2015: Yet another year in review

Sometimes it seems that these ‘year in review’ posts are the only contents in my blog; a once a year tradition to justify the continued existence of my blog, domain name, and hosting. I get the feeling these are more for my benefit than anyone else, so forgive me if they become ever more narcissistic.

I usually start writing these posts on the train home after Christmas; a journey that is usually more protracted than the train journey out! The fact is, this is often the only time that I have to catch my breath and think about what I have been up to the past year. I think the fact that I find little to no time to compose blog posts any other time; is a good sign of a busy and exciting lifestyle… or perhaps just that the daily grind of London commuting drains me of the will to write.

Home is where the heart is

Although I purchased my flat last year, I was not able to move in until early this year. I absolutely hate moving house, for me it really is one of the most stressful and nerve shredding experiences. The run up to my moving date was wrought with anxiety and  stress, not help by the fact that:

Sky broadband disconnected me 10 days early

Just a side note on this: seriously, you call up a company to tell them that you’ll be moving out, and they say “no problem, but your contract runs to the ends of the month so we won’t disconnect the line until then” (1 week after moving out); you expect to have no issues. Well Sky, much like the rest of Murdoch’s bullshit empire, like to talk nonsense and take the piss! Instead of honouring this statement, they initiated the cut-off process summarily, leaving me without internet. My complaints yielded nothing but empty apologies and explanations as to why they could not fix their mistake. One to avoid, don’t be tempted by their ads and special offers.

Anyway, I digress! After using my mobile to tether the internet for a week and a half, I moved in on January 24th.

The flat is far from finished; I have big dreams for the kitchen, bathroom, and garden; but such dreams are not cheap. They will all come in due time. I did, however, spend almost a month in the loft, scraping out the antiquated, paper mulch insulation and replacing it with modern glass wool, which British Gas then topped up for free.

So finished it might not be, but it is at least very cozy and warm.

Summer swinging back-to-back

What would my summer be without swing dancing?  I had little time off work during the start of the the year, so instead I used the bulk of my leave during the summer. I returned to the azure, clear waters of Halkidiki in northern Greece for my second time at Swing ‘n Swim dance festival. I knew less people there this time around but that simply meant I met more new friends. This time around I did not leave the country right after the festival, instead spending two days in Thessaloniki; an interesting place, though watch out for the wild dogs!

When I did leave Greece, I did not head home, I went to Como for another week of swing dancing by the waters of Italy’s great lakes. It was good to be back, although by the end my dancing was subordinate to my gelato eating.

After two whole weeks back-to-back I was shattered, but I regret nothing and would do it all again.

September swing wedding

Two very dear friends of mine got married in September this year. I met them both swing dancing several years ago, and was honoured to be invited to their wedding; where the happy couple performed a phenomenal first dance which turned into a “snow ball” dance with the brides maids, myself and the other swing dancing guests.

Congratulations to Matt and Jenna Joan Haggar!

Time for a change (again)

Once again I found it time to push the envelope with my career; I was perfectly happy where I was, the people, the work, and the office were all great… especially the office with its 31st floor view of London. I will miss that view, but one cannot arrest ones career for the sake of a beautiful vista.

Currently, if you work in IT in London (or possibly elsewhere too) you will be familiar with the feverish and constant solicitations from recruiters; phone calls, emails, LinkedIn messages and invites almost daily. I usually look over these with disinterest if at all, however, one such email caught my attention, and let me to a new job at Reed Elsevier at the end of November.

Cars, swans, and soldiers

I never thought that I would enjoy the ballet, but it turns out I really do. I went to see Matthew Bourne’s The Car Man (not strictly a ballet itself, but based on a ballet version of Georges Bizet’s opera Carmen) at the Sadler Wells Theatre. It was a very contemporary interpretation, but thoroughly enjoyable.

I also went to see two classic ballets; Swan Lake at the English National Opera, and The Nutcracker at The Royal Opera House. Both were fantastic, though the latter was my favourite; I found the story and settings a little more interesting. I love the whole experience of going to an opera house, the dancing, and the music too. I’m sure I will attend some more next year.

