immigrants who have no concept of modernity. They haven't built a community in this neighbourhood as so much as replicate a middle-eastern slum. On the other hand, Soho is only twenty minutes on the tube...

There are plusses and minuses about moving out. The house - while all beige and proof that a queer eye is no guide to style or taste - is still quite lovely by London standards. And the guys I share with - while full of the popular London self-loathing and anal retentativeness - have been nice in their own way too. I think they will be sad to see me go as well. As lets face it, I am a dream tennant. I'm clean, tidy and good for a few laughs. Assuming you overlook:
* the time I left the coke can and the toaster out on the kitchen bench and went out for the day
* the time I left the good knife in the cutlery drainer to air dry rather than dry with a towel and put away in its proper drawer
* the time I ate yoghurt on the non food couch

So today I started looking for a place for two. There was a bedsit in West Hampstead that looked just right advertised on the gumtree - a popular site for Australians looking for accomodation in London. I rang the lady who was the contact in the ad and said I was enquiring about the place for myself and my partner.
"Is your partner a female partner or a male partner?" she asked.
"My partner is male" I replied.
There was a pause, then:
"I'm sorry, but I cannot let this place to two gentlemen"
"That's quite allright you have a lovely day" I told her and hung up. Hey if she doesn't want two dream tennants that's her loss.

Besides, I still have to check outlet.co.uk and gayshare.co.uk exist. I have a hunch they offer much better places (even if they may suffer from a bit too much beige)...

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

I have seen more radio shows than heard now

Last night I went to a taping of Concrete Cow. It is a mild-mannered sketch show which was funny at times too. Had one of the actors from the odd C4 comedy Peep Show (the actor on the right).

Leaving E&C

Only two more days left at Elephant & Castle before we move to more sophistimicated south bank space. This week there have been lots of explosions going off as the local children play with fireworks (well this is Southwark, and Guy Fawkes night is coming up). Today one of them went off a little too close to the shopping centre creating a small-scale emergency response by police and fire services... possibly because one of the shoppers thought we were under terrorist attack. But it wasn't rabid muslims, only silly Jamaicans. It was over before it began however, but the fireworks have been a fitting final week finale I would have to say...

Incidentally this is one of the views from the the office that I will be giving up...

On the street where I live

Oh and traffic cams are so wonderful... Here is one taken from near the Manor House tube station. It doesn't quite give justice to the litter strewn across the streets but you get the general idea of what the neighbourhood looks like.

Baby Stabbing

Its a story The Sun and every other paper just had to carry today... Shocking murder of a baby yesterday by his illegal immigrant father... It all happened at a Greggs Bakery. They are very popular at lunchtime as you can get a sarnie (sandwich), drink and doughnut for £2.35.

Diana... she was dun in

Readers of the Daily Mirror (if you could call looking at headlines and photos reading) really believe she was murdered. As someone who thinks she was so last century I am much more ambivalent about this. Yesterday we found out that Prince Phillip wrote to her saying why the hell would anyone want that ol' gal Camilla and today we found out her brother thought she should seek help for her mental state. Can't wait to see what tomorrow's papers will tell us about it all.

Greater Manchester Klansmen

Last night BBC1 aired an expose on entrenched racism within the Greater Manchester police. Five officers have quit so far. The police have been waiting to see this doco after the BBC journalist filming it was arrested late August for posing as a police recruit. He managed to film such charming things as officers wearing Ku Klux Klan uniforms and the like. The Chief Constable of Greater Manchester posted a very long-winded apology today on his site...

Tubes tied...

With no Northern Line until at least next week, this morning's commute was interesting when the Victoria Line had a defective train at Oxford Circus (so essentially no trains were going anywhere on that line) and then the station was closed. So my usual Picadilly - Victoria - Bakerloo line interchange and my back up (Picadilly and then changing to the Northern Line) were foiled. Nevertheless I still managed to get to work... Darn!

