A website like this is a funny thing. It’s more of a personal memoir than anything else. I’ve always maintained that I write it for myself but a few of you have contacted me over the past few months wondering where I have been. So, I think updates are important. If you read Monday’s entry from Helsinki you may have noticed the ‘On This Day’ link. It pointed to the seven wonders of Britain. Have you visited any of them? I think if you are planning a visit to the UK then they should be on your list. Looking back on what I wrote in 2002 I see that I have only crossed one more off the list. I visited The Eden Project not long after that list came out. It is fabulous. You should spend the time heading to the Cornish coast to see it. Now, do you want updates on anything else?
Removing Ice From The Plane: I know I am very quiet at the moment. You’re wise to check the Flickr feed to see where I am. I am busy but enjoying it. It feels like I have been travelling for work for a good few weeks now and, even though I am not away every day, it will be good to get back to a more regular life in London. While I enjoying seeing all the places you can get a little bit tired of hotel rooms that all merge into each other and I miss being able to go out with friends in the evenings. Still, I expense the beer here so it’s not all bad, is it?
On this day…
2003: On Hold
The New Year is always a time for review. Last year I went into an in-depth review of what I had written over the previous twelve months but this year I haven’t even started to re-read the words I have splashed out onto these pages (although I am getting excited at the thought of the On This Day link turning up three or four years against some future entries).
However, this is always a time of retrospective analysis. Did I do anything important, relevant of useful in 2004? Of course, I think a great deal of what I did was interesting or else I would not have done it but what was really important? Of course, many important things happened in the world but this isn’t about them it’s a self-indulgent review.
I was about to admit that nothing I did was that important and much of it was far too frivolous but then I thought again. It took me a while to realise that the most important thing that I did in 2004 I did for me. Nobody told me to do it and it really doesn’t benefit anybody else (except perhaps in the longer term) but I decided that I really had to stop uncontrolled consumption of food and generally unhealthiness and do some exercise. And, with that, the whole Gym Buddy experience was born.
I have relaxed a over the past few weeks – especially on the parts that monitor my calorie intake – but I will start 2005 with a new program at the gym which will include some of the resistance machines that I find so intimidating. My battle will be to overcome my feelings of inferiority when it comes to those machines which is a battle with perceptions of myself.
It’s very hard to put into words how I feel about this whole process. It has been an entirely positive life changing experience for me: I am not wealthier, I have less free time and it didn’t help other people but I wouldn’t change a single moment of it all.
On this day…
I’ve spent the weekend with my mum at my parents house. PY was there for some of the time but he came home yesterday while I stayed for most of today. My dad is working away and she is off to join him for Christmas later this week so, in effect, this was Christmas for us. I did eat Christmas pudding at the restaurant yesterday afternoon but that’s about as far as I went (although the amount of food I have eaten means gym buddy will be very unhappy with me this week).
It’s been a very enjoyable weekend. When I sat down to write something I was going to say much more. I was going to write, for example, about how I feel closer to my family now than I have done in the years since I moved south; how it felt like a proper adult weekend with no flashbacks to being a teenager again or, simply, how much fun the whole thing was. Instead, I think I want to relax in the joy of it all.
UPDATE 14 December: My mum was worried about traveling alone for the first time in a few years. And, of course, everything was OK apart from the fact her luggage remained in London. Whenever either of my parents have taken connecting flights in recent years one piece of their luggage is always left behind. I wonder if that says more about them or the airlines?
On this day…
No other posts on this day.
Eleven years ago today I started my working life. It was my first post-university full-time job. I was a support engineer on a satellite audio network: the shifts seemed awful and the pay (at least in the first few years) not much better but I loved the job and the people. Many of those colleagues continue to be friends to this day although we haven’t worked together for seven and a half years. It also means that I have been living in London for eleven years, yesterday. I’ve been trying to locate things that have changed in that time. I live in a different place (but only the second place I’ve inhabited in London) and I’m on my 5th job. I don’t work the shifts anymore but, in many ways, miss them and the routine they gave you. I’m wi-fied, pda’d, multi-channeled and mobile (in the phone sense) where I wasn’t – which I guess means my money is being spent on more frivolous things.
London has changed that’s for sure. We have a Mayor and Congestion Charging. Docklands has grown beyond all recognition in the last eleven years; there are some new building on the skyline and the Southbank has been opened up considerably. Like Edinburgh, there are now branches of Starbucks (and every other coffee shop you can imagine) where once there were other retail outlets. The Gap no longer seems to be the height of fashion but then again I can no longer wander a branch of C&A looking at all the clothes I don’t want. There’s still a good sandwich shop on every street but they’re now mixed in with branches of Tesco and Sainsburys who seem to have rediscovered town centres.
I know an eleven-year working life has allowed me to travel to places I, perhaps, would not have gone without work (and many I couldn’t have gone to with the cash from working). It certainly has allowed me to try more restaurants and cuisines of other countries than I ever though possible. I imagine I own more than I did back then but I can’t really quantify it (I may be a frying pan down and a dinner plate up but I’ve never really counted them).
I’m older, but fitter, than I was eleven years ago. I have a wider circle of friends in London than I could have thought possible eleven years ago. I’m always short of time now whereas I used to have to find things to fill the hours when I wasn’t working.
Of course the biggest change in those years has been social use of the internet: email, usenet and the web were not commonplace when I started working. It was that first job that introduced me to more than academic networks. When I first got an email address I only knew one person outside of my company who I could give it to. Now, it’s given me a career, a whole new way to express and organise myself and – probably – hours of entertainment.
All in all, I think I am a wiser, happier and more contented individual (perhaps I little more stressed). So, happy anniversary to me.
On this day…
I didn’t mention this before but I am rather pleased with myself for having given up alcohol for the whole of January. I don’t want you to think I’ve been craving drink or anything like that, but I decided it would be good for me after the all the alcohol you tend to consume over Christmas.
The interesting thing I learnt was that the most difficult thing was nothing at all to do with the actual drink. The hardest part of the exercise was dealing with other people. To start with people question your reasons. A test of will power became my default answer. Then there was their behaviour when I was around. It seems that having a wholly sober person in the room while you drink can be very difficult or un-nerving for some people. I had no idea people would react in that way – perhaps it made people face up to the amount they were drinking.
I also found some social situations very difficult because, deep down, I am quite shy. Drink is certainly a social lubricant and without it some situations where a little awkward. By the end of the month I was definitely feeling better about meeting people in pubs and at parties without drinking, but it wasn’t easy. It’s also not easy to be in those situations and find an alternative. London pubs do not have the greatest of choice. After a evening drinking colas and orange/lemonade drinks your stomach feels worse that it would have done on double the beers. My top tip is to drink Virgin Marys.
As to my health, I honestly don’t feel any better or any worse for the lack of drink. I guess it proves I never really over did it anyway but I expected something to change.
I imagine that I will have a beer tomorrow.
On this day…
I just watched four Dawson’s Creek episodes in a row. Have I, somehow, wasted an evening? Well, anyway, it included episode 611 where Jack and David eventually kiss (review). The annual gay kiss was somewhat lacking in any emotion. Still you do get to look at Kerr Smith!
On this day…
Today is PY and my twelfth anniversary and tonight we are off for dinner at Lightship X at St Katherine’s Dock. I’m really looking forward to it.
Twelve years sounds like a very long time but it certainly doesn’t feel like it – it’s been a wonderful period of my life and I am very much hoping for another twelve years.
People talk about finding their soulmate and I very lucky to have found mine many years ago.
Thanks for everything PY. I love you.