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Saturday, October 07, 2017

Complaint: Yoghurt Pots


Hi Sainsbury's

Long time no speak.  Well I did e-mail you some time ago but I never received a response.  I had to e-mail directly as the form wasn't working.

Though that was also a long time ago.  Depending on your definition of long.  And depending on your definition of time.

A long time ago, you changed your yoghurt pots.  I'm talking the excellent value 6x small yoghurt packs that retail for £1.10.

Gone was the strong and stable pot, in came the weak and wobbly pot.



It really is quite a flimsy design. 5 times now I have had yoghurt leakage on the way to work.  Thankfully I am wise enough to wrap the yoghurts in a plastic bag - however this does mean that I have now lost 5 bags for life with untimely yoghurt-based deaths.

This Monday was the worst spillage of all, though I'm sure you'll be fractionally contended to hear that it was in a Morrison's bag.  Don't judge me - I was unemployed for a while, I had to do some regretful things to get by.

And when one has yoghurt on the mind, one needs a yoghurt.  And without wanting to feed the rest of my office, I had to buy a single yoghurt from M&S.  89p that cost me.  WTF?  Gooseberry and elderflower though...hmmm M&S food.

Ooops, sorry.  Well no I'm not sorry.  Sort your damn cheap, flimsy yoghurt pots out before I set Theresa May onto you.

ps I still love you. x

******

Dear James

Thank you for getting in contact with us.

I’m disappointed that due to the new packaging of our yoghurts, this has resulted in a number of yoghurt fatalities. I can certainly understand your concern, especially as you didn’t experience these disasters before.

I’m sorry that this has happened, and that you then had to shop elsewhere. However, desperate times call for desperate measures when you’ve yoghurt on your mind.

I’ve logged your feedback regarding the packaging of the yoghurts, and let’s hope that in the near future the original packaging comes back to save the yoghurt lives.

I’ve sent you an evoucher cover the cost of the yoghurts. The value of the evoucher is £5 and the code is xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx. This is valid for 2 years, so there’s plenty of time to use it.

We appreciate the time you’ve taken to contact us and we look forward to seeing you online again soon.

Kind regards

Saturday, September 30, 2017

James Went To Some Exhibitions

It always tickles me when you speak to an immigrant and they reel off all the places they have visited; Buckingham Palace, London Eye, Tower Of London, Natural History Museum, Science Museum, Imperial War Museum, Transport Museum...

You name it, they've done it.  You name it, I haven't.

It isn't because I don't want to go.  My to-do list is chocka with cultural activities, parks, museums, restaurants (and pubs) that I want to go to.  Unsurprisingly, I make it to the pubs - probably because it is easier to find someone to come with me, "do you want to go to the pub with me?" has more appeal than "do you want to come to an exhibition on photography of the Syrian civil war with me?".

I don't believe in regretting what I do, but I do believe in regretting not doing things, and there were 4 exhibitions that I really want to see, closing between 3rd September and 17th September.  My hand was forced.

On Bank Holiday Monday, I headed out to the Imperial War Museum.  The war in Syria has touched me more than any war in my lifetime, through the sheer wanted destruction of human lives, and the willingness of the international community to stand by and let it happen.  Special mention goes to Russia for actively encouraging the death machine of the murderous Assad.

The exhibition itself was of photography from 2013/14, showing the lives of ordinary people in the conflict.  It tried to focus on the human element and to be objective - some of the photography was stunning, yet emotionally devastating.  This was the most striking part of the whole exhibition for me.


Then there was a slide show of images from the refugee crisis - again highlighting the human catastrophe this was, and the desperation of those trying to flee to safety, and to a better life.

In a separate exhibition area, there was a small selection of artefacts, including this bullet-ridden road sign, and some disturbing memorabilia showing the relationship between Assad and Putin.  And a replica recreation of a barrel bomb - which I decided against photographing.



Then there was an 8 minute video, showing the history of the conflict, and also highlighting something that I was not aware of, that being of the great inequality prior to the uprising between those in Assad's circle, and those not.

It really is shocking to see how a stable and relatively prosperous country can be destroyed through civil war, all started from a few teenagers writing anti-Assad graffiti.

Once I had pondered what I had seen, it was time to go see something more cheerful.

Butterflies!

Every year I told myself that I would go see the butterfly exhibition at the Natural History Museum, finally I did it.  A relatively small price of £5.85 gained me entry on a hot day, to a hotter and very humid tent, full of tropical butterflies.

It was quite a bit smaller than I expected, and only took around 15 minutes from start to finish.

Not an awful lot I can say about it, plants and some butterflies.  Some exceptionally colourful ones - like this magnificent bright blue butterfly, or another almost luminous green butterfly.  One really large species too which looked more like a bird.


Actually quite a good photograph for my standards.

Not entirely sure it was value for money, but it wasn't far off.

Then on a Friday evening, I went to the robot exhibition at the Science Museum.  It cost £12.35 a ticket to go around a very over-heated section of the Science Museum.

It started with a baby, and went through clockwork machinations - none of which I was particularly interested in.

