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August 29, 2005

Church, babies and family

The alarm went off at 7am. But unlike a work day, this enforced breach of sleep was on a Sunday. To confuse my brain even more, I was putting on a shirt and trousers, the same attire for the weekday. I was going to church for the first time in ten years. Somehow the office seemed like a day out at the seaside in comparison.

The drive to the church led to the evitable, my dad trying to pretend he was racing cars around like he did in New Zealand fifty years ago. It’s just this time he was trying to race his son. In my favour, a faster car and the actual ability to actually see the road. In his favour? Well, I had my mother sitting next to me who had the mental ability to control the speed of my car with clinch of a fist. For someone who has never driven before, she could either clench or retract her fist like a person squeezing the brake with her foot. It could have been the unfortunate series of near fatal car accidents she had experienced when she was younger, but probably, and most likely, it was the delicately balanced assortment of cakes that she had made the night before that were swaying in the boot that probably gave her most cause for alarm.

Stepping into church brought back memories of the enforced hours I had clocked up in my younger years. In this foreign, small and half empty church, the pastor and her associates were dressed in some cult like attire. It could have been from a movie set. As I sat in position, I looked down. It really could have been a horror movie. Three paper booklets. There were at least ten hymns, three readings, five prayers and something else down there. This was going to be tough.

“And remember, next week is a book collection, we are raising money for the church mini bus to have it tyres repaired”. That was the problem. Maybe if I was actually local, I maybe concerned that John and Mary are getting married next week, or the fundraising for he new roof extension was going well. But I wasn’t. and I didn’t.

As we stood to sing hymn number three from page two of the yellow, hand made, just learnt how to use a computer and using a silly font booklet, I realized, not only that I cannot sing, I didn’t really want to. This was against the glare of the robed person singing in front, looking at the congregation. Maybe it was the fact that hymns, were, and still are, just dull. Where was that instrumental? That bit of bass? That catchy chorus? Well at least it did have a chorus. The only good thing about the chorus was the fact that every time it was repeated, you knew you were getting nearer to the end.

“Now, would you turn and face the person opposite and shake their hand, get to know your fellow neighbour”. Great. I tried to think positive, turning it into a speed dating exercise. The only problem was that the person next to me was over ninety, without her own teeth and with a questionable fashion sense. I guess we all have to start somewhere.

Somehow I made it through without incident. Well nearly. “And will those of you who want to come up and take the wine and bread, please step forward”. I turned to my left and said “You know, there is no such thing as a free lunch”. Unfortunately I forgot churches tend to be quite quiet. As I walked towards the exit, thinking of my sarcastic error, I was stopped by security. Apparently you shouldn’t keep the paper hymn book. They are reused every week you know.

August 24, 2005

The Dark Stuff


Waiting for one pint of Guinness to settle is bad enough. They pour it. They stop. They leave it under the tap four fifths full. Then, they serve someone else. Which is fine. You expect that. It’s just most of the time they completely forgot about your pint sitting there, waiting to be topped off. “Are you being served?” comes the question. Without even answering, which a sly glance over to the tap it causes the trigger. “Ah, I’m sorry, I forgot about that”. The advert says “Good things comes to those that’s wait”. I have to disagree. Is by bus any better just because it is ten minutes late? Do I get more money from the cash point just because there is a queue? Does my Guinness Extra cold get any nicer having to wait? No. It gets warmer. Like my patience.

So, like on Saturday, if you are going to have eight pints of Guinness, that’s a long wait. Arthur Guinness said in 1759 “I will prevail. I will have my dark water” when he was waiting for the first Guinness factory to be finished. So I was patient. “It takes about 119.5 seconds to pour the perfect pint. But don’t fret. It’s worth the wait” so they say. Fuck me. They obviously haven’t been down the Littentree on a Satuarday.

Maybe I’m being a bit harsh on my favourite drink. Some pregnant women drink it, it’s meant to be good for you. Apparently. Then again they say it improves your dart throwing. Believe me, after eight pints and the only thing I’m throwing is sick. Which brings me onto the next point. I’ve yet to work out the coefficient, but there is a direct relationship between how much you drink and how much of a shock you get the next morning. It’s not who you may or may not wake up to the next morning, it’s whether you have turned into a miner overnight and suddenly obtained the ability to produce coal out of your arse. That’s right. Probably drink more than five pints of the black stuff and you will be shitting black coal. The one advantage of that is at least you know how much you drank the night before.

