I went to see Paddington this evening.
I realise it must be confusing for readers here, as I have two good friends named Paddington Bear and Sir Poddington. And confusingly, if either of them is more likely to end up with a “sir” in his name, it’d be Paddington, not Sir Pod. But hey, that’s just how it is. I know who they are, and that’s what matters.
Paddington Bear is, as his name suggests, a very proper English gentleman. We used to joke he was the sort of person who should have been born 70 years old, and an arch-conservative and he’s always kind of resented the world for the fact that he wasn’t. Despite being my age, or slightly younger, he is quite high up within the Imperial bureaucracy and Caerulia once described him as the ultimate dinner guest, for he is able to have an intelligent discussion about so many different topics.
This evening, we discussed law, public policy, the recent election, government advertising rules, production standards of British versus American television programs, the concept of “turning points” in battles, wars and history, a theory that girls who grow their hair really long are stuck in their childhoods, how one proves that a ‘gift’ has actually been given and how moving multiple times between Jerusalem & Rome has set me back in many ways. He’s just that sort of person.
And it was kinda nice to hear him tell me that he thinks I’m as interesting to talk to as I find him.
That is what I missed in Jerusalem – intelligent discussion.
Then, on the way home, some dickhead tried to run me off the road several times. I guess it proves that even in Rome, not everyone’s a Knight of the Realm.
For the record, that NaBloPoMo meme everyone does each November where they all blog every day, or write a novel in an afternoon or whatever – that’s a crock of shit. And you all know I don’t do memes – they’re evidence of a drought of ideas.
But onto what I wanted to say: with the new month, I had decided I would begin a new habit – changing something about my life; kind of a ‘new month’s resolution’. And this month, it was going to be to attend the gym daily. But then Jefferson sms-ed me this morning to see if I’d be in the Movember Challenge with him? See, even though Movember is a fundraising thing for prostate cancer or men’s health or something, Jefferson doesn’t do it as a fund-raiser; he just does it as an excuse to skip shaving for a month and thus irritate his lovely wife. Since I don’t have a lovely wife, I do it just as a way of saying to Jefferson “I can do that too”, and then we swap digital photos along the way. It’s silly, it’s pointless, and so as an activity for this month, it beats anything else we could think of.
So that’s the plan. No shaving for November. Just because.
Hopefully now, the saga about Honey may come to an end.
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As some of you will know, one of my friends died three months ago.
In the months before she died, she wrote a blog-post which would appear shortly after her death as her way of telling her friends that the story was over.
For several months, since the death, odd things were happening. Some of us had received invites to join web services which supposedly came from her. I’d noticed that someone was using some of her online accounts. Originally, the theory was that her disappearance, and possibly even her death, were not as they had appeared. She was not that sort of duplicitous person though.
Yesterday though, one of her “friends” began adding to her blog. They’d hacked her password and so were able to edit her WordPress site. I have therefore removed her link from my blogroll. For it is no longer her site, but a pretender’s.
Only a true friend I presume would hack a dead person’s accounts to use them for their own purposes. Like all scum, I am sure they’re telling themselves the positive spin of why they are doing what they are doing, but what they are doing is disrespectful to her, and lying to everyone else. And I don’t care what their justification is, it contradicts what she wanted. She always told me she thought that after her death, her friends were not to be trusted. It seems she was right.
In the last few days, some good things have happened, and at least one bad thing. I’m trying though to concentrate on the good.
I began to be paid for some of the work I’ve done recently, and that means that for the first time since I arrived back in Rome, I’ve had money. Money to get things started with the plans. And that means that I’m now in the process of moving around the corner, where I’ll be living with Adam the Geek and Keiran the aircraft-fitter.
I’d begun to wonder about the suitability of the place, but I’m a lot more comfortable with it now. So I’ll move over the next few days.
