Early birthday presents

It’s my birthday tomorrow, but after opening some of my presents on Saturday – new cycling shorts, new pants and socks, and Guy Martin’s second autobiography – I had one more parcel that my wife had given me to fly back to Singapore with. It had the concerning dimensions and weight of a small, hyper expensive electronic gadget and I worried my wife had overreached.

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What I Learned This Weekend

I didn’t have much opportunity to learn things this weekend, because I spent a lot of it on an aeroplane, asleep. However, I gleaned a few insights:

The whole of Colorado is higher than every part of England. That is, when in Colorado you’ll always be above everyone in England, unless you’re in a very deep hole and they have purchased particularly long stilts. I learned that from the first chapter of this book.

I should have learned this before, but the economy seats on BA A380s seem to be uncomfortably narrow. On the other hand, Heathrow Terminal 5 is pretty empty on a Saturday night at the end of November, so it’s got that going for it.

When you use data roaming, Starhub send you an itemised bill for every bit of data you download. That’s ten-and-a-quarter sides of A4, printed with “Docomo – 5kb” or “Softbank – 12kb” again and again in incredibly small type. You’d think they’d just total it up and say “700 Mb” but apparently I’ll really feel the value from those roaming charges if I see exactly what I paid for. It almost makes me regret buying a UK SIM card last week, and thus avoiding getting a twelve-kilogram phone bill in the middle of this month…

Not much learned, then. Let’s see how this week goes…

The Program

This evening I went to see The Program, because there’s no better way to avoid jet lag than to sit in a darkened room, eschewing all natural light. (Although to be fair, if you’re going to take part in a fundamentally unsociable activity, what better time to do it than when separated from your family by six thousand miles?) And what could be better than the feel-bad film of 2015?

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Waiting for takeoff

After a week in London, I’m abandoning my wife and kids for three weeks, flying back to the all-embracing heat of Singapore.

I was amazed how empty Heathrow was. I suppose that most people don’t choose to travel on a Saturday evening, but the terminal felt deserted. That may be just me making comparisons to when we flew to Halifax in the summer, and it seemed like there was a competition going on to pack as many people as possible into the check-in hall.

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The Surprising Bliss Of Tottenham Court Road

Tonight I walked down to the Tottenham Court Road Tube station, which I was very impressed by. Long ago (well, a few years) Tottenham Court Road was horrendous: a series of cramped ticket barriers jammed together in a low ceilinged hall, with exits that spat you out into the miserable end of Oxford Street. Transport For London can’t move that, but they have transformed the entrance hall into a wide, bright and airy space. I actually felt happy to walk through the concourse, rather than terminally depressed at the prospect of boarding a Northern Line train.
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Not wanting to go to work

I realise that I really, really hate commuting. In Singapore, if I leave the office at six, ten minutes later I’m home and able to play with the kids before their baths, and everyone is happy. Or La Serpiente is screaming “Daddeeee” and trying to eat my beard, which is the same thing. In London, if I leave the office at six, ten minutes later I’m only halfway back to Charing Cross, and then it’s a fifteen minute wait if I’m lucky, then thirty minutes crammed into a train, and then a mile walk home, and if all goes to plan La Serpiente grabs my legs and tries to eat my beard. But in a less enjoyable way.

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I’m feeling a little bit wonky today. After getting home late from depressing tapas last night, I was up until after midnight, and then at 5:30 I had to get out of bed to take a call with Tokyo. So as well as working what feel like Singapore hours from London (as well as London hours) I’ve not been maximising the amount of sleep I can get.

I took the train into work a bit later today, which was good, because I avoided some of the crush on the train. I’d put out of my mind the amusing way that in winter, the trains have the heating up full, but everyone is wearing thick coats because of the weather outside, so after a half hour rail journey you’re sweaty and ready to faint from being pressed in against all those other bodies. This morning I avoided that – or at least I didn’t have to stand up for half an hour with my face in somebody’s armpit. The small victories.
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