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Friday, September 30, 2011

My Final Payday?

Well for a couple of months at least I guess.

I received my final pay-day from Verizon today which should see me comfortable for a little while without a job but I must admit I am getting itchy feet and hands at the moment and don't really want to be unemployed for much longer.

I haven't actually been unemployed since I left university in 2000, every time I got a new job I just started the week after leaving one.


So this is quite new to me.

When I was offered redundancy...well it wasn't so much of an offer, I could probably have fought it but I didn't really see the point of potentially risking a pay-out, to stay in a job that I quite frankly hated, albeit in a company that I did for some reason love working for.

I started there back in 2007 straight after a week in Ibiza (I somehow recovered in time), and I was employed by who I quickly recognised as the best manager that I had worked for, and that still stands to this day.  To actually be trusted, respected and given responsibility and for my ideas for improvements and how to resolve issues and negotiate, to be listened to, was something quite new.

I was working in the Debt Recovery team and I grabbed the trust and responsibility that I was offered and impressed greatly, in the first half-year, and in the second year (first full calendar year) I achieved the highest possible performance rating which very few employees get.  I loved my job.  I loved going into work.  And I worked with some really nice people.  And had a good bit of banter, especially on a Friday afternoon.

Then I was given the manager from hell as my team-leader, as my good manager went off to do projects.

It was horrific to work for her.  I don't wish her any malice as a person, as on an out-of-work basis I got on fine, but the accusations she levelled at everyone in the team and some of the bizarre decisions she came out with and instructions which I knew from experience went against company policy, and sometimes legality, was all so frustrating, some people left, some people suffered from stress and I went from loving my job to hating it within 6 months.

Eventually someone in higher management grew some balls and found a way to get rid of her, for want of a better phrase.  Had she worked at my previous company then she would have lasted two months tops before being sacked.  At Verizon almost 18 months.  Crazy.  But such are the machinations of the 35th largest company in the world that things change slowly.

Anyway, my brilliant manager came back, things got back to normal but after 3 years of success, most of the more challenging cases and more interesting debts had been resolved or were just stuck in limbo for years, so I looked around for a new challenge and took up a role in the Commissions team in Finance.

Shortly after accepting the role, I had a feeling that I had made the wrong decision, and within a month of starting, the amount of work and particularly the queries to be resolved which was the main reason I was employed, dropped off a cliff.

A lack of work meant a lack of opportunity for training on the job and it soon became clear that the amount of staff they had was way too high and last one in is usually first one out and this was no different.

I was delighted when I found out, as I was so fed up of not having much to do and it was only a matter of time.  And it was quite a miserable team to work in at times, some days would go by and nobody would actually say a word.  No hello's, no goodbye's, no how are you's.  The whole department in fact was silent.  Quite a depressing place to work.  Though I had an excellent view of the junction 11 traffic system.

It was, unsurprisingly a surprisingly long time before I was made redundant.  Perhaps if I didn't play Cityville on Facebook one Friday afternoon then I might not have been noticed.  But then again I doubt they had any clue.  I'm not the only person to play Facebook games at that company!

No regrets though on joining that team - if you don't try, you don't succeed.  Next time I accept a job though I will thoroughly think about it, I think I was perhaps a little too impatient for progress and success.  And I had spare time to develop my Six Sigma knowledge and also start learning Web Design, so all is not lost at all.

I have to say that since I left, I have been so much happier!  Unemployment doesn't really suit me but I am making the most of the opportunity.

Just need to find a job...once I have bought some decks and learnt how to become a proper fake wannabe DJ of course, or unless my art career takes off.

One Billion Second Birthday

At approximately 1am this morning, I became one billion seconds old.


This is clearly a huge cause for celebration, and hope you will join me in a toast in reaching this magnificent milestone in my life.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

James Winfield's Artistic Abilties Part 6

Finally I have got off my backside and produced my first piece of art this year (well technically my second as my last piece was done on NYE but in the early hours).

As always I would love a little feedback, good or bad.

