Sunday, April 30, 2006

Saturday, April 29, 2006

StressedOUT

It's Saturday morning, just after 4am, and I'm in bed, exhausted and unable to sleep. I'm tired, but my mind is too active.

It has been a really busy week at work. For the last three and a half years I have been working (on and off) on a project which is coming to financial close. I've been involved in many different areas of the project-site assembly, development agreement, pre-letting, financing and so on. For the last year and a half certainly it has taken up about 80% of my time at work, and over the last eight months it has been about 99% of the work I do in the office.

There are many strands to pull together in order to draw down the financing, which we had hoped to close off today (well since August really!). But the last two weeks have seen a huge effort by all involved to bring matters to a close. I've been working 18 hour days, living on adrenalin, caffeine,very little food (no appetite or time to eat)-and when I do eat it's been sandwiches, Pret, Eat.

Socially it's been impossible. I've had to cancel trips to the theatre, a visit to Prague over the Easter weekend (I had to come into the office on Good Friday and Easter Monday). But I've also had committments that I couldn't change and also demanding of time and attention.

Since October I've been part of a team organising and planning a bid to bring an arts festival to London in 2009. It's a significant event-we anticipate that there will be 4,000 participants. Our bid on behalf of London (we are competing against Geneva) is supported by the South Bank and The Mayor's Office.

The formal presentations are being made to the board today (some 56 delegates from across Europe) at City Hall. I am one of 4 people presenting the Team London bid.

We have a full day. Totally London have organised us a couple of pods on the London Eye for a 9.30am flight with the delegates, after which they have chartered us a boat to collect us from the Eye and take us on a tour from the river, dropping us off at City Hall.

There a representative from the Mayor's Office will formally greet the delegates, we have coffee and then we present the London bid. After that we'll enjoy some lunch in London's Living Room (at the top of City Hall).

I'm going to be opening our presentation. In 5 different languages, ideally without the use of propmts, and then in English. Then later in the presentation I'll be covering other issues-such as accommodation, accessibility and London's diverse culture.

So, when not focussing on work, I've been trying to write, rehearse and learn the parts of my presentation, including the parts in German, French, Dutch, Swedish and Czech.

It's great that we have been so well supported by the backers that we have. The strength of our bid lies in the support and the venues-the entire South Bank. QEH, Royal Festival Hall and the outside spaces, all booked and confirmed already, should we win the bid. We also have Trafalgar Square. It's no coincidence then that our delegates start their day at the London Eye and end up at City Hall. The South Bank venues will be pointed out to them over, and over and over

And let me not forget that I'm performing with the Gay Men tonight at Cadogan Hall. There's been music and moves to learn and rehearse. Immediately after lunch I have to rush off to the technical rehearsal.

With very little sleep in between I'm exhausted. But I'm really looking forward to today.

Of course the excitement doesn't stop there. Doctor Who tonight is fan heaven. I'll be desperate to get home and to watch.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Slither...It's A Phallic Thing

Oh my gosh...this movie Slither...that I see advertised on the side of buses. It must be about the power of male. I have a DVD copy and I'm watching it. The aggressor is penetrating. A slug type foreign body. The males infecting the females...

Who directed this crap? A woman?

GO INVESTIGATE.

Because they're tired little teddy bears

Scaredy Cat

I have two cats. Sometimes they freak me out. I'm sitting here, alone. They are in different parts of the room. All of a sudden their ears prick up and their heads snap up from their slumber. Simultaneously, from different parts of the room, they stare down the dark hall to the exact same spot. And stare.

What is it they see that I can't?

Is it just my imagination or do I end up seeing a shadow move out of the corner of my eye, just at the same time these cats also locate something? I really, really hope not. It's so unsettling.

Just like a dream I regularly have. I hear someone in my flat as I'm in my bed. I open my eyes and someone is standing over me. At that instant I wake up. I'm in my bed. And I expect someone to be there, standing over me. That instant from sleep to sense, but thinking that what I sensed in sleep is present and real. Confused.

Anyway, let this not distract me from my movie the DVD that's playing. Ah yes. The Hills Have Eyes. That'll distract me from feeling freaked out.

