Sunday, 31 July 2011

Hometown Invasion/Cult of Personality

It's been roughly a month since I started the new job, and we're now less than 2 weeks away from moving out. This past week had a slightly different feel to it than the previous three. I've become more settled in where I'm at, more comfortable. And this was definitely helped in that my morning commutes were spent in company. On Monday morning, when standing alone while at the same time completely surrounded by people, a familiar face presented itself. Newly-wed friend Mike appeared and as it turns out, was on the 9 til 9 shift for Monday through Thursday. So for the first four days of the week, I was kept company on the trains in the morning. It was weird having a conversation with another human being during the commute, and you couldn't help but notice several bemused and possibly even annoyed commuters staring at us for interacting as opposed to keeping our heads down. It certainly made the mornings a little nicer. Then on Friday, when it looked as though I was going to be alone again (Mike having already worked 48 hours for the week in just 4 days), I managed to catch the train with my Uncle. So for the whole week I got to be a real person amidst a sea of soulless drones. Tomorrow unfortunately, I'll be back to drone-mode myself.

The commute wasn't the only time that some of my hometown chums made appearances during my working day. Nat and Chris met me for lunch on Monday too, Nat having had herself an interview in the city. It was a great way to spend a lunch hour, although it did go mighty quick and soon enough I was back behind my desk.

After hours too, this week has been different. Stacey and me met up with Becky and Alex after work on Tuesday, and on Friday we arranged to go and see the latest Marvel spectacle Captain America. Friday night wound up being a double-header for me though, as I basically enjoyed two nights out for the price of one. By Friday afternoon, I had reached my targets at work for the week, and thus was allowed to leave at 5 instead of 6. A member of the office was leaving, and another was celebrating a birthday, so my new colleagues and I headed to a bar that seemed to be more like a nightclub in the middle of the day. We went in and downstairs, and it really was like walking into nighttime. I enjoyed a few cocktails (half-price for the win!) and over the course of a couple of hours started to finally get to know some of my new workmates. Due to the Captain America plans for later in the night, I may have had to be one of the first to head home, but in fairness I do have one of the longest journeys of anyone in my office and I still managed to spread myself thin enough to enjoy time with London-lot and Hometown-heroes.

The Cult of Personality

It was another double-header on Saturday night, although thankfully in the same place. Two of my old Blockbuster colleagues, Sam and Sarah were out to celebrate their birthdays; my broski Sam celebrating the big three-oh! It was a terrific night and great to see and catch up with the old crew who I have missed rather a lot in the last month. More cocktails were drunk and I tried my first ever tequila shot. It was rather rancid. I purchased a little present for Sam too in the form of a toy wrestling belt. The gift that was held high and posed with for much of the night was wrapped in Chuggington wrapping paper, the only wrapping paper we could find in Stacey's house. It scored some pretty odd looks from the bouncers and reception staff at the club.

Trial Run

With moving day drawing ever closer, Stacey and I have Stacey's house to ourselves at the moment. With the time to ourselves, we've been practising for the life we're about to embark on, with Stacey having prepared some very tasty meals for me for when I get back from work. Yesterday we entertained for Mike and Sarah before going out, and today we went grocery shopping. No doubt this will all be boring in a few months time, but for now it's all very exciting.

We're One Day Closer,
          The Wait Is Over.
                                       -TRUST COMPANY

Sunday, 24 July 2011

King of My Ordinary World

But I won't cry for yesterday
There's an ordinary world
Somehow I have to find
And as I try to make my way
To the ordinary world
I will learn to survive
-DURAN DURAN                          
I've been listening to a lot of Duran Duran recently. It all started just over a week ago when we were heading out in Stacey's car and I stopped by my Mum and Dad's CD collection to look for something to rock out to during the drive. Stacey asked what I was doing, and then told me to bring something from the 80s. I went straight for the compromise, and soon enough were jamming and singing - or rather attempted to sing - our little lungs out to the likes of A View to a Kill and Rio. Although I have a bit of a soft spot for the Bond theme, my favourite Duran Duran hit has to be their most epic: Ordinary World

Listening to it as I have many times over the last eight days, I've really started to take in, and digest the lyrics. In many ways it sums up the vast amount of change going down right now... and I'm not referring to coins.... Ok that wasn't funny at all... I'll stop.

It reminds me of a conversation that I had with Stacey's Mum Kim just t'other day, in which we were discussing how you reach a certain point just after your teenage years (teenagedom? teenagehood?) when you begin to realise that maybe you're not going to make the bigtime and fulfill your wildest dreams, and that perhaps that's all right. In a sense, Duran Duran are onto something, you make your way into the Ordinary World, and while those adolescent, teenage days (and nights) have left you with a whole host of awesome memories, there's no need to cry for yesterday. Thinking about all that's gone on in our lives right now, I am really beginning to feel the sense of excitement building. It's time to build our world; it's our time.