Czech please!

I couldn’t leave it at just two swing dance festivals for the year. So, rather short notice, a good friend and I signed up for the weekend workshops for Prague Swing Xmas.

I had never visited the Czech Republic before, though I had heard great things about it. I was not disappointed; the classes were great, the venue for the parties was decadent, and the dancers were all lovely. Oh and the beer was wonderful and also cheap!

Lets party like its 1926

Sound familiar? Well the venue was different, though the theme was much the same as last year. A 1920’s band playing to a crowd wearing pencil dresses with tassels, headbands with feathers, tuxedos, and bow ties.

This year we were at the Booking Office at St Pancras Renaissance Hotel. The band played a little fast for some of us Lindy Hoppers, though the experienced Balboa dancers didn’t seem to mind. Either way, it was a lovely atmosphere, and a great way to end the year.

2014: Where did the time go?

¿Qué lenguas hablas?

What languages do you speak? Before this year, my answer to that was… “English”. Now, I can say “English and a little Spanish” (in at least two languages). Learning a new language was a big deal for me, I was always appalling at French in school. In a world [London] where almost everyone I know speaks several languages, I was determined to no longer be a mono-lingual Englishman. After a year of Spanish classes, I am hardly ready for translating Don Quixote, though I can manage simple texts and hold a conversation. Many thanks to the excellent teachers at Cactus Learning!

Heading south

With my new found linguistic skills, I went travelling in the south of Spain, not once but twice, this year. This was partly to practise Spanish, but also just to experience Spain and part of it’s rich culture. During my two trips I managed to visit Madrid, Córdoba, Cádiz, Sevilla, Málaga, Tarifa, Ronda, and Granada. I met many interesting people in the hostels; a pair of Argentinians who helped me with my Spanish; some crazy Israelis who taught me how to cook a traditional middle-eastern dish while on a beach; quite a few Germans; and even a swing dancer I knew from London! I visited lots of castles, cathedrals and museums; walked along the beach by the Atlantic and the Mediterranean; went hiking in the Sierra Nevada; got just a little bit sunburned; ate lots of amazing food… oh and went swing dancing!

Swing dance addiction

Speaking of swing dancing. I did quite a lot of that this year too (big surprise!). This years highlights included; the mainstay, The London Lindy Exchange, as fun and well organised as ever; The Ahoy Ball, dancing on a boat on the Thames; and Swing & Swim! A week long dance camp at a gorgeous beach-side campsite (with bar and restaurant) in Greece. I did the workshops here too, the teaching and general level of dancing was amazing. Kudos to Lindy Hop Greece for organising it so well!

Climb the highest mountain

Ok, so I didn’t climb any actual mountains but I did get introduced to the wonderful sport of Bouldering. That is, indoor climbing without the aid of ropes or safety harnesses. Intense physical exercise is important in life. Some enjoy jogging, others enjoy doing reps at the gym. For me these are not exciting, but climbing really hit the spot and although my fingers, knees and feet absolutely hate me now, I have become somewhat addicted to this activity.

Buda-ful Budapest

I know, my puns are still terrible, I’m sorry! I missed out on Lindy Shock, in Budapest this year, but I went on a work trip instead. I still got to explore, take in the impressive architecture, and bathe in the famous public baths. The food and wine in Hungary is divine, I enjoyed it all. Although I missed the festival, I did manage to find a local swing dance night and met the local dancers.

Home sweet home

So here’s a first: I bought a flat!

I’ve only been looking for about 15 years but I finally made it. I have spent a lot of my time in the past month or so stripping paint, sanding, painting, and fixing. All of which is surprisingly satisfying when you know it’s yours.

Lets party like its 1925

As the final hurrah for this year, some dancing friends and I went to the 1920s themed, Prohibition Party in Bloomsbury. I always love these sorts of events, as everyone is dressed up to the nines, suitably merry with gin and fizz cocktails and generally having a great time. It gets even better when we all hit the dance floor, which never fails to impress the uninitiated. I won’t lie, my ego loves being the centre of attention, but I also love seeing people getting interested.

