Starmaker, Dream Breaker

So it’s all getting a bit spooky. There I was on Friday night remembering the songs from the TV series of Fame (I preferred the TV series as it was much fluffier. Being so young, the grittiness of the film version didn’t hit me for several years) and remembering Danny as one of my childhood lust-objects (you used to be able to download your own Danny wallpaper here).

I spent yesterday doing all the boring things you have to do around the house occasionally. Cleaning. Paying bills etc. At some point I switched on VH1 to find it was their 100 Worst Videos day. And the song I switched on to? No 62 (I think) which was Starmaker, by the Kids from Fame (OK, it would have been a better story if it was Friday Night, but still)

So let’s see if I can tempt fate – I want to see more about the following: Play School, Rainbow, Harley Hare, The Clangers, Trumpton. How spooky would it be if this actually works?

It will aid my aching bones. I’ve been in the garden all day cutting down bushes and pruning. I was outside for the grand total of seven hours and it rained for most of them. Strangely, I feel invigorated by having spent the day outdoors. No doubt I shall ache tomorrow.

Friday Night’s Gonna Be Alright

Friday nigh’s gonna be alright.

Well in a few minutes I will, hopefully, be leaving the office. I have been here late most evenings and, to be honest, I am really looking forward to going home and sleeping. The air-conditioning in the office has been broken so we have gradually baked our way through today. I would he happy without the nonsense air-conditioning anyway, but all the windows have been sealed shut so that you can’t get any really fresh (well, fresh for London standards) air into your lungs. I have a weekend of hard, manual labour planned. I have to tame some of the wild growth in my garden. I can’t wait. Friday Night, as Danny (one of the Kids from Fame) once sang, is “gonna be alright”. I’m sure I remember that because I used to have a huge crush on Carlo Imperato.

Start shaking your hips
Baby pucker your lips
Cause I’m coming to see you soon

I must only have been about 10 years old!

Anyway, why you may ask do I spend ten minutes writing this? Well, our dumb systems are taking forever to do some processing and I am not going to sit here all night watching the screen!

Mussels

I used to work with most of these guys six or seven (if not more) years ago and we’ve all remained in contact ever since.

Last night I met up with some old work colleagues. I used to work with most of these guys six or seven (if not more) years ago and we’ve all remained in contact ever since. This is fantastic, especially for me as they were the first people (apart from some ex-University friends) who I met when I moved to London. We have, however, fallen into the trap of thinking we are all six or seven (if not more) years younger than we actually are and spend the evenings getting very drunk in various London drinking holes. We then wander like (drunken) startled rabbits around the West End looking for a post-closing curry. A fun, if somewhat painful, experience.

Well, not last night. Firstly, we added some extra people – friends of ex-colleagues – which made the night more interesting. Secondly, we decided to (this is all very grown up) to go out for a meal. And it was decided that we go to Belgos in Covent Garden. I had very little to do with the decision (in fact, to be honest, I never replied to that email so I have nothing to complain about) but the great thing is that I love Belgos. I’ve always enjoy the whole pots of mussels thing and make a sufficient mess to show that I have enjoyed the food.

And to add to that, there was the cutest waiter serving the table next to ours – which was all the better as he got to lean over and serve them. Ah, the joys of lust!

A Walk On The Wild Side

My two days off have been great. Yesterday we dove to the Outlet Mall (what’s the British equivalent of that?) in Swindon. It’s the first time we have put miles on this new Ka (which I haven’t mentioned yet). Still, we drove in the sunshine and shopped. One call from a client was swiftly dealt with.

My two days off have been great. Yesterday we dove to the Outlet Mall (what’s the British equivalent of that?) in Swindon. It’s the first time we have put miles on this new Ka (which I haven’t mentioned yet). Still, we drove in the sunshine and shopped. One call from a client was swiftly dealt with.

In the evening we made Bristol where we are staying at a Travelodge in Bristol City Centre. After unloading it was a quick taxi ride to visit some friends who we hadn’t seen for a very long time until last month. And now it’s been twice in five weeks which is a great feeling. Chinese meal and back to the hotel.

This morning we had a quick walk around Bristol City as it’s been many years since I was last here and things seem to have changed. The most amusing thing was the ill-fitting suits on a bunch of young men walking towards the Magistrates Court. I know I shouldn’t leap to conclusions (perhaps they were newly qualified solicitors) but I could just imagine their legal representation reminding them to look respectable for the judge.

As this holiday has originally been pencilled in for longer and as a trip to Cornwall to see the Eden project, we decided to opt for Bristol’s local equivalent Wildwalk at the complex known as @Bristol. I suspect this isn’t anywhere near on the scale of Eden but it was an interesting walk through the development of life on earth. It features a glasshouse full of tropical plants and – to my surprise – living, breathing birds (I thought it was just a tape of their calls). Recommended if you are in Bristol. Right now we are heading South via the lovely A roads looking for a suitable tourist spot to stop at.

