Monthly Archives: September 2003

Red and Black

Can any Labour Party member who watched “The Key” on BBC2 tonight really feel comfortable about giving Tony Blair anything more than a rasberry and a rude gesture (let alone a standing ovation) at the conference today? I’d be fascinated to hear from someone who still think’s he’s any better than a piece of canine-egested chewing-gum one might discover on the soul of a shoe. He’s either a complete moron, or the second most evil man on the planet (Bush takes some beating).

Michele did her first day at Southwark college today. Last night, in bed, we talked about the nightmare of the first day at a new job – especially in F.E. Michele’s fears of the stress derived from the general chaotic, disorganised mess of FE, together with the terrifying set of cliches, crap jokes and awkward first-day conversations provided enough for us to laugh ourselves to sleep. Some examples of the hilarious witticisms we predicted include:

  • You must be mad wanting to work here
  • Welcome to the madhouse!
  • Congratulations…or should I say commiserations!!!!!!!!! (too many exclamation marks deliberate)
  • You must be a glutton for punishment!!!
  • We’re all mad here!!!!

and so forth.

Went to Dorking wih Colin yesterday. Most excellent. As much as I hate Connex, South-Central have moved up to first place on my hitlist. At least there was a pub opposite Sutton station. And Dorking station.

Closing titles

As Michele watches “American Pie” and I sip my £1.99 Tesco screw-top red wine, life seems quite pleasurable. We’ve just got back from my mum and dad’s where we ate way too much roast beef…which was more delicious than you can imagine. We also got a chance to play the vinyl I bought from the charity shop on saturday: several 7-inch singles (Lene Lovich, Jona Lewie, Pig Bag and Ruthless Rap assassins) and a Boney M album (including Rasputin, Brown Girl in the Ring, By the Rivers of Babylon and Painter Man). All good stuff, but best of all I’ve taken tomorrow off work. I might go down to Dorking, and I might not. I might stay at home and do some music. I might not. I might just spend the whole day on the bog. Whatever I decide it won’t be work.


Just for the record, here is a summary of recent dreams – for my own benefit apart from anything else.

I asked some ropey looking slappers in a pub if they wouldn’t mind moving because they were sitting in the seats belonging to an elderly lady and her daughter, who had gone to the loo. They gave me a mouthful of abuse and called over some bubble-haired scouser who asked me if I wanted a fight, and then pre-empted my response by kicking the shit out of me. That’s all that I can remember out that – apart from going back the next day to face up to the scouser, and chickening out and apologising.

Last night’s dream was another epic and the memory traces are beginning to weaken but this is what I remember.

We were on some sort of holiday. Me and a bunch of other people in their 20s and 30s. I didn’t really know them too well. One girl, who I hung around with a lot, started to get a bit too keen. I reminded her I was married and she started crying and telling me she loved me. Nice as she was, I didn’t feeling anything for her but friendship, and also didn’t feel that anyone could really fall in love after knowing someone for about thee days and so I got angry and told her so. For the rest of the dream she didn’t talk to me and just gave me dirty looks. I tried to rectify matters but she just blanked me.

We were all staying in a huge, splendid mansion house for the first few days. At one point we had to move to another place in this nice looking little village by the sea. There was something about the drive there and taking blankets and stuff…hmm. In the village I, and some guy with whom I was sharing a hotel room, got on a local bus to the beach – which was really scary. Imagine Croyden on sea…or macclesfield sur mere. Everything looked grey, except the sand in the car-park which was “Tennents Super” blue. The beach was in a large semicircular cove formed by a low cliff, on top of which were nightmarish blocks of flats. Many very wide, and low-rise like 1960s tenements. There were several very tall, thin spikey looking concrete buildings with ‘arms’ that made them look like cactuses. In the dream someone told me that they were even called cactuses and designed to make the sandy beach look like a desert. It was sunny, but the light was so grey and depressing, like looking through grey polarised sunglasses. There were children playing and people in deckchairs, but no-one was smiling. We left and walked back to the village, which was, on further inspection, not quite as picturesque as it had first appeared. It had a run-down, menacing feel. We ended up in somone’s house with some people who were engaged in some sort of violent feud with a guy down the road. From this point on it because a gritty, complicated BBC-2 drama and involved lots of people getting killed by each other then revenge killings and us trying to stay safe.
Then I woke up.

Multicoloured baubles with feathers and beautiful wings

This is actually just a description of this weeks events, but that’s such a lame description I thought it might be better to jazz up the title a bit.

