Thursday, December 30, 2004
I really want to get blasted drunk when it's gone! Sudafed gave me about 3 hours of feeling nearly normal, but that pseudoephedrine hydrochloride stuff has never served me well whenever I've used it for a regular dose.
But it was such a delight when I got into the office this morning, and a female colleague remarked with concern, as soon as I opened my mouth, "was I all right, I sounded all nasal!". Well, I can surely tell you, all the partners I have had in the past ever did fail to notice anything wrong with me until I was screaming blue murder that I was ill. So really, to be true, I'm not missing anything more by being single, than if I had someone around. Sad, but true.
I guess I'll just have to wait for it to blow over. But perversely, in the meantime, I wouldn't mind a rough scrap right now. When no pleasure seems to counter an inner physical pain, only an external pain (well, a gentle version thereof: I'm no Mike Tyson) can distract it and charge the body with adrenalin and testosterone, (the deficit of which, leaves you feeling half dead anyway). No, that sentence is not as long as one of Darwin's.
Wednesday, December 29, 2004
I came across the gambling poker-playing subculture of blogging here, and the foreign language so amazed me. It reminded me how puzzled I am about the differences between the blogging worlds in the USA, Canada and the UK. The Internet might be global, but its peoples are still very, very different.
Tuesday, December 28, 2004
He said, "They cut down Five of them this Weekend". In the Prison.
I asked, "What do you mean they 'cut them down'?"
Well, one of them did commit suicide, and the others tried. Apparently in this prison of 800, there were 5 attempted suicides by self-hanging over the Christmas weekend.
Little bits of information from the horse's mouth, which frankly, do depress me. It's bad enough that the world is so imperfect. I'm the kind of person who wants things fixed, instead of the kind of person who just walks around with gossamer wings, saying "..it's so sad, isn't it..", with eyelids fluttering.
One and a half hours on the phone. Performing Arts types all bear the same hallmarks. Barrels of self-faith that run deeper than the Mariana Trench, and then the self-hyping garrulous effusiveness that is essential to survive in the profession. But at the end of it all, what did I gain from the encounter, except the opportunity to pick up off the floor piles of names that were dropped in front of me. In a society with too much celebrity culture already, should I really give a damn? Shall I use the names as a substitute for a vocabulary? Will they maybe fill out a soup for my dinner?
Anyway, although I commend the activity of taking Shakespeare into prisons to bring hope and opportunity to the inmates, I like to take a broader view. Who is making efforts to deter people from making the mistakes that lead them to become criminals, then caught and imprisoned? The Guardian? You can't even get people to buy a newspaper, let alone read Shakespeare. Not until they're stuck in a prison with nowhere else to go.
Ok, so I've got a sinus headache, and although it's sunny, I'm in a bad mood. Only a sauna will work on this, and I've got to drag my sorry old ass over to one, self-will or not, and cough up the mini-mortgage along with the rest of this semi-dormant cold virus. Times like this, a big raging rant is more relieving than all the money earned by Vodaphone's executives from the brainless kids who blow fortunes on mobile phones.
Ilford is no pleasure. The Boxing Day Sales there did not entice me to spend fifty pence today. Hard to believe it used to be a posh place to live, over ten years ago. It has been vitally apparent for a while, that the English have deserted it, the way they abandoned Newham. But still it depresses me, because I remember how it used to be, and because it is my nearest substantial shopping centre. Curiously enough, you don't even see any bespectacled, frowning, studied political science at University types. They're very eager to defend censorship of free speech in places like East London, but they don't actually live anywhere near here. No, I suspect they're all in Camden, Clerkenwell, Notting Hill and Brixton or even holidaying in their second homes in Cyprus and Bulgaria?
Monday, December 27, 2004
Recipe Partridge Soup Casserole:
Take an Oven Ready Partridge bought from your local branch of Global Supermarket Plc. Pluck the rest of the feathers out, because the electric-feather-zapper that they use in the abattoir doesn't get them all out. Wash the partridge inside and out, and shake lightly to get all the water off.
Cut up the partridge with a pair of kitchen scissors. Don't sweat over it - the partridge is very dead already. A snip across the middle to separate the front end from the back end. Then a snip down the middle of the breast to split it so you can flatten it.
Season the partridge with a sprinkling of allspice, generous Millings of Black Pepper, and grindings of sea salt. Leave for half an hour.
Meanwhile, wash and take out any nasty bits from some new potates, but don't peel them. Then Cut them up into chunks about an inch across. Don't cube them, just chunk them! Take some organic carrots, and after washing them, chop them up into a similar size. Take half the leafy stalks from a head of celery, and slice them up into quarter inch lengths.
Take a ten-inch saucepan and douse the base with two tablespoons of sunflower oil, (it's lighter than olive, corn or peanut oil, which would make a partridge far too overbearing). When the oil is seasoned, chuck the partridge in, and flatten it against the bottom of the pan. Do each side of the meat until it starts to turn brown, but not too much longer. Then throw 2 pints of water into the pan, add the potatoes and carrots, and bring to the boil. Turn down and Simmer for five minutes, then throw in the celery, and Love and the City's XXX Secret Ingredient.
XXX secret ingredient, consists of a bit of beetroot juice, a bit of vinegar, a bit of garlic, and a few coins of celeriac that have been marinading in it for 2 weeks. If you haven't been so prepared, then just peel and chop a clove of garlic, and add two slices of pickled beetroot out of a store-bought jar! Alternatively, Love ant the City's XXX Secret Ingredient will soon be available in your local branch of Global Supermarket PLc, on the shelf with the profitable secretions of Jamie Oliver, Lloyd Grossman, Gordon Ramsay etcetera, etcetera.
