Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Jelly legs

Right, a quick update required I think. In the last episode of London Novice, Dom was dismayed by the lack of decent economy housing in the capital. This opinion was then tempered by being affronted in Brixton and realising that awful though some of the houses he'd seen undoubtedly were, nowhere is quite as shitty as Brixton.

It's fun to talk in the third person.

Just call me jelly legs. I've been in London for two and half weeks up until this point working for my new PR company and living in Southfields. Within days of moving in properly I realised two things:

1. My bed was broken and my landlord is never going to do fuck all about it, nice guy that he is.

2. There is an all mod-cons athletic track five minutes away from my front door.

Now so that you're aware, the realisation most pertinent to this posting is the second the other is just another opportunity to whine about my bed. It really does suck, it's like sleeping on an inverted speedbump.

So I turned up to my first training session after being in London for two days and I was ambushed by smiley happy faces. Little did I realise that this was a cynical ploy to cover the tortuous fate that was awaiting me. After mistaking the warm up for the main session's activity, I was in the process of threading my tracksuit bottoms onto my legs when I noticed people were getting their spikes out. Rather than acting as I should and bolting for the gate before attention was drawn to my cowardice, I succumbed to peer pressure and accepted my fate. The session went well, I didn't black out and only once did a 14 year old girl pass me with consumate ease. The other two times she was really trying.

Stupidly I returned again last night and somwhere in the middle of a session consisting of three five-minute all out efforts with two measly minutes of recovery in between I was grafted the legs of a new-born foal. Suddenly whilst trying to augment my position at the back of the field I lost the ability to run in a straight line adding on a couple of metres every lap as my legs swayed a crazy wobble down the track. There was one solitary positive to be taken from it, I was never lapped because much like cars following a driver whose left indicator has been flashing for the past five minutes, people couldn't figure out which way I was going next. The running club in truth has beena massive boon allowing me to meet up with a wide variety of people outside of work and giving me a focus whilst I try to remove excess chub.

I will add some new postings over the next few weeks dealing more with te subject of London generally but it's difficult until I get an internet connection sorted at my flat.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

London - the housing market of shattered dreams

So I've been to London two weekends in a row now and the results were utterly depressing. I have luckily managed to come away with a nice house, which I am now in negotiations to houseshare but overall the experience was heart-wrenchingly awful.

I can say without reservation that I was unaware that there were as many piece of shit properties available as there so obviously are. On my travels I encountered a ground floor apartment in a tower block complete with a charming ensuite collection of rancid bin bags, a house made of concrete with a landlord who came straight from the pages of a 1920s murder mystery novel and a third floor apartment based in the township of death, Brixton.

Now I like to think I'm a level-headed guy, able to laugh in the face of nasty rumour mongering, however, what they say about Brixton is soo true. On leaving the dull heat of the tube station I almost took a liking to the area's obvious multicultural heritage, almost. Just as I was constructing a sentence in my head some along the lines of, "this place isn't too bad.", A big guy, well big enough to bend me over his knee and spank my arse until its glowed red, informed me quite matter of factly that I was scum. I'd hate to say this severely inhibited my ability to find the place the least bit attractive but next time I want to take a crap I'm going straight to Brixton. Well, why dirty my toilet? I'd feel safer walking around southern Lebanon with a target on my back or on a hunting trip with Dick Cheney.

The last house I visited last weekend, the one I liked, was in a second floor apartment with a garden set in a lovely community with adjacent park and running track, a selection of pubs and the obligatory Starbucks. Oh and I almost forgot to mention it's half a mile from a the venue of the world's most famous tennis grand slam. That's right my friends, I'll be living in Wimbledon!

Anyway so now it's all dependent on the contract but with any luck I'll be in there soon. Now my most pressing concern is saying goodbye to all the folks I've got to know in Nottingham. It's quite a tear to know that I've got eight days left in the city and I think I might miss the place, ok that's pushing it. Let's just say I've grown accustomed to its vice.

Did you see what I did there? That's my favourite pun, fact. If you don't get the reference then don't worry but trust me its damn punny.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Domestic part 1

I awoke this morning having traded short in sleep. Sleep, one of physiology's most valuable commodities, was definitely suffering a bull or a bear market, whichever is worst, last night. Not to worry however as I was about to start the exciting task of selecting an attractive flatshare in London to await me on my imminent arrival in a month's time.

Prior to alighting at St Pancras station in London, I had already booked up some viewing time at three houseshares in West London. Two in East Acton and one very attractive sounding proposition in Fulham. I was expecting a short walk to the Underground and then a twenty minute ride to Acton, an hour to look round both houses followed by the same again in Fulham.Easily rounded up in, say, three hours; I could be back in Nottingham for cakes and tea by 7pm.

The first foreboding sign was the acrid, plastic stench which tickled my nostrils as I entered St Pancras tube station. As I sped towards the barriers with humid backpack sweat running down my spine, the feather-like touch of the smell began to gather pace. It became clear that four of the major lines bi-secting the capital had been closed for rail repair leaving me stranded. Finding a quiet corner I took out my brand new laminated London A-Z, tutted at the few page corners folded back in my bag during the journey and found a route to Euston the next nearest station.

On arrival it became apparent that I was not the only person suffering, crowds of people were being turned away by over zealous railworkers. A powercut had affected the majority of this area, shutting shops and rendering the tube useless. Thus with my, third impression with revisions, 2006 edition of the Philip's Street Atlas London clutched in my hand and my index finger separating the relevant pages I strode off down Marylebone Road. It was a few roads later on when I realised that map holding, with requisite standing in the middle of pavement to regain bearings, was perhaps not helping my urban camouflage and so in a deep bout of self consciousness I subtly returned the book to my bag.

Long story short I could find no discernable way of reaching two of the houses in East Acton. I walked four miles to reach a bus to take me to Fulham and boy was it worth it. I discovered some little known parts of the city, whilst ignoring the better known ones. During my powerwalk I passed a bust of JFK just across the road from the entrance to Regent's Park.

The bust was paid for by 50,000 readers of the Sunday Telegraph none of whom were allowed to donate more than £1. It was a wonderful act of goodwill although looking at the bust I was left asking myself deep reflective questions such as, "Where did all the money go?". I guess it's the thought that counts.

On my travels I also passed a slightly disturbing, although I'm sure the heart was in the right place monument to animals caught in war and a paddling pool of piss and empty beer bottles masquerading as a subway. The further I trod towards my destination, the more claustrophic and vulnerable I felt. Well that was at least until I wound up in Putney.

I'll finish this off tomorrow,


London Novice's letter of intent


I recently made the huge, and some might say stupid, decision to move down to London. As of writing this prelude I have a job but no place to lay my head and call home. Obviously there is an inherent amount of excitement moving to a big city and it's this that precipitated my decision to start a blog.

As I begin to delve beneath the skin of London and understand its inner movements, not bowel, I'll document my conclusions and provide not only the story of a bloke's journey into one of world's most unique communities but also the story of London told from inside out. If all goes well, this will be a interesting blog not just for current and prospective Londoners but also for workshy wastrels and internet cafe devotees worldwide.

If you've made it this far through then I encourage you to keep checking back on a weekly basis there'll always be a new posting or two ready to make you smile and, I hope, elicit snorkels of spontaneous guffawfery. Anyway I just thought I'd take the time to say hello, I hope to see you again soon.

Yours faithfully,