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.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Not so dramatic

Incidentally, I discovered tonight that the phrase bo selecta actually has a meaning.

I'd heard it first in the 1999 Craig David single, Rewind, and my old flatmate Merkin used the phrase from the song occasionally as what appeared to be a meaningless interjection. (Merkin, are you out there? Your site's looking a little worse for wear)

Now I know the horrible truth, thanks to TNT Magazine's clubbing guide and its back-page glossary.

I didn't say that it meant anything very profound, though.

Job security

My faithful recruiter Vic (I'll call him that because it's his name) told me yesterday that he'd tried to press his client for some actual figures, dates, and maybe even a contract for me to sign. He explained that they'd been having some organisational issues trying to fit me into the team; apparently, the original role called for someone "just a web monkey" but they wanted to take advantage of my diverse background skills, so they've been playing the responsibility shuffling game.

They had, however, committed to having a proper written offer ready in the next 24 hours. Vic told me to give them 48, but asked if I had a wife he could use as emotional leverage to make them hurry up. We discussed starting dates, and provisionallly set the Monday after next as a good balance.

Imagine my suprise, then, when I looked in my mailbox this morning and saw this:

I have managed to speak to [the mystery employer] this morning and the news isn't quite what I had expected. They have made one offer to another developer and therefore explored the possibility of whether there is now room to accomodate both of you. The problem appears whether they can provide you with sufficiently challenging work to keep you interested and secondly whether they can justify your salary requirement for the work involved. They have discussed the matter internally at a meeting and regrettably they couldn't work it out even though you are a strong candidate by their own admission.

He went on to explain that he was angry at the situation and that they had apologised, but he suggested I start following up other opportunities in the mean time.

Good advice, I'm sure.

The stranger is you

I went out to Panic! at the Roxy last night to celebrate Bob's birthday. Cheap drinks, good music, friendly crowd; what more could you ask for? We headed off just after midnight so that we grab the tube home, but there were plenty of people still arriving as we left (the club went on until 3am). I can't imagine having a decent crowd like that out on a regular Tuesday night back home in New Zealand.

Go London.

You know, someone on my tour said that some people just have to live in London or New York. Tokyo and Paris probably count as well, but I think I am beginning to understand what he was talking about.

What's scary, though, is that I think I might be one of those people.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Oh, sorry about the short post the other night -- I was had just stumbled home drunk and felt that I should post something before I went to bed. I'm not sure where that line of reasoning came from, but we can all see the results weren't pretty or useful.

Note to my commanding officer, however: mission complete.

Shop your way through employment limbo

So the pub lunch meet-up with my potential employers went ahead today (instead of Friday).

I was lead to believe that this discussion would not be a formal interview, but instead would be a discussion of the upcoming projects within the company—so that I could comment on them, or so that we could work out the best place to put me. I also figured that we'd talk salary and maybe get a contract signed.

I bet none of you would be too suprised if I told you that I was completely wrong.

The meeting was a long lunch at the pub, downing a couple of pints and shooting the breeze. True, it was a more technical breeze than the average work 'do, but the three of us were programmers after all. The only talk of money was around the comparative banking habits of the British, Europeans and Australasians. Upcoming projects were only mentioned if they were an example of whatever technology we were discussing at the time. As for contracts, well. the best I got was a bit of a wink and a nod at the end, with the senior manager smiling as he mentioned having a couple of other candidates to see and that they'd be in touch.

The recruitment agent I'm working through for this job said he'd call me after the interview for any updates, so I thought I'd hang around town and do a spot of shopping while I waited for him to call; I was kind of holding out for him to call and tell me to go back to the office for the contract. Instead, I bought about £60 of useless junk from the Virgin Megastore.

