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Tuesday, January 25

Under the knife
Actually, I've no idea whether they use knives for it, but my bike is now with the repairers. It was due its one month service,so they can extend that servicing to include the sorting out of its drive system and its rear wheel bearings. Overall, having the bike has been a great thing, so I'm looking forward to going along to pick it up and getting the chance to ride it to work some more.

Yesterday's lunchtime was taken up with the trip to the bike shop. I cycled 3 or 4 miles from the office to the bike shop. This was made all the more challenging by the problems with the bike. Essentially, the rear cogs of the bike should be attached to the rear wheel by a ratchet system which allows the cog to be motionless or even go backwards, but which causes the cog, when it's moving forwards faster than the wheel, to engage the wheel and turn it. My cog doesn't go backwards or stay still, except under force. This means that when I pick up the pedal of the bike with my foot in order to get it to the right height for a push-off, it just drops back to where it was. It also means that if I don't pedal to keep up with the rear wheel, the tension goes out of the chain and I have to do some fast pedalling to get the chain to engage properly. This makes traffic lights and down hills a bit of an issue. So the journey to the bike shop had a few hairy moments. It also had a section where I hit nearly 30mph on a long sweeping downhill. Nice!

Sadly, I managed to just miss the metro from the metro station near the bike shop. I had a ten minute wait on the platform, which was a bit dull. So the lunchtime trip took a bit longer than planned. It was a nice thing to get out of the office and do some cycling in the middle of the day, even if I was feeling rather flaccid, having had virtually no sleep yesterday.

Under the influence
Were I a high-powered city type, perhaps my life would be just as intense as it is now, only different. I have a vision of some of London's highly-paid highly-stressed workforce as working these crazy-ass days that involve getting up early, working ridiculous hours in their office and then, in order to blast away the stress of the day just gone, partying long into the night, squandering much of their earnings, only to sneak home for a couple of hours' rest and start again the next morning. My view of life in our capital certain suggests to me that there's a lot more happening between work and home than happens in the cosy lives of the people who work office jobs in a city like Newcastle, and then go home to their suburban bliss.

I have, of course, totally imagined the lives of everyone I just generalised above. Having said that, I have seen the revelry that goes on in city bars in London, and I've heard stories... oh yes... stories - and that's as close as I need to hard evidence. In addition, I often find it odd talking to some of my workmates about what they've done between leaving the office and returning the following morning. I generally pack a lot into my time outside of the office (the secret to being a good employee, mind, is to pack a fair amount of stuff into one's time INSIDE the office) and yet a lot of people I work with have simply gone home, eaten a meal and had some sleep. Perhaps they've also had some hot lovin' - I don't know. Nor do I want to.

Where's this going? Ah yes...

So, last night, bike in the bike mending shop, I walked up the hill at around 6pm, thinking that I would get the bus home, eat something, and have an early night. An early night... I'll just phone A to see if he wants a drink. I rang him:

Me: Hi A- how are you?
Him: I'm in the Trent House.
Me: I'll be there shortly.

He didn't even tell me how he was. I was simply summoned to the pub. This was a good idea. We've not had chance to meet up since the middle of December (actually it may even have been November). Within a few minutes, we were catching up on stories and alcohol. The last time I had anything alcoholic to drink was 10 days ago, but I wasn't drinking toward intoxication - it was a beer alongside a curry. The last time I was under the influence was last year - okay, 25 days ago, but it's been a long year so far. I'm not a drinker, though I occasionally drink. It's nice for there to be a time for alcohol and a time for sobriety and not specifically needing to worry about either.

So, we had a few pints. We left the pub long before closing time and got the bus home. Very civilised. In the pub we managed to slightly scare the bar staff - I could see them putting up that "patronising the drunk people" face - that's fine. We didn't need their friendship, just their attention would do. We managed to hijack an adjacent table and sell them tickets for The Musical! - well, we sold them the ticket in principle, rather than actually swapping tickets for money. Maybe they'll show up, maybe not.

The bus driver ignored my timely button pushing and drove past my stop. We got off the bus down the street from the ideal location, made many loud disparaging remarks about the driver and then stumbled to our respective homes. I couldn't be bothered to cook and so I had some microwaved porridge and some low-fat chocolate mousse. I then went upstairs to play online scrabble. Playing online scrabble when slightly drunk should be a disadvantage. However, I'd sobered up to a reasonable level with the porridge eating, and I creamed my opponent, scoring over 300 (better than my average). I got a 7 letter word and I could even have put my last letter down, though the opponent had an "I" to dispense with. He did nothing for a while, so I sent him a tip - "top right" - in the top right there was a gap between an "h" and an "m" - there may even have been a spare "t" underneath the gap - it was a good play... The player disconnected. Maybe he was storming out of the game. Maybe he just resigned. Either way, I got the points. Wooo.

I'd say that I should go out drinking more, but I shouldn't. I really need a sleep now. I feel quite light headed. Although I was in bed before midnight, drinking on a school night is not a good idea.

I've just updated myself to the latest version of Trillian, the multiple service instant messenger client. This newer version looks really nice. It's well worth the upgrade.


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