Nearly There

As I am not going to fake the blog then you, dear reader, must put up with the dull bits as well as the not-so-dull.

Looking back at yesterday’s post I see that everybody has a much more interesting life than I do, or at least it seems that way! As I am not going to fake the blog then you, dear reader, must put up with the dull bits as well as the not-so-dull.

Today is my last day at work this week. I am taking two days off so that I may clear my head. There are a lot of things to think about when it comes to work and, more importantly, PY and I want to spend some time together. The downside of taking this break (which was originally meant to be a week and has been reduced to two days) is that I will be here (that’s in the office) for another couple of hours. So, no more time to update. I am going to boil the kettle and get on. Posts beyond this point will be written on my Palm Pilot and updated when they can be.

South Bank. Friends from North.

I could have spent much of this week writing about going out eating and/or entertaining but decided that would be too dull. On the other hand, on Wednesday night we (American and I) went on the London Eye (always a fantastic treat) and then wandered down the South Bank. It is, probably, one of my favourite areas of London.

I could have spent much of this week writing about going out eating and/or entertaining but decided that would be too dull. On the other hand, on Wednesday night we (American and I) went on the London Eye (always a fantastic treat) and then wandered down the South Bank. It is, probably, one of my favourite areas of London.

  • Old County Hall. It’s a pleasuredome of treats but the best bit, is the aquarium. We didn’t go in this time, but I love the place and am writing this as kind of note to self: go back to the London Aquarium.
  • The London Eye. My thirtieth birthday was spent on The Eye in a hired capsule with a whole bunch of friends – all of whom had almost no notice but arrived for drinks, ride and pizza. This time we were on The Eye as the light started to fade – which actually made it all the more magical. We even bought the tacky tourist snap that they take on the way down.
  • New Hungerford Bridges(s). I have spent years walking over the old, narrow bridge avoiding the winter floods and the summer camera-wielding tourists. The new bridges look stunning. They are boulevard wide and, actually, very pleasant to walk across and each bridge has very different, but fabulous, views.
  • Royal Festival Hall and National Film Theatre. They may be concrete and they are certainly not photogenic but they are some of my favourite locations. Long may the concrete jungle live.
  • Oxo Tower. A great building with a great restaurant (even if I can never afford to eat there) and, if you don’t want to go on the wheel, the viewing gallery at the top (free and near the restaurant) provides a stunning view of St. Paul’s Cathedral.
  • Tate Modern and Millennium Bridge. After all the fuss at the turn of the century these are two worthy additions to the London landscape. The interior of the Tate Modern is fantastic (the sheer size of the entrance is great). And the Millennium Bridge is in just the right place and looks gorgeous when lit (although the last few times I haven’t seen the lights on).

On the way back from these sights (we didn’t do new City Hall or Tower Bridge, Hayes Galleria or Butler’s Wharf) we stopped for a psudo-traditional pub meal of chips and beer. Even though, I suspect, the pub was full of tourists it felt as though it was the kind of place I went to regularly, so I guess, had an air of authenticity.

After all this on Wednesday, I was looking forward to last night. Last night was meant to be an evening not operating as tour guide (not that I mind but the break would be good). I was having dinner with some friends (and some old friends who were coming down from Scotland). My friends in Worcester Park were preparing dinner and it was to be (in fact, it was indeed) and evening of memories and fun. However, things did try and put a blocker on the evening.

  • I was late. I was attending some presentations with a client they over-ran.
  • My friend Jo, who was cooking, had been taken ill and been in and out of hospital for two nights (nothing too serious, thankfully). So, she didn’t feel like cooking – her husband decided to and he the food was excellent.
  • We were all so tired (me from working, them from the illness/hospital adventures) that we called a halt to proceedings at 10.30pm.

It’s a shame when things don’t quite go according to plan and you have been looking forward to them. I had been hoping to have a long catch-up with the folks from Scotland and we ended up with the briefest of chats. Ah well, maybe next time Â…

Old Compton Street At Night

Late at night in London’s gay heart, Old Compton Street, I have a change of heart about the place.

So, I have just told you how having an American in London with me has made me see London in a new light. Once again, I love it. Last night we went to dinner again (with some other people this time) on Old Compton Street. Sometimes, I have a problem with Old Compton Street and I am not sure why. As a gay man I should be able to celebrate the area for the visibility and safety that it brings London’s gay community. My problem is that I find I am not a scene-loving gay man and so I am, generally, made to feel alienated by the people there. I also feel slightly wary of taking straight friends to Old Compton Street in case they feel I am either trying to make some kind of point or that I am, somehow, testing their acceptance of me. All of the above is, of course, personal paranoia and my own insecurities which a therapist, of some sorts, would take lots of money off me to talk about. Instead, I blog it.