So, eight pints of Guinness, five whiskey and cokes, two pints of larger, two live games of football, fifty five blurry photos, a chicken kebab, sweet and sour chicken balls to take away, a drunken taxi conversation, sixty pounds and twelve hours later, all in all, a good Saturday.

August 19, 2005

Differences

My sisters friends are down this weekend, which again is providing an interesting insight into the minds of women. “Can I get a blokes perspective on my problem, you see my other half is addicted to watching sport…..”. Before she was even half way through the question I knew the answer. It won’t change. You are fighting a losing battle. I’ll watch the sports news channel for more than four hours a day. Two hours of those hours are repeats. Two of those hours are stories I already knew about. I read about them on the sports website an hour before. I’ll bet on football. I’ll drive four hours to watch a forth division team lose on a cold and rainy day.

“and I don’t know whether to try and get into it or leave him to it”. As she looked over, I thought about the comforting answer and the honest answer. “He won’t change, that’s the way it is, go and watch ‘Perfect Catch’, it’s a decent film and it will go so way to explaining the problem". Perfect catch is an American remake of the original Nick Hornby novel, turned film, ‘Fever Pitch’, focusing on a man’s addiction for sport, not his partner.

The conversation drifted away from the partner problems. I wasn't going to give any comfort, I was after all, was one of those sports addicts. Thirty degree all year sunshine, amazing beaches, a laid back life style, space, all the things people would die for, I could even live in Australia if I wanted to due to dual nationality, it’s just the football would kick off at 3am. And yes, I did get up at 3am.

“I just don’t get it, football is just boring, I don’t know why he gets so worked up about it”. Before I could explain the delights of supporting your local, crappy team, afternoons in the pub watching the scores rolling in, waiting for the eight bet to come in to give you that hundred and twenty pounds (only to lose it in the last minute), the football chit chat, the funny and witty football chants, the banter between the fans, they stopped me.

They started talking about facials, which shops had the best clothes, which makeup was the best and which magazine, in their detailed opinion, had gone down hill (Yes, it was Cosmopolitan, I tried to looked shocked). Then I thought what they were asking, I just don’t get it, it’s just boring, give me the latest transfer news any day.

August 18, 2005

New toys

When I started to be overtaken my faster cars, I bought, a better car. When my computer started to get that bit slower, I bought a better, faster, laptop. When I got overtaken by a seventy year old wrinkled man walking up a mountain in Vancouver, I bought some better shoes. So, when people around me start taking amazing photographs, I go and buy a stupidly expensive camera. I’ve stated to realise that my philosophy in life is simple. If you can’t beat them, get stuff that will.

Okay, it’s not about the equipment, they say, it’s how you use it. Apparently. Well, I’m learning. Or trying to learn. They also say you can’t polish a turd. I’m more inclined to agree with the later. After one day with my new digital SLR camera, I’m realising that I shouldn’t be relying on the ‘Auto’ switch, after all, what’s the point in being able to change a thousand settings and then not?

Buying a camera from a camera shop is like buying a computer from a computer shop. You will be greeted by slightly spotty, adolescent who starts to sweat as soon as you mention ‘lenses’ or ‘memory card’. You can tell they have landed their dream job, like Big Mac addict working in McDonalds or a pop corn cruncher in Blockbuster.

Then there is that novelty factor. Just like buying a faster car, there will always be one that's faster, it’s just they are more willing to prove it now. Learn by your mistakes. Of course not. Someone said to me “it’s all about knowing the right picture, not how good your camera is”. Well, maybe you are right. When I try and take a picture of a chair, it, looks like, a chair. When someone else takes a picture of the same chair, it’s good enough to frame (that’s exactly what I did). But I still went out and bought that better camera. Maybe my new camera will make that chair look like painting. I doubt it.

