Saturday, August 28, 2004

Havana Nights

We are stuck at Gatwick, waiting for the flight to Cuba. I can't believe we are finally going on holiday. It has been a crazy week at work trying to make sure everything is tied up and that there won't be too much waiting for my return. But for now - who cares!

We arrrive in Cuba this evening and we will be straight to the pool bar for a cool drink before falling into an exhausted slumber. Tomorrow is the start of 14 days glorious sunshine (assuming no rogue hurricanes head our way)and a truly relaxing time. We have the bulk of the holidday in Guardalavaca, with only 2 days in Havana, as we have spent a week there before. We went to see 'The Motorcycle Diaries' to understand a bit more what motivated Che Guevara. It was a bit slow to start but was a quite moving potrayal of some of the events that motivated Che to get involved/lead the revolution.

Probably won't be posting until I am back. Take care. Jay x

Friday, August 20, 2004

Darkness Falls

Being a self confessed Buffy addict I am obliged to watch anything starring original cast members. So, last night, we rented Darkness Falls, starring Emma Caulfield, who played Anya in Buffy. The story is based on a myth surrounding an old lady affectionately called the Tooth Fairy. Affectionately, that is, until she starts to kill anyone who catches a glimpse of her face.

It was a suspenseful, dark thriller with excellent acting by Emma and newcomer (to me) Chaney Kley. He was excellent as a man who has been plagued by the evil tooth fairy since he saw his mother killed as a child. He is defintely one to watch. The film made us jump and was especially well filmed, considering most of the film takes place in darkness. One of the extra features was a documentary explaining the historical myth of the Tooth Fairy from the perspective of Port Fairy in SE Australia. I am pretty sure the documentary was a spoof – but it worked incredibly well. Definitely worth seeing.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Men's Gymnastics

I love the gymnastics; and last night was the men's all-round event - unfortunately, Paul Hamm won. I say unfortunately, because the Korean competitors really deserved it. Hamm fell from 1st to 12th after a dodgy landing on the vault, but recovered to win Gold. South Korea's Dae Eun Kim got silver while compatriot Tae Young Yang took the bronze.

Hamm’s eyes are too close together, which is a good enough reason for me to not want him to win. According to the Washington Post “Not everyone was enchanted with Hamm's achievement, however. His razor-thin margin of victory left South Korea's Kim Dae Eun (57.811) and Yang Tae Young (57.774) with silver and bronze. Kim was blunt about his disappointment, saying he was angry over losing by just 0.012 of a point. Romania's Ioan Silviu Suciu, who finished fourth, questioned the scoring. "The only thing I can say is that USA got something more than it deserved," Suciu said through an interpreter. “ I have to say I agree.

"Look into my eyes..."

Trust Fund Boys

Ages and ages ago, well February actually; Famous Author Rob Byrnes was kind enough to send me a proof copy of his (then) new novel – ‘Trust Fund Boys’. It arrived just before we were off to Barcelona and I packed it away with my guide books and headed off to the sun.

I wasn’t expecting it to be so good (no offence Rob!), mainly because the book seemed to be rooted in a slice of American life that doesn’t mean a great deal to me. I have visited NY a couple of times, but was limited to the tourist tracks and didn’t really come into contact with many natives (unless you count the young photographer who picked me up one night – but that is an other story). So, the story of a failed actor, Brett Revere, assuming the role of a young playboy in attempt to drag himself into a higher social circle and attain a life of the Hamptons, (which I always assumed were a cross between Dynasty and the O.C.), wasn’t top of my reading pile.

In reality I read this book non-stop. When I should have been doing another couple of laps in the rooftop pool or checking out the cute Spanish waiters I was engrossed in the story of Brett’s mission to infiltrate the rich and powerful world of ‘A’ list gays. Brett meets Jamie and they join forces in this mission. Add in an unbelievable off-Broadway musical, a pervy straight flatmate and the scene is set. War and Peace it ain’t, but for summer reading I think this book is perfect. There could have been a bit more sex, but that says more about me that the book!

The writing is tight with evocative imagery; I'll definitely be getting a place in the Hamptons when Calvin Klein finally signs me up for a worldwide marketing campaign. The character of Jamie and Brett are well formed and believable, although I would have liked there to be a bit more tenderness on Jamie’s part – again this is more about me than the book. I don’t know if this is a real scenario in the US, but given a lot of Rob’s blog posts I think there is more than a modicum of autobiographical snippets in here.

Throw in an insufferable drag queen named Joey Takashimi; some amateur house breaking; internet porn; bitter straight women and a Jitney (a total mystery to me) and it is well worth a read. I have since lent the proof to a couple of friends (sorry Rob – they promise to buy their own!) who have both enjoyed it. One has even sought out Rob’s previous book The Night We Met, which is a pretty good indication of what she thought about Rob’s writing.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Hurricane heads for south Florida

We are off to Cuba at the end of the month, hoping to avoid the hurricane season. I have just read about hurricane Charley that has swept through Havana and is now heading towards Florida.

When we were in Cuba 2 years ago we were advised to stay indoors in Havana as the tail end of a hurricane was on its way. It seemed OK outside so we had a little stroll. It was very wet, but just like the rainy days we have had here for the last few days. People thought we were mad walking in the rain, but in the absence of cars lifting off the ground and power cables whipping over our heads we decided we would be fine.

In the end the hurricane missed Cuba, although it did some pretty serious damage in Florida. I am just hoping we are as lucky this time. I have been really looking forward to these two weeks away and would be majorly pissed off if we ended up barricaded in a hotel.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Ants in My Pants

We have been invaded! The torrential rain over the last week has driven a biblical plague upon us. The kitchen floor is littered with the wood lice corpses (wood louse corpses?), beetles are seeking a warm spot by the boiler and worst of all, ants are seeking refuge under the front door. We came home yesterday to find ants marching along the hall carpet and scurrying around the skirting boards.