Lights on please. Except I'd rather not get up to go to the lightswitch by the hall. It's where the cats are staring.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Celebrity Konnichiwa

On Sunday I went to the Rosemary Branch to see Mr Entertainment. After the performance I was introduced to Kazuko Hohki, one half of the Frank Chickens.

When I was growing up I listened to John Peel most evenings. I collected the festive 50, and acquired a taste for indie music. I was a fan of the Frank Chickens, and coincidentally had tried to find some of their stiff on iTunes only a few weeks ago, but to no avail.

Anyway I got Kazuko's number and she promised to email me some MP3s of their stuff!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Media Hair

I popped out to the local for a couple of drinks with a friend this evening. He's an incredibly handsome guy, and very genuine, quite unpretentious. I used to meet him from time to time, when we would talk about things that were important to us, but since I met mon C we have only exchanged the occasional sms.

I don't know him very well. He lives just around the corner from me with his incredibly handsome boyfriend (who I've never met, but have no reason to doubt it).

We talked about relationships. We talked about certain insecurities, and still thinking myself expert from my psychoanalysis session on Friday, I tried to suggest what might be driving those for each of us.

Just what a Saturday night in the pub with a couple of pints was meant for.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Me Dear, Gay Dear, No Dear

…but I might be slightly passive-aggressive.

One of the fun things about working for a City law firm is that we are often sent on courses to cover a variety of skills that we need to employ in our professional life.

A few weeks ago I received notification that I was to attend a two-part course on assertiveness. This puzzled me slightly. I couldn’t remember signing up for one. I wondered if a colleague had suggested I needed to go on one, perhaps thinking I was not the assertive type, or at least could/should be more assertive. What an insult! The reality is probably that, having been short on the required CPD points I needed to accumulate last year (being a dual qualified lawyer I’ve two different law societies’ requirements to fulfil), when I saw the next group of courses I chose it as one I hadn’t been on.

It turned out the “Assertiveness” label was slightly misleading. The course was really about recognising the traits in others who tend to be aggressive in negotiations/meetings, and learning how to deal with them effectively and to your advantage.

As has become usual with this type of training, a private (well, so we are assured) personality test is a pre-requisite. I duly completed mine earlier this week, and was given my result this morning, privately. We each received an individual written profile. We had the chance to read it and were to have a 1 on 1 counselling session in the afternoon.

The remarkable thing is that with no exception, we each agreed that our profiles were fairly accurate.

Having looked at the traits and how to recognise them earlier in the morning, and having been given the opportunity to plot our profiles in graph form, I had an even better idea of the kind of result I was going to have. I consider that I‘m fairly self aware, in any event.

Here are some of the highlights:

[I’m] unpretentious and conscientious and place great emphasis on both structure and rules. [I am] friendly, amiable and unlikely to antagonise others intentionally. A strength lies in my ability to pay attention to detail and maintain quality and standards. However [I] will probably not want the responsibility of making major decisions that affect others.

[I] have good communication skills, particularly in my area of interest. [I] can absorb, organise and communicate information to others without forcing it upon them. [I] have patience with individuals less able than myself.

[I] organise well on a daily basis but could be less adept at long term planning.

[I] dislike antagonism and interpersonal conflict. [I] can yield my opinion to avoid conflict

[I] have a tendency to become overly involved with the problems of others. [I am] likely to take criticism personally and might frustrate others by being overly cautious and specific.


Well, so far, not too many surprises. After years of dealing with conflict as part of my job I know that I shy away from it when I can in my personal life. It’s a personal decision-I lack the energy. When I used to always take a stand, argue my rights if I got short changed, now I’m far more calm and passive. So what if a central heating engineer can’t come within 24 hours but can still come the next day, within 30 hours? I’m not going to demand a refund of my subscription. Whereas fresh out of University I would have!

However, delving further, I was quite surprised to find in my “work mask” profile that the analysis was that:

… this normally confident, outgoing and persuasive individual appears to be standing back a little from others, becoming slightly more reserved and reflective than his self image [above] describes.

This is very true. It’s something that I choose to do, but I was so surprised that this was highlighted.
Just as accurately:

[I am] currently showing signs of frustration, problems or pressure which appear to be work related. This would suggest he may be experiencing some discomfort in the role and it is important to investigate these issues.

