Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A note from a table at Starbucks

Done the gym thing, not time for my train yet; just sitting here, drinking my coffee and watching the world go by in the low-slanting says of the morning sun. Life is good (so far!) today.

On the Treadmill

I am planning to join a gym. I’ve been thinking about it for a while; since I’ve stopped cycling to work I’ve been putting on weight and just generally conscious of getting no meaningful exercise. I’ll probably start cycling again once the clocks change and I can cycle both to and from work in the light and avoid all the faffing about with the lights, batteries and chargers, but I’m also looking for something which helps with the fitness but takes less planning on a daily basis.

Brett is a member of the local Esporta, although he very rarely goes, so because it’s very convenient (between the flat and the train station) I thought I’d check them out to see what the costs were and if their membership terms were any less draconian than gyms I’ve joined in the past. It turns out that they are not. The only good thing about it though is that the membership manager agreed to limit my minimum commitment to six months if we change addresses –something which we are highly likely to be doing in May.

So that’s the plan; having pondered some more overnight, I’m heading down this morning with Brett (joint membership is marginally cheaper than two singles) to sign the paperwork. We’re even going to get a permanently-allocated locker so that we can leave essential kit instead of having to have it with us and then, in the mornings, instead of me sitting on the sofa surfing for a couple of hours before work while Brett lays in bed, we should be getting some cardiovascular exercise in.

I know that I have pretty miserable amounts of willpower, so I’m planning the whole concept around making it as routine and easy as possible to do; doing something every morning means we get used to getting up earlier, we can leave trainers and washbags there so I don’t have to carry it to work with me or take a detour back home, keeping a supply of shorts, t-shirts and socks at the gym will mean it’s also something that I can do on my way home from work if I feel the urge (because I know that if I have to go home first, I’ll sit on the sofa and not move again all evening!)

Reading over what I’ve just written, it does sound rather like an over-excited child, but hopefully if we really can establish a low-maintenance routine we will stick with it and do ourselves some good.

Watch this space…

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Youth Group Reunion

Okay, so I guess I just always expect the worst from people. I shouldn’t.

The reunion was great fun actually; not dissimilar from the get together we had at our parents’ place just before Christmas, but with more people. Just a big nostalgia-fest really. No aggressive one-upmanship. Most people hadn’t changed that much, some had a bit more weight or a bit less hair but mostly they looked as I remember them from our chaotic teenage years. Nigel, the organiser, is going to send round a CD of the old photographs that he had printed out and stuck on the wall and I may publish a few of them on here for you to smile at; there’s lots of teenage attitude and 80’s fashions. For all that though, tonight I feel like an old man pining for the golden days of youth. I’m also annoyed with myself at being so reticent to talk to people; I hardly spoke to Kirk & Craig B, Janice N, Colin G and the whole idea was to catch up with people. Ah well, maybe I’ll just have to organise another one in five years time.

What is a Better Life?

No serious crises at work this week. In fact it felt rather good; getting to grips with the planning of some upcoming operations, completing the job-specs for the two people I need to recruit and starting to plan our projects ready for the next financial year. At one of our lunchtime seminars I also got to hear about how the work on the 2012 Olympics is going; in amongst the inevitable politicking between agencies there’s some really quite clever ideas being used to get the extra tens-of-thousands of people around London on time every day.

Apart from Monday night, this week has been fairly quiet socially, with me coming home and sitting on the sofa for the other weeknights. I haven’t exactly been doing nothing, but then there’s not much to blog about either.

Brett had an interview with a company not far from our office yesterday: a small start-up company looking to take on a couple of full-time Ruby programmers. At lunch afterwards he seemed generally pleased with how he performed but won’t hear until Tuesday whether he has got the job.

Today at lunchtime I’m on a train up to my parents’. I’m off to my old youth group reunion tonight. Not really sure what I’m expecting from the event. Of the list of forty-six adults who’ll be there, I recognise less than half the names and, of those, there are few that I either am not in touch with independently or whom I don’t remember much more about than their names.