Monday, October 20, 2003

Things the guidbooks should tell you to take while riding the tube:

* Torch. You never know when the power is going to go out and you are stuck somewhere dark and unpleasant.
* Water. Not just for drinking but washing off all that tube dust when you get stuck in a tunnel and have to walk out.
* Steel capped boots. So the mutant mice dont bite your feet while you are walking in the tunnel back to the station.
* Crash helmet. No trains have derailed today but they seem to be happening every second day of late...
* Padded clothing. You may be secure in your position but Betty next to you might be too engrossed in some tawdry magazine to be holding on to the handrails.

The Northern Line has been out of action in Central London for today while they figure out how to get the train out of Camden Town station... Lets hope it doesn't take them too long to figure that one out...

Squidgy knew she would get squashed is the fun news of the day... The Daily Mirror (not known for delivering news so it runs this as its headline on the day of a tube derailment and Blair's health scare) broke the news as part of ex-butler-and-minder-of-her-things-and-not-a-thief Paul Burrell's tell all book.


Handwriting experts have confirmed she wrote the letter (hell I have seen copies of letters from Diana so I could have said that), but that doesn't confirm whether she was out of her tiny little mind. The conspiracy theories will linger forever, but she was the silly one who didn't wear a seatbelt...

Odd bits
* David Blaine is out and he isn't dead.
* Tony Blair is not dead either. He was having an irregular heartbeat and reports indicate it wasn't over the price of a flat.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Bar Bitches

This weekend I decided not to go on an out-of-town excursion as enough excitement had happened in the week to deserve a jolly good sleep in.

I did go to a funky bar at Balham (gateway to the south some may recall Peter Sellers once saying). It is zone three south London on the Northern Line - aka a bloody long way to go for a bar!

What was I doing in Balham? Well it was for Helen's birthday. Helen grew up with Skye so that's the connection. Anyway I was due to meet Skye early at the place but tube delays meant I was a little late. Well over an hour late. There was a line up to get inside this bar that was probably the most sophistimicated bar in Balham. It was quite funky once you got over the fact that it was located outside a Sainsbury's car park.

So I had to enjoy the October London night air. London in October is quite refreshing.

Twenty minutes later and still standing in line to get into a bar however the novelty begins to wear off and you start to realise that the refreshing night breeze gets a little icy.

Eventually I did get inside. Skye was looking hot to trot with a new hair doo so we started checking out the talent. The bar had several peculiar things about it:
* Lots of large tropical fish in a huge tank set against the wall. The fish were mesmerised when one of the punters held a copy of a copy of a Chanel bag up to the glass.
* It wasn't terribly crowded (which made me wonder about the need to wait outside)
* It was full of fauxmosexuals. This is the new London term for metrosexual males or those who are ambiguously straight.

Highlights of the evening included the following revelations...
* Some guys don’t mind having a girl kick them in the pants to get their attention. But he still told Skye he was gay.
* We made new friends with four guys - blue shirt guy, stripey shirt guy, star trek guy (because his shirt looked like it was something Captain Picard would wear on vacation) and paranoid guy (because he thought we were talking about him when in fact Skye and her friends were checking out the others).
* By midnight it was time to head back north. Sobered up in Soho over blueberry pancakes and bacon at 1am and made friends with a drunk waiter who was about to be fired. At least he got our order right. Neighbouring diners were disappointed we were not from Sydney but relieved we were not a couple (well we were in Old Compton Street).

Things to do
* Catch more nightbusses home. You can make new friends when little people fall asleep on your shoulder.
* Stop applying for tickets to BBC shows. I am swamped with them. Have two radio shows to see early this week and Celebrity Mastermind next Sunday...

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Obsessions...

Recycling is not really a priority in this country. London has seven more years of landfill so that should be plenty of time to come up with a sensible solution. On train rides out of London you can spot the transfer stations by where the flocks of pigeons and seagulls are. Everything is packaged and sealed from sandwiches to cakes to three peppers (that's capsicums to you back home) red yellow and green that you can buy at the supermarket (Actually that is very of them to do that... the traffic light peppers are such a lure I almost bought a packet once even though I only wanted one).

