Thursday, January 18, 2007

Skating on Thin Ice

First up, apologies for the dearth of posts in recent weeks - I've become so sick of staring at a computer screen, endlessly searching for jobs, that I've been reluctant to prolong my agony by blogging on top of it all. I tell you, there's been some dark days in 2007 so far... My "job search" began with a something along the lines of a prolonged "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH!"; a sort of primal scream which persisted through the first three of four days of staring at the monitor, wondering where on earth I was going to find work. Things gradually got better though: I eventually perfected my CV after hours of mindless font-twiddling, and I even managed to send off a couple of applications and sign up for a recruitment agency. Of course, the recruitment agency didn't have any work till February, but hey, one step at a time.

I had my first "interview" yesterday, which was something of a baptism of fire. As it turned out they'd just prepared a series of tests for me to do, ending with the announcement that someone would call me back on Friday for a real interview if they were impressed with the results. It was a bit disappointing - tests are such a faceless way to choose a new recruit, and I was kind of hoping to make an impression on a real person, not just a computer. Still, it's a first step, and even if they don't call me back at least it's given me a bit of a boost just to get to that stage.

Things are looking up on the house-finding stakes as well - my old school friend Anjalie has a spare room going in her house in Tufnell Park from March, which would be perfect as long as the landlord agrees to let me and Flick share a room. We'll find out for sure on Friday. If it all falls through though we'll probably look for a house in the same area anyway, since we were pretty impressed with it when we went there - two stops from Camden, 15 minutes walk from Hampstead Heath, loads of bars and shops nearby... welcome to Zone 2 living I say!

Of course, we were hoping to de-camp to Brighton, but our plans went awry when we discovered that there are absolutely NO JOBS WHATSOEVER going down by the coast. I suppose we could both become waiters in a macrobiotic vegetarian cafe or something, but when it comes to media jobs there's zilch. Still, I'm sure we'll get to live down there someday... [faraway look filters into eyes] .......... someday...........

Stevens glides past effortlessly. Hold on, is she giving me the finger?

Oh, and somewhere in between all the general unemployment Flick and I managed to squeeze in the time to go ice skating at Somerset House - something I can tell you I wasn't particularly looking forward to, since my ice skating skills are somewhere on the level of Mr. Bean's. As a teenager I used to dread being invited to ice skating rinks, since invariably I would spend the next 2 hours clawing my way round the edge of the rink, occasionally falling on my arse in a spectacular fashion and watching all my superior-skilled friends get off with all the good-looking girls.

Of course, Flick was looking forward to seeing me crash spectacularly and generally make a fool of myself, but, miracle of miracles, somehow I managed to stay on my feet for the entire hour! More than that, after a little initial awkwardness I actually managed to get round without touching the sides. Unbelievably, by the time we were called off the ice I was becoming... dare I say it... quite good. Less talented skaters were looking at me with admiring looks as I glided past with my gorgeous lady, wishing that one day they too would be able to pull good-looking girls through sharply-honed ice skating skills. Admittedly, my skating pose was slightly, shall we say, rigid, but it was certainly an improvement on my Mr. Bean pirouettes of yesteryear.

But most importantly, Flick didn't get the chance to laugh at me making a fool of myself. IN YOUR FACE, STEVENS!

(After the disappointment of my quite good turnout a skating, she's now declared it her mission to find something I'm not very good at, then laugh at me doing it badly. I'd suggest she needn't look further than my so far woeful efforts at finding a job - bearing in mind that I've been home for exactly a month now. Ho hum...)

Oh, and did I mention that my sister graduated from King's College London with an MSc in Clinical Immunology? Well, she did, and here she is doing a Batman impression to prove it.

Bloggers in Arms

I was delighted to discover that my friend Josie has just started a new blog - It's Like That. Frustratingly, it's quite a lot better than mine, not to mention excellently written and wretchedly funny. Damn you, Josie.

I recommend you surf there with all possible speed, you crazy information superhighway cowboys.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Readjusting in the Mother Land

I'm back!

We arrived back at Heathrow in the early hours of Sunday 17th December, and ever since it's been a constant whirlwind of present buying, family engagements, drunken "catching up" in pubs and gluttonous over-eating, but finally I've found a bit of time to update my blog. The travel photos are almost fully updated too. It's funny; even though I've barely been back two weeks the trip already seems years ago... and my life in Japan has already become just a dim and distant memory - I have to look at photos to remind myself I was even there at all...

Still, that's to be expected really: life's all about change and this is just the beginning of the next big stage: FINDING A PROPER JOB.

(Shoulders sag, eyes glaze over, soul shudders)

Actually, it's not as bad as it sounds: I'm quite looking forward to getting back on the career ladder, climbing the ziggurat of professional journalism to become a media star... although on the other hand I just know that most of that will involve making tea for the sub-editors of local papers, whilst pretending to be interested in local residents' protests against the closing of the local butchers. I remember when I did work experience for the Watford Observer: The most exciting thing that happened in the entire week was a report of a fire in a block of flats near the town centre. I shadowed a reporter as he raced down to the scene, only for us to discover it was actually someone having a barbecue in their rooftop garden.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the World of Local Journalism.

Anyway, here's a quick photo summary of what I've been up to since I got back:

This year saw a bumper haul of presents under the Packwood family Christmas tree...

Well, fireplace.

The Deal or No Deal board game was an unexpected hit wit the family. Everyone agreed it was a million times better than watching the deathly dull TV show, partly because Noel Edmonds wasn't on hand to offer mock sympathy and cajoling quips.

After Christmas I headed down to Seaford (near Brighton) for my old housemate Simon's wedding reception. It was a bit of a reunion for the Lytton Road Boys - is the first time we've all been in the same room since I left our shared house in Leytonstone to move to Japan over 2 and a half years ago. Ah, it's good to be back...

From left to right: Simon, Ian, Me and Jason

The lovely couple, Simon and Jane. I particularly liked the matching green tie/dress combo, very snazzy.

The day after the reception we went for a very wet and windy walk along Brighton seafront. Despite the unclement weather, Flick and I fell in love with the place all over again, and we're already making plans to move there in the near future...

L to r: Flick, Ian, Jason, Jade and Steph E

Tea guzzlers: What better way to end a sodden walk along Brighton sea front than with several dozen cups of tea in a local pub?

New Year Shenanigans: We spent New Year at a house party in Greenwich. Here we are "warming-up" at a pub before the main event, as a bottle of smuggled-in mystery dark alcohol is passed around. L to r: Chris, Steph, Flick

Happy New Year!!!!!!!

Here's to a prosperous, job-filled, 2007...