Monthly Archives: April 2004

Summer is a Comin’

I complained about the snow and now it’s the heat. Blimey last night our house was like a sweatbox. Being the lazy git that I am, I couldn’t be bothered to go out to the garden to take the cover off our air conditioner. Actually it wasn’t that, we haven’t fired up the air conditioner since we moved in, so I was convinced that it was gonna be a hassle, so that is why I didn’t bother. Anyway, as soon as I was up and dressed this morning, I got the cover off and had nice cool air circulating through the house. Kosmo will I’m sure be appreciative when we get home. Talking of Kosmo, I think the time is coming to have him shaved. He’s such a funny thing when we go to pick him up. Apparently he cries through the whole thing, ah bless :-)

Anyway short and sweet today. I’ve got some stuff I wanna get on with. Have a good ‘un.

Missing England?

I love my life in Canada, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things I don’t miss from England. It’s a given that I miss my family and friends, but it’s the little every day things that I miss. For instance, my blog yesterday reminds me of the wild times I used to have. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t miss sliding down escalators at 100 miles an hour, but I miss the social gatherings. Meeting new people through friends and generally broadening the circle. Admittedly most of this is the pubs and clubs in which I had such fun.

Also it’s the really silly things I miss like Pie and Mash with lots of liquor. This is a predominately East End thing. It goes back to the days when a cheap food was needed for the poor. The pie is made from the cheapest pastry you can make and the meat in the pie is miniscule, but put it all together and it’s really tasty. I’m often at home having a beer or out somewhere with the wife when the pang hits me and I wish I could get it here. It’s been over 18 months since me last double pie and double mash.

A lot of other things I missed have slowly made their way across the waters as I’ve mentioned in a previous blog, including Marmite, Twiglets, Dandelion and Burdock, Homepride Cook in sauce Curry, English Mustard and even Walkers crisps, to name a few.

No matter what though, all the things I miss in England, I’d miss Canada even more. This is now my home and I love it here. After a couple of rocky years, my standard of living is way better than it ever was in England and with a wonderful wife, 2 wonderful children and two babies on the way, life just gets better and better.

Ooops I Done It Again :-) (the escalator story)

I’ve made many mistakes in my life and done many stupid (some may say idiotic) things. I’m not going to dwell on all of them, but highlight just one.

Working in the West End of London had many down sides, including the ridiculous travel times for me to get to and from work. Although it was only around 8 miles from door to door during the rush hour, it used to take me an hour and a half each way on the bus. The tube wasn’t really an option as there was no station near to where I lived. You’d never drive to work as there was absolutely no parking. Actually there was some, but you had to pay something like 1 pound for ever 4 minutes. Or to put it another way 120 pounds for a working day, which would have entailed running out to the car ever couple of hours to refill the meter.

One of the great bonuses was there was a pub on virtually every corner. For people who haven’t been to England, it is very much a pub culture. It’s considered normal to go to the pub at lunchtime during the week, as is the Friday night get together. Basically everyone at work would choose the pub of choice and let their friends know we were going there. It wasn’t unusual for there to be between 10 and 20 of us as the night wore on. One of the other customs that doesn’t seem to have traveled across the water is the concept of a round. Everyone in theory takes it in turn to buy everyone else a drink. This isn’t really practical when the numbers grow, then the group slits into their own huddles for which the round would cover. In general this works pretty well, although there’s always someone who ends buying no drinks, managing to slip out just before their turn.

Anyway as always I’m sidetracked again. This night was just me and my mate Chris Lodge. I’ve know Chris for somewhere in the region of 10 years. We used to work together at the Loot newspaper, working in the Production department at night putting the newspaper together on Apple Macs (yuck). Originally we worked together and eventually (briefly) I was his boss. No I wasn’t the crack you over the back of the knuckles kind of boss, I managed to get things done and still manage to have a pretty good time. Chris managed to really get into the IT side of things and ended up in the IT department. I eventually took voluntary redundancy from Loot and pretty much did my own thing for 4 or 5 months before getting a job at Systematic Marketing in the heart of the West End, where this story began (many moons ago).

