Calmness Has Returned

I was having a bit of a strop last week – eating loads of shit food, drinking too much wine and being a bit miserable and grumpy.  It happens.  I’m not one of those people that can pretend to be 100% happy all the time, as much as I do appreciate life.  Most of the time, I’m at least content – but I’m pretty demanding upon myself and life – I have high expectations.

Though at the core of it was some unhappiness at work.  It was a crap week, a tough week – I was feeling a bit displaced but mostly feeling underpaid and overworked.

That hasn’t changed.  My days are 13+ hours long from getting up to getting home.  I am still paid exactly the same as I started, when taking into account inflation, enforced pension payments and a small pay rise.  I should be earning much more as a developer even with just one year’s experience.  Yes I know that I could withdraw from my pension, but as I received a statement from one of my previous company pensions suggesting that at my current rate I will get a pension of £30.51 a year, I probably shouldn’t.

However this week I’ve felt a sense of calmness return – though at the same time a sense of rabbit in headlights syndrome.

I’ve moved from coding in languages/frameworks that I’m comfortable in, to coding in a framework, AngularJS, that I know fuck all about.  Yes I’ve done courses on it, but I don’t remember any of it.  This is my first time using it, and I stare at it pretty much like a virgin states at a vagina.

It’s great on one hand, as I was starting to scratch around for work, and needed a big project.

But it panicked me when I realised that I didn’t have a clue what I was doing.

Yesterday and especially this afternoon, things started to come together – I could see how things were organised, and what I had to do to get things to work.  Baby steps, but it is exciting to be grasping new technology…albeit AngularJS is seen as an old framework now, and nobody would use it for a new project.  It’s new to me – and proves that I can adapt to new frameworks.

I also have a new colleague who is super quick (I must stop comparing myself to him), and knows AngularJS really well…I am already learning a lot from him.

Which overall means that I am much calmer.  My “fuck this job” attitude…well it wasn’t quite that, but I was on the verge of at least having a strop…hell I even responded to a recruiter’s e-mail…though I said the role sounds great but no thanks.  The role did sound great too.  Like…perfect.

So I might be underpaid, and the days far too long, the commute tough on my well-being and working in a basement being horrid – with the added threat of the odd evening of customer service.

But I feel calmer, it feels right again.  There is purpose.

Most days I ask myself, have I progressed in my career goals?  And recently the answer was tending to be no.  This week it is emphatically yes.  I know I am there to do a job for Lovespace, and I think I have done a very good job so far – for a junior.  But I must be selfish too, I must develop as a developer.  And I am now developing again.

Like most people, I am now looking forward to 3 days off work (assuming nothing goes wrong on the website…bank holidays have a habit of causing problems).

Nothing special is planned, other than life.

Saturday I’m going to watch the Champions League final.  In theory it should be a great game – you can get better odds on 0-0 than 3-2.  Maybe I might go to the Spanish festival of queuing beforehand that I went to last year, if I can find anyone willing to accompany me.

Sunday I’m just going for a roast.  Going to meet a fellow blogger, which should be interesting.

And Monday maybe go out for something to eat.

I’m keeping loose plans as there is good thunderstorm potential, and if one is on the way, I’d like to be able to head somewhere with a good view.  Maybe Alexandra Palace, but they have a festival on.

And then the usual cleaning yadda yadda.  Oh if only I had had my pay rise that I desired and could afford a cleaner.  Hoping to start making a website for my weather forecasting page – Facebook proofing, if you will.

I’m getting boring now, aren’t I?

Be done with you.

If you’ve bothered to read my latest ramblings I wish you a great weekend.  You know where I am if you are bored and you are not a twatt.  Rectum.

Do I Still Enjoy Living In London?

It’s only Wednesday evening and I’ve already ditched the vaguely less unhealthy diet (ie less than 3,000 calories a day), and opened a bottle of red wine.  Actually it was already opened – I’m finishing it off.

I am questioning things at the moment.  Particularly in terms of where I work and where I live.

Why do I live in Harrow?  Am I still happy in my job?  Is the commute worth it?  At what point do I get fed up of being on junior pay?  Am I still a junior developer?  Should I start looking for another job?  Should I move closer to work?  Is living on my own worth it?  Do I actually still enjoy living in London?  Am I black?

