Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Microsoft Jobs-Worths!

Monday didn’t turn out to be the disaster I’d feared. Rob had managed to get the email database restored to the point of last Monday evening’s backup, so only messages sent and received between then and when it failed on Tuesday were missing. In theory, because our email system is transaction-based, we should have been able to just replay the logs from that period and, hey presto!, everything would be back to how it was the moment before it failed.

Unfortunately theory and practice are two different things; the system was refusing to read the logs into the database. Microsoft were being “jobs-worth” about the whole thing, refusing point-blank to support us because we were running the system on a (industry-standard, but non-Microsoft) virtual server platform. In the end we had to make do with that and Gavin and I spent the day recovering the missing mail from our seperate message archive; a very repetitive and laborious process, but at least we got it done and things are working again now.

Apart from that the day was very quiet; most people aren’t working this week, so I did a bit of paperwork and spent the rest of my time contemplating biking holidays.

Spent the evening on the sofa watching TV and reading after a lovely lamb steak which Brett magically had ready for me the moment I walked through the door. The man’s a domestic goddess! ;o)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas - Past.

Another late start and then fairly sharply on the train to town with the bikes. Had to drop them into Evans for a service. After that Brett went off to the gym and I headed off around town with my camera.

It was supposed to be a day of relaxation but a conversation with Rob S on the train left me with a lot to worry about; the mail server problem which started last Tuesday had still not been resolved and people will be back at work tomorrow. Gavin W was going straight to voicemail, so I assumed he wasn’t back in the country yet. I left him a message to call me... and that was about all I could do. I left Rob working on it.

I spent the afternoon strolling around the West End and the riverside snapping away with the Nikon. I was mostly just experimenting with the graduated filters I’d bought for bringing out texture in the sky and I got some half-decent pictures out of it.

Around five, I headed back to The Cut and picked up the bike, a book of rides around London and some waterproof overshoes (when commuting there’s nothing worse than waterlogged shoes that don’t dry out before home time!)

Train home, more positive call from Rob (some hope for tomorrow, then!), ambivalent evening on the sofa. Back to work tomorrow - and it's showing in my mood. Bah!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

La Cage aux Folles & Twilight

Had an all-round good day today; we’d tentatively agreed with Rosie to spend a few hours in the National Portrait Gallery before going on to the matinee of La Cage aux Folles. I called up Ping and Mikey as I thought they may be interested in joining us. Ping was still feeling solitary after Christmas, but Mikey was up for it.

When I’ve done the NPG exhibitions in the past, I’ve usually done them with Ping and we challenge each other to pick two pictures from the exhibit; one that we would give a prize to as ‘Best in Show’ and one that we would like to have hanging on our wall at home. I wanted to do the same today at the Portrait Photography Prize Exhibition. This was my second time around this particular show and it rather reinforced how melancholy the entries were this year; there were very few smiles, very few bright colours. There were several pictures I’d award a prize to as technically excellent or as telling insights into the world today, but nothing that I’d want to look at day in, day out.

By the time we’d finished that gallery, Mikey had made it into town and we went into the Annie Leibovitz exhibit. It was a great show, mingling her commissioned work with her private snapshots – many of which were just as striking as the paid stuff. Unlike the Portrait Prize, there were plenty of pictures here that I would have loved to take home – although ironically not that many smiles or bright colours either! I’m already toying with doing the exhibition again or, more likely, splashing the cash on the book of her work.

Once we’d finished at the NPG we wandered around into Trafalgar Square and spent a few minutes revelling in being in London before nipping down to the cafĂ© underneath the terrace for a light lunch. Then Brett, Rosie & I headed down Northumberland Avenue to the show whilst Mikey headed home to catch some sleep ahead of his shift at the homeless shelter tonight.