So I figure to hell with recycling. But there are two recycling bins near me however so I try to use them. But there is this strange thing that a colleague has... He insists that the staples get removed. He stressed to me a week after starting work that you must remove the staples from the paper. I had visions of staples flying out wounding helpless paper recyclers or some other horror but he never said why. He just said that's the way it had to be done. So I started removing the staples one by one from all these documents before throwing them into the recycling. Two minutes later I thought what the fuck am I doing and tossed the lot in there. Staples and all. We don't have to remove staples in Austrlia! Several weeks have elapsed and no reports have come in about paper recyclers getting maimed so I think I am in the all clear.


Anglicans praying up the road

Just up the road from where I am during the day at Lambeth Palace, Anglican Leaders are working to keep the church together over the decision of the Episcopal Church in the United States to allow a gay bishop.

In what is really just another garden variety clash of cultures in London, leaders from the most colonised and most unenlightened parts of the world - Africa, Asia and Latin America (where tolerance, understanding, democracy all those values that really are important in Western society don't really exist) propose stripping the Episcopal Church of its status as a province of the Anglican Communi. It will be interesting to see who prays the hardest and whether the Western leaders are willing to sell out our own values (which are reflected in our laws and our way of life) just for the sake of unity.

Things to do
* Start planning trips that I won't be doing just on my own... Bologna in November is first off the mark... Why? Because that's what Ryannair had going as a special!
* Need to be having drinks in smarter locations to spot celebrities.
* Work back less (although I do get paid by the hour)
* Need gloves soon
* Start finding more free wi-fi hotspots... although the one in the heart of Soho is a very smart locale... its just I can't always get there!

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Actors of no importance

I wasn't planning on going to see an Oscar Wilde play tonight. Skye made me do it. Well Skye and her friend in town for just a few more days and wanting to catch some shows on the West End. But how could one turn down the chance to see the play "A Woman of No Importance" at the Theatre Royal Haymarket (which is where it premiered 110 years ago)?

The cast was Rupert Graves, Prunella Scales, Samantha "You always were a cunning linguist James" Bond and Joanne Pearce. But the real star was Oscar Wilde. In the end who cares about the actors and their rather young lookng photographs in the programmes that don't quite look like who they are on stage? Actors come and go - and some like Graves and Scales even drop a few lines under the table - but Wildes sharp observations of his time will remain.

Afterwards Skye commented that it was the best show she had seen here and that was because I hadn't picked it. Well if I had it would have been a musical and had the previews to Thoroughly Modern Millie not sold out that is where we would have been. But a play by Wilde was still a real treat.

After all that culture we decided to get some food so naturally we opted for Burger King at Picadilly Circus under the new Coca-Cola electronic billboard. A statement that we did indeed have our priorities right...

My local GP

I registered for a GP last week but I saw a nurse for a health check up, and this week I went back to get some shots. Registering for a GP is one of those awful time-consuming tasks where you have to prove where you and let some receptionist photcopy your passport so you can have the luxury of phoning 3 days before you need a doctor to be able to book an appointment.

Bits

If it looks like chicken and tastes like chicken it may not necessarily be
chicken. It could be chicken filler. Filled with traces of chicken meat
and some other white goo, it sometimes is what passes for a chicken
sandwich. It's probably more appropriate to call it "chicken in a tub" as
that's what it is sold in at Sainsburys.

Monday, October 13, 2003

Sunday shopping

Spent Sunday browsing for coats, gloves and jackets. There is too much choice. Couldn't decide on anything. Explained my dilemma to Skye over Japanese at OSatsuma. We then had coffee in Soho and was up until 1am because of it.

So that's why everyone was at the pub... the telecast of England v Turkey drew the highest ratings ever apparently...


Tonight A play by Oscar Wilde...

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Mahler in the Cathedral

Another Saturday rolls by and I had no idea what to do with it, except to catch up on lost sleep from during the week. So I decided to head to one of the train stations and catch a train somewhere.

The somewhere became Canterbury. It seemed like it was going to take forever to get there, but eventually I arrived, and not finding any maps for £1 at the station, I just walked to where the town centre looked most likely to be... Well the huge cathedral helped guide the way too.

I had just enough time to browse through the Cathedral and hear a bit of the Evensong service and then I noticed that tonight maked the start of the Canterbury festival. The opening night concert was at the cathedral and it was Mahler's 3rd Symphony.

