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Friday, June 11

I Feel Slightly Proud, Yet Very Tired

Why is that when you promise yourself that you will go to bed as soon as you lose a game of Freecell, you promptly have a 17-game winning streak?!

And for all of those fact-fans out there, my longest winning streak now stands at a quite fantastic 31, which was set a few weeks ago.

I play too much Freecell. And Minesweeper. They're just so few clicks away, and so very addictive...

Thursday, June 10

Being Invaded

Does anyone else find it quite amusing how blogging has completely exploded, in terms of how many people are now starting to keep one?

I occasionally have a glance through the page at Blogger with all of the recently published blogs on it, clicking on interesting-sounding blogs throughout the list.

More and more often, these blogs that I click on have just one or two posts on it, including the obligatory first post which says something like "I've heard that this blogging thing is all the rage, so I'm going to try it out." They then proceed to write something which to my mind is quite fake and gives the impression that they are trying too hard.

I can't remember what my first post(s) was like, and I'm not going to go check now, but if I remember correctly, I slipped into the routine of posting very easily and quickly. Now it just comes so easily, and I can write about anything and everything whenever I want (in the most part).

Too many of these new blogs really do seem forced, in that the author is only doing it because their friends are, or because it is cool and the hip thing to do at the moment. Fuck that, write a blog because you have something to say, not because you feel you ought to.

I recognise that I could be coming across here as a bit 'elitist', in that I was here first, but it does disappoint me somewhat to see so many shit (for want of a better adjective) blogs out there at the moment. Maybe it's me, maybe there are certain things I like to see in a blog, which is why I don't automatically link back to those who link to me (well, on the new design I do).

For me, reading a blog is knowing about someone's life. I don't read news blogs or political blogs, I prefer those where the author bares their soul and tells everything about their life. This is why I have a PhotoBlog as well as the other various pages about me. It's an almost complete experience of someone's life.

Too many of these new blogs are not like this. Sometimes I discover a blog that I feel is worth my time and effort to read, but more often than not, these are people who have been blogging for 6 months or more. I guess I should be patient with these newcomers to the blogging scene, because they may just find their voice.

I read somewhere that around 75% of new bloggers give up within 2 months. It is only those who enjoy the experience and perhaps understand exactly what blogging is who choose to carry on. I'm so very glad that I stuck with it, through rough times, because I am now having a great time blogging.

I actually enjoy stopping doing everything for half an hour and typing up the day's events, feelings and opinions. It's both relaxing, and, when times are bad, a release.

I'm not quite sure where I'm going with this line of thought, but suffice it to say that I'm feeling slightly miffed that the world of blogging is being invaded by those who are not going to last, and have the dedication to update regularly.

At the same time, however, I have very little time for the so-called blogerati, the bloggers who have attained some sort of celebrity status. You know the kind of blogs I mean: Belle de Jour, Wil Wheaton (OK, so he was a celebrity first), Call Centre Confidential, and all of those types that are linked to by numerous other bloggers. Fuck that, I want a different kind of blog.

Basically, I think I want blogs that are like mine.

End of rant.

Blogger's Meet-Up Day

This is important information for any bloggers in London who read my blog. I know there are at least a couple of you...

As part of the International Blog MeetUp Day next Wednesday, the London one takes place in Waterstone's at Piccadilly Circus. I'm going to go along, might as well show my face. Any other London bloggers, or even London-based readers, you're more than welcome to join everybody.

The following link will give you more information. You will need to register (it takes 5 seconds) at the website, and then RSVP.

Wednesday, June 9

Boring, Boring Day

Talk about a non-event of a day...

I've done pretty much fuck all that is interesting today, but at least I've managed to do some productive stuff. I've been applying for jobs like a madman, sending my CV off to loads of different companies for loads of different jobs, as well as ringing places all over London.

I'm no longer just confining myself to bar work either: my financial situation has gotten to the point where I need a job, any job, that will pay me half-decent wages over the summer. I spoke to some nice people on the phone, I spoke to some pretty shitty people, but I guess beggars can't be choosers...