Well, Monday and Tuesday we were on strike. For the first part of both days I was on the picket line. For the second in the SU bar. Good things about the strike:

  • I managed to persuade a few people to join the union.
  • It was sunny and good spirited
  • It did have an impact on the college and a lot of other London universities.
  • The SU is a good and cheap place to go and eat and drink
  • We pissed off the senior management
    On the down side:

  • I had an argument with a member of staff about it
  • We didn’t get paid for two days
  • Some academic accused us of “playing” with our middle class protest. On reflection this pisses me off more than anything else. A discussion for another day.
  • We pissed off the senior management

Anyone who wants to tell me that I shouldn’t be complaining about my level of pay can give me a ring and talk about it.

An aside – is it just me or was Hip Hop much better in my day ? Oh jesus…what have I become…I had a debate with my dad today about why the PigBag 7-inch I’d picked up from some charity shop in Eltham, was good. To my mum and dad it’s new music. To me it’s classic music. To the kids today (who don’t know they’re bloody born probly) it’s old music.

The rest of the week was work – with extended periods in the SU. The best news we received was that Balaclava, the shitheads that took over, wrecked and insulted the memory of Hobgoblin…..WENT BUST! Hooray! May the senior management rot in piss-stained poverty for the rest of their lives. They cynically damaged good people’s lives, good businesses and good passtimes. Bye!

Rakesh got me some chai massala for making Indian tea. i was really excited about it and got up early the next day to make it. We’d run out of milk. This caused a 5 minute period of mild irritation and loud swearing. So later that day, Michele went out and bought some more. The next day I got up early again, had a bath, put the water on to boil, got the milk and then noticed we didn’t have any tea…ARSE. Anyway, today we got it all together and had about 6 pints of chai – and it was superb. Nice one Rakesh.
We drank the yummy stuff whilst watching saturday kitchen and Humphrey wandered around looking small and feathery. At one point he decided to go for a fly around the flat – his first excursion outside of the front room. In the kitchen he panicked, obviously spooked by the shock of realising the world was much bigger than he had previously thought, and flew to the ground. Once on terra firma he briskly walked back into the front room and into the security of his cage.
Confession: I went to the Eltham Grill again…God I love that place.

Blaine it on the Boogie

Friday was the first time I’d been in the Hobgoblin since…the troubles. It was Ros’ leaving do and so an exception. It was a very good turn-out and pretty good fun, but there was someone wrong – I’m still not sure what it was – it might just have been the fish out of water thing, and it might be the fact that most of the people who turned up were Librarians, but whatever it was I just wanted to go home. Our house with Batly and Humphrey was much more comfortable. As far as I can tell he’s still a bit pissed off with us for betraying his trust and taking him to the vets to have his nails and beak clipped. Sorry Humph but it’s really for your own good.

Yesterday I went up town and bought a very cheap USB MIDI interface. Lovely little thing it is, and it works perfectly with OS-X and Reason, which is a very good thing. I met Mod up town and we had a couple of pints in the Spice of Life. Lacking in lethargy she is very good at coming up with pleasant ways to kill time. On this occasion she suggested going down to see David Blaine in his plastic box. Now hear me out – it’s nowhere near as crap an idea as I’ve made it sound because the real purpose of the trip was to walk from Charing Cross Road along the river down to Tower bridge. And what a good idea it was. The weather was beautiful as we ambled across the new Hungerford bridge, along the south-bank, past TATE modern(TM), by the clink and down to the tower. Plenty of buskers, tourists, and crowds of idle layabouts like us who wanted to go for a walk by the river in the sun. That part of town is beautiful by the way – lots of nice restaurants, a couple of Fullers/Youngs pubs and lots to see (including that poncy twat off of The Salon on C4)
When we eventually got down to the tower I was shocked to see how many people had congregated there to see, what is after all, a man sitting down in a box. Hundreds of them. All looking up at him. At one point a huge cheer went up and I looked up to see he had stood up. The excitement was truly awe-inspiring.
Amongst the crowd was a bloke juggling fire and no-one could give a toss. He was juggling fire and the only reaction he got from people was slight irritation that he was blocking the view of the bloke sitting down.
Even more shocking than realising how many people would travel to see a man sitting down was the realisation that I was one of them.
The most surreal aspect of the day for me was that I had two arguments with connex employees. Nothing strange in that you might think. However I was arguing because I wanted to buy a ticket and they were trying to hinder me. Firstly on the way up there was no-one working at St John’s so I had to spend 5p on a permit to travel. At the Cross I went to the “fares to pay booth” which was shut. So I walked over to the gates, expecting a load of grief and amazingly they waved me straight through. “No!” I protested, “where do I get this upgraded to a ticket ?” “At the ticket office” they said, gesticulating towards the station exit. Foolishly I went over to the ticket office with a view to buying a return ticket. The queue was obscenely long and only one window was open so I thought “fuck it” and walked out.

