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Neon Highwire

My band, Neon Highwire.
Download our debut album Relate free from Bandcamp

Music videos I've made

Bear At The Bus Stop
Under Moonlight
SRS BSNS
Kim Jong Il Looking At Things

Other thing I've made / been involved with

You Have Got The Wrong Person (to reiterate, my name is not Dave Smith.)
Cyprus
My family singing an obscure Beck track at Christmas
My best man speech for my brother's wedding
Inappropriate wedding song
Dance off with some buskers at the Cologne Carnival

Golden Diamond Moonlight




Some of my QOTW answers

Faking It
Food Sabotage
You Should Watch This Film
The Thrill Of The Daily Commute
My Dad Found A Way To Be Helpful
The Tragedy Of Police Academy
How To Start Your Own Company
Tea Pete
Mr Beck Hansen
A Lack Of Long Term Memory
Were You Born Childish?
First Time Hammered On Spirits
Balloons
Stuart
Filth
Mobile Logos
Headbutt A Celebrity
Cherry Poppin' Banjo Daddy
Should Have Just Gotten My Money Back
Biggest Fan
I Think Adam Is Mistaken

Recent front page messages:


none

Best answers to questions:

» Faking it

The fake interview
Click here for the video, but I recommend reading below first.

There’d been talk around the company I used to work at about the bonus for referring someone who they eventually recruit being doubled. Many people were scouring their address books in order to obtain this lucrative prize that, in theory, seemed so easy to achieve.

With the general time-wasting banter amongst the proles of the office giving the weather a break and revolving around that subject, it didn’t take long to start sewing the seeds of an evil plan in my mind. Why not make someone up? Why not create the ultimate candidate!? If Eddie Murphy can play every role in a film which still grosses well at the box office, then surely I can find a way to make this possible?

CV screening

A quick download of a CV template later and it was time to play God. I had been involved in recruitment at the company for a significant amount of time, so knew exactly what to include on the CV in order for it to receive a positive screening. To be fair, at this stage I was still thinking that this would be one of those flippant, no-effort / few-chuckles ratio’d pranks, so didn’t put much effort into making the CV seem particularly realistic.

For example, I knew some of the keywords being scanned for, which included a good knowledge of networking and some SQL experience hence the skills section read:

Skills
--------
Networking
SQL

I felt like Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science as I my creation stirred to life. 10 minutes of deep concentration later and he was alive. I had created…

Flavaadit Gambatron.

Aaah Flavaadit. How could anyone believe your existence? You have the syllable ‘tron’ in your surname and a beloved double-a giving your forename a masculine sound when your name was spoken out loud. Say it with me

Flavaadit
Gambatron.

It didn’t take much to unearth the ridiculousness of the name as neither his surname or forename returned a single search hit (although this seems to have changed subsequently).

I sent the email to the recruitment email address on the company website where it began its elongated journey to an inbox geographically three metres from me. The next step was to await the reply.

Download Flavaadit’s CV here.

It took just thirty minutes for Flavaadit to be approved for a telephone interview! He couldn’t believe his luck! When reading the job spec, he did think the role was made for him, but such a quick response!? Flavaadit was getting big headed.

The quick response put me at a hypothetical crossroads where two distinct paths laid out ahead of me. On the one hand, I could go over to the lady who’d approved my creation, slap my thigh in mirth then leave it as a ha-ha for the pub later. A one or two on the LOLchter scale. On the other hand… The potential was screamingly obvious. I was an interviewer in this company. I not only knew the system, I was part of it. I was in a point of power, and power is designed to be abused.

It was time to face facts. The referral bonus idea was a no as we just don’t have the technology for clones yet (or do we…? No. Not yet. But may- No. Stop it.). I started preparation for the telephone interview, and decided to see how it went from there. It was all very well going this far, but who knew where this would end up. More precisely, I prefer to wing it than to actually have a game plan, so I didn’t really know what to do other than proceed with the interview. Who knows, maybe I could even get Flavaadit to progress to a face to face interview, but I didn’t want to get ahead of myself, setting up a fake telephone interview is easier said than done.

The telephone interview

Including myself there are three people in the company who conduct the telephone interviews for my department, sharing the load between each other. Outlook Calendar research is needed to find the perfect time for the interview to ensure that I’m not the one giving it. Ideally, both of my bosses will be out of the office and I will be able to create a fictional meeting in my own calendar to ensure the interview gets redirected to one of the other two. I’ll also have to make sure it isn’t at a time I’m in a legitimate meeting myself. I can’t risk my boss being in the office, as he’ll want to know feedback on the review etc, and although this seems like a great idea, I’m not sure I want to get into trouble for it and he’s pretty good at identifying when I’m wearing my shenanigans hat. This requires COMMANDO PRECISION. In. Out. No-one knows I was even there.

