A couple of weeks where I should really have remembered the concept of a list.  I like lists.  In fact, I really like lists.  But recently I’ve had so much I need to do/organise – that I never got around to making a list of it – so nothing’s been done/organised.

First up – a couple of gigs, bands I’d never heard of – but the brief in the gig-spam I get caught my attention.

Toy – at XOYO – pretty much your stock-standard London indie-rock.  Not bad at all, but I wish I’d remembered to take my book.  Stuck in a basement with a couple of hundred young ‘alternative’ camden-types without anything to distract me – not an ideal evening for a grumpy old man.  And yeah, that’s about all I have to say about Toy at XOYO – I had to find a youtube video to remind me of the gig (although that’s becoming more of a common requirement.  Grumpy old senile man, perhaps.)

The following night – Arthur Beatrice at The Lexington.  Pretty much your pub with a small venue for up-and-coming acts type set-up.  I arrived early, had myself some dinner – then headed upstairs to the venue.  Found myself in a very small venue, with the barman for company.  And not another soul.  Set myself up at the corner of the bar with my bottle of wine and my book, and waited.  Finally more people started arriving, and eventually some music was played.  One of the support acts was a guy with two turntables and a microphone.  He seemed to want the crowd to dance and engage.  The crowd didn’t seem to want to.  And then Arthur Beatrice.  I’m not entirely sure if that is the name of a person, or the band, or what.  But anyway – rather good.  Their keyboard was broken – and apparently that is normally a core component of their music – so many profuse apologies from the young lady who would presumably normally be playing that.  But they made do.  I discovered that another consequence of my arriving so early was that I had more time to drink, and drink I did, and therefore became a little intoxicated – and was struggling to concentrate near the end.  Which was a shame – because they really were rather good – and I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for their first album.  No videos of the gig itself – but I recommend checking out what is available out there.

Following evening – Justin had talked me into seeing some “world music”.  Amadou & Mariam, whom I’d never heard of – but apparently really should have.  I did the normal research – and yeah, I really should have.  How good is Amadou & Mariam?  Really good.  Headed out to SheBu to watch that, and rather enjoyed it – except for the large number of antipodeans that come with being in SheBu.  Where else could somebody walking out of a gig say to his mate “Let’s head to the Walkie” with a straight face?  (For those of you who don’t know what the “Walkabout” is – it’s essentially a franchise of bars specialising in large sports-bar type venues catering to hundreds of drunken young kiwis, saffas, and especially aussies)  Good as a last resort when trying to find a place showing rugby rather than soccer on the TV – but nothing more.

I was supposed to return the motorbike at around this time – but called up and extended the hire.  One more weekend, I thought.  So one more weekend is what I did.  Saturday – went for a ride around south London – dropped off my tickets for Gomez to Chook’s place, breaking into his gated community to do so.  Organised to meet Caitlin at a pub somewhere – but discovered my phone refused to show me a map to get there.  But on a motorbike – no problem, I’ll just quickly come home, have a look, and then head back down south.  So that is what I did – met up with Caitlin and her crew at a pub where they were watching some football or some such.  Chook & Chris then came and joined us – and we watched some horses running around a track, jumping over stuff.  The Grand National, I believe.  I bought a sweepstake ticket – and managed to draw the 2nd favourite.  And then the 1st favourite went nuts – so all of a sudden I had a ticket for the favourite.  I hate gambling – but it doesn’t count when it’s a sure thing.  Anyway – watched the horses race.  Apparently this is the first year of a heap of new measures to make the whole thing less nasty to the horses.  I’d hate to have seen what it was like previously.  Horses went down all over the show – at least one was shot.  Anyway – my horse came in third, and I got myself a £15 return for my 2 quid flutter.  Which I believe, in the parlance, is called a “result”.  I took my winnings and ran, before I could be talked into starting a proper drinking session, which is what it looked like the day was about to turn into.

Made it home safely, and started pondering options for my Sunday ride.  Opted for Windsor – and headed out there in the late morning.  Got there in time to glance at the castle, and find a pub for a Sunday roast.  Soon discovered that the entire town seems to be a tourist trap.  Had another look at the castle, without bothering to go inside – and then headed home – just catching the start of rain as I re-entered central London.

Monday – first day of a 5-day course.  I was to spend a week learning “Oracle 11g: New Features for Administrators – Release 2″.  In reality, I already knew pretty much all of the new features for administrators, even release 2 – but Oracle loves to make money… and in order that all the exams I’d already passed to result in pretty certificates and a heap of letters to put on my business card – I had to also pay a couple of thousand pounds to do a course to learn the stuff I’d already proven I knew rather well.  Well – I’ll let my company pay the couple of thousand grand – seeing as it’s them that want me to have all those certificates and what-not.

Broke up that week with a single gig – Noah & the Whale – at SheBu again.  But this time I had tickets for the balcony – nice and civilised with seats and such.  I wasn’t really sure what to expect – I’d heard of Noah & the Whale quite a bit, but never really got around to listening to them properly.  I also had the impression that they were probably quite pretentious “poor-little-rich-folk” types.  After the gig – I now have the opinion that they are rather good, and I should really listen to them more.  And yeah – still fairly sure that they’re poor artsy rich folk.

Ended the week with drinks on the top floor of Centrepoint.  Apparently it’s quite hard to get in there – but Paul got us a reservation, and we sat on the 33rd floor, drinking wine, eating overpriced bar snacks – looking out over London.  I believe it was supposed to be super impressive – but I didn’t really get it.  33rd floor?  Come on – I used to live beneath the goddamn SKYTOWER!  But yeah, good for something slightly different to the norm.

And today – trying to organise myself enough so that I can at least catch my flight to Iceland this evening.  I’ll leave the whole UK work permit expiring in a week problem until I get back.  Let alone trying to get my motorbike A2 license before June.  Oh – and the whole needing a visa for Cambodia also – despite the fact that the UK visa people may very well hold on to my passport for weeks, or even months.  It’s looking very likely that my flight to Cambodia was pretty much just throwing money away.  On the upside, <warning: inside joke which will look like nonsense to those on the outer>, it does mean that I’ll be standing up Buzz – he’ll be gloating about for once being the first man on the moon, and then I’ll just never turn up.  Sweet.

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