It is meant to represent the uncertainty in my life at the moment, but in a positive hopeful way in that there might be many questions but there is hope as opposed to gloom.

Jamie Jones (and others) at fabric 24/09/2011

I have been wanting to see Jamie Jones for 2-3 years now and have consistently failed to persuade any of my many clubbing friends to join me, and my frustration got to the point where I decided that I was just going to go by myself.

However, I did in the end have some excellent company.

I was fully aware of the amount of hype that had built up around him in recent years, especially as he is one of my favourite producers over the last few years with countless fantastic tracks, a super album and so many amazing remixes, so I did have a little though in my mind that maybe he was over-hyped, so I had to take an opportunity to experience him, especially as I missed out on seeing him at DC10 in Ibiza a couple of weeks ago which I had long pencilled in to do.

Upon arriving at in Farringdon, I could sense the excitement, an even higher level than usual and I have seen some real superstars in my time there; Sven, Ricardo and Soulwax (back in 2004 anyway) are three that instantly come to mind as having a mass of hysteria around them at the times that I have seen them at fabric and Jamie Jones had even more hysteria than I expected, and an even longer queue than I expected, even for those sensible enough like myself to have a fabricfirst membership card.

By the way, if you go to fabric on a semi-regular basis and don't have a membership card then you are just being stupid.  Sorry, but you are.  You are missing out on queue jumping (some friends without tickets queued for nearly three hours...they did plan to get tickets but they sold out before they had decided for definite to go), great CDs and a super-warm sense of belonging.

Danny Daze was on first from 11 to 2am, and played a superb warm-up set, absolutely perfect, getting the crowd in the groove without playing anything too peak-time, one of my favourites was Ragysh by Todd Terje, but there were many other highlights, especially towards the end of his set when he played his own track, Everything, which is easily one of my favourite tracks of the year, it was one of 'those' fabric moments - followed up with Donna Summer.  Superb.

I didn't like his cardigan though.

Craig Richards was on next in the main room, and I do have a huge amount of admiration for Craig Richards, but I would personally have preferred him first with the main room having just exploded towards the end of Danny Daze's set.  But back to zero we went with a very chilled out set with lots of disco and some very deep house.  At times it did send me to the bar and to other rooms to investigate, as it did many others.  I don't argue with fabric for their line-ups or Craig Richards for what he plays as they have respectively run and grown one of the most successful nightclubs in the world over the past 12 years and I am in huge admiration.  But the odd more exciting moment wouldn't have gone amiss.

Seemingly everyone had the same idea about 445am, to head to the main room and it got exceptionally crushed for a while so me and my most excellent dancing partner had a little time out on the stairs to chill out until it inevitably quietened down a fraction enough to dance.

However we soon ventured back and his set was truly amazing, absolutely 100% lived up to the hype and then some.  I don't recommend that anyone else goes to see him though as I want a bit more dancing space next time - you don't need to see him, stay at home ;-)

We didn't quite make it until the end of his set, so I missed finding out whether he played the ubiquitous 'Hungry For The Power' - probably my favourite track of 2011.  Strangely though I could hear it in my head on the way home, or at least I thought it was in my head until I realised that my ipod-type thing in my pocket had switched on without any instruction from myself (except perhaps psychically) and started playing it.  How bizarre.

One noticeable thing was the English contingent in fabric - normally it is about 50/50 split English/elsewhere, sometimes for example when Ricardo is playing it seems like I am the only English person in there.  On this night it seemed 80-90% English, so perhaps the Jamie Jones phenomenon is still to transfer to other countries?  And a large proportion of women on the dancefloor which is preferable to a sausage-fest that fabric (and most clubs) can be sometimes.  Girls like Jamie Jones.

In summary, this was a superb night, far out-shining my very high expectations and I will not leave it 2-3 years to see him again.  I actually enjoyed it more than Nina and Sven at Cocoon, Amnesia a couple of weeks ago I think which is quite something.  Jamie is probably my third favourite DJ now behind Ricardo and Sven and I wouldn't rule out him becoming my favourite one day, though he has some way to go to match their experience!  Ask me in 10 years time.