Cook for another 15 minutes and then enjoy it in this order. Remove the partridge, and devour it with carnivorous lust, relishing it and gratefully noting its gamey smell and taste. Then say a short prayer to thank the Planet, and any Gods that might really Exist, that it's not KFC, or WORSE, McDonalds, Burger King, or some Shitty-coloured Vindaloo.
Ladle the soup and vegetables into a deep bowl, and slurp it with guttural grunts and satisfaction, and compare your efforts with Campbell's, Heinz, Baxters, or Supermarket-Name Brand.
Then check the Pears you bought, and imagine a proper full-sized Thirty-foot high pear tree, not just some Garden-Centre Nursery-bred dwarf that was bred to ooze pears out of its scrawny 7 foot high frame.
There you go, the perfect way to have a Second Day of Christmas, described in elementary detail, but not to the painful reduction that Delia Smith would subject it to. Because it just might be, dear Reader, that you aren't a total Brainless SheepPerson.
Sunday, December 26, 2004
Here it's a gloriously sunny blue sky day from horizon to horizon, and only 2 degrees C. No Tsunami here, yet!
Saturday, December 25, 2004
Colin had dropped by yesterday evening, entirely by surprise, to drop off a Xmas gift and a card. I left the gift under my Jade plant, which I've strung with tinsel to be my Xmas tree. This year, I have made no concessions to the materialistic consumptive travesty of mis-interpreted Christmas that British Sheep-People are expected to obey. Honestly, except for splashing out yesterday on a £10.50 box of Thornton's chocolates, as my contribution to today's Christmas meal, I have spent scarcely a penny on Christmas. So cards have been kept to less than 6 sent out, and I have bought no presents for anyone.
With monastic anti-materialism, I left Colin's gift unopened, in my spirit of Xmas, expecting it to be nothing more than a blank diary or notebook. (Come to think of it, I really think I feel monastic spirituality!)
So while chatting with Richard this evening, he was just telling me about a hilarious book that chronicles jobs from hell. After I hung up, I opened my little gift from Colin, and with delighted surprise, found that he had got me "The Idler book of Crapjobs - 100 Tales of Workplace Hell". The very book that Richard was speaking of! What and extremely thoughtful and apt choice. The book is a joy to browse, for me, after career-change hell that I'm still pulling out of.
Back to having fun, and off the Blogger....
It opened with a blue sky beautiful morning, and we might get some snow here this afternoon/evening.
Tuesday, December 21, 2004
You won't understand why, so try moving to for example, Hampshire, and/or for example, back to Birmingham.
Given the choice of putting up Christmas lights, or going to the pub tonight, I picked the right choice. My life is worth living after all. Amen.
This morning I almost died of shock, or rather, from choking on my own vomit, when on Nick Ferrari's morning slot on LBC Radio, I heard advertisements, in the voice of Boris Johnson (?) for the Spectator magazine. "The Spectator.... Unashamedly elite".
I hope the current ownership of the Spectator is not related to LBC radio. How could LBC sully themselves by carrying such a naffly inappropriately targeted ad?
Spectators, Observers, journalists, are all dangerously voyeuristic. Myself as a Blogger,I hope I shall kill this blog before I stoop to their level, for I already see it happening. Relativity, without having to involve yourself into Einstein's spaced-out mathematics, means voyeurism is worthless and even destructive.
Woman: Simon, you like watching, don't you?
Simon: Yes, Kimberley, you KNOW that....
Woman: Would you like to watch me doing it with another man?
Simon: Yes, wow! I've always wanted to do that! But how? They wouldn't like me watching!
Woman: Aaaaah! But what if I did it with a blind man? Then you could be standing right there, and watching, and he wouldn't know!
Simon: Ooooh! That's disgusting! But you witchy bitch, exciting! It would work, you know, but I'd have to be careful about not wearing aftershave or smelly shampoo scents, I think! Where would you find someone like that?
Woman: HA HAhaha! Don't worry... They don't call me Network Southeast for nothing! I'm American, and you poor English sods are so, so, so naive.
Simon: Who ARE you thinking of?
Woman: Well, a certain man by the name of Blunkett????... (titter)
Simon: WHAT! NO! REALLY! Wow, I'm getting excited just thinking about it!
Woman: Just think of the stories you could tell the little Hoggarts, or better yet, your faithful, brainless Guardian readers
Simon: Ok, I WANT to do this.....Kimberley, you know I LOVE you!
Woman: I love you TOO, Simon, and I want to have your babies!
X left a message on my machine tonight. Fine. Just stay away a little (or maybe a lot) longer, please. I'm alive. You're alive. That's enough to know, and I want no more ....
Back to important things. The Solstice is here. Tomorrow is a celebration. Then comes the Twelve days of Christmas. Christmas shall start on Christmas day, but in my weakness, shall include Christmas Eve. And this one, shall be the most special Christmas ever, because it will entirely be within my soul....
Monday, December 20, 2004
So let me list the things that I should be glad of:
- My fourth day of earnings! Having seen no cash come in for so long, every day of earnings seems to be a bonus.
