Saturday, September 23, 2006

more London Black cabbies

I have been using London Black C abs recently, and its been really interesting!

Just tonight I got talking to one about Clarinets and Saxophones, he even played me one of his favourite tunes, one with Louis Armstrong. Amazing. Music can be a great leveller.

One white cabbie started talking to me in Mandarin, then Cantonese, after I told him I was Chinese...Again embarassment complete when I told him I couldnt speak - he even called me the nickname for us!!! He had lived in Hong Kong for some years...

The other night it was a cabbie who was half chinese half jamaican. I couldnt quite make it out when I saw him at first, he looked chinese, but also was dark, I had'nt had anything to drink....Quite eye opening, we talked about his acceptance in the communities in Jamaica, and his life for the last 30 yrs in England, how it was and how its changed, and what his hopes for his grandchildren now are. Needless to say their was a hell of a lot of swearing!

Another cabbie was telling me about his dream of moving to Perth, Western Australia. He was attending painting and decorating college on Fridays. Dreaming of learning to surf, the sun, sand and relaxed lifestyle....made me wonder what the hell I was still doing here 3 yrs on....

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Big Day Big City

Wow what a day in London Town. Took Nick shopping in town, resulting in some great purchases, namely cufflinks and a suit from Saville Row - luckily nothing for me! Met up with the crew for Lunch at Portobello Road, famous for its street markets, with all sorts of assorted nic nax for sale, from silverware, army surplus, old china etc etc etc. It was great to see and experience, and the crowds were heaving. Had a delicious Thai lunch ( who says food in UK is all bad? ), there are some gems.

More shopping at Selfridges back in town before a quiet night at Keith's.

Then at midnight I attempted to hail a cab from centre of town...good luck. I walked, and walked, and walked! Throught the massive crowds and clubbers, the place was full to bursting point. I soon got fed up with being ignored by Black Cabs, I decided to go down the errily quiet / empty Pall Mall and towards the Palace. 30 mins later I had reached Buckingham Palace, which was brilliant to see at night. I hadn't passed anyone along the way. At the Palace, there was not a soul around, it felt special having it all to myself.

Finally a kind Cabbie accepted my fare home, what a drama! I was about to challenge myself with the long walk home - maybe next time!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Backing up after a night on the Turps.

Call me un-Australian but, most of you know I don't drink Alcohol.

This is purely a lifestyle decision, like the decisions on not smoking, not injecting myself with hard drugs, not listening to opera and not shouting at people on the tube...Its just one of those things. I should not HAVE to justify it. Though in most parts of the world I have lived in it has always felt a need to and have been asked why I don't....I just don't like it. Why is that never good enough for people? Do people feel so threatened by those not like them? Or am I just being silly and too defensive when it is purely interest which drives the question? Saying "I'm an alcoholic" seems to work at times.

Last night was a team night out on the booze for one of the boys leaving work. Being a Thursday night, it was pretty big one by all accounts - I ducked off early.

The next morning, I was first into the office at 8.45am. Normally I am 3rd or 4th at that time. No one in sight, by 9am there was still no one in. By 9.30am a few had made it in, but the rest were missing in action, and of those that did make it in - the day was wasted and murky, with visits to get greasy breakfasts, toilet breaks for throwing up and dozing at the desk. I've seen it all before...

Now I don't want to hold the holier than thou superiority stance here - BUT...

The thing that really got to me was the ethic which had been instilled to me a while ago. Professionally, there is nothing wrong with getting boozed to the eyeballs the night before, but if you can't be on time for work and functioning normally the next day - dont booze so much.

Taking up the slack for people writing themselves off with drink is in my books out of order.

For management to laugh with and condone such behaviour is just unprofessional.
Its just sad. Lucky I get paid by the hour.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Tony & Jo's Highland Wedding

Tony & Jo

Never thought I would ever go back to Knoydart, Scotland... never say never.

Two years ago, Tony, Andy, Fe and I went walking in this remote and beautiful area of Far North West Scotland. This weekend Tony and Jo's wedding was to be an adventure up into this far off magical place.

I fly up to Edinburgh Thursday night. Its always a mini home coming touching down there. The weight of the big city leaves you suddenly and its back in the Olde town. On the bus in I smell the yeast from the nearby brewery and smile to myself, it will always be the smell of Edinburgh to me.
The crisp fresh night air is refreshing, as I hail a passing cab. At 4.50pounds its the cheapest and nicest cab ride of the year, I chat jovially with the cabbie about the festival and his upcoming holiday to Sydney.
Rory is there to meet me at the door. Its great to see him and Sarah again - and of course the cute Cameron, who is just starting to walk.
The long day ahead sees us drive up the 5 hours to Mallaig via Dalwhinnie and Fort William. The weather is stereotypically Scottish, chilly and misty with patch rain. After a fortifying cuppatea and chocolate crispy, we go on to Mallaig.
There to meet us is a Zodiac Rib Jet boat, which takes us to Inverie in a speedy 10mins. I bounce up and down on the inflatable tube clad in lifevest and hanging on tightly - loving every moment, taking in the superb Highland scenery, big smile on my face!
Its raining as we arrive, Rory and I jump into the tity tray back of a tiny Kawasaki tractor quad bike ute thing. Rory with his umbrella half up and hunching his tall frame beneath the flimsy shelter, me getting a wet bum sitting knees up on the sodden tray, the hood of my jacket up, what a funny sight!
We arrive 5mins later, thankfully and roll into our lodgings, a recently converted house, now a hostel feeling bunkhouse. Comfortable, though thin walled and cold. (the floor heating wasnt on - how lush!)
Dinner is back in "town" if you call town a tiny street with 10 houses. I have fish and chips followed by a melt in the mouth cheesecake, lovely.
The Wedding Day itself was drizzly and overcast, helping people with their Scottish Kit has a tinge of irony for everyone, as I probably wear their national dress more than they ever will!
Land Rovers ferry us over to a grand white house, which overlooks the back, mountains in the background. A big marque tent has been put up with the expectation of rain for the ceremony.
The Ceremony itself was lovely and intimate, it was also very short - which was a bonus!
It was quickly followed by a Wedding Breakfast - which breaks the fast since they were single to now being married.
Next was the 30min 4WD trek in Land Rovers to the Reception, which was held in a restorated church about 5 miles away. The road was rough and bumpy, crossing two small streams. The scenery was spectacular.
The reception went for some time, with us all being very well fed - we were greeted by a pig on the spit slowly roasting for the midnight snack after a cheilh (scottish country dancing).
That night we were driving back to our accomodation by Land Rover, and caught in the headlights were about 30 deer, including large Stag, it felt like being on safari!
The next morning we were up at sparrows for the jet boat to take us away back to civilisation.
All in all a fantastic trip up north as always. Congratulations Tony & Jo!
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