Month: November 2009

Movin’ On Down

It’s farewell Oval, and hello Balham.  I have left my jacuzzi, monster kitchen, and local pub.  I believe that the Oval was the longest time I’d lived in one place since, well, school.  Kind of depressing.  And made me realise that this job – actually, just the project I recently finished – is the longest I’ve been in one job since the Dairy Board/Fonterra.

Which makes my feet kinda itchy.  Well – they were itchy anyway, both metaphorically and not.  But now – well, I’m certainly casting my eyes about for some kind of escape route.  And, my plan of North Korea is slowly being refined.  Unfortunately – it’s also being postponed.  The new plan is September 2010 – but now involves catching a train from one side of the world to the other.  Have a look on a map – and check out the line from London to Beijing.  The plan is now to do that.  Twice.  Well, nearly twice.  London -> Moscow, via Mongolia, with a couple of stops on the way.  A couple of weeks in North Korea – bowing to the almighty Kim Jung, and not taking photos unless given permission.  And not being allowed cellphones, video cameras, or cameras with a lens over 150mm.  No internet.  No credit cards.  And no going for a “walk around the block”.  And then – train from North Korea back to London, via Siberia.  Oh yeah – it’s been a long time since I had a plan as good as this.  It does mean, however, that I need to do something in the short-term – so that I don’t go crazy.  I have discovered that I have a disorder where I actually require international travel.  Otherwise, I… ummm… die  break-out-in-hives  sulk get a little bit sad.

I think I’ll be making a trip to Aotearoa in January/February (should probably start looking into that) – but I’m not sure if that counts.  I might have to stop off somewhere on the way, or on the way back – for a few days.  Dubai doesn’t interest me too much, but if anybody’s got other opinions on it, or places nearby – I’m happy to hear suggestions, thoughts, etc.

In other news, I have started playing squash.  I am a squash player.  I play squash.

And – there’s a New Year’s Party at our place this year.  Probably.  For those who have experienced Opononi, Lake Taupo, Waikaremoana, Houseboats on Waitemata… this will be kinda like those.  But in a house.  In Balham.  And cold instead of hot.  And no barbeque.  (hmmm… maybe no barbeque).  But definitely no swimming.  Which means no bombs/staples/bellyflops.  But – it will still be good.  So come.  Airfares are cheap around that time of year – so all you people in NZ/Oz – no excuse.  And yes, we have heaps of space for cricket and/or tents, in the snow.  (Really).

End of an Era

Well – the project that I’ve been working on for the last 15 months or so is over.  They are officially ‘live’ – and I have officially left.  The key word in that is ‘officially’.  In practice – there are still plenty of issues, plenty of those related to people, not technology.  And – the company has paid for an extra 5 days of my time – to be used on an ad-hoc manner… so I’m expecting a phone call of “HELP!!!” fairly soon.  But – in order that I had some small time of recovery before this – I cleverly misplaced my phone on the night of my leaving drinks.  So – I was complete uncontactable over the weekend.  I had completely forgotten how awesome it is to actually have a weekend off.

But – the weekend wasn’t nearly enough.  Especially considering that the night before my leaving drinks, was Ben’s leaving drinks.  So, as can be expected, there was some dinner and drinks.  To the point where the owner/manager of the restaurant approached our table.  Unfortunately, I was closest to him – so he started chatting to me.  I thought he was a homeless guy asking for change or something.  It took quite some time to realise that he was actually the manager, and he was offering to give us a bottle of something for free.  He asked what I wanted, and I said something like “well… we’ve been drinking quite a range so far…” – in order to lead up to pointing out that we would love another bottle of champagne.  Unfortunately, he broke in with “Yes – my daughter told me that, and I can see that.  This is why I think you would appreciate something special, that you can’t get anywhere else.”  And from there, it all went downhill as he brought us a bottle of sparkling vodka.  I managed to refrain from having too much, as I had figured I’d had a little too much approximately 30 minutes previously.  Luckily, as I and a few others went downstairs for a spot of air, Ben & Chook started racing each other – and the bottle was gone by the timewe returned.

Cue – very very drunk Ben & Chook very very soon.  Luckily – being around people that are drunker than me somehow sobers me up.  So – when Chook & Ben started annoying me with quick jabs to the guts while on an escalator – my trick of sunddenly jumping onto the aluminium centre piece and sliding down worked remarkably well.  The delightful Transport For London people try to prevent people from doing this kind of thing – by having large bumps at regular intervals.  Well – I somehow managed to jump the one I needed to, and then fairly gracefully hurdled back onto the ground at the bottom.  Leaving Ben & Chook speechless.  To be honest – I was rather speechless myself, as it really shouldn’t have worked as well as it did.  It sets a dangerous precedent – as I know that one day I’ll try to replicate the feat, and this time hurt and/or embarass myself terribly.

But – it is now back to work.  But work in the head office, which is usually incredibly boring.  I don’t have to wear a suit, which is a bonus.  But – very very little of my time is actually working for clients in a ‘billable’ sense – which means no more monthly bonus, which is terrible.  Slightly easier to get to each morning, which is good.  No fixed desk, so have to carry laptop and everything else to/from work – and can’t have breakfast supplies sitting at work, which isn’t good.  Food around here is horribly expensive also.  £1.25 for a cuppa tea at the closest breakfast/cafe joint.  It was 50p at my local one during the project.  £1.25!!!  Converted to NZ$ – I remember when I used to pay that for a pint of beer.

But – soon I’ll be saving money, when I move in with Chook & Chris.  Might even start cooking my own meals again.  My local is going to be gutted.  The new manager is already complaining about his weekly takings.  I haven’t pointed out to him what fraction of that I have calculated is going to disappear fairly soon.

Oh – and no more trips to India!  That is really quite good – but is probably another part of the project that I will kind of miss in a perverse way.  I calculated it yesterday – I spent just over 2 months in total in that hotel in India.  That is a decent portion of the year.  I probably should have arranged one last trip over there – at the end of which I could have taken a month or two off, and gone travelling in the country properly.  But – instead I’ll wait until next year, when I’ve got quite a plan in my mind for some travel.  To be done in Jan/Feb/Mar, isn’t it Ben?  When you’ll be busy working.  Sucker.

So – the end of an era.  No more project sucking up all of my time and energy.  And, although everybody kept telling me during the last few months (both work people and real people) that it had been doing that, and that nobody could understand how I was doing it – I didn’t really think anything of it until after it actually ended.  And – moving house, probably this weekend.  Which should be resulting in quite a few lifestyle changes also.  Cooking at home, instead of eating at the pub.  Going straight home off the tube, instead of straight to the pub.  (I really hope there isn’t a pub between new tube and new flat.)  Having people in the flat to chat with, instead of the pub.  Playing sport, instead of the jukebox at the pub.  Etcetera.  Etcetera.