Thursday, July 29, 2010

Only On The Outside

Benjamin ButtonImage by jimwhimpey via Flickr
I feel like Benjamin Button, watching as friends and family do everything I did a decade ago, whilst I'm going back to school. I have thought many times recently about whether I have made the right decision. Life is defined by it's opportunities.. even the ones you miss! I could have attended university when I was a teenager, I didn't though because higher education didn't receive the exposure then and because I couldn't be told anything. I'm not about to imply that I had a difficult childhood, everyone experiences adolescence, peer pressure and challenging situations that contribute to character building. Some people, were born to sit by a river. Some get struck by lightning. Some have an ear for music. Some are artists. Some swim. Some know buttons. Some know Shakespeare. Some are mothers. And some people, dance. I'm all of the above, with the exception of being a mother. Alan Garner: "It would be so cool if I could breast-feed." Our great war may be a spiritual war but I'm closer to understanding what I'm supposed to be doing! I'm not going to take anything for granted, I don't know where I will be in three years but I'm sure I will still be writing this blog. My biggest fear at the moment is losing those that are most important. Apparently; we're meant to lose the people we love. How else would we know how important they are to us?

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Second Interview?

"The Voice of the Sea "Image by Bravo213 via Flickr
I believed that I had finally secured work, after months of applications, telephone conversations and interviews I had been accepted. That was until the start of this week, I received a telephone call that the Managing Director wanted to conduct a second interview. After being informed that I had the position and told that I would start on the 2nd August, this wasn't good! I anticipated the inevitable but decided that I would travel there and hear the outcome. I suspected that as I write about everything on this blog, that they had read about my intention to start higher education in September! 

I have made a commitment to university but that doesn't mean that I can't change my mind. Anyway, shortly before the interview started, I received a comment about my hairstyle. The observation being that I change hairstyle frequently, the source being the Daily Mugshot widget embedded on this blog. This meant that they had obviously browsed the content available and had constructed an opinion. Needless to say that the interview finished with the outcome being that I didn't got the job, based on experience and limited knowledge of pay-per-click advertising. Maybe I will get a third interview?!

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Big Fish

ChildrenImage by joedawson via Flickr
I don't feel the need to speak Americano, even though it seems popular, but I had to phone the States to speak to the children. I miss them and realise that when I relocate to Leeds, it's going to be difficult being so far from them. The difference from this scenario being that at least I will be able to frequently travel and visit. I'm not about to step on a plane, although I wouldn't mind because I need a holiday. Last year I travelled to Disneyland for a holiday but that was surrounded in drama which was unfortunate. Finally speaking to the children was a relief because I had tried several times to contact them but only reached voicemail. They were both excited, usually my son has assistance from his sister but for the first time he actually told her to wait her turn. Informing me that he had seen a whale and a fish eating a turtle, my daughter corrected the events afterwards and I was disappointed to learn that the whale was only a balloon. There's still plenty of time to experience what the Gulf of Mexico has to offer and maybe even a whale. I'm going to try and communicate with them regularly, they're also going to document their holiday which I'm looking forward to reading on their return!

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Can't Fight The Moonlight

Coyote uglyImage by Mike Miley via Flickr
The premise was to provide a comparison with Coyote Ugly, although similarities are few and far between. There's a bar that required my partner convincing the owner to hire her and yesterday female relatives assisted which entertained the punters. That's probably as far as it stretches, overall this weekend has opened my eyes to what's expected from bar work! It's not all about dancing on the bar, spraying people with the soda gun and pouring ice over your body because there's much more required. Since Friday, I have encountered two instances of mistaken identity, one involving porcelain and the other had similarities with a tree surgeon. Being asked by one punter how I felt about his friends attempting to make advances on her was my favourite. Although being told about how our area has evolved down to the minute details was a close second! I feel dejected that I haven't been able to better provide whilst being unemployed. I just hope that I get to hear her sing at least one LeAnn Rimes number before she hands in her notice!!

