Tuesday, September 14, 2010

To Nottingham Again

I was hoping to update this before I went abroad, but I clearly failed there.

On the weekend of the 21st/22nd August I decided to make a long-overdue excursion to Nottingham, having finally taken my car to a garage on the Thursday. It turned out that the air intake was full of oil/carbon/miscellaneous crud, which was why the whole thing was starting to sound like a tractor. There was also an irritating rattle and something wrong with the exhaust pipe, but apparently such problems could wait for another day, so they are doing.

The rainy Saturday lunchtime was occupied by lunch at the Sal with Andy (of the KDF persuasion), which involved much geekery and steak & ale pie and was thus excellent. I do miss Nottingham pubs and company sometimes. Fun fact: not one shop and not a single pub (there must be about ten) in Highgate sells Koppaberg. I've checked them all. One even asked me what kind of alcohol it was.

But anyway, from there it was a brief trip by bus back to Beeston to pick up the car, Leeanne, Simon, and Nathan, and then onwards to Peter A's spacious new house near the Lenton Priory. We there met Carl, Peter A, Peter S, and Ross for an delightful evening of Xbox 360, Cthulhu Munchkin, Thunderstone, and Chinese takeaway (though we got soaked retrieving the latter from Fortune Boy) until the early hours of the morning. Ah, Dinner 18, how I missed you!
I also got the added bonus of shoulder rubs from some of the very kind young men listed above, which alone probably made the trip worthwhile. Being able to crunch the joints in my neck and shoulders at will, whilst useful for scaring hairdressers and upsetting people in lifts, is probably not that good for me. I thus spent a large portion of the evening emulating somebody without a spine whilst my friends tried to push my vertebrae through my windpipe with their thumbs. Fantastic.

Moving on, I got to sleep in an actual bed at Leeanne, Simon, and Nathan's new house, which was bizarre.  I'm too used to crashing on couches or floors these days. Friends with a spare room? It's like we're turning into civilised adults, which is a terrifying notion.

Sunday was blindingly sunny, so the party from the night before (minus Nathan and Peter S) headed over to a field near Spondon to visit the Maize Maze, where Carl has been lurking this summer.

It does what it says on the tin - it's a maze, constructed of paths through a huge field of 7ft-high maize. The challenge is to locate all ten clowns within said field and get stamps of each of them.
Ross, Peter A, and I took it upon ourselves to succeed at this while Simon and Leeanne ate ice cream, gadded about, and caught up on their reading, having done it before. Carl stood upon his fortress of hay bales and kept an eye out for lost people throwing up red flags in distress.

It took us about an hour and a half to find nine out of the ten clowns.
It took us another hour or so to find number eight, which was placed in a manner devoid of logic or compassion. Our methodical search, aided by the obvious imprints of my inappropriate kitten heels in the mud, sadly fell apart in the face of such madness and we split up. I retreated for fluids and ice cream at some point in the last hour, and stole a map off Carl whilst I was at it. Then I MMS-ed an aerial picture of the damned thing to my comrades. We eventually got the bastard and entered our cards into the prize draw. Despite the cheating, I think we deserve to win on perseverance.

This needs to be at night, with flaming torches.
But this does not need to be more creepy.
From there I got in the car and headed back down the M1 to The Pit Known As London, thus ending a marvellous trip.
That said, I caught the underside of my car on a kerb on Saturday and now it rattles like it's trying to fly apart, so I shall have to take the wretched thing back to the garage and see if they can reduce the rattle from 'worrying & audible over loud music' to 'irritating, but ignorable' once more. Will it ever just work like a normal, healthy vehicle? Doubtful.

As an aside, my sister has gotten her A-level results and got her first-choice university place - at Nottingham. Huzzah! Now I have more reasons to visit and a no-notice-required place to sleep when I'm in town. Excellent.

Special Friends.

A clown, and Simon on a tiny tractor. Yes.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

July Recap

So, having not posted anything for over a month, you will be spared the usual narrative. Instead, I shall recap through the medium of bullet points.