We trekked around Ikea today looking for stuff and spending some of my savings away. All for a good cause mind! Ikea wasn't quite the Hell-on-Earth I remembered from when I was a kid, and was actually a lot of fun. It was like exploring the homes of 100 people all at once. My inner-child loved jumping on all the different beds, and trying out all the comfy chairs to see which one would be best to doze off in. Or would that have been my inner-adult? I also found that the Ikea restaurant serves probably the best value meals in the world. Did someone say full English breakfast for under £2? I certainly fuelled up before the shopping marathon, and returned at the end for a can of Swedish pear cider.

At this point in this entry, it probably seems that my whole life is revolving around the impending move, and to be fair rather a lot of it is. However, let's not forget my new job. I'm now three weeks in and am really starting to grasp the whole recruitment game. I barely even notice the commute anymore thanks in large to Stephen King, and am beginning to get to know my lovely colleagues. One other perk of working in London is getting to see my old buddy James Drury, a.k.a. Mr. Westend Musical Man. I met up for him after work on Friday for a drink during his pre-showtime break. While waiting outside his current theatre of work, I was randomly told to eff-off by some psychotic looking man who then turned and stormed off. I hadn't even looked at the guy... gotta love London life, eh? James then came out and met me, and off we walked to find a not-so-crowded pub, walking past Rupert Everett on the way. It was great to catch up with an old friend, and I look forward to doing it more often. The rest of the weekend has then seemingly disappeared; I went to the cinema to see Horrible Bosses on Saturday with Nat, Pete and Stacey, and then Ikea today and BAM! Work again tomorrow!

At this point I'm looking very much forward to next weekend, as I'll be heading back to Ikea and then going out for a much needed night on the town/catch-up with the old Blockbuster crew for a joint Sam/Sarah birthday celebration. Woo Woo Woo - You Know It!

What is happening to me?
Crazy, some'd say

Who knows, maybe I'll be a mega-star yet ;-)

Sunday, 10 July 2011

The First Week

I've had my first week of full-time employment and am rapidly nearing the end of my first proper weekend. So much has happened and it feels like it's all passed me by in the blink of an eye.

My first day at the new job last Monday began as only a first day could in my world. The company that I am employed by take up the third floor of the building, with other companies inhabiting the other floors. I walked into reception on Monday and alerted the receptionist of my arrival. She phoned up to the company and I sat down to wait. About ten minutes later a man walked into the room, looked in my direction and asked 'James?'. Last time I checked, my name was James, so I answered that I was and off we went into the lift and up to the fourth floor... Those of you paying attention may have noticed a fatal error there already. Up we went and I was soon introduced to my colleagues, one of which was stripped down to his boxers after having run or cycled in. They were all dreadfully posh, but friendly enough as they all welcomed me and shook my hand; Mr Boxers included. I was then taken to a meeting room and made a cup of coffee just the way I like it, and I sat down at a table.
'Of course your father is very instrumental in what we do here' began the man.
'I'm sorry, can you repeat that?' I replied.
'I said that your father, he plays a pretty big role in what we do here.' said the man.
'How do you know my Dad?' I asked back, a look of sheer perplexion spread across my face.
'James (insert some other guy's surname here)?' the man then asked, looking somewhat confused himself.
'No, James Cooke.' I answered, the realisation dawning on me.
I was soon whisked out of there and taken back down to reception where the real James was found and turned out to be some sixteen year old school kid. Thankfully I hadn't been summoned yet, and when I was called up with my new colleague Yohanna who was also starting that day, the nerves had completely faded away as I'd already been introduced to one new office.

I'm happy to report that my actual new colleagues are a very friendly bunch, and I'm happy to work in the office with them for the majority of the week. The posh lot upstairs weren't bad either, and I have since bumped into one of them in the lift; we shared a laugh over what happened and he asked whether I was enjoying my proper job.

Many people keep asking me whether the commute bothers me, but the truth is that it doesn't at all. I've read nearly the whole of Dan Brown's Digital Fortress on my travels this week, and haven't even noticed the journey whip by. The thing that has had an effect is the sheer length of the days, as after a full day at work, coupled with the commute, I'm looking at a twelve hour day. It feels like my whole week is work. Luckily, I don't seem to have been too badly effected. I seem to hit a bit of a wall at about twenty past three each day (I used to frequently have a half hour lie-down at around this time), and on Tuesday I was particularly dead-to-the-world; but since then I've rebounded and by Friday I was feeling completely used to it all! Probably the highlight of the week had to be on Day 1, when the team on my desk were all treated to a paid-for lunch to get to know the newbies at a nearby Italian restaurant. Oh, and it turns out that I don't need to take the tube, as the office is in walking distance of Charing Cross, which is good news as it'll save me £60 each month.

