Saturday, September 02, 2006

Week 3 - British Life

This is a sequel to Nederfles at

Well, I’ve started my new job in Alcatraz and all seems to be going well – it’s actually quite a shock to be working with standards and proper information again (I’ve already attended two courses, one presentation and a teleconference between Greenwich, Norway and Toronto). Overtime is healthy, and so far I have done two fifty-plus and one forty-plus hour weeks (look, there was a Bank Holiday). It’s certainly great to get back to real food in the subsidised canteen (the quality of which is testified to by our resident urban fox, who seems to live on leftovers) and choice in the shops. Oh, and real ale, of course.

One of my first jobs in my new position was to clean up the cell library books by editing a few text fields and tidying up the drawings to bring them into an auditable form. Unfortunately, I spotted that there were duplications in every drawing which needed to be removed and other minor but repeated errors. There were only 72 files to update, so I offered to fix them, but then I found another 95 and then I realised that there were an additional 317 and then a further 147, giving a grand total of 631 sheets upon which I had to perform virtually identical operations. Fortunately, I was able to produce macros to carry out most of these operations, but tragically I was able to produce macros to carry out most of these operations, because then I had over six hundred of these tedious drawings upon which to perform an identical 10 mouse-click, 8 keystroke operation and I found myself getting kinda depressed that a chimpanzee could be trained to do what I'm doing. The only upside I could think of was that the cost of training that chimpanzee would be incredible and that I was therefore saving the company an absolute fortune.

Life in Britain seems to be much more nannied than it was when I left: in the kitchen there are sachets of Nescafe labelled SOLUBLE COFFEE (as opposed to what, one wonders) and I recently purchased a bar of Dairy Milk upon which was printed the advice 'for more information about how this product fits into your lifestyle and diet, visit’. Does anybody really need advice about how to fit chocolate into their lifestyle? Surely just fitting it into your mouth is sufficient. Beer bottles are now emblazoned with the messages ‘drink sensibly’ or, worse, ‘drink responsibly’. Moreover, they go on to tell you how many alcohol units they contain (the bottle in my hand has 3.7) and how many units responsible drinkers don’t exceed (4 apparently). From this, it appears that responsibility limits one to a single serving of beer in a day, and thus it seems I am doomed to a life of even less responsibility than even I had previously imagined.

More disturbing, television advertisements seem to be offering assistance to those who are struggling with mortgage repayments: it seems that they are prepared to buy houses for well below market value and then rent said properties back to the current occupants, who were obviously struggling to make payments in the first place. Draw you own conclusions, mine can’t be printed. Not much else to say for the moment, except to observe that if Greenwich was literally the home of time, it would never have made it through the Blackwall Tunnel to the rest of the world. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the tunnel in question, it is the main route between the parts of London South of the river to the North and vice versa, and the consequent peak flow of traffic through it can probably best be compared to trying to empty a reservoir through a garden hose.

That’s pretty much all for the moment. I guess this will be updated more occasionally than Nederfles was, depending on what news is worthy of note and whether it seems than anybody’s actually reading this.

Live from Blighty.


Blogger Ashleigh said...

Glad to see that you are continuing to blog! Loved the bit about the chocolate :)

9:55 AM  

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