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Archive for the ‘Poms’ Category

Life is super just now, quickly turning on the trials at work last week. Lots and lots of good news, V-fans:

1. London is a hub – of visitors and friends

Lots of text book quality time this weekend, trying new things and catching up with favourite people – a good goss on the phone with Damien and Dad’n’Rose, a trip to a new market (Exmouth Market, in EC1) with Beck on Saturday morning, my regular Marylebone High Street Markets with Elizabeth and Louise, Andrea’s rock-star sister on Sunday morning and then (the real pièce de résistance) Alex to stay last night, and a girls night in dinner party with Kate and Beck too. Hooray! And Mum arrives tomorrow for a week, and the visitor calendar is continuing to fill! Lucky me, and lucky London to have so many awesome guests and residents.

2. Magical weather – novelty and a good attitude can turn shitty to schweet

I got up rather early this morning (5am – aka hideously early!) to take Alex to the tube (she flew to Paris – sigh), and we walked through some sleet. But instead of being what one would expect with such an ugly word, I like to call all not-rain-not-quite-snow a snow flurry, as it was more like rain flirting with being snow in the darkness. Yes we were cold, but it really was magic and a little bewitching.

Bizarrely, it turned all gorgeous today around lunchtime when I was coming back from site to my office (I stopped and ate my lunch in a little park in the sunshine, in just shirt and mac!) – and the only downside to this was that I was worried I will miss out on some more snow! To think I’d be lamenting sunshine already! But now that I’m safely at my desk, we’re back to good looking sleet stuff (that just might clear up if I go out tonight. Yay!) Looks like any snow is off though, for the time being, so should see more from the London Eye.

3. Sporting results roughly reflect my wishes

Despite the heart-break of the 6 Nations for Ireland (good quality time with John, my only housemate not on holidays over the weekend), they had success over Pakistan, and other underdogs, including giant-killers Bangladesh, also doing well. England not doing well in cricket or rugby leads to less teasing for me, plus my Australian cricket team are really getting it together at the right time, with the Victorian in fine form, even if the selectors will probably still leave him out. Bless – including a win for my Toffees over Arsenal, the football team my neighbour at work supports, sport is almost perfect just now. Ahh.

4. Madrid – and perhaps a sneaky sidetrip to Segovia??

Am off to Madrid next weekend for lots of jamon, sangria, real Zara, tapas, art, walking, sunshine, churros, some Spanish conversation practice and general adventure with Mum. If I can get to my favourite structure in the world, Segovia’s stunning aqueduct, then my life really will be perfect. My week is already flying by.

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Crazy, I know: but the Eurovision people keep reading my blog entries at an absurd rate – more than 60 people read my blog everyday, and I am assuming they’re not all friends. I have written two previous entries on the Eurovision Song Contest – here and here, and they have certainly been the cause for all the traffic. I am starting to get offers from hosting companies, but am not keen to pay someone to broadcast my inane ramblings to the world until it is actually lucrative! Until all these fans of Big Brovaz, Liz McClarnon, Scooch, Cyndi start sending cash…

I am generally against censorship, but have had to edit out some nationalistic ranting because it is anonymous and hateful. I know that sunlight is the best antiseptic , etc, but I don’t want to turn this blog into a nutter’s battering ram for social change (to mix my debating metaphors…) UK Boy, who commented (with only pseduonym) on my original post continues to send in comments without revealing a blog or email address to me. His general gist is that Eurovision is another measure of English greatness (Poms – the Empire is dead) and that some Aussies who are popular here are rubbish, even if the UK sends them to the finals.

If you read my blog and are the sort of person who would list your nation’s Eurovision record as one of it’s Top 3 achievements, this is for you:

I, happylittlevegemite, would like to make clear that I no longer believe that the achievements of any nation in the Eurovision Song Contest has ever been particularly important or unimportant by any criteria devised by any person ever.

(Inspired by the silly quote here.)

If anyone wants to make a public comment, try dealing with the approval of Israel’s entry, and keep off the Gina G knocking, alright?

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[Apologies to grammar/language types for the title – I promise that’s it. Remember who owns a tool kit baby.]

