Squirk's Overseas Experience

The tales of one Kiwi returning to Mother Britain and exploring the Big Wide World... without being eaten by a shark.

Monday, January 05, 2009

I want to talk to someone about soybeans.

Have you ever had a bad day at work? Ever steamed in frustration after talking to an idiot? I'm sure you, gentle reader, are far above such behaviour but I've been spring-cleaning my inbox and I found my friend's little piece of spleen-venting:

I am currently working at the Christchurch City Council in the call centre, its OK, ppl are pretty grumpy, and if they re not grumpy then they are asking the weirdest questions which make you want to say WHY THE HELL ARE YOU CALLING THE COUNCIL!!!?!??!?!

We started writing these down, these are just some of them!

  • "What's the phone number so can I get a job picking mushrooms?"
  • "Hi, we are having a function in September and want to know where we can get some Indian music CDs?"
  • "I'd like to import an exotic cat, can I?"
  • "What was the background music played at the Art Gallery two Sundays ago?"
  • "Hi, I want to talk to someone about soybeans..."
  • "My daughter's boyfriend is being released from prison, can you tell me who to contact about this!"
  • "I would like a list of all the free doctors there are in Christchurch."
  • Someone has rung to say he has built a garage. He rang requesting we now remove the street tree that is blocking the vehicle access way to the garage.
  • "I have a couple of beds, who do I call?"
  • "Do the service centres do drivers' licences?"
  • "Do you know the number of the Christchurch Pony Club?"

What are we, Telecom?

The message was dated October 2006, so I guess the list grew quite a bit after that. I wonder if the full list is available online anywhere?

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mo-vember 2008

It's Mo-vember again. The month formerly known as November when men all over the world (but mostly Australia) grow silly facial hair for giggles. And charity. It's changing the face of men's health, don'tchaknow. (Apparently this year it's doing something about depression at the same time.)

Nobody in Britain knew what I was on about when I became a Mo'Bro three years ago, but times have changed. I've noticed a British disbeliever form his own team this year.

Check out my MoSpace page to track my progress, and be the first to sponsor me.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Saved from the Drafts: Watching films

This piece was originally written on April 18th, with the intent of posting it some time later that week. Here it is, some three months later.

I've been watching movies. By myself. (This is actually something of a milestone.)

I've seen a couple of good 'uns, and a couple of pretty forgettable films too. The Dendy cinema on Circular Quay has been pretty good to me so far so I think I may have to make it a regular after-work stop. They have "festival"-style films, super-friendly staff and you get beer with your popcorn. What more could you ask for?

I also got around to watching my copy of Graveyard, which I received as part of a package deal with my Hate Song comics about two years ago.

It seems that ridiculously out-of-whack timescales is a common theme in my life.

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Bats are awesome

In the same way that I was excited by seeing actual squirrels when I was in London, I was suprised and intrigued when I noticed actual bats flapping their way overhead. Suprisingly, they did look just like symbol Batman uses.

I don't know if this swarming is a regular occurrence; unless you count Gotham, I'd never heard of bats in the city.

I just wish I had a camera (with batteries) on me at the time.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Housing in Sydney

Finding accommodation in Sydney is apparently super-easy if you're a female Asian student looking to share a room on a long-term basis.

I'm none of those things, sadly, and that makes my job a lot harder.

I did find a room by myself in Bondi Junction, a conveniently-located transport hub, and almost took it – twice.

I met the people — a British designer and a French "cat-lady" — and got on well enough with them. It seemed a better situation than sharing a room in the industrial back-streets of central Sydney, but I didn't want to jump into anything so I asked for a day or two to think about it.

Actually, I was so impressed by the place that I pretty much took the next day from house-hunting, just glancing over the headlines and thinking how they paled compared to my little winner. Imagine my disappointment, then, when I e-mailed to say that I'd take it and discovered they'd given the room to a Spanish bloke who'd been recommended.

Gutted as I am, I can't do anything about it so I've gone back to searching. I'm disappointed in myself that I don't have anything else lined (and I already let go of the best room-share so far).

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Goodbye, laptop "Corse"

I mentioned that my laptop was broken. Now it's gone. And it's all my fault.

Although I figured that it would cost more to repair than to replace, I figured I'd get a quote on it anyway. I just needed to get the address of some local repair guys so I could get them to take a look at it. (Apparently LaptopTec are pretty good at repairing individual components rather than swapping out entire boards like most folks do.)

I put the laptop in a bag, got the address from the local cybercafé, then got distracted looking for a place to stay. By the time I was done, I'd organised a viewing at a nice place in Bondi Junction -- and left without my bag. The place had signs up saying "thieves are about" and "watch your stuff" so I kept checking it every so often, making sure it was still on the floor under my desk.

I obviously had some kind of brain failure, because I utterly forgot about it until I'd been gone for about ten minutes. Unsuprisingly, it was gone when I got back. I left my details at the desk in case it shows up, but I'd be foolish to expect it back now.

It wasn't much of a computer -- it was three years old, and about the cheapest that was going at the time -- so I'm not as fazed as you might expect. Heck, I'd seen enough posters up saying things like "help I've lost my laptop and my thesis/novel/music collection that I've been working on for years please return the laptop I'll give you money" so I was pretty big on keeping anything important in at least two places.

There's an old saying in IT: No backup, no sympathy.

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Sydney: First Impressions

I fought with ridiculously early flights, broken wrist straps, and angry French girls but I made it to Sydney in one piece.

I thought that we went in for "what you see is what you get" pricing* here Down Under, but I found myself haggling over the price of my hostel here in Chinatown.

I've been here a couple of days now and I've done little more than wander the streets. That's fine by me, though. Wandering is inexpensive (although the cost of aloe vera drinks keeps climbing) and healthy (apart from the skin cancer and traffic fumes), and in the old European capitals it was guaranteed to be interesting.

Here, I've discovered a lot of chain stores, dodgy ethnically-themed eateries, and heritage-plaqued buildings. Much like London, really. The only difference is that the heritage plaques read more like:

This is an early example of Federation Warehouse style of building. The builder and architect are not known.
instead of:
Charles Darwin, noted botanist and biologist, lived here when he was a student.
Oh, and the Oriental food here is actually pretty reasonable, as opposed the excessive blandness most of the middle-Eastern food in London.

I've missed not one but two improvisational comedy shows: the cheap one because I couldn't find the street, the expensive one because I was in an Internet cafe looking for accommodation.

Speaking of accommodation, I'm not having much luck on the Internet front. I might have to start calling the numbers on those little tear-off paper signs that people stick on lamp-posts.

Also, I'm rather disappointed that my laptop is now out of commission. I'm considering buying an Apple Macbook.

*A local shoe-shiner was interviewed in the Time Out, where he complains that people don't tip in this city.

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