The show was late starting, as it turned out that not only was the guy playing Albin sick, but his first understudy Adrian (Maria Friedman’s other half) had succumbed too, so they were busily preparing the second understudy who had never actually played the role in a performance before. In the end the show was still very enjoyable and quite touching. We bought the soundtrack and will probably go back when Graham Norton takes over as Albin in the New Year.

Dined at the Texas Embassy after the show and quaffed a few margaritas (which may have led to a few outbursts of song afterwards – mostly Phantom of the Opera highlights, strangely…) We wandered up to the Trocadero in search of a movie to watch and from there on to Leicester Square, settling on Twilight at the Vue.

I had dithered about seeing this previously, having been intrigued by the advertising but somewhat put-off by the trailer. In the end it was entertaining enough, although a little slow in places. Very much the brooding, angst-ridden impossible-love story all set in a somewhat noir-ish high school in Washington State; lots of repressed passions, rites of passage and meaningful glances.

By the time we were done and gotten home it was 23:30, so it’s time for bed!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Hansel & Gretel at Stratford East

An unpressured day, but got more stuff done than yesterday. The morning was lazy, then Rosie headed off to watch a movie with Ruth & Chris. We declined as there was cleaning up to be done and I wanted to give my bike a once over to see what it needed doing. The cables need replacing but the chain and gearset were all in good order. I’ll see if Evans have a servicing slot open tomorrow before the rush starts in the New Year.

This evening we were in Stratford for Hansel & Gretel; a trip organised by Ruth. It was billed as a modern pantomime so I’d been expecting it to be set on a Council Estate or somesuch. Turns out it was a very traditional style, but a lot of the underlying messages were for the children of today. It was well acted and sung and a very impressive production; the witch’s forest was made out of fabric socks which allowed lots of flexibility in staging as they stretched as the stage rotated. They even flew the witch’s house up one to reveal Hansel trapped in its root system; excellent stagecraft!

Had dinner with everyone at the local Pizza Express afterwards. Ruth was her usual self but Chris was very withdrawn. He claimed he was just tired but it didn’t rang true. Wasn’t in a position to really probe too deeply though; I hope he’s alright.

Lots to do tomorrow; got La Cage aux Folles in the afternoon and we’re meeting Rosie to do the Portrait Gallery again beforehand. More bike maintenance if I get my act together too.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Day

Well, we managed to have a relaxed and luxurious day without the excess that seems to exemplify Christmas these days. A lazy morning, Rosie arrived around 11. We cooked lunch (mostly from M&S); a lovely joint of beef with roast vegetables. There was a choice of dessert but we just had pecan pie, saving the pudding and mince pies for later. We watched Mamma Mia and then took a stroll around the local park.

Now settling down to an evening of Doctor Who and (if we can find the DVD!) The Devil Wears Prada. One day is probably enough though; tomorrow will be more active.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve Ramblings

The commute this morning was very quiet. Looks like most people have taken Christmas Eve off. Ironically, as I chose my seat in the half-empty carriage, my MP3 was playing Another Hundred People (Just Got Off Of The Train) from Company.

Work proved less relaxed. The mail server problem that began yesterday dragged on right the way through today and is still ongoing as I write. Luckily it’s not me who is responsible for troubleshooting it (that would be Rob S) so I only had to deal with the stress during the day. I feel somewhat bad about Rob having to take care of it – he has two young sons, has just (last week) moved house and I suspect he’ll be working from time to time on Christmas Day – but conversely it isn’t really my job any more and he has the better skillset to get it done.

The FTP problem turned out to be a bizarre (read: Microsoft’s over-engineered handholding!) quirk of IE7 and was duly noted for the future. (It turns out that the client accepted our submission in the end. Phew!)

The commute home was even more deserted than on the way in. The Waterloo area felt like some post-apocalyptic movie; roads that are normally nose-to-tail were totally empty of traffic. Even more ironically I thought, as I walked through all this strange emptiness, I was listening A New World (Songs For a New World) and Sunday (Sunday in the Park with George). The former is a very upbeat, uplifting song about how life changes on you when you least expect it and the latter evokes the pleasure of strolling through a small French park on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Between them they nicely captured both the unexpectedly empty streets and my sunny disposition at walking away from a stressful day at work into a four-day weekend with nothing that I really have to do.

