Showing posts from 2013

I don't feel like dancing

I really dislike weddings.  Well maybe that's a little unfair.  I guess I really dislike wedding receptions.  And it's all about the dancing. You see the thing is I don't enjoy dancing.  I know a lot of people have an awkwardness about dancing, and need some encouragement - but with me that's not the case - I simply don't like doing it.  Yet at weddings there seems to be this desire to get everyone "on the dancefloor" even if they'd really rather be doing something else - like sitting and talking to people or just sitting enjoying the music. But no, people hover in packs finding those who've not ventured onto the dance floor and start off by trying to encourage them, then cajoling them and eventually trying to physically drag them onto the dance floor.  And I don't understand it?  Why am I allowed not to go on the dancefloor if I don't want to?  I'm not unhappy to miss out on the dancing, I'm not crying into my glass of bubbly w


I have just got over to the US West Coast, and that means a rather long flight from London.  And it's a daytime flight.  Well it's at the cusp of daytime, but I guess I mean that an "overnight" doesn't happen in either timezone whilst you're on the flight, so my plan is always to say awake. I realise that just one night into my stay over here, I'm somewhat tempting fate, but I'm quite lucky in that jetlag doesn't really appear to affect me too badly at all.  The first night I usually wake up a few times during the night, but generally after that things click into the new timezone.  The way I do it is to force my sleep into the new timezone as soon as I get on the plane - and for the flight from London over to the US West Coast that means staying away for around ten hours.  And that means in-flight entertainment.  It wasn't that long ago that British Airways used to play everything on a loop, so you picked your channel and sat through it - and

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

I was in Waitrose today.  It's not particularly unusual for me to be in Waitrose, I admit.  I love Waitrose, it's like the other supermarkets; but it's full of lovely things rather than just tins of beans and sad looking vegetables. Anyway, less of my middle-class prejudice.  I was in Waitrose Canary Wharf earlier buying some cartridges for my fountain pen and also needed some groceries from downstairs.  It turns out that they have changed their till system so it's no longer possible to pay for items from "upstairs" in the grocery bit downstairs.  It used to be one of the pleasures of shopping there that you could pick up a towel or a pair of pants from upstairs and then pay alongside your grocery downstairs - but since they put the new tills in downstairs, it didn't work anymore.  I had to queue twice.  Oh, the horror. I didn't wander much around Canary Wharf, but I did pop into Gap.  I've reached that age where I feel "a bit trendy"

It makes you wonder..?

Today, I was walking up to the supermarket and on the way I saw three women each handing out swords made from those twisty balloons you get a kids' parties.  There didn't seem to be an advertising or other promotion going on - they just seemed to be handing out the swords.   If we lived in the world of Doctor Who then there'd probably be some strange alien power within each of those which would only reveal itself slowly and when someone is looking the other way, or something. But it makes you wonder doesn't it? The other night I had a dream.  Nothing unusual in that.  It was a kind of dream I have from time to time - a dream with a narrative.  Usually the narrative doesn't make much sense but every now and again there will be dreams set the same location with a story running through it.  The locations are familiar within the context of the dream, but they're not real places I actually recognise from the real world.  They often recur, though.  There's the

Shine On?

Earlier this year I wrote about how James Herbert's last book wasn't that great.  Well I'm afraid I have similar news about Stephen King. On a recent holiday I read The Shining. I'm sure I must've read it before, but honestly don't remember - so I thought I'd give it a read. I was in the airport in Sydney flying down to Melbourne and the choice in the bookshop in the domestic terminal at Sydney airport wasn't fantastic.  So I picked it up and started to read it.  I then landed in Melbourne and found myself staying in a large, old hotel with long corridors and a very empty look about it.  Spooky. Anyway, when it came out, I thought, "I'll pick up Doctor Sleep".  This book came out last month, and follows the story of Danny Torrance, the boy from The Shining, quite a few years later.  The premise isn't too bad - there's a group of people who travel around America in RVs living off the "steam" given off when a child with