What else have I got up to? I've done a little bit more on the design for this blog, and will probably end up spending a few more hours on it this evening. I'm getting there, slowly but surely. For those of you who haven't had a look at it yet, it's located here, in half-finished form. As I've said before, I'm very happy with it, and will hopefully get it finished pretty soon.

I had a phone call from my parents, as well as an eventual webcam with them (they wanted to see my new haircut), and I was very pleased to hear that my Dad would be coming to London for a day or two next week. Perhaps more importantly (OK, certainly more importantly), he'll be bringing my new laptop with him!

Which is great news. He showed me it on the webcam, and I have to say that it looks the business. It's pretty big, blue, and beastly. I'm so very thankful (mental note: go buy a Father's Day card).

In even better news, he told me that he'd meet me halfway on buying an iPod! That is quite simply the news that I've been wanting to hear for about 6 months. A 40GB iPod by the end of July will completely make my summer. Fuck it, it'll make my entire year! At last, my entire music collection in my pocket, as the ad says.

However, I will not be wearing the white headphones that come with it. Why?
a) they make you an easy target for muggers, as they signify that you have an iPod on your person.
b) too many people wear them just so others know that they are so cool that they have an iPod. It's always the poncey, young and coming-up twentysomethings, dressed in something supposedly fashionable (i.e. expensive) and with a 'cool' haircut. I'm not going to be one of those people. At least, I'm not going to be one of those people for a few years yet. Maybe when I have a mid-life crisis and attempt to recapture my youth...

So yeah, other than chatting to my parents and hunting for jobs, I've had an uneventful day. I can't even convince my housemates that this is a perfect evening to be sitting outside the Holly Bush in Hampstead, with a quiet beer or two. Gits.

Sorry, let me make that "lazy gits". The lazy gits.

Tuesday, June 8

Another Design Update

I've been doing a fair bit of work on the new design for this blog today, and the latest screenshot is here. The text is from somewhere in my archives, I just used it to test for the look. I'm very pleased with how it's turning out, and with any luck will have it finished by the end of the week.

What was that about finding a job. Shhhh at the back.

Anyway, I'm off to watch American Splendor on DVD.

OK, So They Didn't Take A Picture

On the plus side, however, I do have a cool new haircut, quite literally in fact. What with the lack of hair on my head now, I can actually feel the breeze whistling around me. It feels good to get back to a short, manageable and controllable haircut after the past few months with a mop on my head.

But, they didn't take any pictures of it. When they advertised for a 'model', they actually meant 'someone willing to sit for ages whilst a trainee gets some practice in'. I didn't mind too much, mainly because the stylist was so unbelieveably attractive.

I'm talking a 10 facially, and at least a 9.5 in the body department. She was so beautiful, I'm worrying that I'll never be able to find another woman attractive again. Honestly, the words drop-dead gorgeous do not even begin to describe.

*pleasant sigh*

But yeah, I walked out about 90 minutes after I walked in, with a new (free) haircut, and feeling much better about the way I look. I was getting a little fed up with the unruly mess of hair that I was wearing, and I'm very pleased with the results of this excursion to the hairdresser's.

A photo? Soon, when I can be arsed to take one.

'Good Job!' - I Hate That Phrase

The reason that that particular phrase has sprung to mind is because I'm just about to write about a US sport that I watched last night. Firstly, though, I want to make it very clear that I absolutely abhor the use of the phrase "good job!" in any situation.

This is especially true when the "job" element is lengthened by an American drawl to become "jorrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrb". I hear it from time to time here in London, but more commonly it's in films and in sports commentary from US shows. It irritates me every time I hear it, but almost without good reason. It's just one of those things that really fucking annoys me, OK?

Anyway, I sat up last night to watch the final game of the Stanley Cup, between Tampa Bay Lightning and the Calgary Flames. I'm not a huge fan of ice-hockey, and don't watch it that often, but i figured that this was a pretty big sporting event, and I had fuck all else to do between 1am and 3.30am.