The other main thing is that if I’m going to go to this level of detail, then I want to make sure that I get it all recorded for future generations to enjoy. In for a penny, in for a pound, as they say. Making this happen may be the trickiest part of the operation.

A week Friday is identified as the perfect day for execution. Boss #1 on leave and Boss #2 working from home. Open up GMail…

Flavaadit replies “Can you make it a week Friday?”.
Recruitment replies “How does 10:30am sound?”.
Check the calendar…
Damn it, the one time I have a meeting that day.
Flavaadit replies “I’m working full time at the moment, is 14:00 alright?”.
Recruitment replies “Yes, you’ll be called at 14:00 a week Friday”.
The time is set. The clock is ticking.

First things first, I’ve got to fill my calendar with some bollocks like Knowledge Transfer. No-one questions knowledge transfer because they fear they’ll be invited and end up being responsible for the knowledge being transferred. It’s a safe bet. Book it for an hour and a half. I can’t risk someone talking to me beforehand and eating into my prep time. This is far more important than work.

The most difficult, yet rewarding part of this operation is to come up with a way of filming it. I don’t own a digital camcorder and I don’t know of anyone else who does. I recall hearing that the company have one somewhere, but getting hold of it without suspicion will be a particularly tricky manoeuvre. There’s no rational reason someone in my role would need a camcorder. Also, once I’ve gotten the camcorder, I’ve got to get it in front of the interviewer in such a position that it clearly captures the whole thing. There’s no chance of hiding it somewhere, this will require the interviewer to know about the camera and be comfortable with its presence.

After a good while playing out various ideas, I started to hit brick walls. It dawned on me that I couldn’t perform this task alone. I needed a Robin, a Penfold, a second girl to my one cup if you will.

I decided to confine with the not-so-lovable prankster Pete. A great sense of humour but notorious for being the sort of person who doesn’t know where the line is. The sort of person who when all others are entertaining each other hiding each others door passes, he’s found the car keys of the quiet guy and decided to hide his car. In the Thames. On fire. Exactly the sort of person who wouldn’t bat a moral eyelid at the plan I was formulating.

Some conferring on the practicalities later and the plan began to take shape with the following fictional scenario agreed upon.

“We’re refactoring the recruitment process in the department after concerns expressed that we’re not conducting things in the best possible way. In order to make this happen we want to film a sample interview from an experienced, valued interviewer (compliments++) to use for future training purposes. Pete would also be present in this interview to ensure the camera was working correctly and also with the view to introduce him to the company interviewing process. He would be taking notes during the interview to discuss with the interviewer at a later time.”

Convincing B, the interviewer, about the camera was trickier than anticipated. Naturally she wasn’t comfortable about being filmed during an interview and it was requiring some serious schmoozing, flattery and favour-calling to even get her to consider it. Of course appearing too keen was also a problem, as the last thing I wanted to do was make her suspicious. There was also a serious danger that she would twig the little technicality that recording an interview without telling the candidate was illegal. I’d like to think it was charm that eventually convinced her, but I’m sure it was sheer brute force in the end as I reeled off so much bullshit about improving recruitment, bringing people up to speed quicker, sharing knowledge etc. that I must have appeared as some inspirational recruitment superhero for an incredibly boring modern world.

With this done, and the interview booked into her calendar, I waited until the day of the interview itself before putting the finishing touches in place. I couldn’t risk anyone finding out anything as gossip problems in the company was notorious.

When the morning arrived, I booked the camcorder and a laptop from the support department for the exercise giving them the same reasons. I’m fairly sure they were convinced I was bullshitting them, but didn’t care enough to want to know more or bother disrupting my plans.

In the room booked for my “Knowledge Transfer” I set up the laptop and placed the microphone next to the phone speaker, conducting a test call with Pete to ensure the levels were alright.

There was just half an hour until the interview itself when disaster struck. A certain department Miss Conscientious who had overheard what was happening almost ruined everything when she noticed me carrying the camcorder and questioned the legality of the filming within earshot of B, the interviewer. I laughed it off, but inside added her to my hit list. Once B had moved away to the kitchen for a cup of tea, I took the opportunity to have a quiet word with Miss Conscientious and tried to explain to her with half-baked reasons why that wasn’t the case. I don’t know if it was the adrenalised look in my eye or the aggressive tone in my voice that made her suspect something was amiss, but I didn’t have time to put her off the scent. I told Pete to keep her away from the epicentre whatever way he needed to whilst I continued the set up of the sting.

