Marathons, standing up and Ariana

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It’s been a few months since my last post… So, let’s catch up.

Paris, London, standing up and Edinburgh

Foolishly I singed up for three marathons. I’m a big, strong, macho-macho man (did you read that last bit in the Village People voice?… or is it just me) and surely I can do all three – no biggie.

Let’s start with Paris on 9th April.

The weather was sunny and very warm – massive improvement from London. I took the Eurostar train to Paris, which turned out to be much more expensive than expected. That’s because I forgot I had to plan time to grab my race pack the day before the marathon. Changing that ticket cost me exactly as much as a new ticket would’ve cost – about £60. Money well spent!

My hotel was a disappointment. Somehow I figured that if I pay £90 to stay a night, my hotel room would have a bath and wifi. I was proven wrong. Never assume, always check, trust nobody… especially when in a foreign land!!!

It wasn’t all bad. The race was very well organized and everything happened like clock-work. Without a doubt, the 57,000 runner marathon was the biggest I’ve ever taken part in. It was amazing.

I finished in 3:35:49 – I wasn’t as fast as I wanted to be but hey… I made it to the other side of the line. I spent the rest of the day walking around in the city. I remember climbing some stairs, which was an awful idea, as my legs didn’t work properly – I actually called my mom half way through in an attempt to solicit some pity. #NewLow

Two weeks later it was time to run London. I was very familiar with this race as it was my second time participating. The biggest difference with Paris was the crowd. The entire course is full of people cheering you on in London – this was not the case in Paris. I’d like to think that this was because instead of cheering, people were running it in Paris. As a runner, the experience was better right here at home running on my familiar roads.

Right after crossing Tower Bridge (half way) I managed to hurt my leg (glute – that’s the ass muscle) and slowed down considerably. I spent the next two hours in pain. I did not enjoy this run and struggled a lot. It didn’t go as planned, however again I finished. It took me 03:43:45.

Following the race I made my way to get some pampering at the Lucozade “hospitality” event. To clarify, I won a spot in the race when I bought £20 worth of Lucozade energy gels and signed up for the lottery on their website.

That event was super fancy and way-way-way better than I expected. All the Lucozade sponsored runners (including me) got a chance to get a shower, a massage and grab some food/drinks in a fancy lounge with a Formula 1 race car as a prop. The car was in a see-through plastic box, so we could only drool over it as we ate and enjoyed a drink or two. It was really cool!

The next day I made my stand-up comedy debut. You heard that right. I wanted to sign up for intermediate level acting classes but left it for too late – all classes were sold out and I decided to pick something similar. A stand-up comedy class worked with my schedule and I went for it.

I didn’t realize we all had to do a stand-up comedy performance to a live audience in the final week of the course before I singed up. However, I paid the money and it was too late to back out.

We worked on our comedy each week – turns out there’s quite a bit of structure to it. One of the highlights was our “talent” show week where we had to present any kind of talent to the class participants. One chap played the guitar, another one was singing the cup song etc. My favorite was the guy who said he hurt his shoulder a few months ago but was going to attempt a handstand. Before the deed, he said “This might go horribly wrong”… we all laughed. Then he got up to do his magic and epicly failed at his handstand. He crashed down onto the floor, yelping in pain and holding on to his shoulder. We were all laughing, it was brilliant!!! Then after a solid minute of laughter somebody asked if he was actually hurt… and he was! We laughed even more. It was so funny. The laughter quieted down and I’m happy to say that the dude wasn’t hurt too bad – he ain’t doing handstands any time soon.

Back to my comedy debut. The venue was in Central London near Piccadilly Circus and we all got to invite friends and family. Therefore, it was a very easy crowd. The event was open to the public as well. Anywho… the place was packed – at least 70 people I would say.

I only rehearsed my script a few times. Therefore I was very nervous before going on stage. However, it wasn’t that bad. Sadly, because of the stage lights, I could only see only a few people in the front row of the audience.