After browsing through the rest of the town I made my way back to the cathedral for the concert. I figured it would be a great way to hear Mahler's 3rd for the first time. I managed to grab a cheap seat at the side which had great sight lines for the conductor and soloist. It was only after sitting down did I realise I was sitting next to the tomb of the first person to represent the Church in Australia. What a nice touch I thought. It then occurred to me I was about to watch a concert with the remains of a dead guy in a box right beside me.

Fortunately the thrilling opening of the horns made me forget about that minor point. The concert was great, but I spent most of the last movement checkng the train timetables on my phone just to make sure it was possible to get back to London (it was).

Leave it

As the temperature drops (especially if one is in Canterbury) and the leaves start to change colour there are a few noticeable things
* Napthalene replaces fragrance on the tube as those big jackets come out of storage
* New timetables come out for trains (darn those leaves on the rails)
* Suddenly you no longer have a natural cover for your window... But neither do your neighbours!

This entry was done via wi-fi so excuse the typos!

Friday, October 10, 2003

Steppin' out...

This morning I nearly stepped in it. Walking the subways to work from E&C tube station, there was a fresh pile of crap. It was everywhere. I assumed it was a not-so little calling card from one of the local hobos. Ah one of the problems of not having public lavatories.

As I was arriving at work earlier than usual the street cleaners had not yet had time to deal with it. I thought it would be an opportune time to talk about my experiences to date with hobos.
* I have avoided engagement with hobos. Its a parasitic profession. Most people would view it as hard enough to earn enough to get by in this city without giving it away.
* Yesterday at London Bridge station one was reading a Tom Clancy novel while holding out an old Starbucks cup.
* If you get out your wallet for someone in the street who asks you for some spare change don't be surprised if they mug you.

If The Sun won't support you and your conservative... who will?? IDS's speech last night was called a flop so the plotting will keep going on... and on... and on... Even The Times ran stories about his speech being "ill advised"...

The football rape case has had its first arrests. The players haven't been named but one player has come out and said it has nothing to do with him... despite the rumours.

Its not really news, but it is free and since I caught an early tube to work today I managed to grab a copy at my station before they were all snapped up. The Metro is a free news tabloid that tube riders love. The news reporting is probably slightly above The Sun standard but you can spend an hour reading it and end up not knowing much. But it is probably better than staring at the other passengers for your entire journey. Mind you that can be fun. Almost as fun as trying to delicately force somebody to give up part of their armrest...

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Things about interviews
* They are a great way to see parts of London you wouldn't think of travelling to (Enfield yesterday, today it was Lewisham)
* They offered me the job from yesterday even though I told them in a roundabout way I was lousy for the job (hey honesty must count, or maybe I was too roundabout)
* I am still happy where I am for now...


BBC Radio 4

After hearing a few weeks ago that you could apply online to get tix to BBC shows - and they were free - I spent an evening applying for anything and everything. My efforts paid off and in the mail I got tix to a recording tonight of The Now Show. It was at the Drill Hall where I had been to see the True or Falsetto show a few weeks back. Not having listened to much radio in the nine weeks I have been here now I had no idea what it was about. So tonight I discovered:
* It is a comedy show based on current affairs / current events similar to the "Good News Week"
* BBC Radio 4 is for slightly-liberal middle-class intelligensia types who like to talk about issues in moderately-priced restaurants. They must be mainly white too (certainly if the audience was anything to go by)
* Political satire is still alive and well in Britain. And some of it was surprisingly good. The best bit was their sketch on WMD in the vein of looking for the pellet with the potion by following the tank tracks for anthrax and so on and so on.
* Only half the jokes went over my head so I must be keeping up with the latest here
* The studio audience was full of "Now Show devotees" who knew all the cues and the set pieces.

Housekeeping...

