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Archive for May, 2007

On my way in to work in the mornings (depending on how far I walk… have had a few lazy mornings on the bus) I’ve recently changed my route to cover quite a distance on ‘Highwalks’ – meaning I’ve been experiencing less traffic, less noise and a new perspective on the the buzzing morning scene in EC2. It’s meant that I’m having some blog-worthy revelations, so I hope this will improve my blogging rate!

I thought it was worth noting some reflection from this morning – three ways I think I’m becoming Anglicised (perhaps a bit dramatic – at least a bit different):

  1. My Accent – despite the best efforts of the girls while in Switzerland, my vocab and accent are running away. I’ve stopped saying really Australian things (partly because no one understands them) and started to adopt some Pommy ones. I’m trying really hard to fight this and am listening to Aussie accents at every opportunity, but hopefully the Australian accent is deeply ingrained and readily recovered upon return. [Funnily enough, my technical vocab is lagging behind my slang. People still can’t understand me on site sometimes, but all my Aussie mates think I’m a posh git.]
  2. Commuting Professional – I remember my sense of wonder when I first read FridayCities’ Ten Commandments of Tube travel, but I notice how quickly all the English sulking, pouting and pointed looks has modified my behaviour.  I always have my Oyster card ready, and am so irked by people who break the rules (big bags! standing on the left!) that I usually avoid the tube altogether if I can. I hate people with suitcases so much I’m not sure how I’ll go away (or home) for any period of time. Of course, I love it despite not really enjoying my time there, and think all the Poms who complain about it have no idea.
  3. London Pride – I recently waited a few days to take site photos for posting here… because I wanted a blue day. Already I’m exaggerating the weather (which has been really good) as the grey days aren’t so bad (compared to say Jan/Feb) but have no idea why. London weather is crap, but for some reason I feel loyal enough to try to counter all the negative press – could just be a Melbourne thing?
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Big Stories

London is a city that is gripped by stories, unlike anything I ever experienced in Australia. I suppose this is in part because there is just so much media – free papers, WiFi everywhere, TV screens in stations, a population density that supports gossip – and generally part of living in the birthplace of sensationalism. When a story hits, it is everywhere and everyone talks about it, often for days.

I got a real sense of just how different it is while talking last night with my English flatmates about Richard Hammond (a TV personality on Top Gear, a show about cars) who spent time in a coma in 2006 following a serious accident – it seems the media coverage here was so all consuming, it seemed hard for them to understand that it hadn’t been a BBQ stopper in Australia. The scale of the coverage was so great that it seemed International in it’s significance to them. (Generally, this is where people talk about the Princess Di effect.)

So currently London is consumed by two stories – the disappearance of Maddie McCann and the Cutty Sark fire. Let me know if they’re further proof I am firmly ensconced in the London bubble.

Update (23 May 2007): Maddie McCann has made the news on the European homepage of my company’s intranet, with a request that everyone circulate her image and a close-up of her unusual right eye.

Maddy 2

Maddy 1

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Site with a view

To finish off my binge of blogging, here are some photos of my site, showing our proximity to the Guildhall itself, the number of cranes nearby due to all the work in EC, and the view over the rooftops to nearby St Paul’s Cathedral, one of my favourite buildings in London.

Site 1

 

 Site 2

 

Site 3

The actual job itself has very little to show – we’re just a shell at the moment. But rest assured you’ll be seeing some structural glazing before too long.

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Was walking to Uni (for Spanish, Monday nights) this week and saw this headline:

AFL Scandal

 

Turns out this did not involve an AFL footballer (and former Magpie,) rather it was the bloke who hosts “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” here in the UK, but certainly made me stop in the street. (The fact that Australia’s Chris Tarrant used to play for a man who hosts the same show is just the kind of thing that could make for a cute column.)

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Name this country . . .

  • Richest in the World
  • Largest Military
  • Centre of world business and finance
  • Strongest education system
  • World centre of innovation and invention
  • Currency the world standard of value
  • Highest standard of living

Yep, it’s England – in 1900.

[From an interesting slide presentation “Shift Happens” by Jeff Brenman & Karl Fisch, winner of Slideshare‘s World’s Best Presentation Contest. (World in a very American way, in that it’s not really a global contest, but the winning presentations are all good insight into good presentation styles.)]

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I like to…

Gah! Guilty of blog neglect. Despite some feedback from the silver surfer end of the readership spectrum that my blog is overloaded with jargon, I couldn’t resist this one (techy-blog-filler alert!)

