Saturday, November 20, 2004

A fortnight of laziness

I have managed to avoid doing any meaningful work for the past two weeks. This week has been especially easy as the girlfriend has had the week off and it seemed like a great opportunity to spend some quality time together.
So we've been for a walk -
Had a great curry in Brick Lane
Went to see a film, The Grudge, which for a 15 certificate scared the crap out of me
Been to a few trendy bars
She gave me a haircut
And we've had a kiss and cuddle.
All of which sounds fairly inconsequential, but hey, so what! It made us happy, and that's reason enough. A call from a friend on Monday brought that home to me. His dad had just died, and although it wasn't entirely unexpected, it was a shock nonetheless, especially as I had only just been speaking about him to my mum.
Sometimes I think we get too hung up on work, careers and status to see it all for what it really is - a way of passing time before we shuffle off this mortal coil. Maybe it does make some people happy to be slightly further up the greasy pole than their compatriots. At one point I thought that way myself, before I started working from home.
At that time it seemed like a worrying development. I lost my job and didn't know how I was going to make ends meet. Now it seems like the best thing that could have happened to me at that time. I didn't realise how stressed I was by the job I was doing and the boss I had at tht time. He was a nightmare who delighted in shifting the goalposts. I spent my life second guessing him and dreading the Sunday night 'fear' of what was waiting on Monday.
That's no life. But it all changed when I started working from home. I earned less, but was better off in many ways. The quality of life was the obvious one, but financially I was pretty sorted as well. I learned to live more frugally, but it didn't seem like it. I don't feel like I've missed out on much, which makes me wonder how much dough I must have wasted.
Mostly though I feel back in control of my life. If I don't want to work, I don't. If I feel like arsing about online, I do. Or I go to the gym, make some bread, do some housework, play guitar, or whatever. It's up to me, and I deal with the consequences.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Livin' in the eighties

The East End played host to a glittering evening of stars with last night's UK Hall of Fame event at Hackney Empire ( The broadcast trucks rocked up at the beginning of the week and have taken over the streets like an army of occupation. PR women have been wandering around the locale talking loudly into their hands-frees demanding that underlings locate the nearest Starbucks. I don't think anybody told them that apart from Tesco and M&S the high street chains avoid this area like the plague - even Brixton is better catered for.
Actually we have JD Sports too - lest we forget.
Barriers were slung up all around the venue and a blocked-off road created running across the front of the town hall to deposit the slebs at the door. You have to wonder what they think as they come up Mare Street or along Graham Road. Probably wish that they hadn't put on as much bling and nervously depress the door locks.
I wasn't around for the evening itself as I had a date at another 80s fest on the other side of town. 'Produced by Trevor Horn' was a fundraiser for the Princes Trust, and I had been invited along on a free. It was hard to work out who would have paid to go along but about 6,000 people seemed to have.
There was quite heavy security on the door with everybody being 'wanded' on the way in. The copper who did me said my legs and ankles were setting it off. As far as I know there are no steel plates in there, but it could have been an Uzi for all he seemed to care as he just waved me in - maybe be just thought I was pleased to see him.
Apparently the security level had been upped earlier. Perhaps this was due Princess Anne's inflight near miss that day. If this was the case, I don't know what good the bloke with wand would be. How about some surface to air missiles outside Wembley Arena?
The real reason behind the show of force quickly became apparent. It was actually to protect a man who has inflicted some of music's worst crimes. Propaganda, Art of Noise, Buggles, Tatu, Grace Jones, Lisa Stansfield . It's not so much the act themselves as that frickin' sound of his - Fairlight City! Actually, it is the acts. Anondyne pop shite. It was the sort of music you can imagine young Tories dancing to in their heyday.
The old guard were well represented in the shape of the ageing progsters Yes who I'm sure must have bemused the 80s tribe with their throwback virtuosity. The band obviously concentrated on their Horn period playing their Owner Of A Lonely Heart hit, after some extended soloing. There seemed to be a bit of tension between the song's composer Trevor Rabin and original guitarist Steve Howe as the former sought to hog all the solos. Mind you Howe got to show a few more moves later on when he turned up on stage with Frankie Goes to Hollywood. That's something you won't see every day, but it was too much for me and we had to leave.
It capped a week of top indolence where I haven't done any paid work. My attempt to put up shelves was cruelly hampered by my crumbly walls and poorly designed brackets. That's my excuse anyway. Next week the girlfriend has holiday so we'll be frittering away more of our time. Deadlines will have to wait.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

