Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Tube Strikes

Ah, the Tube Strike. Today was my first experience of a Tube Strike. As regular as Wimbledon, a Test Match at Lord's and Harrods opening their Christmas Department, Summer means Tube Strikes.

And today was no different. And to be honest, I wasn't that bothered. Well, in the run up, I was annoyed, frustrated and plotting various routes in depending on what was open where. In the end, it was a 10 minute walk from Paddington to Lancaster Gate, and under 15 minutes on the bus from there. (And the extra early start to get a lift to Paddington, which increased journey time ...). Anyhow, it wasn't too bad. I'm half looking forward to the journey in tomorrow. At least I walk a little more and get some air, and the weather's meant to be quite nice.

What I can't stand is Bob Crow. The leader of the RMT is a shameless, selfless, horrible man. And I've watched with a little glee as the amount of Facebook groups have increased from about 1 to about 40 regarding the strike/Bob Crow and the general hate of him and his members.

As I type this, I understand from BBC News, that the RMT have just left talks and may well halt the strike. Too late for tomorrow morning's commute, but on the whole progress may be being made. Still, Bob Crow better watch his back for a while yet.

Sunday, 26 August 2007

Revising, Reviewing and Examined

Admittedly, I've been a bit rushed this week, and that's my excuse for the lack of blog update. It has been a busy one, starting last Monday with the first exam - Fundamentals of Financial Accounting. Sounds boring. Mainly because it is. I got the pass, I needed, which is a good thing and means that it is one down, four to go. Next up - on Tuesday (delayed a day due to the Bank Holiday in Eng/Wales/NI), its Fundamentals of Management Accounting. Less boring, but only just.

The week itself has been a good one - apart from the actual lectures themselves, and the near constant rain that has settled on London until this bank holiday weekend. The class are a great group, and this week has seen a number of divisional drinks, some pub sessions (including one just after Monday's exam, and before noon), and also a few of us went to see the new Bourne film on Wednesday, which is absolutely awesome ... well worth seeing.

All in all, its very much status quo, and more of the same as week one.

Sunday, 19 August 2007

Working Days – Training Fun

So the first week of being a working man, and doing my bit for the UK economy has come and gone, and its been a working of learning rather than training or actually working. I’m currently one week into the month of my CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accounting) Certificate course, and with that comes a variety of modules and even less fun exams. So this week, I’ve been studying the joys of Financial Accounting. I can’t claim I am enjoying it – lets face it, if I was I’d be very dull and I’ve have signed up to work in tax or something equally dull – but what it has been is a start.

Over the course of the last week, I’ve started to get to know the people I’m going to be working with. There are some 190 of us joining the firm, of which about 120 are doing the CIMA at this point. Shrinking that down, there are a ‘mere’ 30 in my class. It’s like Freshers’ Week without the alcohol/fun activities, as you get to know and learn the names of the people in your group – including where they are from, what they’ve done, where they’ve studied, etc. I’m lucky to have a top class group who are a lot of fun, as Friday night showed. Its nice to slowly start settling in, and have some fun whilst working.

If only I didn’t have exams …

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Rugby at Twickenham

Thanks to my lovely friend Becky, I was given the chance to go to Twickenham to see England take on France in a pre-World Cup Warm Up Fixture. Having not been to Twickers before, I thought it'd be rude not to say yes, and so I'm very grateful to Becky for taking me.

Twickenham is a stadium that seems to be placed in the middle of nowhere. The same could be said of Wembley. However Wembley seems a lot easier to get to, although this isn't something I'll hold against Twickenham: more against the incompetent staff of South West Trains. They really aren't my favourites, especially after making a meal of a 20 minute journey and turning it into a 35 minute one on the way there and an equally horrendous journey on the way back. I'll let it go, but don't be surprised if I mention travel again in the next few posts.

Meeting Becky at the station was a good chance to catch up and her seats were in a fantastic view - middle tier on the half way line in the East Stand. Can't get much better than that - right behind the press. It was great to have a chat in the hour before the match over a glass of wine, and good to be there to soak up some of the pre-match atmosphere.