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

What Took You So Long?

The Courteeners @ BenicàssimImage by fiberfib via Flickr
Liverpool and Manchester's finest are marked indelibly on my body for decorative purposes, which is probably strange that I didn't decide to commit to higher education in those cities. Admittedly, that wasn't possible for Liverpool but I became frustrated waiting for a university in Manchester to decide whether they would consider offering a place and accepted Leeds. Whether the university would have considered the application, I won't ever know but I hope that I made the right decision. I reference tattoos because I believed that Oasis were Manchester's finest, since they have separated then who would pick up the mantle? I feel tonight that question has been answered because The Courteeners were amazing. For the iTunes festival, it was definitely third time lucky; the belief that the third time something is attempted is more likely to succeed than the previous two attempts.

There was attitude, energy, enthusiasm and I shared the company with two other people who share the same surname as my partner. That's her real surname not the one on Facebook! They were her sisters and I envy their bond because I wish my siblings would accompany me to gigs and festivals. Instead like Father they prefer to operate as individuals!! I really enjoyed The Courteeners, I have seen them perform earlier in the year at Koko but this was on their terms and I was buzzing afterwards. The Opener definitely left a lasting impression, most notably on other people that were pushed into the baying mosh pit during the chorus! I loved their entire set and Liam Fray deserves to be recognised as carrying the baton for Manchester. I'm hoping to attend the iTunes festival finale next weekend, Biffy Clyro I hope will offer a similar spectacle!!

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I Can Do That

Today provided the last opportunity to spend time with the children before they went on holiday. The clear skies invited us to enjoy an afternoon in the sunshine, packing a picnic and selected accessories we accepted the invitation. Anyone with children will acknowledge that keeping them entertained is a challenge! They were distracted briefly while they ate but lost interest when we attempted to assemble volleyball and headed into the play area.

We eventually completed the task and they returned, but the entertainment was minimal because the trampoline was much more convincing! I participated briefly but received several concerned looks from parents before hiding inside a tunnel. The child inside; stirred, awoke and played, before the 'Tiger Knee' finished any further participation! We were riding on a rotating sphere, then after losing balance, my partner connected with my nose and we both fell to the ground. With eyes rolling and blood streaming, I decided that this was her victory and I would live to fight another day!

I returned the children home, and learnt that Camden would be our destination for another evening courtesy of the iTunes festival. After navigating the transport system we arrived in Camden and entered the venue. Frank Turner was on stage, folk artists have been popular this year, the English folk/punk singer songwriter impressed. Most notably with Photosynthesis; And I won't sit down. And I won't shut up. And most of all I will not grow up. The Futureheads followed and the crowd looked like they needed a push! And that's what they got because I received a triple dare that I couldn't start a mosh pit. I don't have a bucket list but if I had, and this featured, then it would have received a large tick in the check box to show it had been completed. Hounds Of Love and Beginning Of The Twist were the crowd favourites! Afterwards, my partner and I were told that we were crazy, that's appreciation for the sentiment!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Thou Shalt Not Question Stephen Fry

Facebook have launched a new application called Facebook Stories where you can share your own story and read hundreds of others, categorized by themes and locations around the world. I'm sure that many people will write about connections, relationships and the overall usability of the social network. My experience has been dynamic, I originally joined to reconnect with friends, as the site matured the emphases on the relationship status became huge as the site emerged as the official confirmation and stage to parade any commitment. I have set mine to display that I'm engaged, maybe not the truth but I like to think that she means more than just someone to be "in a relationship with..." Facebook's growth as an Internet social networking site has met criticism on a range of issues, changing site more than gypsies anyone?! Anyway, I have found using Facebook as a feed reader offers the most value because there's a direct connection to brands, interaction and the opportunity to participate in competitions and promotions. I have been extremely fortunate this year, experiencing some incredible nights with the Isle of Wight Festival being the obvious highlight!