As I said, I'm not a huge 'hockey' (and yes, I'm going to continue to use the American phrase, even though "proper" hockey is [as we all know] an upper-class English pursuit, played by jolly-hockey-sticks girls and toffs. Let's be honest, if you're at university at the moment, you know or have known at least one of those types of girls. They're usually on a committee of some sort too) fan, and don't fully understand all of the rules and nuances of the game, I thoroughly enjoyed the spectacle.

So much so, in fact, that I'm prepared to state that the final 12-minute period after Calgary had scored to make the score 2-1 to Tampa was one of the best ever periods of sport that I have ever seen in my life.

I've seen a hell of a lot of sport, from motor racing to football, from swimming to judo, and this was quite simply an utterly fantastic display of skill, power, speed and a willingness to die for the cause. I have the utmost respect for hockey players, since they combine all of these factors brilliantly, all whilst on ice.

Have you ever tried ice-skating? It's fucking difficult. I can't even begin to imagine how good these guys are to be able to stop on a sixpence whilst controlling a speeding puck with a stick, all the while anticipating a huge hit from another massive, beefy guy who is hurtling towards you at a fair old rate of knots.

This particular 12-minute period was frenetic and frantic, with Calgary on all-out attack, and doing practically everything except sticking the ball puck in the back of the net. They were attacking at such pace, and with such constant pressure that I'm amazed they didn't score and send the game into OT (see, I'm picking up the lingo?!).

Unfortunately, it has taken until the last game of the season for my appreciation of the sport to be awoken, which means I have to wait until much later in the year to watch any more of it. Anyone know when the season starts again?

Oh, and in one final point, could that trophy get any bigger? It's almost as big as the guy lifting it!

Monday, June 7

A Day Of, Erm, Yeah

Mondays ay? The start of the week. The day to crack on and get things done after a weekend of drinking relaxing. A productive day.

I got out of bed at midday today. Not intentionally, you understand. I would much rather have laid there for another hour or so, but the incessant drilling next door finally convinced me to drag my ass out of bed and into the shower. It's not as if I was asleep until midday either. That fucking drilling started (to my knowledge) sometime around 9.30, and was going constantly until I caved in and got out of bed. The fuckers. Don't they know that these houses are full of students?!

Pete was the only other of my housemates who was around, and the house was still a tip after Saturday, so we set about cleaning the living room. By this I mean we gave it a proper clean. I'm talking moving sofas around to mop under them, cleaning everything that wasn't nailed down, and leaving the space practically sparkling.

It'll be dirty again by tomorrow, just you wait.

The kitchen was another story. Neither of us fancied doing all of that washing-up, and nor did we like the look of the sticky, slightly higher than usual, floor. Making breakfast / lunch was a case of minimising contact with any surface as much as is humanly possible. Where's that Buddhist levitating skill when you need it most?

It's been the hottest day of the year so far today, somewhere up around 27c, and I noticed myself getting a lot hotter a lot quicker than usual. This is another thing that has been happening more often recently, and I have come to the conclusion that it is my hair that is causing it.

My body is simply not used to having such a huge mass of insulating material on the top, back and sides of my head, and it is causing me to overheat rapidly. A haircut was called for. It was time to say goodbye to the experiment that was me growing my hair, and to return to my neatly trimmed and manageable hairstyle.

I wandered down into West Hampstead, intending to go to a barber's that I know of at the bottom end of West End Lane. After a 5 minute walk in the glaring sun, the barber's was, of course, closed. Slightly downcast, and a lot warmer than when I had set out, I turned round to walk back up the hill.

Now, there are loads of nice hairdresser's between my house and this barber's, but I refuse to pay anything more than 7.50 for a haircut. These places want about 25 from you to give it a once-over with some scissors. It was whilst walking past one of these plush salons on the way home that I noticed a sign: Models Required - Gents Only.

I'm a Gent, I can do this. Thirty seconds of conversation with the receptionist, and I have a free haircut booked for tomorrow lunchtime, at a lavish little salon. And i can add the word "model" to my somewhat limited CV. Who knows, you could see my face in hairdresser's windows in years to come.

