I was quite pleased to leave Japan behind. Don’t get me wrong: I quite like it there but, after nigh-on three months of living out of a bag, I was ready to go home. I was also a little fed up with not understanding practically anything that was going on around me. Most places that I’ve traveled to before I spoke a little of the language or could at least make an educated guess at what signs were telling me. Being immersed in a kind of audio/visual white noise for a week was pretty disconcerting.
Once I arrived at Kings Cross yesterday afternoon I took the Tube to London Bridge and had a touristy walk back along the Thames and on to the Regent Street Apple Store to pick up a new power adapter. Maybe I left my old one behind on purpose to give me an excuse to go and wander around and look at Shiny Apple goodness.
I used to hate London with a passion – kind of how Homer Simpson feels about New York. Maybe I’m mellowing in my old age or I just felt comfortable knowing where I was thanks to the iPhone’s Locate Me feature and Google Maps. Either way, I actually had quite a pleasant day.
Considering where I was today I had a bitch of a time getting any WiFi access. I was at Earls Court at Internet World 2008 which is expecting 18,000 visitors over three days. I certainly wasn’t expecting to be greeted by a host of attractive girls in rubber nurses outfits but I’m not complaining
I started off with the keynote presentation of the Future of the Social Web with Travis Katz which was basically a 30 minute MySpace spiel. There were a few seminars on content management systems which I took in over the afternoon that proved to be more interesting and I finished off the day at the Dangers of the Proprietary Web with the co-founder of Mozilla Europe, Tristan Nitot.
I wandered in between the 300 exhibitors in the gaps in the seminars where a metric ass-load of freebies were up for grabs but I controlled myself as I don’t really need to cart more crap around the World than is absolutely necessary.
I’ve just boarded the train that will take me on the first leg of my journey and have realised that I neglected to include my laptop power brick when finishing off my packing this morning.
I stopped off at Waterstones to pick up some books to read while I’m away and then passed the O2 Memory Project to record the start of my trip. I strolled through the East end of Princes Street Gardens, past the Scott Monument, pausing to take a look back at the National Galleries, Edinburgh Castle and the beautiful architecture of The Scotsman and Balmoral Hotels, the Edinburgh HQ of Halifax Bank of Scotland and made my way down to Waverley station.
I have to say that I’m beginning to dread the Christmas and New Year period. Let me be more specific. I’m beginning to dread Boxing Day and the first of January.
For the past few years December 26 seems to bring some kind of major incident somewhere in the world. Hundreds of thousands of people have died due to catastrophic earthquakes, tsunamis and mud slides. The killing of Benazir Bhutto (and many others in the aftermath) was the day after Boxing day.
On a more personal and of far less devastating consequences, the first day of the year has variously seen my skis stolen, friends going AWOL and just when I thought nothing was going to happen this year, the end of the current tennancy and closure of the Puzzle Hall Inn in my home town for the foreseeable future was announced at a “hair of the dog party”. This unique public house was once described in a national newspaper (alas, I can’t remember which or when) as a bar that everyone should experience before they die.
Increased local competition and invariably the smoking ban (which was cunningly circumvented on New Years Day by dint of the bar holding a private party) have been blamed by some. I think it has much more to do with changing public attitude to the culture of the local bar and downright greed of local councils and pub companies. New environmental health legislation also recently put pay to the weekly curry night that had spanned 16 years and 45,000 curries.
The bar will probably open once again but a unique place such as this needs a special character running it. If nobody is found who can make it work then I would think it’s a fair bet that the building will be demolished and the land sold for housing as is seemingly de rigueur these days.
A few tears were shed that night (and it was a long night – the last person left at 0530 the next morning) but there was some fun thanks to the musicians Kirk McElhinney, Becky Taylor and others who played at the hugely popular live music nights and festivals.