- Because I had to get out to go to work, I got to witness the first morning of hard frost we've had so far this season, and the Flats were covered in icy mist, while the rising sun was a glowing orange in a fairly clear sky. The sun was further south-east than I've ever seen (it's normally hidden behind clouds at this time of year!) At last, it seemed obvious how primitive peoples could accurately identify the solstices, and equinoxes, and thereby a calendar.
- It was cold and crisp, but everybody seemed happier and chirpier today. Any weather is better than gray clouds, and rain, when you've had more of it than you can bear.
- My ucky feeling of illness over the weekend seems to be receding, with sure tell-tale signs of energetic sneezing showing that my immune system is kicking back properly at last.
- Brentwood is not in London. Hooray! As I wandered about during my lunch-break, I felt as gleeful as a prisoner escaped. Even a road leading towards the Travis Perkins seemed to be an exciting adventure!
- The people at work are nice, and it's coming up to Christmas, so they're probably even more cheerful than I could expect them to be.
The weekend was a struggle, though. While the stomach cramps were subsiding, the ucky feeling of something half way between a cold and a flu marinated in my bones. On Saturday, a bike ride to Stratford to stock up on beer from Morrison's, and then a night time march about in the neighbourhood, just about made me feel alive. Picked up Iain Sinclair's book, Thameside, and from first flippings, I don't know when I'll feel able to get into it.
Then Sunday opened up to be a beautiful sunny blue skied cold day, and I wished I had a conservatory with a ceiling high enough for a patio heater, and a sunlounger. Nonetheless, in the middle of the day, I almost dozed off while sitting and staring at, feeling unable to get out the front door. Here I must congratulate myself, for I willed myself to get out on the bicycle, and had a very useful trip to Waitrose in Woodford.
Now what can I say, except that with my demanding standards in food, I would shop at Waitrose all the time, if money were no object. And on a Sunday afternoon, their clientele were a universe away from the mish-mash grubby-fingering nouveaux emigres at the Leyton Asda. The joy of entering into sophisticated civilized shopping circles was not lost on me, nor was the new freedom to pick up things that I would normally have denied myself. And people actually spoke English there! And they had high-minded values such as expecting quality, variety, and traceability of their food!
The trouble with being me, is I can be a complete chav peasant, or a complete bourgeois snob, but I can't just be one or the other. I have to satisfy both aspects of me, and the Waitrose aspect has been too long denied.
But the best part was that I parked my bike at exactly the same time as someone else, and then came out of the supermarket to find him packing his shopping onto his bike. Although I still felt at a relatively low and ucky ebb, I thought I must engage him in conversation. I've never met any other guy at any supermarket who was crazy enough to pack their piles of weekly shopping onto their bike. And so ensued a half-hour long chat outside the supermarket. He was a very nice fellow, and I really regret that I did not have the wherewithal to steer our conversation into a friendly pub, because it is so, so difficult to find friendly people in London that you can enjoy a chat with. Of course, I sussed out that he was a Geordie, because his accent so reminded me of one Terry that I met years ago at a university course. And of course, this explains why he was so friendly. Geordies are verbally approachable and are friendly and sociable with it, for they are brought up with the imprint of this responsibility. This means they are really good at making connections with strangers, but they can be a bit shy about taking that connection to a higher level of intensity when they desire it.
Well, I hope I bump into him again, and since he lives in Wanstead, that might be not so strange. He's even greener than I ever used to be, which without being a Swampy-style eco-warrior, is difficult. A man who owns a car by virtue of it having been given to him, but only manages to do 1000 miles a year in it. I know people who do 1000 miles a week, easily, and gave up despairing at them! I might be a very disillusioned Greenie, but I felt very comfortable around him because of his values.
Saturday, December 18, 2004
Towards the open ground on the Flats, there is enough blue that the bare London Plane trees stand their magnificence against it, their pale upright limbs reaching upwards with obvious grace. Again, my brain launches forth, like a hawk released, seeking out visual sustenance in the distance, and the flush running into my body tells me that I am at last being resuscitated.
Love myself, I had said. Don't wait. Find yourself a cure. Perhaps some sophisticated classical music, instead of the usual XFM, Virgin, or Magic? Radio 3 even? So Maracas accompanied me to the windows.
Seventeen hours I was prostrated on the sofa, with a TV as my only nursemaid, and many forages into the kitchen in unsuccessful attempts to push life back into myself, but few trips to the bathroom to push the death out. And my stomach all the time feeling mildly cramped, as though it were stuffed with garlic-flavoured lead and strangled by cling-film. I felt somewhat ill, but this does not yet count as being sick. This was not caused by food, I don't think. It may have been the bug that was hovering in me all week, augmented by ones met in my forced occupation of public transportation and workplace. Or it may have been true neurosis, or psychosomatic magnification of a genuine pathogenic disease by being a working person now.
For Day Three happened so quickly, that I fully reverted to the Life of the Office Worker that I used to live, accommodating it with habituated mechanisms learned over many years. Ones which came into operation without any opportunity for me to understand them or to consider their relevance. Prevention, is better than Cure, but they all clicked in before I could see which undesirable ones I might prevent. By the end of the day, familiar manifestations of the effects of how I habitually suffer working in an office, had appeared.