I managed to miss my train home though. It was shorter than I expected and I was so engaged with my music and reading (OMG, I’m reading romantic gay fiction these days! Help, I’m turning into my mother/sister!!) that I didn’t notice it stopping further down the platform. Luckily Brett was able to pick me up at Lewisham to save me the bus ride with all the bounty I’d plundered from work – I’d taken mince pies and brandy cream in this morning which had only been half eaten, Rob had brought Danish pastries (ditto) and there were four pints of milk and a pile of fruit left over in our kitchen at the end of the day which wouldn’t survive the long weekend, so I brought them home.

When I got in and sat down to unwind I got chatting to Mikey F on Facebook, only for him to drop offline a few lines into the conversation. It’s not the first time he’s done it and it really annoys me. It is simply rude behaviour – something which I find strange coming from him as, in person, he is thoroughly polite – so I think that he and I will be having a little chat about online etiquette when next we meet.

Brett salvaged my mood with dinner. He’s been cooking lots of low-carbohydrate food of late to help with his exercise regimen and despite his continuous doubts he always manages to produce hot, tasty, filling meals. I think I enjoy eating this kind of healthily. Now all I have to do is get back on my bike before the New Year! (Can’t be doing it as a ‘New Year’s Resolution’ now, can I? People never stick to them!)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Eve Is Going To Suck!

After weeks of nothing much happening, the last two days seem to have been 'karma catchup' at work. Yesterday we had problems with a host server flagging a problem with one of its memory modules. We had to shut down a couple of key virtual servers to check and re-seat the unit. Then today a database became corrupt on one of our mail servers, taking out about 10% of the company’s mailboxes for the afternoon and evening while we recovered it. Tonight I got a call on my way home from someone trying to submit a project bid overseas via FTP. Turns out the client couldn’t connect to our server, initially because of a problem with our firewall (I need to discuss that with Gavin!) and later for no reason that I could see – although when I discovered he was using a Windows Vista client I pretty much despaired of getting it resolved. Luckily they managed to push the key documents onto a different FTP server with barely seconds to spare before the submission deadline. I’m going to have to do some investigating tomorrow I think. Bah! Between that and a possibly still corrupt mail database, I suspect Christmas Eve is going to suck!

That said, I plan to take in some mince pies and mulled wine for the team tomorrow: Give everyone a slightly warm fuzzy send-off into the holidays!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

For Christmas Sake (Part Two)

And suddenly it’s all over. The LGMC Christmas season is done with for another year and I can get on with my life. Despite Friday night’s blues, I feel fine about it today; somehow the extra two shows were enough and I feel that I’ve had a good return on the investment of time and energy in the rehearsal process.

Can’t be arsed to give a blow-by-blow critique of another two shows, so I’ll just mention the high points. At the matinee on Saturday, I had been expecting John G from work (and he’d brought along his friend Glen which was nice) but also in the crowd was Mauricio S (former work colleague) who I’d invited in a bulk Facebook message ages ago. I really hadn’t expected him to be there so it was a very pleasant surprise. He’s a lovely guy and it was great to see him again. Saturday night we finally did a reasonably moving rendition of Silent Night and David G had put a couple of slits in the back of his already very skimpy shorts for the finale dance number, just so you were in no doubt that he was going commando!

John Mc & Richard T were along too with various parents although we missed them after the show, they both messaged me later through various media to congratulate us. The parents and Rosie were there too, as was Ping. We had a few drinks at Cadogan Hall, then Brett & I adjourned to the (rather crowded!) Queen’s Head for more aftershow mutual-appreciation with the rest of the boys.

This morning we slept late before driving to Greenwich for brunch with Rosie & the parents, then a wander around Greenwich market. Headed home for a quiet afternoon, mostly spent uploading photos & videos of the last week’s activities to Facebook.