- I started my three-day-a-week internship at the British Museum Press a couple of weeks ago. It's pretty much what I was expecting – trying to create publicity for new books, reorganising databases, and thrashing about in Adobe Indesign trying to make flyers. I spent most of last week trying to find groups and publications who'd be interested in the upcoming title, Nomadic Felts. You'd be surprised at just how many societies there are for that sort of thing.
Anyway, it's exactly the right sort of experience to be getting. I do wish the environment was a little faster-paced (I work best when there's a pile of work growing behind me that needs keeping on top of), but it's a small niggle. 

The Great Court at the British Museum
I've got my security pass now, which means I can wander round the museum largely unchallenged (and I now possess the secret door-code to get into the staff canteen, which is actually quite good). This grants me access to the maze of tunnels underneath the public parts of the museum; tunnels which have no directional signs, a large number of mysterious locked doors, and seem to be constantly deserted. I spent a good twenty minutes lost in them on Thursday evening when I tried to cut through to the bookshop to drop off some flyers. I somehow managed to finally emerge on the second floor on the other side of the museum. Naturally, the bookshop was closed by the time I got there. Such is life.
Still, I'm enjoying it very much. It's odd to have to walk through the museum proper at least twice a day (I actually work in a smaller building next door that faces onto Russell Square), and it's very surreal to think of it as my place of work for the moment. I'm sure I'll get over it soon enough.

- Chloe is temporarily living in London whilst she does her own internship. In fact, she lives directly on the path that I have to walk along to get from the British Museum to my bus home. I see her quite a lot as a result. This is nice.

- Dancing continues to be enjoyable. I've moved from the beginners' class to the intermediate one, which is considerably more complicated and harder work as a result.
Last week I took a chunk of skin out of my foot when I stood on my own foot. I also accidentally hit one man in the head. I am a classy and well co-ordinated lady and I shall take offence if anyone says otherwise.

- My sister came to visit me for the better part of a week, seeing as she is now free from school and not yet in residence at a university. We didn't do all that much due to me being a creature of poverty, but we managed to get to the National Gallery, eat ourselves silly at the Breakfast Club on D'Arblay Street in Soho, and go see Inception at Westfield.
I really enjoyed Inception, by the way. Of late I've struggled to sit through a whole film without thinking 'Just how long is this film?' about two-thirds of the way through, but Inception easily kept me engaged throughout. Also, I would like to see more zero gravity corridor fight scenes in the future.
That said, Laura and I were mildly horrified when we watched 10 Things I Hate About You a couple of days later, and realised that the one of the men we had been gently sleazing on in Inception, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, was in fact the teenager on screen before us. Sometimes I forget that the nineties was quite a while ago now.

- Laura and I met up with Robin and Ellie and friends for a day out at the Ben & Jerry's sponsored Summer Sundae event a couple of weeks ago. There was, amongst other things, as much free ice-cream as you could want, a petting zoo, and a merry-go-round. There were also bands playing throughout the day, including Idlewild, who were enjoyable as always. The main achievement of the day was me discovering a 'sun intolerance milk' that actually stops my pasty flesh from burning in direct sunlight. Now I can go outside in the summer! Mind you, it's been raining a lot of late and the temperature has definitely dropped, so hopefully winter is creeping towards us. Then I can break out the coats and scarves again. This will make me happy. 

Awesome hair.
Robin and the greedy goat.
Laura, multitasking.
- I have been all over the BBC's Sherlock like a rash, possibly because I was reading the Holmes short stories once again not that long ago. I very much enjoyed it, and heartily approve of the casting and how they've worked the modernisation. That said, I've not been watching it for the plots, as I thought them a bit lacking. The first episode was cripplingly obvious, not in the least because there was a taxi in the background of almost every outdoor shot. Yes, I know you film a lot of it in Cardiff, Moffat, but sticking black cabs in every street scene is not the solution! A nice attempt at throwing in aspects of A Study in Scarlet. Not sure how well it went, but I don't much like that particular story anyway, so I'm not too fussed.
The second one was better, but a little weak and entirely too dependent on ninjas. The third was the best, I think. I liked Moriarty's casting.
Though I have a pet peeve that cropped up, common to many televisual/film detective stories, which I would like to air. In the last one, it was obvious that the lady's brother had murdered her MI6 husband from the moment we first saw him. Why? Because our meeting the brother served no discernible purpose. And as there is rarely room for unnecessary characters, there must be some purpose for him existing, and thus he must have done the murder. It does get on my nerves. It's more subtle in books, I think; it's easier to lose such meetings in a mass of words then it is on screen. They managed to get Moriarty in as 'Jim from IT' quite nicely, as we were allowed to assume he was there for another reason. But just happening to bump into an unnecessary brother on the doorstep? No, that isn't going to cut it. Try harder next time.
Still, I enjoyed it mostly for its characters, and look forward to the future episodes that the BBC has promised.