A truly superb night and one that I will be smiling about for a long time to come.

Next is Art Department & Maceo Plex on 8th October, and Ricardo for the 12th birthday on 22nd October.  There are others playing that I really want to see too on those dates but you can look on the listings if you are curious.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Choose Life - Choose 4 Different Brands Of Ket chup, Oh Yeah

This is how I roll...


By the way, the Tesco one was an emergency, their ketchup is shit.

Sainsbury's is number 1.  Heinz and Morrison's battle it out for second place at the moment.

I will keep you updated if there is any change.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

James Winfield In Ibiza - Chapter 9 - 2011 (part 1???)

They still let me in!  Good job they check my passport thoroughly.

Ibiza - my favourite place in the world.  So much beauty, so much fun to be had, so much ability to heal oneself...but also to destroy oneself.

This might be quite a long blog post, so feel free just to look at the pictures and wonder why I am not a professional photographer, or you could just bookmark and read on Friday when everyone just pretends to do work.

So the four of us (James, Matt, Sam and Paul) flew out to meet 4 others who were already there and a scattering of others on the island at the same time.

Any sensible traveller to Ibiza knows that the outward flight should not be attempted sober, so with the help of airport stores I soon became stocked up with enough vodka for the journey, 1 of many bottles.

I am not especially proud of drinking so much vodka, but when vodka is cheaper than water and there is a recession on...you do the math as they say in USA.  Why pay €9 for a small bottle of vodka in Amnesia when you can pay €8 for a litre of Ruskinov in the Spar?

Ah, the Spar.  Every holiday in Ibiza has a Spar that you can become attached to.  And our hotel was right next to the best Spar.  I blogged about it before I even got there.

Oh yeah, party in the SparParty In The SparParty In The SparParty In The Spar.

Sadly...


Not to worry, Ibiza has other places to party, thankfully.  Besides, the music in the Spar was a bit gash, to say the least.

So on Sunday I embraced the sunshine for a while before finally flaking, though not for long.  And what hot sunshine did we have - clear skies with just a few clouds every day, 33'C to 35'C each day.  Quite ridiculous for September, normally it is somewhere between 24'C and 28'C.

I spent an hour down the pool, my only hour - they only had the pool area open 11am until 6pm - what kind of time is that?  Apart from that, I could not knock the apartments we were staying in, they were well-run, professional, clean, friendly to all sorts, in quite a good location, and of course... Party In The Spar!  And inexpensive.  I recommend.

As everyone in Ibiza seems to look ridiculously attractive or rich, I decided that I needed to step up to the plate, and purchased a designer beach towel, a bright pink D&B towel.



Oh yeah, hello Italiano - Dolce & Banana, I am so cool.


As can often be the case, the days did tend to blur into one, so I shall try and pick out the highlights from now, and they may not be in order.

Cocoon.   Ever since I first decided to go to Cocoon in 2004 in Ibiza, a trip to Ibiza without Cocoon is not a trip to Ibiza.


The line-up was exceptional, Sven, of course, with Nina Kraviz warming up for him.  She really did an excellent job, a few mixes were a little off forgiveness really has to be given as she is relatively new to the international DJ circuit and I imagine this is probably one of, if not, her most important set, and she duly delivered - I was suitably impressed, built it really well for Sven but kept her sound intact and the dancefloor moving.

Sven, was of course, his usual imperious self.  I shouldn't really need to write about him.  Everything was just excellent.  He played quite a wide variety of house and techno, including one of the tunes of the holiday, Maceo Plex - Falling, and one tumultuous thundering techno track later on which just devastated the place, and then he left it on a mellow edge to finish off.

We left at about 730am, spent ages trying to choose how to get home, but it didn't have that kind of "whoa what the heck happened there...my life has changed" kind of feeling to it that used to happen, but that is probably because I have been quite a lot of times now.  We did have one Cocoon virgin in the group and I do believe that he was rather blown away.