I've already finished A Game Of You (it's only six chapters) and I think I'm going to give Preludes and Nocturnes to Bob for his birthday tomorrow. I met the drummer from Poison the Well the other night and I promised him that I'd check them out—I'm sure I'd come across the name somewhere before, but couldn't remember where. Apparently they've sold a few hundred records in New Zealand, so maybe Channel Z (may it be at peace) or The Rock were playlisting them at some stage. Sounds good so far, anyway—which is more than I can say for Cowboy Bebop. I can't get bad anime voice-overs out of my head as I read it; I have a suspicion this may not be a translation issue but more a stylistic one. I think I just don't like the sort of happy co-incidence let's-take-turns-speaking pulp that seems to dominate these Japanese stories.

You know, I should do like Jon and use my blog to post reviews of albums, books and video games. Nobody would agree with what I say, and I hate pretty much everything. That's enough to be a critic, right? Hmm. Maybe I need to learn to express my experiences with art in a rich velvety cocoon of analogy and witty puns.

Update 2 Nov 2005: Updated links to the Bedlam Image Gallery. Tidied puntuation and HTML.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

I went out and had fun. So ner ner ner.

Friday, September 23, 2005

The bewildering British

I almost forgot the mandatory random links!

Transport for London asked passengers what they found most irritating about other people on the Tube. Apparently, you're causing distress to your fellow passengers if you look like you own an accordion. Over four thousand responses find this the most irritating thing about other people.

Danger! Ancient Vegetables

OK, so I didn't go to bed straight after posting that nonsense last night. In fact, I stayed up until morning light drawing little cartoon characters on the sketch pad I bought from Tesco. I do that kind of thing far too often; I don't know why I have so much trouble just going to bed. I'm trying to keep to a reasonable sleeping schedule, but getting up at 1pm after five hours of sleep just isn't what I call reasonable.

I'm so very tired.

Oh, and I'm starting to get frustrated with my maybe-employers. It's been a couple of weeks since I got the go-ahead, and still I have nothing concrete to show for it. I had to put off an offer on a six-month contract in Croydon today because I couldn't guarantee I would be available for an interview on Wednesday. What if I start on Monday? Grr.

Oh, and the title of the post—I spent a good chunk of this evening excavating bags of peas from the freezer. Some of the bags had best before dates going back to 2003, and the entire compartment was completely frozen over. The freezer in Flatmate Idol had nothing on this.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Midnight mumblings

I dealt with a real Jewish merchant! He had a little skullcap thingy on and everything. London is awesome!

My good friend Bob has been spending a lot of time over here lately, so posting isn't as frequent as I'd like. It's not polite to sit at the computer, writing to The World In General when you are entertaining friends. Even if you have interesting stuff that you will forget about if you don't tell the world Right Now Or At Least Really Soon. I would especially like to take notes on some of the weird and wicked dreams I've been having and post them up here. Dreams are awesome!

Incoherent? Perhaps. But it's very late at night and I'm only posting because I feel like I'm letting the team down on posts.

There's a possibility I start work on Monday, so I should really get my sleeping patterns sorted out. I'm meeting some management folk at the pub on Friday; I wonder what we will talk about?

Monday, September 19, 2005

Videos for the boys of the 80s

Today's mindless time-filling links are music videos—sort of.

In Fabulous Secret Powers, you can watch the Prince of Eternia (AKA He-Man) getting his groove on with an iconic early 90's song. Whoomp called it He-Man does 4 Non Blondes. I call it classic!

Prince Adam has also been keeping a web journal, where a fan mentioned Eternian Idol: Skeletor covers Alien Ant Farm covering Michael Jackson, and gets grilled by the judges. Listen for the authentic public service announcement at the end about the dangers of taking short-cuts!

Speaking of public service announcements, GI Joe had them as well. I never watched the show when I was a kid (so I'm obviously not a real man), but I figure there's a few of you out there who will appreciate the randomness.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Democracy vs Pie: Who will win?

I didn't make the vote.

But I did get a beer, an ice cream, some popcorn, a Brad Pitt film and a slice of tasty pizza for £5. That's right, just a pound per item. That'd be a good deal even in New Zealand money.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

They like me! They really like me!

The HR manager is on an extended sailing trip and won't be back for a bit, but the news is in—I have a job coming!

My faithful recruiter tells me the senior management have they have decided they could make use of my unique blend of skills and don't want let me slip away. This means I will soon be earning actual pounds!

