I don't know anything about saints, but I have an uncanny instinct for sniffing out a son of a bitch.

Archive for the category “Domestic”

Advertising Standards – Feedback

A while back, I wrote about OpenTable and the dodgy wording of their Dining Points loyalty scheme. At the time, it had just been referred to the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority), who were investigating further.

Last week, they came back to me – and while it’s still informal, OpenTable are supposedly changing the wording on the screens, to make things clearer about how the Dining Points scheme works.

It’s still not a situation I’m entirely happy with, because it can still be easily misinterpreted, and there’s a lot of inherent dodginess in the entire thing.  But at least it’s progress.

It’s still with the ASA, following on from my own responses, but it’ll be interesting to see whether anything else comes of it.

Still Not Moving

Come November, I’ll have been in my current house for 4½ years. For me, that’s pretty scary – it’s already the longest I’ve stayed in one house since I left home.  (For long-term readers, I lived in Manchester for longer, but that was split between three houses)

I’m also now signed up for another year, so that’s even scarier.

As I’m sure I’ve said before, my current location (between Milton Keynes and Bedford) isn’t my dream place by any stretch. It’s suited my needs, but that’s been more by luck than judgement.

There’s been two key reasons for staying here (and a subsidiary third) which are pretty simple to explain.

The main reason is how easy it is to get away from here. I’m on the crux of two major roads – the M1 North-to-South, and the A421 for East-to-West. Plus I’ve got two easy rail routes for London and the like. It opens things up for social and fun stuff, but also work-wise, gives me a lot more variety/locations than I would’ve thought.  (Of course, the irony is that for two years of that, I’ve been working from home, or on my shortest commute in decades!)  An hour’s drive (which I still consider as an ‘easy’ commute) covers a massive distance – and a two-hour drive covers a huge dollop of the country.

Secondary to that is that I simply haven’t found anywhere that I more want to be.  There’s some places I’d move to, but there’s no real desire or urge to do so. (Also known as the “Yeah, it’s nice. But…” verdict)  Previously, there’s usually been a good reason (or at least a reason) to move, and at the moment there’s just not. So I don’t bother.

Connected to that is also the increase of credit-checking when it comes to new rental agreements. I don’t think it now would cause me any great problems, and my current landlord would provide a decent reference  – but equally, if I don’t have to test the theory, why bother?


So here I am, and signed up ’til November 2017. No real plans to move – and even more bizarrely, I’m actually OK with that.


Earlier this year, I saw Faustus at the Duke of York’s Theatre in London, with Kit Harington playing the lead. (My thoughts on it are here, for reference)

Faustus image

The weekend just gone, I saw another version of Faustus, this time the RSC’s version at the Barbican Theatre.  It was a more traditional version of the play (for the most part) and really interesting to compare the two.

RSC Faustus

What I hadn’t realised (due to being pig-thick) is that it shares a lot of the cast with the RSC’s version of the Alchemist, which is showing at the same time – well, on the same days – and which I saw the previous weekend.

It starts with an interesting premise – the actors light a match each, and whoever’s match burns out first plays Faustus.

The rest of the play sticks closer to the original – or at least as I understand it, not having read it yet – than the Harington version, although it did also still have some very odd moments of dance, which I can’t quite explain. Still good, but slightly barmy.

The staging is quite minimalist (or at least appears that way) but is also quite complex in how things are done. I guess some of that is because of the requirements of running two plays with very little time between performances, so there can’t be anything too complex – but they’ve made the best of it, and it’s pretty inventive all round.

All told, I enjoyed it a lot – more than the Harington version, even with the barmy bits – and it’s certainly left more of an impression with/on me than that one did.

Holiday Thoughts

As I said before, I’m away at the end of the month on a break to Cornwall.  And as usual, it makes me do a bundle of thinking.

I am, I totally acknowledge, utterly shit at taking proper holidays. Always have been, and I suspect always will be. I want to do more of it and see how things go, but it’s about balancing that with work and so on.  I need to be stricter with myself on it too – there’s two options really.

Basically, I either book dates at the start of the year so they’re a fait accompli, or I’m stricter with myself about taking holidays between contracts by forcing a delay on looking for new ones by taking time between jobs.  Honestly, I don’t know which option works best for me, so that’ll be something to work on next year.

As it is, I’m just seeing how stuff goes this time. I want to see how everything works out with this break. There’s been a fair amount of preparation going on, as I’ve said before – but it’s also about seeing how I feel with taking the break, and also how the cats handle it.  This week away will be the longest they’ve not had me around, and I want to see how they deal with it, and with my return.  They’ll probably be OK, but if they descend into vileness and retribution, I’ll have to rethink.

So all told, it’s going to be a bit interesting. I’m looking forward to it, but also somewhat anticipatory. It’ll be interesting to see how it all goes.

A Sort-Of Slowdown

This is the last of my properly busy September weekends – next week I’m driving a lot, but it’s not properly idiotic. Indeed, even this weekend is a bit more sensible than the last few – still busy, but with a big dollop of domestic sorting, rather than being out’n’about quite as much.