I remember one black kid in the first row almost fell out of his chair with laughter after he was hit in the nose by my joke’s punchline. That was the best part of the night for me. Success! Ivar the Not So Terrible strikes victory!

It was a great night. I’m glad my friends came to show their support. Covanova actually flew all the way from San Francisco to come see me humiliate myself. #BroLove Not all my friends showed such devotion – a few canceled last minute because some lame BS excuse.

I had to grab a few drinks to calm myself after my performance as I was visibly shaking. It’s quite interesting – even though my bit was done, I was more nervous than ever before. The human condition remains mysterious to me…

Moving on. My third marathon was in Edinburgh on the 28th May. This was my first visit to Scotland and in all honesty I didn’t want to run. I was broken and not ready to run a marathon. I did it anyway. It took me 4:12:47 where I walked a fair bit. This is the second slowest marathon I’ve ever run and the one I enjoyed least. My leg was acting up again and now I’ve decided to call it quits for a month or so until it gets better. I’m tired of the pain and the same story/results after every run. I’ll focus on sitting on my ass, watching TV and getting fat instead.

By the way, Edinburgh is a very nice little city. The castle on the hill was really cool. Beware: the sun is evil in Scotland and it burns. I came back with a sunburn on my face, neck, hands and legs – like a proper tourist.

Ariana

I’ve been watching Ariana’s One Love Manchester concert today…. and it was beautiful. She is one of my favourite artists and did a great job with the show. Well done!

London Bridge is only 3 km away from where I live. I was at a zouk social near home yesterday when the terrorist attack happened. I didn’t think much of it and we carried on dancing as normal. The previous day I was in the very area of the attacks singing karaoke and getting drunk. 😀

Watching Ariana’s concert reminded me of a video I saw a few years ago. It was about an ultra-marathon runner who was asked what it feels like to run these long races. He jokingly said he feels like every step he takes is getting closer to achieving world peace, ending poverty and hate. I think there’s a lot of truth to it. I would like to think that every dance gets me closer to these goals as well. After all, zouk is the dance of love.

Keep dancing kids,

Ivar the Not So Terrible

 

Golden cracks

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First off, my blood pressure is fine – all within normal ranges. However, I still need to go back to see another doctor to get my form for the marathon signed. I know right… three appointments to get a bloody one paragraph form signed. In my opinion the NHS is a highly inefficient organization as I clearly explained to them that the sole reason why I’m there is to get a form signed. They, however, initially referred me to a doctor who wasn’t even a “proper” doctor – I think she was a registrar (whatever that means… she did examine me, so she must be some kind of doctor). Now, after a few weeks they tell me I need to go back again to see a real doctor. It’s a mess. I have nothing but negative experiences with the NHS and I hope their organization goes bust and burns down in flames. It’s such a hassle to deal with this level of incompetence. They’re also going to charge me £30 (probably to  cover their own ass in the scenario in which I actually die in the marathon) to get my form signed and it takes them up to 28 workdays to do it. If these guys are so incompetent I’m sure many people die at the hospitals here because of neglect, carelessness and rampant stupidity.

In other news, remember my three big exams back in December? You probably don’t, as nobody cares. Anywho, I managed to pass them all. I even got “merit” i.e. 80%+ on the difficult derivatives exam. That one was a real tough cookie… I’m very pleased. However, not a single fuck was given at work – these results are considered normal for me. Now I can add another badge to my collection – CISI Level 7 Diploma in Wealth Management, which means I am qualified to the chartered wealth manager qualification (think portfolio manager, investment manager). I expected to get a second diploma as well, but for some reason didn’t – I’m trying to find out why… So hopefully another diploma will follow up in the near future.

Otherwise, I’ve been banned at work from taking any further exams/qualifications. I’ve got too many and my focus should be on building soft skills – sales, negotiating, conversing, building trust/rapport etc.

