Thursday, May 31, 2007

Day 11 - Hey, I know you

Tralalalala, Wednesday came and went with the usual - Train fuck up, work and a night out.

Once again, the trains proved to be as irregular as an octogenarian who had run out laxative, resulting in Benny Hill-esk skits at Clapham J (the cool kids word for Clapham Junction). After the train on platform 4 had been redirected to platform 3 and the approaching train on platform 4 would not be stopping, it was no surprise that everyone moved over to platform 3. It was with no less surprise that the train on platform 4 did in fact stop. I, being too lazy to move to platform 3, got on and it whisked me away to Waterloo. The confusion meant I even got a seat as many commuters stared in disbelief as the train on platform 3 didn’t stop and they were left in the rain. The joy.

A successful day at Clapham Junction

Work is work, so we won’t continue on that, especially seeing there are alerts for every time the name of my company is mentioned online. So now most of IT are sending me emails asking me how my night was after reading my blog.

Wednesday night I was meant to go to an industry networking function, so I met my old boss for a few pre-drinks. A couple of vinos and we decide to give the event a miss. It's much more fun bitching. So after a few I trundled home, did my shopping and bumped in to Simon, the author of the shoody blog, making his way in to the ‘healthy’ fast food restaurant, Subway.

Bizarre thing with London, despite the city's population, you keep bumping in to people you know – everywhere. This is the second time it’s happened to me with Simon. Last time it happened was when I got off the flight from Aus at the start of the year and was waiting to catch a train in to London. I had meet a South African girl on the flight – Betina – who was in London for a month and I was kind enough to act as a tour guide for a couple of days. Anyway, she was asking if she would bump in to anyone she knew while in London and I told her not a chance. Just as I said this Simon appeared around the corner to get on the same train. That night it happened again, when her and I bumped in to an old flame of mine in a bar in Fulham - but that was sweet, sweet revenge for me - and a week later I even bumped in to Betina by accident walking around St Paul’s.

Quick chat with Si, discussion with Coomba about a possible trip to Ireland or Scotland and I passed out like a drunken 14 year old who had recently raided his father's booze collection.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Day 10 - Choo, choo trains

I woke up fairly tired from the weekend on Tuesday morning and pressed snooze on my alarm four times. Basically, I need to leave the house about 8.10am at the latest to be able to be in at work about 8.45am. So with this I set my alarm to go at 7.55am.

What I didn’t expect was a delayed train and a suspended line.

Firstly, Network Rail, or the common expression, Overland. This is the train that runs, well, overland. So stumping up to the platform in pretty foul weather and equally so mood, I hurled abuse at no one in particular when the announcement came on that the 8.13 to Waterloo was cancelled due to leaves on the rails. Now you all know my sheer confusion that leaves stop a train, but apparently there is an anti-slipping mechanism that as soon as the train slips a touch, the brakes lock up.

But all is hear to save it! A new system tells train drivers when there are leaves on the rails so they can switch off the brake locking system. I never knew that you could simply switch the system off – thanks Network Rail – you lazy turds, for cancelling trains with the excuse of leaves, when you fully well knew you could still find a way to operate, albeit slower.

Also, the newspaper piece where I read this reported that: “the technology receives updates on wind conditions every three hours – crucial because strong gusts spread leaves across tracks – and receives these updates every 30 minutes. Now I don’t know about you, but in my experience strong gusts of wind come along a little more often than 30 minutes! And when there is a chance of leaves being blown on the track, a ‘leaf squad’ is mobilised to spray a gritty substance on the line.

So let me get this straight. In a country known for strong winds, storms and a fair few forests around the greater London area, there is a leaf squad who go out and attack these leaves by spraying a substance on the tracks. Here’s an idea – coat the tracks in this solution for all year round ‘no leaf problems’ morons. No wonder you’re not getting you bonuses this year: Network Rail bonuses cut by crash
Network Rail has released its annual figures showing a pre-tax profit of GBP1.48bn, compared to a loss of GBP232m for the year-earlier period. The company has reported that it has slashed bonuses for staff across the board following the fatal train crash at Grayrigg in February. Network Rail has apologised for the crash, which killed an elderly passenger and injured a number of others.

