All change!

So, the cat’s out of the bag and those who needed to know first now know (I think, I hope, I’m sorry if you didn’t). In January, I’ll be starting a new job and Chris and I will be moving to Gloucester (possibly Cheltenham but, seriously, HOW MUCH?!) before Christmas.

Having known about the move for a few weeks now, whilst I’ve waited for the contract to come through, a few blog posts have been floating around my head. (Yes, I’m staggered I haven’t let it slip on Twitter too.)

The first was to be an overview of the many things Chris and I need to sort out in relation to the new job, our house move and much more besides – purchasing a new car man enough to get up Birdlip Hill everyday, finding a new yoga class and running club, getting to grips with my new job role, streamlining our many belongings, figuring out our current rental contract, weighing up a removals company vs. hiring a van, endless house viewings, etc…

Cathartic for me, less interesting for you.

Another theme is related to my sense of belonging. I may well expand on this at some future date. We’ve lived in Worcester for six years now and, though it took us a long time to feel this way, I think it’s fair to say that we now feel at home. Gloucester is not so new or unfamiliar – Chris grew up there and we still have family and friends in the area, we know our way around – but I’m still nervous about moving and settling again. To this end, I have been keeping a list of things to look forward to in Gloucester, which currently runs to:

  • Gloucester Guildhall – good gigs, nice cinema
  • Blue Thai Kitchen, Ruddy’s Fish & Chips, Over Farm
  • Being closer to the Taylors
  • Better cinemas in the vicinity (see above + Vue in Cheltenham)
  • Cheltenham in general – shopping, restaurants, bars, cultural stuff
  • Gloucester’s suburban libraries (so many more than Worcester!)
  • Being half an hour closer to my hometown, family and friends
  • Being half an hour away from Bristol

(Please feel free to contribute!)

Finally, and most recently, some thoughts on people’s responses to my move. Ever the diplomat, I’m still mulling it over but the current climate in the public sector certainly puts an interesting spin on that one…

(Much as I’ve never told you what my current job is on this blog, I will not be telling you what my new job is. But it’s no state secret so feel free to DM, text, email or even speak to me if you’d like to know.)

I’ve been a bit dismissive of Omar’s obsession with minimalism. I am a hoarder.

At work, I struggle with the clear desk policy and, every six months or so, am forced to take out half an afternoon to sort through the piles of paperwork. I still keep a great deal of it. I just put it somewhere else. I am working on this.

Today, an unfortunate incident resulted in every single piece of my paperwork being soaked through and unsalvageable. Having the choice taken away from me, throwing away the lot of it didn’t feel that bad.

Perhaps this is the start of a new, minimalist me, Omar?

Alice in Wonderland in 3D

It’s possible that my first experience of 3D was not a good one because of the poor quality of the film we chose to see. I’d describe Alice in Wonderland as style-over-substance if only there was any style to it. But the richly drawn, colourful Wonderland I’d expected hasn’t made it to the screen. It just looks like a big – very dark – mess, with poor dialogue trotted out by an endless procession of on-trend British celebs (Matt Lucas x2, Stephen Fry, Barbara Windsor, Alan Rickman) and no plot to speak of. The only redeeming feature is Mia Wasikowska, who is an absolutely wonderful Alice. Just enough innocence and curiosity, balanced with just enough feistiness. And beautiful in the most understated way.

Regardless of the film, I don’t think I’m won over by 3D and I’m sure I wouldn’t rush to see a film in anything other than 2D any time soon. Maybe it’s my very poor eyesight, particularly worse in my right eye, my astigmatisms and the fact that I was wearing high index lenses under my 3D specs but I was unable to focus quickly enough on anything to make out the 3D effect. So it was all a just a blur. When the action was still, I was able to make out the effect but it lacked any detail in the background, more a fault of the film rather than my eyesight, I think. Maybe I’ve just got high expectations…is it like that for everyone?

We’re going to see Kick-Ass later this weekend. I have much higher hopes.

What to do?

I have Friday off (getting rid of some overtime). A whole day to myself with very little planned. I do need to call my dad in the morning and I do need to go to Tesco and I do need to do some tidying and probably make the bed in the spare room for my parents’ visit this weekend.

Other options:

  • Buy Heavy Rain. Play Heavy Rain
  • Watch the rest of Brief Encounter that I recorded last weekend
  • Take myself out for lunch – or arrange to meet someone for lunch…
  • Read a whole book
  • Go to the cinema, see a film and get popcorn (salty mixed with sweet, please)
  • Bake something nice
  • Get a massage / facial

What to do?

