Travelling tittle-tattle, tall tales and shameless name-dropping by Jon ‘Don’t Call Me’ Norman

About Me

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Monday montage

Okay, so it's not Monday. But today, on the way back from work, I sat on the train and considered things and saw my life as it would be as a 30 second TV segment complete with moment of realisation music. I'm not usually a negative person. I've even been accused of looking at the world through rose tinted glasses - is this a bad thing? But during my journey back from Waterloo this evening I started to seperate from reality and observe and judge rather than experience and react.

The reason for this can easily be traced back to 2.33am last night when I was awoken from sleep by all manner of bedlam going on in the flat below me. Raised voices, slamming doors, tinny music and drunken revellry of the aggressive kind.

I lay there in a sweat. For despite awaking to fog in the morning the early hours brought nothing but hellish heat and frustration. My immediate concern was for Fe who returned to college this week; with its exacting hours, constant sensory and physical work overload and barrage of not so constructive criticism. But thankfully her soft, deep, steady breathing remained the only pleasant constant throughout a fraught hour of extreme restlessness. For below me came the noise of those who really don't give a fuck.

Hey, we've all done it. I'm not so old that I can't remember what it's like to enjoy after hours company. Music does sound better loud. And who hasn't looked at the clock, recognised that work is just a few hours away and thought 'to hell with it?'. And maybe I do sound ancient when I say it. But there is a time and there is a place. And it's not half past two on a Tuesday night when you live in the poorly sound insulated flat beneath the one I reside in.

And then they all started arguing. I'm not sure who was on whose side and what was said to who but I do know that I lay there in my bed, my mind slowly starting to frazzle, I started to dream I had a gun. Because going down to order them to keep quiet without one wasn't an option. I certainly didn't want to be the middle ground that the opposing forces could combine to combat. Part of me was hoping someone else would intervene but in my heart I knew that person was either going to have to be mad, or me. And unless the poor sucker who lives below those that reside beneath me was a care in the community type he/she was no doubt lying in his/her own bed, staring up the celing, desperately hoping I would grow some balls and do what neither of us was prepared to do.

And so I rode it out. And eventually the yelling died down, the music was turned off and I drifted back off to sleep. Only to wake in the morning to the realisation that something needed doing. But what?

And that thought kept with me throughout my working day until I found myself on the train on the way back home. Sitting to my right an anonymous angst-ridden 15 year old girl with stripey leggings, ambiguous hair and face studied a punk magazine. The headline read 'Britain is fucked!' and she consumed every word of a band I've never heard of. And I imagined they were right. Looking to my left a man dressed suitwise read a newspaper that told how stabbings were going to go up for the next 9 years. Another guys paper told me of another 3,000 jobs that could disappear this week.

And then when I got to the station and alighted the train, two passages of people approaching two flights of stairs heading towards the underground tunnel that connects the 'have nots' on the Winstanly Estate with 'the haves' on the Northcote Road what sounded like the strangled cry of someone shouting for the police rang out. Momentarily people stopped, I sub-consciously checked that I had my bag/wallet/phone. Nothing untoward was immediately recognisable. And then we carried on. Moments later three police officers hurtled the ticket barriers, running on back from wence I had come. Flashing lights could be seen from the main road. Whatever had happened in front or behind me disappeared from view as those paid to care did their duty.

It's a poor state of affairs. A house I've enjoyed living in more than any other since leaving home is starting to become something I dread coming back to. With my trip to the West Indies just weeks away I'm concerned about leaving Fe to deal with it herself. Antagonising those that live below just as I leave the country doesn't seem like the wisest course of action.

Answers on a postcard to?

Friday, 9 January 2009

Top Ten Photographs 2008

It's self-indulgent and bears no real purpose but it's nice to look at some of the snaps I've taken this year or been party to being taken. Following on from earlier versions which took in all that Australia had to offer in 06/07, good old England in 2007 and New Zealand/Australia in 2008 this is the best of the rest from last year. Thanks to Calum for all the additional material.

The Rose Bowl. August. Twenty20 Finals Day. Two Kent fringe players watch on as their team battles their way through to the final. It was a blistering hot day. I was dressed in a two piece suit and I spent much of the day trying to seek shelter from the scant shelter the advertising hoardings surrounding the field afforded. I failed and my sweat patches were meeting in the middle by noon. But it didn't prevent me from enjoying one of the highlights of the English cricket calender.

