- Lake Como
- Family reunion in France for my dad's 70th
- Stuff in London, stuff out of London
Monday, 16 November 2009
Sunday, 25 October 2009
With the usual sports writer Duncan in Australia, and me the only person who had a clue about American football, I foolishly put my hand up to cover the match, expecting nothing to come of it. Little did I realise Duncan could actually arrange a press pass, and once it was all sorted I started to properly panic. Thankfully Duncan was able to coach me via email in the arcane ways of the sports journo (basic rule: don't look like you're enjoying yourself).
London definitely gets in to their now annual NFL match, and the NFL happily fuel the fervour, with cheerleader visits (I particularly like this shot, with the girl second from right frowning like she just saw a puppy put down; witnessing a non-smiling cheerleader is rarer than detecting a Higgs Boson). There are even pre-game events for the fans of the visiting teams (yep, more gratuitous cheerleader shots!) All of which seemed a bit of a waste for this match, with the Patriots heavily favoured to out-gun the struggling Buccaneers... which they duly did. I watched on from the box, amazed by the media machine that is the NFL (play-by-play printouts were delivered to each of us promptly after each quarter), and mildly disgusted by the English chap from some regional paper in the seat next to me who spent the entire match ignoring the game and staring through his binoculars at, you guessed it, the cheerleaders. Hmmm, perhaps the NFL should save themselves the expense and the fixtures headache and just send the cheerleaders across the pond each year...
After the match I managed to show my novice status by getting lost in the bowels of Wembley, but eventually got to the Patriots post-match conference (my impressions: Belichik is a mumbler; Brady exudes so much charm you just want to punch him in the face), then filed my match report from the media centre. Apparently it went to the top spot in google news results for NE Patriots the following day. Which was bizarre. All in all, a fantastically fun experience which had me buzzing for days afterwards... but as others pointed out to me, as much as I loved doing it, if I actually had to do it every day for a living the magic would probably wear off quickly. Pity really, I thought I might have found a new career...
Saturday, 1 August 2009
Monday, 27 July 2009
I recently returned to work from a holiday to the joy of a "town hall" meeting (does that mean I should start calling my boss 'mayor'?) where it was announced that, due to poor performance, the company would be undertaking a "right-sizing" (yippee! free gym memberships for all!) and reorganization over the next 12 to 15 months.
Euphemisms aside, it wasn't particularly surprising news, but the axe is set to swing quite savagely with 1 in 5 to be shown the door. Apart from talk about looking at "streams" of the business (did we suddenly become Thames Water?) and the need to "stay the course" (yay! golf day!) during the cuts, the no useful information was given along with the gloomy announcement. When will people find out? What provisions will be made? How will the business be run with fewer staff? ... In staff morale terms, they may as well have said: "Look at the 2 people on your left, now look at the two people on your right... one of you won't be here next year. Enjoy your weekend."
So, looking down the barrel of another shitty short term job on my CV (not my fault this time!) the prospect of deportation back to the colony next year, and the fact that 30 is approaching and all my friends (well, the ones not in London anyway) have sorted their lives out and settled down, it occurs to me that now would be a good time to consider a new career... or perhaps rethinking the whole 'must have a career' model to life altogether. But, being me, meaningful introspection requires copious amounts of alcohol, so it's difficult to remember the blinding insights I had the night before. In the cold light of sobriety, the options appear to be:
- 'stay the course' and hope I dodge the axe and don't get deported, stay in the dull, dead-end job and accrue benefits until I can afford to retire (read: never);
- leave (jump or pushed) and try for another job in the same field in the UK... then stay in the dull, dead-end job and accrue benefits until I can etc.;
- leave the job and the UK, try for another job in the same field back in Oz, then stay in the dull, dead-end job and accrue etc.;
- try to start in another career altogether... what it would be, I've no idea. (If you know of something going for an English-speaking person with all their original limbs, moderate drawing skills, but no nunchuk skills whatsoever, let me know in the comments);
- opt out of the prescribed life path - a friend lent me Into the Wild at a point in my life when perhaps she shouldn't have. If I die in the Arctic (I am currently considering joining an expedition*), blame her. Alternatively I like the idea of travelling overland back to Oz, and taking it slow.
Obviously the last one sounds the best, or at least the most interesting. But there are complicating factors: family, relationships, and the fact I'm enjoying life in London. And the underlying character flaw that I can't make a decision to save my life. Stay tuned to find out what, if anything, I decide to do. Probably nothing.
*There are two answers to your question: "Why not?" and: "For fun."
