D4D

Life Jim, but not as we know it.

Stoppage Time

Over the last ten days or so, my car has been making a bit of a grinding noise when braking. Not all the time – usually the first four or five times of braking, and then it was all ok.  But I get wary of the car making new grindy noises, so I booked it into the garage to find out what was going on.

Turned out that it was a good thing I did – it turned out that some part of the brake assembly wasn’t releasing properly, and the noises were something to do with the brake disc grinding into the pads.  It hadn’t done serious damage, but could’ve done if I’d ignored it.

So an hour later I came out with complete new pads and discs for the front brakes.  It’s an expense I could’ve done without, to be honest, but it’s a necessary one, and I can certainly feel the difference in the car.

Surf vs Turf, Blues Kitchen

Last night, I went with a friend to one of my favourite places, Blues Kitchen in Shoreditch.  I’ve been going there fairly regularly over the last eighteen months or so, but usually on a weekend. This time was different though – they had organised a three day “Surf vs Turf” event, bringing in the chef team from Extra Fancy in the US to ‘do battle’ with the team from Blues Kitchen, with a special menu (including cocktails)  to play with.

And it was epic.

Once it had been announced on Twitter, I had booked in straight away. For me, it was a no-brainer, I wanted to try it. And I am so glad I did.

As well as the food and drinks, it meant we got to spend time with some of the people we’ve been talking to on most of the visits, talked about what was good on the menu, what they should be keeping, and even got introduced to one of the owners of the group that owns Blues Kitchen. For me, that’s what makes Blues Kitchen stand out from every other place in a similar vein – the people make it, even more than the food.

Between the two of us, we had everything on the menu – including the cocktails. Plus a couple of things that were so good we had two…

I’m hard-pressed to even decide what the best things were – it was all good, and most of it was great. Hell, even the cocktails were awesome.

All told, a great night, and a type of event I hope Blues Kitchen repeat – there’s plenty of opportunity, with lots of different kitchens and teams that would be up for it, I’m sure.

Theatrical – Amadeus, National Theatre, London

As I mentioned yesterday, I went to see Amadeus at the National Theatre in London this week.  I didn’t know much about the play beforehand, or what to expect – I’ve still not even seen the film – but I really enjoyed the play.

What’s really interesting in this production is the way that the musicians from Southbank Sinfonia appear on stage alongside the cast, becoming key parts of the entire thing.

It didn’t (in my opinion) start well, with the first scene being quite confusing, and – as it turned out – pretty irrelevant to the rest of the play. But once we’d got past that small hurdle, the rest of it was excellent. A fascinating story of a man (Salieri) who believes he’s done a deal with God to become a musical genius, then is faced with a true child prodigy (Mozart) with a foul mouth and worse attitude, whose works are infinitely better than Salieri’s pedestrian efforts. Exacerbated by Mozart’s middle name being Amadeus (‘loved by God’) and seeing how Mozart’s ‘first draft’ writing of scores is immediately perfect (because he’s composed it all in his head and knows how it’ll look) he decides to resign his deal, and instead to wreck God’s plans by becoming Mozart’s enemy, knocking him down at every turn.

In many ways, it’s a very dark play, focusing on obsessions, revenge, jealousy and the like. It’s also very powerful, and covers a huge scope on the stage – sometimes it’s hard to watch both Salieri talking at the front of the stage, and see what’s happening at the back with the musicians and other cast members. While your attention’s on Salieri, you suddenly realise that all the musicians have moved – and sometimes appeared – without you really noticing, and for the sheer number of people that involves, it’s pretty note-worthy. (In that way it reminded me very strongly of Ariel in the RSC production of the Tempest that I saw before Christmas)

All told, I was really impressed with the entire production (excepting that first scene) and found it a fascinating experience. Definitely one I’d go and see again, if the opportunity arose.

 

An evening at home

Tonight is the first evening this week that I’ve actually been at home, and not working. It truly has been one of those weeks, despite my best-laid plans for calming things down this month.

So what’s been happening?

  • Monday was in the South Bank Centre in London, seeing a talk by Stephen Hawking, and a small celebration of his life in the week of his 75th birthday.  When I got the tickets, he’d been supposed to be there in person, but ill-health meant his speech and question/answer session were conducted on video screen instead. Disappointing, but fair warning of this had been given, and it was still a good evening. It would’ve been great to see him in person, but there we go.
    Interestingly, the event was sold out, but on the night it was only about half full. I suspect that a lot of people decided to not bother going, once they knew it would ‘only’ be a video appearance. Anyway, their loss.
  • Tuesday was at home, but doing a bundle of work that needed doing because….
  • Wednesday was back in London, taking the parents to see the matinee performance of Amadeus at the National Theatre. Which was bloody excellent, and will probably be written about more in another post. Having seen it, I then drove the parents home, and got back to mine about 11pm. Looong day!
  • Thursday evening was at the cinema, seeing the truly ridiculous (and thoroughly entertaining) xXx 3 – The return of Xander Cage.  A film so bad and ludicrous that it went full-circle and was stupidly brilliant.

