September 2005 Archives -

One Wild Night, Sometime Next Year

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I was poised on the “Find Tickets” button, having a fit of giggles. Ticketmaster had kindly allowed us to book tickets to a Bon Jovi concert a year early. However, the plan to book them wasn’t without obstacles. The venue, Wembley Stadium, had yet to be built. We had no idea if the venue would be built in time or even what the seating allocation would be. The ticket booking limit in one transaction was six, but we had eight eager and willing ticketholders waiting for the chance to seat next to each other and watch the magnificent Bon Jovi in action.
So, we hatched a plan. Jac and I would buy four tickets each, at the same time, and hopefully we would be allocated tickets if not next to each other, then pretty damn close. After tricking the Ticketmaster helpline into serving me a live helpdesk person instead of its automated service, we confirmed there was no way to group book, and all the gold and silver tickets were sold out. Not a happy moment. (By the way: if anyone wants to know how to do the Ticketmaster Trick, just phone 0870 4000700 and don’t type anything into the handset when you connect to the Ticketmaster helpline. It’ll soon tire of your ineptitude and shove you through to a call handler.)
Still, the plan had promise, and I phoned Jac up and prepared to click the website button that would allocate our tickets at almost identical times. Counting down from three, Jac and I were ready.
This was it. Our ticket allocations were about to digitally collide in union.
Jac’s call to action prompted our right hands – one in Harrow, one in Guildford – to simultaneously click the “find tickets” button, and over the next few minutes we feverishly typed in our details in unison, before finally submitting our payment and getting confirmation. Confirmation that we were going to attend one of the seminal moments in the opening week of one of the seminal stadiums in London with good friends either side.
So roll on Sunday 11th June 2006. Even if we do end up on different sides of the gargantuan stadium.

Look out for that tree…

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Dear god, a bit of an oversight – I’ve completely forgotten to announce that Michelle has successfully navigated around Guildford and is now officially legal to drive! Thrilled to bits, she eagerly awaited the driving licence, only to find that they’d spelt her home address wrong and had to send it back again. Well done on passing your driving test, you – and I’m throughly looking forward to you being able to demand you drive us home after I’ve had one to many in Cranley Hotel…

A little too trusting…

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When I got my car a good year ago I ordered, nay demanded, in-built satellite navigation. It was a necessity for all those visits to customers, I claimed to the company car people, cleverly disguising the fact that all I really wanted to do was show the funky gadget off to my friends. Twelve months later and those colourful digitised maps have been a blessing in disguise. It sometimes goes a bit wrong, granted, but 99% of the time it’s spot on.
However, the remaining 1% reared its ugly head again last Friday. I had a client in Cambridge to visit, and a quick glance on the night before showed a one and a half hour drive. No problem.
The following morning, I clambered sleepily into my car and plugged the destination into the console. Town? C. A. M. B. R. I. D. G. E. Street? H. U. N. T. I. N. G. D. O. N. R. O. A. D. It was here, blearily, that my morning’s travel arrangements went a tad off the rails. Certainly, said my happy little navigation screen, which of the 9 Huntingdon roads would you like?
7.30 am is not a good time for unexpected decisions. “Well, I don’t know,” I muttered to the inanimate screen. Shrugging, I chose the first road and drove off.
One and a half uneventful hours later I turned into a sleepy cul-de-sac in the middle of large, wheat-laden fields. As I watched old ladies eyeing my car with suspicion, and noted a lack of ugly, grey office blocks, I felt fairly certain that I was in the wrong spot. As I glanced at my navigation screen again, I cast my eye down the list of Huntingdon Roads and reached the horrifying conclusion that if I chose each one in turn, it would take up to three hours to find the godforsaken place. And that is why, for the next hour, I was on the phone to a colleague who had found his way to the offices with simple, old-fashioned papery maps. I turned up 2 hours late. It was a humiliation for technology.
Luckily, I finished the meeting in record time, and left for home at 4 o’clock. Tell-tale water droplets greeted my arrival at the car park, and by the time I’d loaded my sodden laptop computer into the boot I was wet through. Radio reports of flash floods greeted me minutes later, and by 5 o’clock I was sat in a 25 miles traffic jam on the M25, rueing the day I organised this particular diary entry. I limped home at 7.30 pm, two hours later than intended and only half an hour before Michelle and I were due to be entertaining my mum and dad to their thirty-somethingth wedding anniversary at a local Indian restaurant.
So, the moral? Don’t trust in technology too much. And certainly never plan a remote business appointment on a Friday.

Blown Away

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New Orleans. I’d always wondered what it’s like. Now, I suppose, only photographs and video will be able to tell me thanks to Hurricane Katrina. If you need a wake up call as to how the situation has descended into anarchy, read this email that was sent to BoingBoing, and read this account of the current anarchy in what used to be one of the iconic cities of America. Watching the news last night, they revealed that with rivers covering the sides and a huge lake on the fourth, it was such a precariously-placed city that its no wonder it would eventually succumb. The defences, bizarrely, were only built to deal with a Category Three storm. Hurricane Katrina at points became a top-notch Category One hurricane.
Of course, it’s not just New Orleans that has taken the brunt. Gulfport has been utterly thrashed. have a look at the photos on Flickr for up to the minute sights and minds…