Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Something unexpected…

After I finished work yesterday, I met ‘hm’ for a coffee in Hammersmith. There’s now a new amazing German bakery that I adore. It’s the lovely smell of freshly baked bread that reminds me of my childhood. There was a bakery on the way to my primary school and I used to walk in front of it, early in the morning, daily. There’s nothing nicer than warm, fresh bread.

Anyway, after the coffee we decided to walk around in the High Street. Totally unexpected, I found stuff to buy for my family! I even managed to find something to buy for my father, who is not the easiest person when it comes to buying gifts! He finds clothes a boring gift to get but it’s not like he has any particular hobbies. He likes reading history books but not in English so I can’t find something here. He doesn’t smoke (thankfully), play any sport or follow any specific team.

What I bought him is food! I found things not easily found in Greece like onion chutney, duck pâté, chilli jam (he loves spicy food) and garlic pickles, which I think he’ll like. I didn’t buy any Marmite. I don’t think he’s ever tried it and I doubt he’ll like it. It’s probably not the most exciting gift ever, but I think that it’s not that bad. I think it’s something nicer than socks or a shirt.

What’s totally unexpected was the fact that I finished my Christmas shopping! I’m done for this year and it’s not even December! That has NEVER happened. I usually run out of time and I try to rush to get something the final days. I don’t think I’m that great when it comes to presents and I definitely don’t like shopping in crowded shops. I also don’t have an eye for brands that other people like. I seldom go for expensive trendy brands. That gay gene hasn’t properly developed in me like some of my gay friends. I’m the practical kind.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Circus of Shame

Last Friday ‘hm’ bought us tickets to go and see the ‘Circus of Horrors’. Her boss is a groupie, follows them around the country for years, and we decided to go and check it out. I didn’t do any research (first mistake) and I was hoping for a rock show with some circus acts from a slightly naughty, gross point of view.

The theatre was mostly full and it did present some Goths, Punks and Emos, people that you’d most likely see hanging around in Camden Lock market. Don’t get me wrong. I love that area. I used to live close by for 2 years. Before the show began, we started chatting to the girl sitting right behind us. She was dressed in the 60’s fashion. Something that Julianne Moore would wear in ‘Hours’ or ‘Far from Heaven’. She told us that her sister saw the show and she loved it besides the fact that she found some acts gruesome.

So, the show began.

the 'piercing' guy...

I’ll have to try to explain what happened and what we watched…

There was nothing even remotely related to ‘The nightmare before Christmas’ as stated in the IndigO2 website. The first act was of a guy who put a hook through his nose and lifted some weights with it. He then got a bit undressed and revealed two big rings coming out his back. The girl behind us was ecstatic yelling: ‘Oh, he will try a full suspension!!!’ which he did! They lifted him up and made him twirl around, hanging only by these two rings! I knew that something like that would be presented and I dreaded it, as I mentioned in my last post. I was slightly happy however that it was in the beginning and over.

'the amazing acrobatics'

Some of the following acts included a woman hanging from the ceiling by her hair, a pair doing silly dances on a table wearing roller blades, an elastic girl, a guy balancing inside a huge wheel and some other very childishly performed magical tricks like cutting a guy in half, although you could still see him wearing black underneath. All these were performed in what was supposed to be a mental hospital with the leader of the psychotics singing hard rock songs which weren’t very good either.

'the lead singer'

The last drop was the last act before the intermission. There was a midget who was pretending to be Dr. Frankenstein, trying to revive one of the patients. He put on stage two big metallic pillars and had for helpers two women dressed like nurses in very (very) short uniforms. After some very bad acting he created some electric charge between the metallic pillars, producing visible sparks like the one you can see in a ball like this! Yes, that was the main attraction of the act.

That wasn’t the end of it though. Just before reviving the patient which would be the end of the act, he introduced to us two straight long neon lights that he gave to his helpers. He pulled his pants down and made one helper put one light in his eye and the other helper to hold the second light in his bum. The lights were supposed to go off. The one in his eye did flicker a bit but the other one didn’t. They weren’t even capable to pull this off correctly!

Then, it was time for intermission, when the four of us agreed on leaving. I had never left in the middle of a play / movie / show. Ever. But I was more than happy to leave then. Overall, it was the worst thing I have ever seen. It was a mixture of a very bad unprofessional jackass episode, abysmal music and humour destined for antisocial, immature 15-year-olds.