How about the fact that I’ve not had a proper holiday since August because of the deal I’ve been working on for the last three years …the one that meant I had to work Good Friday and Easter Monday…..?

The profile also gave words that applied to me:

Compliant, dependable, careful, deliberate, systematic, friendly, precise, persistent, accurate, good listener, perfectionist, kind, logical, influential, persuasive, verbal, communicative, non-demanding, hesitant, mils and accommodating.

Am I bothered? What a fucking liberty!

Wicked News

Celebrity Woo Hoo

London is awash with celebrities. It's official. Last week the sister of the guy I share an office with sat next to Chantelle in a restaurant (Pizza Hut of all places). She wasn't with Preston, although my trainee said his sister wouldn't have recognised him even if they were together.

My brother spotted Lord Lloyd-Webber coming out of his office the last but one time he was visiting me (my brother that is...Lord LW has never visited me).

Why, I've even rubbed shoulders with the Polish Countess Rula Lenska.

With that in mind I must record my future encounters with celebrity in our Metropolis.

So here's the first for my roll of honour. Neil Tennant, on the escallator down to the Central Line, Bank tube station. I'm not sure whether he was heading east or west.

Oh, and my neighbour is in some American reality tv show, where he's left on the streets of New York for a week to survive. But he told me it's a business reality tv show. Not sure how it works really...mind you, I don't actually care!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

An Olympic Bid

I'm part of a team who are bidding to bring an international festival (with 4,000 delegates) to London in 2009. We have backing from some very important and prominent arts organisations, as also the Mayor's office. We are making the bid (against Geneva) here in London next Saturday.

We are hosting the whole event at City Hall. Some 50 delegates from all over Europe arrive on Friday night. Totally London have sponsored two "VIP" pods on the London Eye, after which a boat and city sponsored tour guide takes us to City Hall to start the formal part of the day. Lunch will be held there in the "Living Room".

It's great to have the support of the city. I can't think of a more impressive backdrop to wow our delegates, and to demonstrate how serious and committed we are to bringing this event to London.

We had a first run of our presentation tonight. We had encouraging feedback.

It is really exciting to have the opportunity to participate as part of Team London. In terms of scale it's very different from those student committees I served on, but otherwise it's not too dissimilar. It really brings back those happy memories! If my friends could see me now.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Anniversary Not Much Of A Concert

As a regular theatre goer, I'm always conscious of the price of tickets and value for money.

Tonight I wondered whether I would pay £27.50 to see a concert performed by a group who promote their "musical excellence" spread over 1.5 hours and comprising 13 songs taking up about 50 minutes, with another 30 minutes or so filled in by speeches and other non singing stuff?

It's not VFM for me, and I couldn't recommend it as such.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Quiet American


The American State Department has acknowldeged that the stereotype of the loud American abroad is not so far from the truth. The guide which they have issued for Americans travelling abroad on how to behave includes the following (along with some helpful explanations):

- - Think as big as you like but talk and act smaller. In many countries, any form of boasting is considered very rude. Talking about wealth, power or status can create resentment.

- - Listen as much as you talk.

- - Save the lectures for the kids. Justified or not the US is seen as imposing its will on the world.

- - Think a little locally. Most people in the world have no interest in the Super Bowl. What we call soccer is football everywhere else and it's the most popular sport on the planet.

- - Slow down. We talk fast, eat fast, move fast, live fast. Many cultures do not.

- - Speak lower and slower. A loud voice is often perceived as bragging. A fast talker can be seen as aggressive and threatening.

- - If you talk politics, talk-don't argue. Steer clear of arguments about American politics, even if someone is attacking US politicians or policies.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

But Who Will Remember Me?

I’m spending Easter Saturday and Easter Sunday at my parents’ house. They live in the country, outside a small (but ever growing) village.

It’s quite a large house. A farm worker’s cottage that my Dad converted and extended (pretty much single handed, but with help when it came to the big stuff, like lifting roof trusses). They have been here five years. Which almost coincided with my leaving for London.

The roof space, which is floored, is a huge storage area and full of my brother’s and my stuff. I’ve almost forgotten what it contains. Things from school and from University. Stuff that I did in between. CDs I never took with me. Books, games. Furniture. Clothes. Kitchen utensils. A bit of junk, and a lot of memories.