Then it went into a area showing more modern advances in robots (did you know the word 'robot' originates in Czech?), with a history of robots and the ideas around them in the 20th Century.


I was rather impressed to see the famous T2.


The exhibition discussed the ideas of robots looking like humans and how we interact with them.

Later on (not that much later as it wasn't the most time-consuming exhibition ever), we went through a more futuristic zone, with various robots that are used nowadays or very recently - many of which seemed to come from factory production lines.

I also found my girlfriend.


It was quite cool to wander through, but I wouldn't say it was worth paying for.  It was hot, it was very busy (despite ticketed timeslots) - some of the robots are going on permanent display anyway.  It wasn't as interactive as I thought it might be either.

Glad I went in terms of #FOMO but if you didn't go - you didn't miss out.

Finally, I wanted to go see Walala's colourful maze at the NOW Gallery in Greenwich.

I was going to go last Friday after work, bit of a mission to get there and then get home, but it was the last weekend that it was on.

I quickly checked their website at the end of the day, and realised that it was ticketed and sold out.  Oops.  Lesson learnt - if you want to do something, don't leave it until the last minute.

I did however console myself with a walk around the temporary installation of Villa Walala in Broadgate Square, at the back of Liverpool Street Station.


Next up?  Who knows.  I did want to go see the Basquiat exhibition at the Barbican, but it's £16 and I'm not that interested.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

BBC Election Complaint 2

Arguably a tad tenuous but hey.

******

Dear Sir/Madam

I note again that you have spent huge amounts of money covering what is now clearly a left-wing, socialist-promoting event, in Glastonbury.

This is completely against the BBC's charter to specifically be spending so much money and time on one long political event, designed to brainwash the young and middle classes into supporting what would be destructive socialism.

It is not only the coverage of his speech, but also the reporting of it, and the tweeting of his "ace" speech - looking at you Radio One.  Deleted, of course but not before the damage was done.

And now Glastonbury is a full-on left-wing, socialist political event, there should not be any coverage of it whatsoever.



Would you cover Jacob Rees-Mogg doing a speech at Creamfields?  No.  Would you cover George Osborne doing a speech at T In The Park?  No.  Would you cover Jeremy Hunt doing a speech at Secret Garden Party?  No.

It may be in the BBC's interest that the United Kingdom becomes Venezuela, as Corbyn's potential socialist dictatorship would likely require the full support of the BBC and the closing of all other forms of media - your competition, to be able to sustain such regressive policies.

And I expect that I will only receive another generic response - possibly generated by AI (that's not very socialist of you - Corbyn won't be happy).

However I live in hope that there may actually be someone in the BBC that understands the dangers of socialism and decides to take action to stop your constant promotion of socialism, such as the covering of Glastonbury.

Regards
An ex-viewer

******

Dear Mr Winfield

Thank you for getting in touch about our recent news reporting from the Glastonbury Festival.

We were naturally concerned to learn that you felt our coverage was biased or inappropriate, so we've reviewed our output and discussed audience concerns personally and at length with senior editorial personnel within BBC News.

To allow us to reply promptly, and to ensure we use our TV Licence fee resources as efficiently as possible, we’re sending this response to everyone. We’re sorry we can’t reply individually, but we hope this will address most of the points raised.

The key point to make is that the organisers of the Glastonbury Festival chose to invite the Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn as their guest speaker on the Pyramid Stage.

His appearance was not screened in the BBC Music at Glastonbury television programmes, but like other news outlets BBC News reported on his speech as it was a newsworthy event.

Some later BBC News bulletins included comments from Mr Corbyn's speech in relation to the Grenfell Tower fire. Here we also heard directly from the Prime Minister Theresa May, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Sajid Javid, as well as Council leaders and others thus ensuring a wide range of views were heard.

BBC News also comprehensively covered a wide range of other stories, including that day's Armed Forces Day by providing extensive coverage from the Liverpool event which the Prime Minister attended.

We appreciate that not everyone will agree with our choices on which stories to cover, and the prominence that we give to them. These decisions are made by our news editors, taking into consideration the editorial merit of the stories at hand, and we accept that not everyone will think that we are correct on each occasion. These decisions are always judgement calls rather than an exact science, but we appreciate the feedback that our viewers and listeners give us.

Many thanks once again for taking the time to get in touch. We do hope our reply here helps to clarify matters and thus allays any concerns you may have had.

Kind Regards

BBC Complaints Team
www.bbc.co.uk/complaints

******

On balance, I do think a fair response by the BBC.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

BBC Election Complaint 1

The BBC often annoy me with the left-leaning political coverage, but they took it to new levels during the election campaign.

Looking back, I think I had an excellent point with this complaint.  Not so sure on the next one I'll post...

******

Dear Sir/Madam

I have just come back from my imaginary girlfriend's house, Margaret, where I was watching the debate.  I didn't really want to watch the debate, but she was watching it so I had no choice.


Immediately it was clear that a pro-Corbyn audience had been picked.  The BBC had clearly picked a majority who would whoop and cheer for Corbyn like no other candidate.