I have to admit that we laughed so much on the way home, for all the wrong reasons though. We just couldn’t believe how bad it was. ‘hm’ was worried about her boss and what kind of feedback she should give! At least we watched ‘Harry Potter’ on Sunday that I generally liked.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Waking up early…

I stayed at ‘JJ’s yesterday night. No great news there. However, he had to get up early to go to work, so I decided to go along. We woke up around 5am and we were out of the door around 5:30! It was freaking freezing cold! To give you an idea, in London now we have -1 degrees Celsius and it’s nearly noon. I don’t mind waking up in the morning but I was not a very happy chap doing the transition from being cuddled under the duvet to being outside waiting for the bus.

We’ll go to see the ‘Circus of Horrors’ tonight. I didn’t know it existed before getting the tickets so I am not sure about what to expect. I won’t see any videos of them beforehand to be surprised. I believe them to be like ‘cirque du soleil’ that enjoy horror movies and heavy metal music. I just hope they don’t do many discussing stuff like hanging from hooks pierced through their bodies, like the bad guy from the movie called ‘the Cell’. At least the show tonight is called ‘The Circus of Horrors presents: A Nightmare Before Christmas’ which is a movie I love. So, how bad can it be?

What else I have planned for the weekend is to go and see the new Harry Potter movie. I saw again the ‘The Half Blood Prince’ yesterday to remember what happened. We’ve booked tickets for Sunday evening. I expect it at least to be entertaining… One large salty (always) popcorn and a diet coke please…

Apart from all these, I want to pass my weekend studying. I’ll go to the local library to find some piece and quiet. I find it easier to concentrate there. If you see me on facebook please tell me off, I have a lot of stuff to cover…

Enjoy your weekend everybody…

Thursday, 25 November 2010


It’s not a common secret (to you anyway) that I’m searching for a new job. I haven’t been chasing it too much since I’m busy with my course and the studying but I’ve been applying to vacancies I found on-line. On some major companies, it is general policy to ask personal questions, for statistic reasons as they put it. They want to know your ethnicity or if you’re handicapped. Recently, I came up with more personal questions concerning my religion and sexual orientation!

I was quite surprised to see them and not very happy about it. Why would they like to know all that stuff? I am not sure if asking these personal questions is not a form of discrimination! Wouldn’t they want to consider someone for a position because he is mixed race and Muslim and a potential suicide bomber? Would they expect me to go to work on my red short dress on a Casual Friday because I’m an agnostic homosexual or are they afraid I’ll give them awful diseases and make them uncomfortable by constantly hitting on them?

It could be that they’re asking for statistical purposes, but stereotypes do exist and the interviewees will be subjective even in a subconscious level negatively or positively. We don’t live in a perfect world and my religion and sexual orientation are personal data and I can’t see how they will affect the way I work. By nature, growing up in a very homophobic environment my first reaction is to try to avoid answering these questions, especially when they appear out of the blue. My course of action I try to have now is to be honest.

If they can’t deal with it, I wouldn’t like to work for them anyway…

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Talk of the town…

In this part of the world, the talk of the town is the upcoming Royal Wedding. In case you haven’t heard about it Prince William is marrying Catherine. They decided after 9 years of being together that they should tie the knot. Good for them.

Unfortunately for us, it is the loudest talk of the town! There is no way you can open a newspaper or TV news and not hear something about it. It is so boring and irritating at the same time! You have Royal specialist talking about the couple and comparing them to Prince Charles and Diana. You have wedding organisers talking about possible guest lists and decorations. You have wedding dress designers speculating about how Kate’s dress might look like! It is getting beyond crazy already.

the happy couple

The Prime Minister must be as happy as the marrying couple, if not more! He might be as ecstatic as the bride’s parents whose dreams to see their little daughter as a princess are coming true! Cameron now got a get-out-of-jail-free card to work on the Budget and his Cuts without making headlines! He should be quick now to announce almost everything he wants and people will pay no attention. It is either now or in April.

Fortunately for us, the actual wedding day, the 29th of April, will be a bank holiday! In theory you have to take part in the celebrations since William will be the next King. However, the wedding will take place on the Friday after the long Easter weekend, so we’re talking about a three day week! It’s all so appealing to just take these three days off and leave from Friday till next Sunday (9 days)!


Speaking of news, I booked my next exam date for the 18th of December. I have 25 days till then (24 if you don’t count that actual date). Funnily enough the exam centre I went last is not available any more as an option, so now I’ll have to commute to the other side of the city! It was a bit dodgy as an exam centre but at least it was close to where I leave and I also knew exactly where it was. Now, I’ll have to search for the new one.

