Sunday, November 30, 2008

St. Andrew's Day 2008-Rick's Pics

St. Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland. Today is Scotland's official national day.

To celebrate I thought I'd show some patriotic pics from courtesy of Rick's Picks' Photostream. We really do wear our kilts with pride in Scotland.

These are all taken from Rick's pics. Rick is a Flickr contact of mine (and an acquaintance from Scotland). I have to say he takes some amazing pictures, from the Highland Games and Scottish shows.

Happy St. Andrew's Day one and all.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

December Will Be Magic Again

I find that there is something melancholic about Christmas.

I am reminded of this as I listen to a feature about the nation's best carols as selected by 50 of the county's leading choirmasters and composers of church music. Their selection is fairly sombre, with In The Bleak Midwinter coming in at number 1.

"We like to feel sorry for ourselves and have a bit of heaviness about us, I think that is very British indeed," explained the editor of the BBC Music Magazine who conducted the survey.

How true.

Today I'm taking part in a World AIDS Day concert at St Pancras Church (pictured above), a celebration and remembrance for World AIDS Day 2008. I've read something about "uplifting" songs. I'm not entirely convinced that singing It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year sets the right tone.

December is certainly a time for reflection. It's the end of the year, a chance to look back and to look forward. Though, for many, there may not be much to look forward to - only more economic gloom and uncertainty.

There's definitely something in the air. I've noticed that a number of fellow bloggers' postings have become more downbeat of late. For myself I'm a little less inspired. Despite the "excitement" of moving into brand new offices this week, where everything is sparkling and new, I've got very little work to do. Certainly not enough to keep me in a job if it continues like this for another 4 months.

Anyway, enjoy it while I can. Here is my new office - it's very bright and white.

Which is probably why we have a boudoir and a beer garden.

and a chocolate fountain...

There's even a London-themed floor!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The One Where...

...MadeInScotland offers Gay Banker a glass of water after sharing some juicy meat together.

In August I met GB for dinner. He treated me on that occasion, even though it had been my intention to take him out by way of thanks for the generous donation he gave to Leukaemia Research, sponsoring me in a charity walk. (The bill came to just about the same amount as his donation).

Last night I had the chance to return the favour.

I suggested a restaurant but, as GB's Japanese masseur didn't recommend it, GB suggested somewhere else.

It's simply a question of taste and, erm, why would I question GB's taste? (These are not Christmas decorations mind).


Like most bloggers, GB values his anonymity, but let me tell you this about him:
  • He's rather partial to bistecca griglia, which he prefers rare.
  • How he knows how to choose a delicious wine. Last night he sniffed out a rather fine 10-year old petrognano.

Watching The Watcher

I'm in festive mode.

Some of you might remember that I've from time to time I dabble with singing in public (well allegedly I have a talent, a wonderful thing cause everyone listens when I start to sing etc.)

Here you can see me (I'm one of the people in the front with a red fan) singing raw. I've sung in Paris theatres, in Turin and with Elton John and Heather Small at the Albert Hall.

Because everything was grim I decided I'd do some Christmas concerts. Today we had (yet another) all day rehearsal. Groan.

Recently I've noticed though that someone's been blogging us in rehearsal mode, so today I thought I'd watch the watcher. It's Paul in London.

Here he is looking at his snappy snap. Tut. Me thinks PiL might benefit from concentrating on his moves instead of happy snapping!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Tel Aviv 2

In a fortnight I'll be back in Tel Aviv, though this time I don't think I'll be spending much time on the beach.

So, I won't need any sunblock, on which subject...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

With A Little Illumination

[unfinished post]

Gentlemen please!

There is a tale. Of a voice which speaks my name - the ten who support each other.

Two, usually silent. One of whom finds courage in his drink, the other probably as well, although he spells it "alcahol". With 3 strikes for the urge he cannot control.

There's another. Who travelled far after many excited texts and emails exchanged before a bitter truth, leaving only silent tears.

One is with us only because he was caught. An echo in a whisper.

Three are Scots. Three because they are bored.

Two rugby weekends challenge one. For another it is something as simple as a jogger. Oh, the ghosts that haunt, twisted every way.

The last of them realises that every hope and every prayer rests on the group now. He has decided, decided he may be past the point of no return.

So, abandon thought and let the dream descend. There because they realise that they have raised up their hands to the level of their eyes. The moment when speech disappears into silence. Hardly knowing the reason why their bodies become entwined, defenceless and silent.

Dirk Bikkembergs Gold

Somehow this morning AussieBum seems so last year!

This is the new golden underwear range from Dirk Bikkembergs. I saw an advert for it in December's Têtu magazine, which arrived on Tuesday. But the weblink advertised wasn't yet online. I tried to scan in the ad (hence the greater detail, but bottom half only):

The models are 11 (unspecified) European football players. Bikkemberg often uses footballers as models and his range has a special emphasis on soccer.

The link to the golden underwear range is up and running now. Just click on the pic...

Thursday 1.18am

Well, I guess that the time of this post says it all. I'm pretty tired, but I can't sleep. It's the 3rd night in a row that I've been like this.

I'm feeling stressed yet again about the economic climate.

As a City lawyer, I have strict financial targets to hit. I have to achieve 7 chargeable hours each day. So If I am charging 3.5 chargeable hours a day my utilisation is 50%

Recoverability is also looked at in assessing a lawyer's performance. That is to say, if I allocate 1 hour's work for something that we can only actually bill 30 minutes for (where the work is, for example, on a fixed fee) then my recoverability is 50%.

Although I survived the recent redundancies at work, I am not currently busy. Even when I am, such as was the case yesterday, I am dealing with relatively low value matters, and I will not be able to recover very much for it.

3 months ago, my utilisation rate for the first financial quarter was 111%, and I had a high recovery rate-round about 90%. At the moment I am charging somewhere between 30 mins and 2 hours each day. That's pretty much how it has been for the last 2 months. That is simply not sustainable. With no real hope of the situation improving in the next 3-4 months - there is no work coming in - I'm unlikely to be working beyond that. It's just not viable.

The junior colleagues that I supervise are fairly busy with "bread and butter" transactions. But economics do not allow me to deal with that kind of work. Because of their significantly lower chargeable rates (i.e. the cost of 1 hour of their time) they can do that work cost effectively with a recovery of say 90%. With a higher chargeable rate however, my recovery would probably be 70%, the rate that's considered break-even, or less.

In the meantime...

I saw this word cloud on Bjorn's Blog: Bjørn's blog: My blog at a glance. So I went to Wordle and ran my own.

The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. But obviously it only works relative to recent posts-otherwise I'm sure I'd spot the words Ben+Whishaw+gay which once again seems to be the most popular google search bringing people to this blog. (I've my fabulous post on La Cage Aux Folles to thank for the over-prominent "Da").

Now then, it's 2am...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Wholly Holy Healed

Remember this?

Well, it went from bad to worse

My thumb started to atrophy, go sort of dead.

I had to go see the Doctor. Then having been made good, I did some DIY and burst it open again.

So I prayed to the Madonna of the broken nail (not the granny-grotesque one that Guy Ritchie used to bonk) but this one, in the yellow:

So I'm hoping I will now heal.


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