On the train home, opportunities for wandering off at intermediate stations are drowned by a desire to get home without any further ado. My face is in a mask of battery-chicken contentment, while my eyes cast about desperately for something to consume. It is dark already outside, of course, but thankfully there are a few handsome heads to admire. These are normal going-home times for working people, and these people still exist beyond Seven Kings. You see few of these handsome people in East London, especially if you're living in the world of the unemployed (the broader sense, e.g. including the sick and the elderly). And it's hard to believe that I ever had any heterosexual inclinations earlier in the year. These men I view today, as it ever was when I worked in an office, are the only visions that I can cling to until I get home. The women only seem to get in the way.
This is why I said it was a gay job. By the end of the day, I feel that I have so resoundingly repressed my sexual, physical animal self, that to rescue me from the human spiritual suffocation, I have no alternative but to BE GAY. To seek out the images of men who are stronger, and appear to be freely expressing their manly, masculine selves. Today's office culture is even more enforcedly unisexual than it was 20 years ago, whence sexual liberation was already de facto. But outside, today's social culture, I hate to say it, is a never-before-seen perversion where men and women are expected to deny their sexual differences. For men, this means drowning every molecular trace of their chest-beating, thrusting, warring, dominating, lustful selves. For women, it means the opposite.
Also, it's an office culture which has seen the full invasion and assimilation of computers. So you're more likely to spend the day staring at a computer screen, than by interacting with your colleagues to hunt down the goals of your socio-economic work tribe.
It's all draining to my soul, and I have to find a way to keep it all in perspective. The simplest ideal is to reduce the entire experience to the exchange of my time, for money - necessary money. In the meantime, I am now savouring the memory of me, working as a gardener in the height of summer, shirt off, sweaty and dirty, my brain in tune with every muscle in my body, driving around in a Transit tipper with the windows down and the radio blaring, and in the last redoubt of others who even more blatantly have refused the prissy pussification of our world. If only we could have more summer, and less winter.....
And aptly for my topic, those BBC/Guardian/Labour intellectuals have this week been wondering why binge-drinking has taken over British society. And for the time being, their solution is to stick more police in the boozy troublespots all over the country, especially for the Christmas drinking season. They never seem to think about basic human instincts, and the need to provide sustenance for them. How else can young people today come to terms with their animal selves, if they refuse to be contained in a cage of Xbox Playstation virtuality?
Thursday, December 16, 2004
So there I was, sitting alone in my office all morning. No computer ID yet, because hey, that's the efficiency of outsourced I.T.! And rather than be bored, I just sit peacefully, with only a shadowy view of a grey cloudy sky, under flourescent lighting, surrounded by old-painted magnolia walls. I'm studying the files that I'm supposed to file, even though the subject matter is alien to me, and although I feel no passion for it, I am still able to maintain enough interest to absorb the facts.
And it occurs to me, why couldn't I just get on with business like this when I was at home with so much time on my hands? I couldn't. I tried. I found I could never ever be a self-employed person, because I just could not bring myself to do it. Was it lack of motivation? No, because I needed an occupation, but that was not enough. Was it lack of interest? Well I'm not interested in Social Services either, but that doesn't stop me in my new office job.
It really must be just that I'm getting paid, or that I KNOW I'm getting paid. I know it's enough to live, even if it's not enough to live well. That security is enough, that in my own time, I feel I can apply myself to seek a task and aim to achieve something productive from it. At home, unpaid, no enormous carrot held in front of me can be my guaranteed reward even if I should struggle towards it. I can expend effort, but in the uncertainty of risky outcomes, I know that I might have nothing, absolutely nothing to show for it at the end. Is this the true essence of the chains that hobble a Wage Slave? I am surely a wage slave, then. Much as I may despise my condition, I am the quintessential wage slave.
I wonder how much of this is childhood upbringing, and adult habituated conditioning, or how much is inherently genetic? Centuries of civilization based on wage slaves must surely have an effect on the evolutionary selection and success and numbers of my kind! I blog this question for my future consideration, and any hope of finding a way to break my chains. I have admired self-employed people, particularly your work-a-day tradesman, for a very long time, and I must know why I find it so difficult to do what they do.
By the afternoon, signs of future despair were already showing. I had saturated my brain already with governmental systems that I found to be predictably bureaucratic and wasteful. Eager to find something concrete to do, I was relieved to finally get my User ID. Soon after, my usually absentee boss, who dropped in, found me a tedious job which will easily last me a few days.
The key word here is tedious. I've only gone into this temp job to experience the novelty of earning money again, and to benefit from the external social contact, and the external discipline it puts on my life. Yet instantly, the job she has dumped on me becomes clearly and obviously tedious.
Never mind the fact that I'm supposed to be intelligent, educated and above all this kind of work, blah, blah, blah. That's a simplistic and trite analysis, and not correct anyway. I judge a task to be tedious if it takes more time than is warranted by the benefit it brings to the world.
The question to be asked is, "At what point in time did my mercenary professionalism become superceded by my altruistic idealism?" Whatever I do, what ever task I should undertake, why should I concern myself with its permanence, and its beneficial effect to the world around me? I am supposed to only concern myself with taking my wages home.
This altruistic idealism is the characteristic that conflicts seriously with my wage slave dependency. Without it, I could surely have spent 20 years in the same job/company, like people I've met who I used to think were insane, moronic, or space aliens. Without it, I might have had the patience to reach a cushy little fatcat executive level, and sit there, and be the kind of person that the Talking Heads hated. A person who would finding myself at the wheel of a large automobile, with a beautiful wife, and a beautiful house, but not asking myself, "How did I get here?"
The very opposite type of person to me, and you've met many of them too, I'm sure, is entirely mercenary. They can be completely oblivious to whether their actions precipitated the destruction of the entire human race, the planet and all its plants and animals.
