London 2012

The Olympics – on my doorstep.  How annoying was that?  My first day at a new job, the first time I’ve had a real commute – coincided with the first day of the Olympic Games.  Which meant the bus which would normally go pretty much past my house – to take me to London Bridge train station – no longer does that.  I have to walk an extra 10 minutes or so – to St Pauls.  (Actually – to directly outside the city office of my new client – just to rub it in my face that I have a 90 minute commute when I could have a 15 minute walk).  Olympic Games – also meant over-the-top preparation.  London Bridge station… half the entrances/corridors blocked off.  Apparently – the best way to ease congestion in a busy train station is to block off half the ways in/out.  I could see the platform I needed to be at from the entrance – but couldn’t get to it… each morning I had to walk another 10 minutes through a maze, past dozens of rail staff and Olympic volunteers wearing their pink shirts – all waiting to help lost tourists.  Except – there were no tourists.  London was pretty much deserted for the last couple of weeks.  There were literally more staff at London Bridge – standing in people’s way, blocking off easy routes – than actual passengers.  And how does forcing me to spend three times as long in getting in/out of the station ease congestion?  Aarrgh.  Rant over.  It’s all in the past now.  Now I just have to listen to Londoners congratulate themselves for a job well done.  And force myself to point out that no – you didn’t handle the extra load well… what you actually did was terrify the local and incoming populace to such an extent that the host city of the Olympic Games was a ghost town… with Oxford Street retailers complaining of the lowest sales since ever.  Or something.  Rant… really over now.

Eddie Vedder.  Good gig.  Very good gig.  Firstly – I somehow got mistaken for Eddie by a punter at the bar.  Then – some good songs by Eddie.  It was supposed to be “either Glen Hansard” – but I don’t know if Glen Hansard did a traditional support act very early which I missed, or what – but he only played 2, maybe 3 songs with Eddie?  But that’s alright – because then all sorts of other guests came out.  Neil Finn!  Oh, I was a happy man.  Eddie Vedder & Neil Finn performing Throw Your Arms Around Me.  Happy man.  And he did Masters of War – good.  And then he spotted somebody backstage – insisted they come out and do some songs together – and it turned out to be Roger Daltrey, so they played some impromptu Who covers.  Yeah, pretty good gig.

Then on Saturday – Fat Freddy’s Drop.  I’d heard all the hype about how good they are live, etc – I had already talked myself into being disappointed.  Which I really should stop doing… it was a really good gig, and I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn’t twisted my own thoughts with predictions like “over-rated”, etc.  Yeah good gig – especially as I believe they’d only recently flown in from NZ, so likely still jetlagged.  The pasty white middle-aged trombone-player probably didn’t need to strip down to his boxers though, that just reeked of “drunk uncle at the wedding trying to be funny”.

The following Saturday, ‘Lympics.  Got myself a Katie, got on a train, and watched some Olympic Games.  Women’s Mountain Biking, to be precise.  So yeah – watched some of that.  Most of it looked pretty easy, and I’m keen to go around the course myself – once they install something to help out with the uphill bits.  Whatever the mountain-biking equivalent of tow-ropes/chair-lifts are.  But the race – the New Zealand lass got a puncture, but I think she battled through to finish the race at about the same position she started it.  A French lady won it emphatically.  The British girl kept the crowd happy for a lap or two and then faded.  None of the girls which Katie had assured me were attractive seemed particularly so – but then it was difficult to judge fairly when they were wearing bike helmets, and had bright red faces flushed with competing on a hot sunny day.  Yep – sunny.  I had refused any sunblock – stating emphatically that it was impossible to get sunburn in England.  Which is correct – although the back of my neck was a little blushed by the end of the day.  Just sun-kissed, not really burnt.

Tuesday – Grant Lee Buffalo.  Which was… odd.  A little embarrassing, in fact.  The Forum, not the biggest of venues anyway, half-empty.  So – pretty hard to get a decent atmosphere going.  And it just kinda made the middle-aged bass guitarists antics seem a little sad.  But it also meant this grumpy gig-goer could stand where he damned well pleased, without any of those annoying “other people” to worry about.  So – overall… good?  Yeah – good – but I did feel sorry for Grant… playing to half a crowd, which pretty much meant a quarter of an atmosphere.

In other news – working out in the countryside makes it very difficult to receive packages, or “signed-for” type mail.  But – on Wednesday, I worked from the city – finishing off a previous piece of work – and retrieved a package from the Post Office.  My passport(s)!  And birth certificates, and other documentation, and a letter saying that my visa (or more accurately – Biometric Residence Permit) should be on the way.  Which I suspected, as I had missed several deliveries by The DX – who handle all passport shipping, etc.  So – I had to pay for the privilege of them making a Saturday delivery – when the guy just handed me the envelope without asking for ID or signature anyway – so what was the point?  Anyway – I now have everything I need to leave, and return to, the UK.  Except now I have to remember to take two documents with me every time – my passport, and the Residence Permit, which is a separate card.  Reminds me of the Olympics organisation.  Rant… cut off before it can begin.  And this evening… my new drivers licence arrived.  (Oh – for those of you who aren’t aware – in the UK, there are two parts to one’s driver license as well.  A normal credit-card type deal, plus a big old A4 size document.  You need to have both with you when driving.  Awesome.)

Anyway – I have the actual licence documents now with a little picture of a motorbike on the card – so now I have no further excuse to delay making a decision.  Except now – all the bikes which had interested me have disappeared – leaving boring old Hondas, Suzukis, Kawasakis.  Although – I’m starting to think… for my first bike – just grab a cheap reliable Honda CB600/750?  I think the plan is – next Saturday – go to a dealer who seems to have several bikes advertised in my target range, and let them talk me into something.  Salesman’s dream.  Unfortunately, I’m nearly talking myself into paying double what I planned to – and getting a Street Triple, which I do like the look of.

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