Saturday, August 28, 2010

The stunts

It's been a while since I've posted, and this post was originally typed onto Blogger for the first time ever from my mobile phone, while sitting in the Anchor Bar in Cambridge with a pint of Greene King Abbot ale on the table in front of me having just finished a tasty meal of whitebait followed by a bacon & cheese burger. That said, for some reason I couldn’t get the caps lock off, so I just saved it as a draft until such times as I could get home and edit it properly. This then is the edited version.

I’ve been in Cambridge for two weeks, on a training course, and I've enjoyed it all. Being a techno-anorak the fact that it was a database course didn’t trouble me, the first week being the user course, the second being the designer course. I managed to catch up with friends who live there, attend a recital by the world class Trinity College Chapel Choir (in which one of said friends sings and which two days later set off for a month long tour of Australia), try out quite a few bars and restaurants, and do a load of walking around the city every evening.

That was all in the first week, and the high spot of the fortnight was undoubtedly RE coming down for the weekend which was the best couple of days I've had for a while. All the touristy stuff including Kings, Trinity, St John's and Sidney Sussex colleges (the latter being choral evensong by an adequate but uninspiring choir made up of that college's chapel choir alumni, including a schadenfreude moment when the soprano soloist screwed up the top note in the Bob Chilcott anthem Be Thou my Vision which coincidentally I knew was being broadcast on BBC Songs of Praise the following evening performed much better by the choir of St Mary’s Cathedral in Glasgow (i.e. including me) when it was recorded some four years earlier and featuring a beautiful solo by said friend who now sings in Trinity College Choir!), and punting on the river Cam, or rather sitting back while the hired help punted and we made the effort to look right and left while lifting our cameras to our faces!

So on the first week the course attendees were a mixed bunch, mostly doing a similar job to me. We socialised a bit together, although understandably not everyone every night. The second week saw only two of us who were there on the first week, plus 8 new people, and there was almost no socialising done and no suggestion from anyone that we might eat or drink together, and I include myself in that. My excuse was that amongst others there was one guy who happens to be from the USA (that's not the issue, I have American friends) but the fact he said he works for the State Department, is currently working in Afghanistan, and was doing the course during his annual leave and paying for it himself rightly rang an alarm bell. On day one, as an intro to how databases are constructed we were designing, on paper, a basic one relating to user requirements to track their friends' contact details. That's contacts as in the well known terminology used in Microsoft Office to denote how one would contact someone. Simple, eh? During this session we were told to collaborate with the person next to us to come up with what entities we would need together with the links between them. When the instructor went round the room looking for input after the exercise, this fine chap admitted that he had problems understanding the concept of contacts as meant in this instance, as contact to him only meant engagement with the enemy followed closely by bringing in an air strike. He actually seemed slightly distressed that he couldn’t get his head around this seemingly new interpretation of the word, and he went on to say that he had problems with people. I personally thought at first he meant people as database entities, but when he went on to expand that he was happy looking at people through a scope but had problems otherwise I had the sudden, shocking realisation that he actually meant he was happy looking at people through the sights of a firearm but was uncomfortable interacting with others! Thankfully I wasn’t the one sitting next to this apparent 100% fruitloop, but unfortunately a former colleague, Rozie who now works in Birmingham (small world!) was. In any case, I decided that I wasn’t going to suggest out loud that we all meet to socialise, just in case this fuckwit decided to come too! But on day two there was, unnoticed by me, some interaction between fruitloop and a couple of others on the course concerning the room temperature, which developed into criticism of Europe and Europeans, and the voiced opinion that democracy was a bad thing! After lunch, the instructor announced that fruitloop had decided to quit the course and wouldn’t be returning. So being the grown ups we all are, he became a figure of fun for the rest of the week!

So that's what's been happening in my very recent life. I'll try to get back into the habit of posting more regularly again soon. Honest! Oh, and the title of this post is a very old joke along the lines of watching the stunts of the cunts on the punts, which is what I've been doing a bit of lately!


  1. Good to have you back.

    I'm intrigued to know why the State Department guy working in Afghanistan was on your course - his own time spending his own money.

    A two week training course what a luxury. Hope you learned a lot and, on the back of that, put in a 20% pay rise!

  2. Hear, hear - GREAT to have you back in circulation ! x

  3. Strange it took me so long to post .....but it intrigues me how you are surrounded by fruitloops is there a common theme or denominator