Monthly Archives: January 2013

Videos wot have cheered me up: Ernie and Bert vs. the Martians

Confession time: I watched Sesame Street during the school holidays right up until I left home for university, and I still watch classic (Elmo-less) clips on YouTube.  Why?  Because it’s funny, that’s why, and here’s proof positive: Ernie and Bert, my favourite “odd couple” (though I don’t think they’re gay or anything — they didn’t even sleep in the same bed, unlike Morecambe & Wise!).

(Phew, for a moment I thought WordPress had disabled the embedding of YouTube videos!)

Keeping on keeping on

Yep, still going — January 2013 hasn’t been particularly bad at all, but I’m very glad the cold weather’s about to end, and that the days are gradually getting longer (it’s reached the turning point where it’s still slightly light outside at 5pm, when I leave work — a few more weeks and it’ll still be light when my Tube train emerges from the tunnel at East Finchley).  Although I’ve still got stuff to sort out, such as my adventure holiday, I’m optimistic about the future…

I’m still exercising, though not so much this week as my feet have been hurting (due to the recent snow, I was wearing uncomfortable boots instead of my usual well-worn trainers).  I was actually feeling a bit queasy at work today, and somewhat unsteady on my feet, but then I went climbing with my friend after work, and although I was a bit anxious at times, not only did I climb two 12m. walls (to go with the one I managed last week), I actually felt better afterwards!  My mother always tells me that being fit and healthy through exercise makes one less likely to catch colds and such, and it seems she was right after all (though she herself caught cold just before Christmas, which only goes to show).

I’m still helping out the campaign in Barnet against the corrupt local government, principally through administration of their own blog here on WordPress.  Although Capita (I won’t call them by their Private Eye nickname for reasons of vulgarity) have been named as the main company to whom our public services will be handed for at least 10 years without possiblity of getting them back in-house, Barnet is so filled with media types that they’ll never be able to keep their incompetence quiet, and there are legal challenges in progress, so all is not lost…

No, I didn’t keep my New Year’s Resolution about being nice to the annoying woman at work, but take heart in the knowledge that she seems to be getting on other people’s nerves as well, as she tends to get others to do her work for her.  You won’t catch me doing that: no, instead I’m actually doing more things at work, such as minute-taking (tried that today, horrible experience)!  It’s not such a big deal still being in admin at 35, but obviously I don’t want to be doing this for too much longer, especially since they want us to sign new contracts which will give us worse conditions (and are bribing us with £1,000, which would certainly help pay for my holiday).  Hey, if Barnet come to their senses and ditch Capita, they’ll need dedicated people to work for them… and depending on the timing, I could sign the new contract, get my grand, and jump ship!  Aren’t I Machievellian?

As for computers, yes, I’m still doing all that, though I’m so busy these days, I have very little time to do my own thing.  However, since the entire Northern Line is closed this weekend and I need to rest my aching legs, I’ll probably just stay at home and write that Dalek Craft game (or at least build the foundations).  There you go, my problems solve each other — how’s that for optimism?  It’ll also give me time to listen to the mountain of 1980s music I’ve been lent by my musical friend at work…

I’ll try to post a bit more often in this blog in the coming weeks — let’s call January my month of hibernation (oh, how I wish…) and reconvene in February, okay?

Worst January ever

Comic Book Guy

See? I don’t just refer to “Family Guy” and “American Dad!” all the time

I don’t mean this January wot we are in now, which so far has been fine — perhaps better and less depressing than any January I can remember since my teenage years; hopefully it will remain so in spite of the snow that’s about to hit us, though I’m sure I’ll be cursing the Northern Line tomorrow…

No, it’s January 2012 that I’m on about tonight: the month that could have driven me to suicide, made me a druggie, or worst of all, sent me back to live in Worthing with my family!  Now, recently I’ve been spending more time with my mother and enjoying climbing, going for walks etc., so it’s not “living with Mumsy” that would be the problem; rather, it’s that leaving London would mean giving up any hope of a decent life (or any kind of decently-paid job), and resigning myself to living in the dismal town where I spent those aforementioned teenage years (and also three years between graduation and postgraduate study), which my mother longs to escape.  I decided last year that even if my mother isn’t happy with her life, I’m going to try to enjoy my own life and find happiness, so that her sacrifices won’t have been in vain, and so she can live vicariously through me (and one day, $DEITY willing, she will be a grandmother!).

