Casual Christmas

I tried to be oh-so-modern and do all of my Christmas shopping online this year. On the plus side, I've avoided pikeys, malls and fake cheer for most of the month. Unfortunately, not everything has arrived in time.

This afternoon my mother is roasting a duck for two. Tomorrow my sister has invited me over for curry. That's when I'll see my father too. (I don't actually know what he's doing today but he has friends... I alternate between divorced parents on an annual basis.) I have presents for none of the above. Ironically, I have presents for Alice but we broke up as boyfriend/girlfriend recently and we won't see each other until New Year.

I hauled my ass to Sainsbury's on a lunch break last week so my colleagues did get Christmas cards. I chose a virgin-mother-and-child design which put the cat among the secular pigeons. If you're going to "do" Christmas I think you should do it all, is all. I bought some fancy chocolate biscuits too but they came home with me when we realised we had too great an abundance of food at the office.

I'm out of milk now and have four cigarettes to last until the shops re-open.

This morning I'm drinking black coffee and reminiscing about when there were only three TV stations and each pulled out their best-ever programming on Christmas Day. The I.T.V. network has four channels to fill nowadays which may explain the triple bill of Police, Camera, Action! today. News 24 has documentaries looking back at the year in conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Lebanon whereas Sky News has The Day The Whale Came To London. Other piss-poor highlights this year include a clip show called Best Ever Christmas Films (which must be cheaper or quicker than actually showing a film) and the complete World At War series on the History channel, to annoy whoever just got the boxed set from Santa.

Naturally, the jewel in the day's programming crown is the new Doctor Who episode. And don't the B.B.C. know it. There's a Making Of feature at 1300, a radio show from the show's set in Cardiff, and the feature broadcast at 1900. Plus you can watch a charity concert of music from the show all day via the magic red button on your remote control. I forgive them tugging the teets of the franchise quite this much while the output is still this good... though perhaps I should come back to that statement post-Catherine Tate.

So 2006-12-25 is really just another day with a different amount of driving. Whatever your plans, remember to remember those less fortunate than ourselves (with our internet and our food and our warmth and our television) today. Happy misappropriated winter solstice festival!


Welcome To Old Market

I've rented twenty-two places since I first ventured out from the family nest and I absolutely categorically love my new place the best. It's in a neglected corner of central Bristol called Old Market. Before the fog descended upon us with a density and durability that would make John Carpenter proud, I got out and about in the neighbourhood with a camera.

Where the heart is.
Where my neighbour's heart ought to be.
The place for guitars and classic rock memorabilia.
There are several specialist shops because rents are low here.
They have a price promise and a cash machine on the premises.
For the green-fingered.
Even scarier than the one on EastEnders but the beer is dirt cheap.
The Trinity: both a church and a nightclub.
Nice almshouse.
Civilisation lies this-away!

It has real... "character", wouldn't you say?


Plane Decadance

I've been travelling. Mostly for work. York and back in a day was an endurance test: 500 miles for an hour with a customer! My other meetings were all in the South and felt like trips to the corner shop for a packet of peanuts after that one.

I spent a lovely weekend in Brighton catching up with The Paranoid Mod, Basquiat Scrawls and their "entourage". I discovered how to make coffee when your host has no coffee-making apparatus and I completely forgot to take any photographs.

I got up at 0400 on Friday to get to Heathrow Airport by 0730. I met four colleagues there and twenty more at Schipol. We were bussed to a canal boat where a tour guide tried to tell us what we already knew about the city of Amsterdam while we tried to have conversations in second languages with people we hadn't seen in twelve months.

That evening we were taken to a converted army barracks somewhere off the road to Haarlem. There were glittering decorations and, inexplicably, there was a unicorn suspended from the ceiling. There was a D.J. and an organ grinder playing I Shot The Sherriff. There was a free bar. There was no sales meeting. (I enjoyed not carrying my computer.) The entire trip was a "jolly" because we've had a good year. And when management is happy, we drones in Sector 7G are happy!

By Saturday afternoon I was home again, like nothing had happened.

I wouldn't say the Dutch always know how to have more fun but here's what we did on the last U.K. office outing.