Saturday, December 29, 2007

Christmas in Spain

Moorish Castle - 12th Century with plenty of later additions.

I abandoned home this Christmas and fled abroad to the Costa Del Sol. Amazingly, my first ever visit to Spain in a lifetime spent in obscure foreign locations (Chatillon, anyone? How about Lowell then? Or maybe Ferney Voltaire?). Despite a great deal of sundrenched concrete, there were some nice things to see and do...

Traditional house - they are tiny!

Catholic Tat

There was some good Catholic tat in Fuengirola if you kept your eyes open.

This is an exterior and interior view of a shine to Our Lady of Fatima, who judging by the number of photographs and offerings inside, is under extreme time and work pressure.

Heh heh heh. Tony Blair and Anne Widdecombe deserve each other.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The You-Tube Lilly

On the tube in London yesterday, but this time as a passenger on that part of the Jubilee Line that will always be special, cause I've walked along it, and back again (see below).

On the train I skimmed one of several free papers that will cause the Evening Standard to go out of business in another 5-10 years (party at my place on that happy day).

Anyway, one of the articles in the freebie (who's title rhymes with "Shite") was a feature on the YouTube star, Paperlilie; I tried to remember her name for future entertainment.

The tube home was the easy part of last night's journey.

A dense fog enveloped most of the low lying South East, and the drive home took several hours. Back in the killing streets of dear old Ipswich, I discover my house (left alone and defenceless for two weeks) has no electricity...

Fuck. Shit. Bollox.

I grub around in the kitchen and eventually find both candles and matches. In turn these lead to the discovery of a torch that works. In turn that leads to a careful examination of new fuse box (prime suspect), the post (have I been cut-off through some Christmas cock-up at Power Gen?), and finally the building site next door.

The old master switch, still in place and covered only by a thin layer of condensation is in the OFF position. ON it goes and the problem is solved...
But the house, Victorian in the worst sense of the world, is like one of the ice boxes 19th century people used before electricity and fridges and all that good stuff.

I had a miserable shivering freezing night, and surprise surprise, felt ill today. Expeditions to pick up presents from the Post Office, buy last minute presents and choose a few more Christmas cards were binned.

Instead... I slept late and tried to keep warm.

Which brings me finally to Paperlilie's You Tube films and blog. Aching and feverish and stuck indoors the afternoon was made bearable by watching the short films of Paperlilie.

Like several million other people, I found her charming, pretty and occasionally profound. The wit and humour and general "cleverness" never hurt either.

She's sure to be on 'proper' telly soon - good luck to her.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I've Become One of "Them"

No sooner do I write about the night shift than I become one of them myself.

Last night I joined the survey team working on a section of the Jubilee Line between our home station at North Greenwich, and Canary Wharf.

Going to work at midnight was odd, repelling the advances of several drunk not-so-young women seeking lifts in the van outside the Dome after the Led Zeppelin reunion gig was even odder (is it the macho hardhat image and the high vis jackets we have to wear?!?).

Not so odd yet utterly amazing is the engineering of the tunnels themselves, and the ridiculous lengths we walked - NG to CW looks like a few hundred yards, in fact it's over two miles there and back.

Sorry the photograph turned out so rubbish - hopefully dawn over London from Greenwich Park Observatory taken on my walk home this morning compensates somewhat.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Night Shift

The night shift come on late at the plant; no sign of them at all when I left late myself on Monday at 9:45pm.

But in the morning we can sense they’ve been and gone – a stapler is on someone else’s desk, high vis jackets are damp on the pegs, a few yellow sticky notes are posted here and there, and a cold half empty coffee mug sits by the printer.

Somewhere, deep within this huge ancient factory complex, is a freezing dark crypt with coffins in neat rows.

As daylight breaks late on November mornings, the last of lids is secured by the exhausted night shifter within.

Then a long sinister silence, broken only by dreams of darkness and nightmares of sunlight and blue skies.

Around midnight, to sounds of faint scratches and foul oath or two, the lids are pushed off, and engineers and mechanics and drivers arise.

Pale as death, they dress in orange overalls and trudge up the long staircase to ground level, and the hated fresh air.

Once in the office, the men and women with fridge white skin and arctic blue eyes collect their work schedules and drink coffee made with ice cold water from the cooler. Nobody touches the light switch.

Outside, windowless white vans idle in the darkness, ready to speed their crews through the deserted streets to whatever maintenance work awaits them.

When the white vans return, always before dawn, a security guard might shudder for no reason… But he never says a word.