I went up to see if there was anything that I had forgotten about that I should take back to London. I have a look from time to time, just to remind myself. I went through some filing cabinets, found papers and things that I had written about 1982. Lots of old photographs.

I came across a little case that belonged to my Grandma. I thought that it would be nice to go through it one more time to remind myself of her. There are a few smaller boxes in it, which have some of her jewellery. Nothing at all valuable, but nevertheless very precious.

I found a box with a small pendant (it seemed much larger when it was hers). As a child I remember thinking this precious stone was a bedazzling jewel. Instead it’s a bit of plastic with some colouring stuck to it’s rear to make it sparkle. Nevertheless I made my Grandma promise that I would get it when she died, and even (yes at the age of 11/12-a lawyer in the making) made her sign a declaration to that effect. Which I still have with it.

Two rather poignant thoughts came to my mind:

1 If only she had lived a while until I was older and working. I would have bought her some real jewellery. I don’t think any of her stuff was real. Just what would now be classed as fashion jewellery.

2 Who will remember me when I’m gone? There are no children or grandchildren. Nor will there be! But then, why should it matter? Is it my own vanity that I expect to be remembered?

And Now I Understand You're God (At Least That's What You've Said)


New, New Earth. New, new Doctor Who.

Is the Doctor God? Here's the evidence:

-we have a trinity of "the last of their kind":

the Face of Boe (the father, perhaps?); Lady Cassandra (the last human); the Doctor (the last Time Lord).

-explicit and implicit references:

The Face of Boe is the last of Boe kind, who has watched the Universe grow old. Before his death he will impart his great secret. But only to "the lonely god". It seems that it is the Doctor he has chosen (but that knowledge is for another time).

The Doctor by his own admission to the Sisters of Plenitude (who are after all nuns):

"there is no higher authority [to answer to than him] it stops with me."

-Symbolism:

The Doctor heals the plague carriers (lepers) and tells them to then go heal themselves-"pass it on"! Later, he exclaims to the hospital survivors:

"I'm the Doctor and I cured them".

As a result he has created the new sub-species of new humans.

And the Doctor newly regenerated (resurrected), nicely to coincide with the Easter weekend. Let's not forget the 10th Doctor's first visit to earth coincided with Christmas Day, (more or less)-and there was a rather large star in the heavens!

Well we have to wait until the 3rd meeting of the Doctor and the Face of Boe when the great secret will be revealed.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

When Grow Up I Will

SOmeone told me today that their 7 year old son had told him, his Daddy, not to do anything on Saturday night because they had to be home to watch Doctor Who. I had to confess that I, some 30 years older, had told my parents the self same thing!

I, I Candy

Bored with the ennui of life? To much text to read? Then czech this OUT for a change of pace.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Easter Bunny? Easter Bummer

One of the drawbacks about being a lawyer in the City is that often your time belongs to someone else. I have to work on Good Friday and Easter Monday. That's a "see u next Tuesday". I'm meant to be flying to Prague tomorrow to catch up with my friends. Never mind, I'll get the days in lieu and use them when mon C. is back. And the client will have to pay for my lost flights (I'm working to meet their timetable). So instead I'll fly home to Scotland late on Friday to visit my parents so I can give them a chocolate egg.

I've told them to make NO PLANS for Saturday night. Series 2 new Doctor Who...

My Cleaner

I have a cleaner. It's great. She is Lithuanian, she dates a banker who works in the City, wears Prada and is very well educated. It's a real treat to come home and find my place spotless, my clothes (including a week's worth of shirts) ironed and put away. She is also very attractive! Wasted on me though. But I see we share the same tastes. She's been turning pages on my Dieux du Stade calendar! I prefer to keep the guys a surprise until I turn the fortnight's up and the page needs to be flipped.

Phew Wow

It's been a couple of busy days at the office. Yesterday I had a meeting from 9am through to 11am, then had to rush back to the office for another meeting 12noon to 6.30pm. In the meantime emails and voicemails were arriving to give me more of a headache. And just to top it all, there's a possibility that I have to work Good Friday and Easter Monday on a project that needs to complete a week on Friday. Of course the bright side is that I can take 2 extra days holiday in lieu, which I can do when mon C. is back in town...so it's not all bad.

