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Dec. 17th, 2014

Christmas husky

Jolly Christmas Postmen

Just to balance out the Yodel rant, I was pleasantly surprised by my lunchtime experience in the Post Office in Bromley (now squeezed into the back of Smiths; the former PO was briefly an alleged charity shop with a handwritten sign reading'Charity Shop', and is now a Mexican restaurant).

There was a queue, of course, but it was moving rapidly, and there was a chap in a shopkeeper's apron walking along it, selling stamps to cash buyers. When it was my turn, I was served by an employee who was pleasant, competent, and didn't try to sell me any travel insurance.
Christmas husky

The Story of Yodel

For those outside the UK, or who don't do shopping on the internet, Yodel is a courier company notorious for terrible customer service and general incompetence. The words 'out for delivery by Yodel', which of course only appear after you've committed to your purchase, strike fear into the hearts of consumers everywhere.

So they tried to deliver last Monday, when I was at work. Fair enough, not their fault. (Here's where, if the seller had used Royal Mail, the parcel would have gone to the sorting office 2 minutes' walk away, for me to pick up the next morning.) They said they'd left a card. No card, but I did get an email inviting me to reschedule.

I went for a Saturday delivery to increase the odds of someone being around. As it turned out, I was in all day. When the last possible hour of delivery had passed, I checked their website and learned that they had tried to deliver twice and left a card.

These attempts did not, apparently, involve ringing the doorbell. Or leaving a card, come to that.

They tried again on Monday, when, inevitably, I was at work. This time I did find the card - lying loose on the doorstep, which would explain why I didn't get the previous two.

Yodel operate a 'three strikes' policy, so I was looking forward to collecting my parcel from their depot in bloody Mitcham later in the week. To my great surprise, I saw a fourth 'out for delivery' notification on Tuesday.

It was all getting a bit Groundhog Day, and meeting the definition of madness as doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. But!

But the buzzer went when I'd been home from work less than five minutes. Obviously I was in the loo at the time, but I sprang out and leapt to hit the entry button. Then I ran down three flights of stairs in case the guy got tired and gave up, and received my parcel from his hands.

Funny thing, though. Yodel said they couldn't just leave my package somewhere inconspicuous, because the seller required a signature. Yet the courier didn't ask for one.

Oh well.

Dec. 12th, 2014

Christmas husky

Advent Stick, Day 12


Dec. 8th, 2014


It's About The Music, Man

The tail end of last week got super sociable, as I did dinner for (different) friends on both Wednesday and Thursday. Normally I am the one who makes the effort to travel in return for getting fed, so it made a change to do it the other way round. On the one hand, I find cooking for others a bit stressful; on the other, I could be in bed ten minutes after my guests left. Plus they brought me booze, and my roast potatoes turned out so well that I was quizzed on how I made them and had to confess to a combination of following my mum's methods and winging it. (My one pro tip: slice the potatoes longitudinally, for greater surface area.)

On Friday I went to hear Tom Cox talk at my local indie bookshop in the company of other likeminded souls, including timato whom I hadn't seen for years. Tom is my age and makes his living writing amusing books about cats, but is, annoyingly, far too nice for me to hate properly.

Last night was virtually sociable, on the initiative of insofox who came up with the idea of having a simultaneous album listen and IM chat. I think there were four of us listening along to the Decemberists' Picaresque, discussing each track in turn, and it didn't require much imagination to picture ourselves lolling on beanbags around a record player instead of hunched over computers, miles apart.

Dec. 1st, 2014

Christmas Max & 99

The Advent Stick

It struck me a few days ago that it was nearly December, I didn't have an Advent calendar, and the ones with tasteful pictures are expensive while the ones with cheap chocolate are horrible. So I set my powerful intellect to the problem of something seasonal, easy to construct in a short timeframe, and cheap if not free.

This is what I came up with.

Advent Branch

Yes. It's a stick with 24 nails hammered into it. Every day, I get to hang a tiny ornament (of which I have many) on a nail, thus marking the passage of December.

Helps defend those Christmas presents from burglars too!