Could I be a little more in the middle? I'm not sure that the altruistic idealism is entirely caused by a fundamental Catholic belief that Good must always guard against Evil. I think some of it comes from an analytical and systematic perception of order. Where everything is eventually reduced to a mass of black boxes each with only input and output. A belief in Utilitarianism, brought down to Boolean principles of logic. Spock.
And I blog this, that I should remember to guard myself against it, for I need to be more mercenary.
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
Imagine that you go to your first office job in almost two years. In that time, you've taken a working class, manual outdoor job as a council contractors' gardener working only one rung up the social ladder from your neighbourhood street sweeper. You've broken up with your lover of nine years, because he just didn't have the vision to give you a life, or the understanding to put himself in yours shoes. And your dad has advancing prostate cancer.
Then you're scared shitless by the low self-esteem and the futureless conditions that today's minority who do low-paid working class jobs have to endure. But you're not even aware of it yet. And you give up on that job, because physically, you can't cope with the winter conditions and the physical exertion that leaves you with nothing at the weekend, because you just weren't born with athletic stamina. And then your Dad starts dying, slowly, and your family and siblings are little more grown up than yourself to be able to cope with it. And all this time, the hope that carried you from childhood, that Love would come to the rescue, proves itself feeble and useless. And you wonder if you're ever going to be allowed to earn a living again, and how?
There was a rude awakening by the alarm, and despite the significance of the day, my love of sleep almost won. But forced to face external discipline, I had to wake. Which allowed me to remember my dream, one so much more extravagant and imaginative than I expected. In a modern tall palace set high in the hills, I was staying as a guest with someone who looked like Ruth's sister. Life was easy, carefree, and privileged. She decided to go "skiing" down to the village, but it was not on snow. The hills were covered in white paper, and she went sliding down on it all the way to the picturesque buildings. (How sickeningly Freudian, on contemplation during editing this!).
Off to the train, and as in olden times forced to chase time, I am only just able to jump on my train as the doors are closing. Going out of London there is plenty of seating spare, but with enough diverse passengers to offer interest. Even seeing the Roding Valley golf course seems a pleasure. Passing Ilford, I become aware of the vast industrial site along the railway line, that is the Bombardier Train Workshop. So this is the site from which they will lose 600 jobs, presumably resulting in total closure of the facility. Another manufacturing industry departs from London, leaving this city to become nothing more than a parasitic vessel of consumerism. But in the global economy, its host is not so much the rest of Britain, as it is China and South East Asia.
Leaving Romford, I am surprised at how Harold Wood sprawls into the green belt, with housing that is mostly Thirties, Forties and Fifties. London's suburban sprawl was completed even before I was born.
At Brentwood, strolling up Rose Valley, I get one of those Life Coincidences that verifies my life is moving. I bump into OJ, whom I haven't seen for over 5 years. He used to be a lodger at East Ham when I was happily partnered there, a long time ago. He looks amazing for his age, still very attractive although his nose is more hooked than before. He always radiated sexual animalism, and it never was more apparent than back in the time when he had a Spanish boyfriend. The sounds coming from their bedroom used to stir my envy, and made me know that I had sexual horizons that were not being fulfilled. Today, he still fires my imagination and desire.
What a coincidence, my first day on the job, in a town I barely know, and he happens to be not yet at work because of a dental appointment. And he has moved home only recently, to Brentwood. Quite apart from the fact that I always found him very sexually attractive, there is nothing so reassuring as meeting someone from your past, when you are new to a place.
The office has Asbestos Warning signs here, there, and everywhere! On some ceiling tiles, floor tiles, and even on the window sills. Damned government buildings. Mine must have been a doctor's office, because a panel over the door has two alert lamps, labelled Surgery 1 and Surgery 2.
The day soon slips into my familiar experience. How many strange offices have I entered into and accommodated. It is just another. The people are moderate, reasonable, and amicably civilized.
At last I come across a Windows 2000 Pro workstation. So what was the big deal, when it was just NT5? Why did the entire industry make such a fuss over MCSE certification, for something that was just one step up from NT4? And the wastefully expensive and mindless Nineties fashion for outsourcing I.T., means that BT Syntegra looks after everything. Happily for their fat cat executives, I'm sure. If there is one type of entity that mows down the humanity of life, it is again proven to be the Corporation.
On the way home, relieved at the thought of having at last earned a day's pay, I stop in Romford to treat myself. Such a luxury, to be able to act spontaneously on a whim. I spot a noodle bar, called Coco. On South Street, not far from the train station. There are so many noodle bars in London these days, (not counting the proper Chinese restaurants in Chinatown), that they seem easier to find than a good chip shop. The prawn ramen is ok, a score of 6 or maybe 7 out of 10. It's 25% too salty, though, and the noodles seem to be of neither Chinese nor Japanese quality. Why are the waiting staff so hopeless at English?! They barely understand anything, yet this is not an "ethnic experience" restaurant: it's a Wagamama's-style Californian mutation. Even the dishwashers in the roughest restaurants in Chinatown can understand more English. So the servers are young, and they look clean and smart, but is that the only qualification necessary? This bunch don't even seem to be on Student Visas, because Lord knows that foreign students need a modicum of English in order to warrant the cost of an education here. Once again, you have to wonder why they're allowed to have these jobs, legally or otherwise, when outside, the street-sweepers working are 50-something year old guys who have no other choice in the employment market. This country tolerates cheap labour the same way it tolerates hunger and genocide in Africa.
