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Friday, November 29, 2013

Pushing

Same old trudge to the city on Monday morning with the feeling that the weekend didn't even happen - and that's including the fact that I was home already on Friday! A tired Golfy is not a very happy Golfy.

Worse still, when I arrived I find the place mostly deserted. The RC is having his car serviced so "working from home" which leaves me, Mad H, Golden balls, ST, a little fella from Liverpool and an Architect who doesn't know his lintels from his cornices. While this appears troublesome, Golden balls, ST and the little fella are generally great company and the day sped by (driven by the mahoosive workload) and was mostly entertaining to boot.

 

At about 8.00 I finally escaped and went and caught up with the little fella and the Architect for a beer in Dogget's on Blackfriars bridge. We made it a relatively swift one, with a view to getting some food, and I suggested the iPad driven techno boozer that is "The Thirsty Bear" just around the corner. This place has iPads on the table that you use to order food and drink, and pumps to pour your own beer as well. Great fun when it works as intended. We wandered up there and found a table upstairs. All well and good, but I'd forgotten that for this place to work properly you have to "be seated" so that one of the very rare members of staff can get you logged in to the aforementioned iPad that's bolted to the table. This process is purely for billing purposes and to be fair, hardly our fault if there's no-one around to organise things.

Anyway, we ordered up some beers on the device and figuring that that enabled the pumps on the end of the table starting pouring them. 5 minutes later, a staff member appeared with 3 more beers to fulfil our iPad order. Errrr ooops. Turns out we were extending the previous parties tab (that had already been settled, but not disabled) and not only that, but the kitchen had just closed (9pm) so that was the end of all that. Very disappointing - their burgers are awesome.

The food required came in the form of relocating to "Thai Silk" nestled in the arches just behind Southwark station. Good stuff and sufficed. By the time I'd schlepped across town to Holland Park it was midnight. The Thai didn't leave me feeling too chipper - although I suspect that's more to do with the long day, and so sleep wasn't my friend either.

Tuesday morning at 5am I was wide awake and totally knackered having slept for about 3 hours in total. I made an early start on the central line. All the crap food and lack of excerise isn't doing the waste,June any good either. So much so that I found myself perusing the clothes racks of Next in my lunch break and investing in new, slightly larger than I desire, trousers. It's not that I've put on loads of weight, it's just having done so well at loosing it lately, I'm suddenly piling it back on. More reasons to be thoroughly pissed off with the circumstances I find myself in.

The evening didn't help either. This time a 10pm dinner in the "Mad Hatter" with the RC, Goldenballs and the Heavy Metal Pricer. Good food, but not healthy and leading to yet another restless night after a long day.

Wednesday gave me the opportunity for a lay in and I didn't leave the hotel until almost 8am, meaning I was in the office for 8.30. Yesterday had been a day with our manager keeping an eye on things and that, while today sees him in the annual kick about with the other managers playing games with peoples lives through the medium of "picking sides" and the ones that are left at the end "unpicked" get to enjoy a good kicking at their managers discretion. OK, so I'm exaggerating ... almost.

The upshot of that is you don't want to be disturbing them with really bad or troublesome news on a day like that. It could spell career disaster, and certainly isn't going to win you any friends. Well, me? I could give a rats. If there's things that need saying, get them said. Time will tell if that's done me any damage. We definitely got noticed, if nothing else.

On top of that I've become thoroughly fed up of the dawdling and the pandering and the not-getting-on-with-it, so I took it upon myself to push (not too much, I wouldn't want anyone to think I should be leading or anything dumb like that) but just enough to put us on the right track. I drew up a list, and told Mad H this is what we're doing, and there's no more changes to be had... Obviously he chose to ignore this, but that's a two way street, and I chose to ignore any play to not follow my instruction, right back. That goes for everyone. Time to move forward as there's no time left for sitting and talking.