A quick check through all the necessaries and I was ready.
* Bosses out of office
* Room booked for interview; Room booked for ‘candidate’.
* Camera set up in interview room, B & Pete booked in for interview.
* Laptop with recording software ready for ‘candidate’ room.
* Mobile battery full strength.

I sat in my room and awaited the call.

Now go back and watch the video at the start of this post and ask yourself, is there a space in your company for Flavaadit?

If you can’t be bothered to watch the video, as it is about 20 minutes long, here are some excerpts roughly paraphrased.

B: Can you tell me what DNS is?
Flavaadit: Ah yes, the Danish Nationalist Society, yeah?
B: Uh, no... No. Excuse me could you repeat what you say about DNS?
Flavaadit: The Danish Nationalist Society. I don't get it.
B: Ah, okay. So just, um, just forget about it...

B: If I asked you what software you're most familiar with, what would it be?
Flavaadit: I do use Internet Explorer a lot, if you know what I mean.
Flavaadit: You know, late nights.
B: Okay
B: Have you ever encountered any problem whilst using internet explorer?
B: Any crashes? Unexpected behaviour?
Flavaadit: Well I tend to find it doesn't deal very well with popups.
Flavaadit: Basically, you go to some sites and you're just riddled with popups.
Flavaadit: Spyware as well.
Flavaadit: It'll just leak pretty much anything.
Flavaadit: You're talking about completely innocent websites and you'll end up with so much spyware on your computer, you'll wonder
Flavaadit: "Are Microsoft themselves putting it on here?"

B: Could you tell me the operating system your machine is running?
Flavaadit: Operating System? Oh yes, Windows 98.
Flavaadit: Fantastic
Flavaadit: I mean basically, I never bought into this NT side of things.
Flavaadit: 98 does everything I want it to do I mean, really, NT, what does it add?

Flavaadit: Do you have any sort of, um, I don't know...
Flavaadit: Basically, I like coffee and biscuits.
B: Yes?
Flavaadit: Do you have free coffee and biscuits.
B: uh, is it- I don't think it's a relevant question.
Flavaadit: Really? Well, I guess if I'm going to be getting about 40k then it's not really gonna matter.
(Thu 10th Jul 2008, 17:47, More)

» Food sabotage

Unintentional sabotage
Whenever the subject of food or cooking comes up, my girlfriend always delights in recalling the same batch of stories to anyone and everyone who hasn't heard them before (and some who have), so I figure it's probably best that I compile them in written form in an attempt to over expose them until they lose all power. Much like the Moby album Play.

I'm not a fussy man when it comes to food or drink. Sure I can appreciate a well made meal or a fine wine, but as a speed-eating consumption monster whose digestion system often performs the task most people leave for the teeth, I can also happily eat food others would probably turn their nose up at. Tinned curry? Sign me up! Microwaved burgers? Let me at 'em! Four day old soup that gave me food poisoning so bad that I can no longer look at butternut squash the same way, I really should have suspected something from the smell when I microwaved it? Ding ding ding! So without further ado here are the albatrosses.

The curry

It was my second year at university, and my diet was unhealthily balanced towards slap-it-in-the-oven type meals. I had not bothered spending the time learning to cook properly and until the point where I had to cook something for my girlfriend it hadn't been a problem. I found myself to be a lenient judge of my culinary prowess. That was the night I discovered why people don't make minced beef kormas.

The garlic

It was Valentine's Day and I'd spent most of the day tidying the flat (fucking student housemates) for a great romantic evening with my girlfriend. I'd found some fancy asparagus related dish online and had bought every one of the composite ingredients to ensure it tasted fantastic. Not even skimping on the touch of whatever herb which I so inevitably didn't already own. I wanted to ensure the evening was a good one. A bottle of white wine beyond my budget was chilling in the fridge. Flowers and petals et al adorned the dining room. The Gotan Project's La Revancha del Tango set the aural ambience. Scented candles disguised the cocktail of odours an all male student flat creates. All that was left to do was to scrub myself up and get cooking, though I'd not left myself much time to do so. After a manic preparation following the cooking instructions to the letter, all was well and when my girlfriend arrived she was most impressed by the efforts I'd made. The ground work was done and now I could relax and enjoy my fine lady's company. Everything was going well, but as talked and enjoyed the wine, there was a bell ringing in my head that had bothered me whilst I was doing the cooking. Normally I'd have contacted someone to put my mind at rest, but I was rushed for time and couldn't contact my usual source (my girlfriend) as I wanted it all to be a surprise. Eventually I could wait no more and had to ask.

