Round Are Way

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I got back from Manchester yesterday, after an epic four-hour long interview, which, it has to be said, I feel went rather well.

Given my general opinion of London, NOT helped yesterday by being pulled over by the London Transport Police (see below), I must confess I didn't have high hopes for Manchester.
Having travelled round Europe for nigh on three months almost exclusively by train in 1999, I began to believe that there's a lot you can tell about a place from it's train station. Coming off the slightly grimy platform at Manchester Picadilly I was most impressed by the rest of the station. Tall, vaulting shiny metal girders and polished marble, all clean, all...new. Leaving the station the pavements were broad, café tables adorned the walkways and people were chilling out with cappuccinos and pastries...I turned round and checked the title of the station again. Manchester Picadilly, right. Not Paris. No. Only British stations are called stupid things like that.

Manchester? I liked the place.

On the way back from Manchester, my train arrived in London Euston about ten minutes early, so I thought I'd take advantage of the extra time to stop off en route to meeting Alice and buy her some flowers. I thought time might be a bit tight, so I ran (massive bulky bag over my shoulder, looking a bit sweaty, with the olfactory legacy of a four-hour interview wafting gleefully in my wake) up to the barrier, where my ticket refused to work. I was instantly made a beeline for by two gentleman employees of the London Transport Police, who asked me if I minded stepping this way please, and then spent fifteen minutes asking me to go through my bag, asking me where I was from, where I had been, who I was meeting, why I had been running and where did you live again? As if asking the questions again later would lead them to discover I was in fact an international criminal mastermind. They then disappeared with my passport (luckily in my bag) for another 15 minutes, leaving me in a small starkly-decorated interrogatio-sorry-interview room, staring at a poster with 'Have YOU checked your bags?' written on it in garish, eye-jangling script.
Indeed, I had.
Rather nervously.

They returned, explained that it was just routine, and apologised for holding me up.
I was a little taken aback by this, as you can imagine...

I bought the flowers anyway, but I was late meeting Allie.

Enigmatrixes

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I was about to have an attempted revamp of my page HTML (I know NOTHING about HTML), removing the Blog Hot or Not bar graph and stuff and trying to get extra links on for friends and stuff like that. Unfortunately, any change I make, EVEN to getting back to the original unedited core HTML for the profile, refuses to work.

My entries recently have been excessively enigmatic, meaning exactly pappe kak unless you know me and what I'm attempting to do at the moment, and yet in the space of me deciding to remove any details of my prospective postgraduate study and employment search for fear of anyone involved in that search pootling along to the site and seeing what I've said about them, my rating has risen steadily.

Strange.

I will conduct an experiment. I will tell you absolutely nothing about...what I intend to do tomorrow. However, the following allusions may help.

I might go out tomorrow, possibly to a rural location to pursue some pastime.

Then again, I might not.

Hmmm.

It's Just The Way I'm Feeling...
Which is fraught, but okay. I have made a biiiiiiiig decision in the last 48 hours, and I feel in myself that it's the right one, despite how that makes me feel about other aspects of my life. Life can never be one long relaxing jaunt along the highways and byways...you dream, you make attachments, you strive, you can fail.
It's not about trying to cram everything into one life, but maybe about doing the best you can with the time you have.

Slow Reactions
I promised a plug to a blog reader who could spot the lyric in the title of an entry ages ago. I almost missed his (correct) comment, but, even if the plug is late, go see Si's site.

Clustering, stochastic temporary delays and the same reasons behind why, if you're driving along an isolated blasted heath on a winding country road in the middle of nowhere at three o'clock in the morning (as you do), you have a couple of cars behind you and cars only ever go past in twos or threes.

ANYWAY.
I feel like that. Only, to create the analogy properly, I have been waiting for the metaphorical bus for almost nine months...
Details to follow.

Nine Days in March

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Posts have been a little lacking of late - sorry.

I spent the week after my interview on Tuesday at Alice's in Greenwich. On the Tuesday Alice was working from home in order to take delivery of a load of furniture for her new house, which gave my interview day an interesting twist - building a double bed before leaving for the train.
The interview went well, I thought, if a little bizarre. No details here, sorry again.

War - Skip This Bit If You Like
Everything at the moment seems to revolve around the impending war in Iraq. Returning home from Blockbuster, four kids on Allie's street were standing outside a house.