A perfect end to a year that, for me at least, has been truly great. Thanks to everyone of my friends who have been a part of it.

2013: Of dreams and nightmares

The year that triskaidekaphobes had been dreading for decades has finally come and gone. No longer will they be reminded of their peril every time they have to write down the current date. The rest of us can draw a line for a new start and reflect on another year past. Not soon enough for some, and tragically too soon for others.

An ode to Judith Pote

The year didn’t get off to a good start, with the news that my aunt, who had been bravely battling cancer for several years, was finally succumbing to its vice grip. Having lost my own mother to cancer many years ago, I can empathise deeply with my cousins and what they have been through this year.

My aunty Judy had always the kindest of heart; always determined to see the best in people; to do right by those she loved and to avoid sides in any conflict. Not an easy accomplishment where I was concerned in particular, though she managed all the same. She never had much voice for anger, though she was brave and would not be trifled with. She was brave, kind, and genuine and loved by everyone. She has been missed by everyone this year.

I have always been close to her sons, who are an immense credit to her. My thoughts will be with them all later this month.

Turning over a new leaf

Most people who know me are aware of my long standing affinity for a certain herb, one which for some time had been a hindrance upon my life. I was aware of the problem and resolved to face it for a while. In February I finally determined to turn my back on it for good. It was not easy, I could not do it alone, but [so far at least!] I have managed it and feel so much the better for it. Much of what I went on to do this year might not have been had I not. My sincerest thanks a gratitude to all those who helped and supported me.

Iceland: The land of snow and fire

March saw the first of several epic holidays I took this year, to the frozen, surreal landscapes of the most volcanic country in the arctic circle. I went alone, hiring a 4×4 and driving through the tundra, although I was advised to avoid the mountain passes as a lone, inexperience icelander! I saw the great Geyser, along with many other geothermal pools and fissures in more secluded spots away from the tour buses. I saw the glacial waterfalls of Gulfoss and swam in hot springs. I also managed to see a bit of the northern lights, although my photographic skills failed to capture it successfully. I also sought out the local swing dancing scene and made some new friends at a social event in Reykjavik.

Fred Astaire eat your heart out

I briefly dipped my toes into the world of tap dancing this year. I went along  with a friend for a laugh, but really enjoyed it. I invested in a cheap(ish) pair of tap shoes and went back every week. I can’t claim to be brilliant; I cant even claim to be competent; truthfully, I am an awful tap dancer, but I enjoyed it all the same. Sadly our tap teacher had to return to Australia to look after family, I’m not sure if I’ll find another class that suites and fits into my rapidly filling schedule this year.

London Lindy Exchange

It was a highlight of my year last year, and this year was even better. Epic performances from bands such as Echos of Ellington, Steve Coombes Hot Six and artists Gordon Webster and Naomi Uyama really made the event. I stayed to the end of every evening, including the blues after party on sunday, where the outstanding Gordon Webster came along and played for free way into the early hours. There was an afternoon party on the Monday bank holiday too. I was shattered by the end of it all, but so worth it and cannot wait for LLX 2014.

Moving on from the Lonely Planet

My fixed term contract at the Lonely Planet expired in June and I decided to take a job elsewhere. I left to work for a much smaller company, where I would basically be in charge of creating and managing the cloud computing infrastructure. A challenge that had me nervous to start with. I pleased to say that I managed, and now have a solid infrastructure which scales and manages itself. I will be adding a few posts about some of the neat tricks I have employed in achieving this.

Sun, Pasta, Gelato and Swing Dancing

In June I jetted off to beautiful Como in the Italian lakes for a week long swing dance festival. Half of the London swing dance scene was there, many of whom I knew others were new acquaintances. We were sun seeking, gelato eating, photographing tourist by day; swing dancer extraordinaires by night. We explored the towns that pepper the lake’s waterfront, sampled way too many flavours of gelato, the local food dishes and vino!

