A foreign country is the past, they do things differently there

Believe it or not I’m in London. In an internet cafe/Subway store in Tottenham Court Road. This is my fourth day here (not in the cafe, it’s my second day in the cafe πŸ™‚ and so far I have made the following observations about life in the English capital at the start of the 21st century.

  1. London drivers are insane. I mean seriously insane. If someone drove like that in Perth the police wouldn’t try to pull them over, they’d open fire.
  2. It’s extremely difficult to get a decent orange and mango juice. On the rare occasion I’ve actually been able to find anything labled “Orange and Mango” it’s turned out to also have banna, apple and even stranger things in it which means it’s not orange and mago and doesn’t taste like orange and mango. And I’m not just talking about small bottles, I can’t even find cartons in the supermarkets (or at least in the local Sainsbury’s which to be honest is the only place I’ve looked).
  3. There do not seem to be any rubbish bins in central London. I spent a good part of Saturday afternoon wandering the streets near the guildhall looking for somewhere to dump a not-orange-and-mango juice bottle and had to give up and take it hme with me.
  4. Edmonton (where I’m staying with my Uncle) is not a good part of town. It’s rather like the Jasmine Allen estate off The Bill, but with shorter buildings. The local market looks like something out of James Cameron’s Dark Angel – minus anyone as good looking as Jessica Alba. The local police station is all barricaded up, obstentiously for renovations but I suspect this is just a cover so the bobbies can hide from the locals.
  5. English notes are still made of paper. This means that when you carelessly shove them into your pocket they get all crumpled up and have to be flattened out before you can use them to buy anything – unlike Australian polymer notes that just pop back into shape.
  6. There are Starbucks everyehere. I always thought those gags about Starbucks in The Simpsons were exagerated. They’re not
  7. The tube (underground railway system for those not in the London know) is pretty quick, clean, and efficient, but the stations (particularly the big multi-line ones) are like rabbit warrens. And all the pedestrian tunnels are one way, so to get around from platform to platform you have to follow all the arrows or have security guards descend on you with batons (all right, probably not with batons :). I changed trains from the Picadilly line to the Central line at Holborn the other day which involved going down a tunnel, then another tunnel, then into another tunnel, then up some stairs, then down another bendy tunnel, then down a sloping tunnel, then up the other side of the sloping tunnel, then down another tunnel, then down some stairs and then through another tunnel and out on the platform. This was in the middle of a mass of hurring people – I seriously felt like we were all rats in some kind of maze πŸ™‚
  8. The British branch of Burger King (Hungry Jacks to us Aussies) cannot make a burger to save their lives. I had one yesterday when no other cullinary option presented itself. I had to open the burger to see if there was any meat in it – there was but it was completely tasteless. And you’d think that you couldn’t mess up fries, but somehow they managed to make them like eating hot crunchy cardboard. No detectable flavour at all.

That said I’m having a great time πŸ™‚ Just went to the British Museum to see the Rosetta Stone and Sutton Hoo finds which were impressive – but nothing on the central courtyard. The building was constructed as a big square with a large courtyard in the middle. For the millenium they decided to plonk the historic reading room of the British Library (which was being rebuilt elsewhere) in a specially constructed block in the middle, then roof the entire courtyard over with glass. It’s incredible. You step out of the already large rooms of the museum into this gigantic dazzling white space (the walls of the museum have been cleaned up and the library shell and courtyard floor are marble) which just completely smacks you in the face. It’s HUGE. Then when you’ve come to terms with massive expanse, you walk across it into the reading room, and get smacked in the face again because it’s so massive as well! It’s one of the most incredible spaces I’ve ever been in in my entire life πŸ™‚

I’ve also done the Museum of London, Victoria Station and taken lots of photos around Battersea Power Station.

(If this is cut off suddenly it’s because I’m out of time on my machine πŸ™‚

Leaving on a jet Plane

Man the last week has been busy. I finished work on Friday, and have spent almost all the time since (apart from a few snatched hours playing Civ III) either preparing for the trip, or moving all the furniture out of the loungeroom so Rebecca and Dom can lay new flooring while I’m away. This latter task was not easy given that…

a) The loungeroom is rather big
b) I own a whole load o’ crap

My bedroom is now a furniture packed cave with just enough space to crawl through and reach the bed. The second bedroom is worse.

Anyway before I depart (my plane leaves for the UK tomorrow, I’m leeeeeaving on a jet plane, don’t knoooowwww Stop it!!!) there are a few things that need mentioning.

One: Congratulations Rebecca and Dom! I won’t say what about – I presume they’re telling people but I’d want to be sure first πŸ™‚

Two: Beowulf is great. I could carry on and on about it but very few people seem to have as great an interest in the Anglo-Saxon language as I do, so I’ll spare you all *grin*. However I would like to highlight one particular passage (talking about the dragon) that I found quite amusing…

It was ‘sposed to be so easy

Today I’ve achieved absolutely nowt,
In just being out of the house, I’ve lost out,
If I wanted to end up with more now,
I should’ve just stayed in bed, like I know how,

It was supposed to be so easy – The Streets

The reason I’m quoting Mike Skinner, and not just quoting Mike Skinner but one of his more annoying tracks (I mean Original Pirate Material had some good stuff but this latest album… OK, Fit But You Know It is kind of catchy but the rest of the tracks seems to consist of him whining about losing


Well not quite anyway.