I knew the deal from the off – moving to London for a new career wasn’t going to be easy.  I knew I’d be much poorer.  I knew it would be hard work.

Yet as I get older, fatter and even less fit, doing the longest working days of my life with the longest ever commute is taking its toll.  I’m often tired, often resorting to Red Bull, chocolate, sausage sandwiches – just whatever I can to survive and make it through the day.

Once I get home, I have 2 hours before it is time to go to bed – 20 minutes to chill out and read, then maybe put TalkSport on or something for 20 minutes, then I’m normally ready to sleep.

There is no time to enjoy London.  There are all kinds of events at the office, all kinds of things I’d like to do – evening classes in Spanish, evening coding practice events – meeting other developers, finding new friends.  Having a fucking beer in the evening sun.

But I know if I don’t get my 8 hours sleep, I am not as on the ball the next day – and I really need to be in my job.  I cannot do my job properly at even 80% – my old job as a credit controller I could turn up still fucked off my face having not slept and still turn in a decent day’s work, as I didn’t have to think.

So my dream of moving to London so I could do all these cool things in the evening isn’t turning out to plan.  Not that I can afford them even if I had the time.

I have proven myself as a web developer, yet there is no sign of a decent pay rise.  I know I can get £5-10k more elsewhere – I regularly receive e-mails from recruiters and department managers requesting I interview for roles for £10k more, that I am experienced enough for.  I have actually started thinking about the e-mails I receive rather than responding with pages of GDPR compliance law.

In fact, I am actually regretting saying “no thanks” to one last week.  Maybe I am only thinking that as it has been a particularly difficult and miserable week for the whole tech team, but I do feel that I am edging closer towards the door.  The low pay, combined with all the bullshit like 4 hours of unpaid customer service a month, plus having more responsibility than most junior developers (at least from what I read online) is making me question my situation.

At what point does having a good boss and being able to wear shorts stop outweighing the feeling of being underpaid?

Also living where I do takes up a lot of my time.  2.5 hours commuting each day if it runs to clockwork.  Which is a big if – though it has been better recently.

Not only that, but living by myself means I have to look after a whole house – one of the reasons I wanted a pay rise was so I could afford a cleaner once a month, so I could then study more.  Plus the amount of time I spend washing up without a dishwasher.

But what if I move house to near work then I realise that my current disposition against my job isn’t temporary?

The thing that most pisses me off is my belly.  But I don’t have time for exercise and I’m often too tired to eat healthily – which is a negative virtuous circle.  And I know I have to do something about this.  I really do have to take this seriously – but I simply don’t have the energy to do so.

So I don’t enjoy Monday to Friday in London any more.  Long gone are the days where I get excited to get on the underground in the morning.  I’m closer to being arrested for biting someone that spends 2 seconds at the ticket barrier trying to find their Oyster card.

Saturdays I then tend to have to clean the house.

Sundays are the best day of the week – I have my roast dinner adventure.

And then it is back to Monday.

Don’t get me wrong – I know a lot of people feel like this, and a lot of people have much more difficult lives.  But I worry that I am working so much that I am not getting time to enjoy my life.  I moved to London to fulfil a dream.

Yet it is just proving as difficult as other periods of my life, albeit just a very different type of difficult.

It is still preferable to Bracknell.

There are solutions.  Lots of potential solutions.  I best go to bed – it is approaching 10pm.  I didn’t answer the question, did I?

Complaint: Sainsburys Cucumber

Dear Sir/Madam

I still have not worked out the point of cucumber.

It tastes of nothing.  It seems to be just water.  It is utterly pointless.

Yet I add it to my salad.  Why?  I have no idea.  Just one of the many pointless things I do in my life, like writing letters of complaint over something worth about 55p in the vague hope that I am making someone smile somewhere with my vague attempts at humour.

Anyway, I had a cucumber bought from my local Sainsbury’s store the other day.  Other week, actually, I’ve been busy.

The sell-buy date was 19th August, if I recall correctly, but several days in advance if this, it turned totally loathsome, as if the bottom half of the cucumber had started sharing Britain First posts on it’s newsfeed.

Yet the top half remained decent and I kept eating it – how long had the bottom half turned minging for (RIP Jade Goody) whilst I was still eating it?  I dread to think.