In other news:

- Laura has been to Mexico for a week. She is quite brown now. I hear there was tequila on tap.

- I read the rather good Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card, and liked it a lot. I was so engrossed  in it that I didn't anticipate the twist, which really should have been obvious. I guess that's good writing. Though I'm not sure I'll be reading the rest of the series. I like the story as it is.

- I have started watching True Blood. I quite like it, despite the slightly grating accents. I do not think I will be productive in the near future.

- The flat is actually clean and tidy. The end is nigh.

- I am sure I have done more this last month, but I simply cannot recall. Ah well.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Dancing and a Day Out

I should really stop procrastinating and write more. I'm rapidly falling behind. So, where did I leave off?

Ah yes, last Friday. Nearly a fortnight ago. Oops. Well, after purchasing my hula hoop, Laura and I finally gave in to Robin and Ellie's frequent invitations to join them, and we shuffled over to somewhere near Gloucester Road for the purpose of dancing.  Well, I say 'we'. Laura certainly came with me but, having somehow crippled her feet for the second time in a week, she struggled to walk as far as the venue and was in no position to actually dance. So, she watched and did some audit/tax-related homework whilst I had my first encounter with Ceroc. 

Ceroc is probably best described as a kind of Latin-style ballroom dancing. As a woman, it seems to largely involve being led around by the male partner, only vaguely remembering the moves and trying not to fall over as you are spun round and round again and again. It pretty fast-paced once you get going, not too complicated, and relatively easy to pick up (for the woman, anyway; the men have to learn all the moves properly, which a few seemed to struggle with). I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it, even if some of the music sounded like it had been stolen from the DJ on a SAGA cruise liner. I was a little concerned that I'd have a problems with being in such close proximity to strangers, particularly given my recent return to personal space issues, but it was generally okay. That said, some men could do with an friendly explanation as to the location of the waist on taller girls.
Still, it was good fun and I think I might adopt it as a hobby.

Skipping forward to Tuesday, it was both the remarkable (in many ways) return of the Boyd, and Laura's birthday. Slightly cash-strapped, she received from me a hula hoop of her own in pink and lime green, which I then decided to coat in silver glitter with Pritt Stick. This wasn't the brightest of moves, of course, as the flat is still covered in a dusting of the stuff. But never mind. I wrapped the thing in a whole roll of red paper. She opened it by smashing it over my head. 

There were also balloons, strawberry jelly in shot glasses, the latest Sherlock Holmes film, and a jaunt to Muswell Hill to fetch fish and chips from the rather excellent Toff's. On the way back I got heckled for driving too slowly by a cockney on bicycle with “Come on, my son!”. What a cockney was doing in north London, I'm not sure.

I actually ended up back at Toff's on Thursday night with Ellie, Laura, Nick and Robin. We went to a Ceroc class near Muswell Hill this time, and as it was a little nicer than Gloucester Road (and much closer) it looks like we'll be making a habit of it. Laura managed to join in too, and despite her initial misgivings, has proclaimed it to be 'The Best Fun Ever'. Then again, she does say that about quite a lot of things. Regardless, we raced up the hill en voiture afterwards for fish and chips, where we ate until nearly 11pm with some of us sat on a low wall, and others just on the pavement. We are quite classy sometimes.