Friday, December 19, 2008

For Christmas Sake (Part One)

I have the post-show blues already and we’ve only done number one of three. It’s probably just fatigue, which I had expected, but it’s still pretty miserable. Not sure what state I’ll be in tomorrow.

The day started at work as usual. It was quiet as people mostly seemed to have had a good night at the company’s Christmas party the night before. [Brett and I had gone along after Selfridges feeling pretty worn-out and found that Marc D & Roddy were organising it for us. Enjoyed it for the time we were there.]

Around 11am I went off to get my hair trimmed and finally got most of the black dye out from Halloween, met up with Mikey for a lunch and managed to clear up an issue that had been on my mind for a while and also agree a rough outline of a training plan for the bike ride next year. Shortly thereafter, the call time rolled around and we met up with all the guys at Cadogan Hall. The Tech Rehearsal then followed its traditional pattern of running late from the start.

The show itself was a mixed bag; I enjoyed the first half a lot more than the second half. The first half has all the good singing music in it, while the second half is more fluffy Christmas stuff. Our rendition of Silent Night was decidedly uninspiring after a very promising run during the Tech. In the first half though we did a great Over the Skies of Yisrael and Ceremony of Carols. In fact I don’t think there was a first-half number that we did badly.

Anyway, after a brief foray into the bar after the show, we quickly determined that Ian B hadn’t stuck around (he’d sent me a text message congratulating on a great show, but pleading a long drive to relatives somewhere tomorrow morning.) So, after finishing the one drink we headed home to a well deserved bed.

Tomorrow we are expecting John G, John Mc and my parents and sister at various points. Hopefully having had a lie-in in the morning will leave me in better spirits after the (two!) shows. Either way, there is likely to be a late-night aftershow party with all the boys to fend off the blues I know I will be feeling.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Groundhog Day at Selfridges

Had a good day yesterday; started out feeling a bit rough (I keep getting
the 'first onset of a cold' symptoms, but so far nothing has taken hold) but
that cleared up by the time I got to Selfridges.

The gigs today were pretty much the same as yesterday except that in the
later ones we had a larger, more balanced group (more than one Tenor 1 was a
result!) and we included the a cappella Have Yourself a Merry Little
Christmas. I came away from it feeling good - which was fortunate because,
as soon as the final set finished, we went by taxi straight to the final
full-run of the main show.

That was not as much of a trial as I'd thought it would be, although I was
pretty much a zombie on automatic pilot by the end. Brett is worried about
his voice, he was struggling to sing towards the end at Selfridges and he
may duck out of today in order to save his voice for the main shows. My
voice seems to be fine (so far). I've been very careful not to over sing
and have taken full advantage of the microphone to do the work for me.

So today is like Groundhog Day for me; I get up and do almost exactly the
same thing as yesterday; up early to do a few hours at work and then off to
Selfridges to sing the same set another five times. Tonight though is a
change to yesterday; it's the Company Christmas Party... at which I won't be
touching the alcohol at all, so that should make for an 'interesting'
evening. I imagine we're unlikely to stay late either as Friday and
Saturday are going to be exhausting.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sisyphus Does Selfridges

An early start today; Rob is on leave today and tomorrow so I went in early to cover for him (and make it look like I was actually spending some time in work this week!) Nothing much happened.

Around 11am I headed off to Selfridges to join the boys singing for their customers. I wasn’t on the schedule to sing today but I know that sometimes people don’t turn up for these things when they say will, so it’s good to have people on standby. In the end I sang in each of the five slots. We were well supplied with Baritones, but had only one First Tenor for most of the day – a new guy, Richard Q, who held his own very well. The gigs generally went well; although we are crammed onto the tiny balcony halfway up the atrium again, it’s a good spot as you are seen by everyone on the escalators and the sound percolates through more of the store. Being mic’d also means you don’t really have to strain your voice. It’s hard to maintain focus over so many repetitive sessions though; there were a number of times when I was on automatic pilot and confused tune or lyrics with some different section of the song.