Sunday was no different as through Facebook - I won 2 tickets to see Everything Everything supporting Bombay Bicycle Club and Stephen Fry as part of the iTunes Festival on Sunday 18th July at The Roundhouse in Camden. Being on the record label guest list was worth chest beating, unfortunately we arrived late due to work commitments but still caught the finale of the Everything Everything set. My Keys Your Boyfriend has featured heavily on the playlist this year, I rate them highly and this is the third time I have seen them perform.

After a brief interlude, Stephen Fry took to the stage, his initials in italic writing curiously resembled the word Sex in the background! I know that thou shouldn't question Stephen Fry, but I feel his appearance provided nothing more than popular observations and an Apple fanboy rant. His remarks about buying clothes without due care and discarding them if they didn't fit, made him sound detached from the working class. I finished talking about Twitter last year when it became repetitive, Stephen Fry pioneers the service like no one knows about it's existence. Still I was impressed that he reached out to the Twitter community from the stage but obviously the questions were carefully selected!! For obvious reasons! Personally I feel that Stephen Fry should have opened the night and then allowed the music to be the focus for the evening!

Bombay Bicycle Club were introduced and shortly took to the stage, their set started with material from their recently released second studio album Flaws which received a mixed reaction. It wasn't until the chairs were moved aside, and they performed hits from I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose that the crowd suddenly awoke and burst into action. The mosh pit was average, but the night took a while to get started, eventually everyone found their voice but the encore didn't provide the widely anticipated Open House which was a disappointment! Overall I really enjoyed the night but it did seem to lack the energy I have experienced in previous nights headlined by the band from Crouch End!!
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Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Shortcut And The Undercut

Only Manchester United Fans!Image by joedawson via Flickr
I collected the children from their mother yesterday and with my partner, spectated as my daughter participated in a horse riding lesson. We watched as she followed instructions, then my son emerged with a battery powered electric guitar including a headset and we proceeded to make music. That should be - attempted to make music! Home on the range?! I was seriously impressed how he managed to obtain the guitar although this had to be returned which was a huge disappointment. After horse riding we returned home to clean, this was to assist my sister who had organised an evening of entertainment for friends. It became apparent that she had no intention of contributing, this was soon rectified with some careful persuasion.

The night was average, probably didn't really get started until someone decided that the music selection needed to be changed. Listening to the same few tracks on repeat was not the greatest and I even contemplated eating my ears! The drinking game referred to as 'ninja' provided another pizza and even managed to block the sink. I awoke this morning to bottles everywhere and 'Lacey's Cafe', created by the children, I made sure to enjoy the food before cleaning because I won't experience this again until September! Prior to the party, I gave my son an undercut (haircut) and although he wasn't sure, I think that he's finally been convinced that he looks good. I attempted this style previously in the nineties, probably not the greatest but it's really popular again at the moment! I'm sure that he's mother will eventually shave his head completely but I have him as my little boy for a few days at least!!
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Friday, July 16, 2010

Three Times A Lady

IN SPACE - MAY 25: In this handout photo provi...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
I have written that it's been difficult finding employment, consistently I have applied for roles but haven't heard anything, been unsuitable or the role wasn't what I had expected. I have tried to remain positive, especially as there are a record 32 people applying for every job in London. Although I have experienced problems, the same can't be said for my partner because tonight she started her third role. Save some for the rest of us! It makes me wonder whether I'm either too qualified or being unrealistic when searching for work. I met her afterwards, I'm certain that she isn't expecting this to be a career but it provides valuable experience. Especially for university because I doubt we'll be allowed the luxury of being too selective. I have been proactive recently and applied for work in the North West that might become available in September. I don't really know what to expect, financially it will be difficult and living in a different city to everyone will be a challenge. Not long now, should I have doubts?