(Stick provided by Howard.)

Nov. 23rd, 2014

Casino Royale

Not So Fast, Mr Bond

I have had wardy to stay for the weekend, largely so we could go to the Bond in Motion exhibition in Covent Garden.

Cars are perhaps the second most iconic, and most often parodied, aspect of the Bond films, just behind the opening sequence and ahead of the girls, so it makes perfect sense to theme an exhibition around them. (Bond in Motion was previously homed in the motor museum at Beaulieu, and I saw it there too, but obviously I wasn't going to object to seeing it again.)

Each vehicle was showcased alongside a touchscreen displaying its stats and a screen displaying its finer film moments. There was music, there were lights (including a water effect flowing over the amphibious Lotus), and there were other props from the series, my favourite being the cello case from The Living Daylights.

Exit was, of course, through the gift shop. Loved, but resisted: this poster reproducing the complete text of Casino Royale. There was also a photo station where you could don a dickey and DJ to have your image pasted into a gun barrel.

Top secret photos captured by cufflink cameraCollapse )

As well as the exhibition, I was able to show Wardy some of the delights of my new 'hood, including dinner at the Yak & Yeti, whose name always makes me think of Tintin In Tibet, and breakfast at Antenna's, SE19's own retro diner which I'd been longing to visit since first spotting it.

Nov. 19th, 2014

Alice Street

Everything's Coming Up Husky

Apologies for my long absence from the LJ front. As well as changing jobs, I have moved house, and home internet has only just been attained. Please assume I have no knowledge of anything you may have blogged over the last three weeks.

New flat: spacious, with a small balcony and an actual table at which one can eat meals like a civilised human being. A stone's throw from what estate agents disturbingly describe as Crystal Palace's 'vibrant triangle'.

New job: interesting, worthwhile, nice team, shame it's only till Christmas. (On my first day the guy who sits next to me made a joke about dogging, and I knew I had come home.)

Other things I have been doing:
  • Attended a performance of Welcome to Nightvale at the Shepherd's Bush Empire with my friend Oli
  • Bought the new Pink Floyd album on limited edition double vinyl and played it to death
  • Had my friend Kate round to dinner; stayed up till midnight talking, drinking wine and listening to LPs
  • Caught up with Dr Who and burst into tears, predictably, at [Spoiler (click to open)]Cyber Brig OMG
  • Written two furry-type stories within a week (possibly not unconnected to, er, unconnectedness), one of which was accepted within hours of submission

In conclusion: it's all good.

Oct. 6th, 2014


A Short Poem About Optimism

Every morning I wake up and say
"Perhaps something nice will happen today?"
It generally does not.
But it's worth a shot.

Sep. 29th, 2014

Don Quixote

A Bit of Fry & PG

On Friday I was lucky enough to see Stephen Fry talking about PG Wodehouse at the Soho Theatre, which is exactly the kind of thing that keeps me living in London. (My spare ticket, thanks to a retweet by the box office, went to a grateful fan.)

It would, of course, be a pleasure to hear Stephen Fry talking about anything at all; his voice is mellifluous and his vocabulary vast. But to hear him speak on a subject he knows and loves, and which I to a lesser extent know and love, in the intimate venue of the downstairs bar, was pure joy.

He opened by reading a very kind letter sent by the man himself to the teenage ‘Mr’ Fry in the early 1970s, which obviously had a profound effect, and continued with a brief summary of Wodehouse’s life, peppered with funny quotations. Perhaps the most enjoyable part of the evening was hearing him read out a selection of choice passages and one-liners (“Why do dachshunds wear their ears inside-out?”), although the extract from an essay he had written on Wodehouse was as good as you would expect. Above all, his great respect and admiration, this coming from a man more than qualified to recognise genius when he sees it, shone out.

Fry described the great gift of Wodehouse as ‘to be benign, to be gentle, to be kind, and to be funny’. If such were the mark that I myself managed to impress upon the world, I would leave it with good grace.

Sep. 28th, 2014


I Knew It

Better get on and do it, then.

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