I think there’s a certain one-upmanship at the back of my head though; I want to go back home and amaze all these people with how much better my life has been than theirs. That’s not a particularly edifying motive but I think it’s a strong underlying stimulus and in a way it’s rather therapeutic facing it; I'm only recently realising how insecure I was as a youth. Comparing my state of mind then and now, I am happy with the person I’ve become. (Well, apart from the teenage-insecurity-revenge-desire I’m clearly still carrying around…)

Whether my life has turned out objectively ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than those of my teenage peer-group is academic when most of them are effectively strangers now and I have a very comfortable lifestyle with a loving partner at my side and good prospects for the future.

I’ll be able to tell of foreign travel, exotic locations and performing with major celebrities, others will have their own stories to relate and their families to show off. I imagine Chris C will carry the kudos stakes though with his action-hero anecdotes. I am going to simply try and enjoy the hot-pot and apple pie and the happiness of others (even though I know that, at the back of my mind, some part of me will still be keeping score.)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

What Is The Truth?

Maybe this is the truth. At least that's the experiment.

(Hat-tip to Pharyngula for the link)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


Why is organising travel never as easy as it should be???

Monday, January 22, 2007

An Unexpected Invitation

An interesting email popped up this weekend; I’ve been invited to go to the reunion of the church youth group from my teenage years. I may have to re-jig my diary, but I think it’s probably worth the train fare and time to see what’s become of people – although I fear that it may be more driven by prurient curiosity than by a genuine interest.

The youth group happened at a difficult time in my life; In my mid-teens I wasn’t at all comfortable with my sexuality and really wanted being gay to go away so I could just fit in and be like everyone else. Not knowing of any way to make it happen, I tried to turn to the only power that anyone ever mentioned that might be able to change me; god. I never really believed though (which in retrospect was probably the better option for my sanity) but I prayed earnestly enough, went along to the bible study sessions and the Sunday services - and of course the youth group social evenings. After a few years though I realised the futility of wanting to have faith without actually having it and drifted away from the group activities.

Still, I had a good time with the people I met; they were pretty much all representative of the better aspects of Christianity and I guess there are worse places I could have gone to hang out with friends as a teenager – I’ve never thought of that before; where might I have gone to spend my evenings and weekends if I hadn’t gone there? Probably I’d have just stayed at home reading science fiction, these were the days before the Internet and I doubt I’d have had the enthusiasm to go out and find a group of people who shared any of my interests. I can’t really see myself getting in with a ‘bad crowd’ – I was never that cool a kid that the bad crowd would want me!

So anyway, I’ll at least make an effort to go to the reunion and say hello to everyone again. If nothing else, it should make an interesting post for you all to read.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Reviewing A Life On Hungerford Bridge

Still clearing up after the Leeds debacle at work. Now also beginning work on shutting down our Adelaide office which closes at the end of next week. Lot’s of stuff going on at work at the moment.

Socially it feels like I’ve been busy when in fact I’ve not… I think it’s just that I’ve been working late a lot and then when I’ve had evenings in, I’ve been processing the new members of the Chorus.

Last night though I joined Ping for the David Hockney retrospective at the Portrait Gallery which was quite enjoyable; some of his line drawings are spectacularly perfect in their execution and he has an ability to capture a person’s expression. He also did some interesting things with collages of photographs, sometimes building up a single image by photographing a scene in small sections and sometimes creating a more fluid image, where he collages a single scene but uses multiple pictures of an expression or a hand doing something to give the central theme more movement or depth. I rather want to experiment with the technique in a digital form. So many possibilities…

Today has been a pleasant relax at home. It’s nice to have Brett around – I miss his company and just his physical presence the way our respective schedules have been recently; we seem to be ships that pass in the night as often as not but today I’ve had my quota of hugs and kisses.

Friday, January 19, 2007


Well, quite a day yesterday with the weather. It brought a tree down behind our flat – the tallest one too, so although I’ll miss it we now get to see more sky in the summer. Our office in Leeds, which is towards the top of a skyscraper lost connection for a while when the power went out in the telephone exchange providing their internet circuit. The building was swaying too apparently, which I thought would be rather fun, but reportedly just made people seasick. They got sent home eventually as the police closed off some of the town centre.