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Wherever I Lay My Hat

Sugarwell Court, Meanwood Road, Leeds LS7 2DJ....Image via Wikipedia
I recently applied for University accommodation through the Leeds Met online application system. Today I finally reserved my place and paid the requested deposit. Sugarwell Court will soon be my home, described as like its own little community with gym, games room and laundrette on site. If I decide to venture forth to the outside world I will find Morrisons supermarket close to Civic Quarter. Parking is available by permit but I will enquire about that nearer the time. Kirkstall Brewery would have been first choice, but that wasn't available as an option! Possibly because I'm a mature student? Not sure, but I'm excited that I finally have everything in place other than student finance. I have requested for that to be reassessed because I'm sure the amount I will receive isn't enough! The objective is to find work but I have found that isn't that easy in the current climate. I have options but nothing set in stone at the moment!!

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Monday, July 12, 2010

What Did The Octopus Say To The Matador?

Fans celebrating the upcoming 2010 FIFA World ...Image via Wikipedia
Yesterday we travelled to Willesden Green to watch Spain defeat the Netherlands 1–0, with an extra time goal by Andrés Iniesta. This World Cup final was the first not to include any of the four most successful nations: Brazil, Italy, Germany and Argentina. I was a neutral and wasn't too bothered about the outcome, but as tonight also represented a birthday and our friend was supporting the Netherlands we were backing the Spaniards. Honest! The match wasn't strictly a football contest because there were glimpses of Mortal Kombat. My favourite was when De Jong ninja kicked Xabi Alonso, that was special although Zinedine Zidane headbutting Marco Materazzi is still the greatest! The birthday celebration was good fun, even with the disappointment that the Netherlands return home empty handed everyone remained in high spirits. During the night the iTunes festival was mentioned and we're hopefully going to attend a few performances. A limited number of tickets are available on the night so that needs to be exploited! We headed to Trafalgar Square afterwards, Spanish fans had gathered there to celebrate and we wanted to participate and savour the moment! If only it were an England victory that was being celebrated though!!!

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Sunday, July 11, 2010

On A Boat

The school term finishes soon and the six week summer holidays will begin. I'm usually making final preparations for a holiday but not this year, unemployment has been decisive but even if I were working, the children wouldn't be able to participate in any potential vacation. They're travelling to Florida for the six week duration, I'm sure they will enjoy the Gulf of Mexico but I can't help but feel disappointed. I won't have anytime with them! It's selfish because it appears that efforts are being made to reduce the already limited time I spend with the children. Everyone tells me that when they're older they will be able to make their own decisions, but I still want to experience their childhood.

They depart for America in a week, so I collected them earlier and to maximise the time available we decided that today would involve water activities. First we attempted to row a boat, an exercise which was made even more difficult because the lake was shallow and we kept running aground. I took on a similar role to that of a gondolier, reduced to poling the boat along like a punt which admittedly can't be achieved in Venice because the waters are too deep. Eventually we were evicted from the lake, and swimming and water flumes beckoned! We swam for a while and even attempted diving from the boards, the Olympic team have no concern because the marks on our bodies spoke volumes. Especially as I emerged from paintball with less contact! The flumes were enjoyable, although when you're having fun; time definitely flies and the children were soon summoned! To continue experiencing the different elements, next time we will be playing with fire!!!

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Saturday, July 10, 2010


PromImage by joedawson via Flickr
In the United Kingdom, Prom was unheard of until the late 1990's, but along with Oreo's, Prom has eventually made it across the Atlantic. Schools in England hold their prom at the end of High School (aged 16) and/or the end of Sixth Form (aged 18), as opposed to just Senior Year in the United States.

Before the beginning of 2010 I hadn't entertained any reservations about attending Prom, I felt that age was the deciding factor but that was before I started the relationship with my partner! Anticipation for Prom has built steadily since I was first told and made the commitment that I would accompany her to the event. Yesterday, after months of preparation, Sixth Form Prom took place, hosted at the Alexandra Suite, Swanley. The evening started with our mother's who were so proud, aiming to capture what's regarded as one of the defining moments of adolescence through photography. This took several attempts, but I'm sure there was a winner!