I also decided not to stay in the office past 8pm (it's killing me) and so conspired with Goldenballs to bugger off early-ish and go and see "Gravity" at the cinema. We persuaded the RC to come too - under duress - but nevertheless he was glad he did in the end. Stupid size hotdogs and buckets of coke and twenty quid a ticket!! That's London prices for you - but it's an incredible film, and for me, the best thing I've seen for a year or two.. Or maybe three.

Thursday brought the management back who seem relieved that I'd been pushing, although I'm not convinced the RC feels the same way. I stuck to the "buggering off as early as possible" plan and this time dragged not only the RC and Goldenballs, but also the Heavy Metal Pricer and Princess Sarah too. One other point of note was the appearance of The Gorse Fox, who was in fine fettle, not least because he was escaping the clutches of the noisy (and apparently disorganised) individuals he's been working with.

Anyway, the group (less the GF who headed off into the night) trooped off to my favourite pub in all of London (still) and then to the Bleeding Heart Bistro for nosh. The majority wanted a nightcap and I suggested the Citie of York, while the RC decided he was too tired and went back to the hotel. This bothered me somewhat. If anyone needs a bit if a break and a blowout, it's him, but people will do what they believe is best for them, and who am I to argue really? A shame. He was missed. We enjoyed the ambiance of the place, and if you're ever Holborn way, I'd recommend it for its architecture if nothing else.

Friday finally arrived after I'd had much shenanigans over adding an extra nights stay to my trip. I didn't want to, but having moved some key dates around (which I think is some retaliation for the pushing) there's much to be done, so do it we must. I was supposed to be at a wedding do this evening. Brother-in-laws to be more exact, but that hasn't happened. Instead I find myself writing this and feeling dozy.

I've done well over my allotted time again this week, and I can't actually maintain this pace for much longer. Which is lucky because apparently I won't have to. Things come to a head in a fortnight.... Allegedly, although given the email I just read, that might move.

Pah!

 

 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Xmas Market, Fancy Dress & Xmas Day #1

After the rush of Thursday and the forthcoming "working at home" to round the week off, I'd been expecting a slightly more relaxed if messy Friday. But alas, no.

I should know better with this deal. With the RC taking the day off and direction changing around as a result of the client meetings I found myself knee deep in it and kind of alone. Worse still, although I'm producing useful input to the sessions, the dumbass in charge can't even remember my name. Not that I care too much. To some people, I will always be Steve. Weirdos.

I made a very sharp exit at 5.30. No one was getting a minute more than they were paying for this week. I'd had my fill. Instead Mrs G and I had a lovely bit of home made pie and prepared for a trip down to Wiltshire.

Christmas is well and truly on the way, and while I'm nothing like prepared for it, we did have the beginnings of it to deal with. With all of the kerfuffle, there has been very little time to have anything like a relaxing weekend at home, which due to the current lunacy at work, is what is required. I fear for my sanity somewhat. But then, if there's five minutes entertainment to be had, you might as well have it. You never know who or what you might meet, and I learned a long time ago, that it's worth turning up to the opening of a paper bag for the chance of there being something interesting to see.

With this in mind, Mrs G and I made a relatively early start in Saturday morning. I managed to crowbar in a hair cut, although not a beard trim (it's Movember dontchyaknow) and then we took off on our trusty steeds down to the Christmas market at the quays. The Quays seems to be the posh name for the docks, and as it's getting posher by the minute, I suppose that's appropriate. The place was heaving with people, and hardly surprising. The range of delights available to sample was vast and truly very tasty. I was particularly enamoured with the Danish Pancake Balls, but they were really just the tip of the iceberg..

 

We ducked and dived amongst the stalls and bought very little at all in the end, but it was nice to have a wander round and it all felt pretty Christmassy really.

It's almost become tradition to have a pre-Christmas Christmas because sister ball lives up north and matriarchal ball was too old to really travel far. Of course, we lost her back in April and so this year sees the handing over of a generational baton. Instead of the Senior Balls hosting "our Aud", I now find myself and Mrs Ball hosting the Senior Balls. We'll also be having Mrs Ball Senior and her boyfriend, as well as daughter and her boyfriend - so a whole houseful.