The main piazza had been converted into a stage and dancefloor and every evening saw live bands and swing DJ’s playing while the crème of Europe’s swing scene congregated on the dancefloor.  Every evening, at midnight, the scene moved down to a club where swing dancing continued until 4am. After 6 days of dancing for around 8 hours a night I was exhausted but certainly feeling fit!

Sadly this festival will not be returning until 2015, so I will need to seek an alternative for 2014.

Hearts and Seoul

I was also honoured to be invited to a friends wedding in Seoul in South Korea in July. My first jaunt into Asia, I found it a slightly unsettling culture shock at first, but after I acclimatised I had a great time. As we were there for a wedding, there was obviously a stag party, where we went on a bar crawl through the notorious Itaewon area of Seoul, well known for its debauchery. No goats were involved, however.

The wedding was a traditional Korean wedding, which was an interesting experience for me, involving fantastic traditinal robes (known as Hanbok) and hats, some wooden geese, and quite a lot of bowing.

We also explored the palace and other sights of down town Seoul; rode on the Subway (I call it the Seoul train); danced gangnam style in Gangnam (yep, its a real place); gorged ourselves on the local cuisine and booze, although for me Makkoli was a bit too much; and of course, I sought out the local swing scene and tried my best to keep up with the frighteningly good dancers.

It’s the little things that count

I also made a few new friends this year, unexpectedly, whom I met at the odd little event throughout the year. These are sometimes the friendships that can become the most valued when there was such little expectation to begin with. I am truly honoured to know these people and that have helped me out, in all those little ways that make such a big difference. Thank you my friends!

And finally…

My last hurrah for this year a night out at the NYE masked ball for the Last Tuesday Society; a decadent and debauched affair where face masks must be worn and effort on your outfit is required.. assuming you wear an outfit at all! Everyone was glammed up; there was an orchestra, dancing, and cabaret acts; live nude drawings and a naked feast, where gold pained naked people fed bemasked revelers food from gold platters. This was certainly an eye opening, sometimes eye popping experience. The perfect way to end the year!

The Cliff

I found myself standing on the edge of a cliff,
The turbulent sea crashing at its rocky base,
I had been on an adventure through beautiful countryside,
The simplest things bring the greatest pleasures.

As I travelled I came across a beautiful butterfly,
She danced in front of me and settled for a moment,
Waving her beautiful wings, which shimmered in the sun,
Before she fluttered off again away from me.

I followed her as best I could, dancing among the trees,
But she fluttered ever onwards towards the cliff,
There I could follow her no longer; she was free but I was not,
I could only watch as she flew away from the cliff into the distance.

I looked out from my perch on the cliff,
Far away I could see even more beautiful scenes,
I could only imagine what wonders lay within them,
Places I longed to go, but the treacherous sea was in my path.

I looked back the way I had come and saw smoke rising,
Last night’s campfire still smouldering offering promises of warmth,
Should I brave the journey and try to cross the sea?
It would surely be much easier to just turn back…

 

In life you can never turn back the way you came,
So when you find yourself on a cliff you have but one option,
No matter what lies between you and your goals,
You must be brave; you must be fearless; you must JUMP!

 

You must JUMP

You must be brave; you must be fearless; you must JUMP

Sleep Paralysis: Of Hags and Horses

Last week I experienced sleep paralysis for the first time; I am not sure what brought this about, but I had been sleeping poorly all week which probably didn’t help.

Sleep paralysis is a phenomenon which causes the sufferer, usually when transitioning between sleep and wakefulness, to experience hallucinations and paralysis with a sensation of weight pushing down upon them. Many sufferers report seeing an intruder in the room to whom they cannot react due to paralysis.

I had heard of this before, several of my friends had described their experiences to me. I had no idea how real and terrifying it was. This is what happened to me:

I had been unable to sleep again that night; I remember looking at the clock, 3:20am. The next thing I knew I heard my front door opening and someone coming up the stairs. At first I thought “oh good my house mate is home, about time”, it took a few seconds for my thought to catch up with me as I heard the footsteps come closer and open my bedroom door when I sudden thought “wait, I live alone! I don’t have a housemate, so who is this who has just come into my room?!?!”.