I was pretty much exhausted by the end of the day, so I’m going to really have to conserve my energies tomorrow when we go straight from the last performance onto a rehearsal of the full show; that will be a long day!

After the show Brett went to the gym and Feroze and I headed down to Green Park – him, to get his watched fixed at Cartier (!), and me to nip into Fortnum and Mason’s to pick up a few boxes of their Chocolate Liqueurs, which have become a Christmas tradition in our family of late.

Realising that I’d left my laptop at work necessitated a side-trip to the office before I could go home and put my feet up. Once home though, that’s exactly what I did and boy!, did it feel good!

Early night for me tonight and then up bright and early tomorrow to do it all again!

Discussion of Voltaire in n-Space Geometry

For once, yesterday was an interesting day at work. I talked to our license suppliers first thing about our Microsoft agreement, which is coming up for renewal. In the afternoon I spent a while with some guys from Boston whose function we are in the process of acquiring. It’s the first time I’ve overseen a merger of one company into another so there are new challenges to be had out of the experience.

The evening was another Chorus rehearsal; the Dress Rehearsal with the band this time. All went fairly smoothly but again highlighted areas where I need work. Today is the first day of Selfridges gigs. I haven’t actually been called to sing but, since I’ve already organised the time off work, I’m going along anyway as a standby. I can productively use the time to both brush up on my music and do a bit of blue-sky thinking for the strategy document I’m supposed to be preparing at work.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Blink and the Weekend's Over!

Friday ended on a sad note; the compulsory redundancies were announced at work and one of the secretaries who has been with the company forever was on the list. She seems fairly resigned to going but I expect it is a blow to her even if she was expecting it. She has always been close to the IT Team as she is great friends with Henri, who had brought in champagne and cakes to celebrate her birthday. It was a bittersweet toast we raised that evening.

The Centre Stage Christmas Party that evening was pleasant; it was held in the massive room above The Adelaide pub in Chalk Farm – a pub which looks way too upmarket for the area. There was a bar and lots of overstuffed sofas along with the chairs and tables littered with glowing nightlights. I chilled a bit and unwound from the emotions of work while Brett mingled. Things livened up around 9pm when the (somewhat overloud) karaoke kicked off. Most people had a turn and Brett even put us both down to do the old Chorus favourite, Seasons of Love. We didn’t stay too late though as we had a full-day rehearsal to look forward to tomorrow.

Saturday, we were up at 7:30 to get up to Downhills Primary where we rehearse on weekends. The rehearsal-proper didn’t start until 11am but the Baritones had scheduled an extra note-bashing & choreography session starting at 10. It was quite a useful session though, so I didn’t mind the earlier start.

The main rehearsal was a long day, but was likewise valuable. We have two more full runs of the show (Monday & Wednesday) before we perform to a paying audience and I am confident we will be in good shape by Friday. Lunched with Brett & Mikey at the local greasy spoon and was amazed to find out that Mikey has only been out to his family and most of his friends since he joined the Chorus in September. He’s such an outspoken, confident guy I hadn’t imagined he had ever really been in the closet!

After the rehearsal we headed down to Wimbledon. We’d been due to join Rod & Jess for a carol concert at the Wimbledon Stables but in the end we were too late for that. We got to meet Caspar (Jess’ horse) though and he’s a fine animal. Afterwards we headed into the The Dog & Fox for a bite to eat. We hadn’t been in there since it’s been refurbished and it was a very pleasant surprise; a classy and sharply decorated bar and restaurant. We had some really lovely food at reasonable prices and an evening of catching up. Amongst everything else, they told us about a 1920’s immaculate Deco flat on Wimbledon Hill which they’d viewed about six months ago when it was priced around £400k. Apparently the agent called them this week to see if they’d be interested in it at £310k. I was gutted: A spacious, period flat in excellent condition in Wimbledon is probably the closest thing to my dream home that I’ll ever find in London and with a bit of a stretch we could probably have afforded it! Other than that their main news was their own house move to Wimbledon next month.