Inspired by Beano’s facebook note, I have used Google to run a search with the phrase (using the quotation marks) “Vanessa likes to” – the top 10 hits were:

  1. In her spare time Vanessa likes to buy new shoes (she has a very unhealthy fetish for shoes), juggle, and see how long she can hold her breath.
  2. But Vanessa likes to watch the women coming out, to look at the dresses, the furs, the jewels, the shoes. “I’m getting inspired,” she mutters.
  3. In her spare time, Vanessa likes to read books about sociology, religion, spirituality, and current affairs.
  4. It seems Vanessa likes to keep sturdy walls between the different parts of her life.
  5. Austin Powers wants to know how Vanessa likes to “do it”.
  6. Vanessa likes to be needed, as well as to cherish and protect her loved ones, of whom she is somewhat possessive. Vanessa is attracted to foreigners.
  7. Vanessa likes to suffer.”
  8. She had to be a little bit more composed and more conservative last year and that’s not how Vanessa likes to play.
  9. Vanessa likes to consider herself a citizen of the world and goes by the motto ‘today is all you truly have’, or ‘Hoy es todo lo que verdaderamente tienes’.
  10. Vanessa likes to make up. stories. She has a very vivid. imagination.

A little random, due to there being a more diverse range of Vanessas on the web (than say, Beanos.) Not just fictional characters such as Ms Vanessa Kensington, but also musicians, bloggers and athletes. None of the top ten hits were me!
But given the random assortment, they’re a bit like astrological predictions in that they’re mostly true – except for the show buying (although I do love them… there just ain’t many in my size here), juggling, holding breath, the suffering, the playing conservative and possibly the spirituality books – and would be for most women named also Vanessa (who are often born late 70s/early 80s.)

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I love good sports writing as much as I love sport. There’s plenty of media attention consumed by football in England, which means plenty of interesting analysis (generally) to absorb, even if some is obscenely detailed/complex (the Guardian, home of crazy graphics.)

Since I have arrived in my current flat, complete with Sky Sports News, I’ve really enjoyed some heated conversations with my English housemates about the strengths and weaknesses of the Premier League.( To avoid hate mail, I’ll not have the argument here, but enough to say the absence of almost all games from free-to-air television, and the obscene price of tickets is something to behold.) I have loved watching some big matches in the pub (we don’t have Sky at home), and am planning a trip to Goodison next season as a major investment. Many locals are far from swayed by my arguments for refrom, but to date no-one can tell me what’s so great about having a wealthy man in another country own your football club with a keen profit motive (other than a deep squad…) – at least for me, the passion exhibited by fans has always seemed at odds with the profit motives of owners.

(Clearly posting twice at the end of a long week has lead to these rediculously long intros. Sorry.)

What I just wanted to include here was a link to this incredible piece by David Conn (an excellent football writer) in Wednesday’s Guardian, about FC United, a football club formed by disgruntled football fans after Glazer’s takeover of Man U in 2005.

The contrast to the Premier league is stark: (a few quotes, because I am pretty sure pasting in the whole thing is not kosher)

“You hear […] bemusement that fans of other clubs have not protested against their takeovers – “Not even Liverpool,” the FC fans all murmur. Here they have moved on, to building their own club according to the principles they argued for when campaigning: supporter-ownership, with members (2,500 of them) voting for the board and policies; ticket prices affordable at £7 for adults, £2 for under-16s, and an agreement with stewards that supporters can stand. The club has established a youth policy which seeks to work with junior clubs who often feel exploited by the way professional clubs’ academies trawl for the best players. FCUM have also made partnerships with social welfare and community organisations, seeking to welcome marginalised groups and introduce football as a good presence in their lives.”

“The Formby match was designated a youth day, with under-16s allowed in free and young people before the game taking part in drama, banner-making and working with the Touch of Class rap collective, which promotes an anti-gun message. Thomas Cullen, a coach at Trafford Athletic Club, brought a group; he said he believed one lad had just been saved from being excluded by his school. “His teacher is here and she saw a different side of him,” he said. “This is great for them. They’re mostly black lads from Hulme and Moss Side but not one has ever been to a match at Old Trafford because they can’t afford it.

Bill Evans, manager of Rochdale Children’s Rights and Advocacy Services, brought 30 children, all in local authority care, saying it was a “positive way for them to feel included“. Maxine Seager of the Tameside Youth Service, a disaffected “Big” United fan herself, came with 70 kids – “Two coach loads,” she said, grinning and rolling her eyes. “They’re loving it, buzzing. They get so much out of this and we work our programmes, on anti-racism and social cohesion, around coming to the game.”

I felt inspired during my snatched lunch break anyway – worth noting that FC United has already developed a few players that are now up in the Championship, the squad is predominately English, and isn’t making a profit for anyone overseas from the contributions of fans. One imagines the changing room has fewer over-priced numptys, but probably some chav-ish WAGs??

[M, clearly this post is meant for you – see the reference to “lentil-eating social worker” in the main article….]

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