Sister ball however, remains in her northerness for the actual day of Christmas, and so we took the opportunity on Sunday of having a pre-Christmas Christmas at the senior Balls with her instead. Worked out very well, because elder-cousin-ball formerly of Bradford-on-Avon was celebrating his semi-century with a fancy dress get up. Made perfect sense to attend his "do" on Saturday night and then have PCC on Sunday. As for proper Christmas and the houseful, at this current stage of our lives this is no onerous task and Mrs Ball and I are quite looking forward to it I think.

All good fun with Monday morning arriving far to soon and a cold station platform beckoning me back to that Laandan again. Same hotel as last week and apparently for a full week, although I'm only booked in until Thursday.

Here's hoping...

 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Jamie Oliver, Belgians & a lack of Maths...

Thursday night and a mad dash for the train.... all proceeded by:
Monday - which was more focusing of minds on mathematical problems. Having shaken off the "sit around and talk" brigade, there's much doing get done in the form of adding up and taking away and such. Of course there is a place for those that sit and talk and change the way things are written, and it is an important part of the entire process, but they always seem to me to not really have their goals figured out, be incapable of reusing any previous written capitol in any meaningful way, and spend so much time talking that they ru. Out of time to writ, and end up writing rubbish. I know, given a deadline that everything gets compressed and squished until the very last 5 minutes of available time - seems to be a natural human way of doing anything big and complex - but I always think of it as a dumb way to behave. If you know it's going to happen, why not plan for it appropriately so that it doesn't. I'm quite sure that all those involved would be far less stressed and enjoy much longer, productive and thus fruitful lives - instead of worrying themselves into an early grave. (Probably me included)....
The RC and I ventured out into the cold shopping center of Sheppards Bush that is Westfield to a "Jaime Oliver's Italian" restaurant. Not really anything to write home about, but perfectly edible all the same. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy cooking some of Mr O's dishes from his myriad of books designed to keep him in scooters and holidays for the rest of his adult life, but I could just have easily been in any number of "Italian" restaurants that aren't really Italian. It was.... fine..... and bloody freezing on the walk back to the Hotel. Stupidly at 6am stood on the platform back home - I realised that I'd left my coat behind.... Brace Yourself... Winter is coming....
Tuesday - yet more Maths, interspersed with assisting managers who should know better in the ways of complex approvals which should be easier. Obviously given the complexity of some of this work, the right thing to do is to make it as difficult as possible to achieve the goals you've set.

Tuesday evening however, involved organising a few of the troops into a bit of proper food/entertainment, and pleasingly I even managed to persuade The RC - a man who would rather not expand his eating horizons too far... Yet. He's a good man though, and is remarkably good company given that he's in a bit of a tight spot with this particular job. I'm trying to help him out and keep his spirits up. As a result the Stoke chef and I dragged a few of the more willing members of our troupe over to Farringdon and up Jerusalem passage to a cracking little Belgian place called "The Dove Tail". The beer menu is much bigger than the food menu, and both of them are excellent. Highly recommended and a very reasonable price too.
Wednesday - Fewer mathematical problems, and an influx of issues driven by muddle managers and the like. Oh yes, the sit around and talk brigade have been sitting around and talking. Seems like some doing is needed, and why on earth would they want to do that when thes plenty more talking to be done. No doubt they feel the answer is to divert the people who are tring to get the Maths and approvals done... After all, they seem to be able to produce "stuff" from all this hot air....maybe they can write some stuff too instead of doing maths.
Thursday - We were supposed to be almost finished with the maths but instead we have whole ton of political types of problems that just seem to be pretty much a repetition of what's already been said. For my part I find this both frustrating, boring and pointless. Posturing for the sake of it. I understand why it happens, I just don't think of it as a very worthwhile enterprise. Either something's worth doing or it isn't - why make it any more complicated than that?
The result is that I found myself literally running up the platform at Paddington for the almost last train home, which was instantly delayed and left me standing around the platform much like at the beginning of the week - bleeding freezing....
The RC is off tomorrow and already trouble is brewing. We are about to crash headlong into a brick wall of stoppage brought about deliberately it would seem, by those who like to sit and talk and not really do. I've learned a couple of very useful things as a result.

