Wrestle poodles, and win!
I tarred UK television with a fairly broad brush in my last message. Actually it wasn't all bad when I was there. There were some good repeats of classic episodes of Steptoe & Son and Rising Damp, some good documentary overviews of the works of Peter Cook and Eric Morecambe, plus two sitcoms I had missed completely while being over here Black Books (note that the main character has an uncharacteristically cool first name) and Coupling.
Two odd things happened recently. I think the battery in my analog quartz watch is running down. It still keeps good time but now instead of running TICK - TICK - TICK - TICK it runs TICKTICK - - TICKTICK. Which sounds like a heartbeat and is peculiar to see as the second hand pauses for an inordinate amount of time before hurrying to catch up. The second odd thing refers to my dream landscape. In another online diary I noted that this had changed a few months ago from a selection of scenes which, although bearing no direct resemblance to locations in my own life, at least occurred frequently enough for me to become familiar with all of them. The new ones are vaguely related to places I have been in my past but are still disconcertingly different from the old scenes. Last night I ended up with an actual map of my dream city in my hand. I realised that the general area was an aggregate of two locations, each with a different significance in my life. What was most interesting was how the two diverse cities had been combined. This had been achieved by turning one streetplan by 90 degrees using allowing the overlaying of a feature common to the two. I'll now have to pull out maps to see if it works in real life.
On a more somber note, the UK held a nationwide three minute silence in remembrance of victims of the tsunami. This occurred a few days ago, not long after I had taken my seat for the return flight here. I was listening to channel 9 at the time and at Heathrow airport the volume of radio chatter was, not surprisingly, quite high. I wondered if they could actually do anything to acknowledge the event. In the end I was quite moved to hear the ground controller tell all ground traffic at the airport that they were to hold in place with their engines at idle and to refrain from using the radio unless it was an emergency. There was then three minutes of static, mercifully drowning out most of the continuing nattering of many of the passengers around me. That hit me fairly hard. One of the busiest airports in the world was really making a mark of respect for an event that is so huge it is difficult to grasp.
At work today my boss sent a department-wide message describing the efforts being made to replace some of the people who have left over the last few months. Being in an antsy mood I decided to stir the pot by asking publicly for a chance to apply for one of the positions that is two grades more senior than my current state. This was triggered by apparent inactivity by the same boss after a multiplicity of promises made last year. I wanted to achieve two things; 1) to find out exactly why I would be refused the opportunity (maybe I would actually learn how to improve myself) and 2) to show that it is far easier to get hired than it is to get promoted. The boss screwed up my demonstration by replying (privately) that I was actually already under consideration for the position. Two equally unexpected side effects then became manifest. Firstly I found out that one of my technicians knows me far better than I know myself as Zhiwen was quick to guess that I was disappointed by my boss's "capitulation" ("because now you have no one to fight"). Secondly a large proportion of the department either e-mailed me or stopped at my office to tell me that they supported my application and hoped that I succeeded. Bugger! What's the point in me trying to make a pointless, poorly-conceived, suicidal and heroic gesture if people take me too seriously.
"Five years ago I was a four stone apology. Today I am two separate gorillas."