Not only that, but the interviewer seemed not to allow time for the audience to clap Amber Rudd, and also seemed to offer a disproportionate amount of responses to Corbyn to follow Nuttall's generally dreadful points.  Subtle - but I didn't miss it.

It is difficult enough for the Conservative Party to counter Labour's lies and disinformation without the BBC being on their side too - the supposedly neutral broadcaster.

I have often thought the BBC to be biased towards Labour, though this had seemed to lessen in the last few years.  But this was shocking.  An absolutely disgraceful abuse of broadcasting power.

I appreciate that the BBC might be upset about the idea of another Conservative government, but I expect you to at least make a little bit of effort into reducing bias.

Not only were the audience biased - but the parties themselves, with 5 being of socialist bent - 2 of which are not even national parties.

The whole debate was manufactured to disadvantage the Conservative Party.

Regards
James Winfield

******

Dear Mr Winfield

Many thanks for getting in touch about The BBC Election Debate 2017 broadcast live on BBC One from Cambridge on Wednesday 31st May.

We were naturally concerned to learn of your unhappiness in relation to the audience at the event, so we've discussed viewer concerns personally and at length with the programme's Editor and other senior editorial personnel within BBC News.

To allow us to reply promptly, and to ensure we use our TV Licence fee resources as efficiently as possible, we’re sending this response to everyone. We’re sorry we can’t reply individually, but we hope this will address most of the points raised.

To explain, the BBC commissioned polling company ComRes to recruit an audience reflecting the country demographically and politically.

The BBC Election Debate 2017 involved a discussion between seven different parties, and while some members of the audience were more vocal than others this does not mean its composition was not balanced.

The Conservative and Labour parties had the largest share of supporters in the room.

ComRes has published a fuller summary of its methodology here: www.comresglobal.com/comres-recruitment-for-the-bbc-tv-debate-31-may-2017/.

Many thanks once again for taking the time to get in touch. We do hope our reply here helps to clarify our approach and thus allays any concerns you may have had.

Kind Regards

BBC Complaints Team
www.bbc.co.uk/complaints

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

No Booze Until No Belly

That's it.  I've had enough.

Until the last week or so, it seemed like every day I have either got drunk or been hungover.

Since March, I have put on nearly 12kg of weight.  I am the fattest that I have ever been.  I feel unhealthy, I am unfit, my productivity is lower than it should be - though I have had fuckloads of fun in recent months.

There is only one reason I put on weight, and that is alcohol.  If I have more than two beers, I crave shit food.  And then the next day, I crave shit food too.  Both days I will consume around 4,000 to 6,000 calories.

Alternatively, if I don't drink and don't have a hangover, then I consume between 1,500 and 2,000 calories.

Every detox month I have, I lose 3kg or so.  When I started writing this, I was 96.6kg.  I want to be 80kg.

There is only one solution if I want to be rid of my belly.  Give up booze. No booze until no belly.

There will be people out there who will just suggest moderation, or more exercise.  But I am not very good at moderating my alcohol intake - and there is zero chance of me doing two sit-ups on a hangover, no matter how good for me it might be.  Generally I am not a semi-committed person.  Either I am fully committed, or I am not committed - or something close to full/none.  There is no halfway.

And I'm not going to pretend that I'll do much in the way of exercise.  But I'll try and do some - it even got to the point recently where I barely did any walking, let alone anything strenuous.  I'd kind of like to do some kind of sport but I'm shit at most sports, don't like physical contact (of the sporting variety) and as per my usual issue, I struggle to find the time and motivation.

Alcohol or related expenditure (ie bacon sandwiches the day after) consumes a vast quantity of my spare money.  I am not rich.  I earn enough to have no problems, but almost all of my spare money goes on having fun, drinking, and eating out.

But I am finding an increasing need for spending elsewhere; I need new jeans as two pairs have recently developed a hole in their respective bum areas, I need a new winter coat as my old ones are tired and starting to fall apart.  I need a summer jacket and shorts, in the upcoming sales, ready for next summer.  I need some new pillows, as I stupidly left mine in Bracknell, and have been using my landlady's substandard pillows.

I want some new bits for the kitchen, I want a speaker system for outside, I want a fucking Dyson as this round blob thing of my landlady's is rubbish.  I want some lids for my technics...I want more vinyl!  And I need this sequin rucksack - it is me, isn't it?


I want/need a holiday.  I am actually going to book one as long as I can save up £200 this month - I am on a pretty strict budget.  As long as I don't go out and get drunk, I can afford it.  In fact, I want at least two more trips away this year.

I also want to spend more time coding, I want to enhance my skills so that I might either get a pay rise next year, or be able to get one or two paid projects.  I also want to get back into cooking properly - I rarely have the time or energy to cook properly in an evening now, yet I appreciate it so much when I do.  Likewise, I want to spend more time practising DJing - again thwarted by the depletion of my time and energy resources.

I'm sure I'll crack at some point.  I will probably allow myself a beer or two when I achieve some weight reduction goals.

And holidays are obviously exempt, from the moment I get through security at the airport.

