This weekend a bunch of us made plans to go and see the Hitchhiker's Guide on its first night, Thursday after work. A heap of us got organised and booked tickets for the Gold Screen showing at 5:20. To say that I was really looking forward to it is a gross understatement... and I just found out that I have to work that night - actually the real sucky part is that I already knew! I have to go on the pre-Projects walk after work with the group we're taking to Rum in May, something I was really looking forward to as well, I just hadn't rememebered it was that Thursday.


friendly helper

While poor old Bags is in the shop having his suspension rebuilt (he went in on Wednesday morning and I should get him back tomorrow night) I have one of these* friendly little motors to bumble about in. It's not really my sort of thing, the styling's a bit on the cutesy side for me for one thing but I've been pretty impressed with it all the same.

Driving a little one litre again is inevitably quite a culture shock: 64bhp is a good deal less oomph than I've grown used to (in all fairness, Bags is no super car, just a more-than-usually-powerful three-door hatch.) but that said the Micra's pretty peppy, especially round town, and it's certainly a good deal perkier than my old Panda which had the same size engine in a much lighter body. I suppose engine design has come a long way in 20-odd years.

One thing it has made me very aware of is just how far out of town I really live - this car is perfectly capable and (traffic and hills notwithstanding) bombs along the A70 at a respectable pace... but it isn't fun to drive. It's not that it's unpleasant, far from it, it's very inoffensive... and inoffensive is no fun. I miss my car's growl and the way it leaps gleefully 'round other cars whenever I ask it to... it seems that a big part of my not minding the commute has to do with my car, I don't think I'd appreciated just how much until now: driving home tonight was the first time in three years that it actually felt like a long way.

All in all though you'd have to be a pretty hard hearted not to like the Micra, it does everything you might reasonably ask of a car and is cute and reassuringly simple to drive to boot. While I can't wait to get Bags back, this friendly little four wheeled helper is at least making his extended convalescence less of a pain.

*My almost brother-in-law calls them "the ugliest car ever built" but personally Steve, I think you're wrong. The Micra isn't the ugliest car ever - this is. [shudder]

expect some wear and tear

Two things to post about today, both dimly related in a weird sort of a way.

Bags (my car) went in for his 60,000 mile service today. He's only been on the road a little over three years so it doesn't take a maths whizz to realise that's pretty high mileage for a little car. Most of it's done slogging back and forth between the city my life happens in and the house I live in - that's about a 60 mile round trip each time and the road between the two is one of the most staggeringly poorly maintained you're likely to encounter in the so-called "developed" world... Inevitably this daily slog was going to take a toll on Bags' suspension, and for the last few times he's been in for a service I've been braced for the news I got today - namely that half the components in his suspension system are now shot and need replacing. Ouch.

So part of my day has been about that while the other part has been about my renewed efforts to find somewhere else to work. After almost two years of applying for (and not getting) jobs that might move me smoothly away from the school I've stepped up the pace somewhat and am determined to be somewhere (anywhere!) else by this summer (more on that in detail another time.)

Lots of applications mean lots of rejections (direct or indirect) and much like potholes the cumulative effect of all these adds up to quite a battering for the psyche. This morning as I read yet another rejection letter (which had arrived within an hour of my application!) I became aware that my emotional suspension could use a few new parts, or perhaps even a complete overhaul considering the ride ahead.

Later in the day while I was engaged once again in that sisyphean task of redrafting of my CV, I delved into my files looking for a way to make the personal statement part sound more like it's actually about me and not some worker drone. I pulled up a file from about 18 months ago. It was the results from a mailshot I'd made asking people who knew me well for their observations on what I do well, and what they rely on me for (it was part of that hookey-pookey self development work I do with Hamish.) Anyway as well as condensing that for the particular 'process' I was involved in at the time, I'd salted the comments away for future reference in this file.

Reading that file this afternoon was like having every bearing, strut and suspension arm in my emotional undercarriage replaced free of charge - right now I'm riding on air and just wanted to say thank you (again) to everyone who contributed to that, and whose stored up observations cumulatively reminded me something important. Namely that no matter how many rejection letters I get, I have a hell of a lot more to give than this job allows me scope for.

Bumps in the road be damned. I'll get there.

