Monday, March 19, 2007

Cold enough to freeze the nuts off a tractor

"It's getting dark and I'm cold. I don't think I can make it."

Where is this quote from?
A) The first five minutes of a shoot 'em up when someone dies and someone else has to go and avenge them!
B) The last five minutes in a tear jerker with someone dying while holding a quilt that was made for them by their daughter who coincidentally enough is the one holding them at that time after returning home from being away for 20 years and never speaking to them for all to be forgiven, and of course the old high school sweetheart is there too and they get back together. And there's a family dog in their somewhere. Oh and the daughter has a high powered city job, which she realises that she doesn't need as all she needs is her family. At this point the guys start yelling at the screen wondering how on earth she is going to make those mortgage payments and keep her $2,000 a daycocaine habit as how else is she working 19 hours a day as a big lawyer? See, woman just don't understand the logic of these movies and... wow, this really has gone down another path, I might just stop now.

C) UK in November

The answer is C.

Now, can you guess this one:

"It's cold. I can see the light"

So who/where is this?
A) Luke Muir in Darby.
B) Me when I got trapped in a fridge and opened the door.
C) The UK in March.

C again people. It's March/April and it's cold. Damn cold. This weeks weather at 7am, the time of my revival, has been 2,1,0,2,4. Yay. Don't get me wrong, I actually enjoy cold weather. I also enjoy London in the cold. Many Europeans simply struggle to dress for summer, but they look bloddy good in winter. Winter has nice scarves, big coats, leather gloves and beanies. Summer looks like an explosion in the shit section of the Salvation Army clothes drop.

Winter also can afford you many little lines, such as: "It's verey cold outside, wouoldn't it be better if I just stayed at your place so we both won't be cold in the morning?" Hasn't worked as yet, but a slap in the face can really warm you up.

Now this weather is used as an excuse for people not getting out and about, and Britains lack of sporting stars. The country that brought you Chariots of Fire, won the Ashes once in 16 years and, well, are responsible for Tim Henman, I guess they have some sort of excuse. Now I can understand that where a country is a bit chilly and the main sport - while I have grown quite fond of but really has as much power and courage as a weakly played game of Hungry Hungry Hippos - that not as many people get out and active. But what happened to the English sense of victory. That reason that you actually compete. It's not whether you win or lose, just how you play the game - bullshit - tell that to the Germans or Iraqis. If that truly was the case the French should still be on sanctions.

What happened in this space for the British. When did the sporting nous and the taste for victory disappear. It’s difficult for an Australian to understand. I’m not sure what is being taught to little kids here but when I was growing up, sport was everywhere and winning it was essential. Windton Churchill’s 'we’ll fight them on land, we’ll fight them on the beaches...' has been replaced with vanilla statement.

The English Olympic spokesperson said the other day: "Well, we’re pretty excited by the 2012 games, we think we can get as high as fourth." Fourth??? You’re not even aiming for third? You don't even want to gete on the diace?? I remember the Sydney Olympics (the best ever according to the IOC) and the statement made by our Prime Minister – "we’ll shit this in!"

Now last weekend was a big one, apparently, for my old Town of Melbourne. Along with hosting the Formula 1, it was also the world’s championships of swimming or something like that (it's really hard to concentrate on this when the World Cup is on). Now Aussies seem to be able to swim as a natural instinct, so we tend to do pretty well at these. We usually come in first or second - it’s a constant battle with the Americans. But it’s good to see the UK are pushing for a spot, that they’re striving to succeed once again, with this bold headline in The Times a few days before the event: Britain to win medals! (at least it’s plural).

And with this, I am declaring for all the people of Australia, that Andrew 'Freddie' Flintoff be made an honoury Aussie. You can keep you Kevin 'girlie man' Pieterson (damn Safa), we want Freddie. Let's face it, he probably couldn't get a go in the Upper Nambukta fourths at the moment, but his world cup antics warrant him a mention.