So yes, I have spent more than 55p of my time writing to you, and more than 55p of your time in reading and hopefully responding to my beautiful drivel, about a cucumber worth 55p that I still ate half of.

Though as dull and pointless as cucumbers may be, it is quite shocking just how disgusting they become when they go off.  Like proper Hitler-style.


ps When are you fixing your yoghurt pots?


Dear James

Thanks for your email. I’m sorry that the cucumber you got was so offensive. I struggle finding the point of cucumber myself, so I Googled it.

Apparently cucumber is a widely cultivated plant in the gourd family, Cucurbitaceae.

There is 10 main amazing health benefits to cucumbers but due to limited Internet access, I don’t actually know what these are.

I do know they shouldn’t be horrible on one end, so I’ve reported the poor quality through to our supplier and also added 110 points onto your Nectar account.

​This is to cover the cost of the dodgy cucumber, with extra, so you can pick up a perfect one on us, next time you’re in.

Your points will show in your account and be available for you to spend in the next 72 hours.

Thank you again for taking the time to get in touch. I hope that this has been helpful and we see you in store soon!
Kind regards

My Favourite Foreign Cities

I wanted to create a list of my favourite cities.

I appreciate that it isn’t easy to put them into context – those that I have visited most recently are most likely to be fresh in the memory and hold fond memories closer to hand.

Also I have visited the cities with different people and for different reasons – some cities I got to know much better than others.

24. Rome

I was only there for a short weekend, and with a couple (the female of which I rather fancied) so maybe this was never going to feature too highly – I also found the city rude and way too expensive.  This was before the days of Trip Advisor so it is highly unlikely that I have seen the best of Rome – and it hasn’t seen the best of me.

23. Amsterdam

This was just a day-trip, and we spent it in the Red Light district.  It just felt overly seedy, too touristy and vaguely sinister in places.  Smoking weed probably didn’t help.  There is, of course, much more to Amsterdam but I didn’t see it, hence it is low down in my list.

22. Brussels

A recent trip on the wonderful Eurostar, but Brussels is a damn boring city.  Excellent for beer, but not an awful lot to do apart from that.

21. Venice

Another over-rated city, absolutely packed-full of tourists.  Plus it rained when I went, and I had very little money so I couldn’t afford to go into the attractions.  Very pretty, and I don’t doubt many people love it for good reason – but it was just too cliche and obvious for me.

20. Zakopane

A cute town in the mountains of south Poland.  Awesome sausages and very cheap drinks prices – I had a lot of fun the first night and then was ill.

19. Bologna

I quite liked Bolonga.  It seemed an under-rated Italian city with plenty of culture and history – I did it on the same trip as Venice and didn’t have much money to spend, but found it enjoyable, if not a must-visit.

18. Bratislava

I’d booked a trip here just before I was made unemployed, so another holiday on a budget.  And it was -4’C – constantly.  We tried to find cheap/free things to do but the main conclusion was to drink cheap beer.

17. Dublin

Only there for 36 hours (awake all of them…oops), Dublin has a lot of energy and is definitely a drinking city.  We saw no culture – we were not there for that.  I even managed a few Tinder swipes – and boy people liked my mullet.

16. Maastrict

A random Ryanair flight in my early 20’s and where I discovered Leffe beer – my life changed at that point.  I don’t remember an awful lot about it, except drinking beer and remarking that everything was closed on the Sunday.

15. Stuttgart

This was back in the days when I used to enter competitions in my spare time – and I won a holiday to Stuttgart.  It was absolutely freezing cold, but had a great bar scene, good nightlife, excellent Bratwurst – a very functional German city.  And a huge Christmas market – if you like that kind of thing when it is -4’C by day.

14. Bucharest

My first visit to eastern Europe was interesting.  You could see just how poor some people were, yet it was clearly becoming quite modern too – though with many a dilapidated building.  Some amazing nightclubs – the centre of modern minimal techno, we had good food, good cheap wine – spent some time in a really nice park.  It is similar to visiting any western European city – but you know you are in eastern Europe.  Hot women too.

13. Paris

I’ve been to Paris so many times, probably more than any other city on the list.  It does have a certain pomposity and rudeness in places, matching the obvious tourist areas.  Yet there is far more to it than that, similar to London – stepping away from the main tourist areas is key.  I may have had my share of ultra-rude waitresses but I’ve also met loads of great people there too, and been to some damn cool parties.  I’d go again, but I’ve got far too many places that I have never been to – and far too little money.

