Sunday, 30 June 2013


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" (I'm not making it up - I have pans which claim to be made of the latter).

It wasn't the only time today when Googling for something returned me only to the website of the place I saw it in the first place.  We had lunch at a little place near the Tower of London and on the dessert menu was something called "Rosary Cheesecake".  I Googled, and yet again the only thing which came back was the website of the restaurant.  It was - we presumed - actually meant to be "Rosemary" but when it arrived it didn't seem to have any rosemary in it, so the mystery continues.   For anyone reading this who's seen me on Twitter going on about my diet, I should point out that I didn't eat the cheesecake, or any other diet for that matter...

I've spent a lot of this weekend in a bit of a state of confusion.  I'd always told myself that I'd never be one of those people who lost touch with modern music as I got older.  Music is so important to me, that I swore I'd keep up with what was going on.  And so it was I was very pleased when we identified someone on the BBC's Glastonbury coverage as being Professor Green - I even knew a few of the songs.   My pride was punctured when it turned out to be someone called Example, though.  Oops.

Talking of pride, it was apparently Gay Pride in London yesterday.  I said a few things in Twitter which I think lost me a few followers, so I'm not going to rant here - but the fact I didn't even know it was happening until Friday probably says something about my level of enthusiasm and interest in it...

Anyway, let's stop that before I start ranting and I get accused of being homophobic or something (it has happened a few times, actually)

Sunday, 23 June 2013

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 easiest of journeys - as my trips the other way for job interviews in my final year proved.  But most importantly, I didn't know anyone back in Cambridge; everyone I knew had moved out; mostly down to London as it happened.

And so life started proper for me away from Cambridge.  University for most people - me included - is the first time living away from home, and having to sort out your own bills and live your own life.  But it's still in such an insulated environment and the independence only lasts for eight week stretches whilst term is happening, anyway.  Life for me didn't start properly until after I had left Cambridge and moved over to Malvern.

My time in Cambridge wasn't unhappy at all, but I don't feel the huge sense of nostalgia for my days as a student which so many people seem to.  Going back to Cambridge this weekend - to Newnham for the ball and wandering around Cambridge proper on Saturday - didn't really stir any memories at all.  I could remember the places I went, and could recall the names of the restaurants and bars where I used to spend my time - but there was no feeling there - no emotions rising up from the deep as I walked past Bangkok City or The Eagle.  The LloydsTSB is still in the same impressive building on the corner, though Robert Sayle has been replaced by a modern shopping centre full of glass, shiny metal and bland high street shops.

The area by the station is totally unfamiliar.  Where there was nothing, there are now apartments and the odd coffee shop. The guided busway wasn't even an idea when I spent my time in Cambridge.  Panther Cabs still prowl the streets ferrying people from town to station and back, though.

So maybe my lack of nostalgia for Cambridge is simply the result of the changes which have happened since I lived there.  Maybe Cambridge has changed and so it's not the town I once knew.  Maybe too much has happened to it, and it's become too unfamiliar for me to recognise as the town I once knew intimately.

Or maybe it's not Cambridge which has changed since then.  Maybe it's me.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

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 there's a thing which annoys me about many of these games, and it's how hard they are to exit.  Quite often, I'll be engrossed in the game and then realise I'm at the stop where I need to get off the train.  So I press the "back" button to try to get out of the game, and what happens?  Well it pauses the game, and then the next press on the "back" button goes back into the game itself.  You actually need to tap on the screen to exit. And then there are inevitably confirmation screens just to check you really do want to quit.  When all I want to do is close the game so I can stuff the phone into my pocket and change trains. I really don't see any reason to make exiting the game so hard. None at all.