The game itself was a good encounter. Yes, England did get beaten. But it was a much tighter affair than what had happened in the previous week's rout of Wales, and the opposition played their role - although the calibre of their team, means that when France do field a full strength 1st XV, England had better wake up. Scrappy defending and a weak back line would be England's greatest problem - the forwards constantly made good moves and got close to the line, but finishing wasn't on the agenda and that showed, compared with two French tries.

A good match, and a good game and one for England to learn their mistakes from. Was excellent to be there, and rounded off an great week of being about in London.

Serving the Queen and the Courts

As many of you know I've spent the last two weeks before this one serving as a member of the Jury at Wood Green Crown Court. Certain legal requirements prevent me from discussing certain issues here, most notably what happened in the Jury Room (I'd be in Contempt of Court if I did), and as such, I'll stick to the facts from what was said in court, and is therefore in the public record of the Court. (Plus for my own safety, and that of the jury, I'll limit my comment)

I was serving on a particular case where the defendant were charged with some serious crimes and it is pretty nerve racking to be in court and having to decide on the fate of other people - knowing that your decision can protect the public, change the course of the defendants lives and change how those who brought the charges feel. Its not easy, its not something one does lightly and its not something that you can not think about after its done. For a good couple of days, 12 ordinary people including myself sat in a small room and discussed the smaller pieces of what happened on one night last year. Its a matter of record that we found one defendant guilty, and the others were let go.

If others get the chance to do Jury Service, I urge them to stand up to that responsibility, and not shirk it. One past American President famously said that Jury Service was the finest service once could give their country - and its a hard service to properly give.

Prince and the O2 Arena

In what was a busy week last week, I also went to see Prince at the new O2 Arena, which will probably be better known to many as the Millennium Dome. What is absolutely amazing is the transformation that O2 and AEG have done to the place since it was last used in 2000. I still disagree with the Government shutting the place down at the end of that year, but as it is, the new owners have done a damn good job.

On entry, you are face with the Arena itself sitting at the very heart of the dome - hard to think that it is a 20000 seat Arena fully contained in its own structure, with the Dome roof over the top of it all. The facilities also include the IndigO2, a new VUE Cinema and a whole arcade of dinning restaurants. And they're still building. Coming soon is the O2 Bubble which will host an exhibition of Tutankhamen artefacts, and further shops are still to be added. I'd recommend going along just to see the Dome area, which is open most nights, if not all nights, even if there isn't a gig.

The Concert itself was a drawn out affair. With doors opening at 6, Prince's warm up act was Beverly Knight and she came on stage at 7.30. She was excellent - marred only by extremely poor acoustics in the Arena and far too high levels of bass. She sang very well, doing a number of her more famous songs and you could she enjoyed it - even if the Arena was half full, and only filling up towards the end of her 50 minute set.

The man himself arrived just before 9, and what a reception: you could almost believe the roof would come off, due to the sheer noise levels in the place. Starting with one great song after another, he did a great show. Purple Rain was early on in his set, and he had the whole crowd on their feet. His rendition of Kiss was lively, exciting and full of energy - how a man like him can dance non-stop for the better part of two hours is utterly beyond me. His show was supported by an excellent band - the brass section along deserve special praise for enlivening the show with standout solos, top class swing and jazz and just adding a different character to the performance.

With many songs in his repertoire, every show is meant to be different, so it was no surprise (although a little disappointing) not to hear two of his more famous songs - When Doves Cry and 1999. After a little over 80 minutes he disappeared for the first of three encores - one of which included a guitar acoustic set which was original and fun. Prince really does still cut the mustard and his show was excellent.

All in all, a good night out.

Joseph and his Technicolour Sellout

As mentioned in my last post, I went to see Joseph last Wednesday at the Adelphi. In the first of what I hope to be a number of reviews over the course of this blog, a shortish review of the performance.

