Tying off loose ends

So – I’m about to start a new engagement with a new client… which will be at least six months long, and is out in Kent.  My commute is about to switch from a 25 minute walk, to a 1.5 hour bus/train/bus – or hopefully, a 1 hour motorbike ride.  Which I guess means 1 hour less sleep, plus 1 hour less free time – 5 days a week.  Not cool.

Also – it means I have to try and finish, or hand off, the 6 other projects I’ve got going on currently.  Which I figured was impossible when I was supposed to be starting the new job last week.  Now – I’m due to start next week – and it’s looking feasible, but only if I essentially work through the weekend.  And somehow learn how to “get off the fence”… I’m supposed to be writing a document providing an independent review – essentially I’ve gone and audited another company which does what we do.  Their customer is hoping for me to write lots of nasty things so they have an excuse to either switch companies, or get a refund, or something.  But, I am most certainly not the right guy for that particular job.  What doesn’t help, is that the only thing the company in question has done wrong – is be “too nice” for the customer.  And the customer now has unrealistic expectations.  And I’m trying to figure out how to say that – in a way that the customer will actually take the whole thing seriously.  Okay – I’ll try to stop whinging about work.

Gigs – the day I wrote my previous update – about not having many gigs scheduled for the rest of the year – I then went and bought a whole heap of tickets… my calendar now has 27 gigs in the 2nd half of the year.  One of those was the very night I wrote the last update… I bought a ticket at the last minute, and headed along to M. Ward at Koko.  It was good – I can only find one video from the night.  I guess the kind of people who go to see M. Ward are typically intolerably ‘hip’ tweesters who like to think of themselves as music afficianados – and wouldn’t ruin a gig by holding up a phone/camera through the whole thing.  And he is known to discourage that sort of thing, and nobody wants to disappoint M Ward.  But it was a good gig.  The video above doesn’t do it justice… he’s got a rather good voice, and some rather good songs.  I was a little disappointed there were no special guest appearances… I believe it was the final gig of his tour, and having Zooey Deschanel, or Conor Oberst, or Beth Orton, or Cat Power, or Jenny Lewis, or Neko Case, or somebody come out for a song or two would have been a nice bonus.

A little while after that – was Of Monsters And Men.  I actually bought a ticket to this via one of those legalised/legitimised scalping websites – for about double face-price… just because I was so damn keen to go.  I had kind of heard the name, I think – maybe on the avclub… but hadn’t listened to them… until I spotted the CD at Keflavik airport – leaving Iceland.  I bought quite a bit of Icelandic music while there, as it tends to be rather good.  And this album was really, really good.  Check it out – I guess it’s kinda like the Icelandic equivalent of the Naked & Famous.  An ensemble of intolerably young, unfeasibly happy, talented musicians.  I believe they won the Icelandic version of Rockquest, or whatever it’s called… and have started getting a bit of an international following since.  They are good.  This gig was at Scala – which is tiny.  I suspect it was booked before they started getting any recognition, and this gig was sold-out long ago… they also announced a date at Electric Ballroom later this year – much much larger venue.  Which I’ve bought tickets for also – but with extra, to drag some people along to see them.  It’s worth it.  Oh – and the support act was fairly good also – Bear’s Den – I think I bought their EP.

And those were the only two gigs of the month.  I have Eddie Vedder on the 31st – but it’s been a rather quiet July.  I guess I’m supposed to be going to festivals and the such – but the only festival I was bothered with got cancelled, innit?  So instead – I’ve spent the last couple of weeks finally following through with trying to get my full motorbike license.  My ‘CBT’ expires next Thursday – and unless I get my license by then, I have to spend another hundred quid or so, and a day of my time – learning the basics all over again.  So – I hired an instructor last weekend… rode around for a couple of days.  Did my ‘Module 1′ on Tuesday… where I had to prove I could ride very very slowly, around figure 8s, and doing a U-turn – without putting my foot on the ground, etc.  And that I could swerve quickly, or stop quickly – when travelling at 50km/h.  My one fault I picked up was that the speed-trap put me at 49km/hour before my ‘emergency stop’.  Also – I very nearly failed – when the tester chap said he was happy with my figure-8s, and called me over to him to get ready for the next test… as I changed direction to slowly ride over to him, I lost balance, and put my foot on the ground.  Was rather angry with myself – but he came over and said “don’t worry mate – as far as I’m concerned I’d told you that test was finished, you’re all good”.  Hugely relieved.  A single foot on the ground during any of the ‘slow riding’ stuff is an immediate fail, and needing to rebook the test for another day.  But – I passed, and only hurdle left is the “Module 2″ – essentially riding around for half an hour with a tester following me – making sure I don’t do anything stupid, and that I’m constantly checking mirrors, looking over the shoulder, etc.  Which I’m pretty good at – as I can’t understand why people don’t do that shit everyday anyway, even when walking around the city.  If you’re going to suddenly change direction/speed/anything on a sidewalk used by other people – be aware of what/who is around you!  It’s pretty easy.  Somebody asked me a while back what really annoys me – and my answer was “lack of social spatial awareness” – or something like that.  I’m still trying to tie down an appropriately wanky way to describe it… but yeah, people who just walk around completely unaware of other people around them… stopping to extend suitcase handles at the very bottom/top of busy stairs; suddenly stopping to talk with somebody in the middle of a busy sidewalk; turning off suddenly in front of me; or even just meandering in wide lazy zig-zags closing off huge portions of the footpath.  People…. argh.  Pete and I had a good old-fashioned old-man whinge about this very thing when he was last in London.  I was relieved to find I wasn’t the only person to get in such a rage about such things.  And Pete’s from Arsetralia, where there aren’t even any busy sidewalks – just outback.

Anyway – suggestions on what kind of motorbike I’m going to be buying?

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