Friday, November 30, 2007


It's been several weeks since I last rode my bike. First I got a puncture. Then I fixed it and got another puncture straight away, I guess that whatever caused the first puncture is still stuck in the tyre.

I did buy another inner tube but then I got a cold and the weather turned pretty nasty. I've recovered now and should start riding again but have got into a lazy routine of taking the underground.

I have more patience for the underground than I used to. When I enter Tottenham Court Road Station in the morning I have to go down the stairs and through a lot of chicken wire lined passageways because the escalators only go up before 9am. It's like being on an abandoned Dr Who set and I quite enjoy it.

Having spent hours recently navigating these filthy little passageways, I wasn't surprised this week when I read a news article about the underground being full of toxic dust.

I can just imagine the the speeches from defensive Londoners:

'What people don't think about is that this dust is 150 years old. It's all very well to compare it to less-toxic dust in Delhi or Singapore but those places have much younger underground systems. If anywhere else in the world had 150 year old dust, I'm sure it would be just as toxic as ours. Besides, we should be proud that we have one of the oldest and biggest underground networks of toxic dust in the world.'

I really should start riding again.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


I'm moving to Hackney. Haggerston to be exact. Our current landlord has sold the property and we beat them to serve notice, just in time to move out before Christmas. The new flat is almost identical to the current one with a view over East London and significantly lower rent. Plus it has bike racks and an 'environmentally excellent' rating! It's better in every way.

Thus I'm planning to quit my second job at the college today. It will be less feasible to commute to outer Croydon when I'm not 5 minutes walk from Charing Cross Station. I feel sad about quitting a job that I enjoy (esp since it pays more than my main job!) but I've worked 6 full days a week (including 2 evenings) since September and I need to calm down a bit.

Hmm. Very boring but that's my life at the moment. Oh, except yay Australia!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Light entertainment

I asked some of my students today whether they have any special skills which could enliven the end of term party. The 85 year old has volunteered to give a Turkish dancing demonstration with his wife.

Another student offered acrobatics. 'Juggling?' I asked hopefully. 'No, human pyramid,' he replied, 'but need two more people'. He used to be in the circus.

I'm looking forward to asking the rest of the classes this week. Even without the pyramid, it's going to be great.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


It's worth travelling an hour and a half to my second job, just to have a change of scenery. Someone was stabbed (they're ok now) outside the college for a mobile phone this week and I still can't picture it happening in the lovely countryside.

Not the most exciting photo but it's the view from the room I teach in. I'm starting to understand why so many English people rave about autumn.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Starting fresh

I went looking for a new hairdresser near work last week. I'm not quite sure why men's hairdressers in London all seem to charge either £5 or £25, amounts which put me off for different reasons. After a search, I found a place on Golborne Road that charged £15, expensive enough to instil confidence yet not too painful to pay.

My new Polish hairdresser studied law before moving here several years ago. She had hoped to get into her field but found it too hard and is thus still hairdressing. I empathised and felt a little fortunate too. I don't think my qualifications get enough respect here but at least I can work in the field I trained in.

When I left the salon, I almost collided with one of my students in front of the entrance. 'Teacher look very nice!' he complimented. Gosha had put wax in my hair and I must have looked a little edgy because I was offered a wide selection of drugs while walking back down Portobello Road to work.

I was heading back to help a student write a CV. Her husband's employer had been taken over by another cleaning company and he had been told to provide a CV in days or lose his job. I found out that he'd been a goldsmith in Sudan in a prosperous family business.

Despite Gosha's obvious flair for hairdressing, the afternoon left me wondering why people are so willing to move to the UK and start at the very bottom.