See you later, beer.  Hello carrot juice.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Complaint: Badvocado

Written when I was unemployed...

******

"Oh not him again".

Yes I know, you thought that you wouldn't hear from me again now I'm unemployed (technically on gardening leave which means I do things like sorting out kitchen cupboards looking for out of date tins of pineapple), as I am now just a yellow sticker boy with an occasional foray into Iceland.  I shall still probably buy carrots from you.

But on my last weekly shop with you until I am redeemed from this life of loneliness (I have lots of friends, honest), I have disappointment to proffer.

Recently I have been wondering what it would be like to be a lesbian.  So for this week's food shopping, I decided against buying chicken for my salad and went full vegetarian (lunchtime vegetarian anyway).  Avocado was going to be my meat substitute.

Imagine my disappointment when I cut open one of my two avocados to find it was a badvocado.  Brown with a hint of green.  Yuckity yuck.

You can send me a voucher for the avocado if you wish but unfortunately it may be a while before I can use it online.  Hopefully someone will see the web developer talent in me before they see the complaint writing talent.

All the best.
James 'Lesbian' Winfield

******

Dear James

Thanks for blessing us with your presence.

I am sorry that your avocados have arrived in this condition and I hope that this has not made you give up on this newfound passion of yours.

I know how a badvocado can ruin a salad all too well, and I am thus passing this issue to our Kenton branch so they can work on improving the fresh produce sent out to you, so that your carrot purchases can continue.

I am issuing an evoucher, for £4 to cover the avocado plus a little extra as a gesture of goodwill. The voucher code is A4MG-6KQX-Q74V, and will be valid for 2 years, but I hope we see you well before then.

We appreciate the time you’ve taken to contact Sainsbury’s and hope the gardening leave does not go on too long.

Kind regards,

Duncan Graham | Sainsbury's Online

******

Random image of Spanish lesbians.


Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Londonniversary

Congratulations to me!

One year ago today, I loaded my boxes onto a van and said goodbye to Bracknell - and hello to London.

Yes, it is one year since I moved into my house in Harrow and started preparing for my new life as a web developer.  My new life living in London.

I remember that first week well - it was hot, which made moving and unpacking quite a sweaty affair.  I had an awesome pork belly lunch on the Friday at The Chapel in Marylebone, with Martin, and then walked around Regent's Park - enjoying my freedom.

Of course, it didn't all go to plan with losing my first job, but it definitely worked out well as now I am in a much better role, a real developer job, working in the centre of the excitement, and earning more money than in that role.

Even being unemployed was fine as I was living in London and got to stare at tube trains going past my house - oh the excitement.

Since moving, I have explored quite a bit; Harrow, Camden, Shoreditch, Dalston, Hammersmith, Putney, Wimbledon, Greenwich, London Bridge, Soho, Brixton, Peckham - probably many more areas too - some I knew already, some I barely touched.

 
There are about 100 things on my to-do list, from restaurants, bars, museums, parks - all kinds of unusual things too.  I will eventually get around to publishing my list - it's also on my to-do list.

Top of my priorities for the next few weeks are, butterflies, robots and art maze - all of which close soon.  If anyone wants to join me, you know where I am, though I'll be quite happy going on my tod.

As Samuel Johnson once said, "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life".

I don't see how I'll ever be bored here.

Definitely one of the best things that I have ever done with my life. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

James Went To Milan. And Tirano. And Zurich.

A couple of years ago, I decided to go on holiday wherever the random country generator told me to go.

It chose Somalia.  I decided to over-rule it given the high chance of kidnapping and/or death.  It then chose Switzerland.  A much lower chance of death.

Then I had the question of what to actually do.  Where in Switzerland to go.  I could just have taken cheap Ryanair flights to say, Bern.  Or perhaps a city break to Geneva or Zurich.  Or go see the large hadron collider.  Nowhere grabbed me and said 'get your cheapo ass here'.

Then I saw Michael Portillo on a train in Switzerland and the scenery was just astonishingly beautiful.  I was sold.  Eventually I ordered a brochure on Swiss train journeys and saw that the prices were astonishing - and not at all beautiful.  Except for the Bernina Express, which went between Tirano in Italy, and Chur in Switzerland.

I soon found out that if I booked a journey with Deutsche Bahn, there was a cap on prices if my journey finished in Germany, which made it much cheaper than booking through Swiss trains.

I was quite happy to do the holiday by myself, but quite a few people were interested. In the end it was myself, my sister and my sister's friend, Dave, a fellow Hullite - someone roughly as funny and weird as me.  I'd like to think he is my friend too now.

Milan had never been on my to-do list, and I have definitely 'done' enough of Italy over the years.  But given that we had to fly into Milan, it seemed irresponsible not to spend a bit of time there too.

Arriving into Milan, it was hot - the kind of temperatures of which I had already forgotten about, but thankfully not the exceptional 37'C of the week before.  There were even thunderstorms in the distance - ooh!


The train station itself was probably one of the grandest train stations I have ever visited.  If not the grandest.  Quite an architectural masterpiece - a truly stunning building - so much so that there was actually no graffiti on it - a crazy idea in an Italian city.  Though my sister said it reminded her of Hull train station.  Rightio.


