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Archive for the category “Thoughts”

Being A Bad Customer

Over the last couple of months, I’ve been wondering whether I’m a bad customer, whether I expect too much from people. I’ve had a bundle of things where companies have let me down, haven’t done what was expected, and have generally been pretty shit. Nothing major or world-changing, but just constant niggling let-downs and stuff that should be easy, but isn’t.

I’ve been thinking about it a lot, and particularly those supposedly high expectations – and I still don’t know the answer for sure.

Really though, all I actually expect is for people to do their damn jobs. I don’t ask for some kind of higher-level of things, just to be able to do the bloody job they’re paid for. I assume (and I know that it’s an error, because I’ve worked with too many fuckknuckle shitheads who can’t do their own jobs) that they should be capable.

  • I believe that a delivery company should deliver the package to where it’s addressed, on the day they’ve said they’ll deliver it.
  • I believe that a bank, when I’ve called them, should know who I am, and be able to put me through to my bank manager without asking who that manager is
  • I believe that a recovery company should be able to find a house, and fix a car
  • I believe that my business’s accountants should do things when I ask (or do them proactively) rather than saying “Oh, you don’t need to worry yet, the deadline’s not ’til September”
  • and a bundle of other stuff besides.

But really, I just expect – and hope – that people do their jobs, regardless.

Is that too much to ask?

Shakespearean Reservations

As I alluded to in a previous post, I currently have some reservations about the Shakespeare plays I’ve seen.  Admittedly, I don’t have a great depth of knowledge on the subject, and I’m pretty new to it all, so I may revise these thoughts at some point. Anyway, it’s based on the current state of things – and I’m seeing a lot more over the next year, so we’ll see.


At the moment, while I enjoy seeing the plays, I do find myself thinking that they’re a bit… am-dram. Hamlet with Benedict Cumberbatch had (in my opinion) quite a weak cast, Cumberbatch excepted. No-one else was up to scratch – I saw it twice, once live at the Barbican, and once at the cinema from much further into the run. Both times, that was how I felt.

Seeing King Lear in Manchester over the weekend I felt the same – while it was good, and engrossing, a number of the actors were again very am-dram, over-enuniciating and so on.

It might be that I’m expecting too much from the actors, that I’m mixing ‘am-dram’ for just ‘theatrical’. I don’t yet know.  I didn’t get the same feeling with Faustus though, so the jury really is out.

Over the next few months I’ve got a number of theatre things lined up – not just Shakespeare (although I’ve got Romeo and Juliet, and Tempest on that side) but others from all walks, including Jesse Eisenberg’s new one, Jonson’s The Alchemist, and a Pinter play with Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen.

So there’s going to be a lot more thought going into this, as I figure out more about whether it’s Shakespeare stuff in general, or whether I’m mixing up other terms and so on along the way.  It’ll be interesting, either way.

Weekend Travel – Saturday

My idiot day-trip to Manchester last Saturday actually went really well – and taking the train was an inspired choice, if I say so myself.

Readers of old (and pre-Wordpress, so we’re going back a fair way!) will remember my old rants about train travel, and the problems involved in it (mainly people, with added cruddy service and delays) so it’s quite a surprise for me to have become so positive about train travel again recently.  Of course, it might change if I were doing those routes on a regular basis again, but the only way to know that would be to be doing the routes. Short of moving and being in the same situation again (which is less likely than Leicester winning the Premiership) we’ll just never know.

In both directions though, the journey was fine – and fast. From Milton Keynes to Manchester Piccadilly is now just 90 minutes – much faster than I can do it in a car. It cost less than the fuel and parking would’ve done, too – although not by much.  If I hadn’t been right in Central Manchester for everything else, the times and costs would’ve been different, but for the purposes of what I was doing, it was all excellent.

I actually ended up getting the train an hour before the one I was booked on (the ticket was still valid, and it gave me the chance to walk round Manchester as well) so got there in plenty of time. I’d miscalculated slightly on the weather front – it was nice in Milton Keynes, and I’d forgotten that Manchester tends to rain regardless – but I was indoors for most, and only got slightly damp while walking, so it was OK too.

I’d also forgotten just how slowly most people walk in Manchester. I don’t know why, but it’s a real plod of a city – frustrating when one naturally walks as fast as I do. It makes for an interesting walk, carving through gaps and spaces, making more progress than anyone else.

I covered a lot of the centre, seeing what had changed over the years since I was last there – as usual, a lot of new stuff, a lot of roadworks and expanded tram lines – and revisited some old favourites. I was truly saddened to see the changes at Triangle – it used to be a fantastic and quirky multi-level place, but the entire basement level has been covered, and it’s now really just a bundle of restaurants.  Mind you, at least it appears to be occupied fully – and I assume busy – which is an improvement.

An early lunch was had at Yard and Coop, which had been recommended by another friend, and was pretty good.

Then on to the Royal Exchange to see King Lear, which I really enjoyed. I hadn’t seen it before, so didn’t know what to expect, which probably helped. I do have some reservations about Shakespeare stuff – that’s a post for another day – but it’s a damn good production, and impressively staged for such a comparatively small space.

And then a train back home, with no delays, no hassles, and back in Milton Keynes an hour and a half later.

For me, it means that kind of day-trip is actually doable, and likely to be repeated. I’d not really thought of it on that level before, but with the train travel, it’s now within the realms of possibility. Could make things interesting in future…

More Travel

As I’ve said many, many times before, I can be a bit of an idiot – particularly when it comes to what I regard as ‘doable’ for travelling etc.

Today has proven that yet again.  Well, I’ve organised it all today, but it’s happening on Saturday.

Over the weekend, I saw some really good reviews and opinions about the production of King Lear that’s currently going on at Manchester’s Royal Exchange, with Don Warrington as Lear.  So today I had a look at whether there were any tickets still available.