Let’s talk Brexit. I recently had my 3 year anniversary in the UK. The reason I bring this up is because I had a client meeting. MR was a British citizen and MRS was an EU citizen. They were married and had a little daughter. MRS had been in the UK for 5+ years and applied for permanent residency. Guess what, she was denied. “Get back to your own country!!!” the UK government basically told her.  How about that? Stories like that aren’t just isolated cases, they are everywhere. I think this situation is inhumane and just plain wrong. I wonder what it’s going to be like for me if I ever apply to stay here longer – although I need to be here for at least another two years before I qualify to apply for anything. It’s not looking good.

I was a bit bored today and went to the British Museum – it’s only a 10 minute walk from where I live. There wasn’t anything specific I wanted to see… I just thought I should go. I always struggle with the concept of standing in line – to enter a museum!!! Of all places. I understand if there’s a line at Starbucks or at the Apple store etc – there’s usually something really good at the other end. But it’s a museum – full of old stuff mostly stolen from other countries…

Anywho I ended up looking at Picasso’s paintings. It was infuriating. The paintings are so bad that it’s so difficult for me to see why other people think he was such a great artist. I just don’t get it.

kitsugi

However, it wasn’t all bad. I found one exhibit which I absolutely fell in love with. It was a vase – a broken vase which was put together with gold. The technique is called kitsugi, where they use molten gold to piece together the shards of a broken object. I love the concept. Instead of hiding flaws, mistakes and cracks – this technique highlights them. The cracks are important, they’re there to be noticed and reflected upon. You can put broken things together and you shouldn’t be ashamed of the flaws and imperfections. I found it very inspiring.

This brings me back to my earlier paragraph. If Brexit happens, the EU breaks down, NHS goes tits up, Marie Le Pen wins, robots take over the world and Trump accidentally blows up a few countries (like many of his predecessors by the way) – I am hopeful that eventually we might get something beautiful put together again.

Mr Salacious

Posted in UK

Buzzing away in a damp bunker and singing Hallelujah

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Did you know that thinking about your death or mortality before a race improves your performance? That’s what I read in an article. There’s something about that thought which puts our brains into hyper-survival mode and improves physical capability. I will give this idea a go at my next racing event.

I didn’t just randomly start with the above in mind. In order to run Paris, I need to provide the organizers a form signed by my doctor which basically says that I won’t die half way through the marathon.

As a perfectly sane and rational male of the 21st century, I’ve been successfully avoiding the doctor for the last six years. Why see a doctor if I I’m invincible and can Google everything, right? And this time has been amazing. However, all good things come to an end.

In late December I surmised all my courage and dialed the local GP (General Practitioner – that’s what they call a doctor here) on my phone. I had to physically go there to fill in a form to register – it couldn’t be done online. I sort of expected to see a doctor once I handed in the application but they said it’ll take about a week to process it. Things aren’t exactly efficient here at the NHS (National Health Service).

Anywho, about two weeks later I found myself being examined by Dr K. That sounds a bit dull, so let’s call her Dr Dre. At first she was a bit puzzled about why I was there and why she had no prior medical data about me on the system. She asked me the same questions from the form I had already filled in – so much for “processing” my form.

I explained that I needed her to sign my paper so I can run in Paris. Dr Dre decided to measure my blood pressure instead. It was high. She did it again. High. And a third time. Still high. I had to come back next week. She didn’t sign anything.

I came back to see the nurse for a new reading. This time the blood pressure was lower but still high. The second and third measurements were slightly lower but not good enough. I had to book another appointment.

Today I went back to get a blood pressure thingy on my arm, which I need to have on me over the next 24 hours. It takes a reading every 20-50 minutes and buzzes and clicks as it does its magic. Each time it registers the reading and then the doctors can get an average over a day. The whole idea is to rule out white coat syndrome where my blood pressure shoots through the roof whenever I see a doctor or nurse. If it’s still high even after the 24 hours they will need to do some further more invasive tests. By the way the device scares the crap out of me every time it starts – I’m rather skeptical about whether this device will do the trick for me.