Nothing that remarkable in London, although the gusting wind kept pushing the two laser units carrying network traffic between our two buildings out of alignment so, after much frustration for the users, we eventually switched them over to the backup wireless system. The regular ‘Health and Safety’ emails from our Facilities team proved an unexpected source of light relief though.

I understand from my sister that getting home by public transport last night was a bit of a trial but I rather lucked-out; I stayed late because we had (typically!) last-minute problems arise on the email server which had to be solved before I could leave in good conscience. Consequently I was an hour later than usual leaving the office. Waterloo was busier then that it would be at my normal time (18:45) and there were only four trains on the board but one of them was for Wimbledon, I hopped on it and two minutes later it departed. Synchronicity!

Monday, January 15, 2007


Bugger. Chorus tonight; a new intake so I was busy through the first half of the rehearsal. After break though I went and sat and listened to them starting to rehearse Bohemian Rhapsody. Within about ten minutes I was wanting to join in again. Do I really want to take a break or was last week just a particularly bad week? Hmm.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Chorus 'Christmas' Party

Had a nice relaxing day today; lazed around, blogged, read through a few other blogs, added a comment along the way, lazed around and read some more. Before you know it, the day is half over and it’s time to go and have a Christmas Party. Yes once again, because we are so busy putting on shows around the end of the year, the Chorus had its Christmas party in January.

It was the same format as last year; there was a cabaret in which various members showcase their vocal talent, a magic show and the now traditional visit from the crazy Jewish grandmother (drag act) Mentl Plotkin. After a short break, the cabaret was followed by the annual Chorus awards; a partly serious, mostly light-hearted review of the high’s and low’s of people’s behaviour over the year. My website got nominated in the ‘best online presence’ category again, which again surprised me; the website is pretty static and rather outdated (By the way, a big ‘hello’ to any Chorine’s who have found their way here for the first time by following the link from the website! Sorry, no cock-shots here either…) What photo galleries there are haven’t been updated in a while as I post most of my photos to Flickr now and I should probably update the biographical stuff too. Ah well.

I tend to be the wandering photographer at the Christmas party and this year was no different. The only problem was, because the venue (The Black Cap) get’s quite crowded, I’d taken my old Fuji point-and-shoot rather than the nice, new (but expensive) Nikon. As a result, I kept missing the good pictures because of the delay between pressing the button and the picture actually being recorded; really annoying. Next year I’ll take a risk on the DSLR. (BTW, watch this space for a link to the photos tomorrow…)

We didn’t stay terribly late – I’m still pretty weary from the heavy week. Rosie arrived home not long after us and was enthusiastic about the show she’d been to see; an innovative production of Faust in Wapping where the audience don masks and wander through a large warehouse as the action takes place around them. She’d been dubious about the whole concept before going, but thoroughly recommended it to us afterwards.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Crises and Pictures

According to one of my readers, all of the crises in my life revolve around servers. If I stop to think about it they are probably right, but I don’t believe that’s a bad thing; I’d rather have the crises at work than at home or in my social life. Servers can be fixed, data can (usually) be recovered so, although there is always stress and late-nights involved in a server crisis, in the grander scale of things they are quite bearable.

I mention this to save me having to give you all the gory details of my week. Suffice it to say that there was a crisis in Leeds that managed to conflict with me having a solid diary of working with a pair of consultants to construct a couple of new firewalls for our organisation.

I did manage to join Ping at the National Portrait Gallery on Thursday though and we spent an hour or so wandering around the fairly small gallery of the best entrants to an annual photography competition, discussing almost every photo. At the end we both picked out one that we would like to hang on our wall and I think I surprised myself as well as Ping at my own final choice; a colourful group of four people at last year’s Notting Hill Carnival. My choice would probably have been different if I had been choosing on different criteria, but that would have been the one I’d hang on my wall.

Friday I was quite exhausted but got through the day and even enjoyed a drink at a bar near the office to say farewell to one of the guys from finance who was leaving that day. It turns out that Rosie’s office was having a leaving do of their own in the same bar, so she was there with her colleagues and I was able to check out the guy she has her eye on.