In the meantime I've not had a chance to do some housekeeping on the blog, nor czechOUT what's going on with some of the other guys I read about. Of course there's no need to speak to them when I see them. I already know their news.



Only 4 more days to New Earth.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Let Us Not Forget

I had an email from Mon C. yesterday morning. He is in Ningbo (China) right at the moment. I had told him to read my blog, to stay in touch as a means of feeling close-and connected. (Of course we are in love).

He told me:

"..I've just finished breakfast and am at the business center again but am pretty gutted because I couldn't access your blog... I don't why but when I tried it says something in Chinese and I can't understand... The address is http://czechone.blogspot.com/ isn't it?"

At first I thought he had probably mistyped. When we spoke later he assured me he had not. Then it struck me. He is in China. Freedom of speech and of information is restricted. Only registered blogs are allowed. So he cannot access my, rather innocent, blog. The way I thought we could stay in touch.

So never consider that the restraints on someone else's freedoms won't affect us, and forget about it. They just might. And they certainly affect those who who suffer them daily.

That WAS a Gay Yuletide

How strange, I'm sitting here listening to In Terra Pax (OP.39)-well watching actually, as it's on video and I'm converting it to DVD.

It was composed by Gerald Finzi. He was agnostic but ended his creative life (perhaps in response to the knowledge that he was dying, he had been diagnosed with Hodgkins) with two religious works, of which this was one.

Unlike his other piece, "The Magnificat", Op. 39 was composed following his own creative impulse.

In Terra Pax recounts the Christmas story of the appearance of the angels to the shepherds, as told in St Luke's Gospel. It sets to music Robert Bridges' poem Noel:Christmas Eve, 1913.

Visiting a church in Gloucester for the first performance of In Terra Pax Finzi came into contact with chicken pox and it was the form of this he developed that led to his death in September that year.

I have to admit, though. The recording I'm watching (and the other music it's moved on to-now Walking in the Air), sounds great! Takes me right back to the week before Christmas last year.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Revolting Movies

Just last night I had to turn off a movie I was watching. I couldn’t watch it anymore. It was too disturbing. Certainly not horrific. Just extremely unpleasant and unwatchable.

It’s a movie by Marina de Van. Dans Ma Peau (In My Skin).

Esther, a research analyst, suffers a serious cut to her leg. She scratches the scar, opening it up again. For whatever reason she is soon cutting at her flesh, making new marks and scars. This obsession takes a turn for the worst, for soon Esther is biting at her flesh, gnawing off medallions of skin and devouring them.

Themes? I couldn’t get them. Intimacy and isolation for sure, but I had to switch off before I could really work it out. The message was lost in the gristle. My stomach couldn’t take any more

Nor could Germaine Greer when she found out why the director had to lock down his camera for a certain scene in Irreversible. The other movie I couldn’t bring myself to finish watching.

Lock, Stock and Layer Cake

Following my light hearted look at the risks involved in ambling along the streets of London, look what GayBanker found out from his cab driver. Grim.

Lonely Out There

It can be a little lonely out there. Here's a new blog from Legal-ize-IT who left a comment on one of my earlier postings. If you get the chance take a look, see how he goes.

The Simulation

I'm an Associate Producer on a sci-fi movie that's due to start filming this winter.

I've also invested in a musical scheduled to open in London in September.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Kidnapping. It's the New Black.

...didn't you know?

This week's Time Out has a feature which reports that kidnapping is on the rise in London. The levels of violence can be "astounding", according to the Met. Victims have been pistol-whipped, had boiling water poured on their bodies and cigarettes stubbed out on them. Even a hot iron has been used to burn someone's back.

We are at risk of being lifted off the streets of London by a variety of methods.

There is the "traditional" kidnap. A hostage held for a fat ransom. Victim specifically targeted.

Then there's the "tiger" kidnapping where someone is seized in order to force a family member to do something. Recently seen in the Tonbridge Securitas robbery.

"Express" kidnaps are opportunistic, less organised. A gang lays a trap and the unfortunate victim is whoever comes their way first. Like an extended mugging. Forced to withdraw from the ATM by threats of harm-paying your own ransom.