My friend Olivia recently bought a better car, and so she’s been looking for someone to take over her old one. Since the Lancer is dead, pending surgery, and I’ll probably need a car to get to work, I’ve taken her old car, and took it for a drive this afternoon to get used to it. It’s got a few flaws (I can’t seem to turn the heater off for example, nor can I tune the radio) but nothing that’ll be a major problem to sort out or ignore.
Also, do you know that if you try and renew your licence in Rome, having been out of the city for a while and let it expire, they need proof of residency in the city? Except if you move back to the address on the expired licence. In that event, they don’t care.
So I told them I was living at a house I haven’t lived at for 3 years, and they renewed my licence, and then in a week, I’ll go in and tell them I’ve moved. Stupid, but easier than finding evidence of where I live.
The negative this week is Alderney back in one of her “I can’t leave Jerusalem” moods. Rather than debate it, I’m ignoring it. Easier to deal with. Especially since it’s her mother playing the “I’m sick, Don’t leave me” routine. I should make a rule for myself of only ever getting involved with orphans. Because too many women I know haven’t developed mature sensible relationships with their mothers, and it always seems to get in the way. But then, I make plenty of rules for myself, and break them. The real rule I need for myself is to stick to my path and not let myself get distracted by shiny things. Or soft squishy pretty ones. 🙂
Who wants to do one?
Since returning to Rome, I’ve met Mick and gone to a gig with him. And I’ve been chatting to a couple of other Roman bloggers. So who thinks we should organise a meet at somewhere like Tilley’s or the Wig & Pen?
Comment if you’re interested.
Back at the темная ноча entry, I spoke about what Will envisages as the worst-case scenario: complete breakdown of western civilisation. I should point out though that I do not believe this is the most likely outcome. Far more probable is the degradation of what we have. Slow, gradual erosion. Sliding further away from the Star-Trek future that the geeks of the world would like to believe is our fate.
If we look at areas of the first world where things have gone wrong – and the storms that hit my hometown in last month are a great illustration of this – what we find is that the great “backup” that we think we have in our governments is simply not there. The governments almost consistently are more concerned with maintaining public order. Governments do not have plans to cope with the erosion of infrastructure and services.
So if we cannot rely on governments to help us, who can we rely on?
As in the Novocastrian situation last month, or the fires that went through Rome a few years ago, or any other situation, the only people we can really rely on are our friends and family.
It is for this reason that I have returned to Rome.
In Jerusalem, I was vulnerable. When I needed help with anything, I was alone. In some circumstances, I could get Jim to assist, but only really in situations where there was direct benefit to him. He was that kind of person. And although there were people I could have fostered the kind of friendship that would be useful for helping each other out with things, the reality was that those kinds of relationships for me existed really only in Rome. After all, when I discovered last week that the provincial government had screwed up and invalidated my licence, all I had to do was call Will, and within a day, he flew to Jerusalem to pilot me home. In Jerusalem, I didn’t have someone who could cart some boxes across town. In Rome, I had someone who would lose two days to fly across the country and rescue me. And in reality, Will’s not alone – I have that kind of support here from several people.
One of the things I guess I can be confident about is my ability to rebuild. Maybe it came from having moved schools 18 times in 13 years as a youngster? In my adult life though, the world has burnt and crumbled, yet been rebuilt. Reminds me of:
King of Swamp Castle: When I first came here, this was all swamp. Everyone said I was daft to build a castle on a swamp, but I built in all the same, just to show them. It sank into the swamp. So I built a second one. That sank into the swamp. So I built a third. That burned down, fell over, then sank into the swamp. But the fourth one stayed up.
So here I am again, needing to rebuild. I have every confidence it can be done, and probably done well considering the advantages I have for this new phase. But I have little patience for it.
Obviously, the first step is to obtain employment, and therefore give myself some financial room to move. So yesterday, I went to see a couple of temp agencies who were keen (and with Rome’s 3% unemployment rate, and seemingly more jobs than job-seekers, it’s a damn good market to be looking in). But like everything in Rome, it’s a process, and processes take time, and all I can do is await a phone call to let me know about the next stage. Waiting annoys me. It’s the hated hours that the phone doesn’t ring. It annoys me.