On Friday morning I sauntered down to the Job Centre for my fortnightly chat and was pleased to find that the person I have to talk to is much more understanding and helpful than the one from last summer. He spent five minutes scrolling through a list of local jobs before declaring that I would not get any of them if I did apply and sending me on my way. I appreciate his efficiency. 
From there I headed immediately to Paddington and jumped on a train to Oxford. Enroute I passed a steam train, which saw me pressing my face against the glass like a child in a sweet shop.

I found Simon under the arrivals board, thoroughly distracted by a large pasty. A brief amble later and we found Leeanne curled up on a windowsill reading in the Classics section at Blackwells, having previously utilised the location for a nap. From there we went for lunch before visiting the Ashmolean Museum for japes. I would like to tell you about its contents in detail, but as I was in one of those moods where you just walk around looking at things without reading anything, I hardly feel qualified. I'll just say tthat the highlights for me included some Greek pottery I recognised, a copy of a statue that I got over-excited about, Lawrence of Arabia's clothes, a weaving game for children that had Simon enthralled and, most importantly, impressively tall automatic doors that went all the way up to the high ceilings over four metres above us.

When they kicked us out (we just about managed to refrain from sliding under a closing shutter whilst reaching back for our imaginary fedoras) we paid a visit to Jamie Oliver's restaurant nearby and were very impressed with the results. The price was reasonable, the food was delicious, and the service excellent (which probably explains the sizeable queue that was forming outside the door when we left). If you go, do have the chocolate brownie with raspberries and amaretto biscuit baked in. It's wonderfully decadent.
I sadly had to depart for my train at this juncture, but I had a lovely afternoon, and it was very nice indeed to hang out with my two very good friends. I look forward to the promised Nottingham barbecues when they move house.

 Once back in London, I went straight on to a pub near Mornington Crescent to rendezvous with Henry and Rose-Heather for an evening of German-orientated goth/rock/metal music. I will confess that I'm not terribly up on the German stuff, but it was still pretty enjoyable, even if it was a poor turnout and I initially felt a little out of place wearing no corset and no black at all. Ah well. It was great to catch up with the pair, and I'm hoping to hassle them more often now that they live quite close to me.

To finish the evening, I made friends with a Rastafarian man on rollerblades as I walked to get my bus home at 1am. He said that he liked my attitude, saw zeros everywhere, and was on the way to his 'office', which was apparently the entirety of Camden. You do meet some interesting people in London.

Monday, June 28, 2010

An Evening at the Museum, and a Party in the Park

I think that I'm going to endeavour to update this at least once a week. Clearly, I've failed this week, but I promise I'll try harder in the future. I'll try and make my posts shorter too. I'm also threatening to review every book I read once I finish it for writing practice, but I might yet do that in a new blog. We'll see.

Following my last post, Charlie came to visit for the weekend, bringing with her a batch of homemade, teeth-meltingly sugary penut cakey biscuit things. They're lovely, I should add, but to be consumed in moderation. We're still at it. Anyway, Saturday lunchtime provided a great opportunity to have lunch at The Angel Inn up in Highgate proper, which was actually very nice indeed (their tv screen with football on was quite small and shoved in a corner, which added to this). Later, Laura shuffled off with her beau to celebrate him finishing law exams or something, so Charlie and I settled down with pizza and a copy of Troy. Troy is one of the few historically-orientated films that I don't mind watching for some unknown reason (and not because it features Brad Pitt in a skirt, Orlando Bloom as Paris getting beaten up is more appealing, in honesty). This is in contrast to The Last Legion, of course, which makes me want to throw the television out of the window and beat the writers across the face with my shinai. 
But I digress. We had a tasty Sunday lunch in the Wagamama at Bond Street (we were aiming to have cream tea at the Wallace Collection, but didn't have the time), bought macaroons, cupcakes, and Nerds in Selfridges, and then parted ways. It was lovely, as usual, to see Charlie.
It was also a pleasant surprise to see Maggie and Michael on Sunday evening, where I had my second dinner of the day (I did not know how large the portions are at TGI Fridays, in my defence) and embarked with them on an epic walk from Covent Garden, to Trafalgar Square, back down the Strand, then down the Mall past Buckingham Palace and over to Victoria station where I hopped on tube home whilst they went to locate a coach. It was a nice evening for it.

