On The Road

I had my first refresher driving lesson this afternoon. It’s amazing how much you can forget in 16 years. Still I didn’t hit anything, and only stalled a couple of times. I think I might need a few more lessons before having the confidence to go out on my own.

Towards the end of the lesson it started to rain. By the time I got home and into the flat it really started to rain hard. Then it started to hail, and then lightning, thunder and absolutely torrential rain. The hailstones were the size of those old-fashioned acid pip sweet and covered the back garden. Apparently, central Brixton got quite wild, with water almost a foot deep flowing down Brixton Hill, and some flats being hit by lightning. I suspect this was some sort of warning that I should keep off the road, but I’ll defy it!

Brixton Hill under water – picture by “wiskey”

The flat sale is dragging along. We went to Bromley to prove my identity to our solicitor on Friday, because having my passport and two bills isn’t enough, apparently (even though that’s all they asked for). It would seem that the vendors now want to complete in the middle of June. Not ideal as we’d hoped to be out of here by the end of May, but we’ll cope.

After the Bromley on Friday, we went to The Water Rats on Grays Inn Road to see some bands. The first band on, Picture Center were by far the best, really cool original sound. They have some MP3s on their website so go have a look. LP2 in particular is good. The other bands were The Fits (from Majorca) and Eye. Wasn’t very impressed by either of those. Nice to go out and see a band again though. Vic, Cedric and I are off to see the Scissor Sisters on Saturday, with The Queenz of Noize and Lamb as support.

Bad PHP, no biscuit!

Sorry for the interruption to service this morning. I updated PHP to 4.3.6 yesterday, and fell foul of a bug which causes Apache to crash on restart with an error of “[notice] seg fault or similar nasty error detected in the parent process”.

After a bit of muttering I found a suitable patch on the FreeBSD ports CVS and everything in the garden is lovely again.

I had been worried that it might be down to the Turck MMCache PHP accelerator/optimizer that I also installed yesterday, but no, that seems fine.

Enough techie talk for now….

Mmm… TechnoGoodies

We popped up to the Computer Fairs near Tottenham Court Road on Saturday to see if we could sort out a new phone for Vic. She fancied a Nokia 6310 , not the most recent model, but it has a reputation for being very reliable. We were lucky enough to find a second-hand one for £85 which was 40 quid less than any others we’d seen.

I got my usual cheapskate haircut at Mr Toppers (£6), and we then had a look round some camera shops as Vic has a hankering to start taking some photos.

She’s ended up getting a Canon Ixus 430 off Ebay for £230, and having had a quick play with the camera, I’m quite taken with it.

Quick snap taken with Vic's Canon Ixus 430

My own camera, a Sony DSC-P1 that I bought in November 2000 sounds like it’s on its way out. Vic is over in France for a few days visiting a friend, and, because her own camera hadn’t arrived when she left, she’s borrowed my camera and it’s started playing up (not displaying pictures, showing images as all black etc). Chances are I’ll need to get another, a pity as it’s a good little camera, if a little long in the tooth by digital standards. The battery life isn’t great (less than an hour per battery), and the DC connection cover doesn’t fit properly, but it still takes decent pictures (or did last time I used it).

Vic’s due to return from France tomorrow night, and I’m hoping to meet her at Waterloo, but an emergency meeting of Urban 75 techies has been called to look at moving the message boards to a new hosting service, so I might have to leave the meeting early. Looking forward to some nice French cheese, mmmmmm!

Driving Me Mad

Well, the time has finally come. After a very long time (like 17 years) I’m finally going to start driving again.

I’ve booked a double driving lesson with the AA for the week after next (earliest they could do).

I’ve never owned a car, and haven’t driven one since about 1987. Living in London for the past 19 years, I’ve not really needed a car, and parking, insurance etc would have cost a packet anyway.

My main problem now is that I find the prospect of a) driving and b) driving in London to be very scary. Steering a ton of metal going at 30mph near to other people and vehicles just seems a damned dangerous thing to do to me. I know thousands of people do it everyday, and that I’ll probably pick it back up quite quickly but I’m still quite frightened.

The reason that I’m going back on the road is that we’ve sold our flat (subject to contract), and Vic and I fancy doing a bit of a UK tour before and after Glastonbury, and we’ll need a vehicle to do that. We both like the idea of buying a campervan of some description, as we can live in that as well, saving hotel bills without risking a drenching by camping.

What sort of campervan? Well, though it’d be nice to have a 70’s VW Kombi thing they tend to be a bit pricey for a decent one, and they’re generally petrol engined, and we’ve been advised to go for diesel. Vic fancies a Winnebago but they’re a little out of our price range (yes, even the ones on Ebay so we’re more likely to go for something smaller

But I have to learn to drive again first. Fairly quickly too, I guess.

Glastonbury 2004 Ticket Rant

Something I wrote on Urban75 a few days ago regarding the Glasto ticket fiasco:

I hope that Aloud have to repay any comission they got for every single duplicate ticket which it turns out they haven’t really sold. The sheer number of people reporting cancelled duplicates and cancelled due to insufficient funds makes me wonder whether they really will be able to absorb them all without a resale? The tickets took an hour longer to sell out than last year, and I don’t remember anyone reporting having accidentally ordered 4-5 times last year. “Unprecedented demand” – maybe if they’d had systems that actually responded then people wouldn’t have had to make hundreds of attempts each in order to try to get some life out of the poxy system, which I suspect is the real reason for the much higher demand on the web and phone systems. Same number of people, but no feedback results in repeated attempts. Very poor performance by Aloud, and frankly, I think GFL should refuse to use them again or at least not without a large financial guarantee that this huge foul-up won’t happen again.
It looks like Simon at XRRF has had similar thoughts and the people responsible are trying to make out the whole thing would have been impossible to manage satisfactorily.