Obviously, the moment I got my new toy I went off to my acting class. I thought the other kids would never notice… The class started as usual with all of us sitting in a circle sharing ideas of any good or bad acting we’ve seen in movies/plays/theaters to share experiences and make recommendations. Then we had to put the chairs back to the walls. That’s then it started buzzing – I need to sit still and try to relax during the measuring. And the bloody thing doesn’t get its reading on the first go, or the second, or the third. It stopped making noises after the fourth try and by then everybody was staring at me thinking why is this guy ignoring the teacher’s instructions. I explained it quickly and they all now probably think that I’m dying or something. My flu and occasional coughs didn’t exactly do me any favors.

Let me fill you in on the flu as well. I ran a half marathon when it was nice and cold outside – around 2 degrees. I was sick before the race and as a completely reasonable human being I thought that a little run can’t make it any worse. Oh boy was I wrong. First of all it was a fairly crappy finishing time (1 hour 34 minutes and something) which was followed by a week of coughing my lungs out. 10/10 experience, totally worth it. 😀

I know what you’re thinking… acting!!! Where did that come from? Well, boys and girls, it gets better. I didn’t add just acting classes to my repertoire I’m also learning to sing.

The seed was planted when I started my new job as a financial adviser – a job which is quite different from anything I’ve done before. I started singing classes to add vocal variety to my speech – this will hopefully make it more interesting for my clients to listen when I talk and help me have more “presence” with my voice in meetings. The acting classes have a big improvisation component and client meetings have a big element of that – I need to learn to think on my feet, also entertain and make it an enjoyable and memorable experience.

In all fairness I thought that acting and singing would make me very uncomfortable and that it would be a massive move out of my comfort zone – but it’s not as bad as I imagined. Yes, we do things which are uncomfortable and sometimes embarrassing but it gets better with practice.

My favorite part about the acting classes is watching the other kids perform an impromptu sketch. They always mess it up and it’s hilarious. The course ends with us performing a small scene where two of us are in a bunker and the world has ended due to a nuclear war.

Singing is weird. It’s not something I normally do but I quite enjoy it. I even made a YouTube playlist of videos which have lyrics on them so I can sing along. My current favorite is the Hallelujah song from the movie Shrek. A close second is Let It Go from Frozen (although it’s quite a tongue-twister). I sing when I’m sad and then I’m a little less sad. It’s amazing how that works.

The Protein Deficient Vegan

My first third finish

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“All sub 20 minute runners step forward to the starting line!” the man said into the loudspeaker. I only saw one chap move forward. Then “all sub 25 minute runners step forward to the start line” and a few people edged closer to the line. “All sub 30 minute runners step forward”… that’s when I realized I should get myself way in front of everybody. And I did.

The 5K race started and I was second about 80% of the time. It felt wrong. How could I be second? I’ve never been second, never in front of the pack. Never. It was a new experience for me and it felt good.

The morning was cold (+2 degrees) and a bit windy before the Victoria Park 5K/10K/half marathon event. Breathing was unpleasant but I knew it was only a fiver… it would all be over in about 20 minutes. Surely I can keep my pace up for such a short distance I thought. About a kilometer before the finish one chap ran past me and I finished third. My time was 20:19.

third-place

Yes, it wasn’t a very competitive race but finishing third was a very pleasant surprise. It’s especially true because this morning I didn’t really feel like getting out of bed. I’m glad I did.

Instead of going straight home I decided to watch other runners finish.

I love watching the fat and unfit people run. They are slow, in pain and tired but they keep chugging along – one step after another. I see hope in their faces, followed by relief and a sense of accomplishment once they cross that line. Some were greeted and congratulated by family, friends, boyfriends and girlfriends. It’s quite interesting to watch the tired faces turn into smiles and chuckles. You see a lot less of that with the fit and average runners.

I’ve got a few more races planned for the year. Stay tuned!

The Dirty Vegan

Happy New Year!

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Happy New Year!

2016 is behind us and it’s time to reflect.

hny2017

My most memorable events were:

January. I fell in love every few minutes at the Warsaw Zouk Libre festival (Poland). The girls were absolutely stunning! I still remember that Irish girl… I left Poland with a broken heart.

