Sunday, July 06, 2008

View Across the Void

Okay, so it’s exactly five months since last I posted an entry here.

Shit happens.

Life has been busy; lots happening and various minor stresses. That seems to be lifting, or at least I seem to be coming back into a blogging frame of mind; I’ve been catching up on my various Bloglines subscriptions – even commenting on a couple.

No promises offered about continuity of service at this address yet though.

Let’s do a one-post catch-up on the life since February, shall we?

At work, February and March were very busy with work; I was managing the project to replace the telephone systems in our UK offices, which had all kinds of ancillary network requirements that needed to be met. I did some prodigious amount of travelling up and down the country and in the end it all came together quite nicely. Now that that’s over though, I need to get my teeth properly into being ‘A Manager.’ It’s a quite a steep learning curve for me; my people skills have never been the best, so that’s what I’m focussing on right now. It certainly isn’t easy, but I keep telling myself that nothing worth doing ever is and if I can reach a passable level of competence it will be a real feather in the cap of my CV.

Owen got a new job at one of our competitors. Luckily we’re both in support roles (he’s finally doing the Knowledge Management he loves) so there doesn’t look like there’ll too many conflicts of interest in us bitching about work over lunch!

Socially, I went to see the Little Women musical at RADA in February which I enjoyed a lot more than I expected. I shall have to keep up with their performance schedules in future.

In February we did some serious planning for our wedding, picking up catalogues and visiting a spot or two. It quickly became apparent that we could spend a lot of money very quickly and we scaled back our ideas somewhat.

In the end though the wedding got put on hold by force majeure; at Easter, our landlord wrote to advise that he wouldn’t be renewing our lease when the current one ran out at the end of May (it turns out he was selling the property.) We had to decide fairly quickly whether we wanted to go for another cheap rental property for six-to-twelve months to keep on building up our deposit, or to take a risk and stretch ourselves financially to buy now. In the end we decided to try to buy; the cost and hassle of moving to another rental for another short period of time were not attractive.

So Brett extended his contract in Stratford-upon-Avon to make sure we had a good cash-flow over the moving period and I dropped out of the Chorus’ show to have more time to spend organising. On the whole everything went smoothly and, in early June, we moved into a lovely first-floor flat in Catford. As I write we are all unpacked, but still in need of a few square pegs fitted into round holes and some general organising of stuff. Very happy with the place though and so glad to be owning our own at last.

The weekend after we moved in we had an invite to a wedding down in Canterbury. Paul C and Sue G, both former colleagues from my Folkestone days, were finally getting married and had invited me along to their reception afterwards. Paul, for all that he puts himself across as a clown, actually has one of the most sensible heads on his shoulders of anyone I’ve ever met. I have a lot of time for Paul and Sue both, so I was quite touched to be invited to their wedding. They also made a bit of a fuss of us for coming down to see them, which was sweet. We had a fine evening listening to the brief, but funny, speeches and then me drinking good cognac and Brett trying to work out the strange dancing customs of British weddings.

In other news, our friends Mark G & Chris Mc have moved to Sri Lanka; Mark works for the Foreign Office and it was time for his next overseas posting. It sounds like they’ve found themselves a lovely spot though and their friends (including us!) are queuing up to take advantage of their hospitality as a base to explore the tropical paradise. Before they went though, they had a leaving party which started respectably enough in a wine bar on Trafalgar Square but then went on to a Karaoke venue in Leicester Square. I had initially balked at the idea of karaoke but in the end thoroughly enjoyed myself – not sure that I convinced anyone that I am Britain’s next pop-sensation, but no-one seemed to mind my singing and everyone had a thoroughly good time.

Actually the general trend amongst my friends does seem to be ‘moving away’ at the moment! Mark & Chris have gone ex-pat-for-pay, Joe R has gone into tax-exile in Eastern Europe, Ping is spending more time in Malaysia and John Mc has gone on sabbatical from his job (so I’ve lost him as an occasional lunchtime companion.) It seems to be all change. That said, we are now living closer to Rod & Jess in Forest Hill, and we hope to see more of them… before they sell-up and move down to Wimbledon.

Ah, well, such is life. I’ll have to make a few new friends to spend time with.

On the plus side, Chris C has been down a couple of times and we have found an agreeable routine of margaritas and Brazilian food at a South Bank restaurant to do our catching up. The last I heard, he was interviewing for an interesting-sounding new job which would have meant him spending more time in London.

Curtis also dropped me a line to say he was hoping to organise a trip to London in October; a couple of the great bands of his teenage years are doing gigs here over the same weekend and it sounds like an opportunity just too good to pass up.

After a fairly hectic few months, we are going to be spending a few weeks in Austria come September. My parents have rented a chalet there near Salzburg and Brett and I will be using one of their spare bedrooms as a base for a bit of rest and recuperation and then some serious sight-seeing.

Before that though we’re going to be spending a week in Catalonia with the Chorus. As I’m not singing, I’m going to spend my time documenting the trip photographically. (Partly because Michael C who is the Chorus’ usual photographer isn’t on the trip and partly because it’s so long since I did any serious photography myself!)

The parents came to visit last weekend to see the new flat and we had a pleasant time around Catford and the West End, caught a couple of shows (That Face & Avenue Q) and generally ate well.

Coming back to the present; last night was the second of the two concerts the Chorus are doing on the theme of Innocence & Experience, mostly based around William Black. Friday night was an okay show, but last night was really quite impressive – and fortunately was being recorded for the archive. Again, I wasn’t singing, so I volunteered to help with the front-of-house merchandising and spent a pleasant couple of evenings chatting to Geoff F, one of our latest new intake who couldn’t sing this concert and so, like me, made himself useful selling programmes and CDs.

So that’s the quick update. Let’s see what happens next.

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