Today has been mostly about domestic chores, but I did finally get down to processing the photoshoot I did with Graeme N a few weeks back. It was a bit of a struggle as I was coming down with a rather bad cold that day and eventually had to call it a day when the lemsip wore off. I managed to get a reasonable number of usable shots though and I’ll send them off to him tonight.

Friday, December 12, 2008


Slightly more focussed day at work yesterday. My head seems to be settling down again. About bloody time!

Got home to find that my studio kit had been delivered so set about testing it. All worked well, although the metal rods which give the softboxes their shape were each 1cm too long in one of the kits, so I had to get a hacksaw out before I could assemble it. Apart from that though, it all worked fine and I ran off a few effective shots of Brett.

Today has been much the same at work. This evening we’re off up to Chalk Farm for the Centre Stage Christmas Party, so the evening will be spent chatting with Brett’s former cast members whilst trying to not get too drunk before tomorrow’s rehearsal. Hey ho.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Maria Friedman Rearranged

Today seemed to be a day when nothing went according to plan. It wasn’t a particularly bad day; I just didn’t get to do any of the things I’d planned/wanted to do. Problems with the Glasgow phones following yesterday’s work on the London and Leeds firewalls occupied a fair portion. Mike G came to fill me in on what’s happening in the New York Office (it’s moving to Boston and growing) so there’ll be lots to do there next year and the day rounded off on an interesting meeting with Ian B (my boss) about strategic planning for the business.

This evening Rosie had arranged tickets to see Maria Friedman Rearranged. I’d not really heard of Maria Friedman before but Brett and Rosie are big fans. The show was a combination of showtunes and some rearranged pop music and she was certainly very good. Unexpectedly though, I was most moved by her rendition of a medley of Sunday in the Park With George; it was just well put together, conveying Dot's emotional journey through the show. Because Rowan had got the tickets through Maria’s niece (with whom she works), we were welcomed backstage after the show and ended up going down to the pub next to the venue with Maria and Andy (her MD), where we were shortly joined by Maria’s partner, Adrian, who’s currently appearing in La Cage Aux Folles at the Playhouse – a show which is definitely on our list to see. An enjoyable and interesting evening without doubt.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Quick Recap

Given that I only got about three hours sleep last night, today was remarkably alert. Still no sign of the missing mojo though.

This evening after a large helping of Brett’s finest enchiladas and watching the first episode of Little Dorrit on iPlayer, I splashed some cash on studio equipment essentials. Expect to hear whoops of delight and childish glee on Thursday evening.

(Repeat after me; it’s not how much you spend, it’s how many airmiles you earn that’s important! It's not how much you spend, it's how many airmiles...)

Sleepless in SE6

It was the Pringles wot dunnit!

I got back from rehearsal feeling peckish and dived into a tube of Pringles. Now I can’t get to sleep. Not sure whether it’s the sudden influx of sugars into my system or whatever E-numbers they use in the flavouring, but something is stopping me from slipping into sleep. Hence, here I am blogging at a ghastly hour of the morning when I need to be up for work in a few hours.

Work has been on my mind a lot lately. For some reason, for the last three or four weeks, I have been bored senseless by my job. It’s not that I don’t have anything to do; things have quietened down since the Financial Crisis, but there’s still lots of stuff I should be doing. I just can’t be arsed to do it.

Is it the winter blues setting in or is it some deeper discontent with my role? I’m still trying to decide. I could argue it either way. There is less work crossing my desk, so I’m not feeling as much pressure as previously. Maybe I need a bit of pressure to keep me focussed when there’s so much stuff going on outside of work to distract me. Conversely I’ve never been a great man-manager; is the ‘new’ of the job wearing off and I’m finally facing the cold reality that my job now requires me to do lots of stuff that I don’t find at all enjoyable?