Monday, 22 November 2010


I’m back from Denmark! We flew on Friday really early in the morning to arrive yesterday night! There were 5 of us in total: me, ‘JJ’, my housemate, her sister and a friend of her sister. 4 Greeks and a South African! Poor ‘JJ’ didn’t stand a chance… I tried of course to take care of him as much as possible and also to separate us from the rest of the group a bit. There were times while wandering around in the shopping area or in the amusement park called ‘Tivoly’ that I tried to steal some ‘us’ time.

Copenhagen is nice and we had a really nice time. We walked a lot around the beautiful centre, the old city and the massive shopping high street, we visited the National Gallery and the Danish Design Centre, we took the boat around the small islands, we saw the mermaid and we had our fun in ‘Tivoly’. Unfortunately, in general I wasn’t very impressed by the city. It reminded me a lot of Goteborg with a touch of Stockholm and Amsterdam without being near as pretty or impressive. Copenhagen has elements of all these other central European cities but I have to admit it doesn’t stand out like them.

Walking around 'the Castellet' area

Don’t get me wrong though. For a much needed weekend escape it was brilliant. The people are very friendly and polite. There are many nice shops and I liked the Scandinavian design and architecture. The ‘Statens Museum for Kunst’ (National Gallery) is an amazing building with lots of interesting pieces of art. ‘The Castellet’ (The Castle) is a really nice area to walk in. The food we had was really nice and in abundance (steaks, hot dogs, pastries, bacon, cheese etc). ‘Tivoly’ was already in full Christmas spirits and we saw all the dwarfs, Santas and Rudolfs we could. The things I brought from there were a wild boar and a deer salami made traditionally by a Danish family…

'The Royal Café'

What I also have to comment was the lack of people and cars in the city centre. Apart from some people walking on the main shopping road, the rest of the city seemed empty! OK, the weather was a bit cold but on Saturday morning I would expect more people to walk around or cycle! What I found amazingly funny was the fact that some places didn't allow prams in them! Imagine our surprise when we saw a buggy with a baby in it, alone on the pavement with seemingly no people around! We then found out that it was ‘parked’ in front of the café where the parents were enjoying nice coffee inside a warm environment with the baby alone outside in 2 degrees Celsius! I know that crime levels are not high in these countries but I was quite surprised! I was even more surprised to find the prices in Copenhagen as well! I expected it to be expensive but not that much! To give you an example, I paid in the hotel café for a single espresso and a cup of tea 52 kroner (= £5.9 = 9.6 US$). In some places they even charged tab water for more than a pound!

'The Danish Design Centre'

Anyway, we had our laughs and we had our fun! These are some more of the pictures I took:

'Barbie riding a condom in a condom shop'

Playing with reflections in Tivoli

The mermaid being placed back in position after spending some months in Shanghai.

Coffee time

National Gallery

National Gallery

Interesting looking restaurants

Monday, 15 November 2010

Didn’t go exactly according to plan…

OK, it’s not easy for me to do, but I have to do it (as embarrassing as it may be). I have to admit to the whole world that I failed on my exams on Saturday! Booo. I was a bit disappointed but to be honest I knew that I had some gaps on certain areas. I managed to get a respectable 48% which was not that far from the passable rate. The problem was that in many cases, I was able to exclude many of the given possible answers and I was left to choose between two. I must have been selecting the wrong ones. If I had tried harder, or had an extra week I would have refined the details in my head and I would have passed (excuses).

Anyway, I will book my next exams for next month and I will pass them then! It will be my Christmas present. It’s very sad I know, but the exam fees are around £200 so that is what I’ll buy myself! Second Boo…

Apart from all that, I had a very nice weekend. We found an amazing cosy pub in a 5 minutes walk from my place this cold Saturday night. Food was really nice and the fireplace kept us happily warm! I tried to drown my sorrow in booze (ok, I’m exaggerating). I discussed my exams with a Java developer. She studied French literature, from all possible things, but found a company that trained her into being a proper developer! (Why can’t I find something like that?) Her daily rate now as a contractor is something astonishing! She told me thought that if she took the exams now she would probably fail since the theory behind it, is so different than what you really use on your everyday work life. That did make me feel slightly better. She also promised to send to me stuff to read related to what I might be asked during interviews. I will send her my CV to forward to her HR. You never know…

