Sunday, April 29, 2007

This is ridiculous...'s quarter to eleven (pm) and I'm figuring out how to get from Richmond to Didcot, of all places. There's a training day happening in Sutton Courtney tomorrow which I'd like to go to but I don't know if I'm actually booked to go on it as I only sent off my application form on Thursday. I tried calling on Friday but could get no answer.

So this is my solution: go to Didcot anyway and call while I'm on my way. If I'm on the course I'll carry on to Sutton Courtney. If I'm not I'll go walking on the Ridgeway. The weather forecast for tomorrow is sunny and 20C - so I'm not entirely sure which I'd actually prefer... What a situation to be in though!! At any rate, I'm hoping this will teach me never to leave booking until the last minute, and also to approach these situations without worrying too much about what I can't help or do anything about. In fact it is rather exciting to set off without know what will happen!

Well, apart from for pre-7 am start that is.

¿Que van a tomar?

Thursday evening I did my first ever shift in a pub (called Britannia) and forayed into the world of pouring pints, selling crisps, and g&t's. Most of it was straight forward enough and I can only hope that it is a matter of practise in getting a "right head" on the beer rather than any ineptitude on my part. At one point of the evening I completely failed to open a bottle of wine and had to go to the manager to ask him to do it...but I have been asked to come back and do four shifts next week so I guess they don't think I'm utterly useless.

It is a relief to have some work to do. I am very glad to be able to sign off from the benefits and the horrible experience of having to go to a jobcentre every fortnight. I was looking for part-timework so that I can continue volunteering with Richmond Environment Network and I reckon I have more in common in selling beer than in selling dresses that cost £150, which seemed to be the other option! As it was, one of the first people I met runs a youth club and wanted my advice for running a playscheme in the summer and said there might be work in it for me too. I doubt I would've met her in a posh clothes shop.

I have no idea what to expect from this job in the long run, but for now I'm glad to be doing something. At any rate it can't be worse than working in that bakery so I think I'll survive!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

"We tune because we care"

Last Sunday my parents and I were invited to an impromtu concert in a garden in North London. We and some 13 others were entertained by Tim and Jared who took it in turnes to play the guitar and sing songs to us. The wine, nibbles, and - most importantly - the music kept us going for almost three hours and long past the sun had set. I am full of admiration for anyone who can help create that magical connection with music between everyone present. Though I do think somebody should come up with some more cheerful folk songs, you know, ones that aren't about death, loss, or piracy on the high seas. It was a brilliant evening and made me wish, once again, that I could play the guitar, feel confident about playing infront of others, and have the memory to have three hours worth of songs stored in my head.

I heard lots of new music that evening. I love the poignant lyrics and the poetry in them, which, afterall, is rather rare. Two of my favourites were Lies by Stan Roger and Tecumseh Valley by Towes Van Zandt. And of course, the last song which Tim introduced as a happy song (but with death and destruction in it)... I wouldn't describe it as a happy song myself, but it had hope in it. It was about an 11 year old Palestinian boy who was killed by the Israeli army and his father saying that the peace needs to start somewhere and it was going to start here with no one retaliating against the Israelis. Heart-breakingly sad. But with hope in it.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Beginning of summer

What do butterflies, James Bond, goths, Wicked Witch of the West, and Cleopatra have in common? That's right: a fancy dress party! It's great fun having an excuse to dress up and invite people around. It reminds me of the fancy dress party we had on Iona where the resources are far more limited. Nonetheless people managed some surprising costumes (the Iona ferry and a scrabble board) showing great ingenuity.

This summery spell has seen a great influx of people to Richmond and therefore this household (plus guests) has resorted to sitting out in our huge garden on a colourful blanket and sipping wine. It's a quiet spot to retreat to when the crowds along the river or in Richmond Green get overwhelming, and last evening as dusk decended I realised we have several bats that frequent our garden and swoop around catching insects. This is not the first time I've lived in a place which has a distinct summer life that is different to it's winter existence, in fact many of my summers seem to have involved dodging tourists... However, as I have yet to find the little back alley local haunts I'll have to hold of the faint smugness for a while longer.

Bbq-season here we come...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Singing in St Paul's Cathedral

For the culmination of Holy Week I went to four services - four eucharist services - in under 24 hours (which has got to be a personal best!)... The last one I went to was a Taize Eucharist service in St Paul's Cathedral. Lotte and I went there as a response to a plea of help from the coordinators of the Iona-style Wee Sing in London, as they had been asked to do the music. So roughly 25 of us turned up, had a quick practise of the Taize chants and songs (literally going through everything once and rather quickly), and then we got to sing infront of the hundreds of people who had come to the service! I also made it more complicated myself by choosing to sing alto. I enjoy that, but I'm not an expert at sight reading music and we did not practise the alto parts at all and some of the songs we sung I had never come across either! I wasn't the only one in the same situation...

A classic case of glibly agreeing to something without really thinking the matter through.

However, the concentrated effort I put into sing my parts helped me forget to be nervous infront of the biggest crowd I've ever sung before, and I ended up enjoying the whole experience. The Catherdral is really beautiful and the acoustic made our improtu choir sound pretty good too. I'm even considering going along to the next Wee Sing - thankfully it's not any sort of a performance! Afterwards the presiding vicar, Laura, invited us to her flat for wine and nibbles so we got to have a look inside the Amen Courts too. Singing in St Paul's Cathedral on Easter Sunday has got to be one of the most improbable things I've done recently. Luckily I enjoyed it!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Of Dr Who and stuff

Well, the Dr Who season has kicked off again. I was lucky enough to have fellow enthusiasts from Swansea visiting me so we all sat down to marvel at the Doctor's new assistant, Martha Jones, and the fact that a chunck of it was filmed in the library of Swansea University. Obviously they disguised the place a little, but if you have spent three years of your life in a building (or that's what it feels like) you are bound to recognise it! Anyhow it was very exciting spotting one's old haunts on telly...

For reasons unknown John Travolta is lurking downstairs by our bins. Okay, so it is a cardboard cut out of him and some fellow actors, but it is not the sort of thing I expect when taking the rubbish out. I often catch him in the corner of my eye when going indoors, and at night that can be a little alarming. At least he's not as noisy as the fox who have their den in our back garden.

Hilton Maldives will be opening the very first all-glass underwater restaurant in the world on the 15th of April (isn't it amazing what one learns from the internet?) and soon diners will be able to watch what they eat swim by... Doesn't that sound amasing? I can't wait for this to become available to us mere peasants. Although I don't know how much we'd actually see in the Thames. Perhaps Scotland would have the advantage over us seeing as they have some stunningly clear and gorgeous waters. Sounds like the drier option to diving, at any rate, with no risk of the bends.