"Is a clove of garlic one of the little bits or the whole thing?"

Well, turns out it was just one of the little bits. Who'd have thought it? The big thing is called a bulb, which kind of makes sense when you consider the shape. Huh. To make matters worse, I'd found peeling the garlic and chopping it into pieces had taken so long, that I needed to take shortcuts to get the dish ready in time. The result of this was little bits of garlic skin and huge chunks of garlic floating in the cream sauce. We ate it anyway, my girlfriend probably out of sympathy for the efforts that I'd gone to and me because, well, see above.

The bolognese

I don't put the effort into cooking all that often so when I do, I see it as an excuse to get experimental. My girlfriend has gotten to the point where she fears leaving the room while cooking these days as often something has changed in the time when she's gone*. The most frequent addition to dishes tends to be wine, chili and/or tarragon. Mainly because I like all three, but anything in the cupboard is worth a try as long as it's not going to curdle.

The bolognese incident was a result of one of these experiments where I discovered that when you run out of onions, pickled onions are not an acceptable equivalent.



* I'd like to point out that this isn't some fifties, sexist relationship, I do my fair share of keeping the flat tidy and clean, particularly when it comes to living with a human hurricane.
(Mon 22nd Sep 2008, 15:47, More)

» My Biggest Disappointment

"You should watch this film, I think you'd like it"
It was unusual of my brother to recommend a film to me. First of all, he was older than me and off experiencing this that and the other at university so had no time for an A-level student like me anymore. Secondly, his idea of cinema was a chance to switch your brain off, not something to be reviled and shared with others. The fact that he’d taken the time to give me a recommendation was enough to pique my curiosity and send me to the cinema.

Over the course of 136 minutes, I sat captivated, my mind completely engrossed in this rollercoaster ride of a film. I'd never experienced a feeling quite as emotionally overwhelming as I did when watching this modern day epic. Even the lead role being played by a notoriously bad actor couldn't detriment my experience of this film. I walked away realising I'd just watched the best film ever made.

I wasn't alone in my love. Word of mouth caused the popularity of the film to spread like wildfire. Within months, there wasn't a single person I knew who hadn't seen it, and the praise for it seemed to be unanimous. The unity that this film could bring between strangers and the ice breaker in conversation it served as showed that its cultural effect had spread far beyond the big screen.

That film, of course, was The Matrix.

In the ensuing months, rumours flew abound that there would be a sequel! No, a prequel. No, a prequel and a sequel! No, TWO sequels! Discovering that this classic was going to have two sequels was fantastic news! The anticipation was too much. The excitement of the prospect of two more instalments of this was something I wanted NOW, not in three years time!

Fast forward to years later, and the release date lingered just a month away. I was living in Chandlers Ford now and the ensuing release date had stirred the excitement once again that had lain dormant whilst the film was being made. We ensured that we pre-booked tickets for the first available performance. Sure we were paying full-price despite being placement students with an insultingly small pay-packet. How could we not? This was the sequel to The Matrix after all. Not something trivial like Christmas.

The days rolled by slowly until eventually the great day came and the queue at the cinema (yes, people had turned up early and queued despite having pre-booked tickets and seats) was wrapped in an electric atmosphere that saw a line of chattering people all buzzing with nervous energy in anticipation of the spectacle they were about to witness. Those last few minutes felt longer than the months that preceded them.

Then we watched The Matrix Reloaded.

I could easily stop there and label the baffling mess of a film as my biggest disappointment, but that wasn’t it. I'll admit, I came out of the film feeling deflated, not to mention confused, but as is with these things, a lengthy debate then started at the pub next door to try and make sense of what we'd just watched and debate as to whether it was worth it. Opinions ranged from "That was absolute shit" to "You have to have faith that the answers will be in the final part" via "Come on, you had to love the special effects!". Whenever someone starts commenting on the special effects of a film, you know it's the sign of shenanigans. I made a mental note to buy that guy Waterworld on DVD when I had some money. Despite all these warning signs, we'd communally managed to convince ourselves that the best was yet to come and in the meantime we could content ourselves by shouting "NEO DIES!" at the lobby of the cinema as the next lot of fools awaited the late showing.

