Burned

It’s approaching the end of the day, Friday. I’m getting ready to go to Option C to sign a contract or whatever – basically to finalise on the call I made the day before to say “yes.” When, ring ring

Me: “Hello, Karan here.”

Caller: “Ah, hello Karan, this is Anna, from the…?”

Oh, it’s the Polish woman from the house. Checking to see when I’m coming I guess.

Me: “Oh hi Anna! How are you? I’m just about to head out now.”

Anna:  “Ah, I’m ok. Look, Karan, I have some bad news for you,”

Oh, maybe I’ll have to do this signing on the weekend…

Anna: “We’ve given the room to someone else, who put the money down right now.”

Fuck.

So it turns out I wasn’t clear enough that I was prepared to pay for the rent next week – naturally, when I’m living only 10 min walk from work, I’m going to stay there, so they assumed that I wouldn’t pay until next week. Whereas they needed the money now. So they called me less than an hour before I’m supposed to go meet them and told me they’ve given the place to someone who has put the money down now. Despite me saying yes the day before and them arranging for me to come tonight at 7:30 to sign.

Bastards.

Of course, there’s no real point trying to argue it – I’d have to live with these people for the next 6 months, and there’s no way that would be a healthy start to the relationship. It’s just this sense of impotent fury that I have at these people for screwing around with me. And while I haven’t turned down option A or B as yet, real estate apparently moves fast here so I’ve no idea if it’ll still be there come Monday. So some desperate searching for me this weekend.

Bloody assholes.

‘Device’ Found in London

Police have defused a bomb in Central London – Haymarket, in the West End (more at the BBC and Sky)

I’m nowhere near it, but… shit. =/

Ed 1: One person has pointed out that “this was the location of a gay pride parade” scheduled for tomorrow. Another person points out that the car would likely be towed in two days =)

Ed 2: Another points out that the recent change of Prime Minister is far more likely to have been the prompt for this.

Ed 3: Err, ok, there appears to be exactly zero reaction to this here in London… >.>

Help Me Decide!

Trying to pick where to live. I have three options – two by myself, one share.

Option A: Goldhawk Road

  • Studio Apartment
  • £180 per week
    • Doesn’t include anything – have to pay electricity, phone, internet, water, TV (have to pay for a “TV license” here) rates on top
  • Decently spec’d kitchen (albeit old appliances, no cutlery etc)
  • Average-to-small bathroom
  • Futon-bed-thing
  • 4th floor
  • Good wardrobe
  • Semi-suburban – quiet enough, not far from shops etc.
  • 10 min walk from station
  • Total 30 – 40 min commute
  • Bright and airy

Option B: Fulham Palace Road

  • Studio Apartment (in a big block – former doctor residence)
  • £220 per week
    • Includes all expenses except laundry, phone (but does include internet)

    Somewhat small (barely room to swing a cat and all that)

  • Modern kitchen with modern appliances & cutlery etc (though small)
  • Small bathroom
  • Futon-bed-thing
  • Limited wardrobe
  • Common room, courtyard part of premesis
  • Dark – lights will need to be on 90% of the time I’m at home
  • 5 – 10 min walk from station
  • Total 30 – 40 min commute
  • Busy road

Option C: Wolfe Crescent

  • Share House
    • Large bedroom, average bathroom (ensuite), small yard/garden for me
  • £200 per week (approx)
    • Includes bills
  • House in suburban-ish area, medium density
  • Sharing with 4 others
    • 3 Polish (married couple, guy) and 1 French (girl)
    • All professionals
    • Good English
  • Shared kitchen/living area
  • Proper bed
  • 5 – 8 min walk to station
    • 15 – 20 min commute to work
  • 3 min walk to bus stop
    • 20 – 25 min commute to work (bus stop directly outside work)

I’m leaning to Option C at this point. Help me decide! I need a decision by tomorrow morning!

A Litany of iPhone shortcomings

I know, I know, the iPhone is all over the web this week. But here’s something to bust the bubble – interesting to consider that Apple missed these oh-so-common features when doing user-eval (I can only imagine they did – surely Jobs wasn’t the only evaluator, right?). Indeed, it seems like the iPhone was going to be the ever-hyped Video Touchscreen iPod (6G) with Phone, rather than primarily a phone.

Ed: updated for 2008/iPhone 3G.

Ed Note 2: All of the above shortcomings/complaints have been taken care of with the iPhone 3GS. See, Apple can get it right… eventually. Now it’s just a costly mofo.

りえふ Gig

Rie Fu had posted info about this gig on her blog and I was finally in London! So I found myself trekking through the rain from Turnpike Lane tube station to a tiny little restaurant-cum-bar called Viva Viva in Hornsey, in north London.

The venue initially looked promising, but those without a reserved table were unceremoniously shoved to the back, away from the stage. I looked to the back and… oh my god, there she is, there she is, what do I say what do I do don’t be a fanboy! just be cool… but she’s right there!

She was short. Shorter than I imagined, in any case, though probably close to average for Japanese, and she looked a lot prettier in the flesh (which I know sounds like a quasi-insult, but it really was striking how much prettier she looked). I did my usual awkward-shy thing and just dodged the whole issue by sitting down and ordering a drink. A good strong one.

