Monday, 30 August 2010

Season One Finale

Life is never quite like the movies...or television serials for that matter...but it could be said that I've reached a season finale, so here's a brief overview of the season so far:
The hero (me) leaves full time work in order to concentrate both on practising his interest in writing and pursuing a newly found love interest in a foreign country.  Things start slowly, in fact very little happens for a while other than the odd criss-crossing back and forth to sweden, and a continual cycle of lay-ins caused by cold and wet weather, autumn having arrived.
But then Christmas and new year arrive and there is the drama of possible cabin crew strikes at the exact moment of spending the holiday season away from the uk for the first time ever.  There is tension, there are tears, but then it all blows over thanks due a dubious legal decision.  And the period is as it should be, with frozen nostrils and ear drums in -30 temperatures.
More excitement in the new year as the hero discovers that he will have a poem published within an anthology, disappointment quickly dives in with the knowledge that there will be no payment and the quality of the printing is also a little dodgy.  Meanwhile, spending so much time apart from his love is playing havoc with his happiness.  What is he doing?  Should he move to Sweden?
Never mind, its their first valentines day together and he receives some music and they feed ducks.  Aww, how cute!
Books are getting read in their numerousness (is that a word?) but the writing is getting harder.  Stories and poems are sent away but all are rejected.  But here finally is easter, and two visits from his swede, one with her father who visits the english countryside for the first time.  The second visit is for three weeks and is wonderful until the last days when the realisation of having to part comes in once more.
But the god Vulcan is looking after them. Iceland is smoking, no-one is going anywhere and our hero (me) has his best ever thursday afternoon sitting in just a t-shirt by the canal...he gets to keep her for another week and gets to take her out to dinner for her birthday.
Money's starting to get tighter...he's going to have to find work again soon.  Starts slowly, doesn't really want to.  His love has by this point decided to move over so they can be together and will do once she finishes at the folk art school she doesn't enjoy.
More time spent travelling, more time spent pretending to look for work and his football team are relegated amidst a woeful run of form.  But never mind, she's actually moving over.  And by a strange quirk of fate he gets some temping work due to start the day after she moves here.
The work stays sporadic however and his love is also having difficulties with the system.  Thrift is the watchword.  Both require help from each other to stay positive.  She gets an NI number but agencies are still not interested without proof she has a teaching degree they can understand...

But now the hero has found a full time job.  Working at the International Grains Council in Canary Wharf (the big famous tower with the pyramid), who monitor the worldwide grain trade.  Everyone seems friendly and it is on a temp to perm basis.  Things are looking up.  His love has received her NARIC certificate and the schools will soon be returning and her friend has found somewhere in London too. And that's where we stand, on the edge of the brink of season Two...but what will happen?  Well, you'll just have to tune in to find out, and no there will be no spoilers...

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Status Quo

Still no more work.  This week I've been putting myself forward for jobs on websites, as well as sending my CV to different agencies.  Heard nothing from them yet, but we will see.  So I've been turning the rest of my attention to books.
Alain de Botton writes on philosophy and I've finally gotten around to reading one of his books, The Architecture of Happiness.  It was in fact very interesting and gave great insights on why we can like some buildings or art and dislike others.  It also set off a few ideas in my head for stories.  So maybe I'll get around to writing them...hmm.
Next up was Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys, which seemed to follow on a bit from his American Gods.  It took a while to get into it, and was in some senses predictable, but the pleasure of his books is more the odd mini-stories that are in the middle of the tale.  In a lot of ways his style reminds me of Douglas Adams.
Finally another Henning Mankell book, but not a Wallander story.  It had the same feel of cold and darkness and death as the detective books but was a different type of story entirely.  It was still excellent though and I look forward to reading any more of his books that I can get my hands on.

The weather has been strange this past week.  Very changeable, between sudden showers, and bright sunshine, but usually an odd mix of cold and warmth.  As such it makes it very difficult to know when and for how long to go out.  Right now it looks nice, but there are no guarantees.

Last night I listened to a documentary on Radio 2 about Richard Burton.  If it was not for his voice then I'm not sure how much interest I would have in poetry and literature now.  It was because of that voice that I began reading HG Wells and other science fiction at a young age, and then took an interest in Dylan Thomas and from there other poetry.  I can still remember, at the age of not much more than four or five, sitting in my parents living room on a Saturday morning with a bowl of shreddies that I couldn't finish for being so scared, and hearing Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds for the first time.  The radio programme was excellent, with both Burton's and other fine voices to listen to.  I wrote a poem after it finished.

To a voice on the radio;
Long dead.
Echoes from the past.
Words spoken,
Lines read.
The voice of the poets,
Of coal dust and rain;
And black bread.
The voice
That sunk a thousand pints
Before bed;
And said:
This is me.