Which reminds me: amongst the row of shops that I live above, there is a hairdresser's. In the window, there are some clearly old photos of men's haircuts, one of which I am absolutely certain is Matthew Perry. Yes, Chandler was a hair model in his early twenties. I will have to take my camera out and snap a photo of the, erm, photo before posting it here for you all to decide whether it is in fact him or not.

I was bored by the time I got back home and had nothing to do (if you discount hunting for a job [the gits still haven't phoned me back] and sorting out my move to Germany), so it was time for a DVD. I bought About Schmidt recently, but hadn't got round to watching it, so About Schmidt it was.

I have to admit that I wasn't really giving it my full attention, what with reading the newspaper and the arrival of a few housemates, but from what I saw of it, it was pretty damn funny. Funny in a dark, slow-burning kind of way, but funny nonetheless.

The next big highlight of my day was checking my emails, to find one from my Dad, informing me that he'd just bought a laptop for me out in Hong Kong. We discussed it a few months ago, and decided that it made sense for me to take a laptop over to Germany, rather than my current (bulky) desktop. He gave me the specs and model number, so I hunted some reviews of it down, one of which you can read here.

I have to say that it looks very plush, and all of the reviews give it a good write-up. The big plus of it is its apparently excellent sound system, which will hopefully save me buying a sub + satellites system when out in Germany. Now, if only I could convince him that I need an iPod...

What else has happened since then? Nothing too major: I cooked my best-ever spaghetti bolognese for Alex and myself, which went down very well. I am an accomplished cook when I can be arsed to spend some time over it, which at least bodes well for any future marital relationship.

That's one of the things I've learnt from my Dad: if you, as a guy, can cook and are willing to cook, it makes for much better relations in the home, as the woman isn't under a burden to cook each and every night, no matter what else she might have done / have planned that day...

He says, not even being able to find a girlfriend at the moment. Who am I to talk about the rights and wrongs in marriage? Meh.

And that about sums up today. Not a bad day, but also a wholly unproductive one. I need to get that job...

Mmmmm, Drunken Saturday

Did I get drunk at our party on Saturday? Hell, I was drunk before anyone else even turned up!

However, there is absolute justification for such a set of circumstances: football. More specifically, an England game. It does worry me a little just how I'm going to cope when we finally get round to playing a competitive game in Euro 2004, because the last two have just been friendly warm-ups. Yet I still felt the need, the desire to get quite drunk. Go me!

The day of drinking thus started around 3 in the afternoon, in my local pub. A few of my housemates were there with me, and the Stella train was boarded instantly. That would have been an error, in hindsight. Remember how last time I had an afternoon on the Stella train, I ended up walking home with (unbeknownst to me) "cunt" written on my forehead?

Well, that didn't happen this time, thank fuck.

As I cast my memory back to Saturday afternoon, I seem to remember most, if not all, of my housemates leaving during the second half of the game, whereas I stayed until after the final whistle. I'm quite glad I did, to be honest, because a fight broke out pretty much right on the final whistle close to where I was standing.

The first thing I knew about it (I was facing the screen, not the combatants) was the sound of a glass smashing on the floor. I turned round to see a scuffle, and a chair being held above head height, ready to be broken on someone's head. British pubs: brilliant.

The chair didn't in fact get used, which left me somewhere between relieved and disappointed not to see it kick off completely. I whipped out my phone (who thought I was going to say something else then?) to take a couple of pictures, and the results can be seen over at the PhotoBlog. Once again, they are quite poor quality, due to the camera being shit, and also my inability to stand perfectly still (that'd be the alcohol).

Just call me an amateur photojournalist. There was no way that I was going to get involved in any of the action (hey, I didn't know any of them), but I was sure as hell going to record it somehow. Whilst this isn't voyeuristic, there is something very cool about reporting on something that happens without being directly involved.