Walking around with a better, more professional looking camera is like driving around in a Ferrari. People look at you as if you know what you are doing. They look for your shot. They want to know what they are missing. But if you can’t reverse park in a Ferrari, it tends to make you look ten times worse. Of course I would be happy to sit in a Ferrari let alone try and reverse park it, but that’s another point.

August 08, 2005

Things that have changed since I have been away

Taste Buds

For three days I had the ‘normal’ from the vending machine. Number sixty nine. Now I know I had a lot of different types of coffees in Canada, but I was slightly surprised to find out they had changed the selection numbers in my absence. Number sixty nine was in fact, now, hot chocolate. After being shocked that the coffee was so bad it tasted like a mixture of chocolate and old mens pants, I have now decided to invest fifty five pence, five times a day, in a Latte at the proper coffee shop.

The Water Machine

It now takes eight cups fills, not six, to fill up my water bottle. Maybe not life and death to non water bottle fillers, but very important when it comes to timing and avoiding long queues behind me. I think I will get on the drinks machine committee to make sure I’m consulted and informed on decisions like these before they happen

Weight

After a three week holiday, most people, who indulge in beer and junk food, put on weight. It’s to be expected. So I raised an eyebrow and a couple of pizzas, when I found out I had lost half a stone. After discounting the ten mile daily walks and hikes up mountains, I realised, it must have been the heat.

My car

The Alfa Romeo has made friends. Two additional bird shits, a coating of sand and a cant be arsed to clean it owner.

Exercise

I can no longer bench press my own body weight and do over a hundred press ups. I blame it on the ligament damage incurred trying to wake board, jumping off cliffs, lugging around bags, fending off the Hasting Street gang and lifting cups of coffee.

The Weather

I’m lying. It’s still shit

Bag Searches

Some pubs, like the one I went to on Sunday, are now checking your bags for bombs.

London

Apparently, it’s deserted. Well, by London standards.

Cricket

We’ve actually managed to beat Australia in an Ashes test match for once

My underwear

August 03, 2005

Canadian Summary

Good points

1) Denny’s – Why can’t we have a 24 hour sit down restaurant where we don’t have to eat dodgy kebabs or burgers sold by some Turkish guy

2) Transport – However much the Canadians complain about their subways or skytrains, they are new, clean and cheap – that will do for me

3) Food selection – Tonnes. And good prices.

4) Coffee chains – They love their coffee. And so do I now.

5) Tim Hortons – Yep it’s good. And so much better than Starbucks

6) People – Friendly yes. Apart from the people on Hastings Street. They are just plain crazy. Literally.

7) Space – Just nice to have some.

8) All Seasons – Hot sun in the winter, proper snow in the winter

9) The Ski Season – Would be nice to have some snow apart from 1989 when my school was closed for the day

10) Families –Nobody tends to move around as the country is so big, so they all just stick together

11) Shopping – The malls are great. The people in the shops are friendly and actually mean it

12) Trusting society. People just tend to trust, it takes a while

13) Scenery – Nice to see some mountains for a change

14) Cheap. Well mainly.

15) New airports and express check in systems

16) Accents – They are just not annoying like some

17) Outdoor life – People ride bikes and roller blade. A lot.

18) Nice, large houses


Being really picky not so good points.........

1) Adding on taxes – So, you go and buy something, but can never work out the exact amount until they say it at the till. So, you either get a long queue of people looking for the correct change, or, like me, end up with two tonnes of one cent coins

2) People serving at 24 hour stores – You always get two, but they rarely both serves, one either does the packing or just stands there

3) Getting around – Long distance is errrr, well the plane. There are only two airlines which means flying is relatively expensive.

4) Crossing the road – Cars can turn right at pedestrian crossings, often you take a chance and hope the cars stop

5) Lack of Canadian television. All American.

6) Newspapers. After reading them for three weeks, I worked out, nothing ever bad or eventful happens (could be good thing though I guess)

7) Dual French signs. Just takes up space, but then again that is my lazy English attitude

8) Walking. I cant get anywhere without walking twenty miles

9) Mainly automatic cars. I would get bored not driving a manual

10) Pubs. Where all they all?







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