Stuck on repeat

I have a particular habit when I’m listening to a new album. I’ll very quickly establish my favourite tracks and subsequently listen to those on repeat…for several weeks, sometimes months. And eventually something will cause me to return to the rest of the album: a song popping up on shuffle, perhaps, or the inability to skip through songs due to a phone call or other interruption. This can sometimes be great, as my first example demonstrates…

First example:

A while ago, I bought the Wild Beasts album, ‘Two Dancers’ on the strength of one song (‘All The King’s Men’) and quickly established my favourite tracks (the aforementioned ‘All The King’s Men’ and ‘We Still Got The Taste Dancing On Our Tongues’). And, as these things inevitably go, I listened to these two records (stopping only to add a third: ‘Hooting & Howling’) on repeat for roughly two months. Until a late night drive home from a gig in Bristol without my iPod forced me to listen to the only CD I could reach from my glovebox… Wild Beasts’ ‘Two Dancers’. Not only is the whole album pretty great but it has just the most awesome track on it that I’d missed all this time! Seriously, ‘This Is Our Lot‘ is just a great, great song.

So, my habit can sometimes lead to happy discoveries. But it’s also frustrating, as my second example shows.

Second example:

Yesterday, I bought the Marina & the Diamonds album. It’s a pretty good pop record. But by the time I was on the bus home from work today, I’d narrowed down the album to my few favourites (‘I Am Not A Robot’, ‘Mowgli’s Road‘, ‘Hollywood’ and ‘The Outsider’) and was listening to nothing else. Previous experience suggests that I will do so eventually but, for the time being, it is really very frustrating. I’ve paid for an album, but force of habit means that I’m getting a fraction of what I’ve paid for. I annoy myself sometimes.

Is this normal behaviour?

Last chance to see

As a general rule, I am not a fan of wildlife programmes. But I have been thoroughly enjoying Stephen Fry’s retracing of Douglas Adams’s steps in ‘Last Chance to See’. What I enjoy so much is Fry’s apparent lack of suitability for such a task (he hates camping, isn’t very good at getting off boats in one piece and readily admits that he’d prefer the animals to come to him in London – all things I can relate to). And yet he is, without exception, won over by every incredible example of the natural world that he happens to stumble upon. As much as I share in his seeming distaste for exploration, I also share in his awe and delight at the rich diversity of life.

I think all wildlife programmes should be presented by Stephen Fry.

Cheltenham Literature Festival

On Friday, Leigh and I took a well-earned break from the office and spent the day at the Cheltenham Literature Festival. We had a genuinely lovely day. Not necessarily because of the events we paid to attend (although they were all excellent, both entertaining and insightful) but because of the room it gave us to think and to be challenged intellectually. Owen Sheers made me want to rediscover poetry and to seek out his BBC4 programme on iPlayer; the discussion on mad women in literature triggered a desire to discover a few unread classics; and the subject of journalism writing history highlighted global issues I know scarcely enough about to make the kind of judgements I find myself making.

If only I had the time to do all of those things: to read non-fiction, classics, poetry, political diaries; to watch documentaries about subjects that are new to me; to visit places that will stimulate me. I do have that time. I am simply too distracted by day-to-day living but also by the technology in my home, which requires little attention, wastes many hours and allows me to passively absorb information – little of it of any consequence – in bite sized chunks. A case in point: this week I have tried (and failed) to read three different books. This is not the fault of the books. It is my painfully and increasingly short attention span.

I would like our day at the literature festival to change that.

Some other observations from Friday:
1. I was having breakfast (well, coffee) in Starbucks. They’ve started asking for your first name when you order and then proceed to shout, “tall Americano with room for milk for Jenn!” I don’t like it.
2. Leigh phoned whilst I was in Starbucks to say she was lost (she really, really was). I used Google Latitude to find her and it worked a treat.
3. I was impressed by the sheer number of children at the festival and completely bowled over by their delight and enthusiasm as they had books signed by authors such as Anthony Horowitz and Julia Donaldson. I was bowled over in a very different sense by the number of adults queuing to meet Alan Titchmarsh.
4. There was a lovely European market on the Promenade and it was there that I discovered that sweet ginger is delicious when eaten together with sundried tomatoes.