Saturday, May 17, 2008

England - a working holiday

Caron has been going overseas so much in the last few years that if one was to add it all up she has been away from home more than half a year in the last 4 years so we decided that this trip, I would accompany her and be the 'kept' husband - the secret dream of husbands all over the world.

Caron left on tuesday evening and I flew out on thursday and, as usual, timing from a work point of view couldn't have been any worse. My network administrator resigned unexpectedly and this is going to leave a big hole for me to fill so i've been trying to get him to fill in the documentation gaps but he is about as enthusiastic as a horse going to the knackers yard.

The flight was fairly good, no screaming children, no fat people encroaching on my space. Between drugs, ear plugs, eye patches and neck braces one can actually get an ok nights sleep. A friend of mine maintains that the only difference between cattle and first class is the strength of the drugs that you need to take to knock one'self out.

Landed in the new terminal, the one famed for losing baggage, which is simply cavernous. There are 12 baggage handling points and we were the only one in action. After waiting for about 20 minutes watching the baggage carousel going around and around there was an announcement that there was a 'sorting' problem as the first pieces of baggage popped out from the bowels of terminal 5. Seeing as we were the only ones in the entire hall, I'm curious as to whose baggage ours was being mixed up with - I think it may just be their stock excuse.

I caught the heathrow express into paddington, two tubes to fleet street, a train out to brentwood and a taxi to the hotel. 30 GBP of public transport - no wonder it works here - it costs a fortune. Watching the scenery flashing by I can help but feel that england is a vast exercise in studied decay and grime. There are so many examples of walls or buildings in desperate need of repair; back home people would be complaining of the shoddy workmanship quitely meaning that black people, who do the vast majority of work, just aren't capable. Here the same shoddy work, now done by white people, is 'quaint' and lends 'character' to the scenery. What rot, shoddy work is shoddy work, like the wall that has just about eroded away because the bricks weren't fired properly.

I spent most of the day working remotely which didn't actually work that badly, I had conference calls and support calls where no-one was the wiser that I actually wasn't in the office. I've finally started getting my laptop in order again after it's reformat on tuesday which has made a dramatic difference to the perceived speed.
At about 16:00 I decided to call it a day and take a walk into brentwood about 4 miles distant.

The first thing one notices is that there is an innordinate number of hair dressers and beauty salons - not that it has made much of a difference to the local population. It reminds me of a joke I received which shows a bevy of blonde beauties and the caption was "Swedish girls - making English girls look ugly for 200 years". On the way home I was hit by a plastic water or juice bottle that was thrown from a passing mini-van. Although it hit me quite hard it wasn't that sore thankfully. So it seems that I've left a country ruled by fear and arrived in a country ruled by boredom. Speaking to the barman later on it turns out that this seems to a common occurrence where he lives but he hadn't heard of it around here.

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