Brett and I discussed it a bit in the car on the way home from rehearsal tonight and he asked me what I would want to do instead. It probably wouldn’t be staying in IT. The technical side of things was already getting repetitive and beginning to bore me before I got promoted, I don’t enjoy the management side much either, so in the long-term IT is a dead-end for me, I think. If I don’t do IT, then what else can I do to pay the mortgage?

The only likely candidate at the moment is to develop the photography interest more seriously (= rapidly) to see if I really can make money there. In the current world of affordable DSLRs it’s a risky career path to set out on; everyone I’ve spoken to says it’s getting harder to make a living as a photographer, but at least I enjoy it, am passably competent and (I think) getting better as I practice. It’s not a decision I need to make now anyway; I need to build up my portfolio quite a bit first – and my inventory of equipment and skills – before getting anywhere near considering leaving work. Brett is also still in the start-up stage of his own business and we can’t both be doing that at the same time – at least one of us needs to have a reliable income!

By coincidence I was browsing the Calumet (= photographic supplies) website today and worked out that I could get myself a very basic mini-studio together for about five hundred pounds: Not a casual purchase, but still quite affordable.

Another coincidence had me commenting on a photo of Mikey F on Facebook; it was a typical scene of teenage high-jinks (sp?) but the moment captured bore more than a passing resemblance to some renaissance painting of Christ being taken down from the cross and it got me thinking about reworking familiar religious iconography (or even just familiar old paintings) from a modern standpoint. It’s a theme that’s certainly been done before – even very recently – but it would be an interesting project to do to challenge myself photographically.

Apart from the soul-searching, today was quite mundane at work. The only thing worthy of note was that Gavin made the transition from contractor to full-timer and brought in fresh chocolate croissants to mark the occasion. This evening’s rehearsal was productive; the Christmas show is getting there, but there is still work to be done – not least by me!

I’m planning to sign-up to do the Norwich 100 (a 100-mile bike ride around East Anglia) in June next year. I’ve been trying to get my act together and get back on my bike all year (and failing miserably) so hopefully having an event to work towards will give me the little extra push I need. The concept worked when I signed-up for the London-Brighton ride with Simon R at work a few years back; it got me out and about and it got me exercising and feeling good. Mikey (who is a keen cyclist himself) has agreed to do the ride with me and having a committment to someone else to do it should help keep me at it too. Brett wasn't keen on doing it himself – It would be a huge training commitment for him. I can put in a lot of time just by commuting by bike, whereas he doesn’t have that option – but maybe I can drag him along on a few weekend training rides to augment his gym sessions.

Okay, having successfully uploaded my latest mid-life crisis (and how timely is this one – I’m forty in three months (OMG!)) I’m going to go back to bed and try to get three hours sleep.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

John & Rich Get Married

The wedding yesterday was excellent. The weather was cold but clear and sunny, the ceremony was nicely brief and to the point. Afterwards there was a photo-call at a nearby Jacobean mansion which was lovely. Then we were on to lunch at a restaurant in Bexley which was better than most wedding breakfasts I’ve been to before. There were mercifully few speeches.

By the time we were finished eating it was around 5pm and the whole party walked back to the house, clutching glow-sticks and the chemical handwarmers that had been handed out with the sloe gin on the coach. There were a couple of stops to watch a firework display and to send up some heart-shaped mini hot-air balloons (very pretty in the sky, but a bit too romantically-cute for my tastes.) They had a snow machine blowing over the front door and the house continued the ‘winter sparkle’ theme of the wedding. The patio doors now led straight out into a white marquee with a mirror-ball and dancefloor and there was a life-size model of a young Fallow Deer doe (which inevitably got christened ‘Bambi’ by everyone) in amongst the snow-decked Christmas trees at the rear.

