Month: June 2010

Great news, & a great weekend

Great news everybody!!!  Snakes in mysterious global decline.  I’ll be drinking champagne tonight.

In other news – went to “Yorkshire’s best and most original independent music festival” Rough Beats this weekend.  Left the organisation of it extremely late – due to dozens of unknown variables.  One of which was – when would Chook&Chris be able to leave work, would Chook be taking the van, and would I be able to leave work early on Friday – or not go to work Friday at all.  The answer to all of these would be “no”.  Chook&Chris wimped out of the entire weekend.  I had a meeting Friday afternoon which I had to attend.  And everything just combined to make things as difficult as possible.  Although – the upside was that my options were so restricted, I didn’t have to make any decisions.  Only one option – rent a car, drive up all by my lonesome.  So – that’s what I did.  Didn’t take a tent because I didn’t want to lug it into work, and then to the rental car place.  So – turned up in North Yorkshire at about 10:30 pm – rather tired – with a backpack containing my laptop, a hammock, and some minimal clothing.  I turned down the road to the festival – and as I topped the hill to see the carpark – I was rather shocked.  The number of cars had probably doubled since the last time I went.  They’d actually run out of space – and had to open another field, which was arrived at over a very dodgy farm bridge.  As I parked up and get ready to walk up the hill – I overheard the security radio telling people to “not let anybody else in”.  I started worrying that the whole thing had gotten out of hand, or something.  But – walked up to the gate – told the nice lady that “no – I don’t have a ticket – but my name should be on the list”.  And crossed my fingers that my name really was on the list.  It was – scrawled by hand right at the bottom of the printed list.  Just below Katie’s.  So – I walked in, found the bar (and Katie behind it) – and had a few drinks.

After a little while, I tried to follow Katie’s directions to find her tent – so I could get rid of my stuff.  Opened a tent – saw a box of cans of Strongbow.  Thought I might be in the wrong tent.  Returned to the bar, and confirmed with Katie that I had indeed nearly given somebody a very nasty/nice surprise.  I guess it cancels out the previous weekend.  As soon as Katie got a chance for a break from being barmaid – we moved Katie’s tent from the general campsite into Kevin’n’Maggie’s lawn.  (Dom’s parents.  Full props to them for hosting nearly a thousand people for a weekend.  A warning to my parents – I’ve started getting ideas.  Anybody willing to host a music festival?)  And then – back to the bar, until closing time.  After which we tried to crash.  But were kept awake by drunken singing, drumming – and the bloody portaloo doors slamming shut every 10 seconds.

And after a couple of hours sleep – it was time to go to work.  I got up, into the house – and sat down with my laptop to do a few server migrations.  Just the right frame of mind to be doing it too.  Eventually finished, or mostly – then wandered out to hang my hammock, and lie outside – listening to live music and reading a book.  Sometimes – just sometimes – life is good.  Katie joined me for a while – and then it was time to play barstaff for a while.  As soon as I left the hammock – there was a rush of people trying to grab it.  I figured I might as well leave it out – I think there’d be a riot if I tried to convince people it was private property.

So off we wandered to the bar – and proceeded to spend the next 7 hours or so absolutely decimating the stocks of booze.  Everytime Kevin popped in we were inundated with drunkards – and I think he thought we were shit at the job.  But then he’d leave, and it would settle back into a busy but manageable stream.  Until after a few hours when Kevin/Dom checked the truck – and suddenly realised that we’d sold nearly everything.  And I really had – I hadn’t drunk any of it.  Well… very very little.  It was actually such a steady stream of customers and restocking that I think I only had time to drink about 1 pint over the course of the first 3 or 4 hours.  And after that – it was just hectic.  Started running out of beer, then rum, then whiskey, then coke, then tonic water, etc etc.  I think we eventually closed around 2am – and just started packing what we had left away as quickly as possible, before the drunks realised what we were doing.  Bloody drunks.  I then proceeded to have a few drinks with a few people back at the house.  A decent whisky, some blue cheese, and then some beers.

I then snuck out to see if I could reclaim my hammock.  There seemed to be about 4 people in it – being swung vigorously.  I decided to try again later.  Later – I found it deserted – and tried to untie it.  Very difficult – wet rope, pulled very tight by holding about double what it was designed for – and dug into the tree.  As I was struggling, some people wandered across – and accused me of stealing the hammock.  They apparently had plans to sleep in it that night.  I’d already untied one end – so said sorry – and continued.  They seemed to think it was festival property – and I was actually stealing it – but wandered off more concerned about the fact they wouldn’t be able to sleep in it that night.  I eventually got it off the tree, and crawled off to the tent, where I collapsed without too much trouble.

