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Busy Busy

I slacked off from writing posts last week – primarily just because I was ridiculously busy, and didn’t get round to it.

The week before had already been daftly busy, including travel to Newcastle for a couple of days, and then social and busy bits on both weekend days.

I can’t even remember now what I did on the Monday – I know I was out, I just can’t recall where/why. That can’t be a good sign.

Then Tuesday evening I was seeing The The at the Royal Albert Hall, and on Wednesday evening seeing them at Brixton Academy, as I may have mentioned before (on more than one occasion)  Both nights were great, but on neither occasion was I home before 1am, nor in bed before 3am. And also working during the day.

Thursday was no better, although at least it was more local, by going to the local Geek Night for a bundle of presentations and connections.

And then Friday was supposed to be quieter, “just popping out” for food at a local event, that then meeting friends and chatting, meaning I didn’t actually leave ’til gone 11pm.

Saturday was a day in London, starting with cocktails and lunch at one of my favourite places, The Alchemist in Bevis Marks (near the base of the Gherkin) followed by a play called “Sancho – An Act of Remembrance” at Wilton’s Theatre.

And today was another food event in Milton Keynes, and this evening I’ve finally stopped and been able to relax a bit.

So. That’s my reasons for not updating over the last week.   I think it’s a pretty good list, but other opinions may differ. 🙂

 

Danny Baker, Northampton Derngate

Seeing Danny Baker on stage was never one of the things on my to-do list. I’d never been overly taken with his character, or the (very little) I knew about him.

But last weekend, I heard an interview with him on the radio, and he seemed… less of a dickhead than I’d previously thought, and actually with a pretty interesting life.  So when I got home, I had a look at details for his current theatre tour, and saw that he was playing in a week’s time in Northampton. And there were still seats available.  So I thought “Well, why not? The most that can happen is I decide I still don’t like him“.  Ticket booked, and on Saturday evening there I was. In Northampton.

As it happened, the show was a lot of fun. And bloody long.  He’d said in the interview (and at the start of the show) that he’s taken over the mantle from Ken Dodd and so on for marathon shows.  (My parents used to say about Doddy telling the audience “I’m the only one who knows when you’re going home”, and this was much the same)  In this case, he started off at 19:45, there was a 15-minute interval at about 21:30, and he finally left the stage at 23:30. Pretty good going.

Also, it’s worth noting that this is the third tour of tales about his life, and by the end of it we were only just getting to where he started in radio at the age of 30. (He’s now 61)  So I’m pretty sure there’s material for a few more tours in him as well.

As it was, a good portion of the first half was concerned with filling out the information from previous tours, so people knew what and who he was talking about during the second half.  The entire thing was accompanied with photos to illustrate the events and places – all with bits being pointed out by the snooker cue he was using as a pointer throughout. He’s also incredibly energetic, constantly walking across the stage. God only knows how many miles he’s covering every night – but it’s certainly not an insignificant number!

The stories he told were pretty epic, with a fair amount of name-dropping and so on – but they weren’t all about being the Big I Am. Obviously there’s a degree of this, as it’s Danny Baker telling The Tale Of Danny Baker, but it’s not excessive, this is the stuff that has happened, and he’s the first to admit he’s been incredibly lucky along the way, along with not always being the hero of his own tales.

Not always funny (although more often than not) the entire show came together really well, and the only thing that actually made it feel as long as it was (Steady on, Matron) was that the seats at Derngate get bloody uncomfortable after a while.

I can’t deny, I really enjoyed the entire thing (poxy seating notwithstanding) and came out with a better impression of Danny Baker than I’d had on the way in.

If the tour is playing anywhere near you, it’s worth seeing.  And if he does another one, the odds are that I’ll go along again. It might even make it onto the to-do list!

 

 

One Job – Admitting Mistakes

As a corollary to the whole “You Had One Job” post from earlier in the month, it’s only fair for me to also admit my own errors (on occasion)

I left for the airport last Saturday at Ungodly-O’Clock – an 08:30 flight required arriving at Heathrow by 05:30, so I left the house at 03:30 for an hour’s drive.  However, what I didn’t do was check Google Maps or whatever before I left, to check the traffic. “Half-three in the morning?“, I thought, “There won’t be any issues“.  What a fucking idiot.

So I got to Junction 13 (Southbound) of the M1, and – with no warning – the junction’s closed. Bugger.  But if it’s only the junction, that’ll be fine. Up the few miles to J14 (Northbound), go round the roundabout there, and come back down the M1 Southbound, past the closed junction.

Except. Except.  It turns out that it’s not just J13 that’s closed. It’s the whole stretch from 14 down to 11. So that’s helpful.

And then it also turns out that – completely unannounced or warned, even on the matrix signs in the run-up – J14 Northbound is also shut.

Cock.

So I ended up driving up to J15 at Northampton in order to come round that roundabout, down to J14, across to the diversion route, and down to J11 of the M1 where everything re-opened.

More galling in all this is that if I’d just looked at the map and seen that the M1 was closed, I could’ve done my own diversion that would’ve cut out all the hassle, and cut right through to the diversion route without anywhere near the hassle.

On the other hand, because I’m still also pathologically early on these things, I still managed to get to the airport on schedule. A little bit more stressed than I could’ve been, but still in plenty of time and all good.

So yeah, I do make mistakes. And admit to them. So there. 🙂

Lag-Free

Having come back from Toronto on Saturday into Sunday, I’ve managed to stay remarkably free of jet-lag.  Most people have pointed out that this is probably because my body-clock and sleep-patterns are so utterly screwed anyway, but I’m still surprised by how I’ve got through it so far. (And yes, I’m aware it could still ruse up and bite me in the arse, but it’s looking less and less likely)

Basically, I just beasted my way through it.  I was awake by 6am Toronto time on the Saturday, we spent most of the day walking the final bits of Toronto that we hadn’t seen, got to the airport, and took the 18:30 flight out.  We got in to Heathrow at 6:30am UK Time  (so about 01:30 Toronto time), and I then drove home.