While I’m “vacant” though, I’ve sent out an email to my Roman friends. You know how it is when you think to yourself how useful it’d be to have an unemployed friend who can do stuff for you (wait at home for the plumber to come, or sit in the queue at the motor registry to renew your registration etc)? Well, I’m offering to be that person. After all, I have the time. And so I may as well use it productively to help my friends out. So if you do need a slave in Rome for that kind of thing, you know where I am.
Actually, that’s the kind of thing I mean when I talk about working cooperatively rather than competitively with peers – I have this resource (my time) that other people might not have at the moment. So I share it around, and help out whoever needs it. But I’m getting into philosophy there, so we’ll leave that for another time.
The trip was long, and the less said about it the better. Travelled from 6am to 1am. When we got to Caerulia’s, all I wanted was a shower and a sleep in a warm bed. I got both. It’s nice being back in a house with a good shower – that was one of the worst things about living in Jim’s house.
I’ve got a lot to write, about immediate plans, last night’s dinner party, condom-covered barmix machines, running into old colleagues, reuniting with old friends, the frustration of dial-up net access, changing fortunes, Will’s theories put into practice, and a whole lot more.
But until I get decent net access, a lot will be limited. My writing, my reading of blogs, even my favourite regular thing – YouTube Sunday- has to be curtailed. Sorry to the 3 or 4 people who like that one. Much much more to come though. I might have to start writing entries, then coming online to post them, rather than writing online.
The Lancer performed well though, but she is retired now. Until she gets some serious surgery.
The next step begins tomorrow. Ringing employment agencies I’ve already spoken to – arranging interviews for Tuesday and Wednesday. Rome’s employment situation is so good that it’s the kind of topic locals discuss in normal conversation – how businesses and government departments need people. So finding work should be easy. Then I have to get cash flowing once more. And find somewhere to live other than Lucius’ spare bed.
It’s nice to be home though.
I was chatting to a friend recently. She was a bit flush with cash, so she was offering to lend it to me to assist with my move. Lending it to me was a way she considered the money would be out of reach, but still going to come back to her in a month or two down the track, when she’s likely to once again be skint (coz she’s a uni student). And I declined her loan, but we began to talk about an idea I had a while back, and I’ve been bouncing off people for a while. It goes a little something like this.
Within a small circle of friends – no more than 10 – we establish an account with a bank. Into that account, we divert one percent of our income. The amount is small enough that we’d not notice it disappearing, but over time, it’d grow.
When one of the circle needed cash for something out of the ordinary (a rental bond etc) then they’d be able to borrow from the fund. Obviously, if everyone saw it as a cash-cow to be milked as hard as possible, the funds in the account just wouldn’t hold up to it. But for small purposes, it’d act as a kind of ‘revolving money’ scheme to allow friends to help each other out.
At this stage, my return is scheduled for next week. Tuesday to be exact.
Today was my final day going to see my favourite local Judean football team – the Wynnum Vikings. They played against the Coorparoo Kings. The Reserves lost by 2. The Seniors won by 40. A few months ago, I was trying to volunteer to help out the club – with their website, or with their fundraising. But people lost my number, or didn’t get back to me. So that didn’t end up happening. Which was disappointing, because the Vikings games became one of the highlights of my last few months. My friends I would go to the game with bought me some club merchandise as a farewell gift, and the club president gave me a couple of bottles of club wine (which I made a gift to one of my friends, since I don’t drink). It was a good afternoon though.