During Sunday I was quite lazy. I didn’t do much, apart from running some easy errands and cooking a nice spinach and leek pie. I really do like baking. It had been two weeks since I last went running or to the gym but I couldn’t be bothered. I needed some time to simply waste watching lousy Sunday afternoon TV waiting for the oven to ring that the pie was done. I will pull myself together and get busy again eventually, just not yet…

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Games of fate…

Funnily enough the last two days I heard stories of people commuting great distances each weekend to work in a totally different place or even country from the place where their family lives! The first was from my housemate who told me that one of her British colleagues is married to a Greek lady who lives with their children in Greece! He flies back and fourth every weekend. My manager was also telling me about a TV program he watched of British people moving to live permanently in India or Dubai!


Are they all doing it on purpose? Just because I rejected the job in the country side, do I have to be constantly reminded about it? I made my choice and I’ll live with it…

Anyway, on a different subject in two days I’ll be taking my exams. The name of the certificate has recently changed and it is now called ‘Oracle Certified Professional Java SE 6/SE 5 Programmer’ (yes, all that) in comparison to ‘Sun Certified Java Programmer’ since Oracle now bought Sun. Everything else is the same. I don’t like the change since people might get confused and think it is related to Oracle and not Java and I’ll have to explain that it is the same as before.

If all goes well and I’ll pass the exam I’ll successfully finish an effort I started earlier this year that got more serious when I started the course in beginning of September! It’s not definite that I’ll be able to take full advantage of that certificate, since I lack the commercial experience of being a Java developer or the gravity of a graduate of a computer science degree, but at least I’ll have something extra to demonstrate in my CV.

For the moment I’m not that confident at passing the exams. Each question is about reading some else’s code and try to figure out the possible outcome or whether the compilation will fail or the JVM will throw a runtime error. It’s not that easy to read some else’s code especially the ones used for the exams since they are more dense and difficult to decode than normal. You might have a 15 rows code and you’ll think that the question is about something totally irrelevant when the error is caused by a single missing semicolon character.

It is all down to luck though. Of course I know some topics much better than others. That means that if I’m lucky enough and I have more questions on those, I will pass. Otherwise, I will simply have to pay the fees and take the exams in a month’s time.

So, wish me good luck.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Cats and Jobs…

I’ve mentioned that on Friday I had a telephone interview with a major IT company. The interview went fairly well and I found out the same evening that I was accepted for the job (yay) but for a smaller rate (boo). The offer was to match my current salary! They simply said that they can train me in areas that I don’t have any commercial experience on. For that, they think that I should stay in the salary range I currently am!

To be honest, I was seriously thinking about it. That company would be a ticket way out from the position I am now. They could provide in the long run the opportunity to advance. The company I am now is not doing very well after the governmental budget cuts. It is also so small, that no real promotions can happen. The guy in the next cubicle to mine was promoted to a senior developer role but he is still doing the exact same things as before with no development team of his own.

The reason that stopped me from accepting the role is the location of that company. It is located in a small town of 20,000 people, 1 hour and a half away from London during the week or a little bit more than 2 hours during the weekend. The train company website informed me that no direct trains run during the weekends. If I accepted the role I would have to relocate. I would then spend so much money in train tickets that I would be in a much worse financial situation than I am now!

I calculated of course that rents and everyday life is much cheaper there than in London that might compensate for the train tickets. However, I decided that I can’t become Daffyd, ‘the only gay in the village’, not having a life during the week. Poor JJ even suggested moving with me there but of course I didn’t want to make him do something like that. I might have made the wrong decision but I believe that I can find something better in London or another a little bit more urban place. I don’t mind staying in the same salary range if it means I can invest for my future, but I want that to be done in slightly better terms…

That was the dilemma I was in until yesterday! My job agent was very keen (of course) of sending me there! He sent me large emails with expenses calculated for someone living in London or in the small town.

I tried to explain all that to Berlioz but he didn’t really give me any good advice! He was just looking at me meowing. I have the impression though that he meowed more when I was telling him that I can’t leave JJ and the life I have now here.