I didn’t stay too long though, being both tired and hungry, and sloped off home after half an hour or so.

Pictures and Song

So last Sunday I had arranged with Ping to use his flat as a studio to do some photography for John Mc. The weather turned out to be very grey and overcast so the light was really very poor – which showed up my lack of experience with the camera – but we still got some nice pictures. (John #1-4 here for some of them.)

Whilst discussing some of the pictures after the shoot, I apparently surprised Ping by displaying an ‘aesthetic sense’ that he hadn’t suspected I had. Well, what can I say? It’s nice to be able to surprise people every once in a while…

At Monday’s Chorus rehearsal, we were starting the repertoire for the new season. The concert is to be called Bad Boys (it even apparently has a blog!) and we’ll be touring in Scotland as well as the usual performances in London. The first tranche of music includes Bohemian Rhapsody and We Are The Champions by Queen both of which I’d quite been looking forward to but, when we actually came to sit down and start learning it, my Chorus-fatigue came to the fore again. I am not going to sing in this concert; time to take a break I think.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Appeasing and Angering the Gods

Haven’t blogged much because I haven’t had much to say. Work has pottered along, not too busy, not too dull. Next week everything is going to pick up again as we get back into the swing of things.

Curtis was in town today, en route back to Melbourne having spent the Christmas holiday with his mother in South Carolina and then had a short sojourn in Barcelona before coming back to London. He’d enjoyed Barcelona and sound like he wants to do more European city culture in the coming years.

After we’d bade him farewell at the Wimbledon Station, Brett and I headed down to the Odeon where we watched Apocalypto, the new Mel Gibson film set against the end of the Aztec empire. I’d heard good reviews about it, but in the end I was disappointed by a standard Hollywood plotline which left me none the wiser about the fall of the Aztecs: Just as gruesome as The Passion and just as pointless.

Spent most of the rest of the day mucking about on blogs. Finally completed a lengthy comment on HIV and the delights of biblical morality. You can find it way down on this post (when Mark finally gets around to approving it!) and then, to cleanse my palate, enjoyed reading these two posts by a couple of articulate atheists and got halfway through composing an entry of my own on the evolving use of the word ‘gay’ which I’ll put up when I think I’ve said all I want to.

Tomorrow is a photographic day as John M and I are heading up to Ping’s place to take advantage of his white minimalist tendencies to do some portrait shots for his (John’s) various online presences.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Clean and Tidy

There is something very satisfying about a tray of freshly washed wine glasses. Half an hour ago they were covered in greasy fingerprints and the dregs of last night’s merlot but now they are bright and sparkling. Lovely.

Last night we had a party to see in the New Year (hence the wine glasses) which was quite enjoyable – albeit a little short of people (which serves me right for leaving it so long to organise; most of the invitees had already made other arrangements.) Nevertheless a good time was had by all.

Another good thing about hosting the party was that it really focussed us to tidy the flat up. I’d come back from an otherwise enjoyable week at my parents with a bit of a feeling of time wasted because there was so much work to be done here. Over the weekend though we managed to get it all done and we are, at long last, in a fairly tidy flat – albeit one with a very large TV that we have no home for…

Now I’ve got to face going back to work after all this time off. Hmm.

New Year, New Look

So I am into my fourth year of blogging. Okay, so that's calendar years; in reality I’ve only been at it for a little over three years, but it looks good on the Blog Archive to have four years showing. I never thought I’d last this long. In the past when I’ve kept diaries, they tend to fade out after a few weeks or, at most, months. I think there’s something about having an audience, no matter how small, which keeps me at it.

As you’ve probably already noticed, I chose the New Year to upgrade to the new version of blogger (hence the refreshed template and clever expanding/collapsing widget for the list of previous posts.) I did consider an entirely different look and feel for it, but decided in the end to stick with the parchment background rather than going for some sleek and striking ultramodern template. I think the parchment is in keeping with the feel of a written diary.

Probably nothing much more will be changing here, maybe more talk of photography and probably a bit more commentary on current affairs to add to the mundane journalism of my life. Thank you for reading me this year, I hope you still find it interesting enough to keep reading through the year to come.

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