So you kill some people, outlay a bunch of money on some technology that may or may not work all the while raising prices in London at a rate of 35% over two years and in regional areas it is cheaper to get a return flight than it is for a one-way train ticket, and you make a profit – wow – you’re smart.

Second, this is how well I have adjusted to the UK. After the debacle with the overland I finally got on, only to be greeted with the message on the trains that the Waterloo City Line was down and to look for other means of transport. Now, when a voice of authority or someone who should know the facts tells you something in the UK - ignore, ignore, ignore and check it out for yourself. So before I decided to search for the closest hot air ballon I decided to investigate. Sure enough, on closer inspection, the Waterloo City Line was not down and had never been down. However, there were bugger all people on it as they had obviously listened to the announcement - tourists!

Anyway, a typical day at work ensued. However, I decided to book a four day road trip to Ireland at the end of June and continue my regional tour of the UK with a weekend in Cambridge to wish Emma goodbye on her trip back home.

Finished up work and went to meet Reuben for a drink. Reuben is a large Kiwi and is the Head of Media Relations at Aon, the main rival to my old company Marsh. So we used to have many running battles and competitions, but always a laugh afterwards. He was trying to recruit me when I took this job, so I often invite him out for a drink in the full knowledge that he will always pay for me.

A stumble home at 11pm and back to bed, ready for the half point of Wednesday.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Day 6,7,8 & 9

Friday morning was the usual hung over stumble from bed after team selection on the Thursday night. With the finesse of a ballet dancer, I managed to cartwheel out of bed and actually went for a run. Now there are three types of people that you see when you go for a jog at 6.30am. One is the hard core athlete with all the kit, sprinting up through the park. Then you have the mothers with their prams, and then you have the fat, fat, fatties lumbering along trying to feel less guilty for having three danishes and an entire pack of Kruspy Kreams before getting up and pounding the pavement. I’m not sure where I fit in as I can keep up with the hard core athletes, but am sputtering and yawning the entire time.

Anyway, the usual day at work followed by after work drinks made for an uneventful day. Visited Danny up in Angel after work and was dazzled by his stories of midgets wrestling an African lion. Had me laughing all the way home. I’m sure more things happened, but I’m writing this on a Tuesday morning and remembering Friday so long ago is difficult.

Saturday morning we met the team at Clapham Common to catch a bus down to Bristol to play the Bristol Dockers. Arriving two hours late and most of us in a sore state from the night before, we favoured the 30 second warm up after the Dockers had been ready for 2 hours. Coming out hard in the first quarter I knew the weekend was going take it’s tool when by the end of the first I had being slung to the ground and injured my shoulder, kneed in the ribs, injured my little finger again (which after seeing the doctor can now confirm it’s broken) and kicked in the head. We ended up going down by 7 points, which in part I blame on the umpire – who was one of their players who hadn’t been picked for the day, had never played the game before and had only been learning it for 1 month – good choice!

The compulsory beer, BBQ and night out ensued, where we decided to take Bristol by storm. The night was getting a little out of hand by about 10pm. I won’t go in to details, but by 2.30 we were forced to bribe bouncers to get in to clubs as we weren’t in the greatest state. Bed time by 6am and the next morning a few fellas who hadn’t played the game the night before came through Bristol in a campervan to pick me up to head to Gloucester for Monday’s cheese race. It was going to be interesting road trip, when considering the company I was in. One such fella is named Danger. He’s called Danger as a few years ago he actually changed his middle name by deed pole to Danger so he could in all honesty say: “Danger is my middle name.”

Liquid courage for the cheese run

After a cramped hour drive in the back of a tarago converted in to a campervan we arrived in Cheltham, about 15 minutes out of Glouchester. Finding a little Irish pub we decided to settle in and look for some accommodation after a few beers. Nine pints of Guiness later we had made friends with the bar maids, a lovely young couple who started buying us tequila shots and had sent the girls who were on the trip with us to find the accommodation. Luckily they ended up finding two rooms at the Travelodge, but what did we care, we off to some club about 10pm to continue the madness. Henno must be congratulated for tearing his hamstring last week and redoing it by being slapped on the arse, Oz for having a lady come up to him saying she wanted to be introduced to me and then forgetting to relay the message, and Brutes for simply wanting to smash things.