Tuesday we all carried on for as long as we could, and from then on I think the excitement of the start started to slide.

We went to Underground on Wednesday.  Very nice place, sadly only 50 people in there but with a few hundred I could see how that could be a really good place to go, good music, relaxed atmosphere, no dickheads.

That was after an interesting attempt at DJing by Matt and Paul at Bay Bar in San Antonio.  A relaxed atmosphere, and rather relaxed service standards, but not relaxed in their attitudes to what their DJs are doing - 'turn it up', 'turn it down', 'no not this type of house music', 'something more chilled', 'something more upbeat', 'calm it down' - different instructions every two minutes.

A proper highlight though was going to Tapas Bar in San Antonio, slightly off the beaten track, the food was delicious.

Oh and we had a boat trip on the last day.

I really really could write so much more and should write so much more but I have rambled on for long enough.  I might do a part 2!

I rate the holiday 9 out of 10.  A superb holiday.

I will be back next year.

Oh, if you go to the Party In The Spar before I do, ask the manager (I think his name is Juan) what he called his baby - I suggested the name 'James' - he wanted an English name.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

I Is Back

I am back from Ibiza, having spent most of the 36 hours in bed - I can cope with the hangover, the comedown and the sore throat and cold - but my sun-cream deficiency syndrome sadly meant I could not go out and enjoy myself last night, as planned - I always like going straight out after getting back from Ibiza so I don't suffer the post-Ibiza blues but I would have got thrown out for punching someone if they even came within 5cm of my burning back and shoulders, let alone touch them, so bed it was.

Thankfully I am not at work next week so I may escape the Ibiza blues.

Oh, by the way, Ibiza was pretty damn amazing, as always - perhaps only a 9 out of 10 holiday, but the best week of my life since 2009 quite easily, loved it so much, so many funny times and enough parties - though I can tell I am 31 now and not 26!

I will do a proper write-up tomorrow (ish)...not yet fully engaging brain but I need to as of tomorrow as lots to do.

Hope you are all well...all 2 people alive enough on a Sunday to read my musings x

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

A Better Blog Than Mine...

I am admitting defeat.  I have found a blog better than mine, not only better, but funnier.

I present: Tonka's Weekly Review Of Dance Music.

His first blog post included a review about fabric, or Club Fabric to him, quite amused me...in fact all of his writing does...I think I might have to give up blogging now...

********************

my favourite ever club at the moment

Has to be Club Fabric in London. London is a city in England (just in case any foreigners read this. LOL) and Club Fabric is where you’ll find me most weekends. You’ll find me in Room 1 from 11pm right through to chucking out time. Its all about experiencing new things for me so I like to stick in Room 1 for the variety of music you get to dance to. Minimal, minimal techno, minimal house, techno and house are just a few of the different genres that can get played on a Saturday night on the famous Room 1 under-floor Funktion speaker system. The best looking birds all dance in Room 1 as well. My favourite trick is to pinch a fit looking bird’s arse and then look the other way when she turns around! Lads, apart from dropping Smarties that is the funniest thing you can do in Fabric. Has me howling like a fucking WOLF. Gets good around 5am as well because at that time they don’t know if they’re coming or going. I once got off with a bird without even talking to her – I think she thought I was her boyfriend. Go with the flow, that’s my motto.

Room 2 is where they play hardcore and trance. I once made a wrong turn after going for a shit and ended up in Room 2 tripping my tits off to DJ Dave Clarke. Never again. Felt like he’d took a fucking lump hammer to my box.

I’ve never been to Room 3 – it just sounds boring. I’ve heard it’s small, doesn’t have any lasers or underground speakers and I’ve never heard of any of the DJs who play in it. Fuck that.

Friday, September 02, 2011

An Evening At The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari - That Really Cool Thing In London

This is kind of what it looked like - we were all stood or sat inside that circular curtain of tubes where the film was projected on.  Photo stolen from Time Out.  My camera is shit, forgive me.
Allegedly the first ever film to feature a twist, a 1920's silent film.