When England cheated and stole the Ashes a few years back, a lot of Aussies felt a little bit jaded that the man who distracted the police while the South African batsman who England claim as their own stole it: was Flintoff. The reason for being so upset was that the Flintoff spent most of his years learning to play cricket in Australia. We taught him his skills, and now we have categorical proof! Where would he learn to get so pissed while at a major world tournament, attempt to steal a pedalo and have to be rescued by hotel staff (well an Aussie would have been able to swim back to the beach - carrying the sunken craft on his mighty shoulders, but we'll over look that), all while being team vice-captain. Warney, I mean Australia! He didn't learn those drunken antics in the ol' country.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

St Patrick's Day

St Paddies day isn't taken as seriously in London than we do in Aus I think. Firstly, the only people running around creating chaos are Aussie?? The Irish go home, the English remember why they shipped the Irish convicts over the Australia and the tourists wonder what the hell is going on.

For this fine day a group of us decided that we would go on the Monopoly Pubcrawl. Bascially this is a pubcrawl that via plane, train and automobile takes you to a pub on every street of the Monopoly Board. Now it is kind of difficult to do it all, we gave it a red hot go and had a very big morning / day / afternoon / evening / night / morning in our 19 hour session around the Monopoly board.
Although most of us adopted the familiar green, some did go for gold with Nathan and Nikki winning in my opinion.

Now we could go on and on about the fun times we had, Luke's call of the night ('Old Street - Kasi, it's your street'), the lovely noises coming out of Ms Duggan or me ending up in North London at 4am some 18 hours after the start of the pub crawl because for some reason I thought every bus leaving Piccadilly was going directly to my house not in the opposite direction and not realising for another 20 minutes before waiting in the rain and wind for another bus before getting a cab and... well I said we weren't going to talk about.
More photos here: Monopoly Pub Crawl

Get amongst it ladies!

I have a theory. Well actually I have many theories, but this one I reckon is true. Politics is power - power is sexy = politics is sexy. But let's face it, there aren't really that many politicians that are sexy. I can't imagine any lady throwing her knickers at Gordon Brown and I think Peter Costello may actually scream, cry, wet himself and cower in a corner if that happened to him. So where am I basing this theory on, well let me explain.
Recently, in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, elections were marked by severe irregularities, but with no stunners showing off for the cameras or speaking to the international community in the universal language of babealiciousness, the media attention of the protests in those two countries was scant, at best.

However, below is Yulia Tymoshenko. Remember the Orange Revolution in in the Ukraine recently? Basically from late November 2004 to January 2005, in the immediate aftermath of the run-off vote of the 2004 Ukrainian presidential election that was compromised by massive corruption, voter intimidation and direct electoral fraud, there were a series of protests to stage the election again - pretty much the same as Kyrgyzstan. But one difference, Yulia was the main spokesperson at the protests. She is now the Prime Minister of the Ukraine....and Luke Skywalker’s sister as you can see.

Looks good with a pearl necklace

So here's my contention: public opinion and trends will go wherever there are stunners. Let’s face it, men will follow a woman over a cliff if need be and let's just look at these examples; 15 years ago the hot woman were in yoga classes – look how that boomed – 10 years ago it was sushi restaurants and coffee shops, five years ago it was Wall Street and now it's politics. In 2006 17% of politicians around the world were female, the highest number ever, and a rise of 9% in a decade (UK Conservative party has less than 12%).And about time I say, cause I'm sick of this:

Not sexy – yes Mr Groves – NOT sexy

Not sexy. Yes Mr Groves, not

Oh god, no wonder the Kiwis shag sheep when this is your PM

So come on ladies, get to your political party's local branch and sign up, you want to be a trend setter don't you?

Monday, March 12, 2007

Derby and the big 27

Fighting my way through peak hour foot and train traffic in a mad dash from Clapham in the South West corner of London to St Pancras in North East isn’t a good thing to be doing in the first place, but after coming off a Thursday night bender it’s even worse. But arriving in the nick of time at the train station all that was forgotten. It was time to go to Derby with Luke to watch the Kiwi boys play some rugby – boys weekend away!