"metadata, you fickle bitch"

So. London. I know, I said I'd post this ages ago and time's run on now but it was a great weekend and I feel like documenting that for my own benefit as much as anything (as I found when I was down there, this blog has become quite a handy chronicle for me of what happened when...)

The Plan as it stood when Hamish and I decided to go to London for a weekend was to see his mate Tim on stage in the show he's in problem with that plan was that having booked ourselves flights down for a weekend when it was on and we could both get there, the damned show was sold out. Undeterred we decided to just hang out in London, I've a couple of great friends down there who I don't get to see often enough, one of whom Owen was being kind enough to put us up for free so there was bound to be plenty of scope for catching up (or in Hamish case, meeting for the first time in real life).

With The Plan dropped, our weekend just kind of formed itself organically around the very cool people I'm lucky enough to know - without really making any effort to organise our time Hame and I managed to spend pretty much every minute in excellent company and making the most of where we were. Days and evenings just formed themselves according to our moods. For example Friday night we hung out at Owen's 'local' where he appeared to know everyone and all of them were worth knowing. Late in the evening I observed that the (stupidly early) English pub closing time was threatening to call a premature halt to things. Before I'd really had time to think about it our evening was being ushered (past the queue) into one of London's biggest gay clubs' VIP lounges where things carried on uninterupted save for the arrival of some champagne.

I slept through Saturday morning emerging into the perfect chilled atmosphere of Owen's livingroom with Owen, Hamish and a very lovely friend of Owen's called Gav I'd met the night before. 'round lunchtime and staying there through the afternoon just enjoying the luxury of excellent company and no commitments. Later on Hame and I headed into town to meet my old friend Stéph, whose London is almost the antithesis of Owen's being as she's only quite recently begun building a life there - It started to feel like a 'hang out in a café' kind of evening, so an appropriately quiet and intimate Café Rouge materialised on the street we were already walking down... the whole weekend just kind of worked out like that.

Hanging out with Hamish is always good, but this weekend was the first time we've travelled together on a completely equal footing - in the past I've always driven us on our adventures which isn't quite the same as both being at the mercy of trains and planes. A sequence of missed connections meant we missed check in for our return RyanAir by 5 minutes. That was momentarily annoying but within a few minutes both of us geared down from travelling mode and spent a happy five hours in Stansted just enjoying each other's company while we waited for our Standby.

So there you go - my weekend in London, I essentially did nothing, but it was really good nothing with some great people and it all just happened by itself. I'm a lucky guy.

unsurprising meme

Owen's fault the meme that is, not the earthshateringly unsurprising result thereof.

Who Should You Vote For?

Who should I vote for?

Your expected outcome:

Liberal Democrat

Your actual outcome:

Labour 2
Conservative -65
Liberal Democrat 92
UK Independence Party -23
Green 22

You should vote: Liberal Democrat

The LibDems take a strong stand against tax cuts and a strong one in favour of public services: they would make long-term residential care for the elderly free across the UK, and scrap university tuition fees. They are in favour of a ban on smoking in public places, but would relax laws on cannabis. They propose to change vehicle taxation to be based on usage rather than ownership.

Take the test at Who Should You Vote For

Yes I know, the London post is coming


delayed post

I'm still shattered and haven't mustered the mental energy to describe the weekend yet but amazingly Hamish has, so you can read his version of events while you wait, if you like.

back I am

had a fantastic weekend away, but a hard time getting home from it and consequently my brain is now kelp so I'll post about it properly tomorrow.


I'll keep this short because Hame is lying on the livingroom floor behind the sofa I'm sitting on, and he's trying to sleep.

Tomorrow we're going on an adventure to London, it was supposed to be about seeing his friend Tim acting in a show, but that's looking like it won't happen and instead it's become Hamish and Patrick's weekend in London with No Plan and I'm really looking forward to it: perfect cap for my week of being responsible for nothing

On Monday I'm going back to work and on Thursday the kids come back... there's a new plan brewwing that will hopefully mean this is the last term I'll be working there... last half term even... but it's early days yet so I don't want to jynx it...

Hame wants to sleep... I should sleep. I'm shutting up now, but I'l hopefully have lots to say when I get back


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