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Thursday, June 17

Making A Good Impression

Yesterday was a pretty hectic day, relatively speaking. I managed to get a few things done that needed to be done, including checking that I was eligible for / was going to get an Erasmus grant.

This is a grant paid out of a central fund to all students who study in another European country as part of their degree. The important word here is 'grant', because it means that I don't have to pay it back. Ever. Quite a different state of affairs from the student loan set-up, where I'm going to be leaving uni with around 15,000 of debt hanging around my neck.

But such is life, I guess. You have to speculate to accumulate, or some other such whatnot. Thankfully, I don't even have to apply for this grant, it just gets paid to me when I get to Germany, which is excellent news for my lazy-assed self.

Germany was also an issue raised later on that afternoon, when I went for (another) job interview. This time it was at a pub on Goodge St, called The Cambridge. I'd never been there before, or even heard of it, to be honest, but I saw their ad on a website for London pub vacancies.

The guy seemed very pleasant on the phone, and he was equally nice when I went down to meet him. A 'proper' pub landlord-type, in my view. It was only a brief, chatty interview, and he seemed very impressed with my credentials and overall willingness.

I had to mention that I was off to Germany at the start of September, which he said could be the only sticking point with his employers. He, however, wasn't too fussed, because I (to paraphrase him slightly) would get him through 2 and a half busy months.

He had two more interviewees to see this morning, and told me that he'd give me a ring this lunchtime to let me know either way if I'd got the job or not.

Has he rang? Has he fuck. Cue annoyance on my part.


After the interview I walked down to Piccadilly Circus (it would have been awkward by Tube, and no busses went that way from that end of Oxford St), and then onto Piccadilly itself, heading for the big Waterstone's bookshop that is situated there.

This was for the bloggers meetup in the bar on the top floor of the bookshop (incidentally, kudos to the people at Waterstone's for having a bar in a bookshop. So much better than a Starfucks), which was going to be attended by at least 6 people, probably more.

Supposedly, that is.

There was only one other guy there when I got there (right on time, I might add, mainly because I'm never on time for anything), and he had to leave very soon after to go to another meeting somewhere or other. A nice guy nonetheless, but we didn't really get time to talk.

Two more people turned up at about the time he left, an American by the name of Andrew, and a fellow Englishman called Graham. Andrew had to leave pretty quickly as well, but we chatted about music for a while, and about how many hits each of us get (one-upmanship, methinks). A nice guy, so go visit his site.

That just left myself and Graham. A bit of a damp squib of an event, to tell the truth, especially as 6 people had said they were going t turn up, but Graham was a really nice guy, and we chatted for an hour or so about this and that.

He's a web editor (is that the right title?) at the BBC website, which made me instantly jealous, and he also keeps his own blog about music and his life. We chatted about our times at university (he left a few years back), and I asked him probably far too many questions about how he got into web design / editing, and the media world generally.

However, with only two of us there, the conversation eventually dried up, and we decided to call it a night somewhere just before 9. Like I said, a bit of a letdown for my first bloggers meetup...

Seeing as we were in a Waterstone's, I couldn't leave without having a quick browse of the shelves. I came close to buying a couple of web design books, until I turned over the thin volumes to be confronted by a 20+ price tag. Ummm, no thanks, I'll cope without that.

I made my way (half-an-hour later) to the bottom floor, and was just about to leave when I remembered that Graham and I had spoken about that Lynne Truss book, Eats, Shoots & Leaves. I've been after that book for a little while, because I am a stickler for proper punctuation, if not perfect grammar (i.e. my use of "me and this person" constantly).

It really, really, really annoys me when I see such things as the grocer's apostrophe ("lettuce's 2 for 1") and the complete misuse / ignorance of the difference between "its" and "it's". This book would therefore be perfect for me, and I fully intend for it to become my new bible.

I also picked up Bill Bryson's award-winning (Best Popular Science Book, or something along those lines) A Short History Of Nearly Everything, because I like Bill Bryson's writing style, and because it was evidently a good read. My final purchase (damn those 3 for 2 offers!) was Vernon God Little by D.B.C. Pierre, a novel which won the Booker Prize this year. I hadn't realised that it was out in paperback, so I walked out of the store with my little shopping bag full of 3 cool little books.

I got back home just in time for Big Brother, which was exceptionally good timing. I've got more and more into BB as the weeks have gone on, and I'm afraid to say that I am now (as of Day 21) totally addicted to it. Last night's highlights show was pretty uneventful, save for the reintroduction of Emma and Michelle to the house, which I have to say was beautifully stage-managed by BB. There must have been trebles all round after someone came up with the idea of them being under silver platter domes on a buffet table as the means of reintroduction.

There were a few of us in the living room, including a couple of Phil's friends, and they were planning to watch Apocalypse Now Redux. I was well up for it, but I also wanted to get to bed this side of Christmas, so I reminded (told?) them that it was over 3 hours long, and that it was already nearly 11.30. We eventually decided (note, it was a definite "we", not me trying to get my own way) to watch Narc, which was one of the DVDs I have at the moment from Mailbox Movies, a DVD rental website.

Narc was neither brilliant nor terrible, but it was worth watching. Definitely one to rent and watch once, rather than buy and watch a number of times. Ray Liotta and Jason Patric took good roles, but I couldn't help but feel that there was some over-acting going on in places. The twist on top of the twist at the end kept you guessing, which was the film's saving grace.

I felt pretty clever at spotting the twist early on, but was thoroughly surprised and impressed by the twist which then comes on top of the original. Well done those screenwriters.

And now we come to the highlight (well, ish) of the evening's televisual entertainment: live Big Brother. I don't have Sky here, so I can't watch BB live on E4 all the time, instead having to make do with the late-night hours Channel 4 gives us between 1 and 3 each night.

Fuck me, did it all kick off in there or what?! It was absolutely gripping television, even if the producers cut away from the action each time violence was threatened. You know how I feel about BB, and how I love watching people's lives? Well, this was more of the same, except this time we got to see the low points, the negative sides of those people. Fucking brilliant television.

This is exactly why I watch it. I want to see people being real, even if it is in a wholly artificial environment. I want to see their good and bad sides, their ups and their downs. It's the same with blogs. I have no time for those blogs who just link to news stories, or other 'cool' websites. Anyway, all of them are the same, they all link to the same stories and the same sites, as I discovered when reading the supposed British Blogerati on Tuesday night.

I prefer obscure, unnoticed blogs, where people are quite literally putting their lives online, without trying to present an image. Again, this is what I also try to do. This is why I barely have any links in my writing here. I'm not writing about what someone else has written, or something that is happening online, I'm writing about me.

If you're web-savvy enough to read blogs, I take you to not need pushing towards websites or news stories. Hell, if I want news stories, I'll go to Google News and read it there. A group of machines running algorithims do a better job than most news bloggers out there...

End of rant (again).

After the excitement (ahem) of BB, I ended up on the very cool BB forum at Digital Spy, reading the reams and reams of posts where people were expressing opinions on what had happened, why, and what was going to come from of it all. These are interesting times in which we live, as someone once said...


"May you live in interesting times."

It's an old Chinese curse.

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