Boarding the train we were filled with breathless anticipation. What did rural England have in store for us? How will the game go? Where will Matt vomit this time? We soon replaced all these thoughts with a cocktail of Grolsch and Southern Comfort & Red Bull. We were off to rural England, to Derby, about 2 hours by train north. Along with the Kiwi boys who live there – Kiwi Becks, Kiwi Nick and Kiwi Kirk – we were being joined by Matt and Kiwi Rhys on the Saturday.

Let’s cut to the chase. This was a weekend to get out of London and create havoc. In a country town – well it’s not small but it is far from most places – there are not many foreigners, so you do stick out. Friday night was full of many, many shenanigans, but only a couple make the highlight reel. The start of the night saw us heading to a bar called Varsity for some warm up drinks and to meet the locals. While only there for an hour, it is a place that I will visit again soon. Luke and I were already well on the way after drinking on the train and so, with our drinking shoes on, we finished at Varsity and went……to the Walkabout Derby. I’m ashamed to admit it, but that’s where we ended up that night till close. Well we did, Luke didn’t.

At the end of the night the question was asked, where’s Luke? With it raining cats and dogs outside and being in a town hundreds of miles from London….I was amazed how little we actually gave a shit! Several phone calls later, we found out: a) Luke was near a river somewhere b) he could see a shop called Top Chef c) there was a light near him.
Luke - loose

These clues led us to believe Luke was probably drowning, mainly when he said: “There’s a river and I’m wet, wait I can see a light. I’m going to walk towards the light.” Don’t walk towards the light Luke, don’t walk towards the light!!!!

Eventually Luke managed to find a way home, but not after the streets of Derby had been scoured. When arriving home, Nick and I were greeted by a passed out, soaking wet Luke mumbling: “Why would you leave me all alone in a strange town I don’t know? Why? Look at me!” Luke – sorry we failed to take any notice of these protests – it’s difficult to take you seriously when you were using a small jacket as a blanket and a perfectly good sleeping back as a pillow????

The next day was off to the rugby to see the Darling of Darby – Brett ‘Turnstiles’ Beckam – and the usually tame gentle giant Kirk 'get me on a rugby field and I look like a serial killer' play. The less said about the loss the better. As well as Saturday night for that matter. Many an ale was had in the club rooms while watching the mighty courageous Liverpool let their guard down in the closing seconds to a cheap and dirty Manchester United, who stole the game 1-0. Although all was not lost, with that Man U are now the Premier League Champions as the no one can catch them on points – and that beats the pants off the insidious Chelsea winning again.
So after many a fine ale we realised we were a very popular bunch of boys. Word had passed around that there were foreigners in town. And funnily enough, that actually means something. So while the bar maids dotted over Kiwi Rhys and Matt, some drunk 45 year old told me I looked pretty and wanted to ‘make me up’ before I went out so I’d attract the pretty ladies. With that kind of an offer I couldn’t say no.

Basically the trip was a boys’ weekend in its entirety, extremes, stories and, well, bigness.
There were big beers:
Big drinks:

And big burgers:

It would be difficult to explain the details unless you were there really, but to those that were, this award ceremony is for you:

The biggest wait between drinks – Kirky boy
The biggest walk after drinks – Lukey boy
The biggest show pony – Barty boy after we walked in to Varsity
The biggest impersonation of Prison Break – Pete Wilco
The biggest spray known to man – Woody vocalising his opionon in the wee hours of Sunday morning or Pete’s James Bond actions and marriage counselling (only hope you can fight like him Pete).
The biggest human contributor to the hole in the ozone layer – Nick, you deserve to be tarnished with this.
The funniest attempt at the latter: Becks and Luke’s head – the joke that just kept on giving, and giving and giving.
Biggest patience – Lee, I don’t know how you did it.
Biggest mistake – South African Pete. You still alive buddy.
Biggest look of surprise – Kiwi Rhys – to Derby bar girls: “no, really, you’ve been looking for me?”

Man of the tour had to be South African Pete for reasons that shall never be discussed. So Pete: Ek kan nie glo dat jy met a getroude vrou geslaap het...

It’s good to see the Kiwi Boys and Room 416 high-jinks go on.

