Sunday, February 18, 2007

Domestic Satisfaction & More Sondheim

I’ve been fairly industrious this weekend; lots of laundry done, dishes washed, shopping bought – I even spent an hour this afternoon cleaning the inside of the fridge! Alas tidying didn’t quite make the agenda, so the flat still looks like a bachelor pad, but I am feeling good nevertheless.

Saturday evening I was back up near Old Street, firstly having dinner with Brett and the rest of the cast and subsequently watching the show for a second time. Compared to Friday night there was a spectacular improvement in the quality of the performance; there were still some pretty severe tuning issues in a couple of places, but they’d got the amplification problems sorted out so you could hear better and several of the individual performers were much improved. Given the difference from the Friday night to the Saturday night, I can’t help but wonder what difference another couple of weeks’ rehearsal might have made!

John W & Rich C were there along with John’s ex, Edward. Also along for the evening was Mark G, another Chorus guy, with an old friend.

After the show there were drinks in the bar. Once the audience had drifted off, the cast and their significant others/hangers-on all headed up the Kingsland Road for some Turkish food and the typical round of self-congratulations and talk of the future. Brett and I eventually headed home around 2am in a taxi with two other south-of-the-river folk.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Avenue Q 4-1 Side By Side By Sondheim

You know you’ve seen a musical too many times when;

1) One of the leads walks on stage and you think to yourself, “Hmm, he’s lost weight since the last time I saw him,”

2) You get caught off-guard by the start of a song – but still know all the words,

3) You find yourself watching the audience more than the stage at the ‘good bits’ to enjoy their reaction to what you know is coming!

So Owen had some cheap tickets to see Avenue Q on Thursday and Rosie and I went along to see it. Still very enjoyable. During the interval we were sitting in the foyer eating our ice creams and nearby were a couple who, by their accents, were down from Liverpool: She was amazed that she was filling-up with tears for the puppet characters while he was exclaiming how he had been expecting The Muppet Show and “it so wasn’t!” More satisfied customers.

Thursday was also the opening night of Brett’s show, Side By Side By Sondheim, and he came home feeling fairly good about it; he’d gotten most of his words right and hadn’t made any major cock-ups. (He has great difficulty memorising lyrics.)

Friday I had a ticket for the show (with Rosie again) and we headed up to Old Street after work. John Mc and his new boyfriend, Richard, were there too.

I must admit that, when Brett had said that some of the cast members couldn’t sing, I had thought he was exaggerating, but in fact he wasn’t. I understand that most of the cast were suffering badly from lingering colds – just as Brett had been until recently – but even so some of the show was just excruciating. I feel guilty saying that, as I’ve met a number of them and they are all great people, but the show definitely needed more work.

Brett at least was in shining form. Other than in the Chorus and at parties, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him perform before and he’s always worrying about forgetting words and being nervous, so it was a bit of a revelation to see him so relaxed and confident on stage. Afterwards he said that he was still just as nervous as ever, but it certainly didn’t come across in his acting, dancing or singing. I was glowing all the way home.

I’m seeing the show again tonight, but having now seen it the once, I think I will be better prepared when tonight’s show is over to walk that treacherous fine line that will be the After Show Party!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Aboard the Flying Scotsman

The day has gone pretty much as expected; I spent a few hours in the office first thing and everything there was going smoothly. Left around 11am and spent an hour reading in the big bow window coffee shop in Waterstones before taking a stroll along to the station. The weather is glorious; sunny, clear blue sky and quite mild for February. From the office you can see right the way out past the Firth of Forth.

The journey has again been lovely; I’ve put away my fair share of the free tea and taken advantage of the onboard wifi to chat to Joe R and Chris C whilst developing another blog comment for one of my mental scratching posts.

A quiet night-in tonight I think, as Brett is rehearsing!


So in the end the job that I expected to be done with around 8:30 lasted until gone midnight. The only small consolations were a call from Brett when he finished his rehearsal, chatting online to a couple of friends in between checking on the server and seeing Edinburgh Castle out of the office window in all of its illuminated glory, apparently floating over the darkness of The Mound; very picture-postcardesque.

A certain amount of schadenfreude knowing that they guy whose fault it was that this all happened was up at least as late as me making sure it doesn’t happen again. I think I am going to take advantage of the late night and claim back some hours tomorrow to relax around Edinburgh; maybe just pop into the office first thing to make sure they’re all okay and then spend the rest of the morning reading and drinking coffee in Waterstones on Princes Street. I can always catch up with the work email on the trip back… free wifi on GNER!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Destructive Urges

Right now I really want to smash something. I want to take something, ideally complex and intricate, and then throw it at a wall, then stamp on the pieces and grind them into the carpet. I am really, really frustrated at the moment and I want to take it out on something other than the HP Proliant server which is the cause.