So oh Yes, oh Yes, even an unglamorous temp job can be better than sex or love, when you haven't got anywhere else to go, and you still have to fund a lot of living years before you are too old to care about any excitement at all. Really, sex and love are luxuries and extravagances, and if you can't afford them, you could fool yourself that you have them by enjoying them on Credit, but one day, you'll see a mountain of Debt. And the Debt isn't just necessarily in Money. It can be in any of the currencies of human expense.
Oh Dancers, from the Dance, who ignore prophets, and scorn profits. Entertain losses, and you may be lost.
The West End was full of dreadful office parties getting drunk and then going on to queue desperately for the small clubs, eg. on Oxford Street. Gave up trying to find a gay bar to buy a drink in, as it was getting late and they were all charging door cover. Was feeling very freaked after a week of prostituting myself to office temp agencies.
Saturday, helped get the Belkin 802.11g wireless LAN working on the Broadband at S's place. Cal had been trying all week, but he didn't have my background in networking knowledge, or my skill at attacking a problem using both methodical and intuitive approaches. It does seem to be coming back. But those idiot I.T. managers people always think I.T. people can only be measured by the latest gadget that they've played with, or worse, some ridiculous Certification Scheme.
Ridiculous how much you get for the money. A 4-port ethernet hub with an ADSL modem, wireless 54 Mbps LAN and 2 access points for £90? You couldn't get all that for £5,000 ten years ago! Technology is a cancer, and grows as quickly as one.
Met up with Del at 79CXR, he flew in, from the Gay Sex Desert call Dublin, for his birthday weekend. Got very chatty with some new meets, and (social intelligence-wise) crossed a new barrier on "what to do with a stranger when you've suddenly exposed their horizons of being fearful". Ignore the topic on discussion and just let them ride on it. It tells you more about them than they want you to know, which is another reason why they get defensive. And move on. There are 6 billion people on the world, and really, many people in the West all live in their own cosseted little fantasies, assiduously ignoring what they do not want to face. Why should I be any more responsible for unwittingly lifting the wool from their eyes, than say, a mother who drags her son away from some wretched computer fantasy game?
Got very drunk on 4 pints, and being social gave me a buzz, which with the expectation of a temp job, made me feel alive again. So on Sunday, I got a shag, for the first time in over 3 months. (New readers, note, I'm the kind of person who could not go without it for long, but these last three middle-aged years have been a trial from hell).
On Monday, I got word that I've got that Temp job, and the thought of money was more relieving even than the experience of real sex for the first time in over 3 months.
So I start in the morning. Everytime the dread thought pops up in my head, that I have had to sink to taking what I call a gay job, I shall just think of the pounds and pence per hour I'm clocking up. I don't think I've ever felt so coldly professional about taking a job.
So for the Winter Solstice, i.e. Christmas, I should be getting my first paycheque all year. I've never asked Santa for much, have I? Probably because I never get anything I need, and I only get the junk that nobody else seems to want.
It's amazing that anybody would dare to offer a machine translation from Japanese to English, especially a slightly abstract techie explanation of how to repair stuck maximized IE windows.
Fortunately, I re-discovered myself that minimizing the taskbar restores the IE maximization. I used to do this kind of I.T. support in my job? Blimey, I must have been one totally mentally burnt out baby 3 years ago. I couldn't even bear the thought of this crap back then, yet I can do it again.
Friday, December 10, 2004
There's only 12 days left before the days start getting longer again! Yippee! Looks like I might live to see another summer then. So far, although we have had bits of cold weather, and plenty of grey, there hasn't been much frost. In fact, I am STILL eating fresh raspberries off the crazy raspberry cane in my back garden. They're still ripening and turning red, although without much sunshine, they taste very watery.
Went to Brentwood by bus and train today. Took the bus to Romford, then caught the train. Same day train tickets vary in cost depending on your direction (into or out of London) and not just on the peak traffic cut-off time of 9.30A.M.
On the bus, I was amazed to see the Recorder Series' (local newspapers) premises on the road between Ilford and Seven Kings. Very smart building: almost could be in the Docklands. I wonder how long they've been there. Maybe they're expecting a general drift away from boring National newspapers, to well-reported local newspapers.
As the train moved out of London, passing Harold Wood, it entered the green belt, and although I was not expecting much, within a minute my brain was easing. Green nature. How much I must hate London, when just a minute of rural escape gives me ease.
So Brentwood still looks reasonably affluent, and even trudging up the hill looking at the gardens made a pleasant change from dear old Manor Park. (I went to interview a potential temp job, more for my sake than anything else, because it was in an area of the public services that I dread. ) Leaving that topic quickly...
The rest of today was winter hibernation. What a contrast to yesterday, when the SUN CAME OUT A LITTLE BIT. Oh, everybody was chirpier in the streets. It wasn't just me firing on all cylinders. In fact, I went into super-communicative mode and found an agency in Ilford that was willing to properly register me on their temp books. Which is why I ended up in Brentwood today, at my own expense. (I think I'll rename this blog, Money & the City, to reflect plain necessity. It's not as though it hasn't been heading that way. I'm already dreaming of paycheques, salivate, salivate. ) Of course, it was a big help that the recruitment agent is currently herself coping with her Dad dying in slow rollercoaster fashion. But I don't think the Brentwood temp job is for me, as their business area really is dreadful.