Afterwards we took the scenic route to the venue, although I'm sure that wasn't intentional. After we arrived there were further photo opportunities, before we took our places for the meal. The menu was enjoyable although I feel that the Red Wine became the main attraction. There were speeches, before the floor was cleared and everyone attempted to dance. It was a privilege being able to experience the night, especially as Sixth Form Prom didn't exist when I was committed to full-time education. The night was about my partner so I took a back seat, largely because I didn't really know many people other than her close friends and one of the teachers. At least I knew some people though, unlike the stranger who appeared walking his dog through the crowds. Not sure what that was about! I later attempted to replicate the movie Up, attaching approximately thirty helium balloons to the smallest person but this didn't work as intended. I expected there to be an after party but everyone appeared more intent on heading home afterwards. This meant that we were intoxicated and because we hadn't contemplated an early night, we were stranded with only the 24 hour ASDA as the alternative. They were actually really courteous, although maybe we were imposing and they just wanted us to leave as soon as possible. The free 'pizza' was an absolute treat but we were unable to savour the taste because we were rescued by a friend after exhausting the South East taxi region in it's entirety. Overall Prom wasn't what I had expected, maybe everyone sets their expectations too high but even with helium balloons it's never going to touch the sky. What it does symbolise is the completion of full-time education and my partner and her friends should be proud of that achievement!

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Friday, July 09, 2010

Run Forrest Run

The attached video was uploaded to YouTube using the iPhone 4, the footage is taken from my son's sports day and was uploaded from the handset. The process was intuitive, selecting 'Send to YouTube' from the share options, video playback is impressive on the iPhone but once compressed the quality deteriorates and isn't available in high definition.

The rearranged event was basked in glorious sunshine and made for an enjoyable occasion! I attended the event with my partner and father, his mother was also there, representing with her sibling. Any consideration for being their calendar pin-up has passed, that ship sailed long ago but I'm disappointed with the attitude. Facebook status updates highlight that while I move forward they remain in the same place! Aside from the soap opera, I really enjoyed watching both children participate on their specific days. Although I feel the organisation could be improved! An entire day devoted to sports would be more practical, I would also like more variation because, as a child, I enjoyed races involving eggs, spoons, sacks etc. As sports day concluded, my race had only just begun, I was against the clock to finalise preparations for Prom! I admit to feeling nervous, I have watched several movies recently that provide this idealistic vision and I want everything to be perfect for my partner. I expected more from the corsage and floral decoration I ordered but I'm satisfied that it's not too elaborate. Let's do this.....

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Thursday, July 08, 2010

End Of The Line

Oystercard for the London UndergroundImage via Wikipedia
The Oyster card is a form of electronic ticketing used on public transport services within the Greater London area of the United Kingdom. It is promoted by Transport for London and is valid on a number of different travel systems across London including London Underground, buses, the Docklands Light Railway (DLR), London Overground, trams, some river boat services and most National Rail services within the London Fare Zones. I purchased an annual Oyster card in January but circumstances changed and the card has become surplus to requirements. I attempted to cancel and claim a refund for the remaining balance but I experienced difficulty with the whole process.

After several conversations, conflicting information and approximately two months waiting for the refund, the matter is now resolved. I'm overwhelmed because Prom is tomorrow and although I have had to wait, the refund couldn't have come at a better time! I treated myself to a bow tie, having lost the previous at New Year! I had a conversation with the representative about suits and accessories and he provided valuable information. I signed on again this afternoon, although oddly I still haven't received any benefits from the Department for Work and Pensions. The advisor provided relevant contact details and overall was impressed with my attempts to return to work. Especially interaction with companies as I had another interview today which went really well and I'm feeling great ahead of the weekend! Prom should be good although no plans for an after party have been discussed yet which is a concern!