I was lying face down on the bed, I could see a shadowy figure out of the corner of my eye, I tried to turn to see but before I could, the figure lunged on top of me and pressed me down hard onto the bed. For that instant I was in complete panic “HELP! Someone has broken into my home and they’re attacking me!” I thought. I struggled to move but I couldn’t; I was completely pinned, with the intruder’s weight pressing down on me and I could not breathe.

The sensation only lasted a few moments, after which I found I was able to move; at first just my arms, which I flailed about and then managed to flip myself violently on to my back, nearly leaping clear out of my bed! I looked around me; nothing there, the door still closed, everything dark and silent except for the sound of blood surging through my body; my heart was beating so hard I could see it thumping in my chest. I looked at the clock again 3:25am

I knew right away that this was sleep paralysis; based on accounts I have heard from friends I got off lightly; some have reported seeing demons, high pitched screaming, having to concentrate intensely in order to move a single finger before they could get out of that state. I certainly hope this isn’t going to become a regular occurrence for me!

The Nightmare

The Nightmare - John Henry Fuseli's iconic depiction of sleep paralysis

So long 2012 and thanks for all the memories

Well another year is overe, so here is yet another retrospective of 2012. I won’t dwell on the negative and just share some of my personal highlights. I had ended 2011 in a swing dance club surrounded by friends and more prosecco than I could drink. I began 2012 with a dreadful hangover still half dressed in my tuxedo, a sure sign of a good night the night before. Well, that’s not strictly true, I didn’t get home until well gone 5am but you get what I mean. Anyway, I digress, so these were my highlights of 2012.

Aerials Workshops

For the uninitiated, “aerials” is a part of swing dancing usually reserved for the elite or rehearsed performances. They involve high-adrenaline moves where the lead catapults his dance partner into the air in a variety of ways. My girlfriend and I decided to attend a workshop early in the year and enjoyed it so much that we attended another bringing some friends along. We learned to do the pankcake, the whitey flip, the lamp-post (aka the helicopter)  and the screamer. These moves and many more can be seen in this amazing clip

The Sunshine Boys

It had been many years since I’d been to any kind of theatre, but this year my girlfriend and I went to see “The Sunshine Boys”; a comedy about two ageing Vaudeville comedians who had vowed never to work together again; at the glorious Savoy Theatre (yes that’s the same place as the hotel). The play was excellent with top-notch performances from the stars Danny DeVito and Richard Griffiths.

The London Lindy Exchange

The London Lindy Exchange was a weekend packed with dancing events where Londoners host lindy hoppers from around the world. The result was three amazing evenings with live big-band performances from the The Shirt Tail Stompers, Gentlemen & GangstersEchoes of Ellington and Skin Deep. The bands were all amazing, I danced with over 30 new people from at least 10 different countries. I even picked up a few new moves, variations and styling techniques.

Big Lebowski Party

I’d never tried a white russian before; they’re good, even better when drunk whilst sat in a dressing gown watching The Big Lebowski. In case you were wondering, that is what a Lebowski party involves, it was great.

Row Row Row Your Boat

My girlfriend and I went on a day trip to Broxborne (I like to call it Frogspawn) which is in the Lea Valley region, north of London. It was a nice sunny day, so we had a nice pub lunch outside and hired a row boat for the afternoon. We stopped off at Waltham Abbey on the way back into London. This was the same day that the EDL (English Defence League) tried to march on Walthamstow for a hate speech rally. We were glad to be far away from their vile hatred, although the community spirit of opposition shown by Walthamstow residents made me wish we’d been around. This video demonstrates their victory

Republika Hrvatska

My girlfriend and I also went to Croatia for our holiday this year. We landed in Split, Dalmatia and had a wonderful time, our adventures too many to describe in detail here. We explored the ancient town of Split, the quaint town of Trogir, the island of Šolta and the fortress of Klis. My girlfriend had to return home a couple of days before I did, so I stuck around  and went on a day trip to the city of Šibenik. From there I went to see the beautiful waterfalls of Krka National Park. I stayed a little too long and missed the last bus back to Šibenik, oops! I had to barter with some locals to get a ride back to the city!