It wasn't long until the final instalment was due thankfully. With a second part of a trilogy like that, it would have been cruel to expect people to wait another three years for the final chapter, so with a weary optimism there was a positive reason to look forward to winter that year.

The ensuing months involved a lot of 'net browsing to see what others had made of the hundreds of open ended questions from the second part of the trilogy. It was a conspiracy-theorist playground out there with everyone and their dog having an opinion on what was in stall next. Their tales were fanciful and engaging. It actually managed to stir my interest once more as some of these theories managed to sound pretty interesting, reminding me that I shouldn’t lose faith in the same writers who delivered that startling original.

By the time December rolled around, I'd pretty much finished the trilogy in my head already. I had narrowed it down to going one of four ways, all of which were fairly ambiguous, but I was eager to find out whether I was right. I stood in the queue of the cinema once again, feeling more nervous than before. As nervous as though I were about to take an exam.

Then I watched The Matrix Revolutions.

From start to finish.

And I wondered.

Where's the money, Wachowski?

Cunts.
(Thu 26th Jun 2008, 15:29, More)

» Public Transport Trauma

The thrill of the daily commute (or how my mind works)
Check I've packed my sandwich and fruit in my bag, my wallet in my left pocket and mobile in the right. Ready to go. Walk down the stairs, get angry that the maintenance company still haven't sorted their shit out and gotten this stairwell clean. It's less than two years old and looks an absolute tip. What a pile of bollocks. Turn any lights off that have been left on. Why couldn't the guy who built the place just get timed light switches that you press once and turn off automatically. I wonder who's even paying the bill for the electricity in the hallway anyway. Another bulb gone, the electric's probably a bit dodgy in this building, not that I'd ever know. It'd be handy to have knowledge about stuff like that but I just really, really don't care. It's like wanting to learn another langu- Open the front door.

Fucking bin men have left the bins straddled across the path like an obstacle course again, bastards. Is this like some petty rebellion because I make their job more difficult. Why are those wooden chairs still there!? Can't someone phone the council to get them taken away? I'll have to get Bryony to do it or something.

I'll just pop the newspaper in the recycle bin. We've really got to get a separate bin, this hand-carrying of recyclable goods everyday is bloody annoying, especially as I'm the only one who does it. Saying that though there's so much that needs to be done to the flat... Best not to think about it.

No two steps can be on the same surface. Keeps me occupied till I get to the tube at least.

There's that old tramp again. He's one of the reasons I fear the summer. The idea of seeing him with his top off again and his matted silver jacket of hair is one I wouldn't miss too much. On the one hand I hate him for being there, everyday, with his trolley suitcase, on the other hand I wonder what the fuck his story is. He looks shabby, but not completely destitute. Anyway, probably best not to think about it too much.

Oh here we fucking go. 50 odd people at the pedestrian crossing and not one fucker has had the initiative to press the wait button. Since they've tilted the time balance in favour of traffic at these traffic lights, all we need is for them to only start ticking now. I'd fucking hate pedestrians here if I were a driver. I consider myself a pretty confident crosser when there's a gap, but these people are just taking the piss. Also, what's with people standing on the road!? Do they think that if they edge closer and closer that all cars will give up and just go "You win! On you go. I'll just abandon my car and we can all walk together hand in fucking hand"? Look at that bus about to pull off, he physically can't fit past. He's just gonna twat that guy in the face. Ooooh! That was close. The guy looks pissed now, haha. Well, if you will stand on the road, Sir Shitobot.

Finally I can cross. Why the fuck is everyone walking so slow. So many fucking people, and those bastards coming the other way can fuck right off. Not going towards the tube? Unemployed shitbrick, get out of my way. No I do not want a Metro thanks, although I'll actually verbalise my "no thank you" with a smile. That guy's just trying to make a living, no need to get arsey like some of these cunts just because he's trying to give something away for free, even if it is propaganda. I applied the same logic to those Scientologists the other day. Does that make me a better person? Does it fuck but at least I'm reducing the spread of negativity emanating from me.

Why is it that some people walk so slowly down stairs? I'm not talking about the elderly or someone who is physically disabled in any way, I'm talking about the woman who was walking at a reasonable pace back at the pelican crossing making a nice slipstream for me to capitalise on, but now she's strolling like she's at Kew fucking Gardens taking in the full splendour of nature. If that guy to my right picks up the pace, I can jump in the gap and get down these stairs 0.1 seconds quicker. It's not much but I'll feel better knowing I took the best path.