February. I spent quality time with Benn and Em in Bansko (Bulgaria) and mastered downhill skiing and snowboarding on the kiddie slope.

March. Moved house and got massively screwed by the renting agency.

April. I lost a friend to suicide and ran the Virgin London Marathon.

May. I was dancing and prancing at the Prague Zouk Marathon. I haven’t washed my eyes since seeing that hot naked model stroll through the city that day.

June. I became Fellow of the Personal Finance Society and instead of calling it quits on all the studying I took another two big exams and passed them. Once a student, always a student.

July. I had my 10 year high school anniversary and later that month I fell in love with every other girl in Barcelona (Spain). I had a magical time at the Mataro Zouk Devils & Friends festival. I also discovered my new favorite holiday activity – drinking sangria under a massive umbrella at the beach.

August. I quit my job.

September. I ran another marathon in some park in London and took part in a flashmob.

October. Both of my housemates left me and new ones moved in.

November. I started working as an independent financial adviser, which is exactly what I set out to do almost three years ago when I started my first job as an admin assistant at that very company.

December. I took another three big exams but don’t know yet if I passed them or not.

I think it’s been a relatively good year. But there’s more. I’m going to let you guys in on a little something. I’ve been writing a list of all the good things which have happened to me throughout the year. In fact I started back in October 2015. I don’t remember where I got the idea from but it started out with a positive comment about a blog post I wrote (Thanks Kadri, you were the one who set the ball rolling for me). I kept adding things daily and before I knew it, looking out for the good things in my life became easier and easier. My friends, colleagues and housemates keep getting mentioned over and over again.

Here’s a sneak peak of the list:

  • Hot Chocolate helped me upstairs to my room when I was too drunk after the advisor lunch. 15 Dec 2015
  • Note about rat poison on the floor and that I shouldn’t eat from the floor 16 Dec 2015
  • Meeting Gerli – unicorn zouk dancer 2 Feb 2016
  • Not dying on the mountain 26 Feb 2016
  • I cracked up when Resh fell over at her desk at work today. 8 Mar 2016
  • Amazon paid the rent and deposit and we’re not poor anymore. 9 Apr 2016
  • Val told me there was one guy [at the dancing venue] who asked her “have you seen this guy? He’s amazing!” whilst he pointed at me. 5 August 2016
  • Covanova bought me a Monster before we went flashing 8 August 2016
  • Role playing with Hot Chocolate was hilarious. He is such a “dumb” client, I laughed my ass off when I explained him what an annuity was whilst using a magic pen analogy 17 August 2016
  • I ate a full tub of vegan ice cream (750 ml) just moments after the delivery guy handed the bloody thing over to me. Nom nom nom. 22 August 2016
  • Covanova and I will share the hotel during ZoukFest. We can share the shower again, just like in the good old days. 1 Dec 2016

I’m all smiles after going through the entire list just now. I’ve never actually read the entire thing. It’s well worth it.

I hope you all had a good year and I wish you all the best – especially to all the people who contributed in a positive way to my life. Love you guys!

Happy New Year,

The Vegan

The newest Fairey in town

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It’s been a long time coming…

They announced the acquisition of my employer back in April. This created a fair bit of uncertainty and tension at work. I wasn’t worried because good paraplanners are in great demand in London. However, just in case, I started to browse job ads – you know… I gotta take care of myself.

I was really looking for an improvement to my current situation (more money and career progression) and didn’t want to simply change employers whilst staying in the exact same line of work. Recruiters really struggled with this concept as they kept pestering me with paraplanner opportunities.

I had an interview at an accounting firm, which had a financial planning arm. They needed an all-things-financial specialist. The interview went really well. At least, so I thought. They promised to get back to me within a week’s time. However, not a single peep. After three weeks, I sent an email to the recruiter who I was in touch with and said that I do not want anything to do with him or that accounting business and explained how disappointing their communication was. It’s a very poor sign if your employer starts breaking promises from the very beginning.