Generally, ants are our friends. They happily live in the back garden and organically manage the aphids, providing mild entertainment as they troop up and down the trees. Seeing them in the house is a different matter. At the risk of being called a murderer I had no choice but to vacuum them up. Not the most pleasant way to go – but I don’t really want to live cheek by jowl with them. We don’t have any bug spray so I have followed the old wives tale that ants hate talcum powder. Now, whenever you open the font door you are welcomed by a waft of Johnson’s baby powder.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

TiVo halves prices to drive sales

Any one who has a TiVo will know how fantastic it is. It never really caught on in the UK, but we picked one up cheap when they decided to exit the UK market. It was a great investment as we now spend less time watching TV, but what we do watch is more varied. We can set up season passes for obscure late-night documentaries, films etc and never have to watch adverts. Pausing live TV is also great.

With more companies bringing PVRs onto the market we may see an increase, but they don’t usually have TiVo’s Electronic Programme Guide (EPG), which I think is pretty essential to making the technology work effectively.

The BBC reported today that TiVo has halved its prices in the US to just $100 (£54). If they were that price here I would be recommending them to everyone.

Monday, August 09, 2004

¡Viva España!

Had a pretty crazy weekend. We decided, last minute, to go away. So we checked out the Easyjet website and booked a flight to Barcelona. We arrived on Saturday lunchtime and left Sunday afternoon. The weather was glorious, (although I gather it was at home as well), and, as usual, the Barcelonans were very friendly. We stayed in a hotel we have visited before – they didn’t have any rooms but managed to find one when we arrived as they remembered us from last time. Considering our bar bill was so horrendous last time I am not surprised they remembered us!

The city was pretty busy with tourists, but as we had seen a lot of the major sights we were free to wonder off the beaten track a little. We spent most of Saturday flitting from café to café and checking out all the cute boys. Stupidly, I had left the camera at home in the rush to throw a few things in a bag so no photos of sexy Spanish boys to follow.

Saturday night was a full on party night. We hit the bars from about 9, dinner at 11 and then onto a couple more bars before the partying started. Felt, and looked, like crap on Sunday morning – but it was all worth it for a weekend away from all the things that we should have been doing. Spontaneity is not one of my strong points, so I look on this as a lesson in impulsiveness. I plan to try and identify at least one spontaneous action each week – before you know it I will be planning trips up Everest, randomly giving flowers to strangers and teaching the world to sing in perfect harmony.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Big Brother Look-a-like

A girl at my hospital was in the Channel 4 competition for Big Brother look-a-likes. She has the pleasure of looking like Nadia complete with lip gloss and big sunglasses. C4 have decided she is the best look-a-like and she has won tickets to go the final evictions on Friday. After managing to wangle the time off work she is preparing banners and getting her eviction outfit ready See her here.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

I, robot

How are you feeling today?

Energy Levels: [2]
Motivation: [0]
Enthusiasm: [1]

Only just beginning to recover from the weekend. My friend’s visit has emotionally, physically and mentally drained me, at a time when I need to clear a lot off my desk and be focussed on the job application.

10:56 and I have hardly done a thing. Most of the team are off-site this afternoon and I haven’t decided whether to attack the depressing pile of paperwork or head off to the car for a power nap (or drool-faced slumber).

Off for a super king-size coffee to try create the illusion of a normally functioning human being (at least until lunchtime).

Monday, August 02, 2004

A Friend in Need is a Friend Indeed

Whoever said, “A friend in need is a friend indeed”, obviously hadn’t had the weekend I have! I suppose the saying means that a friend who helps you when you really need help is a true friend, and this is a noble sentiment. Putting it into practice can be a lot tougher.

We have had a friend staying since Thursday, who I have know for about 15 years. We met at university and have been through a lot together over the years. Over the last 5+ years we have seen a lot less of each other as we have lived in different parts of the country – most recently she has been living in Valencia. She moved there, after her marriage broke down, with her daughter and her new beau (who still says beau?). The relationship broke down when she found out that he was having an affair with her best friend – which has got to hurt.

To cut a long story short – she landed on our doorstep with a couple of days notice and proceeded to be totally neurotic and the antithesis of a perfect guest. I wanted to be supportive, but think that she has got some real mental health problems to address that I am not equipped to cope with. To be fair, I think she knows this herself and is seeking ways to address this. In the meantime I feel helpless to improve her situation and hope we have helped by providing a few days respite from the madness in her life at the moment. She seemed oblivious to the normal social niceties and (in the words of parents up and down the country) “treated the place like a hotel.” I think that I am pretty easy going, but having to constantly clear up after someone isn’t my idea of fun.

My partner has been a little angel coping with her screwy behaviour although he finds her to be the “devil incarnate”. I have felt very torn between trying to help a friend and my first loyalty to my partner who finds it difficult to be in the same room as her. I think he managed to cover his feelings pretty well and – if you are reading this honey – thanks for being so patient.

Unfortunately, if was a pretty bad time for us to have a guest. I have been working long hours the last couple of weeks and using the evenings to complete an assignment for my MSc. This weekend was meant to have been used to complete an application form for the new job – but I have done little more than list my experience and education – the real job of selling myself is still to do. We also had a couple of jobs that needed to be done and it was difficult trying to fit all this in without feeling that I was abandoning my friend.

She rang a friend in London last night to announce she would be arriving today, and I dropped her off at the station this morning. I genuinely hope she gets through all her stresses and hope that we have offered some support and a bolthole from the world. I just hope it is a while before we have to do this again. I probably sound like a callous bugger – I just hope I am never in a similar situation as she is. It just reinforces for me how good my relationship is and that I should appreciate my boyfriend more.