But in January 2012, my life quite seriously almost ended.  I’d had a lousy November and December for reasons I’ve already stated in this blog — my long-term “good housemate” was moving out and I was going through a depressive period culminating in “Twelve-Twelve” — but I’d tried to enjoy Christmas with my folks and forget my troubles.  Back in London for New Year, I was feeling low again thanks to my landlord, who had said he could get me into one of the studio flats in his portfolio (he apparently owns all the rental property in Caledonian Road) but was steadfastly refusing to actually show me any of this property, pleading some arcane rule about letting.  In fact, it was lucky he recommended I look elsewhere, for reasons I’ll get into presently…

And so it was, one month after “Twelve-Twelve”, that I arranged to view a studio flat in Camden, just to see what one would be like.  I was buoyed by my soon-to-be-former housemate’s one-bedroom flat, and had high hopes, even if it was something more expensive than I’d like… but after a long, long wait on a cold and dark evening (I should have given up waiting for the estate agent), I saw two possible studio flats in the same building.  I remember seeing the first rom and thinking I should ask to see the bigger one, only to discover that it was the bigger one… somehow, the thought of living my entire life in a room with a kitchen in it, smelling eternally of beans-on-toast, filled me with a sense of horror, and I realised what a terrible mistake I’d almost made, and how little time I had left to begin my search from scratch!

As I went home, the end of my five-plus years in Caledonian Road really hit me, and I felt mounting panic that I was about to be left homeless — even the knowledge that, if the worst came to the worst, I could move back to Worthing didn’t make me feel any better.  I felt so low, I even looked up at my light fitting and wondered if it’d take my weight… but don’t worry, I didn’t try anything drastic, and when “good housemate” got home, he helped me start searching for a house-share with actual people.

Unfortunately, the damage was done: the following morning (Friday the 13th, appropriately enough), I awoke feeling horribly nauseous, and had to take the day (and then Monday) off work.  This, of course, meant I couldn’t go out and view potential places to live, and so I was stuck in the situation that my sickness prevented me from solving the problem that was making me sick in the first place!

The following week was even worse, as I was only able to see one place per night!  The first place would have involved living with an unemployed middle-aged man in an upstairs flat with filthy carpets (and I really, really hate those prepay “leccy” electricity meters, after having them in two previous houses); the second place would have been ideal, but wasn’t really “offered” to me, and it was only the following night after I’d seen a lousy third place in Colindale (protip: putting a double bed in a single room doesn’t make it a double room) that I received an eloquent reply to my desperate chasing texts: “Gone”.  That evening had been particularly stressful because I’d been buying packing boxes from Argos and had to get them home on the bus in time to go out again, and rushing around only added to my panic.  On the Thursday I saw a more local room, in a flat around the back of a house, and again it was no use (though it would have been nice to live with all those cats).

Finally, on Friday 20th January 2012,my nausea had gotten so bad that I had to see the doctor quack about it; he assured me I was just stressed over the house move, and not clinically depressed, and prescribed me diazepam.  Yes, the drug formerly known as Valium, which can cause serious problems in people suffering from depression!  After work that day, I went to view a room in Finchley; it didn’t start well, as the only reason I could go after work was because the guy moving out would be at home to let me in, since he worked nights and would be sleeping.  Still, the room was certainly big enough (though naively I thought I could get “good housemate’s” pool table in!), and being on the Northern Line was a bonus, so I texted the lady in charge of the household to say I was interested, hoping to keep it as an option.  In fact, she texted back while I was buying food to say I’d got it, and “welcome home”!

I didn’t feel better as such, but a weight began to lift from my mind, and a pinprick of light appeared at the end of the tunnel.  Over the following week (by which time “good housemate” had moved out entirely) I sorted out the contract, but the gap between my contract at Cally Road ending and the new room being free for me to move into posed a problem.  Fortunately, “good housemate” said I could kip on his settee for the intervening week, but what about my vast array of stuff?  I went to the landlord’s office to ask if I could keep it in the old place for a few days into February, and was greeted by the handyman; the first thing he said, with unaccountable smugness, was “he hasn’t got anywhere for you”, as though he was somehow happy or even triumphant that, as far as he knew, I was about to be made homeless!  Needless to say the landlord never got in touch with me one way or another, and it was lucky that my new housemate said I could keep my stuff in their living room that saved me from needing to use a storage place!

But January wasn’t over yet: the final weekend saw me giving a lot of stuff to the nearby charity shop (fortunately they accepted electrical goods, such as a lamp I’d stopped using and an old CRT monitor), moving my stuff to the new place (“good housemate” broke his nose when he hit his head helping me carry furniture to the truck), and… cleaning the house.  This is where “third housemate” really peed me off with his casual attitude, and even though I’d been strangely grateful for his presence in the house after “good housemate” moved out, I’d grown to loathe him over the previous year, and I was genuinely glad to see the back of him when he left for the last time.  It felt like a physical separation of life paths…