An entertaining evening, followed by antics in the kebab shop and an interesting cab ride back to the rooms meant a few of us struggled with the 8am call to get back in the vans and head to the cheese rolling. But cheese rolling we did. A muddy trek through the paddocks of Copper’s Hill brought us to a sheer cliff with grass. The TV does not do this thing justive. It is has a decline of at least 40 degrees and more than 50 degrees at the beginning. And when that cheese flys down it picks up speeds of 70mph and is travelling fast enough to smash walls. Not to mention when you roll down the fucker. I couldn’t believe the speed people picked up when cart wheeling, falling, running and sliding down it, all to be rugby tackled at the end so you don’t slam in to a wall. There was one miss roll so the whole field of people sprinted down the hill, but the cheese wasn’t, so they re-rolled it. As one guy was trying to get up after a brutal fall, the cheese flew down the hill and collected him. I suspect a broken leg. Only 20 people were injured this year, which seemed a bit disappointing when there were about 40 paramedics standing around scratching themselves waiting for action. Hobbling off the hill I think we were all glad to be heading back to the cars and I was heading back to London. Photos and video of the crazy cheese here.
A hot shower and bed by 10pm and I was off to la la land to dream of steep hills, cheese bearing down on you and cute little kittens.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Note from the author


Hope you've enjoyed the past week of my life. This weekend in the UK is a bank holiday long weekend and I'm off to play football in Bristol and then a road trip to Gloucester to chase a wheel of cheese down a steep, steep hill, so there won't be any updates until Tuesday afternoon for us in the Northern Hemmisphere or Wednesday morning for you down south. The next one will be an amalgamation of Friday, the weekend and Monday to keep you all up to date. Including such highlights as:

  • The usual Friday night stories
  • Football trip to Bristol and the shennanigans afterwards
  • Travelling country-England in a campervan
  • The Gloucester cheese race
  • Much, much more!
So until Tuesday/Wednesday kick back, have a glass of wine and let your hair down for a few days, just like me.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Day 5 - There's always someone worse off

Waking up Thursday morning I wondered why my head was throbbing and I felt like I had been kicked in the guts. Then I remembered the 8 pints of Guiness followed by the post-soccer ame analysis on ITV back home. But despite that, I got out of bed at 6am, stretched a little, went for a run and finished it off with a nice bowl of fruit and yoghurt... well I would have if I was Reece 'pansy' Collins (little in joke for my football friends).

Falling out of bed and struggling to the shower, I was lamenting the tube ride and copped a whiff of my hair from the night before - I can't wait for the no smoking indoors law to come in 1 July - I banged my head on the door frame, nearly fell in the shower and when I went to put deodorant on I squirted myself with shaving cream: good morning.

I thought I was unlucky until I saw this story

Poor bugger. Drowned in the Murray, which for those not from Aus, a large river that flows between Victortia and New South Wales, marking the border. The unlucky part is that this once mighty river has been reduced to a stream, and in some places just a dirt bed, as the worst drought on record continues in to its 5th year back home. These poor blokes seemed to have found the only wet part and drowned in it. My day, in a morbid way, improved.

I've put myself on a strict food regiment as well. With summer here, the beaches of Spain a few weeks away and a triathlon to compete in at the start of August, I had to forgo my usual post-session bacopn sarnie and opt for the Blueberry, mango and honey smoothie with a banana - this is actually true. So a grumpy day of work was had.

A grumpier day continued when I was offered tickets to go and see Too many DJs in Shoreditch and I had to turn it down due to previous plans. This week was not panning out well. Onwards and upwards. Twenty minutes later I was all set to go the Australian Embassy to get some document stamped as originals, that was until I looked on their website and read that they only approved documents between the hours of 9.30am and 11.30am. Now...

When I got here I had recruiters telling me left, right and centre that I would have no problem getting a job because Australians are perceived as hard working, and this is correct. Except when you are an Aussie working for Aussies, then it becomes a 'fuck that' attitude. I swear I'd prefer to rely on the bank than I would the Aussies working for Australia House. When you have 300,000 Australians in the country, does it really seem helpful that you only offer them a service for two hours a day, five days a week?