Career Prospects

I had been working for a tech start up called Green Man Gaming for several months before 2012. Early in the year my job role changed which saw me working alongside some exceptionally talented people, working with some very exciting technologies. This was a promotion, however, before the end of the year I had been headhunted for the new skills and experience I had gained. I am now working for The Lonely Planet at BBC Worldwide. Besides a 22% pay increase, my new position has opened up many opportunities which I hope to continue into 2013.

And Finally…

My final outing of 2012 was to The Vintage New Years Ball at London’s South Bank Centre. It took us ages to get there due to the crowds and the police hysterically closing bridges, but once we were there it was amazing; everyone was turned out in their best glamorous vintage outfits, and everyone was impressed with our dancing.

There have been many other things I have enjoyed this year; movies, music, parties (including 5 xmas parties), somethings I just don’t have time to detail, others I shouldn’t disclose here. Looking forward, all I have to say is: 2013, you have a hard act to follow!

EDL vs Walthamstow: Why a 30 day protest ban was not a victory

On the 1st of September this year (2012), the English Defense League, an extreme right political group with a passion for hating muslims, attempted to hold a rally in Walthamstow. They were given permission by the police and the local council, however, their rally was derailed due to the overwhelming numbers of local opposition. For some extra detail, watch this video: EDL Defeat in Walthamstow

The clashes were mostly peaceful (mostly!) but the EDL were truly thwarted and humiliated; managing a pathetic 300 strong mob that was faced with 3-4k local protesters who blocked their route to the rally point. The EDL planned another march for today (27th October 2012), presumably with intent of enacting reprisals for their previous defeat. The local residents were more than ready to defeat them once again, however, this time the council and police decided to stop the rally. This was due to police intelligence suggesting imminent violent confrontation. The ban took the form of a 30 day ban on EDL and “related” protests. The counter rally still went ahead although it was quickly kettled and dispersed by a large police force after it stopped at the top of Walthamstow market.

The fact that the EDL never made it to Walthamstow today was obviously a relief for many residents and hailed as a victory by many involved in the counter protest. However, banning things in this way is not really a victory; it has some very negative connotations.

The EDL can (and do) claim this reaction as a victory, they claim to their supporters that Walthamstow and other areas are afraid of them, implying their strength which can result in greater confidence, an increase in recruiting and an impression of success and legitimacy. Without actually turning up, their members cannot see for themselves how strong and defiant the local people are. This is not a good thing.

This sort of action also results in reduced civil liberty for everyone in the local area. What happens if a local campaign group who opposed the EDL try to protest against cuts to council services? banned. What happens if they want to protest against a school or hospital closure? banned. If we slip into a culture that readily bans protests, pretty soon we will have no protests at all because there will be no right to protest. This is not a good thing.

Some will undoubtedly argue that letting protests and counter-protests happen is a bad thing because it costs the tax-payer, it disrupts traffic, puts people at risk and ties up police resources that could be deployed elsewhere. These are all valid points, it would obviously be better if there was no need in the first place. However, given that the EDL exist, and people like them will always exist we have a choice to make; stand up and fight for what we believe in or surrender to a court order that attempts to sweep it under the proverbial carpet. I know which I choose.

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

On 1st of September, the protest and counter-protests went ahead; this is how it should be every time the EDL think they can spread their message of hate. Let them come and express their abhorrent views; but let us come and express our views also, in much greater numbers and much louder voices.

First week back

This week was the start of the academic year proper. Still with that feverish bustle of freshers week, it was a hectic one. There is much to be done, people to see, places to get to. Something which takes just that bit longer now that the Roger Stevens Building is once again so overcrowded and congested. It is of course made worse by the fact that half the poor hapless freshers have no idea where they’re going. It has been quite comical seeing the familiar, bemused expression on their faces as they look across from lecture theatre 17 and wonder why they are now outside lecture theatre 20. I’m sure that’s exactly the effect the architect was going for.