And then it was Sunday.  Hung the hammock back up.  Drank some Bloody Marys.  Read some books.  Listened to some music.  And got a little drunk.  Bloody drunks.  Went to listen to some chap – and sat down for it.  Tried to stand at the end – and collapsed.  I must have looked like a complete drunken fool.  But honestly – my entire left leg had gone to sleep.  Could have been quite nasty actually – with the chance of rolling an ankle or something.  So – sat there making a large point of rubbing my leg – and not appearing drunk – before trying again.  And eventually – the last band left the stage.  And it was time for the celebration to begin.  Which it did.  But most people were complete exhausted after three days of setting up bands, organising sewage trucks, etc.  I believe my night ended with realising I was absolutely smashed – going back to the house – finding it locked, with nobody else awake that might have a key – so staggering off to the hammock.  Slept there until I woke up in the pouring rain.  Staggered about again – into one of the main stages – and found some big cloth bags to make a bed out of.

Woke a few hours later – and realised I pretty much had to get straight into the car.  Gave one chap a ride back to London – and his chatter probably aided a lot in my not falling asleep.  But – I got back safely.  And returned to Balham where I could infuriate Chook&Chris by giving away as little information as possible about what they had missed.  And my wearing a Rough Beats 2010 T-shirt.  And then back to work on Tuesday.  When I remembered it was the day scheduled for one of the most critical and highly visible pieces of work.  And so I did that.  I think – I have a vague memory of doing that yesterday anyway – and nobody has complained, so all good.

Anyway – many thanks to Dom, Mike, Tony.  Kevin’n’Maggie especially.  And I fully recommend Rough Beats to anybody looking for a music festival.

An Interesting ‘Bank Holiday’

Well – May is over.  May, for those of you who don’t know, was seafood month.  I ate seafood for at least one meal every day.  Much much easier than eating lamb for every meal every day.  Culminated in my first attempt to make fish pie on Sunday night, which was followed by my 2nd attempt on Monday night.  Not because Sunday night was a failure – but quite the opposite.  It turns out fish pie is easy to make, and delicious.  Hurrah.

This weekend was a bank holiday weekend.  I don’t know the reason for the holiday.  Nobody in England seems to know either.  It’s just “a bank holiday”.  Which makes it hard for me to know when a holiday is.  In New Zealand – I know the date of ANZAC Day, Labour Day, Queen’s Birthday, etc.  But here – no idea.

Anyway – this weekend started off with a bit of drama.  I don’t really know how to explain what happened – other than Rashomon style:

Narrative 1

A man (let’s call him Chook), and his flatmate (let’s say… Chris) – go out for a quiet drink on Friday evening.  It’s just going to be a quiet one, as they have a big night planned for Saturday.  They come home around lunchtime on Saturday.  The first thing they notice is Chook’s jacket lying outside on the doorstep.  Strange, they think.  Our drunkard flatmate must have had a big night, and maybe had some friends over.  No matter – the jacket is safe, and they’re pretty sure there will be an amusing drunken story behind it.  This theory gathers momentum when Chook notices that somebody must have slept in his bed last night – but he isn’t too worried because it’s been remade nice and tidy.

Chook runs into his drunkard flatmate in the hallway an hour or so later.  “What did you get up to last night then, eh?“  His flatmate replies with a deadpan “What do you mean?“  Chook grins, as his flatmate is known for understatement.  “Big night then, was it?“  His flatmate once again responds – “What the hell are you on about – I was going to ask you the same thing.

Narrative 2

A man (let’s call him Kruse) – finishes work on Friday evening.  Decides to meet up with some workmates for a quiet drink.  It’s just going to be a quiet one, because he’d had a horror week of on-call from Wednesday-Wednesday, followed by a night of red red wine & champagne on Wednesday night.  Kruse was tired and looking forward to a long weekend of nothing much at all.  He managed to stay later than originally planned – but still got home at a respectable hour – 9 or 10pm.  He then had a small snack, one or two more drinks – and retired relatively early.  Around 5:30 am, however, he was awoken by a loud crashing noise.  “Oh well…” – he thought – “my drunkard flatmates are home.“  He drifted back to sleep.