Yes, once again, the stress in my life is being caused by a server.

I’m in Edinburgh to do an OS upgrade on the server here. Before beginning work at that kind of level, it’s usually a good idea to give the machine a reboot to refresh the system and make sure there are no outstanding changes that could interfere with what you want to do. As the server was starting up again from this reboot, I noticed it automatically installing a piece of software that it should not be… and that’s when my evening started wading through treacle.

I’m now three hours into the job and I haven’t started the ninety-minute upgrade I came here to do. I am still trying to uninstall this retched piece of crappy little software (produced, by the way, by a market-leading security company!) off of my server so it will start responding to me in real time again and let me do what I came here to do.

Fuck computers.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Déjà Vu

And the rest of the week was strangely similar to the first half.

Had a pleasant dinner with Joe R on Thursday evening over at the Earls Court Balans. It was the first time we’ve gotten together since New Year so we had some catching up to do. As well as the usual stuff, he had some interesting observations about some of his fellow guests at the party (none of which I am going to share here!)

Friday was tedious and long and I was glad when it was over.

Today I spent a little while at the British Museum, where a group of the Out guys were getting together to talk about forming a photography group. Interesting idea; some tuition, exhibition, criticism and organised shoots. Ironically, the first meeting proper clashes with one of the photography classes I already have booked. Nevertheless, at least I’ve got my name on the list.

Was meant to be doing a second portrait shoot with Graeme N tomorrow, but he’s got the ‘flu so I’ve got a day to myself. For all that, though, I’ll probably end up spending it reading CVs.

No gym today. I feel guilty.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

A Quick Salute in the Admiral Duncan

Work was rather unsatisfying today; got very little done and had to deal with lots of interruptions along the way.

Chris C was in town though so we got together for dinner at Balans in Soho after work. We had a pleasant meal and did some catching up and then had a brief wander through Soho. He was quite unperturbed by the exotic delights of the Prowler Store (and I was disappointed that they don’t seem to stock the UK Firefighters Calendar, as I’m sure it would have raised a smile) but he was quite moved when we had a pint in the Admiral Duncan. (Through his job he has quite detailed knowledge of the bombing in 1999 and it felt significant to be having a drink in the rebuilt pub, which was busy even on this bitterly cold Tuesday evening.)

We went our separate ways along the Bakerloo line shortly thereafter and I was pleasantly surprised to discover it was only just 10 o’clock when I got home, as it had felt like quite a full evening.

There's a Song in my Head

Why do songs get stuck in our heads, playing over and over? For months I’ve had the tracks of Avenue Q appearing spontaneously, then at the weekend John & Rich had ‘A New World’ on one of their playlists and that became the new theme-to-my-day and now, after last night’s rehearsal, I’ve got ‘I Just Wanna Dance’ from Jerry Springer The Opera going round and round behind my eyes. Are there any psychologists or neuroscientists out there who can tell me why these things keep sticking in my head??

Sunday, February 04, 2007

'Round An Unexpected Bend

Hmm… I think there was a weekend in there somewhere.

Saturday we got up late, watched an episode of Grey’s Anatomy and by then it was lunchtime. Brett and I did a bit of shopping then spent an hour in the gym before lunch. By the time we’d finished lunch there were only a couple of hours left before we had to leave for John & Rich’s party so we pretty much just lazed and read.

The party was good, although as ever I drank a little too much too early and then spent the second half of the night sobering up. Good food too (and a chocolate fountain!) The house is lovely; spacious and in a nice setting although it looks a little sparse at the moment as they are still furnishing it. It was an entirely Chorus and WAGs affair but was social enough for all that; not too much Chorus politics (although there were a few sharp words between Brett and John G but they kissed and made up afterwards…) Didn’t get to bed until four-ish.

Was in fairly good shape this morning; hung out with Raman until John came downstairs and we began some clearing-up. Eventually the other over-nighters, Marc & Roddy emerged and we all had some toasted muffins before departing. After dropping them off close to their home, Brett and I continued up to Walthamstow to drop him off for his rehearsal. I eventually made it home a little after 2pm and pretty much napped my way through the afternoon.

Now suddenly it’s Sunday night and the weekend is over.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Imagine No Religion

At a time when people of religion are out attempting to kidnap their brethren to behead online or lobbying the government to protect their own intolerance, perhaps we should all take a moment to imagine how it might be without the irreconcilable, dogmatic “certainties” that afflict such people.

I thoroughly recommend Richard Dawkins’ book The God Delusion as a compelling discussion of why we don’t need God or any of his trappings in our universe.