Ten Problems With Being Gay

1. There's the whole "coming out" thing If you're gay then for every interpersonal relationship you have, you have to store the extra piece of information - "do they know?".  Friends, relatives, people you know at work.  At any given time it's likely that some of them will know you're gay and some won't.  Even if you're completely open about it, and have no issue with people knowing, you still have that rather weird moment when you first drop it into conversation.  You make a reference to your partner by first name, or gender-specific pronoun and then everyone is briefly a bit awkward, and the person you've just told will undoubtedly make some comment just so you know they are perfectly "OK" with it.  Something about gay friends they already have or something, probably. Even if you do it in a nice subtle way so as to try to avoid making it into a "big thing" then you have that moment of doubt.  "They didn'


I was driving through North Greenwich earlier today.  I'd just been into the Asda there, which I can say was a truly horrible experience.  For reasons I won't go into, I just needed a few things. I knew exactly what I wanted, and knew whereabouts I'd find them.  It was still like wading through a level of hell trying to get a few groceries and get out again quickly.  I've nothing against Asda, per se, but that one just felt full of people squabbling, pushing and letting their children run riot. *shudders* Anyway, after that, driving back towards the Blackwall Tunnel, and there was a sign for a new development.  Apparently they are offering a thing called an "uberhaus".  I know enough German to construct what that may mean, but Googling for the word gave me just the link back to that development's website.  This is obviously some horrible made-up word to try to make their offering sound special.  Like "Olay Renegeris" and "Tefal Resistium&q

Cambridge Memories

This weekend I was back in Cambridge.  It's been a few years since I was there, and last time I was there, I didn't go anywhere near my old College. This time, I was at a Ball - in Newnham College - just over the road from Selwyn, which is where I spent three years of my life around twenty years ago.  Selwyn college itself has grown since I was there.  The one Old Court on the corner has grown and taken over where a few old houses the college used for accommodation used to be.  I've not been into Selwyn College since I left in early summer 1997.  I've not actively avoided it, but my life just hasn't taken me back there. Lots of people I know feel nostalgic about their time at University, and going back to where they studied brings back the memories of life as it was there.  For the first few years after graduation, I didn't go back to Cambridge much at all.  I didn't live in London at the time, and getting from Worcester over to Cambridge wasn't the

We all do it...

I was on the train the other day, heading back to Wapping, and a guy was talking on his phone.  Despite the fact that he was pronouncing Wapping to rhyme with "slapping", I couldn't help be continue listening to his conversation.  We all do it.  We would all like to pretend we don't, but if someone is talking on the phone on a train we do listen in. So, he was telling whoever he was on the phone to that he was five stops away.  Everyone on the train at that moment threw a glance at the map and worked out what stop he was talking about.  You can't help yourself, it's just something you do.   My commute isn't _that_ long but sometimes it can be absolutely horrible.  The days when I do find a seat or a quiet corner to stand in, I quite often lose myself in a game on my phone.  I'm currently playing one of those games where you have to fire the bubbles and burst them all before the time runs out. You know - pointless crap to pass the time. But t

So Long, My Friends

Oh, that sounded like I was saying goodbye.  "So Long" is a funny phrase like that, isn't it?  Well I meant it literally - it's been "so long" since I've written in here that loads has happened - just very little of it worthy of being blogged about.  Blogs are like keeping your desk clean - you tell yourself you'll do it every day, but over time it gradually slips and then every now and again you have a big catch up and then do it regularly for a few weeks.  Count this as a bit of a catch up, if you would. So since I last wrote in here, I'm considerably lighter.   I was never what you're call "fat" but I had a bit of body fat around my middle which is fortunately now starting to disappear.  It took a complete shake up in both my eating and training to do it, but getting lean at the age of 37 isn't that easy, you know.  I've still a way to go, but I'm pleased with progress so far. One of the interesting things I'v

Field notes from an 18 hour journey

I've had a long day today. A very long day.  In order to make sure I was across town before roads starting closing for the London Marathon (and in expectation that they may close earlier than planned, thanks to the events in Boston earlier in the week) I was in a car driving away from home at 6.30am this morning. I've found myself mostly flying out of Terminal 5 from Heathrow recently, and so being dropped off by the car at Terminal 3 was quite a blast from the past.  A blast from the days when I used to take the pre-7am SAS flight over to Stockholm.  Terminal 3 hasn't changed much.  In fact, besides a few of the restaurants changing names, everything seems in pretty much the same place. Terminal 3 is a weird building.  A million miles away from the huge windows of Terminal 5; there aren't really any windows at all. You need to be at one of the gates or in one of the Business Class lounges to actually see real daylight in there.  It's also not a patch on Termina

