Monday, 30 April 2007


I started a new job today. I live in Guildford and as of today commute daily to Earls Court. The journey each way is about 1 hr 45 mins door to door, meaning that 3 1/2 hours of non-leisure time cling like a parasite to every 8 hour working day. Talking to members of the project team I am working with, I find that this is not atypical, and I am not alone in having a long commute. The question I found myself asking was, "Why am I not alone in adding nearly 50% non-fun onto my working day, and £150 to my weekly expenses?"

I work for a consultancy which is based in Guildford. My home is roughly three miles from the office, and I can often work from home. I like this arrangement - I can commute on foot, by bicycle, or by car, and on a good day, my commute is five minutes. I'm currently contracted to provide eight weeks' support to a customer in Earl's Court. So instead of moving house for eight weeks, I will commute to work. When this contract finishes, my next contract might be working from the office, or it might be on the other side of the country. Geographical variety is a hazard of my job. Most of the other members of the project team are not contractors, but permanent employees. They have no prospect of working three miles from home in a couple of months' time. They do this every day, and have expectations to continue doing this every day for the foreseeable future.

I find commuting a terrible waste of life. Looking at all the blank faces on the trains and tubes coming and going every day, I can't help but smile at the thought of the commuters in their Virgin Pendolino trains. Pendolino means "pendulum" in Italian. It is also the word used for a commuter. I love the mental image this conjures up, with commuters pointlessly swinging between their homes and their offices. Bravo, Virgin. Then I remember I have just joined the ranks of these commuters.

I will look forward to my next contract....

Sunday, 22 April 2007

Brought here on a banana?

Wandering back to a friend's house on Friday following a mightily fine celebration, we happened upon this little guy outside the pub, presumably crawling home.

On reflection, it's mildly terrifying that I got close enough to this chappie to take a picture. Does anyone know what he/she is, and whether that creamy abdomen is or isn't full of poison?

A window on surroundings

I took this picture of the vine at home early one morning, from a window in our spare lounge/office . I like it for the following reasons:
  1. Those are the beginnings of grapes, which are bursting out of every bud on the vines around my home, and which I'm looking forward to watching grow, and ultimately eating;
  2. Having got up early to finish off some work, seeing this felt like a small reward;
  3. I felt I was privileged, as by the time others got up, the water droplets would have evaporated;
  4. After spening three years studying water droplets, I have an unfathomable respect for their size, composition, refractive index, evaporative flux and internal convection;
  5. I could see a slightly different view of the two cars in the drive, apparently upside down, in every droplet.

As I was thinking about the many differently distorted images of the same two cars, presented to me through the lens created by each droplet, all of which I could appreciate from my vantage point external to the droplets, I wondered how many small misunderstandings would occur later that day between partners, friends, family or colleagues, each viewing incidents through the lens created by their experiences; and whether it was absurb to think that a particular view could ever be "correct".