How good is it? Well it depends on two key factors: firstly, did you ever go and see the original stage version in London with Jason Donovan or Philip Schofield (or have you seen a recording of it); and secondly, do you like Mamma Mia? If the the answer to the first question is yes, then you may well not like him of the TV (Lee) and his merry troop do the new version. If the answer to the second question is yes, then you definitely will enjoy the show.

I'd be tempted to say that Andrew Lloyd Webber sold out to the Big Brother generation. That would be a little unkind and a little cruel. I'll be honest to say I never watched How do you Solve a problem like Maria? (I said, don't have the damn show); and I watched very little of the Joseph-like follow up that the BBC made too. I didn't quite know what to expect, so going along last week with my younger cousins (all big fans) and my parents (also big fans), I was there with some trepidation.

The show is put together very well - sets, stage and costume are excellent. The songs are well sung, the acting is well acted. But it wasn't the whole thing that anyone who saw old Joseph would have expected. Lloyd Webber has (from mine/my parents memory) introduced a number of new songs, and given a couple of them new settings - the song involving Joseph's clan being set in France was a particular low point, as was having the king of Egypt being a long dead pop/rock'n'roll star. Some songs were exceptionally well done - Lee Mead's rendition of Close Every Door at the end of the show was fantastic. What followed - the Joseph Megamix - was an abomination and thoroughly un-needed. Very ABBA/Mamma Mia like in design, it added very little and was more for the kids than anything else.

Marks out of 10? Well, being generous 7, maybe a little more.
Recommend it to people? Yes - with the above caveat.
Worth seeing? For the hype, Yes.

Monday, 13 August 2007

London in the Summer

This blog post was originally written on Wednesday 8th August.

So somewhat suitably, this first blog comes as an “outside broadcast” style. I’m sitting in a Starbucks on the Strand, waiting to meet some of my family for dinner before going to see Joseph and his Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Adelphi Theatre. First and foremostly, whilst I’m looking forward to it, I’m not a man who likes his musicals (although I did enjoy The Lion King at Christmas), and I’m definitely not the type who follows the selection of the leads of West End Shows on these new reality TV programmes that BBC and ITV broadcast – something that puts me at odds with my younger cousins! So its with trepidation that I see what this performance is like – for me, Joseph is always going to be Philip Schofield (yes, I’m that old), so this Lee whathisname has something to live upto.

Anyway, to the point: its lovely down here and the sun is shining (a rare pleasure), and it makes me happy to see London so buzzing and so busy. In a mere 5 years time the Olympics will be upon us, and this time in twelve months the next Games will be kicking off in Beijing, something I’ll be looking forward to.

What makes London so special is its beautiful blend of people from across the world, each who have made their day here in London their own – and all for different reasons. As I write this and watch out the window, it’s great to see tourists from every corner of the world, business people making their way home, people who are in town for the day and those who are out for the night. I can see the historic London Routemaster buses go past (thank God Politically Correct Ken Livingstone hasn’t managed to get rid of them all), and see the Black London Taxi.

London is a vibrant place, a wonderful city and everyone should come visit. The UK should be proud of this place, and proud of everything it brings – from the multiculturalism to the business, from the tourist pound to the financial pound, from Royalty to Politicians. This is London – and I’m remarkably proud of it.

About the Author

A quick note about the author, as I suppose introductions might be needed for new readers.

I'm Jordan (of the blog), a 21 year old living back in North London after four years up in Edinburgh where I was at University. I'm starting work for a big multinational firm, based on the edge of the City of London, where I'll be training to be (and hopefully becoming) a Management Consultant.

A bit of sportsman, I'm interested in having fun whilst working hard, and hope to be able to really enjoy life in London now I'm back.


Well, welcome to this, the new blog from me. Operating as a completely seperate, younger brother blog to my other blog on political issues and student politics (and other things) available at http://www.jordandiasuk.blogspot.com, this blog is all about London. Hoping to comment on London life - both in work and out of work - I hope to keep people up to date on what I'm doing, how work is, and also with my reviews of all things London.

Hopefully you'll enjoy this, and I'll keep posting. Do keep putting in your comments and letting me know what you think.

Thanks and enjoy the ride.