There was no plan for Milan, but after a quick Google search, the top tourist destination was the Duomo - a very grand and impressive cathedral.  We joined various queues and eventually managed to work out how to get tickets to go both inside and on the roof terrace.  Then joined a couple more queues, found out our tickets were only for the terrace, so joined the queue to go up to the terrace, queued a bit more for the lift, queued a bit more to exit the lift and there we were.  On top of a cathedral.  It felt naughty.  If only I smoked weed.  Highlight 1 of the holiday.


We then made the rookie tourist mistake of buying a drink next to a tourist square in Italy - which cost more than my excellent pizza later in the night - the only meal of the holiday that I was especially impressed with.  And even then just an 8/10.

Later in the evening we found a fairly decent collection of canal-side bars - though I am sure you've seen European canal-side bars before so I won't go on.

Again there was no plan for the next day, until Dave suggested going to the 'Klimt Experience'.  Yeah, me neither.  Apparently Gustav Klimt was an Austrian artist in the late 19th and early 20th century.  I didn't have any better suggestions and was hoping to get the two indie kids with me to a techno parade on Saturday, so I agreed and hobbled along.


It was billed as an immersive experience.  A large room with Klimt's pictures projected around, moving at different speeds, replacing each other at different speeds, with booming (slightly headache-inducing and very obvious) classical music from the era.  His pictures seemed quite fucked up with patterns happening in random places - often completely nonsensical yet totally beautiful.  Oh, and he liked painting naked women.

Not only do I have a new favourite artist, but I have a new insight and understanding on the art world - art is something that I have rarely understood.  This touched me and was highlight number 2 of the holiday.  I was so impressed that when (if) I have some spare money, I am going to buy a print of his work.

Then it was time to step outside into the thundery-feeling atmosphere to go buy some drinks ready for our train journey into the mountains, and to the small town of Tirano.

Milan surprised me.  I didn't think I'd be so keen - I expected all up-market snobbery, I expected to feel completely out of place (not that I give a fuck) with people looking down at me for not wearing Armani socks.  The people were actually less 'stylish' than in London, far friendlier than Rome, there was a really good mix of culture, some history - and I grew to really like it in my 30 hours there.  Even if I was teased by distant thunderstorm clouds the whole time.  Though maybe all the Milanese were not in Milan - it was August.

So we headed out of Milan, thunderstorm clouds in the distance, on a 2.5 hour train journey to Tirano, where the Bernina Express would leave from the next day.

We started to get a taste of the scenery as we headed up into the mountains, with the train hugging the edge of Lake Como for quite some time.  It became a little less fun a few drinks in when we realised the toilet was out of order - there were two trains connected so it meant missions from one train to another when it stopped.


We arrived into Tirano to pouring rain.  And no thunder.  Our hotel was fairly basic - but had spectacular views of the mountains, and the toilet was probably made in Hull.  Again none of us had had time to research anything to do or anywhere to eat - then again there wasn't anything to do in Tirano.

We found a restaurant in a very cute looking area, and they clearly saw me coming - €20 I paid for one duck thigh and a handful of very small roast potatoes.  One was not amused.


Yes that was it.

I had pretty much run out of Euros so we called it a night, via a cocktail bar - a thankfully very good value cocktail bar.

The next morning, I had around 34 salami and cheese sandwiches from the buffet, and then we went for a walk up the river, to see what we could see - a gentle incline though not actually tackling any of the mountains themselves.

The scenery was just stunning.  It was a delight to be out in the countryside (the one thing I miss now I live in London), watching the river flow, seeing the clouds build.  Predictably there was a thunderstorm in Milan.



We stocked up on vodka for the Bernina Express, and sat down outside, watching the clouds roll in and the rain start.  Predictably the last place we drank at was the only place without a card machine - none of us had any Euros so I had a mad dash around to try to find a cash machine.

As we hauled our suitcases onto the Bernina Express, it began to pour down once more.

I love rain.  But rain was not the ideal weather for either being able to see out of our panoramic train windows, or to photograph the beauty.

The Bernina Express winds it way up the mountain on a single track with occasional passing points.  You often see the same scenery as it gradually makes its way up the mountain range, but as the height becomes greater, so does the spectacular nature of the scenery.

Doncaster to Hull this ain't.

Mountains, waterfalls, valleys, industrial works - trains for logs.  We went over bridges, viaducts and through many tunnels - it was quite the feat of engineering.


It was also notable as the train went further into Switzerland, that the housing became more typically Swiss.


Perhaps the last hour of the 4 hour journey became a bit samey, and I pined to see some sunshine - I actually saw some wet snow falling over the highest peak.  Just a few flakes - enough for a Facebook meltdown if it happened in the UK.

Once in Chur, we changed for the fast train to Zurich which was fairly unremarkable - as was the rest of the evening except for gawping at how expensive everything was in Zurich. Kind of like when I first moved from Hull to Reading.

I did have a nice piece of salmon, a good pint of Erdinger and a practice on the hotel corridor ice machine.