Turned to Ash

I've written about my disappointment with a James Herbert book before  and so maybe I should've learned my lesson and not read another of his books.  But this time I thought it'd be difference. I've said before that "Haunted" is one of my favourite horror books.  It's short, simple and has a rather good ghost story with very little padding.  It's subtle and interesting.  It was followed by "The Ghosts of Sleath" which wasn't dire, but certainly wasn't as good as "Haunted".  And then the third in the trilogy - "Ash". I had high hopes.  I thought "this could be another Haunted" and so I sat down to read it.  It's a fairly large book - seven hundred or so pages.  And it was awful.  Truly awful.  Oh - just a warning - there will be spoilers in what I'm going to say below - but if that puts you off reading the book, then thank me for saving you from wasting those hours of your life... So, the pre

The Quest For A Personal Trainer

For reasons I won't go into too much, I'm currently looking around for a new Personal Trainer. You'd think it'd be easy. You may think you'd just put "Personal Trainer London" into Google and take the first hit you found.  If only it were that easy. Over the years, I've had a few PTs.  I've also spent a lot of hours in a gym over the years, and so have a fair idea what I'm doing.  So you may ask the question  "why do you need a PT?"  and it's a good question.  In thinking what I want from a PT - and whether I need one at all - I've actually spent a lot of time thinking - and here are some of my thoughts What does a PT do? A personal trainer is someone who puts together a training plan just for you.  It's personal to you.  At least it should be.  Whenever I mention to anyone that I have a PT, they are likely to have images of someone standing over me shouting at me to lift me, do more reps, jump higher, etc.  Nothing

The Brits

Time flies, doesn't it?  Especially at my age.  I'm 37 now, and I can feel 40 looming on the horizon beckoning me towards it with promise of expanding waistline and grey hairs.  Although I've found a few of the latter already. It doesn't seem like four years since I last wrote about the Brit Awards.   Back then I wrote about how they had become "safe" to such an extent that they were now boring.  Last night, we had the 2013 awards and I watched - as I always do - thinking that this year may be different.  This year may be edgy.  This year may be fun. And so it started.  Rizzle Kicks attempting to interview people on the red carpet on their way in for an hour on ITV2 trying to build the excitement.  Muse promised a huge spectacle, Robbie Williams was his usual self and various winners of talent shows walked past wearing next-to-nothing complaining how cold it was.  Maybe it would've been less cold if they'd bothered to actually wear clothes sui

Nothing Ever Happens

It's that thing.  The thing where I don't have anything to say, but feel as though I have to write something in here.  So here is something. I went to Seattle again recently.  My job is taking me there relatively often at the moment, meaning I'm going to set to see the place in all seasons.  This season isn't a flattering one for Seattle.  It's cold and wet and rather grey.  My time there was pretty much all spent working; I was there to work after all; but I did get to a bar one night. Bars are like airports, when you're inside one, you could be anywhere in the world.  Then you walk outside and it hits you.  "I'm in America, I'd forgotten that". There is one way to tell country from country, and that's the toilets.  Don't laugh.  Genuinely, different countries have different shaped toilets and urinals.  In some places they are wide and shallow, in other places they are small and deep.  In some places, then flush automatically, in

Know Thy Neighbour

It's often said that in London, nobody knows their neighbours.  We all live in high rise blocks and dash in from work without so much as a nod of acknowledgement in the lift. We lock the door and ignore all those outside of it.  We wouldn't know the name of the person whose front door faced ours, let alone the name of the old lady who we held the front door open for the other day. But it's not always true.  Today I went to a funeral.  The funeral of a neighbour.  We always invite our neighbours to parties and they invite us around in return.  We even have a neighbour on our pub quiz team (and a few neighbours are on rival teams, too).  We know at least twenty of our neighbours (in a block with 60 or so flats) by name. When we went to the funeral service today, we arrived to find other neighbours stepping out of taxis, some already waiting by the church door.  All talking, and swapping stories of Jean and how much we would miss her around the building.  We all sat togeth