Moving on, Monday evening saw the British Museum Friends evening. I attended two talks, one on body perceptions in ancient Greek society, and another on the statues within the Enlightenment gallery in the museum. The first of these was very much a lecture, and I am sorry to say that I was nodding off by the end of it. This wasn't due to the the subject matter, but the way in which the male speaker who talked for most of the duration read from a pre-prepared script. I think he looked up at the audience maybe half a dozen times in forty-five minutes, and the result was very dry and characterless indeed, which was a shame.
The second talk was given about the contents of the King's Library as we walked round it, and was decidedly more interesting. However it was the things that I saw in between the two events that were most fun. For example, there was a lady reciting the story of Persephone's abduction by Hades in one gallery. She knew the story by heart and threw herself into it, sometimes using a frame drum to add a bit of drama. It was very good and she had managed to draw quite a crowd. I wish I'd gone to listen to her, rather than the first talk, but we live and learn. Next time I'll go for the more creative stuff. Regardless, it was very nice to mosey about the galleries after hours. It was so much quieter than usual that it felt quite peaceful, and for once I could actually get near the Rosetta Stone and take my time reading item information without being jostled.

Skipping forward to Thursday, I found myself quite well occupied. Three o'clock saw me in the Hachette building near Warren Street once more for another job interview, this time for a marketing assistant position within Headline (last time I was there, it was sales). It went as well as most interviews seem to. Regardless, I was one of the last to be interviewed, and was emailed quite promptly the next morning with a rejection. Shocking. I do sometimes wonder if I largely get rejected because I let too much of my personality bleed out in interviews. I suspect that I'm unnecessarily prolix, jumping from thought to thought out loud in a manner that suggests I'm deranged or, at the very least, scatter-brained. Or perhaps it's just my previously mentioned struggle to show enthusiasm. I am rather introverted of late, and I worry that it's beginning to become apparent to strangers. I shall have to work on that. I like to blame it all on my minimal experience, however, so hopefully once I've done my internship at the BM, I'll do better. Still, it's probably for the best that I didn't get the job, as then I'd have had to turn down the internship, and that would have been devastating. 

Anyway, moving back to Thursday, I went straight from the interview to Regent's Park for a Laura's pre-birthday party. I had to wait around for everybody else to show up, clutching bags of cake and Pimms like an alcoholic fatty near the children's playground. I did get some funny looks. Still, there was a fun afternoon had (including over-candled caterpillar cake), and I got pretty wasted on about four glasses of strong Pimms and a small amount of cider. I'm sure Laura's work colleagues appreciated me gleefully ruffling their hair. 

Lovely as it always is to see people from London, it was a particular treat to see Rachael Cartlidge and Pippin, who stayed with us on Thursday night and accompanied me on a jaunt to Camden the next day before running off again. I was mainly in Camden looking for a nice-but-reasonably-priced parasol. I didn't find one. I am not paying £35 for some lace on a bamboo stick. So instead, I went to Oddballs circus/juggling shop and splashed out on a hula hoop. Oh yes! What stripy glory! It fluoresces! It's fun! It even comes apart to be twisted down to half its full size!
Of course, it turns out that I'm pretty average at hulaing now that I'm no longer eight years old. And these adult circus hoops are heavy. I think mine weighs about half a kilo, and when you get it up to speed you do feel it. I got over-enthusiastic the next day and now have light bruising around my midriff and angry brown marks on my hipbones. Oops. It has not put me off though, and as I have not yet destroyed the television with my efforts, I shall persist in looking like I'm having seizures whilst I practise. Laura's getting into it too, and wants her own so that we can hula together on the lawn round the back of the flats. It's fortunate, then, that it's her birthday tomorrow...

And that's enough for now. I shall let you know why I spent most of Friday night spinning on the spot in my next blog.

Oh, and if anybody noticed Boydy's absence, it's because she's still at terminal velocity, in her underwear, in Spain. Yes.

Our cheese expenditure is way down for the month.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Museum Trip

I can not decide what colour to make this wretched blog. This is starting to irritate me massively. Please bear with me until I make up my mind. Also, if the background image makes things hard to read, or is not tall enough, please can somebody tell me.