And on another note, I had my birthday drinks at the Smoke Rooms in Clapham on Saturday night. Big night was had and thanks to all those that were there, more pics of Derby and my birthday by clicking here: link.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Time to re-boot

After an extended holiday of two months, going back to work was a hard ask. Although keen to get back on the bandwagon, having to go to bed at midnight on a Sunday night (which is fast becoming my night out of choice) and getting up at 7.30 is a hard ask, damn it! Further, bouncing off the passenger side door of a Vauxhall - whose driver decides that they don’t need to stop at a Zebra crossing or even after you ricochet off the side causing you to fall backwards and land on your arse in front of quite a large group of people - really wasn’t a great way to start my second Monday morning. So after I could feel my arse again following my audition for England’s Wildest Drivers Part 7, I thought how on earth was I going to survive another week! Then I thought, well, you need money in the UK, so get up.

But while lounging around ol’ London town in a manner that very much replicated Hugh Hefner - never getting out of my pyjamas - I realised three things:

- The staff at the gym are much hotter for the evening crowd, with the duds put on the day shift.
- Hollyoaks is cool – it’s Neighbours with slag fights and nudity
- The UK is like Dell.

This brings me to why I really haven’t added much over the past few weeks. My computer died. It was when this happened I started to notice similarities.

1. Help button
All computers have a help button. Does it really help? I think not. You press that little bugger and a paper clip appears asking you to follow the links to find the solution. This is basically saying figure it out yourself, dumb arse. The UK has this too. I am yet to find any government organisation or bank that can help. It is simply a process of passing you on to the next person to get you off their hands. I actually want to be connected to an Indian call centre, at least they’ll answer my questions – or try for that matter! My credit card application got stalled the other day. The lady in the UK call centre couldn’t find my details after 10 minutes. ‘Denise’ – the Indian lady - has it in 3 seconds! When she asked about how much money I had in my account I asked her why she didn’t know. Her response: “I’m terribly sorry sir; the home branch in Britain will not let us look at customers’ details,” (I didn’t comment that she was pretending to be in Britain previously and just shot herself in the foot). So, you everyone has to call the call centre in India and they don’t give them details – nice.

2. Hardware
Dell has a cheeky little system where its computers will only work with Dell parts, so you need to get those parts to get it working again. The UK is the same. There’s no point applying any type of logic - a non-UK part - that exists in the rest of the world to any problems you may face here. A few of my personal favourites (and nearly all revolve around banks!!):

HSBC online credit card application. Once you have finished it, for the Platinum cards they make you print it out and drop it in at a local branch?? Then an Indian lady calls you three weeks later.
Credit card approval letter lost in the mail twice? Have to apply again – don’t bother trying to find out why it was lost in the first place.
Can’t get a bank account until you have a job. Job needs to know your bank account details before you start.
£4.40 for a tube ride if you pay cash. £1.50 if you use an Oyster card. Now you’re just having a laugh.

What gets me is people actually have to think up these inane paradoxical rules in the first place. How is it that my local HSBC manager can not locate my credit records, but ‘Denise’ with the strong Indian accent in the call centre knows absolutely everything about me down to what I had for breakfast.

Ah logic, the non-Dell hardware of the UK.

3. Warranty
When a Dell passes its warranty, it usually shits itself and packs it in. Unfortunately that’s not the way it happens here. When everything actually starts going your way and you start understanding what’s going on – or simply accept that it won’t change – your warranty (Visa) runs out and it’s time to go home.

4. Time frame
When you first get your Dell you stay up for endless nights trying to figure out the settings, listening to repetitive beeps and music, and looking at all the flashy colours and lights, etc. When you first get to the UK you stay up all night…and, well we’ll just leave it there.

5. System failure
When a Dell fails, it pretty much says system failure and it’s game over until someone fixes it. In the UK, well, people go to the pub and hope no one notices:

If you can’t read it, this actually appeared on The Times website, arguably one of the largest newspapers in the world and Rupert Murdoch’s flagship. It says that they have finished redesigning their website and now have to wait for the chnages to kick in to place, which will take a few days.
God I love this place. But I digress once again.