Coming back I went to London Bridge and walked into the ticket office. There was a roped off long single queue system like you get in the post office (only without a telly that plays Gloria Hunniford telling you about lots of ways to spend your money ) with only a couple of people at the front, so I walked towards the gap in the rope so I could join the queue without walking through the 72 miles of slalom that preceded it when a bloke in full conneX regalia stopped me. “Can you go round that way sir” he said pointing at the other end of the ticket hall where the start of the rope maze was located. “you are joking” I said. “No sir I’m not.” At this point I was ready to get all irate and bald at him when he interrupted me with “where are you trying to get to ?”. “Lewisham” I told him. “In that case, get on the train and pay at the other end.”

Now, dear reader, this may sound very kind and logical behaviour, and many years ago in those heady, carefree days before privatisation, it was what we used to do. But in recent times it has been made into a criminal offence to even enter the wrong part of the station without a ticket. I’ve been caught and harrased and irritated in the past on this one many, many times. In every case I got away with it because I was in the right morally and legally. But nonetheless the thought of yet another battle of wits with an unarmed individual was enough to encourage me to cough up 2 quid.

So I protested that he was encouraging me to break the law and that I wasn’t happy about it. To cut a long and tedious argument short I left for Lewisham with no ticket, got off at the other end with no ticket and decided not to walk down to the other end of the station, queue up and then piss of the people in the queue behind me by buying a complex and totally redundant ticket. 5p return to Charing Cross. You know it makes sense.

Tomorrow and Tuesday we are on strike. That means two days with no pay and early starts on the picket line. It is also the first day of registration when all the new intake of students turn up to register. There may be bloodshed.

Sensitive bats

Over the last few nights Michele has been a very sensitive bat. The slightest thing causes tear welling, including

  • Web-based anecdotes about parrots who have run/flown away
  • Web-based anecdotes about parrots in general
  • Listening to the lyrics of Johnny Cash songs – especially “Hurt”

Despite loving parrots, especially Humphrey, with his pink fluffy neck, it’s the last one I identify with. Please don’t think I’m turning into a country and western fan, but there are certain exponents of the genre that need recognition. “Hurt” is the most beautiful, reflective song about the death of Johnny Cash’s wife which causes him to think about what’s important in life.
And you know who wrote it ? Nine Inch Nails. Nine Inch Bloody Nails. Well there you go …

The last 24 hours have been unbelievably busy. In a nutshell: two major securiy upgrades – including another one as a free bonus. As a result of one of them, and RedHat’s shitty EZ-package-system, I ended up totally shafting the payroll server…which resulted in an OS upgrade that took place at 8am today. Grimmer than it sounds. All day I got phone calls that generated a massively in-depth amount of work for the next few weeks. I’m going to bed. Good night.

Dree-ee-ee-ee-am, dream, dream, dreem

A couple of nights ago I had a bizarre dream that I feel should be documented for…well because it should.
Philadelphia. Michele, her mum and I travelled to an animal sanctury on the other side of town. We went via this sky-train thing. Like a roller coaster, but thousands of feet off the ground and with no visible means of support. You are only prevented from falling out by holding on for dear-life. It goes like the clappers and at all kinds of nasty angles so that you spend the entire journey on the brink of death. Everyone else seemed to be ok with it, and even found it exciting but I was terrified, and the more scared I got, the sweattier hy hands became and the more likely I was to fall out. Thankfully the track started to get closer to the ground and it was obvious we were nearly at our journey’s end – despite the speed steadily increasing. It took about an hour of this sphincter-clenching before we got there mind you .