A) "Factores sunt non project actoribus"
Thus... "Nil illegitimi carborundum" or possibly "descendite ne illegitimi"
And as Galileo once said....
B) "et adhuc movetur"... Although I suspect what he actually said was "eppure si muove" having agreed under pain of death and just to shut the talkers up, that the world is flat. He knew full well otherwise of course.
My only excuse for sharing this shizzle... I'm tired. Leave me alone and let me sleep.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Weekend End, Weekstart Start

...and I find myself back at the Weekstart having a massive sense of Dejavu no least because I doing exactly the same thing this week as last week. Pah!  I wonder if I'll get to see Gravity this week?  If it's anything like last week, then no chance - however, I am more determined to this week, so maybe. Challenge partially accepted.

The weekend, short as it was, was also - as predicted - jammed full of stuff, which was mostly fun.

Friday night was just great. Daughter came round for the evening. We ate and drank and caught up - which was normal in a way that was perfect. Felt like the week in the city fell away and real life crept back in. The boyfriend situation is getting serious, with it looking like he's going to be moving in before long and even a joint bank account in the offing. All very sensible if you ask me - was never like that when I was a kid...  Oh dear, I must be getting old. He's a lovely fella though, and he's been warned, so time will tell.

Saturday I managed to legalise my driving, sample a new dining experience in the city, stop the apocalypse in 3D and buy a new set of saucepans. I know, incredible isn't it. I mean, I really know how to live...

First up the driving situation. Much to my annoyance, my photo driving licence has expired. This never happened in the old days either. Before photo driving licences your licence just carried on until you were 70 odd - or too old to drive. Nowadays you apparently have to have a new one every 10 years. So this was the first of my renewals. 25 quid for the privilege of having your photo taken in the post office and fired off to DVLA for them to issue a new one. And if you don't do it, there's £1000 fine waiting for you. So it's basically a form of legalised robbery. I'm starting to think driving is a mugs game - but then that'll spoil my Christmas treat - still in the planning phase, but coming together.

The new dining experience was ChimiChanga's in the docks at Gloucester. I know it's a chain, but it's a good one, and being such a fan of Mexican food I couldn't pass it up. Mrs G and I had cycled into town, so we felt like we'd earned the right to it and damn good it was too as you can see here:



Afterwards we took a wander into the Le Creuset store, and almost on impulse bought a new set of saucepans.  Hopefully the last set for quite a while too. These aren't just any saucepans, these last forever - kind of. I'm not one to get over excited about cookware, but these are feckin awesome saucepans - seriously.

On the way back through the docks it was pleasing to note that they'd finished the work on the clipper that had been in dry dock for the last six months, and had felt confident enough to let the water back in and see if it floats - which apparently it does.  If that was my project, getting it back in the water would scare the bejesus out of me...  but I suppose there are methods and tricks that I'm unaware of that make this a lot safer than it appears.



By mid afternoon we were back home, and while Mrs G nipped into Cheltenham for some other odds, I managed to catchup with Pacific Rim in 3D glory and mightily impressive it was too.  The thing is, I wasn't expecting much. I suppose this is because what comes of a glut of robot type movies that have been little more than OK. It still has the loud brash robotty fighty scenes, but it also has a bit of a plot to it, and some decent acting too. I really enjoyed it, and have come to the conclusion that 3D BluRay (when movies are released in 3D) is the correct format for my collection (for now) - not least because all 3D BRs include the 2D version by closing off one "eye" of the 3D version, so why would I not buy the 3D version and have the extra functionality. This week has also seen the release of "The Great Gatsby" and that lead me into Sundays discovery....

