Friday, October 23, 2009

I'm Still Here

You're not my friend,
But you can be.
But no trace of it here in London...
The way you hit me is better than love,
And I'm head over heels.
The way you want to get rid of me,
It makes me weak in the knees.

- Frida Hyvonen, London

The very day after I last blogged, everything changed. The BBC called and, although I didn't get the role I'd been interviewed for, they offered me another position. I'm now working as a web assistant for The website is relaunching in the next week or two, and the new one is really something. It's a great quality product, so I'm very pleased to be working on it (although I'd be stoked with anything the BBC deigned to give me). Working there has been so bizarre. It's such an iconic building, and I can't quite believe I'm working there. This week was a bit strange: on Thursday, hundreds (thousands, if you believe the more excitable news sources, but hundreds if you believe me) of protestors were demonstrating outside the Television Centre about the appearance of a British politician with hateful opinions on Question Time. (I agree with their disdain for his disgusting policies, but they were specifically protesting the show letting him take part in the democratic process, so I can't side with them. But anyway.) That was interesting: a few protestors made it into the building, and a few minutes after I left work, the building went into lockdown for a few hours. But that was the most exciting it's been so far: I've been doing repetitive data entry stuff to support the back end of the website, but I'm told the role will get more interesting soon.

But before I started working at the BBC, I worked as a catering co-ordinator at Frieze, apparently the world's largest art fair. It was insanely busy and I was bitter at how poorly paid I was (especially as I'd told the BBC to wait until I fulfilled the commitment I'd made), but it was alright in the end. I got my housemate a job there, so it was fun hanging with her, and I met a few other people. But mostly, it was busy and full of pretentious art wankers. But the moment I walked out the door on Sunday night, I let go of all that bitterness so I can't be bothered moaning about it now.

Anyway, having a job means I have a routine and an income, so I'm starting to finally explore the city properly. I've got a few gigs lined up (although paying for gigs after years of being on the guest list is painful) and a surprisingly large group of friends living here. The friend I stayed with in Copenhagen has already visited London, so we caught up and I also met one of his British friends, who I've seen one-on-one since then. Success! British friends! It is incredibly cold. It's only the beginning of autumn, and I'm wearing what I wear in the dead of an Australian winter, and it's not nearly warm enough.

I can't think of anything more exciting that I've done lately. As I said, I'm slowly discovering the city by going out to restaurants, visiting markets and museums and just walking the streets. Walking is my favourite way to get to know a place and London isn't as terrifying huge as I thought. Of course, its suburbs roll on forever, but it's centre is quite a compact nucleus. I need to learn my way around it very quickly, though, as I am due to move out of my current place in a few weeks. I need to find something else, or ask for permission to stay where I am a bit longer. I'm due to move out the weekend my mum arrives to visit and I go to see Patrick Wolf. Tee hee, it'll be busy.

I've been really bad with blogging and keeping in touch regularly, but I have a computer now, so I'll hopefully get better at it.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Yeah, Yeah

I know I haven't updated my blog in a couple of weeks. It's coming, okay? I've been really busy.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Still in London. I still find it so bizarre. This is something that I've been working towards for years, and here I am.

It's not all that exciting, really.

Well, that's a lie, but the excitement often gets drowned in the drudgery of setting up a new life. I have a bank account now (still waiting on the arrival of my Australian funds) and a place to live (I think I might have mentioned that). I've now found a job - I'm working at a cafe on Portobello Road. (This is what I mean by the drudgery drowning out the excitement - it sounds quite fun to say you work in a cafe on Portobello Road, but it's still just a cafe.) It's a good cafe with fantastic coffee, which is very unusual in London. They pay me £6 an hour, which is abysmal but normal, and I have less than thirty hours in my first fortnight of work. I can't live on that kind of money for long, so if nothing else comes up, I may be home by Christmas time. But I'm okay with that - right now, while I'm still on the lookout for a "proper" job, I'm happy with the idea of an extended holiday in London. Work a few days a week, explore the city a few days a week.

I have had a couple of "proper" interviews - one for a job a picture agency who I used to deal with back in Australia, which i didn't get, and one with the BBC, which looks amazing, and I'm still waiting to hear back about that one. Going to the BBC was pretty exciting in itself. It's a stunning complex, in a really modern building with some very interesting people working in it.

After hearing about the first job I didn't get and then training at the cafe (which was a little embarrassing, in that they were explaining very clearly the importance of filling in timesheets, and I wanted to yell "Oi! Two years ago, I was the payroll manager of a staff of forty!"), I decided to remind myself why I'm here. I went on a walking tour of London this morning, and am thinking of going to see a musical tonight.

I also had a wonderful weekend in Bristol, full of "Shitting Hell, I'm in the United Kingdom!" moments. I'd been keen to get out of the city for the weekend, and thought about popping up to Glasgow to visit some friends. they were out of town though, so I figured I'd just stay put. My friend Mel then asked me if I wanted to go away for the weekend and, after a little brainstorming, we settled on Brighton. We booked out coach tickets - £20 return - but then realised we were a little screwed on the accomodation front. Fortunately, though, one of her friends in London is from Bristol, and was back in town for the weekend. She and her family graciously agreed to host us. After an afternoon of lazing by the hardbourside (nothing on Sydney, but still nice) and exploring the city's eccentric alternative clubs (people dressed up like the Dresden Dolls in Victorian pubs with cricket playing on enormous screens), we caught a bus back to Sam's place. The bus dropped us in the middle of nowhere, by an old stone fence with mist creeping over it like a vine. We wandered a bit and finally found the house - an enormous Victorian manor, complete with Gothic orangery and arches! We slept in the old servants' quarters of this bizarre and beautiful building, and woke up to find Sam's parents to be the most friendly and generous of hosts. They fed us croissants, pointed out where we could see Wales from their window (!!), gave us a driving tour of the city and gave us a map and lots of advice. Mel and I wandered the city for the day, visiting the museum and the cathedral, as well as a few galleries. We saw some Banksy artworks (the graffitti artist is originally from Bristol) and walked for nearly an hour to find a specific pub, only to find it closed on arrival!

So that was pretty ace.

Who knows what will happen next? Mum is coming to visit me in the middle of November after a holiday in China. I will definitely stay here that long and, if no better employment has come up, I'll do a little more travelling before heading home. But as it stands, I have a new plan every couple of days. Next week, I'll probably decide to be a chicken farmer in Kent.

I'll keep you posted.