Sunday, 15 August 2010


The passion, the art
Make love
Then fart.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Portobello Hell and the Green Invader

No work in the past week but I've not been...completely...idle.  As I said at the end of my last post, I was off to the Proms for some Mahler and it was excellent.  The seats were only eight from the front and about a dozen back from the stage, a perfect view really and sound was also great.  It was nice to see how the other half live for a while at least. 
Erica quite enjoyed her knitting cafe, albeit a bit different from the way it works in Sweden.  Once more its that general lack of inclusiveness and equality that she misses, which comes over a little rude.  I'm not sure why we have to be like that here, is it a shyness?  Or is it a lack of self confidence that makes us try harder to appear more important? Or something else entirely.

Anyway, on Saturday she got the chance to speak plenty of Swedish as a former Uni colleague was over with her own friends.  Unfortunately (at least from my point of view) we had to visit Portobello Market...on a Saturday...late morning...and it was heaving.  You could barely hear an english accent and it felt as if the whole of Europe had suddenly descended upon West Eleven.  And its not as if they even sell anything worth buying.  Does anyone really want old spoons with ivory handles or pairs of porcelain spaniels?  I only perked up at the sight of the wonderful fruits and veg, cakes and breads, further down.  Now that was a market I would like to have on my doorstep.  Nevertheless, the Swedish ladies were all very friendly, spoke to me in good English and enjoyed themselves.  We left them to visit Buck House alone.

Since then we've devoured three books between us.  Erica had Pride & Prejudice, which (based upon the number of snorts of laughter and giggles) she enjoyed.  I had le Carre's Mission Song, the best of his that I've read so far (still want to read the older cold war ones), along with Robert Harris' Fatherland which I have read before.  Still excellent however.  I now have one of his more recent Roman novels Lustrum along with a Jack Higgins.  Erica is sticking with Austen and Mansfield Park.  I have also been re-writing my CV into much more modern format and have to say I'm rather pleased with it.  Really could do with some more work soon, but have some better ideas about the future now.

Finally to a curious incident this weekend and the arrival of a green insect which may have been a grasshopper.  I have no idea how it got into my room but Erica suddenly spotted it on the carpet while she read.  I quickly caught it in a glass jar but was at a loss what to do with it.  After realising it had wings we decided to throw it out of the window (I am on the fourth floor) but this proved tricky since it decided to stick to the jar.  It then refused to move while I flicked at it with a piece of paper and if you excuse the pun, I was rather jumpy since I did not know what it was or what it would do.  Thankfully I got it to leave the jar and it has not been seen since.  We continue to keep a lookout, however...

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Sense No More

Ever feel like your banging your head against a brick wall?  Well today I've felt like that on a tour around several recruitment agencies with Erica who just look at her as if she fell off their shoe.  Saying that they don't recruit for that kind of work, and expecting you to know it, even though their websites are only plastered with slogans like "the right job just for you" etc. which makes you think they'd recruit for anything.
Then others that say that they would want people with previous experience...but in which case how do you get the experience?  And then pithily telling you that you can check employers own websites for their own job listings...well duh!..perhaps there is no reason for recruitment agencies after all.
And finally the ones that ask "what is your dream job?" as if they were ten years old and doing a mock interview for their English homework. I know what mine is...recruitment get paid ridiculous amounts of money and all you have to do is find a job for someone who already has about ten offers of work and tell everyone else to go away.

As for myself I finished at Sense yesterday, and received a lovely box of choccies from them, which was really nice.  Quite a few have already gone I have to say.  So I'm back out there looking for something else to keep me occupied and trying to think up what type of career it is that I want.  My recent job has allowed my mind to wander a little and I've had a few interesting ideas for stories and characters.  Just have to write them all down now and ponder and work a little more.

On a much brighter and exciting note my friend has received two tickets for the Proms tomorrow (a pair of Mahler Symphonies on offer) and so I get to sit down at a Prom for the first time ever.  I have sat at the RAH before, but for different things.  Very exciting.  And as for Erica, well she won't be home completely alone since she has found a craft group to meet up with.  More on that story later...

Sunday, 1 August 2010

More Tales

Since I last blogged I have continued to work at Sense, and now all my work is up on their webpage at the link I gave you before.  Erica finally had her NI interview only to find that its best if she has work already (why they don't tell you that on the HMRC webpage I don't know) and has to wait four more weeks to find out if she gets it or not.  It's a bit like banging your head on a brick wall sometimes.  As a result she has now begun looking for teaching work but is feeling a bit down.
I have not had much chance to write over the last few weeks but have uploaded another story I wrote recently, The Honey Seller on the same website as before.  I have also uploaded some older short stories to the site.
Had a family gathering to go to yesterday which was nice, especially since I haven't seen my dad for a while.  More stress for Erica of course at having to remember lots more new names, at least the weather was nice though, and we did get to stroll alongside the Thames.
I expect to finish at Sense this week, so maybe will get a couple of days off, a chance to relax and a chance to help Erica settle in more to London.  It's a tough place.