17 April 2008
Open up the window and stare up Primrose Hill...Sitting here it's dark outside and everything is still...
I'm not sure if it's old age or an excess of alcohol, by my memory of the surprise birthday party is returning in blibs and blobs. I remember meeting a dude who lives with the drummer from the Stereo MCs (and yes, he was gonna get himself connected), and Dan the French Guy proved that not only can the French not rock but they also can't make Mohitos.
Uncle Kev's been rocking our world over here, popping up all ninja-like at the Hyde Park Corner war memorial and freaking out some Aussie tourists. Plus he's totally kicking some monarchist arse and sticking it to the Chinese. Go Kev! Do you think if I wrote to him he'd adopt me? I reckon at the very least he'd send me back some stickers or a bag of smurfs or the Kiss Gold album...unlike that giggly tight-arse fuckstick Simon Townsend. That's right, I haven't forgotten about you, Mr Wonderworld!
Had a work do early this week at Bloomsbury Lanes which is this awesome little bowling alley bar. It was a bit dingey and kitchy and 50's and you could drink booze while you bowled so I kind of felt like a cross between Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski and Fred Flintstone. Plus I totally kicked everyone's arse...take THAT, colleagues! I couldn't stay for dinner in the American-style diner as I had to rush off to another engagement but it was choice craic so we've committed to going back. Had another do later in the week at Bar Kick, the foosball place, with half of the doodz in my capability group. This was actually my 'Welcome to the UK' event which has been consistently postponed for the past 9 months so it felt good to finally cut that albatross from about my neck.
Next on the list of "Activities in Which Chris has no Prior Interest but Nonetheless Turned out to be Totally Friggin' Awesome" (or AWCPINTOTFA) is indoor rock climbing. Dr Phil 'Chuck Slavakia' Well'Ard called me out of desperation (way to make a guy feel loved!) last Saturday arvo looking to make up the numbers on a beginners course at The Castle on Monday night. So I swallowed the burning chili-acid of my chagrin and said "Heck yes!" It's up North near Finsbury Park (my old 'Hood) and is not really in a castle but an old gothic power station so it kind of looks a bit castley. The building is huge and the whole interior has been fitted out floor to ceiling with climbing walls. Remember when you were a kid and you used to play "The Floor is Lava" and climb all over the house, which made your mum go batshit? Well imagine that but in a ginormous castle with loud rock music playing and dozens of fit sweaty people tied together and clambering about with their shirts off and you'll kinda get the idea, but without anyone's mum getting mad about Dunlop KT-26 footprints on the ceiling. We get to wear these very crotch-hugging harnesses which both lift and separate, and extremely uncomfortable climbing shoes from the hire shop (I'm thinking of getting my own pair and rather fancy the ones called "Women Splitters" which, coincidentally, was my nickname at Uni). It's super fun, a lot more so than I'd expected, and if nothing else I've learnt how to tie two new knots (taking my total knowledge of knots to two). I can now secure myself...umm, err...securely to any object with a double figure-8 and a stopper hitch, which makes it a lot easier to stay upright on the bus but takes so long to untie that I usually have to backtrack a few stops. But it's a small price to pay for that degree of safety, I think. Plus I'm learning a lot of new climbing terminology which is delightfully ripe with pubescent purile pun potential. For example, over here they pronounce 'route' as 'root'. So you can imagine my glee when the instructor was explaining to me the importance of a good knot and she said: "You'll appreciate the extra tightness when you're on a nice hard [root]." I'm not making this stuff up!
The atmosphere here at The Company is quite disturbing at the moment; if I were to plot it on a the Disturbo Scale I'd say it's slightly more disturbing than a warm public toilet seat but slightly less disturbing than blood in someone's eyeball. It's truly like no other place I've ever worked. It might help explain it with a retro pop culture TV reference: remember in Lost In Space when they went to that planet which was like a parallel dimension but eeevil? And all the characters had doppelgangers who were identical in every way except they were eeevil? Except Dr Smith, of course...his doppelganger was an awesome dood who thwarted the evil guyes plan and saved the day. It's kinda like that. To put it another way by drawing an obtuse analogy, I'd say it's like a maximum security prison for used car salesmen. Just in case I'm getting a bit too Foghorn Leghorn for y'all (ah'm pitchin' but you aint catchin') I'll put it to you metaphorically and say that it's like swimming in a tank full of hungry sharks and the only way to get fed is to eat other sharks, so you end up circling each other with one eye looking for signs of weakness and the other watching your back. Ok, let's just say it's disturbing, shall we? Apart from the inordinate number of people looking for projects, the financial crisis is starting to put the wind up people all over London. There's estimates that something like 20,000 jobs will be lost over the next two years, mostly from the banking sector. If I were an enterprising young crime scene investigator I'd be showing some initiative and getting out there right now and sketching the chalk body outlines at the base of tall buildings...