Even today has been spent on-site rather than in my own office, so it’s still been harder on the braincells than it could’ve been.

All told, a bloody long – but also good – week, and one where I’m really quite happy to have nothing lined up for the weekend, so I can spend some time vegetating. Seems like a plan to me.

A Paucity of Postings

Despite the best of intentions, this week’s been quiet here on D4D™.

Mainly, it’s because I’ve been absolutely snowed under with work, including beating the living hell out of databases – and cursing the clowns that wrote Microsoft Access, which is what I’ve been taking data out of and putting into something decent. One of these days I’d like to meet the people who created it, and ask just what the fuck was going through their minds when they made certain decisions.

Along the way, there’s been a whole bundle of other stuff, insomnia and the like, and well, it’s just January.

I have a hard time with January, for some reason. It’s part of the reason I don’t really make New Year’s Resolutions, because I know I’m never good with the start of the year.  The thing is, I don’t really know why it’s such a tough one for me.

I’ve got my suspicions – and primarily it’s about preparation.

I know I get affected by autumn and winter, as the nights draw in and so on, and I can fight it for a long time. Then there’s the standard dislike of the Festering Season, which I’m ready for and can keep on fighting.  But now we’re through all that, the days are getting longer, and we’re through the whole Christmas period.

This is where (I suspect) my problems kick in – the days are still short, even if they’re lengthening. It’s just not doing so quickly enough. This week in particularly has been pretty much solidly grey and overcast, with little to no sunlight coming through. And I’m just tired, with no real energy for continuing to fight the whole Seasonal thing.

It leaves me flat, tired and uninspired. It shouldn’t, in all sense, but regardless, it does.

So yeah, this week’s been more about downtime, about being tired and grey, and not really in the mood for doing much. I’ve got a fair amount of stuff in the coming week as well, which will help. But this week’s been a flat and down one. Such is life, and all that rot.

Practicalities

Today, I bought and put together two bedside cabinets/drawer sets, which were much needed. I’d been thinking about storage stuff and so on, and this week made the decision to get it sorted.  I knew roughly what I wanted, so made the trip to the local-ish Ikea to be there in time for opening.

Half an hour later, back out with everything I wanted. I could’ve been even quicker, but I’d wanted to look around a bit while it was empty – or at least emptier.

Anyway, I got home, and spent time putting it all together. Two units, with five drawers apiece.

Now, as many readers know, I am not the most practical of people. It’s just not my skill-set, for whatever reason.

But this time, it went pretty well. I spotted the errors I’d made before they became major, and it all went OK. The units are built, they’re in the right places, and everything’s moved in. Sure, it took me longer than it would’ve done for someone with – you know – practical skills, but it all got done.

And I can’t deny, I’m pretty chuffed with all of it. I didn’t even swear too much, which has to make it a noteworthy day in itself…

2017 Inspirations – Photography

As things change for me in 2017 – well, as I do new stuff, or restart old stuff – I’m hoping/intending/planning to write more about it here on D4D as well, along with things about what’s driving those choices.  So there’s a new subject/category to cover it all.  And this is where it all starts.

As long-term readers know, I was into photography for a long time, did pretty well at it, and even ended up taking a course while I was in Norfolk in order to better understand what the hell I was trying to do.

But since Norfolk and Suffolk, I’ve been doing a lot less photography. Some of that is due to my mobile phone, where the pixel count is higher than the SLR I still have. It’s also about faff – lugging an SLR around for the day (particularly when doing anything else, like one of my idiotically long walks) is a hefty job anyway, and it’s simply never ready for a quick photo. Using the SLR is a much bigger commitment in many ways, and over the last four years, I really haven’t been making that commitment.

This year, I want to change that, and do more where I actually go out with the SLR, with the intention of taking photos.

The first real inspiration for that has been this story on the BBC, of Dean Saunderson’s photos of a deserted Nottingham on Christmas morning. It’s something that works for me, having been to many places at ungodly-o’clock, and seeing them with very few people around. Oxford, for example, is beautiful at 5am on a summer Sunday morning – and the same applies for many other cities. So this is a theme/topic/idea I could get into, and will probably have a few goes at over this year.

We’ll see at the end of the year how I do on these inspirations. It’s going to be a year where I (hopefully) figure out more about the things I want to continue doing, and which ones I’ll be happier to leave by the wayside in order to do other things.

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