Throwing my frustrations to the wind I went to football training after work. Afterwards the team selection is a highlight. This week the South London Demons are on a road trip to Bristol - which is basically a party trip. Honoured by being named Vice Captain, I've decided I'll be in bed by at least 5am on Friday night/Saturday morning so I have had plenty of sleep for the team bus at 11am. But anyway, a boozy night at our sponsor's pub saw me back home at midnight - didn't get a kebab or KFC (strict eating plan) - and the pattern of good movies on late continued, with Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

Another thing on proximity: the bridge that they throw the guns off at the end of the film is Putney bridge. I run over that at least twice a week.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Day 4 - Liverpoooollll, Liverppoooooollll

My mate Cameron asked me the other night why I had started praising the UK instead of my usual bag, bag, bag. Well I think I’ve got it. I've coem to get uised to it. I'm applying for my highly skilled visa and trying to do my tax at the same time, only problem is that the Home Office and the Internal Revenue both ask for your original P45 (tax statement) - but you are only given one by your employer - well that makes sense!!!!! But I didn't bat an eyelied. I simply accepted it and am now trying to find ways around it. Accepting UK life is like the five stages of grief. Now let’s use a bank as an example.

  1. Denial – The "No, not me" stage.
    This stage is filled with disbelief and denial. “So I can’t get a bank account until I get a job, but can’t start my job until I get a bank account?” How can this be?

  2. Anger/Resentment – The "Why me?" stage.
    Anger at the situation. Does no one else realise the stupidity here!!!!!! Does anyone is this bank realise how stupid this situation is or are they just ignoring it??

  3. Bargaining – The "If I do this, you’ll do that" stage.
    You try to negotiate to change the situation. ‘Okay, I’ll jump through your hoops’. But then you realise that the person you were dealing with on one thing is replaced the next day and you are told a completely separate thing.

  4. Depression- The "It's really happened" stage.
    You realize the situation isn’t going to change. No matter how much you fight, it actually gets harder, as people can’t understand your frustration. You actually want to speak to an Indian call centre as at least they don’t have an inflated sense of self and will help you.

  5. Acceptance – The "This is what happened" stage.
    Though you haven’t forgotten what happened you are able to begin to move forward. You throw it all in and embrace it. This was my logic getting a new mobile phone today. You need to walk in, throw yourself on the fire and let it happen - they only stuffed up transferring my number and gave me the wrong colour - amazing!

This is the same with UK life. You start having more English friends, you start to consider the possibility of *gulp* a committed relationship with *gulp* an English/European girl– as you know antipodeans are only going to be around for a year or two – and you start putting mayonnaise on everything. Basically, you come to accept life as it is presented to you and you shed that ‘it’s not like this back home’ opinion. It’s good when it happens because you don’t start cracking it at random stupidity on the street that you wouldn’t see in Aus, and you start to become, well, local.

This means you stop thinking you need to go to the best bars and feel the need to have a cracking night out every single night. You are at peace enough to go to the local to watch the football – particularly the CHAMPIONS LEAGE FINAL!!!

I popped down to the Falcon in Clapham to watch Liverpool take on Milan for the title of European Champions. A few of the boys were there, but we lost 2-1 so I don't want to talk about it. I walked home and got a chicken kebab. To make mattes worse the zip in my jeans stuck and I had to rip at it to get it back up and in the process broke it. Naomi bought me those jeans for 5 years ago at a surf store off Pitt Street Mall in Sydney. I loved those damn jeans. A sad evening. But Platoon was on when I got back. So I watched that.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Day 3 - Where's all the time gone?

A nice dinner with the Duggans on Tuesday night, as well as Leah’s friend Nadia – who lived in Melbourne and I swear I’ve met her before – and I was awake and ready for the day. A sunny, clear London day greeted me as I slowly unlocked my door and peeked in to the hall. I rarely lock my door, but I didn’t trust Coomba and his severed toe not to make an appearance next to my bed in the middle of the night (see Tuesday’s blog).

Now a sunny day in the UK is glorious. Well, it starts that way. It’s when you get on public transport that you realise it’s a curse. So overheating, sweaty and once again annoyed with the world, I made it into work.