Not that I really do much at the moment besides crafting increasingly outlandish covering letters, but I suppose I'm due for a update.

The highlight of these last few days has, I suppose, been my jaunt to the British Museum to see the Renaissance drawings exhibition and my interview with the British Museum's publishing company afterwards. One thing at a time.

On Tuesday lunchtime I trundled down to the BM and finally gave in to my urge to get a membership. For a moderate sum of cash, I now have free access to all the exhibitions no matter how many times I choose to visit, invitations to members' evenings, invitations to lectures, free use of a members' room in the west wing, and, of course, the obligatory tri-annual magazine. Lovely. I've put in a little extra too, so that I can haul a guest along for free to all events. Now I just need to find a friend who's interested.
(There's actually a members' evening on Monday, which I'm quite excited about as the lectures sound pretty interesting and I've managed to get one of the lats tickets to the one I'm most interested in. But I digress, I'll tell you how that goes once it's happened.)

Immediately utilising my rapidly dog-eared receipt (my membership card will hopefully show up in the post in the near future) I bypassed those queueing at the door to the Italian Renaissance Drawings exhibition on my way in. The current transformation of the circular reading room is pretty impressive. If you don't know what it usually looks like, here it is. Yes, I have borrowed this for my background.

For the exhibition, however, the desks have been covered by decking to form a new floor, the windows blacked out and a number of walls erected to hang stuff off. It's eerily quiet, except for the shuffling feet of those with audio guides, and the lighting is almost atmospheric (this is somewhat ruined by the result being that you need to be a lot closer than you would usually to see the items). The domed ceiling looms unlit in the shadows above. It's a nice setting for the content, bar some of the lighting. But perhaps a bulb or two had blown.

The drawings themselves are ordered to demonstrate the move from the Gothic period to the Renaissance, though not necessarily chronologically. There are a couple helpful video projections telling you about techniques, materials used, and such. I think I have a soft spot for silverpoint. Anyway, I obviously can't describe the pictures, but there's enough in there to keep you occupied for an hour or so if you're reading everything. I definitely would recommend trying to go when it's quiet though. I was there at around 12:30 on a Tuesday, and I was having to wait for people to get out of the way to look at things. Perhaps it's the aforementioned lighting, or the average age of the visitors I saw, but a lot of people seemed keen to stand with their noses a couple of inches from the glass for overlong periods of time. I get that they wanted to appreciate the detail, but so did I, and it's tricky when somebody's head is obscuring the entirety of a small sketch.

Bizarrely, the thing that most caught my eye was a very dark drawing by Benozzo Di Lese - 'Totila's Assault on Perugia' (c.1461). I have likely seen it before, as it normally lurks in the lovely Uffizi in Florence and I did spend some hours wandering its corridors back in 2008. Perhaps that's why it caught my eye. Apologies for the quality of the picture, but there seem to be no images online so I have photographed from the paperback catalogue that officially accompanies the exhibition and tweaked it to make it more intelligible. It's better in real life, of course.

Unfortunately, my mother rang me halfway round so (being intimidated by the library-esque atmosphere – well, I suppose it was in a library) I had to breeze through the second half of the exhibits in order to return her call. I intend go back to finish the tour in the next couple of weeks.

From there I made my way out of the north entrance to Russell Square and the British Museum's publishing company. I applied for the 3-month, part-time, September-start, sales/marketing/publicity/rights internship a week after the deadline, so I was surprised to be offered an interview. Yet I was, and I had quite a pleasant half-hour taking to a couple of ladies about how I was so keen for the experience that I'd probably gnaw my left foot off to get it. I did, of course, express this slightly more eloquently, and was told that they'd be in contact to let me know if I'd gotten through to the second round of interviews. I thought it went pretty well. I usually struggle to express my enthusiasm for things in interviews, but in this case I probably looked like I was taking personality tips from Mr Bingley. Excellent publishing experience + working for the British Museum =  Hell yes.

So, off I skipped to hassle other people for work (including a part-time job with a literary agent that would compliment an internship like that perfectly).