Wednesday was recovery mode from Monday and Tuesday. Monday I was trawling the Oxford Circus to Bond Street area, in search of temp agencies that might register me. Only one was willing, and several clearly admitted that they haven't enough jobs for the temps already on their books.
There were plenty of tourists around, but the kind of tourist on New Bond Street, nowadays! This used to be one of the most expensive shopping areas in London, but now the average shopper looks like they just stepped off a Ryanair flight.
One little touristy thing jogged my memory. It's St. Christopher Place. This is opposite Bond Street station, and is easily missed because there is only an alleyway called Gee Court between two shops by which you reach it. Why is it notable? Because even ten years ago, Oxford Street had lousy Christmas decorations. This year, I can't even remember noticing any! But St Christopher Place was back then the most beautifully decorated Christmassy place I could find in Central London. This year, it still looks quite nice, but is nothing now compared to what it used to be, and the place is mostly restaurants now. Sofra, the Turkish restaurant is still there. It's many, many moons since the one time I ate there.
So on Tuesday I went back to the area to register at that one temp agency. 70 wpm and expert Word and Excel. Yes, of course, they were more impressed with my typing speed than my university degree. And the fact that I spoke English as a mother tongue. Quite unusual, judging from the few other people that walked in while I was there.
That was my week. Who's to say that it was any more useful than one spent lying on a beach in Thailand? Crazy world, full of crazy work ethics. Now back to my money fantasies.....
Wednesday, December 08, 2004
Fuck London. Love is not a marketable commodity here, so they ignore it. And even when you've learned to love yourself, someone will try to take that away from you and make you think there's something wrong with you.
Ok, so here you are on a blog called Love and the City. Do you know what Love is? Can you distinguish between the kind of Love that a baby feels for its mother, and the kind of Love that a mother feels for its baby, and the kind of Love that a couple feel for each other? Do you know that Love is not just about a feeling, but about being able to care for somebody in a physical and pragmatic way? To care for their survival, and to care for their future?
I'm not even going to go into the answers here. I drafted them up back in March when it all became deadly clear to me, as I walked home from Hospital after visiting my Dad the first time he got close to dying. I never published it on this blog. It was too close, and too powerful. And now, I myself need to focus on surviving. Because loving yourself costs a lot less money. And London and Britain today has little love to spare except for cats and dogs and horses and cars.
When you're jobhunting, life is always shit, but sometimes you can be so amazed by how surprisingly shit it is.
So this job ad at the Met Police was in Metro yesterday. By the time I phoned them today, they had already stopped sending out any more application packs, because they had already taken 500 calls. Of course, the application packs are NOT available online, since this is a government job and you can expect expensive, wasteful, inefficiency. In any case, you can't help wondering how you could compete against them all, even if you had got one, and how on earth would you possibly be chosen? You might as well be auditioning to be on X-Factor.
And the government tells us unemployment is low? Where? In Morecambe Bay? I just want to live in a society where complacent people face and tell the truth. If they don't, I might be forced to join an organized religion that helps to insist that people do tell the truth. Because to me, living a lie is like being dead. And people who tacitly accept a world of lies, are murderers.
Monday, December 06, 2004
Police today warned they fear a rise in so-called "honour" killings, particularly within London's newest immigrant communities.
The warning came as figures show an honour kiling is being committed every two months in the capital.
Police believe 12 women were murdered last year nationwide - six from London.
Detectives anticipate a huge rise in the number of victims from central and eastern Europe, especially the Bosnian, Kosovar, Turkish and Roma communities, as people from those regions settle in Britain.
Commander Andy Baker, Scotland Yard's head of homicide, said: "As more cultures come into the UK they will bring bad aspects of their culture with them. We are talking about murder in the name of so-called culture."
The typical victim is a young woman from an Indian, Pakistani or Bangladeshi community. But cases involving women from Arabic and eastern European backgrounds are now emerging.
Commander Baker revealed police in London were being approached by an average of four women a week who feared for their safety.
Motives for murder include having relationships outside the community. Victims have often been forced into marriage against their will, imprisioned by their families or assaulted in the home.
A series of cases have highlighted the issue, including that of Heshu Yones, 16, from Acton, murdered by her father Abdalla - a Kurdish Muslim jailed for life over the killing -- after a relationship with a Lebanes Christian.
Detectives are re-examining 81 cases they suspect may have been honour killings.
The Met and hte Crown Prosecution Service are also staging a conference at Scotland Yard today to find ways of tackling the issue.
Nazir Afzal, director of the CPS in west London, said: "We believe women are being killed to maintain social order within communities and many of these communities are in denial."
In six minutes and five seconds, I estimate that at 18 lines x 19 words/line = 342 five letter words, giving a keyboard speed of about 55 wpm.
So my typing speed hasn't fallen too badly. Here I am, with a university engineering degree, an I.Q. over 135, loads of work experience, once again falling back on my keyboard skills to look for a job. That bastard X never appreciated how hard I've had to try for almost every goddamn job I ever got. No, he just thought I was some kind of old-age pension for him. Although he is 5 years older than me. And despite being an Oxford graduate, he still walks around with that nightmare of the Nineties: victimisation culture. He thinks he is a Victim, despite the fact that he has had the benefit of every kind of government help at every level for his so-called disability. And of course, having gone into the Counselling religion, this self-centred justification of Victimisation is reinforced every week in the most touchy-feely and jargonised way.