After that, I think I left the pub and headed home, although I can't remember directly. I must have done this, because the next thing that I do remember is waking up, fully clothed on my bed, just before 10 in the evening. That means I had fallen asleep, yet again, after an afternoon's drinking.

I'm starting to get annoyed with myself for this, because it never used to happen to me. It seems to have crept up on me in the last couple of months, which is not a good thing. I have a reputation to uphold! Or, alternatively, a face to save.

Anyway, I woke up, pretty much stone cold sober again, to find the party just beginning to take off. There weren't huge numbers of people in the living room just yet, but it was a start. I had no alcohol to drink, so I had to nip down to Threshers to grab a bottle of Smirnoff and some coke. I wasn't in the mood for more beer, and nor could I be assed to make difficult drinks all night.

Admittedly, the measures I was giving myself were a little, shall we say, extravagant, which no doubt contributed to my later drunkenness. Well, if you are going to drink vodka-cokes in a pint glass...

The house gradually filled up, but it was still nowhere near as busy as the last couple of parties that we've had. I was thoroughly let down by none of my mates from back home turning up, even though they had promised to come. Gits. Still, I sat around and chatted to a load of other people I knew through my housemates for the entire evening.

No doubt I was talking utter bullshit by the end of it all, but I do remember having a pretty good and in-depth conversation with a few guys about trance music up on the roof at some point. I love "proper" trance music, so long as it isn't pop-influenced, and preferably without any vocals, so I waxed lyrical on that subject for a while.

At some point (I've been told that it was around 4am), I retired to my bed, even though there were still quite a few people in the house. One of my housemates came into my room and took a couple of photos on his phone of me in my boxers, sprawled on top of my covers, limbs all over the place, and utterly passed out.

I was rudely (and I mean rudely) awoken at 5 by another of my housemates, who came into my room with a load of other revellers, turned my stereo on, and had some thumping hard house pounding out at full volume. Not what you need at 5am...

Cue 15 minutes of 10 or so grown men leaping around my bedroom whilst this pounding beat threatened to bring down the walls on top of them. I can only imagine my neighbour's reaction. Apparently, just before this started, my housemate leapt on top of me and then attempted to sweep me up with a broom that was lying around the house, but these are unconfirmed rumours.

After this period of action, I was completely awake, and sober once more. Funny how an hour or so's nap can do that to you. Matt and a few other guys were still in the kitchen, chatting about shit, so I went and joined them for a bit.

I grabbed some toast and about 3 pints of water, when Matt produced a punchbag and some boxing gloves from god-knows-where. Everyone had a go, both at punching and holding the bag, which took up another half-hour or so.

It's really quite difficult to hold a punchbag properly, when someone who is stronger than you is hitting it with all their might. During my go with the gloves, I found that I have absolutely no jabbing ability, but can swing a half-decent hook with either fist. Not bad for someone who really hasn't thrown a punch in anger for 6 or 7 years...

I tried to go back to bed, but the adrenaline was pumping through my system after that little workout, which made it very difficult to fall asleep. Eventually I dropped off, and didn't wake again until gone 3 in the afternoon.

Yes, 3 in the afternoon.

And yes, I am an incredibly lazy bastard. I know this.

The hangover was practically non-existent, although the lack of energy quickly became apparent, along with an ever-present dull ache in my legs. I seem to get that a lot at the moment: no true hangover, but achy legs. To be honest, I'll take achy legs over an achy head any day of the week.

The house wasn't in as much of a state as I'd anticipated, probably due to the smaller number of attendees than I'd been expecting. This isn't to say that it was anywhere near being clean or tidy, definitely not. None of us were up for doing any cleaning work yesterday, what with hangovers and tiredness, so we left it until today (Monday).

The rest of Sunday, from what I can remember, was spent in front of the TV, watching some tennis, the D-Day ceremonies and that fantastic D-Day programme on BBC1 in the evening. The Beeb always excels itself with this kind of programme / event, and I feel very proud for it to be an institution of my country.

Even if it did commit the mortal sin of introducing Linda fucking Barker to the nation's screens.
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