And then Saturday happened.  Given the prices at restaurants, we just bought exceptionally crap 'sausage rolls' from the coop (not co-op) and went for a nice walk around Zurich.

I never quite understood the point of Zurich.  It's nice, they have lots of fountains and fairly low-rise buildings.  Plenty of offices - not a huge amount of historical buildings.  It was very orderly and clean, I didn't have one person ask me for spare change - quite the opposite to Milan, and I don't recall seeing any signs of anyone being poor - no surprise given that Switzerland is known as being a rich place - a banker's paradise.

Given that my two travelling companions were not especially enamoured with techno music, being into bands and stuff, I was more hoping to persuade them to go to Zurich Street Parade than expecting.  Perhaps just for a couple of hours.

Whilst awaiting the start time, we plonked ourselves out the front of a bar (which also sold bicycles at up to £8,000 - wtf?), and did a bit of people watching.  And there was plenty to see.

Once start time was upon us, we headed down to the parade, and found the front of it.  It was a queue of 25 trucks, each with a big fat soundsystem on the back and around 1-200 dressed-up people on board.


Everyone else, around 900,000 people, just drunk and danced - all kinds of ages from 5 to 75, all kinds of people.  As soon as the music started on the first truck, it just went off.

We stayed roughly in the same position for much of the day, awaiting the various trucks - with occasional visits to the shops to stock up on alcohol.

There was more tech-house or techno than any other form of music, but hardcore, freestyle, drum'n'bass, minimal and house all featured.  My two favourite trucks were the Elrow truck with the giant rhino leading it - quite a cacophony of celebration as you would expect.  I also though the hardstyle truck was ace - absolutely mental - didn't like the music, but the mentalness was another level.  Neither music favourites - but for atmosphere and crazies.

This was a truly mental day out.  A great celebration of dance music.  I have lost interest in clubbing this year, partly due to unemployment, partly due to trying to be successful in my new job - and partly because it just takes so fucking long to recover.  But it was like being home - mentally.

Much vodka was consumed and I don't remember an awful lot about the end of it. Apparently we went to MacDonald's, I refused the chicken nuggets that my sister bought for me and bought my own instead.  I was apparently unable to walk exclusively on the pavement.  I do have vague memories of ice bowling in the corridor of the hotel.  And vague memories of taking refuge in a church, to use their toilet.

Sunday was just one of those waiting to come home days.  A £15 all-you-can-eat breakfast (not especially good), followed by a nice walk around the local industrial/commercial area, and a few beers in the sunshine whilst being attacked by wasps.

Arriving back and going into work on the Monday morning, I still had a really big smile on my face following just the supreme amount of fun that we had.  I really could have done with a nice relaxing holiday, but I wouldn't swap it for the world.

I absolutely loved being in the mountains, delighted to have discovered my new favourite artist, Gustav Klimt, and just had a ridiculous amount of fun at the street parade in Zurich.  And had just excellent company too.

There was only one thing left to do and that was to ask the random country generator for the next destination.

It picked Kuwait.

I rolled again.

It picked Dijbouti.

I rolled again.

It picked Fiji.

Hmmm.  Need to go back to the drawing board on this random selection idea.  But I really do need to book another holiday soon.  Maybe even an actual relaxing holiday.  I'll get my thinking cap on...and stop spending so much money on shite.

Very good, son.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

2017 Goals

I had some goals in mind when I started the year, but I didn't feel like setting any goals - there wasn't much point in setting half of them when I was unemployed and had next to zero income.

Sure some I could achieve that didn't cost money, but many goals do involve expenditure.  It seemed pointless - but I had a list in mind.

Now I am a fully-fledged permanent employee, it is time to set some goals for the rest of the year.

I am writing a full set of annual goals as if it were the 1st January.

Lifestyle

Lose weight.  My ever un-achieved goal.  This year I really, seriously want to get down to 82kg.  I started the year at 90kg.

37 day detox.  37 years old, 37 days without alcohol, caffeine, chocolate and cake.  And hopefully a reduction in alcohol intake during the rest of the year - I am now counting units drank (and not in an 18 year-old boasting kind of way).

Pie Day.

Get on my bike.  Another one I fail every year, I am less capable of cycling than last year.  If I can do a 9km ride then I will call it achieved.  Alternatively find some form of exercise that I enjoy.

Dating.  Go on one date.

Exploring

4 new countries.  I only went to 1 last year when the target was 2 - there really was no excuse for not going somewhere else.  Even by myself.  So this year, 4 countries.  Starting with Slovakia in January, and hopefully 3 more.

Top 20 places.  Go to one of the places on my top 20 must-visit list.  And get around to publishing my list!

Random country.  Two years ago I picked Switzerland as my random holiday country (well I picked Somalia first, yeeeeaaaahhhhhhh).  Time to go.

Road trip to Hull.  Take at least 1 friend to Hull for the City Of Culture celebrations.

Cricket.  Go to a new cricket ground, and also see a 20/20 game.

Museums.  Go to some museums - Science and Design museums are top of my list.

Coding

Get a coding job and keep my coding job.