The usual day ensued.

Now Tuesdays and Thursdays used to be my favourite days as after work I could go to footy training, run around and have a laugh, but over the past month I’ve become too busy to even make training. It really is very annoying. Thankfully the Demons have entered another team in to the league, The South London Demons. This team is for those guys who simply can’t make training or have a huge night planned before a game and simply won’t be in the frame of mind to face a proper game.

That guy second from the left at the front is hot!

The first official game was two weeks ago, where we triumphed over the Bounds Green Lions by 47 points, with me kicking 2.2 for the game (celebrations on YouTube). But more importantly, the first goal for the new league was kicked by no other than yours truly. In 40 years time, the record books will show me as the first goal kicker, first multiple scorer and first to admit that this really won’t mean shit to anyone other than me.

Good fun playing social football. I guess my frenetic schedule is a blessing in disguise. But back on to my Tuesday.

A quiet Tuesday at work, a few drinks in the evening (sun's out so everyone and anyone goes to the pub after work), back home for a run before wrapping it up with a late dinner watching a Gordan Ramsey cooking show where he said fuck at least 19 times before the first commercial break. Nice.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Day 2 - Monday morning blues

Monday was an unusual Monday after my Sunday night effort, I was actually in bed by 11pm, a record three hours earlier than my previous earliest Sunday night so I was proud. In fact I got a lot of sleep this weekend so I wasn’t my usual 'quiet until midday-Monday Bart'. Everyone was shocked.

So rather than wanting to murder every man, woman and child on the tube, I was actually a smiling little fool. Now work really is simply work, so I’m not going to go in to it too much. Arriving for work is a pretty good part to my day as I sit on the top floor of the 12-storey building which is a bizarre looking thing on the city skyline (photos here). But the best part is the glass elevators, gives you a great view with your morning coffee.

Also Monday will go down as booking-a-thon Monday. In the space of forty minutes, tickets were purchased for:

Barcelona – running with the bulls
Munich – Oktoberfest
Palma (Mallorca) – Football trip
V-Festival – two day festival featuring The Killers, Foo Fighters, Snow Patrol, blah, blah blah. Basically when Jet, Lily Allen and Kanye West are fourth or fifth on their individual’s stage list, you’re in for some fun.
Global Gathering – a huge two day dance festival in Straford-upon-Avon. Shakespeare would have been so proud.

Was an expensive day, particularly when I can’t actually reap the benefits just yet!

But anyway, after looking at my Highly Skilled Migrant application I realised that trying to figure it all out was doing my head in, so I’ll have to go to an intermediary to represent me top the home office, but they charge £800 for basically stapling you application and putting it in an envelope. So I decided to call Leah instead. The deal was done. She’d help me with the application, Kasi (her sister and flatmate) would cut my hair, and I’d cook them dinner. Volia. Night with the Duggans.

Now Kasi and Leah are sisters from Tasmania - poor kids - and you could not imagine any larger difference. Just take a look.Imagine Monica and Racheal in the early friends episodes, and you have these two.

Leah (brunette) is an accountant, straight forward, will always tell you what she thinks and is quite well organised – think Monica.

Casi (blonde) is a hairdresser, more aloof, known for her random random statements and can make some loud sounds for such a little girl – think Racheal.

You never really know what you're going to get when you're around the two of them. So after a dinner, which took a fairly long tine to cook, it was out of the Duggans' house, two lefts and a right, 10 minute walk and I was back home. Safe in my own house I had to hide in my room and lock the door as Coomba - a podiatrist - tried in vain to show me a big toe in formaldehyde that he had amputated that day. I went to bed.

On day 1, God created Bart

So here we go ladies and gentleman, 31 blogs in 31 days. So, what should we talk about? Well seeing as this is an attempt to keep the world aware of what is going on in the world of Bart, let’s start with the weekend.

On Friday our department went out to clean up an inner city park for charity. I got covered in heavy duty paint. I had to wash my face with paint stripper. It didn’t feel nice. So we all went out and had a drink.

Now it’s very funny to see your work colleagues outside of work, and with both my managers being aware of my blog, I’ll stop there.