There were some other acts on before “the main event” in my mind, and while they were of a similar genre, they were nothing compared to Rie Fu. By the time Rie took the stage, quite a crowd had gathered – some of whom seemed to know Rie through her university, and a lot of Japanese (presumably friends). The venue clearly wasn’t up to the job, and while there weren’t any arguments it was a tight in there for sure. Rie mentioned at the opening of her set that this was one of the first venues she played at years ago when she was just starting out, and that this would be her last gig in London before moving back to Japan to pursue the career whole-heartedly.

I was enraptured. I was seeing Rie Fu! For real! Probably my last chance at that! and she was no more than 10 feet away! And in 4 songs, it was all over. Man, all that build up!

Afterwards, I went and asked for a photo. In my head, it was going to go something like this:

Me: Sumimasen, Rie-san, hitotsu shashin totte mo ii desu ka? (Casual sounding, “Excuse me, Rie-san, would it be alright if I took a photo (with you)?”)

Rie Fu: Ah, hai, ii desu yo. (“Ah yeah, sure”)

But really, it went like this:

Me: Ano, Sumimasen, Rie-san, hitotsu…. foto… ? (Nervous sounding, “Um, pardon me, Rie-san, one… foto…?”)

Rie Fu: (shocked at the Japanese) Ah, yeah… un.. (“yeah..”)

So not exactly to plan. But I got the photo!

And when I walked home, I was singing all the way =D Now if only I could (a) be less shy and (b) get my Japanese from my head to my tongue properly.

(a couple more photos here)

It’s not London unless the skies are grey

It just wouldn’t be London, even in summer, unless the skies were grey and the rain was a constant threat, right? That’s been true nearly every day now, with the only concession to summer being patches of sun that do appear in between.

Motor Expo

Hot, hot cars. This was no ordinary motor show – the clear point here was to show off cars worth their salt, and if Sir had his chequebook or Amex Black on hand, Sir could purchase too. Test drives could also be arranged with personal pick up.

It wasn’t the London Motor Show – that’s the usual type held inside a giant exhibition hall. The Motor Expo was much more geared to selling the goods, from the average punter to the high-flying exec (any wonder it was in the new financial zone?)

Cars were scattered around Canary Wharf, the most modern part of London’s CBD by far. And on offer was no less than the McMerc, and … well nigh on any car you wished to get your hands on. Alfa had their 8C out, not to mention the Spider. Audi’s R8 is a thing of beauty, on par with Aston’s offerings.

Land Rover also made a strong impression, showing off some 4WD abilities on a little course they had set up to demonstrate their offerings. I can appreciate the technical merit of the 4WDs, and at least Land Rover don’t only pretend their cars are for the off-road. (unlike GM/Vauxhall, who advertised a “SUV” with the tagline “Explore the limits of the urban jungle.” Slogans (and cars) that stupid should be banned.

The funniest thing was seeing all the boys drooling over the cars, and the exasperated women wandering around behind them, as if taking care of toddlers in a candy shop :) (more photos here)

Royal Ascot

Royal Ascot is roughly the equivalent of the Racing Carnival in Melbourne, except it happens at one place, Ascot, over four days, and gets the “Royal” tag thanks to the attendance of the Queen and her family. As you might imagine, the fashions are even more upmarket, with roughly half the crowd heading there in top hat & tails.

In most other ways though, it’s the same as the racing carnival in Melbourne. Long stretches of empty time mostly filled with drinking your choice of poison and chit-chat, with a break every 40 minutes or so when a bunch of short men in gaudy silk shirts hurtle down a stretch of perfectly maintained lawn on the backs of animals that, on the balance of it, would probably rather not be there with the men on their back, if indeed at all. Meanwhile the audience puts money on who will win, mostly based on an average of past form that has no bearing what so ever on the race today, and in any case half are amateurs with too much money who are just making pot shots in the dark.

Can you tell I’m a bit of a racing cynic? Or that I didn’t win any money? :) Not a single favourite won, or indeed placed, which goes to show how pointless the whole exercise is. “Lady Luck” doesn’t have half the role she would normally because there is a non-random factor in there, but it’s far more variable than most sports would consider normal. Suffice to say, I really did fail to see the point.

It was none the less a fun day out with a few friends :) (more photos here)

Update in Summary

Ok quick update of what I’ve been up to the last week:

  • Working (naturally)
  • London Motor Expo (more later probably, with photos)
  • Wandering the West End (I was looking for a gallery – found it, couldn’t find the entry =S)
  • House-hunt researching
  • Drinking (only occasionally but more than Sydney) (pints are tough to get through)
  • Setting myself up here (phone, bank, etc)
  • Finding my way around (Until last week I’d get north & south wrong because of being in the wrong hemisphere)
  • Trying everything on the menu, day by day, at Wrap It Up (because it’s the closest I get to a cheap decent lunch)

The upcoming week:

  • Royal Ascot races (what to wear?!)
  • Rie fu gig
  • House-hunt progressing – relocation agent taking me to places (avoiding being in at work when our Biggest Release Ever goes in)
  • Farewelling my London boss (yeah that’s quick even for me)
  • Maybe meeting some people for flat share
  • Maybe meeting friend-of-a-family-friend who lives here
  • Um. That’s not bad so far for the week ahead right?

So, off to the races tomorrow! :)