Learn Angular or React - both vital frameworks if one is to be a successful coder.

JavaScript.  Continue to expand my JavaScript knowledge and focus on this as much as possible.

Getting paid.  Do my first paid project - doesn't matter if it is just £100.

Sunshine Design.  Finish my Sunshine Design website and launch my website building agency.  In the event of employment, this will not be my priority.

Blogs

Roast Dinners in London.  Make Roast Dinners in London the top roast dinners blog in London, and add all the extra functionality that I have in mind for it.

Secret Blog.  Finally launch my secret blog that I am not telling anyone about (unless I get really drunk and you are really attractive).

Election Odds.  Expand and professionalise my blog and hopefully make a few quid out of affiliate links.

Crazy Football Bets.  As above - though I'm less bothered about this.

Purchases

New PC.  This heap of junk is so slow and keeps crashing.

New phone.  This heap of junk is so slow and keeps freezing.

Finance

Give more money to charity.  I don't give huge amounts and I am not setting my financial target in public, but I want to give more to charity.

Increase savings.  I want to try to increase my savings by £2,000.  Impossible without a job, and probably impossible with a job in London.

Invest.  I want to invest at least a portion of my fairly meagre savings - not sure into what yet.

Political betting.  Invest some more money into political betting, which I am quite good at winning on.

DJing

Monthly DJing.  Keep the Dark Matter night and try my hardest to ensure it is the go-to night for underground house/techno in Reading, and that my friends do occasionally visit.

Monthly DJ mixes.  I want to record DJ mixes and release them once a month, if possible.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Complaints - Society 6

Dear Society 5

I recently bought two t-shirts from you, I say recently, I mean a few months ago. It was my first purchase from yourselves.

I wore the yellow one for the second time on Sunday, when walking around central London looking at the hot women on holiday in our not so hot capital city. When I drooled onto my t-shirt, I noticed that there was a hole between the main part of the t-shirt and the band around the top - is it a collar?

I had only once previously worn it which was in Ibiza when I went to meet some bloke I had met in a nightclub the night before to buy some very expensive small packs of salt from him - €30 for 0.6g of salt. Can you believe it?

Anyway, I'm not happy with the quality of this t-shirt - the other one is fine.

I don't particularly want a replacement, as I'll take it to Hull where my mam lives so she can sow it. Have you ever been to Hull? City Of Culture 2017. You should check it out - London is so passe.

Regards
James

******

Hi James,

Sorry to hear about the shirt here.  I do love the picture you painted here.

Instead of a replacement, please accept this voucher for $25 off your next order:

Look at that!  Covers the cost of a new shirt.

Please let us know if you have any other questions.  Sorry again for the inconvenience here.
Sincerely,
John

Monday, July 24, 2017

Job Offer

You know those e-mails from recruitment companies?  As someone with the word 'JavaScript' on my portfolio, I am in demand.  Mostly I delete them without reading, but occasionally I am tempted to play along...especially when they have a Spanish name...

******

Good afternoon James,

I hope you are well. I just tried to reach you to discuss a Javascript
Developer role we have in Malaga (Spain):

http://www.pentasia.com/vacancies,frontend-developer_5243.htm [1] [1]

In case you could be interested, please let me know when I could
contact you so we can discuss it further. Otherwise, you can always
reach me here: +34 933443225 [2].

Looking forward to hearing from you soon.

Kind regards,

******

Hola Sandra, como esta?

Trabajar es España?  Si solo...amo España mucho.

I'm actually very happy living and working in London at the moment.  However with Brexit approaching, and especially if Jeremy Corbyn becomes Prime Minister, then I would be very keen to work in a vibrant, growing economy like Spain - as long as Podemos are not in government.  I know Rajoy and his lot are a tad crooked but it seems like their economic reforms are working.

I fear for the future of my country at the moment - it is like everyone has gone insane - but Spain looks like it is putting solid foundations in for a good future.

Feel free to keep my details on file and contact me if disaster happens and the socialists take over the United Kingdom.

All the best
James

******

Shock horror - she didn't read my e-mail...


******

Good morning James,

Thanks for the quick reply.

So, would you be interested in having a little chat over the phone so
I can tell you a little bit more about the roles?

In case you are, please send me your contact details and tell me when
it would be a suitable time for you to talk.

Best regards,

******

Que pasa?  Is Jeremy Corbyn Prime Minister? :-(

To clarify, I am not currently interested in a new job - however if the UK becomes a socialist disaster then please do contact me.

Gracias, tiene un dia buena.
James

******

Good afternoon James,

Thanks for the information. Let's stay in touch then.

Best regards,

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Review Of 2016 Goals

I never bothered reviewing my 2016 goals, or setting 2017 goals, as I was unemployed.

Better late than never.

Lifestyle

Lose Weight – My original plan was to get down to 87kg last year, then 83kg this year.  Given that I failed, I’m amending this to 85kg this year (I’m currently 91kg as of writing).

Failed.  90kg by the end of the year.

36 Day Detox – I’m upping it by 5 days this year (in effect an extra weekend, eeek!) and including processed meat such as bacon and sausages.  It started on 27th January.