"We're doing an anti-war protest!" cried one.
"Look, we even done some posters!" another pointed to an upstairs window, where some large bits of paper with 'NO WAR' and 'NO GEORGE' covered the smaller window.
Allie and I gave some 'caught rather unexpectedly' style praise.
"We've got a chant too..."
"2-4-6-8! Who don't we appreciate? Geeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeorge Bush!"

I am having difficulty viewing everything that is going on and taking it at face value. With the (first?) Gulf War, there was at least a country that Saddam had invaded, and the coalition forces played the avenging white knights. It seems to me, that after the collapse of the regime in Afghanistan and the ensuing international effort at 'nation building', that is now an acceptable course of action if a country's government doesn't meet with international approval ie: isn't a democracy.

I'm not saying that the government in Iraq isn't terrible, or that the Taliban's rule wasn't terrible, I just think that this anti-nasties crusade that the US and the UK are now up to their necks in might backfire. If the Iraq issue is about terrorism, it would have been about Saddam and Al-Qaeda from the off. That alleged link only started being discussed after months of anti-Iraq noises from both countries.

If they're going to take on anywhere that holds weapons of mass destruction, there's most of the developed nations of the world on that list, and if taken by a humanitarian motive, the countries of the world with less-than-shining human rights records could, potentially, include China, Malaysia...some of the Central American Republics...?

I don't like Bush, I must confess. Any man that after two weeks in power takes his country out of the latest global hope for the reduction of pollution because 'it would detriment America economically', and also, seemingly at the same time, out of the nuclear armaments agreement that put a seal on the end of the Cold War, well...in my admittedly small and personal book, he's got a lot of work to do to raise himself in my estimation.

There will be a war in the Gulf. It will more than likely be called the Second Gulf War. In all probability, 'we' will win. Clare Short will get to play at 'nation building', and Iraq will have the normal 'civilised nation's' allocation of UK and US armed forces bases.

Oh, as a matter of interest on the 'nation building ' front...anyone have any idea who is running Bosnia-Herzegovina?

Paddy Ashdown.

Riiiiight.

That's all I'm going to say on the subject of Iraq and everything. It is done.

Quick Post

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I had a very bizarre dream last night. I got ill and died, and my ghost kind of hovered around a fairground.
BUT, by virtue of having a basic understanding of electricity, I could effect it and electronics. This meant that, despite having passed on, I could still answer my mobile and write and reply to emails. I had to explain to everyone that called me that I was very sorry, but I couldn't go out, meet them or anything, because I was dead.

Then Pete Waterman rang and offered me a job, and I had to decline through being...vitally challenged. He was a little taken aback. Perhaps understandably.

I woke up and found, to my relief, that I was alive, and someone had just sent me a text message.

La vie est belle, mais ****ing strange.

C'mere, c'mere! There's More...

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Yes, yet another blog...this time it's book reviews. Some people have asked me, seeing as, by virtue of being unemployed and reading a lot, to recommend books. Well, with Books, you can keep track of my reading as well of what I think of what I've read.
I also get to look constructively at what I've read and think about it, which means that I don't just chunder along a long list of titles just taking it all in without thinking about them properly.

On the other hand, I now have three blogs, and most people will wonder how anyone with a life could possibly keep three blogs up to date.

There is a very simple answer to that question.

Enjoy.

Erm...

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Having given much vent to thoughts and feelings on the Autoblography, rather than just accounts of stuff, someone pointed out to me that I already have a blog for that.

Sorry.

Onscreenmind Today

Death, Taxes and McDonald's (R)

Quiet Nights On The Island

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...a plug for the blogger / blog reader who can tell me the song the title comes from...

I am, once again, sat in an internet café, but a different one - this one is cream coloured. I am still in Greenwich, but I have a packed bag behind the counter and the nice man is looking after it for me. I'm off to Victoria station in a bit to catch a coach to Portsmouth, and from there the catamaran over to the Island.

Feedback from the past two weeks of applications has slowed today, after a flurry yesterday. I really have very little to say, but I'm saying it anyway. I'm taking a critical look at some of the Autoblography entries from the last few months and I have removed the more sensitive of them...temporarily. I don't want to say anything various parties might find...annoying.

They'll be back once everything is sorted, however.

Greenwich - The Home Of Time

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I am sitting in yet another internet café, this time in Greenwich, London, England, UK.