Am sooooooooooo excited to be off in about an hour to meet the amazing Kate (aka ‘Rock’, my former debating partner, something of a dreamboat, my better half, one of my favourite people to talk about almost anything with), who’s in town for a conference (English PhD – one of my coolest besties…) – so just a quick post. (Note I always start entries like this, then produce hyper-linked essays of intensity. You know you love it.)

A Couple of Times in the Last Few Days when I have Really Irked People

I thought I was starting to get the whole thing sussed. (I have been reading up on the English and carefully observing the odd rituals of Pommy etiquette, or so I thought.) No. Suddenly I find myself losing composure with the English Business meeting, as my crap-meter seems hyper sensitive. Now that I’m no longer a by-the-hour mercenary (Consultant), I can’t seem to tolerate meetings that go nowhere, include irrelevant players and have no point. I am really trying to just stay quiet, but can’t seem to turn down the music.

At internal meetings, I wait as long as I can, then just directly ask whoever called the ruddy thing for relevant action items, and when they can’t name a single thing my opinion is required on, I leave. However with other people, I find my blood boils as we talk rubbish and meander around issues. Everyone else is so polite and seems not to mind, that I feel obligated to either die quietly or cut in and make it all stop. Is this how Americans feel, as the more direct and rude in most environments? No wonder they all stay at home.

Also, people seem to find my emails a little direct, because they refer to contract documents and set deadlines. Not ready to change this yet, but not sure where I’d even begin. I also cut off a guy today who started making rather unsubtle references to porn (during a meeting) today – he looked quite miffed. In Australia, someone who was that coarse would be a redneck, but this guy was a bit of a pin-striped suit, so am not yet able to predict. Missing my useful stereotypes – such an efficient way to deal with people!

I also like to refer to my Project Director Warren as ‘Waz’, our CEO Murray as ‘Muz’ and the difficult Project Manager who sends me irate emails, in deadpan, as ‘my mate’ – all gold material, all wasted.

Clearly a very frustrating day at the coalface!

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Funniest moment at work over lunch time, talking about places in Melbourne that have names borrowed from the UK – Box Hill, Surrey Hills, Eltham, etc. From there the conversation moved to places named after explorers, and common names in Australia. Russel, who I work with, assumed that the most common names in Australia would be Bruce and Sheila – laughed so hard I nearly cried!

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[Sorry about the no-posting yesterday – afternoon got crazy, then had an RSA lecture to run off to.]

First, a protected minute

Before I get too controversial/inflammatory, and mainly for the debating readers (a tragically large portion of my friends, if facebook is any measure of my life), here is all the more objective data:

  • the Burges Salmon LSE Open 2007 (Open meaning Independent and Composite teams could attend)
  • was free (ie- £0)
  • had 94 teams.
  • Beck and I, as Team Kath & Kim, broke (even my Mum knows what this means now) 4th, with rather low speaker scores. (A number of teams on lower team points had higher speaker points – see the tab.)
  • We were Semi-Finalists (before crashing out fairly spectacularly.)

The motions were:

Round 1: This house would Directly Elect the British Prime Minister.
Round 2: This house would Admit Taiwan to NATO.
Round 3: This house would provide tax breaks to married couples with children.
Round 4: This house would criminalise smoking and drinking while pregnant.
Round 5: This house would allow individual British people to sell their citizenship.
Quarter-final: This house would introduce a 28% flat rate of tax on any income above £9000 per year.
Semi-final: This house believes those suspected of crimes against humanity should be tried in British courts irrespective of where the crime was committed or the nationality of the defendants or victims
Final: This house would leave the European Union.

What we were expecting – The good

I did get a little homesick for Bubbles, Jimbo and Rock (indeed all of UNSW with their nicknaming prowess/appreciation) when we saw all the regular stereotypes you see at any Uni debating tournament: the Jesus Pirate, the Frodo, the Pisswreck, etc. (Yes, this post is now deeply in-jokey, normal people may want to return later.)

There was also the same high-stress individuals who get freaked if anyone moves across the screen during the tab, who move to the door when they’re OG and who laugh obediently at all the Convenors and CAs gags (which were, naturally, hilarious.) As one would expect, lots of nerdy types, law students, debating t-shirts, etc.