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Dicky's 30th. July. Clapham pub some time after drinking had begun. 2008 was the year of the 30th. Not mine unfortunately. But plenty of my mates celebrated this year and one of the occasions brought together some old friends from the past. And hopefully will mean they are together again in the future.

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Oxford Archealogy XI. August. A field in Hampshire. As unlikely a bunch of cricketers you will not find. Undergoing a typically slapshod warm up session prior to another defeat. This is one of my favourite photo's of all time.

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Lavender Hill. Battersea. A skyline somehow improved upon by technology, merges and connects with a part of London not usually noted for its beauty. Criss crossed by the jet streams with a red hue and rich blue.

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Lake Bled. Slovenia. June. A slight covering of cloud fails to mask the picture postcard beauty of this centuries old part of Europe which looks today pretty much as it did back then.

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Fratton Park. May. The Great Escape. A story that needs no spin. Down at out and already careering into the abyss Fulham pull off an escape that almost has no parallel in the modern sporting world. Either side of defeating their two nearest rivals they're technically relegated on two separate occasions they manage to haul themselves back into contention at Eastlands, before going to Portsmouth and getting the only result that could save them. And I was there for pretty much all of it. I love football.

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Edinburgh. August. Grandma Tash and Grandpa Luke.

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Edinburgh. August. There's so much that's wrong with this picture. And so much that's right. Alcohol has a lot to answer for.

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Isle of Wight. Bestival. September. The photo that summed up my last ever festival experience. The only good thing? My nostrils look magnificent.

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And that's it. The next pictures that will adorn this 'blog will be big splifs, fat rasta, heavenly beaches and everything else that the West Indies will offer. And maybe a cricketer or two.

And a happy bloomin New Year to you too.

We've been living in our flat for nearly a year now and it's as good as it gets.

I mean the flat itself is pretty small. Decent sized living room for two people. We've squeezed in six people for entertainment purposes. We were doing the entertaining. We didn't do it just to see what the room looked like with that many people inside.

Nice bedroom, kitchen and bathroom. Enough storage for me and nearly enough for Fe. And the location is second to none which for South London is often a problem. Five mins from Clapham Junction, ten mins from the tube, bus stop into town right outside the house, bus stops from Central London, West London and pretty much everywhere in the very closest of vicinities. 25 mins from work. 25 mins from the parents. 25 mins from pretty much everywhere. And the area is safe enough, community spirit is evident and it's street enough to feel safe, street and part of what's going down. It's all good.

But in the past week and a half I've started having fears that it's all about to change.

I've worked throughout the Christmas and New Year period. It's one of the drawbacks of being self-employed and working in the sports media. My tax is due and football goes into overdrive. It's not something I complain about and in a way it's the most attractive time of the year to be working in London. Because most of the people who live here don't actually come from the city itself. So by the time Xmas comes along they bugger off back up north to their nice country cottage and to take part in the New Years Day hunt leaving the public transport system to take a nice breather and allow those using it to put their feet up for once.

However come last Sunday, the last Sunday before work started up again, it was time for everyone in England to rest up and take it easy. The first working week of a new working year awaited. A day traditionally associated with depositing browned Christmas trees outside the house, throwing out the Radio Times (highlighted TV shows and all), resetting the alarm on the phone, running a bath and counting up the days til payday - did New Years really cost that much? No matter. Sunday 4th January, up and down the country was the one day in the entire calender singularly devoted to rest.

Unless of course you live underneath my flat and decide it's the perfect time to throw a party.

It's not that the music was particularly loud. Nor that they were being overtly raucous. It's more that there's no soundproofing between our flat and their's. We could hear the voices, we could hear the cheering, we could hear every sodding thing. It's a nightmare because the problem lies in the poorly built soundproofing between floors. Going downstairs and asking them to whisper wasn't going to work any more than questioning why they'd decided that tonight of all night's was the one they'd decided to host a party.

We both dropped off to sleep around 1am but only after Fe had put on her noise restricting headphones and I'd promised myself that a trip to the ear plug store awaited in the morning.

Fast forward a week and I can hear them once more. I remind myself it's only 9pm on a Friday night and they are more than within their rights. Hell, I've turned my own music up to such a level that they can probably hear it more than there own tinny garage. 'The Ting Tings, Elbow & the ever reliable Smashing Pumpkins' being my music of choice before you ask. But how long can I put up with it?

It's affected me more than I thought it would. On the way home from work this week I've been sub-consciously fretting that another evening was about to be ruined. Only to get back and find everything has gone back to normal. Peace on earth retained. But for how long?