The ticket hall's rammed on the right with people stocking up their Oyster cards. Shit design that is. That lot could be siphoned off elsewhere, there's enough space. Instead they're just sprawling into the walkway like well-dressed extras from a George Romero film. Anyway, I'm past them now, time to make the most of the empty space behind them before deciding on the most efficient gate. Bollocks, I had to choose the girl with the dodgy Oyster card. Gonna have to be a cunt and cut through to the line for the gate next to me. Sorry! I learned a good lesson from my old boss that when acting like a cunt that way, just put a big grin on and below an apology in a loud voice and they'll end up either thinking you're simple or English isn't your first language and this is just some cultural difference. Either way, they'll be too confused to get too annoyed by it and by the time they work it out, you're gone.

The left escalator is always the best. I have no idea why. The right one is more in line with the less busy gates, so the gates where surely people who know where the fuck they want to go come from, yet it seems pretty consistent that the left escalator is the speedy one. A good display of unity here as everyone's walking down, not one bastard standing still, even on the right. I think the signs that say "stand on the right" are wrong. People shouldn't be encouraged to be lazy. The rules of the road should apply here. Right is the slow lane, left is the overtaking lane. That way, when some bastard starts strolling as though it were a hot summer’s Sunday on the left, I wouldn't have to bite my lip and try to channel my pure hatred into the back of his head.

Take a look to my left, no train, a look to my right, train. I never trust the "Next train" signs, they're always pessimistic. I don't care if the train's about to leave, I'm not here to travel first class, I'm here to get from a to b. I don't mind running whilst the doors are beeping.

No train on the other platform means I've got time to walk down the platform to get into the best position for the interchange at Stockwell. The double doors opposite the last opening to the other platform. You've gotta have a system. Most people can't be bothered to walk this far, so there are plenty of seats available, but I'll stand. If I do choose to sit, I'll never sit in the furthest seats, those are the "please give these seats up to someone more needy" chairs. If I get a seat, I want to be able to just sit, and pretend the world doesn't exist around me. It's either that or I'll stand, no in-between.

Take my surfing stance as I hear a train pull into the other platform and the beeping as the doors close on my own. No space issues here and I'll be getting off at Stockwell so once the doors are closed I brace in the centre of the doors on the correct side of the train ready to run if I can see a train on the opposite platform when we get to the next station.

A couple of minutes later and the train pulls into Stockwell. There's a fucking army of people all just standing there staring into the window as we glide past them, decelerating. This scene always makes me think of Zombie films. The desperation on their face. The single goal they all have. The uniform way they line up to the doors. BRAINS!

The train has stopped and the doors have yet to open. I can't see anyone making any space for me outside the train so I can get off and I can see a Northern Line train on the opposing platform with swarms of the cunts towards this one. In this second I give fair warning with a look of determined malice on my face targetted at the inconsiderate bastards in front of me. I'm letting them know that I will shortly be leaving this train and if they aren't polite enough to make a space for me to get through then I shall make it myself. The doors open and a little token half-arsed shuffling from one or two does fuck all. My path is still blocked. I drop my shoulders and walk as though I'm walking through an overgrown garden with thin vines hanging down in my path. Sure a few people get knocked, almost losing their balance, but it's their own fucking fault.

The flow of traffic in the walkway is still vastly imbalanced as I trail blaze the way to the northern line as the scout of the Victoria Line. Some have gotten complacent and haven't thought to look where they're going, maybe subconsciously thinking this is a one way tunnel. Wrong fucking move, amigo. A few shoulder on shoulder collisions always see the other person worse off as I'm actually paying attention to my stance and whereabouts. I'm being considerate, I'm about as far left as you can get skirting against the wall of the tunnel with it's helpful "keep to the left" signs, but any sign of weakness against these bastards will mean I'll never get through.

As I finally get through the doors close on the train opposite. It wasn't even that full! Shitty tube driver getting kicks out of abusing what should be a natural synchronicity between the two lines. Look up to the next train board. Oh bollocks. The next one's a Charring Cross one. There are hardly ever Charring Cross branch Northern line trains that go beyond Kennington, but here we are, patiently waiting for one. Great.

Ideally, I want to be at the far end of the platform but (a) so does every other fucker going to Bank and (b) that's the end where the entrance of the station is, so anyone without tactics will gather at this end. I cannot tolerate those without a game plan. I don't mind losing to better players, but every second counts here. I don't want to be on this network one second longer than I need to be. Best to find a spot mid platform where it's quieter so I can get a better strategic position on the train itself after boarding.

