30 September 2009

Purpley Yellow Flash

Holy Shit! Look at that bike.

It works pretty well - the chain's only come off once. It was second-hand wicked-cheap. It's got some gears and pedals, a rat trap in the back, functioning brakes... In short, other than the eye-wateringly bright colour scheme, it's perfect. Or almost: the tires are a little wider than I'd like.

But it takes me all over town. To school, to the market, to the supermarket, to the hypermarket and to the pub. And home again.

And it's pretty obvious that any other way of getting around London sucks compared to cycling.

So, thanks bike. Keep up the good work.


29 September 2009

First day of school


New city. New school. First day.

The day consists of a two hour 'social event'. University social events are awesome.

Be it an intramural sports afternoon 'mixer', or staying up until three in the morning drinking chai tea, listening to Bob Marley and discussing Joseph Campbell's Hero With A Thousand Faces in someone's dorm room, social events are an integral part of higher education. Even just plain old getting drunk can be a character-building exercise - when combined with boisterous singing, awkward advances, and throwing up in the bushes.

But this time around, university will be different. As a grown-up Masters Student, I have a greater amount of life-experience and self-control than those dewy-eyed freshers shedding their high-school selves to embrace a new semester of sweet promise, challenging ideas, and experimental identity.

I can't wait to tell them all this while I'm drunk, throwing up behind a bush.

UPDATE: We all had fun. There was a buffet. I was a bit older than many students there, but I convinced them I was an undercover police officer, so they respect and fear me alot now. Day 1: Mission Accomplished.


23 September 2009

A Spot so Safe...


Ryan looked down at the Very Important Document in his hand. Then he glanced at the folder on the desk in front of him; the folder where he kept very important documents.

'Nope,' he thought, 'not safe enough. This small and easily misplaced document should go somewhere really special.'

He rummaged through his drawers, amongst his clothes, but came up uninspired. He explored all of the cubbyholes and niches in his flat, tireless in his search for the perfect place to keep this Very Important Document.

Finally, he found a suitably Safe Spot. So exquisite in its secretive darkness, so unthinkable nobody would think to look here if this document ever got lost. No matter how long and exhaustive the search.

Ryan took a moment to admire his own cunning. It's not that this document was of a particularly sensitive nature, or even extremely valuable; more accurately: it was just extremely useful and difficult to replace - something that shouldn't get lost.

He gingerly placed this useful document into the Safe Spot. As he did so, a thin and quite invisible whisp of smoke curled up from the corner of the page and snaked into his ear.

It hurtled down neuron pathways, leapt synaptic gaps and burst into the Memory Zone. Before Ryan has even turned away from his secret spot, the smoke had already begun scrubbing the recall of this spot. By the time he had arrived at the kitchen and opened the fridge door, the entire recollection of the Safe Spot was not even a distant memory - it was a smoky blank. Misinterpreting his master's desire, the document had loosed a puff of Dememorizer at the crucial moment, and would remain hidden for fucking ever.

Only Ryan wouldn't realize this until he arrived in London, and needed this Very Important Document.


18 September 2009

Hot Hot Breath Karaoke


Sometimes you don't even know what you need - but manage to find it anyway..

On our first full night in London, we did a pub crawl of sorts. Looking for a kitchen still open after 8pm. It quickly started to seem hopeless as we walked around our neighborhood, from pub to pub, finding kitchens closed and eyebrows raised. Only crisps and apologies on offer.

Until, that is, we stumbled through Victoria Park, and with a last-gasp Hail-Mary, ended up at The Lauriston. Kitchen open? Check. Delicious pizzas? Check. Karaoke? Check.

Check. Mic check 1,2...

Hot Breath Karaoke is all kinds of awesome. Extensively expansive song list. Wheel of Fortune. Booming sound system. Rich sense of irony. It's got it all.

We managed to squeeze into a corner and watch the place fill up with a young and sexy crowd of hipsters. The music blared, the drinks flowed, and singers of variable quality warbled and crooned, until we made our exit shortly after the semi-falsetto, semi-ragga Gangsta's Paradise, and on the tail-end of a crowd-chorused Livin' on a Prayer.

Both were heavy hitters, clearly following the advice of Allen on How you can be cool.

I, on the other hand, didn't get up and show my (admittedly tone-deaf) stuff, though I had my name in the impossibly long queue. Maybe I'll have a better chance at Hot Breath's Blame it on the Burgers event on 25 September.

As a side note, the meal was delicious, but only ranks as a side note, overshadowed as it was by the rock n' rollin' good ol' rock n' roll good times.

Any songs you want me to crush at the next event? Leave your suggestions in the comments.


11 September 2009

Brussels Backside

In a completely unexpected and surprisingly poetic piece of symbolism for such a prosaic place, Brussels again rear-ended us. That's once as a 'how-do-ya-do', and once again as a 'so-long-thanks-for-the-memories'.

When Chiara and I were house-hunting in Brussels three-ish years ago we looked at alot of houses - many of them terrible.

After almost two weeks, we finally spotted one we really liked. On the internet. Even though we couldn't get a viewing until the next day we decided to check out the neighborhood. Once we got within a few blocks of the flat, a fancy man in fancy shoes drove into the back of our car. He was extremely apologetic and explained that his fancy slippery shoes had slipped off his clutch.

His insurance paid for us to get it fixed, and we realized we'd found home.

Almost three years later, hurrying out of town towards a ferry we were very late for, in a car laden with plants, tea and carry-on luggage, it happened again.

The man was less fancy, the damage less severe, but the message was the same: "Thanks for coming."


Sam the Van Man


Moving sucks.

But it sucks alot less when you can get somebody with a van to help. And by 'somebody' I mean a strong, friendly, guy whose name rhymes with 'Van' and who owns a van.

After a bout of food poisoning on Friday coming hard on the heels of a week-long bout of procrastination, we were more than a little behind on our move prep. To complicate matters further, we realized we had quite drastically underestimated the amount of stuff we had to move.

No problem. Sam the Van Man arrived in his van, and together we loaded everything in the house into his van.

The van is pretty big, but when coupled with preternatural spatial arrangement abilities it can comfortably hold many boxes, awkward furniture, large house plants, a bike and even some cast-off items your neighbours are getting rid of. Trust me, I know.

And that evening Sam came and dropped everything off in London with the same helpful friendly attitude - all at a price less than any competitor. And less than a third of what some motherfuckers tried to charge us.

As far as a move goes, every single other thing has been a trial of some sort, but thanks to Sam, the actual physical move itself was actually stress-free and pretty cheap.

As a side note: the guy wanted to see the Atomium while he was in Brussels, but didn't get the chance. So if you have a moving job in Brussels, I bet he'd really appreciate it.


06 September 2009

Starting off 90

After an excruciating week, this island is starting to feel a lot more like home. Because we have a home, and we've got a bit of family - that's all it takes.

As of yesterday our London apartment (from now on referred to as a "flat") has finally transformed from a furniture graveyard/box warehouse into a proper home.

And today, we have come up the motorway from London to Lichfield, Staffordshire to spend some family time with assorted relatives, especially the 90 year old spitfire we call Auntie Betty. Happy 90th.

And so we can begin to fell settled.

But the following issues are still oustanding:

Internet access/home phone
Parking permit
Bicycle storage
Suitcase storage
Mobile phone plan with online service

And Chiara would like a pony.