Thursday, 16 July 2009
The story about Jamie Neale is getting quite a run over here in London. Frankly, I think they've just been waiting for a feel-good story about a London teenager. The headlines might as well read "London Teen Not Dead, Not Even Stabbed." And it was all feel-good, with warm fuzzy feelings all round, until it turned out he'd signed away exclusive rights for his story for an undisclosed (read: large) sum. I must admit my reaction was less than favourable: "Why reward stupidity? He risked his own life, and the lives of the rescuers, why does he get a big pay out? Big deal, he got lost in the Blue Mountains and survived; I get drunk and lost every time I go out in East London (far more dangerous), and I survive: So where's my hundred grand?"
To be fair, he does claim he'll give the money to the rescue services and Katoomba hospital and if he does, top marks for doing the right thing. But I'll be interested to see if that eventuates, since it may just be a reaction to the allegations it was a hoax. As I mention in the post, it's all pretty standard fare for a rescue-story media circus in Oz, and no doubt there's more to come.
Typical Australian media, get the stroy wrong and accuse a decent British
lad as being as crooked as the australian's criminal forefarthers. .... The
xenephoibic australians need to get a life and stop whinging
Saturday, 4 July 2009
The guardian piece does a good job of capturing the experience. For me, the wee hours of the morning were eerily magical (maybe it was the delirium brought on by exhaustion?)... Riding through the countryside in the pre-dawn darkness, following the red lights ahead of you as they seem to flutter up the next hill... you couldn't imagine a better way to spend the weekend. And then the rain started. And the muscles started to hurt. And you run out of food. And you can barely lower yourself onto the saddle anymore...
Finally you make it to the beach, and it looks like some sort of cycling Normandy - bodies and equipment strewn across the beach. Nevertheless, swimming in that cold grey water was better than a dip at Bondi on a scorching January day back home. My companion and I reheated ourselves in the nearby cafe/fish shop. Raising our cups of tea, I toasted "Well, we did it." "Yep. And never again." came the reply. Within a few days we were already talking about doing it next year.
There's a picture gallery of the ride on londonist, which completely fails to convey the feelings of exhaustion and misery that came in the early dawn light, nor the elation of finally finishing. If anyone is considering it, there's a bit more info in this post, and now that I've done it, I'd also suggest: forget the organised food stop at half-way, the queues are ridiculous. Take your own, or stop early and have a pub dinner; arrange your own transport back, whether it's a friend with a car or cycling back to the train station (a lot of people were nearly stranded in Dunwich after the coaches and vans failed to pack the bikes properly).
Finally, maps of the ride:
Friday, 3 July 2009
Nevertheless, the gig was amazing. The lads have still got it, the crowd still loves 'em, and most importantly, they seemed to be really enjoying it up on stage. There was a whole lotta love in the park, (apart from typical gig-jerkery: shouted conversations during performance, needless shoving, bottle throwing...) If rumours of a proper reformation are true, I'll be sure not to come late to the party again.
Friday, 12 June 2009
None of the above should be read to imply that I didn't enjoy the Isle of Wight festival. I did. Immensely. Unlike Glastonbury, at IoW the sun shone, and you're not locked in the musical concentration camp for the duration, but can escape into town or even the beach. When it came to the music, I started to feel old: while the yoof were splitting their ears listening to the Prodigy, I ducked away to watch Bananarama. And yes, after all these years, yeah baby, she's still got it. And I was extremely glad all the unwashed and uneducated kids left early on the final day because they'd never heard of the Pixies or Neil Young, leaving us old fogies to enjoy the legends in relative peace.
As for the stuff the young kids were listening to: Goldie Looking Chain are, like Ali G, a parody too far (it's all well and good getting a chuckle out of the satire of "Guns don't kill people. Rappers do" or "Your mother's got a penis," but when people are idolising and imitating your chav persona, it's time to go); while Razorlight were a pleasant surprise, suggesting I shouldn't give up on music just yet.
And on second thoughts, perhaps I shouldn't be so harsh on the tradition of festival boozing, because it left us with a choice selection of anecdotes. Once we finally found a patch of ground big enough for our tents, we were abused and assaulted by our drunken 'neighbours' (including a royal marine fresh back from Afghanistan who insisted on showing us pictures of splattered bodies he'd taken with his iphone) who were unhappy to find that their 'private lawn' had been invaded by colonials (Sorry fellas, it's a music festival, and if it doesn't have a tent on it, it's terra nullius - see how you like it, you English gits).