Staying at “good housemate’s” flat at the end of January and beginning of February wasn’t too bad, but the cold once again got to me, especially since he has electric heaters (which I hate almost as much as “leccy” meters).  However, we played Gears of War 2 nearly every night (being a PC fan, I’d never played it before — thanks, Gearbox, for screwing us after the first game!), and on Tuesday, 31st January 2012, we had Domino’s pizza… it’s worth noting that when I was walking to the Tube station on Wednesday morning, the first day of February, the Sun was shining up Bounds Green Road, and the day was starting with a glorious and unprecedented brightness that gladdened my heart.  I’d made it through a truly horrible experience, and I was still alive…

Yeah, I know it’s not the worst thing that’s ever happened to anyone before (I listen to the works of Eminem and wonder how on Earth he got through it all — Detroit, what a horrible place!), but to me it felt like the most horrible time of my life.  Perhaps, like the Ludovico treatment in A Clockwork Orange, the nausea I felt conditioned me to always feel horror if I had the same experiences again, and now, much like the protagonist in H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Horror at Red Hook”, I can’t see certain types of house on cold winter nights, or contemplate “normal” houses that have been perverted into studio flats, without the darkness gnawing at the edge of my consciousness.  Even the smell of beans-on-toast can bring back a ghost of the memory of that time.  I won’t give in to depression again, but it’s taken a lot for me to get over last January…

Still, let us not be downhearted: I’m alive, I didn’t get addicted to diazepam (I threw away the pills with “a certain wasteful symbolism”, as H.G. Wells put it in The War of the Worlds… enough citations for you in this blog entry?), and I didn’t have to quit my job, take a “career break” (it would have been difficult finding a new place in London when that came to an end!), move back to Worthing or live by myself in a dingy studio flat that could have become my tomb.  I’m stronger for the experience, and I’m now in a London borough where my hatred of corruption among the ruling class can be turned against the incompetent incumbents…

As a postcript, my latest friend is actually going through similar experiences a year after mine: he’s eternally stressed out because he needs to find a new place (though he’s not about to get thrown out, at least), he needs a new job before he runs out of money and has to go back to Ireland, and he’s taking diazepam just so he can sleep at night.  I’m doing my best to help him out by forwarding him job notifications from my workplace, and I hang out with him whenever I can.  He even told me tonight, as we were climbing, that he’d spent a long time as a recluse, only recently going out and enjoying himself; much like myself during 2011, you might say.  Well, now we hang out — in addition to climbing (which I won’t stop going on about, so stop moaning), last Friday we went bowling and to the cinema, and because the idiots turned the lights on ten minutes before the end of Texas Chainsaw 3D (it was my choice and I stand by it), we’ve got free tickets!

Here’s to January 2012: may it die a thousand deaths and rot in Hell for all eternity, and may it mark the end of the single worst time of my life!  Onwards and upwards…

Another vague update

Yep, I’m finding it hard to write stuff in this blog any more, though the impending freeze in the UK is certainly going to test my ability to keep my chin up (it’s cold enough to give me a near-permanent headache… unless that’s caffeine).  But here’s how things are going at the moment: reasonably well, can’t complain.  Except about the Northern Line having massive delays, which meant I almost regretted going out climbing tonight, and about The Castle being packed with New Year’s Resolutions.  Come on TfL, sort yourselves out; and come on, er, people, stop doing exercise just because you promised you would!

Anyway… my adventure holiday in the western United States is still on for May, barring accidents, such as getting arrested and thus being denied a visa, but I have no intention of that happening — after all, wouldn’t it be wonderful if I met someone special on my trip, and was thus able to bring a “plus one” to my best friend’s wedding in June?  America is the only country in which I’ve had even marginal success in romantic terms, and although it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that I’ll meet someone from my own country on the trip who makes me happy, I may also hook up with a native during my travels.  After all, American women seem to be more willing to date someone they’ve just met, rather than automatically regarding a random bloke giving a look as some kind of social faux pas.  (Sorry, not supposed to be complaining about my love life…)

I’m also still in the Japanese vibe: I’m (very slowly) translating a children’s book called Botchan, and indeed because I’m not going to C++ classes any more, I can go to the Japanese meet-up event in Leicester Square on the second Tuesday of the month.  It’s good to make Japanese friends, because I can help them with their English (as you may have noticed, my English is impeccable, sort of fing) while they help me with my Japanese, and meeting up gets me out of the house.  And yes, there’s always the possibility of dating, since Japanese women seem to be much more cheerful than the women of this country, and I just seem to get on with them, perhaps because I’m just non-threatening compared to a lot of blokes.  Japanese women also tend to retain their youthful looks to a surprising degree (yes, I know that’s a chauvinistic thing to say, but I’m trying to retain my youth as well — I want to look good for the girl of my dreams, because $DEITY help her if she has to love me for just my personality!).