Dealing with a Charring Cross train is tricky. You want to find the position on the platform adjacent to where the doors open, secure your spot but not obstruct anyone who actually wants to catch that train. Media types no doubt. Charring Cross branch commuters generally tend to be more attractive than Bank branch equivalent. I guess the city takes a certain type of cunt. I find the best method is to stand your ground, then when the train arrives, move yourself right up against the train, standing at the edge of the doorway, not obstructing it at all. You allow the transition flow of people, but retain your front-of-platform position. Don't get too eager though. Watch this inconsiderate berk who thinks he's being clever by standing in front of the still open door as the waiting passengers who wanted to board have done so. Watch as that big burly running guy literally knocks him out of the way as he dives on board the waiting train just as the doors close. I nonchalantly take the opportunity to step in his now vacated place as he stands aside dazed. Now I've got the prime spot. Yes.

At this point I can even risk taking my book out of my bag to read. No more distraction from tube advertising which I pay far more attention to than I'd like. Those bastards better be paying good money. No advertising sinks into my subconscious as much as tube advertising. Look how cocky they are with their essays on the wall. There isn't an audience much more captive than that. We're close to autopilot time now, I can almost taste the victory. I ensure I'm behind the yellow line and I'm going no fucking closer no matter how hard someone's poking me in the back. It's not like it's going to make any difference. Here comes the train. Watch the minions around me envy my prime position. Look at the pathetic scheming in their eyes. Like a dog salivating over its dinner, have you no shame? It slows down, coming gently to a stop... Wait, the bastard's stopped a metre different from the last one! What a cunt!

It's usually a satisfying feeling watching the hoards pile out of the train, but there's a real problem here. I'm in a position that can not be described as prime by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, my closeness to the edge gives me absolutely no control over my path. It's sidestep all the way. There's real potential that I may not be able to board the train. All I can do is watch the people getting off. Shit, is that it? That wasn't a good turnaround for Victoria Line changers, this is going to be a challenge. There's not much in way of tactics at this point (or have I just yet to work out what is best) other than to shuffle and hope for the best. Some have given up, the train is almost rammed, but further down the carriage I can see there's more space. Inconsiderate motherfuckers. Riled on by this injustice I'm left with no choice but to make space where there is none and sort the filtration after the doors are closed. Sorry! Apply the loud beaming face method again, push into people uncomfortably to make sure the door can close around me and... Ouch! The bastard door opened again and smacked my head. That'll teach me to relax. Take two and we're away! Hooray!

I have no strategic handle to hold, but at this point I'm wedged enough that it doesn't matter. Got to keep my eye open for an opening to a handle though. No chance to read the book at this point but that may improve later. Got to stay optimistic, hey? My face is awkwardly close to another woman’s and I can tell she's pretty uncomfortable about it. What can I do though? She has the option of looking away, but my head is like a murderers on a pike in medieval London, doing nothing but staring vacantly in one direction.

It's funny watching the people at Oval. They're the ones I pity most. I used to have to get on here. No-one gets off at Oval and the train's as full as it's going to get. Breathe in- door opens. I look around sympathetically to the man standing there on the platform and also thank god for some relatively fresh air. It might not be country fresh, but it's better than that guy's suit jacket that could really do with a dry clean. My head's back and I'm taking big lungfuls of the stuff. BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP. Breathe in- we're off again.

Hooray for Kennington Bank Branch. I'm not fucking about as the door opens, I'll step off the train, onto the platform into a position that ensures I'm the first back on, but the Charring Tossers can get off more easily. Always good to shoot looks of distain at others who should really have done the same but instead are now bouncing about like human pinballs. Last one gone, now I'm straight back on. Don't toy with me German dude. I was on the train before and I'll be the first back one. Quick decision needed... Seating aisle or opposite door? Seating aisle or opposite door? Seating aisle or opposite door? Opposite door. The seating aisle will have high turnover and since this journey only involves the door opening on the same side at each stop, my opposite door position will give me minimum fuss like my own cave to hide in. There's good access to a handle, a good space to hold my book and now I can pretend to be somewhere else.

London Bridge. Used to get off here when working at my old job, amongst the swarms of people waiting to cram on but alas now I too have to deal with this, the biggest changeover stop of the journey. If it weren't for my prime location, I'd be battered alongside everyone else, but I can stand my ground and stay focused on the book, ensure that I'm using as little space as possible and tune out again.

Time to start the I'm-getting-off-at-the-next-stop-don't-you-know shuffle to inform those around me that they will shortly have to get to fuck. Eye up my opponents also performing the same game to work. Know your enemy. This is a game often with more losers than winners. Be forceful when dealing with people who'll be remaining on the train, but always back down in one-to-one battles with people also trying to get off. They'll be using the same force and it's just not worth it.