Waking up hung-over Saturday morning I scrambled out of bed, well kind of fell, realising that I had 20 minutes to get down to Clapham Junction station to get a train with the rest of the team to play the old enemy West London.

A tough game in all three grades resulted in three losses unfortunately. A few injuries were the result of the day with my finger coming out second best in a tackle and a corked arse when a person fell on me knee first. The worst thing about a corked arse is that after playing a full game of football you really want to sit down…not happening. But it does afford you to come up with such school boy jokes as:

‘Bart, why are you limping.’
‘Took a shot in the arse’

So many of us went back to the Alex to sink our sorrows, but unfortunately a few of the guys were a little bit too rowdy, resulting in us being cut off. Now you know when your sponsors cut you off you may be a little too loud, so off we went to The Falcon for a few more drinks before I peeled away from the group and the Chinese DVD sellers to see some friends at The Clapham North.

Several drinks later I was ready for bed after feeling a little sun stroked all night and my finger was throbbing. On the way home, the obligatory KFC run was at the top of my mind. I was filled with surprise when waiting for my order, a few of the boys showed up, including my flatmate – at least I was going home with someone. I was even more surprised when Micheal ‘Meat’ Mehan vaulted the counter, pushed the man behind the register out of the way and started serving people. After doing this 5 of 6 times, the joke was over and it was home time, well not before tried to convince Oz that the Eastern European he was chatting up was most likely a man or had been a man in the past. More on that Wednesday.
Sunday: head pounding again. Why do I do this to myself…oohhh, time to get up, Kayley’s leaving drinks. Kayley is off to work on the Mediterranean luxury yachts for a few months so Sunday was drinks to say goodbye. Now Kayley is an absolute sweet heart, the kind of girl you wouldn’t take home to Mum as Mum would abuse you if you ever broke up with her. A right good egg who I’m, sure we will all miss (free yacht trips Kayls??).


So around to her place for a few drinks first and then off to the Fulham Pitcher and Piano. A 3.30pm start saw me come out the blocks power drinking. By 9pm I knew I was in trouble. Half way through speaking to someone, I was doing the old swaying and may have happened to stumble forward only to head but her right in the boob. Wasn’t my finest hour. I feel I recovered quite well by saying ‘that’s the first, last and only time I’m ever going to touch them isn’t it?’ She agreed. I decided to take myself home.

After misplacing my keys, I once again called my flatmate Holly to let me in. Three times in the past week. My bed was waiting and it was fresh sheet night. The joy.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Ask for more!!!!!

Not too long ago a journalist by the name of Trevor asked me to help him right a few lines about nightlife in London. Well, not nightlife as where to go to have fun, but nightlife as where to go to find friendly foreigners. I failed to explain to him that this was like asking Hannibal Lector to find a lovely vegan establishment but helped out buy writing such memorable lines as ‘Fancy a Brazilian? I know I do!’, or ‘but closer to home, go to the Shepard’s Bush Walkabout on a Wednesday night, flash anything high than £20 and you’ll have every backpacker in the establishment running your way. Hey, it’s either your bed or a flea ridden couch - you know they'll choose wisely’!

Obviously I never subscribe to these theories – I simply don’t have the balls to do it – but seeing my words in print satisfied that media hungry whore deep with in me (reminding me of the time I submitted a press release to the local paper talking about breaking my collar bone playing football and painting myself in some sort of heroic light – got half a page too)! But back to Trev, who according Adrian is the most attractive man he has ever seen.

Trev - big night

I met Trev through Tessa, another WA journo, and decided then and there I hated him. Trev has the world’s best job. He is the travel writer for TNT Magazine, an antipodean magazine in the UK that has a readership of 55,000. But I could hate Trev no more after not only running my words of travel and experience to an audience of 55,000, he has now decided to even name me! I also just noticed on the TNT website that there is a competition for travel writers… Trev?

Page 79 of this week's TNT Magazine - bottom left

And a little bit closer...

Anyway, this little thing that gave me a thrill made me realise that there are so many things you simply don’t bother telling people back home about or keep them informed. Everyday in London I will see, do, taste, touch, smell (well that’s probably not the best thing) and experience 20 new things that I would have never come across back home. There is so much going on that you simply can’t pass the experience on or tell people about. Or can you? A few people have said that while my blogs give snippets of what’s going on, they never actually say what I’m doing... that’s because what I’m actually doing would probably worry you all too much and is illiegal, but moving swiftly on.