We went into the animal sanctury, in the grounds of a large house and immediately I saw a six foot tall yellow parrot-looking thing. When I evntually got over to him, it turned out to be a half-human-half-parrot called “Mustard”. We chatted and he started to reveal himself as a really thoughtful, sad character who just wanted a relationship with someone and found his beak usually got in the way…people didn’t take him seriously. It even made me cry. Poor Mustard.
As the day went on, the place started transforming itself into a sort of festival. Bands arrived, tents were erected. Mark and Jon (from the helpdesk) even turned up with their camping gear. Of course, I couldn’t stay because I had work the next day and had to fly back to England. Michele was really mean about it and suggested I go back on my own so that she could stay and have fun.
The dream went on in the same sort of fashion – the fear of having to get on the skytrain thing to get to the airport – meeting a couple in town who I took back to the festival – missing michele etc etc….er that’s it really…

The Man in Black

It’s only in the past few months that I’ve come to realise how similar rap, punk, blues, reggae and country and western are. Of course you’ll think I’m talking shit. But these are all types of folk music. Music made famous not by record companies, but by being passed on. No-one is pushing it at the moment, but I defy you to find someone aged 20-40 in the western world who hasn’t heard at least one of “God save the queen”, “Don’t believe the hype”, and “a boy named sue”. Ok you can probably find one or two – but I bet they own a Brittney spears record or two.

Tonight Michele and I took my mum and dad to an eatery in Deptford called “Kaya House” that I’ve probably talked bologs about before. A superb meal that, due to the massive amounts of chilli, garlic and ginger, made me feel a lot more healthy. They came back to ours, appreciated Humphrey and generally made it a good night. Good night.

ATOC Dorks

En route to Dorking yesterday Michele noticed the best piece of graffiti in the whole world, on the wall at St John’s Station. It says “There r 2 things I love. One is graffiti, the other is PC Spencer’s wife”. Now that’s art.
It was a great day in all, ruined at the last knockings by the determination of South Central to piss as many people off as possible. How difficult is it to get from Dorking to south-east london after 5pm ? Bloody. That’s how difficult. A long string of train changes coupled with excruciating delays between connections and being forced to visit places I’ve never been nor ever desired to go. Norwood Juction my arse.
By co-incidence, on returning home I stumbled upon an old video tape of a BBC 4 documentary on the Baader Meinhoff group and suddenly everything clicked into place: the solution to all of the world’s problems. All we need to do is get a bunch of anarchist snipers with high velocity rifles, and systematically pick off the directors and major shareholders of every large company in the world. Suddenly they will start to deserve every penny of their filthy salaries. Forget attacking governments – not only is it much more difficult to assasinate George Bush and Tony Blair, the real power is with the shadowy suits on the boards of governers.
You’ll never get a head shot at Rupert Murdoch, but a few of the senior directors desks sprayed with brains would seriously affect the foundations of News International.

Running a company really would become a responsible job. Either resign and get a job on the front-line or run the risk of having your brains blown out! I’m even happy to start the ball rolling with the directors of Connex and South Central – fix up your service or make sure your cars and houses are equipped with bullet-proof glass.
How more satisfying it would make the average commuter journey if you knew that all of the delays, overcrowding and misery would evertually be paid for by the directors.

Obviously if someone came along and offered to run a corporation for a reasonable wage and for the benefit of the public we could spare their lives…until they sell out. A sort of incentive scheme if you like.

Yes maybe I need a holiday.

Are people who live in Dorking called Dorks ?

Winding down

Yes Christina Aguilera. It’s just that one song: Beautiful. Honest. I don’t know why – I just love it. My sister should listen to it.
Well Mod and Ian, I’m sorry I blew you out today (ooh err and so forth). Last night I rang my parents and Stella told me she’d already started defrosting the lamb – so a curry was out. I really fancied Brick Lane too – I promise I’ll be less crap from now on. It’s not just because I didn’t relish the idea of my parents wasting a lump of perfectly good lamb – it was also because I fucking love roast lamb – and it was so, so good. Really muttony – just how I like it.

During the day we went to the Brockley Nature reserve open-day. Many people don’t realise that Brockley has a nature reserve – even fewer know it has two. We went to the larger one, off Vesta road by the railway embankment. It was the usual collection of well-meaning middle class people with their kids, making tea for everyone, organising nature trails for the kids and generally being nice. I loved it 🙂
Just as you thought it couldn’t get more middle-class, the acapella band turned up and did a turn. Despite what it sounds like, they were surprisingly entertaining. Michele and I sat in the “main glade” with all of the other local Guardian readers and their offspring, who were much more interested in doing the nature-trail than listening to singing… One of the blokes was wearing a home-made CRASS t-shirt 🙂
All in all a very enjoyable weekend and I even got some time to put up some pics of Humphrey and an arty-remix of Brodie’s birthday.
Work tomorrow doesnt even seem that bad – I might take half the day off and go down to Dorking 🙂