Turns out, there were. Not many, but enough for me to book one to see it on Saturday afternoon.  And that’s what I’m doing.

I’ve also (in the name of something approaching a sensible idea) booked myself on trains to get up there and back. But I did seriously think about driving, too. A 350-mile round trip to see a play. Like I said, an absolute idiot.

The reason I’m not making a weekend of it is because I’m also in London on the Sunday – although not ’til the evening – for another hopefully epic meal.

I am indeed an idiot, and quite possibly a lunatic.

Fish, Aylesbury Waterside

Last night, once I’d finished work I drove over to Aylesbury for a gig. Fish, the ex-lead-singer from Marillion was back in their home-town, and performing one of their classic albums, Misplaced Childhood, in its entirety for the last time, on a tour called “Farewell to Childhood”, because it’s the 30th anniversary of it being released.

I’ve liked Marillion – well, I liked the Fish-era Marillion – since their start, so seeing this gig was always going to be a good one. It’s just a pity it had to be in Aylesbury. Understandable, but a pity all the same.

First of all, I’d forgotten just what a benightedly scabrous shithole Aylesbury is. By the time I got there (just before 6pm) it was pretty much all closed. It’s always been a boil on the arse of Civilisation, and never seems to improve, no matter what the planners, developers and town-centre managers do to it. It’s an unremitting dollop of shite.

I truly don’t know what kind of sins you’d have to have committed in previous lives in order to deserve living in Aylesbury, but they must be truly epic ones.

Anyway, the Waterside Theatre itself is really nice. I’d not been before, but it really impressed me, and is back on the list of places to see stuff.  Again, it would be even better if it weren’t in Aylesbury, but there we go.

The gig was thoroughly enjoyable – my brain refused to store who the support act were, which is a disappointment, as I’d like to make sure I don’t see them again by accident. But once Fish and his band came to the stage, it was all good. They started with playing a number of tracks  from Fish’s solo career (which, admittedly, I’m less familiar with – but I’ll be rectifying that) before playing the whole Misplaced Childhood album, and finally closing with a couple of other crowd favourites.

I really enjoyed it – Misplaced Childhood isn’t my favourite Marillion album by a long chalk, but it was still a good gig.

All told, a good evening – despite the location…

Going Back

When I went back to Reading over the weekend, I also took the opportunity to stop off in Bracknell.

There was a vague kind of logic/sense here, in that I expected Reading itself to be solid, through having road closures etc. going on for the half-marathon itself, plus usual Sunday shoppers and so on, so it made more sense to get to somewhere else, and then train into Reading. I knew Wokingham station’s car-park is a bit of a cluster-chuff at the moment, so I went for Bracknell instead. And as things turned out, that worked really well.

Of all the places I’ve lived, Bracknell was probably the one I liked least. (I just tried writing ‘the most least-liked’, but that’s a phrase to make eyeballs bleed) I’m not a great fan of most of the area – I don’t mind Wokingham and Windsor, but the rest I could happily never really visit  again.  So it was also a chance to see if Bracknell had improved at all, or if I still disliked it.

First things first, there’s a whole new roundabout and housing estate on the approach to Bracknell, which was quite a surprise. I’d thought I knew where I was going – and I kind of did – but that did come up as a bit of a shock. (Even more so, as it also didn’t come up on the SatNav) I can’t imagine the driven commute between Bracknell and Wokingham/Reading was any fun at all while all that was going on.

Other than that, there’s a lot of regeneration work going on in the centre of Bracknell, which I didn’t get the chance to have a proper look at.  It wasn’t that high in my priority list – mainly because I’m still pretty sure nothing short of flattening it and starting again will do anything positive for the place.

Obviously I didn’t get to see all of Bracknell, but then, nor did I massively want to. The bits I saw were more than enough to convince me it’s still a scabrous shitpit, and definitely somewhere I’d never want to go back to for anything more than a couple of hours. In that context, it’s fine – much more than that kind of timescale, though, and it just becomes some kind of self-inflicted torture…

Heavy Mileage

This weekend’s been a busy one, what with one thing and another.

Saturday was supposed to be quiet – because Sunday was already planned with a day-trip to Reading and had other stuff going on – but I wanted to do something. So, being an idiot, I opted for a day-trip to London, primarily to see the Wildlife Photographer of the Year photos at the Natural History Museum, which I hadn’t been to in at least twenty years.

The idiot part is primarily that I decided to walk there – from Euston to Natural History Museum. And back. That’s 7km each way, plus whatever else I wanted to do.  I just thought “well, I can do 5km easily, so the other 2km will be easy” – forgetting that 2km is another mile-and-a-bit.

Of course, I managed it, and I enjoyed the exhibition – but I’d miscalculated a few other things along the way. I’d not realised that it was in the school holidays, and I didn’t think there’d be so many people and children going to a museum on the first really decent warm/sunny day of the year.

So, having walked there, it was then a case of moving slowly through a 40-minute queue to get in to the place, which did an excellent job of reminding me why I’ve never wanted children. The exhibition itself was good – but by then I didn’t want to spend too much more time in the area, there were just too many people and spawn around.

That decision made – and having acknowledged that I was rather more knackered than I’d expected – I opted for walking back to Euston (see, I said I was an idiot) rather than the extra bit of walking I’d planned, to go back to the South Bank as well. That’ll wait ’til I’m next in London, which is only a couple of weeks away anyway.

Another 7km did pretty much stuff me, though – I can’t deny it.

All told, Saturday involved walking no less than 21km (slightly over 13 miles) – and I knew I was planning to walk a fair bit more on Sunday (of which more in another post) which made it all even sillier.

It was a good day, and I’m glad I did it, but yeah, Saturday night was pretty painful. I just won’t learn…


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