Berlioz is the cat of ‘gb’ that I baby sited a bit on Saturday. He was away for the weekend, so I popped for a small visit and I kept Berlioz company. He was a bit stressed over the fireworks. After all the talking I did about my problems, I think he was happy to see my go. Poor thing…

Friday, 5 November 2010

News Update…

It’s already Friday! YAY! Time does fly when you’re busy… The only night I did something different this week was yesterday, when I went to the gym! I am such a party person, I know. The rest of the week I spent at home trying to study or at the library trying to study. Unfortunately, working on a laptop, trying to solve mock exams or writing pieces of code means that you are too close to opening facebook (for a little while), checking your emails / blogs / news (for a little while) or even playing ‘Command and Conquer’ again (for a little bit longer).

The latter is the reason I go to the library to study. I feel embarrassed not studying in the library, although I have seen all sorts of people doing all sorts of stuff there. I’ve seen people playing games and I’ve heard people snore. I still haven’t seen people checking porn on the free internet but I think it’s a matter of time. What I find a bit weird is the fact that the study room is located on the open upper floor in proximity to the entrance (noise) and to the children’s playroom (more noise)! I really have to congratulate the architect who designed it. He must have been a true genius, mastering his course of function design.

Anyway, my great news for today is the fact that I have a telephone interview later today for a new job I’ve applied to. I don’t want to jinx it, so I am not going to say much at this moment. I’ll see how it goes first. It’s a position that I find amazingly interesting. The downside is the fact that they are not located in London, hence the telephone interview, and in case I get it (fingers crossed) I might have to move or find temporary accommodation in a nice small town in the country side. I haven’t thought of how that might work yet but I need to sort the first interview first.

So, wish me luck…

PS. Don’t tell anyone I’m looking for a new job. They don’t know yet…

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

The most boring person of the world

Lately, that is how I feel. I am constantly distant, unwilling to do things or go places. I always have this dark cloud about me called ‘exams’. I’ve already had a dream / nightmare about it yesterday. I keep saying it is just 10 more days (oh my god! So soon?) that will pass quickly. Fortunately I have the support of my friends and‘JJ’. No, they haven’t organised night outs, theatre plays or cinema (have you spotted my sarcastic tone?).
No, no. I’m only joking. They’ve been great.

So, I will simply leave you with the lovely Garfield and I will spare you from my presence (for now):

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Busy like a bee…

I had visitors staying over for the past days. For me and my housemate, that is not great news. We frequently have people coming and going and we enjoy having them. We laugh about creating a guest log to know when we are booked and for how long. Of course we enjoy some people more than others. That mostly depends (apart from how much we like them) on how dependant or independent they are, whining about everything and tiring they can be.

The people we had now visiting, used to live in London for a long time which means that they knew how to commute in the city, had their own friends to see and things to do. That was a huge relief since I am getting closer to my exams and I am spending lots of time studying (or sitting on top of my laptop trying to concentrate to study). However, we were meeting each evening to go out. We went to a nice restaurant in central London, got drunk in an amazing Greek restaurant in South London (that was an amazing Greek-South African night), had Persian food and went to a party on Saturday night. Yes, I am not complaining. We were busy.

Especially the Greek restaurant night was great. A South African friend of my housemate took us there. I don’t normally go to Greek restaurants and I don’t know which ones are good. He used to live close to it and was a regular customer. There were 9 of us (4 South Africans and 5 Greeks). What I loved about the place was the fact that it was slightly rough, a family business run by the cook and his daughter being the waitress. It didn’t have a menu and the only option you have is between a vegetarian and a non vegetarian option. The difference between the two is simply the main course (vegetarian moussaka vs meat) since all side dishes (a dozen of them served freely) are vegetarian traditional Greek dishes. We had lots of retsina (white resinated wine) and stayed there for more than three hours. We must have had a bottle each and we laughed so much. I highly recommend this place if you want great food but you don't mind the slightly bad service and decoration.

The last one of our visitors left yesterday. Now, I am back to my normal routine and I’m trying to prepare myself for my exams which will take place the following Saturday, on the 13th of November. Unfortunately, there is nothing else I can think about. With my visitors and everything happening I’ve stopped running and going to the gym. I didn’t have the time or the energy. I’m also eating a lot, taking breaks from studying to nibble on everything there is in the house! I’m getting rounder by the day. In addition, I feel like I’m losing my social skills. It’s like when you watch some hours of TV and you simply can’t sustain a proper conversation. I have to pass my exams the first time I take them because it is bad for my mental and physical health.

On a much happier note, I’m thinking that I’m off to Copenhagen the weekend after. I’ve still haven’t realised that I’m going. I haven’t checked tourist attractions, restaurants, the weather etc as I normally do. I’ll probably do that some days before travelling.