It’s amazing how much work it takes to organise an overseas trip. Combine that with an attack from the death cold from hell last week (Tuesday and Wednesday spent shivering in bed unable to speak with laryngitus) and it’s no wonder I haven’t been keeping up with log entries. But I’m marginally better now, so I’d better apologise for all the things I’ve missed over the last week or so…

Rebecca – I’m really sorry I missed your birthday. I was planning to send you an email from work, but of course wasn’t actually at work. I was also pretty much out of my head on cold medication and feeling truly wretched, so couldn’t even summon the togetherness to crawl out of bed and go online for a few minutes. Sorry πŸ™ I do have a present waiting for you though πŸ™‚

Helen – I’m also really sorry I missed your birthday. I knew it was coming up but in my pre-trip/post-death cold confusion it sort of slipped my mind. I checked my email for the first time in a few days last night and got your email – so I’ll write tonight and get everything sorted out.

Stephanie – I only got your email last night as well, so I’ll get a reply off to you tonight. I’ve got most of the site saved, I need to double check on some files, so don’t pull it quite yet.

Ryan – Ditto on the email. I was online Sunday morning but was feeling anti-social after a frustrating day of trip related shopping – so even if I’d got it I probably wouldn’t have been up for the movies. And even if I had been in a really gregarious mood I don’t know that I’d want to go and see Vin Diesel πŸ™‚ I’ll get something sorted out before I head OS though – I think Hellboy opens this week so we can get the guys together – if Fabian’s back from Europe.

The Bishop – Sorry I stole those silver candlesticks but I needed the money to start a new life free from my convict past.

OK, I think that’s enough apologies for one day πŸ™‚

Ummm, reading Beowulf, listening to Destroy Rock and Roll by Mylo, watching Regency House Party which is easily the stupidest thing on TV at the moment and as such is hilarious.

And now it’s time for ‘Let’s all pick on Microsoft!’

Exibit Number 1

In fact there is an “interesting” page on the Microsoft website that seems to address this issue in a tangental way. This page talks about something called “layout” but fails to explain what it is, or why such a thing exists in the first place. Apparently giving a dimension to a box is one of the ways to trigger “layout” in that box, so it’s clear that Microsoft deliberately designed their browser to behave in this strange way. Regardless of the reasoning, when a box lacks “layout” it is vulnerable to many weird bugs, and when the box has “layout” it causes the browser to violate several W3C specifications. Considering that this “layout” is not part of the W3C specs, one wonders what the heck is going on at Microsoft.

Exibit Number 2


Your Honor, the Prosecution rests!

Yes, well…

The frequency of my blog entries getting back to normal eh? So much for that idea πŸ™‚

There’s been a lot of stuff to get done at work before I finish up, and there’s still a lot of stuff to be organised for the trip, and as a result I’ve been busy as all get out. And as a result of that I’ve been too tired to do much in the evenings except throw something in the microwave and collapse in front of the TV (and an unremitting diet of microwave dinners is probably not helping anyway). So keeping up with blog entries has sort of fallen by the wayside. But they should pick up sooner or later – maybe πŸ™‚

A few quick notes on things though.

Justin and Marika

I caught up with Justin and Marika last week. We went out to dinner at Kailis Brothers in Leederville (where I had a very nice salt and pepper squid) and then walked up to the Luna to see some film I’d never heard of but which Justin and Marika said was a documentary about a family who’s house was stormed by the police and FBI in the middle of their thanksgiving dinner – sort of a social justice/abuse of power by the authorities type thing. In actual fact it turned out that the police and FBI stormed the place because the father of said family was a paedophile trading in child porn, which was frankly not what I’d been lead to expect. But it was interesting anyway, in a somewhat unsettling way. I’ll probably have more to say on it later.

Oh and it turned out that the reason Justin and Marika didn’t turn up to my birthday dinner back in February/March was because they’d just found out Marika was pregnant – and were in severe shock at the time. They’re extremely happy about it now, so congratulations guys!

The Charmed Season Finale

Gideon is dead. Good. You do have to wonder where Leo picked up the ability to shoot lightning bolts from his hands Emperor Palpetine style though. And since when was Chris telekinetic? They did a very good job in the adds of suggesting that Piper was going to die (not that I figured she’d stay dead of course, name one Halliwell sister who hasn’t been dead at some point or other) but in the end it turned out that they killed off Chris, which is fair enough because the entire temporal paradox of his very existance was rapidly becoming an embarrasment. Ummm what else? Oh yes, Barbus. It’s good to see him back. Every TV show needs a demon of fear who looks like a cross between David Bowie and Tom Waites and speaks with a Tennassee accent (Tennasse? I dunno, somewhere like that). And his turn as the Demon of Hope in the mirror universe was hilarious. Actually speaking of the mirror universe it was nice to see that they kept to the convention of the guys all having pointy little beards and the girls done up as goths – just so we could tell who was who πŸ™‚

(Oh yeah, normally I’d regard Rose McGowan done up as a goth as a dream come true, but they went way overboard with the hair – it looked like she was wearing three wigs on top of each other – so no dice πŸ™‚

Ummm, sure there was some other stuff I was going to write about, but I’d better get on with some real work (I’m in the office early again today) . So, farewell until I get myself together enough to write again, which could be sometime in November at this rate πŸ™‚

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