Month: June 2008

Back to uni, and a music festival

Yep – reliving my youth.  First – went back to university.  Had to work though – and it was during summer break, so no (or very few) young girls walking around.  Oh well.  Three days working for Brunel University – which just happens to be on the opposite side of London.  I think my new employers are testing my limits.  I was originally scheduled to be there for four days – but finished the job within one.  Decided to go back the second day, and do it again.  Then – the actual work got changed a little, and it stretched out to the third day – when I made a silly little mistake which cost another day.  Eventually finished late on the third day – hopefully keeping the client happy because it was cheaper than they thought – and keeping my company fairly happy – because I only stiffed them out of one day’s payment, not three.

And that set up Friday to be a half-day.  So, at lunchtime Friday – went and picked up a rental car, and had my first experience of driving through central London.  Good fun – especially navigating from a printed off Google Maps driving directions sheet.  And it turned out I had to pick the car up from a slightly different place – throwing my directions all out.  Managed to do it though – and got back to Stratford safely.  Packed the car with some stuff, and headed off North with Pen.  Now – we did pack the car with SOME stuff, just not all of the stuff we should have.  The tent – that’s one thing not packed.  We realised this after some time – but couldn’t be bothered going back.  So – drove up to Yorkshire, hoping that somebody would have a spare one, or we could buy one on the way.  All else fails – we’ve got a car, and a hammock.  But surely – everybody carries a spare tent with them?  Turns out – Caro&Dom do indeed.  And we discovered the best way of putting up a tent.  Forget yours – ask for a spare one, and it will be already put up for you when you arrive.  Sweet.

So – after several hours of driving, and listening to some sport called cricket – we arrived at Rough Beats 2008.  For those of you who don’t know what this is – it’s a music festival organised by Dom & family.  I gather the musicians play for free.  Most of the workers are volunteers.  All in all – a good atmosphere.  So, we got there Friday night – listened to a little music, and drank some quick beers to catch up with all of those who’d been there all day.  Watched Chook trying to be a barman – and then jumped over to help him when it got a little busy later on.  Worked the bar until closing, and then had chats with those left at the bar.  Went to sleep at dawn or so.

Next day was my big day.  My task for the weekend was to make and sell Bloody Marys.  Turned out we were going to do this from the main bar – so I got the key for that, and started setting up the bar.  And then, when the liquor licence kicked in – started selling booze again.  Bloody Marys went down a treat.  Stayed behind the bar all day, and then night fell.  Busy busy bar – as people started running out of whatever booze they’d brought themselves.  And then we started to run out.  Cidar went early in the day.  Then the beer brands started dropping off.  I started getting exhausted – mostly due to the fact I didn’t have enough time to be drinking myself, I believe.  Feet were killing me.  So – stocked the bar with everything I could find in the big fridge-trailer, and left Chook & Caro to deal with what looked like becoming the hardest part of the day.  People already drunk, demanding booze, while the booze is drying up.  I found some of my own beer in my tent – and put that behind the bar too.  Gone very very quickly.  Then I left – with the bar dry of beer, very very low on mixers, out of rum, out of tequila, and very busy.  I gather they were selling “your choice of spirit with apple juice” at the end, and then “your choice of straight spirit”.

Anyway – managed to get to bed about 1am I think.  About 12 hours actually behind the bar – with another couple of hours before/after doing oddjobs.  Pretty tired.  And then, of course, the sun decided to come out the next morning.  Why somebody doesn’t come up with a reflective tent – I don’t know.  Instead, tent manufacturers seem to be moving in on the oven industry.  I came up with the idea of an entire tent made of solar panels.  They can apparently print/spray solar panels onto any material now.  Tent automatically becomes cooler, plus you’d have a power point.  Probably rather bulky to pack up – but pretty cool.

Anyway – packed up Caro&Dom’s tent – and discovered a very long carving knife hidden underneath it.  Strange.  Then – headed to the local township, and had lunch at the local pub.  Lamb Henry for me – delicioso.  And then the rain came – just in time so that I didn’t feel too bad about leaving.  (I didn’t realise the music was on all day Sunday too.)  So – into the car, and headed back towards London.  Extremely tired – but listening to that sport again (I’m sure it’s called cricket) kept me awake, as my despair grew listening to our lacklustre team fall apart.  Never mind – I don’t even know what cricket is – rugby’s the only sport anybody’s interested in – and the right team won that over the weekend.

Got back to London on Sunday evening, with the help of sports radio, coffee, and my new work phone’s internet ability (I’d forgotten to get directions back home before leaving).  Beer, buffet, bath, bed.  And back to work, a broken wreck of a man.

 Oh – and I forgot to mention how Portsmouth was.  Well – that’s understandable.


I hate the tube.

My third day at work – I’m sent out to Stanmore for the day.  Well – supposed to be 2 days, but only took one.  Stanmore happens to be on the opposite side of London from where I live.  Awesome – a very long tube ride.  Luckily – I didn’t have to change trains.  Just got on the Jubilee – which starts at Stratford – and stayed on it right until the other end.  No chance of sleeping through my stop.  Still – had to catch the very first train of the day to make it on time.

And then, on Friday – I get told I’m to cover for a guy who’s going on holiday.  Starting after the weekend.  And the guy works on a client site based at Heathrow.  Just as far away as Stanmore.  And no direct line this time – awesome.  So all last week was spent working mostly alone in a windowless room, with a pair of nearly two-hour commutes bookending the day.  And this week starts with the same.  Only one more day of that though.  And then I’ve been sent even further afield.  Portsmouth for two days.  Portsmouth is on the seaside, which would be good.  Except it’s the English seaside – which doesn’t really count, apparently.

And in the boozin’ news…  met up with Randle on Thursday evening.  Which led to the wee hours of Friday morning – and just managing to catch the last tube home.  In time for a couple of hours sleep, and then the commute to Heathrow.  Yep – managed to sleep through my train-switch.  And the weekend – Sports Saturday.  Helped entertain Chook’s little ginga cousin with a sports day on Clapham Common.  Played some futbol, mini-cricket, frisbee, etc.  And then built a barbeque, and ate some burnt food.  Followed by a late-night game of Pictionary – which involved lots of anger, and accusations of cheating.  To be fair, I was cheating continuously.  But – I was cheating to help every team equally, not just my own.  Eventually Chooks little ginga went to bed about 2am – which beat his previous record of bedtime, 11pm.  He was pretty pleased with himself, I gathered.

The tube is hot, sweaty, crowded, smelly, and full of the english.  I hate the tube.  And it looks like a snake.  I hate snakes.  I really really hate snakes.  Not happy about the results of my research into which snakes live in this country.