The interview with Mooochel on Friday went extremely well and very...I mean very fast. It was all over in about ten or fifteen minutes, and before I knew it I was standing outside the building in a light grey and drizzly Hatfield, wondering what to do with the rest of the afternoon. The response I recieved from the interviewers was extremely positive, and their description of the post that they envisaged me in was interesting. The title of the post is 'Graduate Tunnels Maintenance Engineer', and there's an awful lot of science involved.

After staying the night in a B&B in Bayswater, I hotfooted-it over to Greenwich to help Allie move into her new house. The place is very nice, although you wouldn't guess it from the outside. It is the third house in an unpre-possessing terrace on a Greenwich backstreet, but there has been a lot of renovation inside.
The last person to have the house, whilst obviously a woman of taste in that the decór is rather funky, was, it would appear, either a skinflint or the kind of person that is prone to falling for the seductive quotes of cowboy builders.

On the rainy first night in the house, I had to take sandpaper, then a knife, and finally the claw-end of a hammer to the huge roll of paint on the underside of the opening pane, because whoever painted it (some time ago, judging by the flaking mildew) didn't include closing on the list of things a window should be able to do.

I am a live-and-let-live kind of guy. I think that if a kind of TV programme catches on in this country and a lot of people enjoy watching them, even if I can't stand them, I'll let things lie. I won't complain...I'll even...watch them, if the situation calls for it. Soaps are a good example, but on the other hand, DIY programmes have gone too far.

Uplighters are great things, if used properly. Indirect lighting can take away a certain harshness to a bright room, lending soft hues and a relaxing atmosphere. Conventional lampshades, well, I can see their merits too. What I fail to see is how anyone, even in the most crazed, Lawrence-Llewellyn-Bowen-and-Carol-Smilie induced frenzy, could put in a steel downward-facing lampshade, and then put a steel uplighter in underneath it.
Result: no light.
At all.
Then there's the kitchen...sexy, grey-silver surfaces and 1950s USA-style rounded fridge...and the fact that the panels beneath the bottoms of the cupboards and the floor aren't glued on, but rather resting against things in the hope that no one will knock them.

On the other hand, the house is cool, big, well decorated and quiet...no background London grind, which is cool. There's also a little garden, and Allie has grand plans.
It's a great place.

The Future

I walked to Canary Wharf today. From Greenwich, through the Greenwich foot tunnel, where a middle-aged Rasta was playing Bob Marley and got a fingerful of change for the performance from me ("Ja smiles at ya, Ja is smilin',"), through Tower Hamlets and Millwall into the bustling concrete and steel of Canary Wharf. I had a latte in Cabot Square, and sat and looked at the buildings. They were very big.
Inside I was a little surprised to find a shopping centre packed with people in suits and people in building site gear, in roughly equal amounts. There's still a lot of building work going on around the area...a new building's stairs and lift shafts are standing alone off to one side of the current cluster of towers. I wandered around quite amiably, watching everyone else rushing around in a make-the-most-of-lunch state of mind. I enjoy watching other people rush when I have nothing to do.
In a bookshop...Waterstone's, possibly, I walked in and was confronted with the largest Travel section I have ever seen in any bookshop anywhere. I was about to wheedle my way around to the Fiction (Authors A-Z) area (Travel books are bad for my health), when something struck me. Okay, so the shopping centre is underneath the largest office block in the country, and there is some serious money floating around the place, so Executive Types will want travel guides and books...more than most probably. They have the money to go to these places.

There was a strange customer arrangement. There were the shelves with the travel books on, arranged in a three-sides of a square. Inside this was a row of suits, heads on one side, or in a couple of cases, browsing through the pages of a book. Then there was me, in the middle. I turned to go and realised that the people perched on sofa chairs and at the low table all had travel guides as well, and one woman in a suit was copying out phone numbers. I turned again to the amphitheatre inside the travel section.

The suits undoubtably had the money to go to these places. One had enormous bags under his eyes. Another had bags under his eyes and severe coffee shakes. Everyone in the bookshop looked ill. To make the point, I had the sudden impression that the cashier and I were the healthiest people in the shop. Anyone who knows me ( Or the Canary Wharf Waterstone's cashier) will realise what a statement that is.

I am feeling uneasy.

PS My phone is now officially out of charge...sorry if anyone's been trying to contact me. I left the charger at home. Fool.

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