Friday came, and I finally got to feel what all other working guys and gals feel on the last day of the working week. We get to go home an hour early on Friday's so long as we've hit certain targets which was a pleasant surprise, and the weekend kicked of flavourably with an Indian meal, courtesy of Peter. Then yesterday, Stacey and I went to view some flats, as the time to move out is drawing closer, and we then spent the remainder of the day meeting some relatives that I had never met before. My second cousin was at one time Mr. UK, which I guess sums up where in the hell my good looks come from! To round out the week, I've just been out for a Sunday lunch with Stacey and some friends. This was followed up by a visit to the park, and Becky and me rode on the miniature railway, reliving our childhoods in the process. And that brings me to right here, right now. I'm back to work for another full week in the morning.... When did I turn into a proper adult?

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Season Finale

This is it. Here I sit about to embark on a new career and my proper adult life. Tomorrow I shall be rising early (by my standards) and commuting into the city for the first day of my new full-time job in recruitment. I think and I hope that I'm all set, all that's left is to sleep before the big day.

Papa's Got a Brand New (Man) Bag

Since discovering that I'd got the job a week and a half ago, I've been spending money so that I can go on to make some money. First up was a shopping trip which Stacey jumped at the chance to go on to buy a brand spanking new suit One suit just wouldn't suffice, and I went for a grey suit to contrast my black, pin-striped number. I've also stocked up on shirts and ties, so that I'll have at least one outfit for each of the days of the week. And don't you worry fashion gurus, I do plan to purchase more once I get some dosh rolling in. Once my attire was sorted, I thought about getting a briefcase. My Dad used to have a briefcase when he commuted, so why shouldn't I? Well, apparently briefcases are rather hard to come by these days. Instead I had to adjust my mission objectives and seek out a man-bag. I think I found a pretty good one for a nice enough price, and it should hopefully match my suits.
The final purchase for now came in the form of travel expenses. I needed a train ticket to get into town each day, and I soon found that it ain't cheap as chips! No, I've forked out near enough £400 for a month's worth of journeys. Thankfully it should all be worth it. With my shopping done, I feel I'm now as ready as I'll ever be to start my big-boy job, even if all this retail preparation did remind me of shopping during the 'back to school' days.

So long, farewell...

With a brand new full-time position about to be taken by myself, the end of my illustrious retail career has come and gone. I made sure to work one last time with each of my Blockbuster brethren before walking off into the sunset, and I finished up with one last Friday night shift. Aside from making my manager get all emotion at the prospect of my departure (I have that affect, it's both a gift and a curse), it was a rather unevenetful shift that went by nice and smoothly with Nick and John. I made the two of them take me out for drinks afterwards, and we were joined by Stacey and Tom, and wound out the night by reminiscing about our retail pasts in Blockbuster and Woolworths. We told tales such as the time at Woolies in which me and Tom managed to somehow spend a whole afternoon sitting on the stairs conversing, and the time in the esteemed 'pillow room' when a certain member of management didn't spot us perched up high on a mountain of pillows and duvets skiving off. No wonder that place went down.... Although I still think it has more to do with the fact that I left there and defected to Blockbusters, which gives my now-former employer about two months until administration... I'm joking of course, or at least I hope so for the sakes of all of my good friends that work there, and for the fact that I don't want to be some bringer of bad curses to companies that I work for. Blockbuster Broskis, I'm gonna miss you all, and promise to visit and meet up with you all as often as possible.
What a Soppy Git!

 With the end of one era, and the beginning of another, things really feel like they're wrapping up! So many of my friends seem to be moving on in their lives in one way or another at the moment. Whether it's getting a fantastic score in their degree like my Good friend Nat, or qualifying as a teacher like the Frustrated Creative himself Mr. Pete Town. But arguably no one has taken as big a leap as have Sarah and Mike who yesterday joined together in Holy Matrimony.

That's right, Wills and Kate can step aside, there's a new hot married couple on town. Michael and Sarah, now both known as Mr and Mrs Michael Fenner tied the knot in a nice ceremony in the church that Sarah's parents had gotten hitched inside. The event brought many to tears including the groom, who had never looked happier than when he saw his bride walk down that aisle! We later enjoyed a very pleasant meal under the watchful eye of a rather confident, and at times intimidating (in a good way) toast master. The speeches were all very well spoken, including Mr Fenner's rather soppy one. He admitted to us before the evening's festivities that he was maybe being a little soppy, at which point I warned him of the subtitle above. The bride looked absolutely beautiful in a long flowy dress that I unfortunately cannot describe any further due to my lack of fashion knowledge. I can however add that it was white... which I guess you'd expect.

The evening do was tremendous fun, and the alcohol seemed to flow. Stacey was particularly trolleyed, and everyone had an absolute ball. Everything about the night (and day for that matter) clicked well, and nobody had a bad, or even an OK time. Everyone loved it, and Mike and Sarah should be completely happy with their perfect day! Congratulations guys!

The End...

That's all I have time for now, as I really need to start getting ready for bed ahead of the big first day tomorrow! I'm excited and a tad nervous. If you're looking for a little more reading material, then I'll point you in the direction of Jon Budworth, who for my birthday last year began writing my fictional life story here. Why am I bringing this up? Because he wrote Part 2 for my birthday this year here! Enjoy!