So now it’s back to work and the merry-go-round that is London life continues unabated. The nights of four hours sleep before falling out of bed to start it all over again have once again become a fixture, but really Londonites, would we have it any other way?

Tuesday night Sarah and I went to watch Cat Empire in Islington. I had to admit I was a little surprised that they were charging £20 for a ticket when Jet only charged £15 and Pearl Jam £30. It was an okay show, but I really couldn’t get in to it that much. They were pretty energetic and went for a while, but a big weekend followed by another Monday night didn’t bode well for standing in a club for 3 hours. Although on a good note, I was surrounded by at least 30 young girls between 18 and 23. Looking up at the stage though I couldn’t stop thinking I know that drummer. After a little while it hit me – that’s Lachie Hull-Brown - an old friend from University. Struck with confusion I was wondering why I hadn’t heard he was playing for them. But after a quick google search the next morning I was close: it’s his younger brother, Will. Last time I saw him was playing drums at Lachie’s 18th. But Lachie, if you see this, struth you boys look similar.

And finally, with the start of the new footy season three weeks away, I would like to introduce you to West London, our arch rivals and the team that we wrestle with for the premiership each year. Must be their inspirational speeches?????

Compared to our fearless leader:

I know where my heart lies!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Brought to you by Apple

Trying to track down some people for Sean’s birthday drinks last night I ended up at a pub called the Goat by myself - fair enough I was over 3 hours late, had missed the dinner and was taking a long shot that they’d still be there. Now the Goat does good specialty beers that you can sip away at while you people watch or read a book. So holing myself up in the corner with a particular enticing Czech/English mix I got to thinking; today is World Book day, and I for one – an avid reader and writer – think it’s glorious.

I got the best of both worlds when I was young. My father would always have his head in a book and my mother would talk and write a lot. It wasn’t until I moved in with my ex-, who would put her head in a book and read for hours while I wrote and talked, did I realise that it was a way of trying to ignore the person and wishing they would simply shut up for once! Dad and Naomi – surprised they still both have their hearing.

But on this day I feel it is necessary to pay homage to the slayer of the humble book. The Don Quixote to the windmill of literature, the Captain Ahab to Moby Dick, the fourth shelf in the cupboard to people my height – the iPod.
Now this will only be a short entry, as some of you complain that you don’t like to read too much, so how pertinent this actually is (may I remind you all that if it wasn’t for your parents having a quick peek at a book called The Karma Sutra you wouldn’t even be here).

As much as the iPod is definitely killing a book I will thank it for two things:

Reducing obesity: The only time a book has been involved with obesity is when you used to beat the fat kid at school with an Encyclopaedia Britannica, but the iPod makes you walk, run, jump and all while giving you the feeling of being pretentious compared to anyone with a simple MP3 player (we all know you’ve looked over at someone that doesn’t have those white earphones and though ‘cheap bastard’). When I was living in Surry Hills in Sydney during the summer of 2005 – 06, every morning on my way to work I used to walk out my front door, turn right and stroll for about 3 minutes till I got to the corner of Favoe Street, go in to the café there – Fifi Favoe – order a coffee and a muffin and waltz outside again. It was then decision time. Would I a) cross the road and get on the bus that would have me at Circular Quay in 11 minutes, or walk the rest of Crown Street till I hit Oxford Street (which was hilarious for the sites you would see at 8am) then through Hyde Park – yes Sydney has one too – through the city till I got to work (total of 45 mins). Just about then a good song came on the iPod and there was no question – it was time to strut. By the time I got in to the office I was pumped, had probably burned off a few calories and was ready for the day to start (although it was the start of a brutal Sydney summer and was 32 degrees outside so I was sweaty as a pig and I’m sure my colleagues hated my iPod for it).

People wanting your time: Quick and simple. Big issue sellers, beggars, Oxfam sign-you-uppers. Don’t pretend to ignore them. Put in an iPod and they simply don’t bother you. Also works when people are having an argument on the train. No longer do you wonder where to look - put in the iPod and pretend you don’t hear them!