March 2003 Archives -

Moving House

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Well, this is it. Tomorrow my family and I are moving to another house, this time in Liss. And tonight is my last taste of broadband for a while – the new house is one of only four houses in the area unable to get cable or BT broadband. What on earth will I do? Will I survive? Highly unlikely. I’ll have loads more time, for one thing. I wonder how I’ll cope… tune in next week to find out…

Course Ended

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Well, my course is over, and my head is nearly exploding with facts and figures. I waved goodbye to my hotel yesterday night, after an eventful few days. After the chaos of the power cut, I assumed there would be nothing that annoyed me more. However, I was plainly wrong. The second day heralded the arrival of two man occupying either side of my room. One was an ex-army soldier, and the other was a rather plump middle-aged businessman, who managed to cough every thirty seconds. That night, as i settled down and turned off my light, I hoped the coughing had ceased. It had. Lovely, I thought. I closed my eyes, and started to drift off.
SnnnooOOOORRRRREEEE, the businessman said.
SnNNNNNNOOOORRREEE, the businessman repeated.
Half and hour later, I gave up and turned the light on again. 11.53pm. Must be some news on TV, I thought, so I turned it on. Then, from the other side, a watery sound slowly started, as if someone was poured a lot of water into a sink. Utter horror crossed my face as I realised what it was: not to be outdone, the ex-soldier was steadily urinating into the CENTRE of the loo, making the loudest sound possible. It was as if he was showing off.
At 1.30, after 3 loo visits from the ex-soldier, I decided to admit defeat and bury my head under the pillow. The ex-soldier could drain his python all night long; the businessman could snore for England as far as I was concerned – I could hear a thing.
I woke up the next morning to find that my entire head was numb. Blasted pillow. As I trundled down to breakfast, I noticed two door knockers outside the restaurant. I picked them up and brought them into the dining area – an action I now regret, as the entire giggling restaurant staff now know me as the “Man with Two Knockers”.
The general idea of my stay is that the bill is picked up by my company, but any newspapers or drinks I buy, I should pay for. That’s fair, I thought, it should only be about 4 pounds. I approached the desk to check out with a fiver in my hand.
“That’ll be 112 pounds and 20 pence please sir,” the polite lady informed me. Oh, I thought. “I have a fiver, will that do?” I enquired. The lady asked if I have enjoyed the 3 bottles of wine to a total of 110 pounds I had consumed the previous evening. No, I replied, before examining the bill and explaining the simple rules of decimal points and division. After reds faces all round, the bill was modified to 4 pounds 13 pence, and I was on my merry way.
I’ll miss the place…

Saddam Joke

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Favourite War-related joke of the moment:
What do Saddam Hussein and Ms Muffet have in common?
They both have kurds in their way.

Course: Day One

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Yesterday was the start of my week long course in SQL. I won’t bore you with the details, save to say that it’s going to do my career no end of good. I was a little bleary-eyed after the previous night’s events, and wandered into the car park, only to have my ears rudely assaulted by the sight of my SQL trainer. He drew up in a bright red sports car, exhausts vibrating the surrounding foliage, and jumped out, ready for action. It was his hair that first made me laugh – a bright yellow Eminem-style barnet on top on a distinctly middle-aged man. The next sign of madness was his bright green bow tie and matching waistcoat. “Christ,” I thought. “Blimey,” I uttered, moments later.
Sadly, the rest of the day didn’t have anything remotely noteworthy, and there were no audible sneezes in the hotel kitchen that night. The bombs are still falling, but the power cuts have stopped. It’s all settled down.

First Day in a Hotel

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I spent my first night in an Oxfordshire hotel last night. It was an eery time, especially in the imposing manor that would be my home for 4 days. Sunday nights in hotels are apparently the quietest time, according to the receptionist and as I looked around, taking in the huge ornate drawing room and dark wood of the reception’s balcony, I hoped that I would find something to occupy my mind.
As it happens, I didn’t find anything remotely interesting, so I trundled off to the restaurant for my evening meal. It was pleasant enough, but once again the place was deserted – my only company was a couple of old age pensioners and a rather underworked waiter. The high point came during my main course, when, from the kitchen, the chef enjoyed possibly the largest sneeze I have ever heard, followed by an anguished cry: “Oh Christ, has anyone got a tissue?” I thanked god that my main meal was already on the table, and pitied the poor sods next to me as their meal came out seconds later.
As I watched the latest bombing on Iraq after I’d returned to my room, I began to feel a little isolated. My particular room block was as far as possible away from the main building, and I felt a little vulnerable, being one of only 5 residents in the hotel. As a particularly loud and devasting bomb was filmed landing in Baghdad, the lights suddenly went out. My entire room was in darkness, and it took a full five seconds for me to assume the worst – the Iraqi army had arrived in Oxfordshire. I scrambled to get my shoes on, and bumped my way out of the room. The whole place was in darkness, and as I reached reception, I found bunker mentality had already set in – the old dears were discussing the war, their entire lives, and demanding milk for their tea, which must have been luke warm at best. The manager informed us that this was the first test for the backup generator. It dawned on us that it had blatently failed. The imposing architecture of the building’s interior just looked plain scary, and for the next 30 minutes, we huddled in darkness. Finally, after one old girl regailed us with a ‘hilarious’ tale, the lights turned on again, and we tottered back.
And that was only my first day…

Baghdad Blogger

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I posted a couple of days ago about a weblog called Dear Raed, written by a man in Baghdad observing the current war. Since then, the website have become very popular, with loads of hits a day. Now there appears to be a great deal of debate about whether he’s real or not: Paul Boutin has posted his latest analysis, and comes out in favour.

Nick’s Housewarming

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My new clean-living lifestyle has only one side effect: when I do actually go to party and drink recklessly, I feel utterly, utterly dreadful the next morning. I took Nick’s housewarming party last night as a clear opportunity to drink most of a bottle of vodka, as we partied in his lovely new house. The 42 inch TV in the corner gave us the surreal situation of slowly getting leathered while watching bombs dropping on Baghdad. The US forces’ ‘shock and awe’ tactics of bombing the hell out of Iraq went into action – the shock was somewhat numbed by the alcohol, but I was certainly in awe. This war is being televised more than any other conflict, and it’s grippingly horrifying.