Anyway, back to the point. We were on Old Compton Street. It was late-ish (for me, not for Old Compton Street) and the place was alive. It being a Tuesday night I suspect that the worst aspects of the weekend drinking crowd were not to be seen which made it a pleasant, friendly place to be. It was a wonderful feeling to walk out of a restaurant into a heaving mass of happy people. It was cool, but not cold, and (as OCS Queens will) people were sitting at tables outside. Maybe I should be less judgemental about Old Compton Street. The mood was relaxed and fun; people were smiling and chatting and even the music drifting onto the street seemed appropriate and not excessive.

I seem to be painting a picture of a pack of hysterical, laughing people. Of course, it was not like that. It was just that the mood was great, people seemed relaxed and it made me feel positive about life when so much of this city has been making me feel depressed of late. Isn’t life sweet?

Old Friends

Today was a good day to get reacquainted with people who I haven’t seen for a while.

Bristol is only a two-hour ride from my house. I have an old friend who lives there and I haven’t seen him for ages. Today was the day we met up again (after something like 18 months without seeing each other) and it’s great when everything just slips back to the way it was. You know how, with some people, it’s hard to talk to them sometimes. You get on really well but there’s just nothing to say. Well, it usually gets worse with the passing of time and, if you haven’t seen somebody for a while, then it can be very awkward (how many strained meetings must have happened thanks to Friends Reunited?). Anyway, today wasn’t like that. We slipped into our old conversations and habits. It’s nice to be reacquainted with people. Today was a good day.

I Keep Buying Books

How did I end up with a book from a seafood festival?

I went to a small thames-side seafood festival on Saturday. I had no other reason to go execpt that I adore seafood in all forms. I could happily give up many other foods but not seafood (and probably no bacon, but I know I am not alone in that).

That, however, is not the point.

There was a bookshop and I bought a book. I carried the book home and added it to the pile of books. I now have a large stack of unread books that are “to be read”. When am I going to find the time? The thing is, why do I do it? Why can’t I simply add them to my Amazon wish list and stop buying? It’s turning into an addiction!!

How do you say Happy Birthday in Russian?

And it’s my Dad’s birthday today. My mother is with him somewhere the former Soviet Union for five weeks while he tries to do some work. Unfortunately, his mobile ‘phone doesn’t seem to work and he isn’t replying to emails, so Happy Birthday Dad!

UPDATE: You may also want to check out next year’s entry for more information.

Try the M11

You can see what this is about when I say, “eventually, the car is unloaded outside my house at 2.45am (with apologies to all my neighbour who would have been woken up by the noise)”. Obviously, I didn’t win a brad new car.

I feel it was an interesting weekend. Some of it I don’t want to repeat but mostly good fun and the kind of things that should be done at weekends if you slave all week in an office. It started yesterday afternoon when my brother arrived and we spent two hours in a car driving round south London roads to get across the river and on to the M11 motorway. It’s not the easiest thing from South West London and should really start another rant about the state of London’s roads but I am too tired for that! (it’s also good to see somebody else wondered what the strange tower was)

Arriving in Takeley for a family christening and all is well. It is nice to see some of the members of the family who I do not see too often. We had planned to leave around 8pm and head back for SW17 but we were having a good time and partied until 11pm. It’s hard partying drinking only water but I still had a good time.

So, off we set. 10 minutes on the M11 and the radiator overheats, I lose all power on the car and just about manage to get it onto the hard shoulder before it grinds to a halt in the middle of the carriageway. Then, 50 minutes later a bloke from the RAC arrives and, without really looking at the engine because he can tell it would do no use, loads the car onto the back of the truck and me & my brother into the cab for the ride south. Then we hit the Blackwall Tunnel. At 1am (Sunday) we are caught in a traffic queue for an hour as traffic try to negotiate one lane in the tunnel (cue for another rant about London traffic). Eventually, the car is unloaded outside my house at 2.45am (with apologies to all my neighbour who would have been woken up by the noise).

In My Thoughts

My granddad was born on 1 July so it would have been his birthday yesterday. He died several years ago and I have to say that I miss him. I lit a candle at St Paul’s Cathedral on Sunday.

My granddad was born on 1 July so it would have been his birthday yesterday. He died several years ago and I have to say that I miss him. I lit a candle at St Paul’s Cathedral on Sunday. I just had the urge. I wonder why I did that? I am not the most spiritual person in the world nor am I the greatest believer. St Paul’s was so peaceful and relaxing I think I will go again. And it’s really beautiful inside – which is something I had never noticed before.