Being aware of having been up 24-ish hours already, I didn’t do much for the rest of the day – sorted out all the domestic stuff, laundry and so on – but got through the day, and finally went to bed at about midnight, after being awake for about 36 hours straight.  Then was up again by my usual time, and it’s been an easy switch back to the usual timetable.

It kind of worries me that I’ve been able to deal with that kind of jet-lag and time change with no ill-effects. It makes me wonder how far I’d have to travel in order to get hit by it – not that I want to, particularly, but it’s sort of interesting, I suppose.

Toronto

So, where was I last week?  To cut a long story short, Toronto.

Basically, last year I got really lucky.  CocaCola had a summer holiday promotion where the label of each Coke product was printed with a design and a code. And as I drink a lot of it, I thought “What the hell”, and kept entering codes from them.

And I won.

At the time, they were saying that you could claim the holiday at the destination on the winning label – and in my case the winning label was for Dublin. I really wasn’t overly bothered – I’ve been to Dublin, after all. But I got to the point of thinking “Sod it, might as well claim, at least it’s a break”, and then when I spoke to them they said “Which destination on the list did you want?”.  So I went back to the list, and saw that Toronto was on there, which has always been on my list.  And that’s what I did.

The prize was actually for up to four people, and included flights, half-board hotel, and transfers between the two. All told, quite a significant contribution.  I only went with one friend in the end, with a room each, so it was all good.

The run-up to the break had been fraught – it’s where a lot of the “You had one job” post came from – but the break itself went well. (It turned out that the agency in question had made fuck-ups in every single aspect of the booking, although I’d caught all but one in the run-up to the holiday, and the last one finally bit us in Toronto, where the agency had booked the transfer to the wrong hotel – same brand, different location, a $100 taxi ride apart)

All of those fuck-ups are being dealt with, and have been referred back to both the agency and to CocaCola as well, so it should be entertaining to see what crap hits the fan from that.

Anyway, the week itself was great. We had a hotel right in downtown Toronto, which meant that everything was easily available, and during the week, we covered pretty much everything we wanted to in the city. It’s a very walkable city, and we covered about 70 miles all told during the week. As well as the classic touristy stuff (CN Tower, driving to Niagara Falls etc.) we got to do culturey stuff including the Royal Ontario Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario, and also visiting most of the local districts and regions within the city. It’s been busy, but not hyper-busy.

We got back yesterday, having been awake from 6am Toronto time, flying back at 18:30 Toronto time, arriving at Heathrow at 06:30 BST, and I then beasted my way through ’til gone 10pm on Sunday before admitting defeat. Hopefully that should enable me to reset my body-clock somewhat.

It’s been well worth it though, and all told I reckon it’s pretty much balanced out a bundle of the money I’ve given to CocaCola over the years…

You Had One Job

[This follows on from a conversation I was having over the weekend, so I thought I’d write a bit more about it here. You lucky people]

This year so far has in many ways been an exercise in frustration.  I’ve felt like I’m keeping on having to fight things all the way, just to get people to do their sodding jobs.  It’s incredibly annoying, frustrating, and just leaves me tired and pissed off.

I know I’ve written about this kind of thing before – it seems to be a bit of a theme round here. And it’s not even like I expect miracles – all I want is for people to do their fucking jobs right. That’s not too much to ask, surely?

For example, one of the current bugbears has been a particular travel agent, who is supposed to be organising a break.  It’s been in the process now for about six months, with the travel happening next month.  I’ve given them a decent length of time and space, and absolutely nothing happened. Indeed, the only time anything started happening was once I got in touch with them about six weeks ago, to find out what was going on.  All of a sudden the tickets and so on appeared, along with acknowledgement that they’d dropped the ball, that the initial contact had left the company and there’d been no handover or successor assigned to deal with me.

The problem was that the names on all the bookings – flights, hotel and so on – *all* had spelling mistakes. I’ve raised it with them, and they’re “going to deal with it”.  But man alive, this is the job they’re supposed to be good at, that they do all day every day, and they still make mistakes like these?  I’m honestly not reassured, and won’t be until I’ve arrived at the destination and know that everything has worked out.  Which is hardly a relaxing start to a break, it’s fair to say.

The stuff with the bank, the car insurance people, and the windscreen people have also been fine examples. Along with several others I’m not in the mood to add just yet to the list here.

All I want is for people to do their jobs. Why is that so bloody difficult?

Q1 Done

This coming weekend, the end of March, is the first weekend this year that I’ve had free.

Until Friday, it wasn’t free, but plans changed – which is fine. It had been a chain change – yesterday became free because of another change, which meant I could bring the planned day-trip for next Sunday back to this one, and it all worked out pretty well.

It meant that yesterday was daftly busy, with a day-trip down to see friends in North Somerset, with an early start leaving by 6.30am – just what you need on the day that the clocks also went forwards an hour – to get down there, and getting home at 23.30 in the evening. A Looooooong day, but a good one.   I’d already spent the Saturday in London, doing a fair amount of walking, and seeing Macbeth at the National Theatre (having already seen the RSC’s version of Macbeth last Saturday!)

Anyway, that all means that, at the end of the first quarter of the year, I actually have two weekends on the trot where I have nothing booked in or organised. Which is pretty weird, and is already making me somewhat twitchy.

I’ll still be doing things, and I’ve got some plans in place for both weekends – but they’re all more random and disorganised, it’s nothing scheduled or appointments.

And to be honest, that’s just fine with me.

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