To celebrate this upcoming prosperity, I think it makes sense to round up some mates and go drinking or something. Not in the dragged-unconscious-from-the-bathroom style of something, though -- I've learnt my lesson.

(photo of Rob skulling a Dixie cup of vodka) (photo of Rob looking worse for wear)

Thanks to Payfen for the reminder.

Anyone up for an evening out somewhere in London?

Update 2 Nov 2005: Updated links to the Bedlam Image Gallery.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

No seriously, I was really thirsty

Even with his reputation for being a boring and clean-cut hero, it seems that Superman is a Dick. This stopped me from getting juice when I was seriously parched. In a similar vein, I found a page of unintentionally sexual comic book covers on Maddox's best site in the world. (Maddox is the guy that is best known for his critical reviews of children's art.)

Darkness falls across the land

I think I've moved into another mime house.

The maintenance guy came around last night to look at a leak from the unfinished room above the kitchen. Later last night, we began to notice that the lights no longer worked. None of the lights in the house. I guess that he hit the circuit-breaker so that the leak didn't do bad things to the kitchen lights, but it seems he neglected to tell us what was going on. We now have candle-lit toilets.

In other news, it's only a week until Talk Like A Pirate Day! Arrr, matey!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

How about an electro-industrial "Jenny from the Block"?

I love cross-genre covers. I used to collect MP3s like Tori Amos covering Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit or Rob Zombie covering KC and the Sunshine Band's Boogeyman. Reading Jeet's Page of Stuff (notes from a South African who lives close to my tube stop) I discovered Sarah McLachlan covering the NWA (probably not safe for work). The same site, AlCan'tHang, has Ben Folds doing a Dr Dre song and a picture of a remarkably creative Stella drinker.

Gruelling test tomorrow. I've even done a little refresher course on PHP. Oh, and does anyone have a suggestion for proving that I earned my RHCE certificate—bearing in mind that my actualy paper certificate is on the other side of the planet?

Update 14 Sep: Red Hat responded remarkably quickly and efficiently once I submitted a request using the Red Hat Certification Feedback form.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Happy birthday to me

It appears that today is the anniversary of my birth, 24 year ago. At least, it is in this time zone. Woot. I haven't really had the knack of celebrating birthdays since... well, ever, really.

Nic is down at the mall today, and I'm meant to be home preparing for the gruelling two-hour testing process that my potential employer uses to screen undesirables.

Tiger Power is a very odd cereal. It's like sugar-flavoured Shredded Wheat. I don't know how or why Kellog's decided to make a cereal that tasted like sugar, but I suppose it's better than actually being covered in sugar like the Frosties brand with which Tiger Power shares a mascot.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Danish Goodness

Remember the Danish gangster films from the Incredible Film Festival a while back? In English they were In China They Eat Dogs and its prequel, Old Men in New Cars. These films were in a similar vein to Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels; apparently many people thought that they were unnecessarily violent. Bollocks. They were necessarily violent.

Well, I think that's what I think. I haven't actually seen the films for years; it was hard finding DVD copies that had English subtitles, and I gave up.

Now a Dane I know (well, she's a half Danish and half Swedish) has sparked my interest in Scandinavian screen once more.

There is a cult thriller/horror mini-series called Riget that is set in a Copenhagen hospital and has been described as ER meets Twin Peaks. It has been released in English as a five-hour movie called The Kingdom, but it doesn't stop there: it seems Stephen King liked it and lent his name to an American adaptation, Stephen King's Kingdom Hospital.

Sadly, the DVD for the Danish work seems to be something of a rarity, and I'd really much prefer to see the original.

I need some film friends over here so that they can care, too.

Les Misérables

I just saw my first West End stage show.

The Cameron Mackintosh production of the famous Les Misérables musical. Nic and I ummed and aahed outside the ticket booth, deciding which show would hold the special place in our histories as our first. In retrospect, I don't know why I even considered seeing anything else. There's a reason that this show has been running for 17 years—it's fantastic.