Dubversion also did an excellent piss-take on the scabby types trying to sell non-legit tickets on Ebay:

NB. These tickets aren’t actually official and won’t guarantee entry into the Glastonbury Festival but you are welcome to go and see if you can fob them off as the real thing. We reckon they look pretty kosher, right down to the hologram which we made out of a bit of tinfoil and some sticky-backed plastic.

Six Months In

Waves on pebbles
Waves break on pebbles near Brighton

Vic and I have been married for six months now. And it’s all been great fun.

To celebrate we had a weekend away in Brighton, staying at the “Seattle Hotel down by the Marina. We had a good time, some very good meals (at the hotel’s Cafe Paradiso, the Dorset Street Bar and Bella Napoli and enjoyed a clifftop walk back to the Marina from Rottingdean.

The Glasto ticket farce continues. There are still occasionally tickets going on sale at the Aloud.com site, despite a statement on the official Glastonbury web site that no more tickets would be going on sale. WaterAid have been allowed to auction some hospitality tickets on ebay and they’ve gone for suitably silly money.

Messrs Blair and Blunkett continue to push the whole ID card fallacy I’m sure that compulsory ID cards would have prevented almost 200 people dying in Madrid… Oh, they have compulsory ID cards in Spain ? Well, I’m sure the British ones will be much better ?

Busy Week

It’s been another busy week. Vic finished her job on Tuesday, and we celebrated with a very good meal at Chez Manny in Battersea.

On Wednesday we headed over to the cafe at Dulwich Picture Gallery to meet up with Helen who works there. After another excellent (and free) meal, we moved on to The Albert on Coldharbour Lane in Brixton for a few beers. We were joined by Cedric and an evening of drinking ensued. Helen and Ced are coming to Glastonbury as well so we had lots to talk about.

Thursday was spent recovering from the usual hangovers, though we did watch Chopper and Dark Days

Today we ventured up to Rococo on the Kings Road to buy a supply of chocolate for Easter, and then took a long, slow bus trip over to St Paul’s from where we walked over to Borough Market to pick up some more meat and veg.

On Sunday it will be 6 months since Vic and I got married so we’re popping down to Brighton for a weekend at the Seattle Alias Hotel My brother’s coming down to stay while we’re away, but I’m hoping to see him briefly before we head south.

Market Time

We had to make ourselves scarce early on Saturday morning, as the purchasers of our flat wanted to come around to measure up. We decided to head up to Borough Market because we’ve never actually been while it’s open.

It’s not like a “normal” town market, more of a slightly posh farmers market. We wandered around a bit, eyeing up the produce and stalls, before going around again to make our purchases. We picked up a couple of loaves of bread, some sausages, various vegetables and fungi, cheese, cider and some dry-cured back bacon. We had the bacon for breakfast this morning and it was very good, much tastier than the standard supermarket fare. Lots of customers who looked like they had come straight down from Hampstead in their Barbour jackets, and the prices weren’t really cheap, but as a kind of large deli, it works well.

After we’d finished shopping, we snacked out on Frankfurters with Sauerkraut and Senf, followed by a cup of hot, spiced cider. We drank the cider sitting outside Southwark Cathedral where I was engaged in conversation by a very pleasant Special Brew drinker who regaled us with tales of living on stolen yoghurts and visiting his brother in Redcar.

Fossil booking Glasto tickets
Fossil joins in booking Glasto tickets

It looks like we were very lucky to get our Glasto ticket orders through. After the success of the 2 orders on Thursday night, I managed to book another ticket for Vic’s friend Eyi who is currently in Nigeria. Looking the tales on Urban 75, E-Festivals and the BBC News it looks like a lot of people had complete nightmares trying to get tickets, and quite a few regulars weren’t able to get successful orders through, whereas others managed to get up to 5 duplicate orders processed. The whole 113,000 tickets sold out within 24 hours, actually slightly longer than last year, possibly due to the limit of 2 tickets per person, possibly due to the fact that more than 95% attempts to purchase tickets failed. How I managed to get 3 orders through while others were unsuccessful, I don’t really know. Good luck? Using Firefox ? Just plain persistence? Who knows? Glad I got it sorted though, as we had a great time in 2002 and 2003.

Glastonbury 2003
Glastonbury 2003 – Hoping for the same weather in 2004

I first went to Glastonbury in 1997, when it rained – a lot! That put me off a bit, as I spent the weekend cold and wet, wandering through mud, avoiding the lakes of brown muddy water and generally wearing myself out.

It’s not going to rain this year though, is it?

Glastonbury 2004 tickets sorted

Yay! Glastonbury 2004 tickets went on sale at 8pm last night.

After 2 hours of trying on the website, I finally got to the order form, submitted it and got confirmation! 10 mnutes later an email arrived to confirm… so we’re going! And also managed to order the tickets for Cedde and Helen, so they’re coming too. Accidentally ordered an extra car ticket and camper ticket but might be able to cancel those.

For those who can’t even get through to the order form, try this link as that seems to go directly there. Good luck if you’re trying. I know that a lot of the people on Urban75 had stayed up all night without success.

Once again I was amazed that the ticket agency really weren’t prepared for the number of people accessing their site and it was inaccessible for most of the evening, not even allowing connections. And the phone lines were much the same, by all accounts. Some people had success calling the international order number for UK tickets, but Radio 1 announced that too, which caused the queues to fill up again. As of about 8am, 60,000 tickets, about half of the total available) had gone.

Not a pleasant experience, sitting there fretting about tickets and constantly hitting the reload button, but it seems to have worked out nicely. I just hope there aren’t too many people out tere who really want tickets who are unable to get them.