The platform's fucking rammed. Everyone's trundling at a ridiculously slow pace towards the Bank Of England exit end of the platform. Time to play the ace up my sleeve. Shuffling, 5 metres. Shuffling, 4 metres. Shuffling, 3 metres. Shuffling, 2 metres. Shuffling, 1 metre, and ninety degrees! Across to the opposite platform! Hahaha, look at my acres of space! A rare opportunity to walk full speed on the underground at rush hour should not be taken for granted. I'm like an Olympic fast walker, throwing in a cheeky waddle as they do too. Look right and catch someone's eye amongst the masses each time I walk adjacent to a walkway to mock them from afar. Look at me with my space, look at you with your zombie paced walking. I am better than you. I am the best.

Keep to the left up the stairs, sure it's slower than running up the right, but if anyone on the right wants to push an ascender back down, then I for one will clap. Them’s the rules.

Cut through the phenomenal people traffic to the lifts. The day I discovered the where the lift entrance was a good one. Goodbye elaborate twists and turns through the warren hole, this baby takes me right to where I need to go. Lift number 2 is still there, quick jog round the corner to have a look. Shit, no chance. Number 5 behind me is next. Bastards! Where did they all come from! I'd better get in that one when it arrives, you parasites. Surely I have rights, I was here before you! Aaah, the lift's huge, what am I worrying about. Got to stay as close to the entrance as possible as it's also the exit. Find the first available spot adjacent to a wall and make it your own.

It's plain sailing now. The slow ascent of the lift. The casual stroll out the doors with the other. Out the much less busy gates, keep to the left through the tunnel and then first exit on the left. No need to bother with overtaking games here, they're just plain dangerous in this tunnel. I've seen some pretty nasty collisions in my time. Unnecessary games of chicken. Nobody wins. This is the final furlong, almost back to the surface. Just the stairs remain. Almost ready to start fucking work.
(Fri 30th May 2008, 11:06, More)

» Nativity Plays

My dad found a way to be helpful
Whenever the nativity play rolled around, you could guarantee that those pupils with parents from a better off background would actually be wearing outfits that resembled the part they were playing. If you were like me, however, schooled in the art of bin-bag Halloween’s, then your outfit was never particularly suitable for the role you were trying to encapsulate and you may as well wear a sign around your neck to describe the outfit you intended to sport for all the audience had a clue.

That was until my Dad realised that perhaps he could help.

I was eight years old at the time, and having usually left the costume making to my overworked mother, the discovery of my part in this year's play made my Dad realise he may be of use. With the enthusiasm of a parent wanting only the very best for their offspring, my Dad got to work making a costume surely to steal the show, regardless of whether I actually had any lines in the play or not. Many subsequent evenings he came home late, tirelessly using his work facilities to sculpt his masterpiece.

As the performance day approached, I began to worry that the costume may not be ready in time, and once again I would have to make do with some vague approximation of my military part. It wasn't until the evening before the dress rehearsal that my Dad eventually came home with his masterpiece.

When I saw it I was ecstatic. It was everything an eight year old could ever want. I tried it on, and spent the evening buzzing and wanting to show my friends the next day.
I borrowed my Dad's huge holiday bag and packed it with the costume first thing the next morning, beaming all the way to school and impatient for the dress rehearsal to start. I couldn't hide my enthusiasm from my classmates, but wouldn't reveal my masterpiece until the dress rehearsal was starting.

The teachers were preoccupied while we were getting ready, so I was able to don my outfit without their attention whilst dazzling my peers around me.

However the look on their faces when they finally did pay attention was one of both shock and fear.

In front of them was a child with a broadsword. A sharp, bludgeon friendly broadsword. A broadsword so heavy, the child could barely hold it with one arm. A child known to have quite severe temper tantrums. Not only did this child have a broadsword, but also a shield as tall as he was and a sharp child-shish-kebabing spear also. In front of them was a smiling little terrorist who they could only assume was ready to get old testament on their asses. In my Dad's infinite wisdom, he had armed his eight year old son with deadly weaponry and sent him off to school.

You see, my Dad was a sheet metal worker, so not much use in costume making when I was a penguin, but when he had an opportunity to be useful, he went at it with unadulterated enthusiasm. I was in tears when they confiscated it and ended up once again with an outfit that barely represented what it was intended to, though for that brief moment, I had the best costume.
(Mon 30th Mar 2009, 17:51, More)
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