12. Zurich

I was there for the Zurich Street Parade last year.  32 trucks full of nutcases dancing to a wide variety of dance music.  So much fun.  Probably would be really boring outside of then, it is very expensive too, and maybe doesn’t justify being halfway in the list.  But hey.  It’s my list.

11. Tirano

I was really touched by this little town in the Italian mountains – and the picturesque scenery.  I’d probably never visit again, and was ripped off for dinner, but it just felt really good being there.

10. Frankfurt

A load of us went here to go to Cocoon nightclub – what an awesome experience that was.  This was just such a fun weekend – one of my best weekends ever.  Was the city actually that good?  Well, I really like Germany and thought it had a good combination of surprise and impressiveness.  Doubtless it would not be so high in the list were it not such an awesome weekend.  Had my best Bratwurst ever here too.

9. Delft

We only spent one night here, but it is a super-cute town in the Netherlands – the people were really friendly, and we had a personal guided tour of the town.  Great beer again, too.

8. Milan

I enjoyed Milan more than I expected – I had this impression in my head that it would be of pompous, uber-stylish Milanese, though they were probably on holiday.  Great pizza, I discovered Gustav Klimt here, and the city itself seems to have more going on than the obvious, similar to Paris and London with some really interesting districts to explore for cultural events.

7. Lisbon

The first beer I had here cost 62p.  There is a theme here, isn’t there?  I like places with cheap beer.  Believe it or not, there is nowhere in Scandinavia in this list.  Lisbon also had a hell of a lot of charm too – quite a beautiful city, with a gorgeous castle – we had some nice food – though also one really shit meal, like, truly shit.  I’d go back for sure.

6. Den Haag

I wouldn’t have considered going to the capital of Holland – but I had won a competition to go on holiday there (I used to spend hours every week entering them when I was really poor).  Instantly I loved the feel of the place – a modern European city, lots of wide open space – one of the first things that struck me was the sheer volume of bicycles.  Wish the holiday had been in summer so we could have gone to the beach to…yes Den Haag has a beach.  Great city.

5. Sevilla

I went by myself here and really enjoyed it – I am sure that I would have truly loved it with others.  Gorgeous weather despite being the beginning of November, cheap beer, some very good tapas and a load of hot Spanish women to stare at.  Also where I discovered “free” tours…managed 3 nights on a strict budget too.  The city itself was just beautiful, I loved getting lost in all the tiny roads.

4. Madrid

The bigger the city the better.  And the more Spanish the city, the better too.  I just loved the vibe in Madrid, I loved the busyness – there was so much to do.  We had a great guided tour of the city and found out so much about the history of Spain.  Had an awesome steak dinner, some good tapas, and went to some really nice bars.  Plus sunshine.  Oh yeah and hot Spanish women.  I have a feeling I will be going back again – not in July or August though.

3. Barcelona

I was far too young to appreciate Barcelona properly, just being in my early 20’s.  We stayed in a proper rough area, with crack dealers and prostitutes outside our hotel all day and night.  Yet in the 24 hours that I was there (I went just to buy a load of duty-free cigarettes to sell), I just loved the vibe and more than that, for the first time I discovered that buildings are beautiful – not just functional.  It taught me to appreciate architecture and was a more important trip for my future being than I expected.  I need to go back.

2. Ibiza Town

Were this a large city then it would probably be number 1.  I love Ibiza – the whole island, but I’m talking cities here.  The historic centre is so beautiful, the vibe (that word again) is captivating, I’ve had some amazing food here – in fact, all of the best tapas that I have ever eaten has been on this island.  I feel at home here.  I wish I could live there.

1. Berlin

What can I say about Berlin?  It is a magical place.  So, so much history.  So many brilliant parties.  I’ve been 3 times (I think?!) – once was for the Love Parade back in 2014, 1.4m people dancing to techno…it was life-changing.  Berlin is such a cool city – so much history that relates to me.  I love Germany.  I love Germans.  I really should go back as I haven’t experienced it anywhere near as much as I want to.  Out of everywhere I have been – Berlin is my favourite city by some way.