2004-11-03 : I am but a gazelle with opposable thumbs, luggage, a budget, a passport… not much like a gazelle really.

I've been trying to write something for the past few days, but when I'm at work I'm meant to be… well… WORKING, and when I get home I'm usually too knackered to put together a blog entry. Mind you that didn't stop me stayng up til 2am wiritng my six-monthly message to the folks back home I guess. Lucky things.

The last few days have been a montage of highs and lows – my friend Martyn dropped in for a couple of days on his whirlwind world tour. That was pretty neat, cos I haven't seen the bloke in a couple of years, and there's been heaps going on for both of us since then. He's gone off to Canada now to live with his brother for a while and pursue world domination, so… good luck with that.

Thursday night we went to see Bill Bailey, in his London run of “Part Troll”. It's been a while since I've seen a truly inventive comedian, but I think this man takes the biscuit. Plenty of quality improvising, a range of musical talent which included the ability to be able to play a Theremin live on stage and not cock it up, and a couple of really excellent cover songs – a Portishead-style “Zip ah dee doo dah”, and my absolute favourite bit, a Kraftwerk inspired German hard electro Hokey Pokey. Am seriously considering going back for another dig at this show.

I have now experienced another British shopping model, that of Brent Cross. Despite the fairly enthused windup Ruth gave it, I'd have to say it was kind of like a half-arsed Westfield Marion… Irritatingly full of dawdling idiots, but not a patch on the sheer headbursting luncay of Ikea.

The ever present saga of the paycheque goes on – I don't know why these people find it so hard to carry out their business in a straightforward manner. If you ask someone when your paycheque is going to hit your account and they say “Friday”, isn't it reasonable to expect that it does ? But oh no, apparently Friday meant Monday. After a heated discussion on the inadequacies of their system, they agreed to advance me some of it on Friday, and have the balance come through Monday. Upon checking at close of business yesterday there was (predictably) no sign of it, and one cranky email and a bewildered phonecall from them later and it seemed that I'm meant to be getting paid on the 6th of the month, and they didn't know why I was expecting to get it on Monday. Honestly, I do wonder whether they're just trying to win some kind of war of attrition on my patience to the point where I say “look, just keep the damn money!” and storm off in disgust.

Last night I popped over to Annie and Toby's place, mainly so Toby could have a look at the USB hard drive thingo I bought that I couldn't get to work for love nor money. As it happened, he plugged it in andd the bloody thing worked perfectly, which made a 2 hour round trip all the more fun and worthwhile… but yeah, the scary bit was the sector of the journey between the train station and their place.

For starters, I caught the Silverlink. I have reason to believe that it is named this because that's what colour your hair has turned by the time this ponderously slow pensioner of a train gets you to wherever it was you thought you wanted to go. Chances are you'll get off before then, either reasoning that it'll be quicker to walk, or because in the time the journey's taken you'll have developed Alzheimer's and forgotten where it was you were trying to get to.

Anyway I managed to make it to wherever it was I was trying to get to, and my now famous “sense of direction” took me into entirely the wrong direction – wandering around the cheery suburb of Dalston. Now I'm sure it's a lovely spot at times, for instance when the sun's up. However, I've got to say I found the vibe a little unsettling at 9:30 last night (owing to daylight saving and the geographic position I'm in, darkness arrives at about 5pm)… I'm not the only one who thinks Dalston's a bit dodgy – I think The Times Online covered it nicely with the line “A minicab from Soho costs only £15, though many cabbies won’t drive into Dalston after dark.”.

Typically my approach in a neighbourhood I don't want to be in is to hunch my shoulders up, walk faster, and do my best to look more pissed off than anyone else I happen to see. Happily I was sporting my black leather trenchcoat last night, which isn't bad for racking up a couple of “Whoa, stay away from that weirdo” points… After I'd eventually found the right way, I walked along some more, and it seemed that everyone else I saw out that night was pretty much subscribing to the same school of thought as I was, and it struck me that maybe the area's not as bad as people say – it just looks dodgy because everyone's wandering around trying to look a bit hard so they don't get accosted ?

This afternoon in conversation with Oli at the office we mooted the idea of what a Dalston-y area would be like if we were in the USA, where it's a basic right to be able to carry guns. Ostensibly you'd be carrying one for “protection”, however in the process of feeling skittish about being somewhere dodgy, you're more likely to overreact to… well, anything really ! And if you're packing a piece, that could all go horribly wrong. In fact, you would probably feel even MORE nervous, because you'd have reason to suspect that all those dodgy looking people you were trying to steer clear of were also carrying. Sounds like a big vicious circle of fear. Eeeeurgh, I'd hate to live in a place like that.

I think I've strayed somewhat from the original gist of the posting, but you get that.

Two final things – firstly I've got a mobile phone happening again, and my old number's been proted across, so life can proceed as usual in that department. And secondly, we're supposed to be getting broadband on at the house this week ! Hardly seems like a landmark of humungous excitement, but I've gotta say, I'm sooooo looking forward to being able to do internet stuff at HOME instead of work, and being able to do it without tying up the phoneline and infuriating other housemates.

Anyhoo, I'm outta here.