There's my bitching for today done. Anyway, where's the Women's Liberation Movement gone to? Why don't they apply their liberating activities to the Immigrant communities in Britain, and fight some of the silently accepted abuse of women that goes on? What's more important, the protection of the women, or the protection of so-called culture?
Sunday, December 05, 2004
In England, kids today enjoy material wealth the origins of which they understand nothing. And there is so little visible manufacturing in Britain nowadays, that they must think it just appears out of the sky, because they are so superior that they GO TO BUSINESS SCHOOL.
Much as I hate the decorating I'm struggling with, the necessity of using a halogen worklamp is genuinely helping my SeLLIC (Seasonal Low Light Intensity Condition). I've had moments when I think I'm going down, but for this time of year, I'm actually relatively more alive than usual. But not by any means happy.
Beer is a big, big help. At the Angel on Friday night, 3 cans of Stella were enough to get me to the point where I actually took in the gaudy Christmas decorations, could have a dance, enjoy the present, and then depart into the past. What a bizarre effect that is: it is a very tame version of the maudlin state. Tame because of my usually self-limiting genetic tolerance of alcohol.
So at the end of the evening, in the company of Col and Nick, and the reckless assortment you find in an East End joint, where did my mind disappear to? In that moment when suddenly I remembered something that made me aware that I have nowt in common with anyone else in the bar?
To Toronto in 1983, at Cornelius, a bar upstairs above the Gas Works, on Yonge Street a block or two north of Wellesley. The Gas Works was a totally rocking straight bar, full of young baseball-cap-wearing long-haired blue collar workers. In this era, Yonge Street was a cruising strip of vice and iniquity, and the industrialized Great Lakes were still focussed on mind-numbing, dirty, intensive, semi-skilled-labour manufacturing. Heavy metal music was all the life that some of these people could cling to, after their weeks of soulless Metropolis-style factory drudgery. And into Toronto, to Yonge Street they would head on a Saturday night, driving their trucks with furry dice hanging from the rear view mirror, looking for trouble, alcohol, a woman or two to do, and even harder stuff like heroin.
Above this, a gay bar that was the most sexy, (without being seriously sleazy like the others), Cornelius was the dancebar destination for the early Eighties clone in Toronto. They were averaging in their 30's, with moustaches and sometimes beards, and many of them were stunningly, stunningly handsome. They were after all, gathered from not just Southern Ontario, but often visiting from Montreal, New York, and the dreary sprawling towns around the Great Lakes.
And they all could dance, just as in Andrew Holleran's book, Dancer from the Dance. And they all were genuinely celebrating the freedom they had, because behind them were conservative, restrained upbringings, and outside was a social structure that was still so homogeneously effective and nurturing, that they could AFFORD to rebel against it.
I doubt many of them are still alive, for they were the ones that were most knocked down by AIDS. Their good looks and pleasure-seeking lifestyles, their mythical Seventies belief that Doctors could cure anything with antibiotics, meant that they were the among the first to be affected. And if I had been born any earlier, and more good looking, neither would I be here today.
So give me sunshine, a blue sky, and something to look at, and memoirs are unnecessary. By the way, nothing in Toronto today remains of that pre-Aids celebratory indulgent atmosphere. If you find a social holdout anywhere, it will only be ridiculous nostalgia, like Cliff Richard.
Thursday, December 02, 2004
There were mixed signals of encouragement and discouragement. I can't say I'm any closer to having any kind of a job, but by God it was good to get out and have people to talk to, instead of just looking at the damn dead Internet websites. Even the most rebuffing, facetious and idiotic receptionist cannot be as disheartening as the faceless, soulless Internet.
And now I am so exhausted. So what caught my eye. The Skanska building in Moorgate is STILL being finished. They obviously don't have any tenants desperate to get in there, at the rate they've been going. The food fair on Stratford Station forecourt, where I bought dried sausages. The overly richbitch Thameside neighbourhood in Wapping - hard to believe it is a short walk from the wretched hulk of Watney Market and Shadwell. The boarded up look of the Tobacco Dock shopping centre - I wonder if they've shut down for lack of footfall. Romford looks just as down and out as Manor Park on weekdays, when all the jobless and middle-aged wander the streets in dejection that looks to border suicidal. Oh the London phenomenon of "if you have a job, it's because you're young, healthy and attractive, and you commute every day and don't get to see the ones that are left behind to trawl the streets in unutterable despair". I thought it just affected the ethnic boroughs like Newham and Waltham Forest, but no, it is even very, very obvious in Romford when you step off the train station and go walking up and down the high street.
Oh enough, I'm yawning... gimmea a beer.
Wednesday, December 01, 2004
So I dusted out my suits today, and tried them on, for practice. The psychology of wearing a suit, on yourself as well as other people, is not to be underestimated. It's also because I have been recovering some kickass survival skills since Dad finally died. It was scary at first getting the suits out , but with the full length mirror, I was soon quite into it, critically and complimentary. You'd think I was putting on a chain mail suit of armour, the way it affected my confidence. Ridiculous, that modern man should need such fabric trappings to go about the world and try to earn a living. But I didn't invent this stupid world, and I'm getting too old to fight the things that never seem to change. So off I go to the office temp agencies tomorrow. God give me strength. I'll walk into them, and the young ladies will figure out I'm gay as soon as I open my mouth, and pop me into that pigeonhole. Ain't no pigeon here honey, so you better join the RSPB and hope to learn otherwise.