Another thing that goes under ‘Good’ was a chance to see D-Loh (chief cheerleader and grateful recipient of Aussie debating new) and Fitch, mostly because he’s Australian, even if he’s still Fitch.

What I wasn’t expecting / The bad

I think Beck & I both thought it would be a fun, safe thing to try – with lots of Australasian tournaments under out belts, what was there to know? Somewhat akin to eating at McD’s every time you go somewhere new, just to see what the differences are. We had no idea that British debaters are making an effort with their own style at Worlds – turns out 2 PoIs and not misrepresenting people is only for International tournaments (in some cases…)

Also, it turns out that two random Australian sheilas (sure, with some anti-Pom humour, better described as Pom-baiting/bashing at times, sure) weren’t all that welcome. We did make a few good friends, but I think if I go to another IV, I’ll judge to get to know some more people. I don’t really mind over-hearing teams referring to a loss to us, even with the DCA or CA as the judge, as inexplicable, but you’d think after 7 debates in 2 days we’d have come across a few more friendly faces. To be fair, the tournament was probably less friendly because there was no tournament accommodation and not much food, so none of the interaction that drives. So it was unlike any tournament we have ‘back home’ – but we did have lots of laughs between us about how leper-ish we were.

What was really strange was the number of people who asked where we were from, the followed our responses (UNSW & USyd) with a mention of someone famous from there (usually Fetherston, sometimes Ivan) but then always walked away. Yikes! I presume they googled us later and decided we were OK, but hard to say. Also, the people pulling faces in the Semi, which was not that friendly or helpful (we were exhausted and needed help – do not have 4-debates-in-a-day-stamina.) I’d like to think that any visiting/raiding Britons wouldn’t find any Aussie tournament so hostile.

In the end though, the final was a bit of a boozey, blokey ego-fest in a pub. As not all 8 members of the debate were that funny, it mostly was just tosh – we were soooo relieved to have crashed out when we did!

What I wasn’t too impressed by/The ugly

[Firstly, Fitch is a celebrity in the UK – in a good, generally non-infamous way. Think Neighbours star in a pantomime. Odd. ]

I would have thought a group of debaters would consider lack of female participation to be more of a thing – although the “Equity Officer” Willard was pretty funny, the lack of women was not. Sometimes all the PC-politics of AIDA etc does drive me crazy, but it is easy to forget we’ve got it pretty sunny, diverse and tolerant Down Under. An interesting insight into some of the more misogynistic adjudicators Kate & I had at Worlds.

So quite a negative entry – did actually have lots of fun with Beck, who was my ‘crash’ as well. Just the whole thing was odd, the debating was not what I expected, and it really was another planet!

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Yeah, so no post yesterday – am attempting to get back on the week-day update wagon, apologies to people worried that no post = problems.

Magical Glenda

I acutally spent International Womens’ Day at a Women’s Mentoring event for work. Interesting, inspiring and informative – great to meet some other Australians working in Construction here, as well as to learn more about other business units. Have met some other engineers working in other parts of the business that will make a good group, even if it is a poor substitute for the E&P Youngsters.

My moment of pride was the guest speaker, Glenda Stone, CEO of Aurora, who gave a really interesting talk about women in the world of work. Was so proud of her – felt a real Australian-ness despite her years in London. Felt giggly at stories that included wattle, smugly knowing what that actually is. Her comments on the matching of your strengths (through testing, analysis and awareness) with your passions/values were really insightful – more to be developed here later, when I’ve mulled it over more.
The Birthplace of Bureaucracy

Have had a few runs in with forms, procedures and general Britishness – moments where I’ve been close to loosing my composure due to the inane and pointless, not to mention onerous procedures I seem surrounded with. I have found myself one form away from loosing it on severaloccasions, but have mostly got it sorted.

I know it’s a cultural thing, but haven’t been as patient as I’d like. Soon I will actually have everything sorted, and it will diminish in severity, but a few cracks in my life-is-perfect run of late. But for some snatches of really gorgeous sun light, I might have been sad. Thankfully, lots of fun stuff to turn it around – that and venting on the guy at the Construction Health & Safety Test booking centre who asked me if the test I was attempting to book was for my husband….