So with that I have decided to launch Bart’s Bonza Blogging Bonanza. Stealing the idea from Simon at the Shoddy Blog, I am going to give you an update a day, letting you know what I’m doing, what’s been happening and everything in between. No email updates. No reminding you. Thirty-one blogs in 31 days. It’s up to you to visit it everyday and take a look what’s new in Bart’s world.

Starts on Monday kids. Be there.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The enemy of average

Summer is here and it’s time for some fun (well it was for a few days now it's dreary again). Now summer in the UK is a different thing to summer back home. Arriving this time last year I was amazed by how hot it was despite the temperature only reaching 25 degrees. Being a large city there's a lot of concrete. Now, the concrete heats up, the clouds roll in at the night and the city bakes. This sounds awful – and when you’re dressed in a suit it truly is – but because this phenomon only occurs for a few months a year, UK summer shits on an Aussie one for about one month in the year. Now I hear you saying ‘pull the other one’ but everyone is so appreciative of the sunshine that it’s party time for that one perfect month.

Now the paradox in my eyes is, after several months of complaining about the rain, the fog, the wet and hail, the sun comes out….and everyone fucks off to Spain????

I can’t figure this out. Lately I have discovered there is no where else in the world I’d rather be than London. This is for three reasons:

Proximity to everything: This isn’t just relating to travel. Movies, books, songs whatever. Coming from Aus, you wouldn’t often see a landmark that you lived near in a film or read about. I just finished reading a book recently where the lead character lived a couple of doors down from an apartment I was frequenting for a few months, drunk at a pub I knew all to well and described the décor of restaurants and bars that I could picture perfectly... mainly as I the décor has not changed for many years.

This is not just related to fiction. The CEO of BP was fired a few weeks ago for committing perjury by denying he had a gay lover and telling him BP's corporate secrets. It was front page news all around the world. These two met while jogging in Battersea Park and used to have dalliances at his boyfriend’s house in Wandsworth – both these places are no more than 3 minutes walk either side of my house.

This brings me to my second point: If you have a sense of humour, this country is great. I think you know where I’m going with this – the bank gave me my credit card. After going in to ask why on earth I’d been rejected several times, she couldn’t answer me, surprised that they had. Ten minutes later and a gold card in hand, I had to shake my head and wonder. And this is when I learnt the one thing that will get you through: laughter. You need to look at things in a rosey light. The bank isn't wrong, they just want you to appreciate it when they get something right. The departure times at Gatwick saying the wrong time - that's not their fault - they just want you to get some exercise sprinting for the flight. Or the train that never appears, well, there's time for that later.

But anyway, the third is variety. I remember back home geting excited when events such as Grand Prix were on, or Sydney Festival, well London has them all on, at the same time, all with in a small area of each other. Your weekend goes from one extreme to another with out even trying. If variety is the spice of life, London offers life up on plate. All in the space of a three days, without even trying mind you, there was dodgy pub-club-Premier League football game-BBQ-bar hopping-BBQ-Aussie rules- dodgy pub-dodgy club-four in a bed with pizza and Scrubs TV marathon lazy session-pub session.

Scouser (Liverpool fans) - always make you feel welcome!
So I had to move away from them (me on the left...Scouser Neil on the right)

But I couldn't stay away from Neil for long

But the one thing London and the variety offers you is a Peter Pan lifestyle. You feel like you're never going to grow up. You go out all night and if you feel bad the next day, you simply do it again. You get bored; you don't wander around the house, you go and see a friend and do something with them. It's actually amazing why you we actually pay so much rent when you never stay in your house!
Discover on a Thursday night that there is actually nothing planned for the weekend, don't worry, it will happen. Either that or get on-line and book a return flight to Pisa for the weekend and plonk your arse in a restaurant there for the price of filling up your car with fuel (a whole new dimension to sitting around eating pizza on a quiet Saturday night).
There really is no such thing as an average weekend, and that's the beauty of London.