Sunday involved a trip to the station in preparation for today, a visit to the latest addition to our already overcrowded list of supermarkets, and the discovery of a bunch of blu ray bargains.

Once more I climbed aboard my trusty two wheeled steed and whizzed over the hill to the station to collect my ticket. As usual I took great pleasure in chaining my bike to the railings next to the sign that says "Do not chain bicycles to these railings" - my small piece of rebellion I suppose. On the way back, I decided I'd take a look for the Great Gatsby - with the following results - Sainsburys £16, Asda £17 and Morrison's....  We have a brand new massive Morrison's built on the railway triangle. So how much is GG in there?...  Ah, well... Turns out they haven't got it. In fact they're entire offering is poor at best. I mooches around the rest of the shop. In summary - it's rubbish.  I'm so fed up of supermarkets. They're all just pah...   Even Waitrose seem to be slacking of late. I'd rather go back to local shops that specialise...

So with that in mind, I decided to drop into Blockbusters - purveyors of all things, DVD, CD and BluRay shaped both for rental or purchase, only to find that they are in severe dire straits. So bad in fact is their financial situation that they're closing down and as such selling all their stock off with discounts of up to 40%. My lucky day!  However... No sign of the Great Gatsby. On the other hand I did pick up all 3 Lord of the Rings (classics if long), all 3 Predators (classic in places), Transformers (the start of the fighty robotty things), Ronin (which is of course just brilliant) and Anchorman (good ole Ron Burgundy). That's 9 pristine BluRays for the princely sum of 25 quid....  Now that is a bargain.....

...and so to Monday Morning and back on the bloody train to London.  This mornings journey has the added entertainment factor of being delayed due to "vandalism" in the Stroud and Kemble area. Something to do with the trackside equipment - probably someone trying to steel the copper cabling again - wouldn't be the first time. For my part, I get to watch another episode of Wallander, (might have to seek out the rest of these now) and I need to fill the time that I'm not writing with something.

And here comes Paddington again.  Until next time....

Friday, November 15, 2013

Wallander and the way home

Never did get to go and see Gravity this week, but I might get another run at it next week, so perhaps that'll be fun.

I really do need to have some fun - a week in the city can be great when you've got time to enjoy it - but when you're working 60 or 70 hours a week - it doesn't really happen. In fact the exact opposite. It just becomes a dull depressing treadmill with the only respite being the journey home.

I spent the week in the Hilton Metropole which has been recently refurbished and while it's all very nice and that, it is still just a big hotel off Edgware road in the city of London with nothing particularly unique or inspiring about it - it does what it says on the tin.  It's all getting a bit much and I miss my real life and my real me. I'm becoming a bore and it makes me sad.


The train back to sanity is a joyous thing - no matter how rubbish it might actually be - and I've celebrated the journey by sitting in one of the coaches with the little tellies on the back of the seats. Turns out they run some free TV shows on them, and this week there's a couple of episodes of Wallander on them. I've not read the books, but I like a good police drama, and the moody Scandinavian ones are some of the best. Even if it is all in English. And with Kenneth Branagh in the lead role. It's still entertaining stuff. Best Only thing I've seen all week.



Finally the weekend is arriving and we're having the Lodger to stay for a couple of nights - which is ironic as I think that next week I'll be in a hotel round the corner from her house.

Of late, weekends are far too short - but I'm sure we'll manage to cram it full of stuff all the same.

Cheerio.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Getting back in the saddle

Somewhat out of practice so getting back on the horse is proving slightly more challenging than it should be, but we all love a challenge - or so they say, so here I am.

Part of the problem with failing to write regularly has been a suitable available time slot given the way work has been treating me of late. This week, I find myself back on board the Last Great Western, or the First Terrible Western if you prefer - off to our capital city for a full week of shenanigans. To be honest, this is a blessed relief compared to the trudge of driving backwards and forwards to Heathrow which has been my routine for the past couple of months. Of course sitting on the train also gives my brain the ability to unplug and reflect instead of joining in with the saddos who seem to think its another office. It truly isn't, but I've rumbled on about that before.