“Last Time”

Am debating with Beck this weekend in the Burges Salmon LSE Open – was reluctant to come out of retirement (again not quite John Farnham, but close), but oddly think it will be fun and could not resist a free tournament. That’s right, £0. We’ve taken the team name Kath & Kim, both as a pop culture reference and as a tribute – D-Loh will be our main cheerleader, so we can’t loose.

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Ooooh! Gotta love living in Britain just now – the weather is mild, the football’s been pretty juicy of late, now that we lose to NZ in the cricket rather than the UK the abuse has died down and we’re entering the selection process for the UK’s entry into Eurovision.

Yep, it’s official: on BBC One, on 17 March (not many sleeps away now!), the six acts that have been shortlisted as Eurovision hopefuls will battle it out for the chance to represent the UK in May’s Eurovision Song Contest. And the BBC have chosen some exceptional contestants (from here):

SCOOCH
Scooch
Scooch, made up of Russ, Natalie, Caroline and David, describe themselves as “this generation’s Bucks Fizz”. After a series of hits in the late 1990s the band members went their separate ways but never forgot each other. The chance to be on Making Your Mind Up was too good to ignore: “We felt it was our job to bring Eurovision back to its former glory,” they said. Their airline-themed Flying the Flag promises a catchy tune, a great dance routine and perhaps a surprise or two.

LIZ McCLARNON
Liz McClarnon
(Don’t It Make You) Happy! is only the latest in a series of musical achievements for Liz McClarnon. As one third of Atomic Kitten she enjoyed huge chart success across the UK, Europe and Asia selling over eight million albums and singles. Her debut solo single, the Robin Gibb-produced Woman in Love, made the top five in February 2006. Along with an appearance on Celebrity Love Island she found time to write her “huge, upbeat” Eurovision entry.

HAWKINS & BROWN
Justin Hawkins and Beverlei Brown
Hawkins & Brown consists of the talents of former Darkness frontman Justin Hawkins and his friend Beverlei Brown. His distinctive voice helped the Darkness to score a series of top 10 hits and two double platinum albums. Brown has worked with Blur, Joe Cocker and Razorlight and hopes to release an album of her own. Their entry, They Don’t Make ‘Em Like They Used To, was the result of “instant chemistry” in the studio.

BRIAN HARVEY
Brian Harvey
Brian Harvey became famous as the lead singer of 1990s boy band East 17. Named after their native area of London’s postcode, the group scored 18 hit singles and five albums. Harvey appeared on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here in 2004, survived a serious car accident in 2005 and still performs with the band. He says he is thrilled to be entering the song I Can in Making Your Mind Up, and describes the Eurovision Song Contest as a “national treasure”.

CYNDI
Cyndi
Cyndi’s entry – I’ll Take My Heart – is in the style of I will Always Love You, the song which inspired her to pick up a microphone for the first time. After singing for friends she entered a talent contest and made it, aged just 14, to the finals in Paris. She was offered a recording contract after an executive thought her vocals must be sampled from a soul diva. I’ll Take My Heart has been produced by renowned Grammy award winning producer Brian Rawling.

BIG BROVAZ
Big Brovaz
Big Brovaz are a London based R&B group who had five top 10 hits in 2002, most famously Favourite Things which sampled the Sound of Music song. Their debut album Nu Flow went platinum in the UK and they won two Mobos, Smash Hits (Best Urban Act) alongside Capital Radio and Disney awards. They are returning as a four-piece with their new single Big Bro Thang. Big Brovaz are confident they can take Eurovision to a new level with their not-so-traditional-Eurovision style.

Hard to know which entry to love most – but I think my early favourite, without listening to a single track is Harvey & Brown.

Hooray! I can’t vote in council or national elections here (despite paying a whack of tax to both levels of government) and have to queue with Kylie at Australia House to vote in my own elections – all of which is such dry, detatched democratic process in the face of this truly great process, ao am excited to have something meaningful to get involved in….

There’s so much to love about the pop culture icon that is Eurovision – in the UK’s case, it is a rather bizzarre-o emblem of what it is to be European-but-fighting-the-label-for-political-points. People here, rightly I say, feel it’s time that they triumphed in the oldest pop battle in the world. Also, this means two parties- one to select the contestant, another to watch the Final! Having seen how the Poms cope with defeat, I really hope they’re not eliminated in the Semis!

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