It really sucks being a grown up sometimes. One night in a previous life when I was tucking my son into bed, he asked me, "If you had one wish, what would you wish for?" Good question...tough question. I knew the answer straight away ("I'd wish to be happy") but how do you explain something like that to a small boy without confusing or upsetting him with all the complexities and ambiguities and bullshit of adult life? So I threw it back at him, "I dunno," I said. "What would you wish for?" His forehead wrinkled and he bit the corner of his lip as he thought really hard about it. Finally he answered with all the conviction he could muster, "I wish I could use the Force," which made me laugh. Not in a patronising way, mind you, but because it was such an awesome wish and because I was so blown away by his wisdom. His answer summed up for me the quintessential difference between children and adults: children boil everything down to it's essence, what's the most important thing, make a choice - black or white. Adults confuse things, we make everything way more complicated than it needs to be and worry what everyone else will think and get lost in a maze of shades of grey until we find it impossible to make up our minds about anything. And then we try and justify our indecision and fear by saying, "Oh it's not as simple as that." Yes it is! You just don't have the guts to a) make a decision, and 2) accept the consequences of your choice. That's what being a grown-up is all about: if you want the responsibility then you have to accept the consequences. No use sitting on the dunny crying and whingeing and expecting someone to come along and wipe your arse for you. No use blaming everyone else in the world cos there's no bog roll. Your choice is simple: shit or get off the pot.
It's hard to believe but I've been here for almost nine months now. That means my first anniversary is rapidly approaching so it will be time to start doing some thinking about my future plans. I've had a lot of adventures in London and learned a lot about myself and the world and, in the words of Charlene, I've seen some things that a woman ain't s'posed to see. But I don't feel that I've yet been to Paradise, let alone been to Me, and I still don't know whether London is the city for me. Admitedly things didn't get off to a great start work-wise, and being a tiny anonymous cog in an enormous corporate machine isn't helping me feel like I belong. But things can change so quickly and work is only one part of the equation. I've made some great friends and met a really awesome girly and, strangely enough, I'm starting to like getting back into a routine again. My life feels normal and nice, which is so far removed from the tumult I'm used to. I've learned to trust my feelings and even though some things don't feel right, maybe I need to give it some time and see if all I need is a little change rather than another huge change. I've got options, and sometimes I forget that, so I could: a) Stay in London and change jobs, 2) Leave London and change jobs, or iii) Go back to Oz. This last one is by far the most tempting but in the long-run, I think, the least feasible. I still don't feel like I've achieved everything I wanted to when I decided to leave and my biggest fear is returning home to my safety zone and regretting not seeing it through to the end. I didn't come here searching for anything in particular so I'm not sure how I'll know if or when I've found it but I just have to trust my instincts that I'll know. I won't be doing anyone any favours if I go back to exactly where I left off, least of all myself. Number Two (hee hee! Number twos!) is the next most appealing option. The idea of working in Seattle was very exciting, and even though it fell through it doesn't mean it's off the menu. I'm still a little reluctant to uproot my life again, but definitely want to one day live and work in the US. I'm not beholden to my salary so I don't have to take a more senior position to justify it, and the thought of working for a small, specialist usability firm in New York or Washington or Boston is really appealing. So it's looking like Number One could be the go. Mind you, that could all change if I get on to a more stimulating project with a significantly reduced arsehole co-efficient. But I've got plenty of time so no need to do anything rash. At the very least I'm not doing anything until after the 3-day Wacken metal festival in Germany in July. Olaf! Metal!
My love for you is ticking clock BESERKER!