Darn I forgot to mention...
* Last Thursday I went out to Heathrow to say farewell to Dr T. It marked 8 weeks since I had arrived at Heathrow so I tried to get something out of that.
* Sunday night I stayed in and watched my very first episode of Coronation Street. Why? Well there was this matter of the first ever gay kiss on the show. It was a bit of an anti-climax to say the least. It was more of a stolen peck. And having to sit through 25 minutes of the show to see it just before the credits came up made me wonder about the Coronation Street and Eastender marathons they show on the weekends... How can people sit through 5 episodes back to back???
* This week the Conservatives have met in Blackpool for their annual conference. Their leader Iain Duncan Smith (who the press call IDC in the headlines which is a rather unfortunate TLA as it sounds like some sort of contraceptive to me) told the Tories today that he has delivered. What he has delivered is anyone's guess. The real opposition to Tony Blair's New Labour is the various other groups within Labour. Poor old IDC has a hard time getting his message across while his partyroom is making no secret about dumping him for somebody else. Anybody else!!
* Freakshows abound now David Blaine is starving in a perspex box near Tower Bridge. This week another freak Derren Brown played Russian Roulette on C4. The catch was that the gun was switched and was fake. But debate ensued. Coronation Street was looking good by midweek!

It might be a good idea to get out of Haringey this weekend as England will be playing Turkey in the Euro 2004 qualifying match. With threats for the players safety and everything else that goes with Turkey - and football / soccer - added intrigue came this week when star player Rio Ferdinand was excluded after failing a random drugs test. The rest of the team were going to strike.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Hey Enfield isn't that bad!

This evening I had an interview out at Enfield, which despite the drab website, is a pretty picturesque part of London. It is quite a civilised part of town with just enough urban funk thrown in if you want to still keep gettin' jiggy with it. Such a pity you need to take the overlander and a packed lunch to get there (especially if you are coming from Elephant and Castle) but never mind. Oh and the job is not for me. Too much number nerding...

Something to put on a happy face...

A run of Bye Bye Birdie has been playing at the South West End so last night I caught it. The theatre was upstairs from a pub and was quite low maintenance but as I paid only £5 to see it, I tried not to complain too much (or move) on the wooden bench I had to sit on to see the show.

While my glutes were going numb, I managed to be quite impressed with the calibre of talent. It was a professional production. And they did their best with rather dated material.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Tube adventures

I was late getting to Wagamama's last night. There were this cute elderly couple who got on the tube at Lambeth North and there were no two seats together available. I thought it was a shame to break up such a cute couple all dressed up in their smart coats and scarves (and the rest), so I did the very untube-like thing of getting up and offering my seat. The man kicked up a fuss so I said, "No it is no trouble, I'm getting off the next stop". Well I wasn't planning to, but I could change at Waterloo for the Northern Line to take me to Leicester Square. It was a good way to end the debate before it began. Anyway the woman was happy and the man thought that made sense so they let me stand (as by the time this conversation finished there were no seats at all free).

Well I get off at Waterloo and sombody was under a train somewhere on the line so there were huge delays.

So what is the moral of the story? I have no idea. It just amused me at the time. And it was a smashing excuse for being late for Skye!

Monday, October 06, 2003

We interrupt our regular broadcast...

The events of the past 24 hours have made me wonder if David Blaine isn't the only person in the world interested in self torture. Just letting everyone know I'm all ok...

Off to go to Wagamama for theraputic reasonably-priced Japanese food with Skye tonight in clean minimalist surroundings to put the mind at ease. Hommmmmmmm

Saturday, October 04, 2003

1066 and all that

Hastings was an interesting afternoon adventure. I forgot about all that 1066 business but was reminded about it when I got there. The town itself has seen better days. It seems to be a relic of tourist salad days long gone. Now it seems to be over-populated by post-pubescent teens with a penchant for breeding as there isn't much else to do. It is a bit of a pity given the history of the place.

I took a cable lift up to East Hill and went for a walk around the Hastings reserve. It struck me as very quiet. There were people about but it still was strangely quiet. The park scene with low bushes reminded me of the film Blow Up. I was expecting a flustered Redgrave to run into me while I was photographing badger holes (well that's what I hoped they were) and other things and then to find a body. It didn't happen. Just an active immagination.

Walking through Hastings and then to St Leonards along the seafront was great for some fresh air (and to note the maps that pointed out just how far away the French town of Dieppe was) but it was still a little quiet. It was a little too early for the hibernation period, I just assumed that Hastings and St Leonards (unlike Brighton) were just quiet places.