Passed.

Get On My Bike, More – I’m aiming to be able to cycle 12km in a single stint by the end of the year.  I can currently manage 6km.  I will be going for a ride most weekends that I’m not partying, and some evenings when it is light.

Failed.  I can do even less.

Vegetarian Day – I have cut down the amount of meat I eat – not for any other reason than trying to manage my calorie intake.  However I still always eat meat every day so I am going to go one day without eating any meat to see what happens – this does not include those days post-nightclub where I am too fucked to eat.

Passed.  I think I inadvertently managed one day without meat.

Pie Day – You can work this one out for yourself.

Failed.

Living

2 New Countries – If I go to 2 new countries a year for the rest of my life, I will have been to a fair proportion of the planet.  I’d particularly like to go to Romania and Switzerland this year, but I’m not too fussy over the exact countries.  Dipping my toe into Scandinavia appeals, as does Athens.

Failed.  Only made it to Romania.

1 Party Holiday – The obvious choice will always be Ibiza and assuming I can find appropriate dancing partners then this is likely to happen.  Alternatively maybe a festival abroad such as Sunwaves, or if I don’t do Ibiza, then book Mexico next January for BPM.

Passed.

1 UK Adventure.  There are still some areas of the UK that are unexplored for me.  Cambridge and Brighton being two examples of places that I really should have been to.  Others such as Newcastle, Liverpool and Bristol I have been to, but to a very limited extent.  I live in a fantastic country and I want to explore more of it.

Failed.

Cricket – I want to go to a new cricket ground, and also to watch a 20/20 game live.

50% passed - went to Lord's.

Castles, museums and country houses – I want to visit at least one countryside-based grand house, and one London-based museum, or similar cultural experience.

Probably passed.

See Ricardo Villalobos.  It is my only must-do clubbing adventure.

Failed - I did go but he didn't turn up.

Go clubbing 6 times.  Not fussed where nor who to see.

Passed.

Fabric birthday.  Best party of the year.

n/a.  It was closed.

Learning

Free Code Camp – There is a really good website which is helping me practice my coding skills.  I want to be at least close to completing the Front End certification by the end of the year – say 2/3rds done.  Given that the certificate takes an estimated 800 hours, this is quite some objective!

50% passed.

JavaScript – I particularly want to focus on learning JavaScript this year, and try to get more of a handle on it.  It really is very difficult to learn.

50% passed - not as focused as I should have been but certainly improved.

SASS, PHP, Angular, React & CSS Animations are other languages/areas of web development that I would like to at least like to start learning.

25% passed - learn some PHP.

Portfolio – I must have a portfolio of a few websites very shortly.

100% passed.

Become 100% fluent in Spanish.  According to the app that I use, anyway.  Duolingo reckons that I am 41% fluent right now.  I can read it pretty well but speaking and listening are so much more difficult.

50% passed.  I got bored.

Cooking – I want to get another cookbook from another country, and also expand my knowledge of salads.  Yes, you read that correctly.

Failed.

Learn About Music – At some future point when I am not spending huge amounts of time studying web development, I would like to learn how to make music.  My goal for this year, is just to do some little thing about it.

Failed.

Literary

Blog Refresh – I aim to refresh all of my blogs, giving them a slightly different feel at the very least., with the exception of the recently-launched blogs.

25% passed.  I refreshed a few.

Top Tunes Blog – This I aim to professionalise.  Unfortunately what I want to do costs a bit of money so I keep putting it off.

Failed.  Kind of started.

Weather Forecasting – I’m currently close to 2,400 readers on my weather forecasting page.  I want to reach 3,500 by the end of the year and also I intend on starting a new weather project via a new website I am soon going to be building.

Passed.

Ubereadoolische – This is being relaunched soon with a more modern look – it is also written in Drupal, which is a content management system that I wanted to learn.

Failed.

Roast Dinners Around Reading – This finishes this year and I want to go out in style.

Passed with flying colours.

New blogs – I have ideas for new blogs, and I want at least one of them to replace Roast Dinners Around Reading.

Passed.  I have too many blogs.

Discard blogs – Some old blogs have to be disposed of.  Time is short.

Hmmmm.

Lavishments

Technics – I will be buying a pair this year, along with CDJ stands and some decent headphones that I will not let anyone borrow (ie steal) ever again.

Passed though I barely play them.

Supermarket Slut – I want to test out all the major supermarkets to see if there is anywhere else that I prefer to Sainsburys.

Passed.

Life

Get out of Bracknell – Pretty self-explanatory.

Passed with style!

Get a job – There is some uncertainty as to how long I will have this current job, so at some point I will need to start looking for another.  Ideally as a junior web developer, but the money would be low to start, very low, so maybe as a senior credit controller if I can find something interesting.

Passed.  Then failed!

Laugh more – Quite simply I want to enjoy life more and I want to be happier.  Therefore I must laugh more.  Even if it is just a daily belly-laugh to weird out my colleagues.

Not sure.  Let's call it 50% achieved.

Exactly 50% success rate.