On the TV there was a continuous slide show of photos of both the happy couple and the guests, including some hilariously old shots of a few! I got off fairly lightly but there were older photos of Brett in there and a lot of John’s old friends in full 80’s teenagehood. They had caterers in to keep everyone topped up with food and drink, all of which was good quality nosh, and had a new version of their ever-popular chocolate fountain; a two-spume affair pouring milk chocolate down one side and white chocolate down the other.

Mid-evening a few of the guys got back from a Far From Kansas gig and that kick-started the singsong part of the evening; Simon S was pressed into service on the keyboards, songsheets were handed out to the guests and we mixed traditional Christmas Carols (including the audience-participation version of Twelve Days of Christmas) with Come What May and All That Jazz.

John & Rich did a speech of thanks to people, after which Rich surprised John with an early fortieth birthday present; he handed over a silver envelope which contained details of an arctic cruise that he has apparently booked for them both next March.

After that the evening continued with more drinking, dancing and chatting. I carried on as semi-official photographer of the day, making a record of some of the shenanigans. The best part of the latter evening was dipping my oar into a discussion between Martin K and Andy, Nicola K’s partner, who is a serving police officer. They were roaming freely over the topics of discrimination, equality and sexual politics. I hope I can catch up with Andy again in future – which I’m sure we will – as it was quite an engaging discussion and I should like to pick up some of its threads at a later date.

Having managed to remain remarkably sober myself, I poured Brett into a taxi with Nicola, Andy, all our gear and a mountain of wedding cake slices that Rich had pressed on us and we all headed home around 1am.

Today I spent a while picking out and processing the best of the pictures and then publishing them on Facebook before we headed off to Trevor G’s winter party. Sadly the party was poorly attended and didn’t reach critical mass while we were there so, as we were pretty weary anyway from the day before, we made our excuses after a couple of hours and headed home. Rather sad for Trevor and Kenny as they’d clearly done a lot of prep work and their summer parties are always fabulous.

Instead we came home and watched West Wing episodes after putting up the Christmas decorations.

One other thing to remember; John G suggested resurrecting the Brunch Club that Ping used to organise a couple of years ago. It’s rather fallen by the wayside since he’s been splitting his time between London and Kuala Lumpur and it was a great way to catch up with our friends. I shall try and book some dates for the coming year.

Friday, December 05, 2008

I Won't Send Roses

Am I up to it, do you think?

For someone who claims to be so busy, to start blogging again in the run-up to Christmas – one of the busiest times of my year – seems to be hoping for a little much. But then, I was surfing past entries this afternoon, reliving past glories and thinking how much of it you forget unless you write it down; those inter-neuronal links atrophy if they’re not fired once in a while.

Today at work continued the recent trend of me being uninspired and struggling to focus. Stuff happened; nothing exciting. Came home early as we had tickets to see Mack & Mabel at the Broadway Theatre this evening.

The show was up to the usual high standards of The Broadway, although with a somewhat sub-par band; good cast though, excellent production, excellent singing and choreography. I’m sorry we saw it so close to the end of its run as I’d probably have seen it again for the cost of the tickets.

Tomorrow is John W & Rich C’s Civil Partnership, so we’re spending the day in Bexley. Judging by the pre-event literature I think the event has been planned to the nth degree. If it goes according to plan it will be a fantastic day. I just hope the grooms are chilled enough to brush off anything going wrong!

Anyway, I’ve been roped-in to video the ceremony for them. I’m assured they’re not expecting professional output, just a record of events, which is good, since I’ll be working with a single camera and almost no chance to case the joint before the ceremony starts. (John described it as a conveyor belt at the registry office.) After the ceremony though I’m reverting to my preferred medium and just carrying my Nikon around.

Then Sunday all the old Chorus hacks have been invited around to Trevor G’s place for a winter party. Trevor always hosts a good party – although I’m not so sure the hot tub will be so popular at this time of year!

On the whole it should be a good weekend. Long may it last!