Worth every bit? Apparently if you sold everything in the UK it would be worth £5 trillion. I wonder if that even counts for the shabby footpaths in Haringey and the endless amounts of rubbish everywhere? Actually there were some stats about that too. Londoners produce enough rubbish to create a Canary Wharf-sized tower every 10 days. I don't think I have lived here long enough to care about this problem. But that's okay. London's recycling authority calls my market segment Urban Trash. I guess that's a bit better than being called "white trash"! Now where is that pizza box??

Tits and Press

My CD walkman was playing up this week after spilling water on it last Friday. So yesterday I grabbed The Sun to read on the tube. It isn't a real paper, but it was tabloid size and I thought that would be easier to manage while riding the tube during peak hour. After boarding at Manor House I opened to page three and there staring at me were the two biggest tits in full colour newsprint I had ever seen. People on the tube love to read over your shoulder if they don't have anything so I was well aware these humungous knockers were on full display to everyone. But then I realised it was okay. I was in England. If there is one thing that the punters love here it is Tits... Well tits and poo-poo jokes... I pulled myself together and just turned to the next page which had a full page photo of a dead dog that somebody weighed down and threw into a river and continued my quality read. The Sun is a little at the extreme end of the press but there you can learn a lot about what the English like to read and think:
* If it isn't pictures of tits it is stories about tits and particularly stories about celebrities who don't wear bras and / or like to show off their tits
* Lots of stories about robberies and burglaries... you could be forgiven that is all that happens in this country (as an aside, I looked up the crime stats for my neighbourhood, and except for a nasty terrorist incident earlier in the year when ricin was found up the road, the stats for all major crimes have been going down)...
* There are only two countries in the world. They are the UK and the US
Of course there are the quality broadsheets but I find they reflect this vibe as well but just supress it a little.

U turn, the Tony's not for turning. In a speech that made everyone think of Maggie Thatcher's U-Turn speech, Tony told the Labour party conference this week that he isn't going to do a U-turn on all the things that the unions and backbenchers are thinking to be very un-labour (such as foundation hospitals, education reforms and the like). All told despite Gordon Brown wanting the top job, he is going to have to wait quite a bit longer.

We are not amused say the Royal Family over the latest Belgian adds for the faster new Eurostar service. The ads are running in Belgium and feature the head of royal look-alikes on athletes bodies. The spokesperson for the Royal Family say they never endorse products, but Royal Warrants are splashed over a variety of products ranging from breakfast cereal to deodourant. From morning to night you could spend your day using products that carried "by appointment of HRH..." should you like that sort of thing... Endorsement by some other name.

Gang rape by footballers in London last week has been the sensational news of the week. Their names of those under investigation have been supressed in the papers, but news should be out in a matter of days as to who they are. A quick search on the net can find who the penters think they are. The rape took place in an inner-London hotel last Saturday night. Everyone was caught on CCTV. It appears that the footballers assumed the girl wouldn't mind after agreeing to sex with one that six others could join in... The test today was to see if TV coverage of today's matches wouldn't pick up crowd taunts of the players in suspicion. Apparently it didn't

Palace of Westminster
Today was the last day the Palace of Westminster was open to the public (until next July) to tour both the house of commons and house of lords, so I just had to go. It was great. It was funny that I was touring here before setting foot in Canberra but dirty London would beat sterile Canberra anyday. Entering the house of commons chamber, newly elected Tories for good luck touch the left foot of the statue of Churchill beside the entrance as they go in. It is also the thing to do for tourists to do as well. So I did. It was not as exciting as I thought it would be. But it was fascinating to be in the room where great debates since the 1950s have occurred. WW2 bombing destroyed the original Victorian Gothic building and the contrast is stark. The building was built on the site of the first Palace of Westminster that was destroyed by fire in the 1830s. The palace shows off everything grand about an empire at the peak of its power. The somewhat dour and basic replacement house of commons shows off a nation bought to its knees from a brutal world war. But hey it still shows up nicely on TV.

Now off to Hastings...