Mmm, I like American women… but then I also like Japanese women.  But which is better?  There’s only one way to find out:Harry Hill Fight

(Blonde American woman dressed as cheerleader, and raven-haired Japanese woman dressed as schoolgirl, come in from opposite doors and mud-wrestle in front of Harry’s desk)

See you after the break.  Ganbatte, Nihonjin no onna!

(Yes, I contrived this whole blog post just to pay homage to Harry Hill’s TV Burp sue me!)

Back in action


We’ll gloss over the fact that I was watching the awful “Terminator 3” while writing this entry…

Yeah, I’m back after my nice, relaxing Christmas and New Year holiday spent in Worthing with my mother and grandmother.  For the first time in years, I had a nice time — well, considering that in 2010/2011 I was sat in front of my computer for New Year, and in 2011/2012 I was miles away at a quote-unquote “house party” in Essex (almost at the end of the District Line), this could only have been an improvement.

What did I do over Christmas?  Well, first of all, even though my mother didn’t have her operation after all, we couldn’t go climbing together because the place in Shoreham was closed over Christmas.  Fortunately, since I am now the proud owner of a Nintendo Wii and a Wii Fit Plus balance board, I was able to do some exercise.  The rain meant I couldn’t and didn’t go outside much, until 2013 started, whereupon the weather improved remarkably.  I completed the first two Max Payne games (yet again), meaning I can now play Max Payne 3, though I’ve also got a number of 2012 games to get through which were either Christmas presents or sale items on Steam, including Far Cry 3, Assassin’s Creed III (yes, rather a lot of third installments released in 2012) and Batman: Arkham City.  Oh, and I’ve got Punch-Out! and Dead Space: Extraction to play on the Wii, as well as the other sports games I’ll be playing with Mumsy when I take the thing home again in a couple of weekends.

So anyway, what are my plans for 2013?  Well, here’s a brief run-down — other objectives may become clear with time, but consider these my New Year’s Resolutions (albeit not ones I intend to break):

  • Getting fit.  I brought the Wii and Wii Fit Plus back from Worthing for this precise reason (Mumsy’s got her own keep-fit regime, and in any case the nice man who drove her home in December is going to give her a PlayStation 2), and I’m determined to sort myself out once and for all.  I will also be continuing with climbing, and as has been suggested to me, hopefully taking up yoga so I can learn not to be afraid…
  • Translating some Japanese children’s books, which I bought as targets of opportunity at my sensei‘s house-clearing sale (where I got the Wii).  It’s been altogether too long since I did translation, and although these are longer books than I’ve done before, that just makes it a greater investment of my time.  Since I have my Tuesday evenings back again, I’ll be able to resume going to the Japanese meet-up events at Leicester Square (such as the one on the 8th), and can work on my speaking/listening skills as well!
  • Writing that Dalek strategy game in C++, using the Allegro game programming library.  It’ll be the best way to sharpen my skills: writing a program I actually want to write, rather than just learning stuff by rote!
  • Getting off the wagon.  Annoyingly, people told me when I was younger that I should loosen up and start drinking alcohol, yet these days people tell me I shouldn’t take up drinking in order to enjoy myself!  My poor confused mother has been guilty of both (indeed, she and my grandparents insisted I learn to drink before I went to university), but I forgive her.  I will not, however, do what my female best friend did and “force” myself to like beer — it’s cider all the way, with white wine if I really must.  I won’t be getting “fit-shaced”, however: that’s something I’ve never wanted to do (no, not even when I was at university — in fact, especially not when I was at university), and nor will I be feeling any tolerance towards drunken idiots.
  • Being nicer and more mild-mannered generally, even to the annoying woman at work — somehow I’ll smile and return her pleasantries on Friday (unless she’s off, and we can only hope), and not bite off the heads of cashiers who are required by their jobs to ask me if I have a loyalty card, or if I want a bag when I’m already putting my shopping into one I brought from home!  And I’ll try to hold back the bile generally, and stop letting things grind my gears so much.
  • Travelling abroad, mainly to America for my holiday in May (for which I’ve got to pay, as well as sorting out my visa), thus broadening my horizons.  Maybe I’ll meet someone special, maybe I won’t, but the important thing is that I’ll be having an adventure!
  • Moving my room around and getting rid of at least one bookcase, so I don’t have my bed right next to the radiator any more (though this winter’s been surprisingly mild), and keeping it tidier in general (you can stop cheering now, Mumsy!).
  • Helping out in local politics, as the Barnet Tories continue their privatisation-based implosion.
  • Finding my father… because he deserves a chance, I reckon…

That’s all I’ll say for now — it’s midnight, so I’d better get some rest before tomorrow’s today’s onslaught.  Honestly, coming back here felt like a trip to an alien planet, such is the power of a pleasant holiday at home with one’s family, but this is where I belong (at least for the time being), and I know I can continue.  That’s all for now — I’ll be back soon with more inane drivel… good night!