We seemed to be in the military field, because we had a bunch of boozing sailors on the other side of our tents who furnished us with some choice quotes overheard in the wee hours of the morning: "... so, I was coming back from the loos, and there was this guying lying face down in the mud, completely naked. I gave him a bit of a shove and asked if he was alright... he came around a bit, looked at me, reached behind him and pulled a condom out of his arse, looked back at me and said 'don't say a fucking word' and walked off..." and the overall winner for quote of the festival: "I've seen more cocks this weekend than bands."
Big thanks to Mark and Fiona for letting me tag along as their third wheel, and also to Sam, Dave and Louise for letting me hitch said third wheel to their travelling road-show and crash at Dave's dad's place for daily sobering up sessions... truly, the only civilised way to festival.
Saturday, 18 April 2009
What was lost: Other
Friday, 6 March 2009
Spoken. Word. Two such harmless pieces of verbiage, but put them together and people suddenly have other things to do. Although the idea of it appeals, I'd never actually gotten around to seeing (should that be hearing?) a spoken word gig. Thanks (again) to Londonist, I scored an invite to the opening night of the London Word Festival (check out the website if only for the daily random neologism in the bottom of the right frame). Sure, I felt like an impostor intruding on a sub-culture of which I knew almost nothing, but the local wordy-types were welcoming and friendly. Perhaps it was my man-bag. It seemed to be a compulsory part of the uniform for all males in the room.
Within half a pint of arriving, I was chatting to some of the 'natives' - one of whom is one of the very few born-and-bred Londoners I've actually come across in London. Despite the fact our origins are almost literally polar opposites, our views on life in the city ran along the same lines. Interestingly though, he professed that most of his Londoner-since-birth friends have absolutely no desire to explore beyond its limits, not even venturing to other parts of England. The concept floored me. Most of the world is on your doorstep, and (until recently) you've had the currency that makes travelling affordable, and you stay in grey, drizzly London all year round? Perhaps the wanderlust typical of the Australian psyche comes from something in our upbringing, or perhaps it's in the water supply. Who knows, it could be the fluoride. Maybe it does more than teeth.
As for the event itself, my performance poetry cherry was popped by one Tim Key and I regret it not a jot. Having no other performance poets to compare it to, it's easiest to describe it as like seeing a stand-up comic doing a particularly bizarre set, with notebooks. The 'golden fib' finalists ranged from touching to hilarious, and I may have embarrassed myself when I was the only person in the room to laugh at the joke about Schroedinger's cat. Tough crowd.
All in all it was a great way to spend a night out, even without the open bar, leaving me with an invite from the organisers of another spoken word event, and the lingering, haunting image of a girl, wine in hand, sitting alone in the corner of the bar playing solitaire scrabble... I've definitely never seen that in Sydney.
Thursday, 5 March 2009
Remember life before TV? No? Neither do I. But apparently there was one, and if renditions of these throwback radio plays are anything to go by, it was probably a lot better than 'non-ratings period' back in Australia. I'll admit it: this sounds like a weird night out. And it is. Weird and wonderful.
On a I-have-nothing-planned-for-Saturday-night whim, I decided to do something unusual, and as usual, London(ist) delivered. Getting mildly lost on the South bank of the Thames, I eventually found the Swan at the Globe Bar... heading towards the big white Globe Theatre should have been a clue. Approaching the stairs up to the bar, I had fear in my heart. Venues co-located with tourist attractions tend to be mediocre at best. Crossing the threshold I couldn't have been more relieved. The clinking of cocktail and wine glasses, the hubbub of conversation flowing in the rather trendy looking crowd, and strangely, the tiny angel wings attached to the light bulbs, all gave the place a satisfying buzz. The view across the river didn't hurt either.
The above average dress sense of the crowd became apparent when the Fitzrovia Radio Hour kicked off. Although the performance is ultimately for podcasting, the chaps and damsels of the cast had set the tone in vintage outfits, and the regulars knew to, literally, follow suit. I've tried and failed to describe the show to people since, so I think I'll leave it to their own words:
We are the olive in the Martini.
Classic mystery, science fiction and drama radio plays of the 40's and 50's performed and recorded with style in front of a live studio audience, with live sound effects, then broadcast via The World Wide Web. Enjoy the simpler pleasures in life with cut-glass received pronunciation in a speakeasy bar.
We refute the notion that the well-crafted written word is dead, it's alive and well, living in Fitzrovia and wearing a tuxedo.
Thankfully, there's another one coming up soon.
Wednesday, 4 March 2009
Monday, 23 February 2009
Well, death. Obviously.