Kruse then woke up in the morning, and decided that the perfect breakfast on a Saturday morning during “seafood month” – would be Eggs Royale-Florentine.  To be honest, this is a perfect breakfast for every weekend morning – regardless of what month it is.  The salmon in this delicious dish was just an (unnecessary) extra justification.  So – Kruse went for a wander to the nearest store – and purchased the necessary ingredients (luckily grabbing some english breakfast muffins just prior to one customer carrying several baskets piled full of bread products buying the remaining stock).  Returning home – he noticed the door didn’t unlock/open as smoothly as usual – and there seemed to be some damage to the frame.  He wasn’t sure if this had been like that previously – but resolved to look into it further at a later time, and perhaps try to fix it.  As he walked past the open doorway of the bedroom belonging to one of his drunkard flatmates – he noticed somebody sleeping in the bed.  The ‘somebody’ didn’t appear to be his drunkard flatmate.  But – he could only see one half of the bed – and didn’t want to look too closely for obvious reasons, so passed by quickly – and busied himself in the kitchen – closing the door so as to not disturb the sleep of drunkards who return home in the wee hours of the morning.

An hour or so passed – during the preparation and consumption of a spectacular breakfast.  Later, while back in his room, he heard one or more voices, somebody laughed – and then the door opened/closed.  And an hour or so later – he ran into his drunkard flatmate Chook in the hallway.  Chook immediately pointed at him and asked “What did you get up to last night then, eh?“  Kruse, rather confused considering the circumstances, asked “What do you mean?“  Chook continued the strange line of questioning:  “Big night then, was it?“  Very confused by now – Kruse wants to know what he’s on about – “What the hell are you on about – I was going to ask you the same thing.

Enough of that…

To be honest, I’ve never actually read Rashomon – although I’ve been meaning to for a long time.  I’m sure it’s a hell of a lot cleverer than my clumsy attempt above.  And – I’m certainly not clever enough to write the punchline in both narratives without making the second one obsolete.  In fact – even from the above, I’m sure some of you have got a vague idea of what comes next – despite the bizarre truth of it.

After Chook had accosted me about my supposed degenerate and crazy behaviour – and I convinced him I didn’t know what the hell he was on about – we started getting trickles of information out of each other.

Chook: What’s my jacket doing outside?

Kruse: I don’t know – you probably left it out there when you got home pissed this morning.

Chook: Who did you have around here last night?

Kruse: Nobody – who did YOU have over here last night?

Chook: Nobody – we stayed at Tom’s last night.

<pieces of the puzzle come together in Kruse’s mind>

Kruse: Well – I saw somebody in your bed this morning.  And I think the door’s been kicked in.

<we look at the door.  Yep – it’s been kicked in.>

So – the above is about all we know currently.  At about 5:30 am (I think) – somebody came to our front door, kicked it in, came inside, closed the door behind them, entered Chooks room, took things off his bed, climbed in, and fell asleep.  They then woke up – made the bed, put the things back on top of his bed, put one of his jackets on – and left the house, before presumably realising it wasn’t their jacket – taking it off, leaving it on the doorstep – and disappearing.


Of course – at this point, we were pretty much in shock.  Throughout this – I was either sleeping, or being quiet so as to not disturb our guest.  Chook/Chris had just the previous day taken delivery of a few powertools, lying in the hallway – the theft of which which would have been substantial.  We still don’t really know what to make of it.  Some of my favourite points are:

  • the leaving of the jacket on the doorstep (it’s a jacket which is considered to be of some value in this country – for some reason – yet the person seems to have stopped after leaving the house, taken it off, and left it);
  • the fact that I tiptoed around the house for an hour or two in order to not wake anybody up;
  • and that it happened to be the day after quite a lot of tools were delivered – sitting in the hallway, right next to the front door.

We would, of course, quite like an explanation for all of this.  Mostly because it has just freaked us right the hell out.  I think I recovered from the whole thing in an hour or two – after thinking over all the possibilities, and the fact there seems to be little to no chance of getting any more information.  But poor Chris was still freaking out about it quite some time later.  I doubt it was one of our friends looking for a place to crash, and getting desperate enough to force their way in.  But if it was – please, please let us know.  Just so we can put the matter to rest.  I managed to soothe Chris by watching Shutter Island with him.  That created another, more gripping, mystery/confusion in his mind.  Good movie by the way – great movie.  Fully recommend it after a not-quite-burglary/not-quite-home-invasion.

Which reminds me – what do I describe the event as?  A no-frills breaking-and-entering?  Somebody who read the name of the crime – and figured they needed some street-cred, but didn’t want to actually steal anything from anybody.  “I’ll just break-in, and enter – and that’s about it.  But, wow – am I bushed after that break-in.  I’ll just have a quick kip.“  A non-burglary?  Being Goldilocks-ed?  Non-violent home invasion?  Theft of hostelry services?  Kip-and-run?

And any thoughts on our chances of convincing the landlord of the above story?  Will he believe that somebody broke into our house, slept in a bed, and left the next day without stealing any of the handy tools or jackets?  Or will he think that a member of this house of drunkards lost their keys and kicked in the door?