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Monday, July 05, 2010

Abandon Ship?

hammersmith bridgeImage by Jerrold via Flickr
In what could possibly be the longest interview process ever, several phone conversations and telephone interviews, I finally managed to be interviewed in person. Confidence fades, but with self-belief you shouldn't have any doubts, especially when you're talking about your employment history and achievements. I don't understand how anyone is threatened by the interview process because you're talking about your relevant experience.

I sampled the surrounding area beforehand because potentially this could be where I may be working for the short term. The area was reasonable, situated in the West End it wasn't going to disappoint, the role which was discussed, provides a similar position to my previous full time employment. I'm sure I will have further telephone conversations to expand on how I felt the interview went before learning whether I have been successful for the second interview stage. Why is it so hard to get work now, I'm starting to agree with the Government that moving away from the capital is the only realistic alternative! Spain anyone!

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Sunday, July 04, 2010

A Challenger Has Entered The Arena?!

The original logo of the World Wrestling Feder...Image via Wikipedia
The Venue, New Cross has experienced something of a revival recently; various celebrations, birthdays and bank holiday weekends have been enjoyed there but that's over following yesterday's drama. The night started well as everyone gathered at my partners to celebrate a friends birthday. The evening progressed and although we missed the final train we caught a taxi to the nightclub. This was primarily because our friend turned eighteen at midnight and wouldn't have been allowed entrance otherwise. The driver was enthusiastic and even joined in with a chorus of Happy Birthday when midnight struck, unfortunately there wasn't any birthday cake but we brought a potato and a courgette. Not sure why, because cake would have been more enjoyable. Anyway, we entered the Venue and made our way through the various dance floors, like Ninja's (Midnight Beast) we consumed various drinks and danced to the music. My partner briefly disappeared after a visit to the toilets, emerging in the smoking area and communicated that she wasn't feeling good. I decided that I would take her home, I picked her up and made for the exit. On route, a bouncer made a remark about carrying her and I responded that he should calm down as we were leaving because she wasn't well. I remember watching hypnotist Paul McKenna as a child, the people hypnotised would respond to key words in conversations and behave as instructed. This guy obviously responded to the word 'calm' and begun to behave like a wrestler. I watched as he quickly pulled on his leather gloves, although I put my partner down he immediately applied a headlock and snarled into my ear. I didn't want an altercation, I just wanted to make sure that my partner was okay but another bouncer appeared and started pulling at my hair. I was escorted to the exit and thrown outside, we contacted the police but the officer that arrived didn't appear to take us seriously because no details were taken. We were told that there was no video equipment in the smoking area and the bouncers were implying that we had assaulted them and that no action would be taken because the police were taking backhanders. Farewell New Cross, it was good while it lasted!!

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Friday, July 02, 2010

Stand By Your Man!

Radar DetectorImage by Timmy2wheels via Flickr
I predicted back in April that Darwin Deez, an American Indie folk band from New York, had the potential to become the soundtrack of our summer. I stand by that statement because their energetic live performances have received impressive reviews for entertainment and originality.

Last night I caught up with the band at the Banquet Records, New Slang event hosted at The Hippodrome, Kingston Upon Thames. This was the first time I had been to Kingston, other than the phone boxes sculpture which provided a photo opportunity, the surrounding area wasn't too inspiring. We arrived at The Hippodrome early, after being checked for weapons we were soon inside on the dance floor. Darwin Smith instantly recognisable with his trademark curly hair complete with a headband, posed for photos with fans during the early stages and we took the opportunity to speak about their schedule and festivals. Although I have only met him and the other band members on a few occasions they remembered my name and were eager to talk about the latest. Michelle who usually plays bass is a professional dancer and had returned to the US for a performance. This meant that Greg (drummer) played bass guitar for the first time. Support was from Laura Hocking and her band, they were good although during Laura's solo performances the band had to wait perfectly still in the background. Different! After a minor technical difficulty, Darwin Deez took to the stage and the place erupted. They played material from their album and performed dance routines to mixes including Peanut Butter Jelly Time, Do The Bart Man and Single Ladies. If you haven't seen them yet then catch them before they return home in November!!

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