One night after work, I think it was midweek, Chris came over for a drink and as always we went at it pretty much gung ho. We only blessed a few pubs with our presence, but that was enough. If I remember rightly the two pubs were just a stones throw from Warren Street tube station, which was handy as we could then jump on the tube, which would take Chris pretty much home and me within a bus ride of home. I loose track of how many beers I had, but suffice to say I was feeling pretty much wobbly by 11pm, which we decided was a pretty good time to head off home. I think it only took use about 10 minutes to get the the tube station and buy our tickets. Warren Street is one of those deep stations that requires 2 escalators to get down to the Victoria Line. Whilst on the first escalator I could feel a spark of ingenuity flash in my brain. It was late and I was tired and I didn’t feel like standing much longer. “Wouldn’t it be a good idea to slide down the hand rail, I could get to the bottom really quickly.” I thought. Indeed when we got to the second escalator this is exactly what I did, and boy did I get to the bottom quickly. As I mounted the hand rail of the second escalator (wearing trousers so there was the minimal friction), I can remember calling to Chris saying “He Chris look at me!”. I think I managed to stay on the hand rail for 2 or 3 seconds before the speed became too great to control and I hit one of the central blockers, that stop you sliding down the middle, between the up and down escalator.

I really can’t remember much of what happened next, but I apparently bounced off the central blocker and proceeded to roll down the hard, cold steel escalator stairs. All I can remember was opening my eyes at the bottom, my head at the bottom of the lapping escalator. Of course was very concerned about my state of health. Or rather he would have been if he could have stopped laughing. I can remember eventually getting to my feet and using a few well chosen expletives before finally touching my throbbing head. This was when I discovered that there was blood pumping from my head. I realised this after I looked at my hand covered in blood. Chris of course was now really concerned. So concerned that when he heard his train coming, he flashed me a quick smile and said “see ya mate!”

How I got home I don’t know. I was in real pain, but somehow managed to walk. I’m sure the alcohol in my blood was providing a certain degree of anesthesia, but every step was still painful. I think I finally got home around 1am and headed straight to bed. It was the next day that nearly killed me………

I think I awoke at about 8am. I tried to get out of bed, but the pain was stopping me from moving. My main phone was in the living room and my mobile was in my jacket, also in the living room. Not to worry I though, my mate Mark had a key and used to come over to watch TV at my house while I was at work. He’ll help me to get to a doctor or something. Needless to say he didn’t show up that day. He finally came round a few days later, but by this time I had somehow managed to slide across the floor to phone work to let them know what happened. I finally called my brother and got him to take me to the hospital. Would you believe it no broken bones, but a dented pride and two crutches later I was back home. Everyone at work found this really funny and even I can laugh about it now. But back then I really thought I’d broken both my legs or something.

Moral to this story. Don’t drink and slide.

What Will The Future Bring?

It’s funny, although I’m now 36 I still feel like I’m 18 or 19. Many things have changed in my life and there’s many more changes to come, what with 2 new babies on the way. I wonder what their lives will be like and what new innovations they will witness. I can remember when I was a kid, being frustrated because I wish I was able to driven. I can remember my Dad and me talking about how by the time I was old enough to drive, cars will probably self drive and probably be electric. Mmm look how much has changed…. Virtually nothing. Admittedly cars themselves have changed a lot. Our current car would seem like a spaceship if I’d have seen it when I was a kid. Probably the biggest change I have witnessed in my life has been computers. When I was 11 my first computer had 1024 characters of memory, that’s about 7 times the amount of text I’ve already written. To put that into perspective the computer I’m typing this on has 512 megabytes of memory. In characters that’s 536,870,912 or the text I’ve written so far times 2767375.

You only need to look at computer games and consoles to see how rapidly things have progressed. When I was a kid, we had a game console you plugged into the TV. It had 5 games to choose from, or rather 1 game with 5 different variations. You basically hit a square ball with a rectangular bat and had different obstacles depending on the variation of game. However this kept us amused for hours. The games have virtually life like graphics and are now so complex that it can take weeks to get the hang of them.

These are just two examples of the things that have changed quite substantially in my life time so far. I just wonder what my little ones will experience in their lives. What new wonders they will grow up with and what they will look back on with fond memories.

When I was a kid… (Part 4)

My time at Garner Holloway was a real learning experience. I had keys to the office so was able to get to work around 5am and would often be there until 6 or 7pm. I also tried to get in at least one day over the weekend. You have to remember this was the early days of PCs, I couldn’t afford to have one at home, so everything I did was done at the office. I was always buying magazines and books and tried to understand areas of computing that had no apparent value to me. I was a book junkie and anything I could get my hands on to fuel my hunger was quickly devoured.

Whilst at Garner Holloway I managed to be on the ground floor when Desk Top Publishing (DTP) came onto the scene. We used to publish a magazine called “Business Software Review” which was typed up on an antiquated word processor called WordStar. We then inserted control codes and sent the resulting file to a print bureau who produced long streams of bromide paper (gallies) from which we would cut and paste to make up each page. With DTP software we could compose the actual page on the computer and then send this to the print bureau. As the software/hardware weren’t as powerful as they are today, we had to leave spaces for the pictures and have the printer insert them when the magazine got printed. I could see the benefit of DTP software and did pretty well learning the package we used called Ventura from Xerox. Ventura actually ran on a competitor to Windows called Gem. Not too many users will remember Gem, but it was very fast and very powerful, however the steamroller called Microsoft soon put an end to that. Ventura did eventually migrate to Windows and was also sold to different companies finally ending up at Corel, which if you didn’t know is also here in Ottawa. Funny that innit.