Shopping Madness

So, you would rather give me my money back than work with me to arrange delivery. Isn’t that rather short-sighted. Why would I ever shop with you again?

So, I try and buy a new power supply from a computer supplier (let’s say they are called Tell Computers).

Buy online and pay by credit card. They will only ship to credit card billing address. No problem I say, somebody will be there to pick it up and sign for it. Takes so long to arrive that nobody is there anymore. So, I think, I’ll have the courrier redeliver to work. They can’t change delivery address without Tell’s permission. OK, I say, somebody will be in on Thursday, please deliver it then. They try and deliver Friday.

No problem, thinks I. I will have them deliver one evening. “We don’t do evening deliveries,” they say. So I say, “I’m in Saturday”. “We don’t work weekends”. Huum.

“What about if I collect from your depot?”

“It a delivery centre with no collection point. Try calling Tell to have the address changed.”

“Hello Tell. Here’s my problem”

“Sorry, I’m in billing. Here’s customer service.”

“Hello Customer Service. Here’s my problem.”

“We can change the address. Oh, you bought online. You’ll need to speak to our Internet team”.

“Hello Internert Team. I have a problem and I’ve spoken to many people. I am assured you can help me.”

“No. We can’t change the address because you paid by credit card.”

“But here’s the problem. I am not at home during the day anymore. You don’t deliver evenings, weekend and you don’t have a collection point.”

“Can’t help you. Sorry.”

So I say, “I will have to send it back and have a refund”.

“Certainly Sir, no problem.”

“So, you would rather give me my money back than work with me to arrange delivery. Isn’t that rather short-sighted. Why would I ever shop with you again?”

“Sorry, that’s our policy. Somebody will call within the hour to confirm the refund”.

That was Thursday morning. Nobody has called.

Agggggggggghhhhh

Is Email Bad?

The internet is the most wonderful tool of recent history. It’s fun, factual, interesting and full of fascinating creatures. It’s strange and freakish: at the same time useful and useless. I am thankful that it filled my night shifts and unhappy it takes over my time. Thank goodness for the internet.

The internet is the most wonderful tool of recent history. It’s fun, factual, interesting and full of fascinating creatures. It’s strange and freakish: at the same time useful and useless. I am thankful that it filled my night shifts and unhappy it takes over my time. Thank goodness for the internet.

Of all the components that make up the ‘net (Archie, anyone?), email is – probably – the greatest invention. Fast and functional, it has revolutionised my working life. Back in ’93 when I got my first real-world-connected email address, apart from those people in the same office, I knew one other person. Friends of mine couldn’t see the point. However, once I was able to communicate with my Dad in Thailand at a reasonable hour without staying awake to call him – other people saw there may be uses. Then, they connected and suddenly they sent me emails telling me how great it was to be part of this connected-universe.

Now, after six years, I think I may be turning into one of the none-believers. That’s not wholly true but – nevertheless – I’ve decided email is not as great as it could be. Sure the power to communicate is still fantastic and the informal nature is wonderful. The ability to time-shift conversations is useful but it gets in the way of my working day and I haven’t the strength to do anything about it.

If you can’t put a finger on why email doesn’t always work, ask yourself these questions:

  1. How much unrelated junk do you sift through daily?
  2. How many times have you stopped working to answer the “ping” of the email to read some nonsense.
  3. How many times has your concentration been broken by the “You Have Mail” screen?
  4. When did you last get copied in on an email that was only of peripheral interest to your work because somebody felt the need to “share” or “justify”?
  5. How many times have you felt the need to copy people on an email who, if you’d conducted the communication by ‘phone, wouldn’t have been included?
  6. How many times have you been mis-understood because you typed in a hurried, informal manner to somebody who doesn’t see email as less formal?
  7. When you last answered the ‘phone did the caller say, “have you got my mail” and they’d only just sent it?
  8. When you last met a colleague in the corridor did they ask you what you’d thought of their email. When you said you hadn’t got round to reading it, did they look like they’d been snubbed? Did you feel bad for not having read it?

I could go on but my day is like this. I have to get discipline and stop interrupting myself. But I can’t. Ping, here comes another one.

Note: This article is dated 1 November – although the exact date of writing can’t be determined. It was retrieved from the archive and posted in March 2003. See the entry from March 2003 that links.

Around The World

curnow.org may be my place on the web, but I am keen to hear from Curnows around the globe.

curnow.org may be my place on the web, but I am keen to hear from Curnows around the globe. If you are a Curnow, why not drop me a note using the comment form below? I would be interested in knowing anything about the history of the family name so please get in touch.

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