Top of the agenda for myself and my fellow finalist Computing students was deciding our preferences for Final Year Projects. I know from bitter experience last year, that this is a daunting and often terrifying prospect. It certainly seemed to have hit a few people hard, it was getting to me even, despite the fact that I’ve been thinking about projects since before July. Even after the official deadline of 9am Friday, many were still stressing over what to decide.

As well as worrying about projects, we have already been given two pieces of coursework. The first being on the Tuesday, welcome to Third Year! Personally I do welcome this early coursework, despite the fact that one is an essay (I hate essays) as it does mean we can get some of it done now before our projects start, and before the torrent of other coursework that will undoubtedly follow in the next few weeks. I am taking 5 modules this semester, so the prospect of having 5 pieces of coursework and an FPY on the go does not sound fun to me.

I was appropriately reminded that for those lucky youngsters just starting their degrees, that this time of year is still quite literally a carnival. I went into the union yesterday to pick up some much needed stationary items, and was greeted by a ferris wheel and a burger stand parked outside the union. It’s all fun and games for some obviously, but not for me – its time to get some serious work done

Foxes

I used to see foxes all the time when I lived in London, they were always rather interested in making a meal out of the cat. However it has taken three and a half years for me to come across a Leodien fox, last night being the first time ever.

They seem to be a lot more timid then there southern cousins. Whenever I encountered a fox in London it took a good soaking from the water gun or a barrage of rubber bands to convince them that the tasty cat-sized meal wasn’t worth the bother. I wasn’t even able to get a photo of the fox I saw last night because the moment I opened the window it was off like a shot. I am quite surprised by the difference in attitude. I always thought of foxes as being cunning and bold, but it seems they can also be complete pussies.

I miss my old life (an ode to everyone I knew back then)

I miss Walthamstow and everything in it, and how it all was back in the day.

I miss my old flat; the dodgy peach wall paper, the dodgy cigarette smell, the tiny kitchen, the giant texaco sign in the hall way, the hole in the wall. I miss having the place to myself, I miss having all my buddies over, I miss being able to chose which. I miss my dad dropping by to get high with us.

I miss my job; I loved the people I worked with, some of whom I still talk to but others I will never see again. I miss the sense of purpose and belonging, I miss the responsibility, I miss having a wage, even a really shit one. I miss the Tryst on Friday evenings.

I miss the Garage; though it is still there it will never be the same again. I miss the freezing cold, the smell of dead chickens, the damp and mouldy sofas, the hot boxing.

I miss The Standard; I miss Supersonic, I miss watching bands like Route 215 and Cider, I miss the watered down Stella, the watered down steps outside the cab office. I miss the atmosphere, the people that I’ve met there. I miss getting so drunk I nearly fell into a coma.

I miss my friends; I miss Gaz (rest in peace mate). I miss Lee, Andre, Nathan and Claire. I miss Eddy, Damien and Sam. I miss Martin, Sarah, Al and Daryl. I miss Matt, Dave, Lewis and Saher. I miss Beccy. I miss Tessa. I miss Joe. When I think of all my best memories, you guys are all there. I miss going to the Dome and other dodgy clubs. I miss all the random parties, the random talks, the random nights down the pub and at the town hall.

I MISS MY OLD LIFE!

I know it does no good to look backwards, to dwell on the past. However, those who know me best might understand; the problems and issues that I am struggling with now didn’t start to manifest until I was about 21 and certainly didn’t become some troublesome that they interfere with my day to day life until recently. Since I came to uni, they have become so pronounced that I would give anything for them to go back to how they were before.

For that reason I can’t help but hanker for those good old days (even though I know they weren’t really that great) where everything seemed to work out, where I was able to relax enough to go out and enjoy myself properly. When I felt like I had everything and anything was possible and the stage was set for a bright future. Now I feel so jaded and dissolutioned that I look back at those days, shitty as they were, and feel that I’ll never have it that good again, that it’s all down hill from here and I have nothing to look forward to. I hate feeling this way, but its reality right now.