Saturday, September 11, 2010

Seen Randomly Around London

From the infamous, recent George Michael car crash in Hampstead Heath:

Seen last nite while walking home. It's a bit dark, so I hope it's view-able. Simon was surprised I'd never heard of 'fouling' like this before. I thought it was hysterical.

And last, but not least...Seen as the 'ladies' bathroom image at Fino a few weeks ago.  So, the ladie's sign gets breasts.  The men's sign?  Nothing.  Does that seem fair?...(Sorry, you'll have to roate your head a bit!)

Catching Up

I have been absolutely horrible about blogging lately (barring the post I just put up entitled Bite Me RMT).  I've been working my fool arse off too much during the week, and the weekends have been jam packed-largely in trying to catch up from things I can't get around to during the week, wedding crap, and then we were gone to the US for a week to take care of aforementioned wedding crap, and then Simon's sister was in town this past weekend.  Whew.  Needless to say, the to-do list is long, and there's a lot to do, but I'm pretty stoked at the relative peace this weekend will bring.  Largely because as I look out over the next 8 weekends, we're gone or just plain busy for most of them.  Double whew.

On some level, due to how busy we've been, there isn't much interesting stuff to catch up on.  But, anyhoo, there are a few bits to catch up on.

In mid-August, I finally got to go to my first cricket game.  Day 4 of a 5 day 'test match' between England and Pakistan.  The test match games start at 11am, there's a break in plat at 1am for lunch (seriously), and a break in play again at 4p for tea (SERIOUSLY).  I've tried for ages to get into it when watching it on TV, but haven't, and feared I'd be bored to tears for this game (up to 7 hours of play too-a long time to be bored...).  But instead, I LOVED IT!  The first hour was a bit boring, as my biggest problem all along is that I struggle to understand the game.  So, I went for a stroll around the Oval to see what there was to see, buy a beer and a T-shirt, and then went back to my seat.  Well, I don't know if it was the beer, or the play, but I suddenly started to figure out the game-and once I did-bam.  Loved it.  Like, have already asked Simon when we can go see another game loved it.  Go figure!

We were in Portland for the last week of August to take care of wedding crap, pick up the engagement ring (yay!), and several friends from Seattle came down for the weekend to hang out.  It was a busy, but great trip back-and as this will very likely be the last trip back to the Pac NW until the wedding in April, a bit bittersweet.  All good, though, and it really was fantastic to see friends.

Two friends are pregnant (and will have given birth by the wedding), and I finally got to meet the boy of one friend -he's 4 months now.  It dawned on me on this trip that Simon & I, are currently (and forever, for that matter...) just about the only childless couple of ALL of our friends. Wow.  Most of the kids are under the age of 4-and they're all under the age of 6.

Unfortunately, my camera battery died after just a few pictures there (stupid me for not charging before we left...), that I don't have anything to really show for the trip.

Other than that, the only other 'happening' was that I *finally* went to see my first BBC Prom this past week.  'Prom' here refers to a series of classical musical shows, though they have expanded into other musical genres the past few years.  The Proms are at the Royal Albert Hall-very convenient to us-and this past Wednesday, we went to see on of those 'other musical genres'-the Penguin Cafe Orchestra.  They were amazing.  Simon's bene a fan for years, and introduced me to their music, which as it turns out , I know-but didn't know I knew. :)   Simon's best friend Herbie was actually the one that organized the group, so Herbie, Simon, Noonie (another friend of theirs) & I went.  It was fantastic.  GREAT seats-box seats, my first time, and dirt cheap at 15 quid (as they're subsidized heavily by the BBC); GREAT music, and we were home in 20 minutes.  Which is good, as it was late-starting show, and we didn't get out until 11.30pm!
The Proms run thru the summer and the last concert is actually this weekend.  But, I'm already thinking that I'll be going back next year-it's just a matter of for what!


RMT is the Rail, Maritime & Transport Union-the union for public transport in Britian.  Public Transport includes the Tube in London.  Now, my rant.

Starting this past Monday from 9pm to 9pm on Tuesday (effectively all of Tuesday...) and for the next 5 weeks, the RMT is striking.  During this time, effectively half the tube is down on Tuesday. This past Tuesday, my commute to work was 45 minutes (double what it normally is) on a bus, in which I'm pressed up against the glass to the point, I really can't move.  Coming home, my commute took 70 minutes-I mostly walked (mind you, this was after waiting for 20 minutes for my bus -only to have one come by out of service and one come by that was so full it didn't even stop). At least the weather was fine.  Good times.  Looks like I'll be doing this along with most other Londoners for the upcoming weeks.

Why is the RMT striking you ask?  Surely it must be because pay, benefits, work scheudle, something is SO bad that the union feels like it has no choice, right?  Surely I would want these hard working people to be given a fair shake in the world, right?  WRONG. WRONG. WRONG.  They're striking because due to the recession, the UK budget is having to severely be slashed-and part of that is public service-under which the RMT falls.  800 jobs are being cut in stations across London.  RMT workers along with the rest of the government, NHS, and other public sector jobs are being hit hard.  As is the case during a recession. 

Tube workers (drivers, and staff, specfically) get oh, about 6-8 weeks of vacation (compared with the standard 5 for the rest of us), and work only 36-ish hours a week.  And, I believe the average pay is in the mid 30s.  Not too bad.  Oh, and did I mention that they striked (struck?..) last year for almost 3 days demanding pay rises-above & beyond what most of the country was getting during the FREAKING RECESSION and WON?!?!?

Did I mention there was a RECESSION?!?!?

I think if I were left alone in a room with Bob Crow (leader of the RMT), I'd likely have a few choice words.  And perhaps a swift kick to his arse.

I'm dreading the next 5 weeks, and at the same time will be personally avoiding trying to take any tube on the days of the strike as my on personal 'Fuck You' to the RMT.

Bite me RMT.  Bite me. Bite me. Bite me.

I was too young in the 70s to know much about the auto-worker union strikes in the US, and not much news (that I recall...again, too young...) of the UK coal miner strikers in the 80s.  So, except for the occasional 'oh, the French fill-in-the-blank Union is strking.  again' thought the past 10 years, the past 2 years are really my first strike-aware experiences.

And, where I may have been mildly sympathetic at some point, given what I know about the pay & benefits of the current RMT staff, any sympathy I had went out the door ages ago.

Sorry my first post after being silent for so long is a negative nellie rant, but it's kinda an important one.


Bite me RMT.