On the shelf

Mate phoned up straight after he was done with the ex. Apparently she's a bored housewife with no friends in a strange town. Who said vengeance is a dish best eaten cold? Not only that, but she's put on weight as well! Mind you, haven't we all.
He has her number and passed on the information that she's often thought about getting in contact for whatever reason. But amazingly he claims that they didn't talk about me all afternoon (oh come on, now we're entering the realms of science fiction).
I'm torn because there is one side of me that would like to see her and find out how she is. We were together for six years and she was my best friend for a long time. It still feels strange that our split was so final. I still get a Christmas card from her folks every year along with a brief line on how our cat (which she claimed) is getting on - bad news last year as he passed away :(
On the other side there is the petulant, childish me that never got over being dumped. I really didn't see it comeing at the time. In fact I thought we were getting on better than we had been for a long time. Why should I speak to her?
In some ways I'd like to show her how I've changed. Not to try and win her back - that's not an issue - but to let her see how I've moved on. Will she care? I don't know. For me though it's an area of my life that I picked over for years. It has a impact on my current relationship in that it has affected how I look at things. In some ways it made me more conscious of the fact that relationships can't just bump along and that they need to be managed and nurtured. Perhaps I should thank her for that.
Anyway, that's the end of my navel gazing for now. There's no time for building bridges when I should be knocking up some shelves in the bedroom. Storage problems wait for no man.
It will also give me a chance to use the drill my current girlfriend gave me for my birthday, and show her how much I care (without actually having to say it.)

Monday, November 08, 2004

Ex marks the spot

What a wierd phone call. I was trying to get hold of a friend at his home, but his mother told me he wasn't around. Don't worry, I'll call him on his mobile, says I. At this point she went a bit quiet and then said: "Oh I suppose I'd better tell you. He's with Suzanne."
She's my ex of about eight years standing, who I last saw and spoke to about seven years ago. We have very few mutual friends left but she recently moved to my old home town. She's bumped into at least one of my friends since then, so it shouldn't be that surpising that this happens. But it was a bit of a shock to me. Especially so as they are having coffee right now, probably talking about me. This isn't my ego, it's just that in my experience when two people have a common acquaintance but don't know each other that well, then they will find common ground talking about that acquaintance. My ears are burning.
I hope he's giving me a good press. "Oh since he left you, he's done so well. He's popular, highly paid and a respected man about town. His new girlfriend is a stunner and he's made a killing on the property market."
That's right mate. Keep egging that pudding.
It does pose the question about what I should do from here. Because the truth is that when we split it wasn't very well handled on either of our parts. I hate the word, but I've always yearned for some sort of 'closure'. When she cuckolded me (yes, it was all her fault!) I immediately sought to draw a line under things and vowed never to speak to her again. And that's pretty much what happened apart from one time when I bumped into her at a Tube station (that was the seven years ago).
Come on mate. How long does it take to have a 'king cup of coffee? Phone me up with the goss!

Thursday, November 04, 2004

By the seaside, beside the sea

I really have been on holiday recently to Southwold in Suffolk. The town is a fading resort that has been lately become popular with London types with loads of cash - not me (the cash, not London bit).
It's easy to see why. The whole place reeks of a more innocent age. It has a renovated pier which is quaintly decked out in white clapperboard huts containing whimsical exhibits. The railing is covered in metal plaques with messages like "Dolly and Brian. Many happy seaside memories".
The town itself is small enough to walk round in ten minutes and you keep seeing the same faces every night in the pub.
It is a real locals town and the newspaper is a hoot - full of petty feuds about hanging baskets, and micro news about local characters. Very Richard Curtis, who not surprisingly lives in next door Walberswick. The first episode of the new Little Britain was filmed there too, which seemed highly apt to me.
As with many places, visitors are tolerated for the money they bring, but the locals are probably glad to see the back of them. Not that they ever will though as 60% of houses are second homes. Despite this, it is one of my favourite places and like a quasi-local I don't like other people finding out about it, despite writing this and telling everybody I know what a great place it is. And it is a great place to visit, but don't stay too long, especially once I become loaded enough to buy there.
Reasons I like Southwold:
  • Beer - not only is Adnams brewed in town and every pub serves it fresh, but you are near a fantastic microbrewery that is a must visit for ale heads
  • The annual crabbing contest in Walberswick which apparently produces T-shirts with the slogan 'I caught crabs in Walberswick'
  • The Nelson pub - quite possibly my favourite boozer. Look out for the awful poem to the pub in the back snug
  • Bracing walks down the coast with Thorpness nuclear power station looming menacingly in the distance
  • Great fish and chips from Mark's. But be quick as they close at 7pm
  • This mad museum nearby. A park for old planes. It's free and right behind a pub
  • The sign in nearby Bungay (which is almost a hilarious name in its own right) where some wit has ammended the sign to the Swimming Pool to Swim in Poo
  • No work
Back home now though and all the better for it.