At first I didn't think I was going to get it, it seemed a bit too avant-garde for someone from Hull, but I did end up really enjoying it.

I need to start getting organised for my weekend so I don't really have the time to write much more, there are two perfectly good reviews on Resident Advisor and Ibiza Voice if you want to read more.

Most amusingly the reviewer on Ibiza Voice met a girl on the tube station afterwards who said “That was shit –by far the worst thing I’ve ever seen.

I disagree, it was the best film I have seen all year.  Albeit the only film I have seen this year.

Freitag, ja?

Finally Friday is here, a cause for celebration any time.

I have to admit that I have been marginally below average on the happiness scale this week, but only marginally and feeling very lazy, I have done so little of what I intended to do...feeling slightly under the weather too as I haven't been eating my 5 a day.  Or even 1 a day.  Stupid James.

Anyway, all is back to being above average again, the sun is shining, I am having a steak and ale pie cooked for me by my sister/her housemates, hopefully without peas.  This should partly compensate for a severe lack of house music in my ears.

I'm looking forward to my weekend in Northampton, it is quite a nice little town, some fairly ugly bits but some nice bits too and a good range of pubs, especially away from the horrid chain places.  Some slightly bizarre people scattered around.  And a very high amount of those people trying to convert you.

This is the picture of the bus station:



My sister's birthday very soon so the perfect excuse for drinks and celebration.

I have also been enjoying the sunshine, I haven't done any sunbathing as such as I am trying to be productive, but I have walked around the shops, bought a couple of items for my upcoming holiday in Ibiza.

Did I mention I am going to Ibiza in 8 days time?  Cocoon here I come!

Have a lovely weekend...I will :-)

South West Bore

A music festival where you cannot hear the music, is like a restaurant where the food is for display purposes only.




All the elements of a good party were there - plenty of like-minded people, lots of DJs (too many, more about that later) and good music - except that I could not hear it.

I wasn't originally intending on going as the original plan was to do Ketoloco on Sunday but the people that I knew who were going weren't going to that until late afternoon and a spare ticket and spare seat on the transportation were available for SW4 on the Saturday so it seemed rude to turn it down, especially as my hero, Sven, was playing.

And I had really good days out at SW4 in 2008 and 2009 so it seemed like a good idea.

Arriving there in the rain, not that I am too bothered about it - after all it rained for 5 minutes in the queue at Cocoon In The Park (granted it was perfect weather for the rest of the day!), and there were tents to shelter in.  And yes it rained heavily several times during the day.

Walking through the entrance straight into two inches of mud was not exactly glorious.  Thankfully I chose not to wear my brand new trainers unlike many other idiots there.

Within about 5 minutes I had lost everyone I came with and with very patchy mobile reception I was several hours on my own in total - again not something that especially bothers me as I had an amazing time at Cocoon In The Park on my own.

However when the music is impossible to enjoy thanks to not been able to hear it over the crowd chatter, it is highly disappointing - especially as the poorest sound quality and volume was in the Cocoon tent where I had expected to spend most of my time.  Initially I just thought it was Cocoon being Cocoon, starting off quiet and building it up - but it actually seemed to get quieter.

That said I still had fun - if you cannot have fun at a festival with some very good friends and lots of like-minded people and the odd drink, then something is clearly wrong.

The other thing that they got wrong in my opinion was packing way too many DJs on the line-up - perhaps why they could only afford the crappest of sound systems.  What is the point of giving DJs just an hour or slightly longer?  I want to hear DJs express themselves, 3 hours should be a minimum.  I know I am banging on about it but Cocoon In The Park gave each DJ somewhere between 3 and 5 hours.

SW4 was a waste of money, I cannot recommend anyone to go again.  There are so many other festivals out there, and if you want to see Sven, then go to Cocoon In The Park in Leeds.

I even turned down the offer of an after-party to go home instead!