And you're not safe in your own home. Your spurned former partner might take you hostage in a "barricade" kidnap when you let them in to collect their left behind belongings. Heat of the moment.

A new development is the "retribution" kidnap. For revenge.

Hmm. Maybe I'm right to take taxis as often as I do.

Not in Kansas Anymore


Something Wicked is definitely coming this way. The untold story of the Witches of Oz. It's opening at the Apollo Victoria Theatre on 27 September. I'm going to see it in with various different people in October (C. is bound to be in town on at least one of these occasions) including on Halloween, which I thought was appropriate. I'll be checking it out again in November once the production has settled. I've managed to get some tickets organised for the day before Christmas Eve, and for my birthday next year. Except that I'm probably not going to be here then. I forgot! I suspect the show will be as popular as predicted and that I'll be able to offload those tickets if I need to.


You can tell I'll enjoy...

In fact there is plenty of theatre activity happening this year. Avenue Q (think adult Sesame Street, teaching real life truths rather than "Sunny Day" dreams) and Evita are all booked into my diary for later in the year. And there's Mack & Mabel next week too.

Cyber ME

How I was amused to find that my previous employer's new offices are right next door to the Cybus Corporation. The thought that City law firms might be intent on converting people into mindless robots never crossed my mind. Honest.

Outed!

It seems my blog has been discovered by the guys whose blogs I've been reading these past months. I had to rush through my archive to check what I might have written about them. And then again just to check my posts were witty!

I'm sure I know Slightly-I treated him to a night at the theatre last summer. He came as a guest of a guest of mine. Theatre of Blood. At the National. The one with Emma Peel.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Help Beat the Drought


Here in the south east, Thames Water have now imposed a ban on the use of hosepipes or sprinklers for the watering of private gardens, or for the washing of private cars, caravans or trailers. It is the first time in 15 years that Thames Water has implemented a ban.

But here is the crazy thing. I can't use a hosepipe to water my plants, but I can use it to fill up my swimming pool (well I could if I had one)! I can also use a hose to wash down my patio. Just so long as none of it sprays into the pots I guess. I can't wash my car using a hosepipe, but I can fill up a bucket as many times as I want and empty it over my car to rinse away the suds!

At least my neighbour will be happy. Last weekend we washed down the outside spaces and scrubbed and cleaned. He feared the ban would prohibit this, so we had to do it while we could. Now our rush was for nothing. And to think I was so hung over! But what's worse...I still might be asked to do it again. I don't think I'll explain that it's not yet banned!

Over & Out

The weekend is long gone. And so, too, is C. who at this very moment is sitting on an Air France plane en route to Beijing. And he is going to be in China for 5 weeks. What to do...

C. arrived home Friday night, and we had a perfectly pleasant evening. On Saturday we got up-eventually, and I decided not to go to Canary Wharf to see if I could get half price tickets from TKTS for Whistle Down the Wind. Instead we went for a buffet breakfast at a local turkish restaurant. The "home" made croissants were very good. Then we wondered up to Upper Street to collect a parcel that I had to sign for, and had a slow stroll home. Next we got ourselves organised for the afternoon. I had a group of guys coming round for practice, and C. decided to visit his flat.

The afternoon was fairly long, but we got there. Our chief for the afternoon was very good. I did the host type thing, making tea coffee and offering snacks. Then when we were done I opened some wine for the guys.

Just before we broke off, K (my friend from Praha) and his bf Phil arrived. They had a most stressful time trying to navigate to mine, and seemingly journied all around north London. It was a strong gin and tonic (or 3) for them when they arrived.

They didn't really seem to mix with the guys, but no problem for soon the guys were off, leaving us to chill before we went to an Eritrean restaurant for dinner. Zigni House had some time ago, and again more recently-as in last week-a v. good review in Time Out.

I should have known better-it was packed and service was running a little slow. Still we all took the buffet and I have to say, I rather enjoyed mine. I think K&P were not as generous as I though.

Then we went home, some more wine, chat, chocolates and then to our beds.

I organised a big breakfast for us on SUnday and we all headed into town in the afternoon where we said our goodbyes. C. & I enjoyed a coffee in Soho, then went home.

It was french movies in the afternoon and evening, and suddenly weekend was over.

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