Anyway during my time at Garner Holloway I pretty much coded, supported all the companies computers and did the page makeup for the magazine. I was there for about 3 years, but was getting unceasingly frustrated with my meager pay packet and also felt like I was treading water when it came to things to learn. I had a friend at the print bureau we used to use and in passing said to him that if he knew of anyone that was looking for someone to let me know. Anyway within a very short time frame he called me back and said he had a client that desperately needed help and could I go along for an interview. The position was as a Studio Manager and the wages were nearly 3 times what I was currently earning. I went for an interview and was virtually hired on the spot. I worked out my notice and started a new rung of my career with a company called Chilmark Creative…. to be continued.

My Weekend!

A rested weekend without the anxieties of watching the Sens rounded off with hopefully another lose for the Leafs, what more can a man ask for. I would say Pizza and beer, but I’ve got those as well and I don’t like to brag :-) Anyway all is well with the world. Wife and babies are doing well, apart from a scare we had on Wednesday. Sherri was suffering some pains in her stomach which were bad enough for her to leave work early. The doctors suggested yet another ultrasound which we had later that night. We had an appointment with our OB/GYN on Thursday morning and she reassured us that everything was looking good and it was just her body preparing for a couple of little ones. Every ache and twinge makes us nervous, but we have to get used to this and just try to take it all in our stride. Easier said than done. We have another appointment on the 12 May, and another ultrasound around then, so it gives us another photo opportunity to look forward to. Anyway I’m off to enjoy the rest of the game. Go Flyers Go, just for this series anyway :-)

Happy St. George’s Day!

May I take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy St. Georges’s Day. I must admit, head hung in shame, after my previous rant, I forgot to buy a rose and I can’t find my flag, but I did remember the day and I have been kind of preoccupied with other things :-) Oh well they say it’s the thought that counts :-) Anyway I shall be checking a few of the big UK sites to see if this St. George’s Day is covered any better, a lot of interest has been raised in the last few weeks. Us English want to stand proud as a people in out own right and not be consumed with this need to be British or European. Anyway rant of the day over, everyone have a good day, I know I shall. It’s Friday and I’m off to get my Timmy’s coffee and doughnut before work :-)

They Think It’s All Over……… It Is Now!

Ottawa Senators Stanley Cup 2004. RIP!

Vini, Vidi, Vici!

I’m sorry to everyone out there with no interest in hockey, but at this time of year the Stanley Cup is like the Holy Grail of hockey, consequently the whole city is riled up and it’s very hard not to get caught up in the excitement.

I’m sitting here at work with my Sens shirt on preparing mentally for the game tonight, the deciding game in the battle of Ontario. It’s been a real interesting series. When the Sens have won, we have done so convincingly. When we’ve lost we’ve done so without scoring a single goal. Toronto have had 3 shutouts in this series and that’s pretty much unheard of. There’s no doubt that it’s going to be an intense game tonight, hopefully without major incident.

The winner tonight will face the Philadelphia Flyers. That will be an interesting confrontation if it is us facing them, after our record penalty minute game of last season. Last year we also faced them and had a clean sweep 4-0 series. So as you can imagine, we’re pretty confident if we can brush Toronto aside.

Time will tell. Go Sens Go!

Thank God for Fish!!!

Now I’m not talking about the little swimmy kind you have on your plates with chips on a Friday. I’m talking about the Senators savior Mike Fisher. Wow what a game last night. Things were looking a bit hairy when we conceded the first goal. The Sens weren’t playing their style of hockey and it showed. However by the third period, we were battling hard and you got a sense that it was just a matter of time. And indeed into the fifth minute Chara came from round the back of the goal and turn to fire it on goal making it 1-1. This was how it ended forcing the game into overtime. The Sens were on fire, but couldn’t get the vital goal past Belfour in the first of overtime. The second overtime started and I have to admit I was getting a little anxious. I needn’t of worried. Just 1:47 into the second overtime, Antoine Vermette passed the puck across the front of the goal for Mike Fisher to slot into the net. Hopefully this shuts up the people who said the Sens don’t have it in them. Apart from a very lackluster game 5, the Sens have truly been the better team. I can hold my head high as a Sens fan. We have shown we can up the ante when we have our back to the wall. Lets now finish this off in Toronto and show the Leafs what courage, determination and good hockey can achieve.