This evening, I’m back at AFK wasting time. I’m mainly spending time here because I’ve had it with Jim, my housemate. But I wont get into a Jim-whinge here. Let’s just say that being cooped up with someone who is insane has sent me to my threshold, so now I’m just limiting my exposure to him. Here in the cafe though, I just tried out Civilization IV for the first time – it seems like a cool game, but it needs a lot more of my time before I’ll understand most of what is going on in the game. It’s very ‘pretty’ though. I may spend much of the evening “testing” it 🙂
In the cafe though, the constant MusicMax means I end up hearing songs I haven’t heard in years. At the moment, Duran Duran‘s Hungry Like the Wolf is playing away, about 5 feet above my head. (Oh, that just stopped, and now we’ve got Kim Wilde‘s Kids In America – Countdown flashbacks!)
Tomorrow I’m mainly sorting out some things for my car, to make sure the little Lancer is up for the great emigration. It’ll be an interesting trip. Reminds me a bit of those movies where a great journey is undertaken on a plane/ship/whatever that makes the distance, but arrives on its last legs, and crashes rather than arrives at its destination. I suspect the Lancer will be like that – it’ll make it to Rome, but then need so much work it’ll be a little while before it’ able to fly again.
Monday, I’ve got some paperwork in Jerusalem-city to sort out. I’ll also be going to see some of the people in the city office I’ve spent the last two years providing support for.
Tuesday, the journey commences. I’ve teed up with Will that if anything catastrophic happens, he’ll set sail to come and rescue me. So one way or another, mid next week, I should be back in Rome. More than four years since I first left.
Today was my last day working for the Judean provincial government. We had a large morning tea with people from our section and all the neighbouring sections. Then, I took my own staff (two of them) out for lunch – just some takeaway and then down to the park – the main purpoe was to get away from the office for an hour to let our minds switch off. Then, in the afternoon, our section shared cuppas and chocolate cake. After two years in the same role, I have to say that if every day was like today, I’d have probably stayed a lot longer. But mostly, for two years, the work was repetitive and monotonous. I met some nice people though. I’ll continue friendships with several of them. It was after all where I met Alderney and DryEyedCrab.
After work, I’ve once again come down to AFK Cafe, where Ozbhoy has made my night. We were chatting, and I couldn’t decide what I wanted for dinner. So he took me into the kitchen, and we custom-designed a meal. A tomato-garlic based prawn/seafood pasta, with capers and enough chilli to make it interesting, made to exact specifications. I like the cafe because it’s the sort of place I just like hanging out, even without the net-aspect of it, or the fact it’s run by two of my friends. I’m crap at writing reviews of venues and meals and that kind of thing. But this is the kind of place that Jerusalem has lacked all along. I even promised Willett that if his cafe makes its first anniversary, I’ll buy the cafe a little gift. It’s looking quite good though – as I glance around the room, there’s about 20 paying customers in the place – which I guess is reasonable for dinnertime on a Friday.
I sometimes have this belief that when I am doing the right thing, when I am behaving in a way the universe wants me to, the universe likes to give me signals to indicate its approval or cooperation.
So get this ladies and gentlebeans…
I’ve been talking here about the May Massacre, and making peace with those whose friendship she poisoned. One such person was Polyserena. Except it was slightly different with Serena. Diana didn’t know her. But Serena was a friend of mine who read Diana’s blog. So when the trouble erupted, Serena read the lies about the horrid things I’d done. And how Diana’d been an angel through the whole thing. Since my policy back then was to stay silent, not dignifying the accusations with a public response, Serena accepted the lies as true.
So Serena drifted away.
Today, in the week when I’ve been making peace with those I lost back then, our paths crossed.
I work for the provincial government. Serena works for a health provider. We have clients in common, but in two years, our official duties have never crossed. Until today. She was doing something on behalf of one of her clients, and so her name appeared as the contact person for a problem it was my job to fix. In two years, no official overlap. This week, overlap.
Clearly the universe was telling me to make peace with her. So over a short phone call, and an afternoon of email ping-pong, that’s what happened. And it felt as refreshing as the other reconciliations I’ve done this week.
Well, all except one.
One reconciliation attempt has failed. But I can look at my own part, in offering peace yet finding the other person still consumed by the Dark Side of the Force, and I can hold my own head high. So I’m okay with it.