Well, perhaps my luck is changing, because I've just had a phone call. Apparently they liked my foaming-at-the-mouth verve. Never mind round two, they've offered me the thing! YES! And apparently, it might yet be extended to four months to start in August. I am quite keen for this. Admittedly, I'm probably going to have to flog myself to a pulp in some part-time job for three days a week (with three at the BM) in order to have enough money to live, but I suppose I can man up and deal with that. I am pretty happy.

I have another job interview for a marketing assistant position next Thursday. Knowing my luck, I'll get it and have to choose between a paying job and something that I'd love to do. That would really suck and probably be just my luck. But we'll see. Fingers crossed.

Well done, by the way, to all of you who've finished your degrees! You all seem to have great results – I hope you are celebrating appropriately! Pimms and barbecues ahoy!

Charlie's coming to visit for the weekend tomorrow. I am excited about this, but the flat is disgusting and everyone else is out (Boydy is at terminal velocity somewhere in Spain, and Laura is in South Kensington with her beau, despite maiming her feet in a way that makes her walk like an Igor) so I guess it's up to me to tidy up. Damn. 

Friday, June 4, 2010

(Insert Hay-related Pun Here)

So, I figure that seeing as I have more time on my hands than a clumsy hourglass maker I should maybe start blogging again before I forget how to write entirely and scupper my career plans.

Status: Still unemployed and pretty pissy about it. I want to get into publishing, but it turns out it's hard.

Also, it is now sunny enough for a fifteen minute exposure to give me noticeable sunburn, so I am forced to slather on the sticky white emulsion, stay indoors or scuttle along shady walls like an overgrown albino cockroach. Marvellous.

Still, I shall not whinge further. This is not a Deadjournal.

Instead, here is what I did this last week.

After some decidedly unsubtle hints from my parents I ended up heading back to the Midlands for a couple of days. I actually decided to drive up on the Saturday, despite the car being overdue for yet another epic failure of some sort. Remarkably, both the car and I got there in one piece, and I successfully managed to whisk Charlie away from her visit home to trundle into Loughborough for a coffee. We bought cheesecake and were peculiarly recognised from school by someone much younger than us whom we have no recollection of. We also participated in the age-old tradition of buying some chips from the excellent Devonshire's and eating them in the car while it pissed it down outside. A most enjoyable couple of hours.

Grandad was staying over for the weekend, so I could only hare off to Nottingham for half an afternoon, sadly. If I didn't see you, this is why. I will be making an effort to make a proper visit soon. Still, it was great to be back, even if only briefly, and it was good to see those who I did. For those who evaded me – I shall get you next time!

Late on Monday I made the decision to visit the Hay Festival for a couple of days, so managed to get one of the few camping spaces left nearby and on Tuesday drove for about four hours o'er hill and dale and tiny rickety wooden toll-bridge to a land where my phone might as well have been made of cheese for all the connectivity it had.

If you're not aware of it, the Hay Festival is a literary shindig set just outside the improbable Hay-On-Wye just north of the Brecon Beacons. I say improbable, because the main industry there seems to be second-hand books. There are more bookshops in the tiny town than anything else combined. Other shops include a small Spar, a delicatessen, half a dozen pubs, three posh clothes shops, a perpetually-closed bank, an outdoorsy shop and a pharmacy that was, unexpectedly, bigger than the Spar. I guess the well-dressed locals eat books and then take lots of vitamins to counter the malnutrition.

But I digress. The festival comprises largely of a massive number of authors giving talks on their specialist subject, whilst those not attending dine on overpriced organic whatever and drink Pimms whilst reading something highbrow. There's also a handful of stalls by companies like The Balverine whiskey, the London Library and Oxfam.

It may be unsurprising to hear that this is all sponsored by The Guardian. In fact, the owner of my campsite referred to it as 'a Guardian readers convention'. Almost everybody there was a rah, wielding 2.4 children, or a retired, white, upper-middle-class couple. Don't get me wrong, those who I spoke to were all lovely, but it was a little disconcerting. I went to see Ross Noble, who did a good show on the Tuesday evening, and one of his opening remarks was about expecting a crowd of bearded tweed-wearers muttering about Richard Dawkins. He clearly didn't see the lady sat near me in a tweed vest top. Or her beard. I will compliment him on suitably ridiculing the venue though - The Barclay's Pavilion of Wealth. Oh yes. Enter stage left the Tepee of Joy, the Tent of Glory and the Cloth Warehouse of Magnificence.