As trains go, this one is remarkably empty this morning, and while being winter it's almost dark, and being England in the winter, of course wet, as daylight tries to push through the cloud cover another miserable Monday morning hoves into view through the window. Word of the moment: Dank. 

Empty-ish is probably more accurate, as it still has it's fair share of peculiar people. There's the doctor (discussing his patients on the phone - which is probably illegal in the nanny state), the drug addict (who is clearly trying to hide it behind his minor executive exterior but will insist on telling his girlfriend the details of getting high with her - as they obviously can't remember - it in what he believes to be a whisper on his phone) and the ones that read over your shoulder - and we all know where that leads. Eavesdropping and all that good stuff. Your not going to read anything good about yourself......

I think she got the message. 

In such depressing times what one needs is something to look forward to and while Christmas is coming (bah humbug - says at least one of my readers) it's still a way off as we're only in November. There's a couple of movie related events this week - Gatsby and Pacific Rim both arrive on BluRay in glorious 3D today, but of course I'm not there to enjoy them. I can however, see one very very good reason to try and spend an evening at the IMAX cinema in Central London during my trip.  Gravity.  I've heard nothing but good reviews - even though I've tried to stay say from them - and I've seen nothing but stunning visuals, so I may well try and grab a ticket for a show if it's at all possible. Time will tell.  Other than that, the only thing to look forward to is the weekend..

Daughter has recovered well, and now that she's only trying to hold down the one job, is likely to remain in a fitter condition. She was clearly overworking, which is admirable and stupid in equal measure. The fact that boyfriend is more and more part of the scene is also going to change her world somewhat. I'm enormously proud of the person she's become. 

Son is currently weathering the storm - quite literally - in Vietnam. On the current leg of his world tour he had planned to hire a motorcycle and ride from North to South as an interesting way to see the country (and shamelessly stealing the idea from a young obi wan ken obi). However, the impending storms have put paid to that so instead he's soaking up Hanoi and it's surrounds before heading off to Hong Kong. All in all he's having a whale of a time, and again has become a young man to be proud of. 

Mrs G and I are muddling along - slogging our guts out and yearning for the next holiday. I can assure you it won't be long.  All this working away is contributing towards an enormous pile of hotel points and stupid levels of overtime - which translates into posh holiday opportunities which is after all - the only reason to be doing this job. 

And so I suppose with that in mind, I'd best get in with it. Not quite at Paddington yet, but momentarily. 

Mind the Gap. Until next time.



Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Very Bad Things.. and a light at the end of the tunnel

The 29th of September was a very long time ago - given that we're now on the sixth day of November. It's almost as if October didn't exist!?  and for a large part of it, I kind of wish it didn't.

However - this particular job only has about 4 weeks worth of life left in it, and honestly - thank heavens for that for I fear if I continue in this vein my marbles won't just be lost, but rolled away down a fissure in the very crust of the earth never to be seen or heard of ever again.

To say that times have been tough would be to understate somewhat. I have lost a couple of close frolleagues to other (almost certainly less interesting) work, or better yet to retirement, where I have no doubt that even now, the devil will be making work for such idle hands. That in itself was traumatic enough - but the pile of sh..tuff that I've had to deal with since then has been some of the worst I've known.

One blinding light of good luck was a slipage in the timeline (on the clients side) which meant that my week in the sun (planned for the week after delivering our proposal) actually happened during the week when we were at our most insane - and I was fortunate enough to miss it.  This didn't stop me feeling the pain of those I left behind - and it was clearly painful. It seems no matter how much effort went in, "things" conspired against us. Still, at least they all got plenty of sleep.... afterwards.

So with 4 or 5 weeks left, that light at the end of the tunnel is what's keeping me interested. Along with the cash - which is afterall what jobs like this particular one are only about.  And that, is very sad.

In the meantime - lets see about shutting down Skype - that's easy enough....


 

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