Mind you, that doesn’t mean it’s sensible – indeed, it’s just the finale of a fairly mad week.  I’m back in London today and tonight, for food and another theatre visit.  This week I’ve already been to the cinema after work on Monday, been to see friends in London on Tuesday, and to the theatre for Little Shop of Horrors on Wednesday. Safe to say, I’ve been busy, and got a lot done.

After this, it’s a bit quieter.  The coming week is less frantic (well, until Friday) and the rest of the year, while busy, isn’t quite as hyper as the last three months have been. Indeed, I’ve still got things booked for pretty much every week, but it still feels like a kind-of slowdown.

Note, I’m not complaining. It’s been a hugely busy and hectic year through my own decisions, and I’m enjoying it loads, but some quieter time is also sounding pretty bloody great right now…

Holiday Prep

At the end of the month, for the first time in years, I’m taking a week off, and going down to Cornwall.  Being self-employed, it’s not a cheap option, and I seem to be doing a ton of preparation in order for it to happen, but it’s all paid for and so on, so it’s definitely happening.

I’ve been spending time organising everything in the last couple of weeks – booking in a delivery of shopping/food for once I’ve arrived, sorting out a carer for the cats while I’m away, paying off some of my domestic bills early (rent etc.) so that it’s all going to be smooth, and I’m not stressing while away about things I’ve forgotten. It’s been a mess of to-do lists and so on, but I do feel like I’m on top of things.

In the meantime, I’m also writing some bits for here that’ll auto-post while I’m away, and organising a bundle of other bits too.

I’ve only been to Cornwall once before, and that was before I was driving at all, so it’s going to be interesting this time – and covering a lot of miles.  There’s a list of things I want to see/do, although that’s *not* a to-do list where I feel I have to check off everything – I’m pretty sure I’ll be going back again, so that’s all fine.

So yeah, while you wouldn’t necessarily notice it, I’m going to be away for a while.  Enjoy.


I don’t normally bother writing about films – although maybe I should, it’d certainly provide a significant increase in posts here – but last week I saw two that I rated really highly, so there we go, some thoughts.

Hell or High Water

First of them was (as you may’ve guessed already) Hell or High Water, starring Chris Pine and Jeff Bridges. Honestly, I think it’s about the best film I’ve seen this year.

The story is basically two brothers who are robbing banks to raise money, and the old retiring Texas Ranger who’s trying to catch them. So far, so cliched. But it’s well written, the dialogue is excellent, there’s a dry humour through it, and there’s also larger motivations.

The film focuses a lot on debt, low income, Evil Banks and the like. Many of the shots show roadside ads and hoardings for loans, debt relief and so on. The pair are robbing the banks – all of which are branches of Evil Bank – for a reason, and in many ways it’s hard to see them as being “bad”.

Jeff Bridges as the soon-to-retire Texas Ranger is a crusty, grumpy joy, an old fat man who’s done his time, and sort of wants to leave, but worries about what he’ll become without his job.  The way he talks to his Ranger partner has to be heard/seen to be believed – but it is believable.

All told, I loved it – I’d happily see it many more times. There’s way more layers than you expect from the basic summary, and a moral ambiguity to it that I enjoyed – the “bad” people aren’t really bad (kind of doing bad things for good reasons) and the “good” people aren’t above playing with the lines and limits either.  Totally recommended.


Morgan, on the other hand, is a very different film – except, in some ways, it’s not.  Where Hell or High Water is massively masculine, all the major characters in Morgan are women (which I think is nothing but a good thing)  At least two of those characters are pretty bloody terrifying in their single-mindedness.

Basically, Morgan is a genetically-engineered being, with the appearance of a late-teen/early-twenties woman. You’re never actually told what she’s been engineered for, but it becomes pretty clear.  But it also raises questions – if you’re going to create something with human-level intelligence, what happens when you keep that thing locked up? Answer – the development isn’t the same as a human. (File under “Sherlock, Shit, No”)

The other primary character is Lee, sent in by “The Company” to assess the risks around Morgan after a particular incident.

Needless to say, things don’t work out well.

It is, in parts, very violent , with a couple of scenes that are gory, but in context with what’s happened. At least one is surprising and shocking. But again, it makes sense in the context of the film.  It’s action, but with some thought and some big ideas hiding inside it.

Again, I loved it – although from seeing the reviews etc. afterwards, I appear to be in a minority. It hasn’t done well at cinemas, and only lasted the one week at my one.  Some of that is because it just hasn’t been promoted by the cinemas and studios, some of it is that a lot of people and reviewers didn’t like it.  I hope it sees a bigger audience on TV, Netflix, download, disc, whatever – because I think it should have done far, far better than the current figures are showing.

I love that it’s so women-led as a film, and I want to see more like that. It has its flaws, don’t get me wrong – I’d figured the final ‘twist’ by about the third scene, and there are holes and questions throughout. But those can be set aside (or could by me, anyway) until afterwards.  I thought it was dark, different, and brilliant.

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