Anyhow, I enjoyed the experience, spending most of my time at history-orientated talks. Not that anyone's particularly interested but I attended talks by Robert Ferguson on Vikings, Paul Cartledge (whose books contributed heavily to my dissertation) on Greek Democracy, Adrian Tinniswood (whose book I posted dozens of during my publishing work experience) on the Barbary pirates, Richard Miles on Carthage, Tom Holland on west Europe c.1000AD and a couple of guys (whose names I've lost) on mappae mundi. They were generally all very interesting, and I even had time to go for a walk on Wednesday evening (though I nearly got stuck down the bottom of an embankment near the river, which will teach me for going exploring inappropriately dressed).

I thought I should really get back to London and apply for more jobs, though, so I made the five hour trip back late on Thursday morning. My god, I feel it. I'm as stiff as a board from the combination of driving 500-odd miles and sleeping on a sliver of foam in a field. Everything aches, including my stomach muscles, which I have no reasoning for. The first half of the drive back was awesome, though. Driving at speed through the glorious Brecons along windy roads whilst listening to classic rock and playing 'spot-the-castle-ruins' (a rather dangerous game as a driver, it turns out) is one of those things that I really enjoy a lot. It would only be improved by doing it on a motorbike. That said, I drove past Raglan castle, and now immensely regret not stopping to have a look. I shall have to go back sometime.

I also got to drive across the Second Severn Crossing though. That is one hell of a bridge, I must say.

So now I am back to the noisy humdrum of the city. It is as hot as the countryside, but with added pollution. I don't like this.

But that tedious ramble brings me up to date, anyway. I shall try to do more interesting things in the future.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wednesday 14/09/09 – 00:32

So, I have produced a critical fail on blogging for the last month for various trivial reasons. Thus, I shall do a quick summary of things to date.

- Laura and Boydy moved in a fortnight ago, and it is working well. Boydy actually showed up and moved in (despite never successfully viewing the flat beforehand) and now job-hunts whilst living off ketchup with bacon, and consuming enough cheese per week to build a moon (or a giant, spherical space-station, if you please). Laura rages at the sewing machine for ruining the half-finished beanbags whilst waiting for her job to commence and filling the fridge with home-made soups. We have made two trips to Ikea and are now two bookshelves up, as well as a pot plant named 'Spike'. The flat actually feels slightly lived in now, which is nice.

- I have a job. No, it's not in the media; I've failed a number of media-related interviews in the last month despite my best efforts and am currently trying to decide if it's worth the hassle. In the meantime, I have a job at an 'outdoors' shop (like Blacks, only more upmarket) just off Oxford Street. It'll do for the now, but it's obviously not where I really want to be, so I'm not entirely content. Today I was asked to rearrange and re-label the entire stockroom, and thus spent all day in an oversized cupboard huffing meths as a result. I felt like a bit of a tramp as I grinned at everyone, somewhat off my face and covered in ink smudges. Fun times. But yeah, I don't know where I want to go, career-wise, so I'm struggling a bit on that front.

- I've seen a few of the Nottingham bunch recently; Rose-Heather prompted a trip to the Horniman Museum in South London, which was nice. I didn't know it was going to be full of stuffed animals but hey, there was a huge walrus (sans bucket) and tiny freaky lizards, so I was happy. Good to see Peter S and Lizzy as well. Then Simon and Leeanne joined the fray for a couple of days, during which I accidentally bought an Xbox 360, went to a shop called 'Pentonville Rubber' and had a nice meal in Chinatown. Yes, I did have sweet-and-sour chicken. So there.

Um, beyond that, I can't think of much that's significant. Sorry. But I shall try and get back to updating once a week again. :) It's my birthday in about a fortnight, so I shall likely return to Nottingham for a suggested party on the 3rd. Hopefully I shall see a few of you there.

Twenty-one. Wow, I swear I do not feel that young.