After that email, they immediately got back to me to get me into another meeting to chat with the wider team and managers etc. I wasn’t interested. I wasn’t desperate… and that put me into a much better bargaining position. Maybe I’m an idealist but I would like to work for a company which treats its employees well. My “no” decision was not up for debate.

Moving on, somehow my old boss found out I was looking for jobs. He later told me that one of the guys from a recruitment agency told him he had received my resume. So much for confidentiality… I will never trust recruiters again. It’s sad that such immoral people exist. However, that’s the world we live in. Welcome to London!

My old boss (from the company in Chelmsford) called me and said in his cheeky cheerful voice something along the lines of “a little bird told me you’re on the market again”. This was followed by a big hearty explosion of laughter. I agreed to meet up at his newly opened London office. We had a catch up and he made me an offer to join the dark side.

experiment-quote

I did a bit of soul searching in Spain (zouk festival near Barcelona) and on my return I decided that I’ll jump ship. So I handed in my notice and my three month clock started.

It’s quite a long time to wait three months to start a new venture. Eventually, the sand in the hourglass passed and now I’m the newest Fairey in town. This new chapter is called IFA (Independent Financial Adviser), which is exactly what I set out to do since my first job interview at this very company about 2.5 years ago.

I’ve been wearing my new adviser hat for a few weeks now and in all fairness I have a long way to go. However, I’m hugely optimistic. If Leo can get an Oscar, UK vote for Brexit, and Donald Trump can become president, I can surely become one of UKs top financial advisers.

Big boss man thinks that the best way for me to learn is to make me as uncomfortable as possible. At times, it’s certainly challenging, with a hint of occasional embarrassment and a dash of feelings of worthlessness. The deep end of the pool looked a lot scarier a few weeks ago. I’ve made some progress.

So.

If you guys need some financial advice, hit me up. I’m sure my financial planning magic will leave you in a state of eternal happiness, joy and serenity.

Oh and I don’t have to wear a tie at work. Life is good again!

Ivar

Replacing Hot Chocolate

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is impossible. But we tried. We had about 100 people responding to the ad overall but only six viewings of which five on the same day. Luckily Mr Handsome was at home and did most of the talking. I was tasked with just being pretty and flicking my luscious hair every now and then.

The first kid was very young (21), British, had a babyface and works less than a minute from here. He was also a runner but a fairly lazy one – a few 5K’s here and there a week. He was very nervous and seemed like a good kid. I think he was too excited about the potential of living in this amazing location and also so close to work. On the downside it didn’t seem like we had much in common.

The second chap was French, 27. He was vegetarian but a fairly awkward chap as well. I liked this guy more than Babyface because he was interesting, unusual and closer to my age. However, we weren’t able to get a conversation going with him. His answers were very repetitious such as “cool, cool, cool” and “great, great, great, yes, yes, yes”.  I think he loved the flat a bit too much.

The third guy was also French but this dude came across as a lazy bugger. He loved to sleep in a lot, loved cooking and watching lots of French league football. We got along well and he said he’d love to take the room. However, we had to say no to him (not to his face of course, a day later) as we figured that he wasn’t sophisticated enough to go through all the crappy agency checks to be allowed to move in.

The next guy said he was from New Zealand, which was a lie. Not a great strategy dude. He was actually Russian and lived for 5-10 years in NZ. He came across as a proper douchebag and I couldn’t wait until he left the flat. The reason why he was looking for a new place is becaue he’s not getting along with his other housemates and they can’t agree on anything. I like that he was truthful about that but I had discounted him even before that revelation. His entire persona screamed that “I don’t care about what you have to say”, “I’m always right”, “My way or the highway” etc. Easiest  NO decision ever!

The last guy for the day works for the same company as Babyface (1 min walk from here) and worked as an investment analyst. He was born in Iran but has been living in the UK since the age of 2. We got along really well, had a bit of a chat about his work and my work and the overlap… and it was fun. I figured this is our guy.

Next day we broke the news to Iran but weren’t impressed by his response. He was saying some crap about getting his girlfriend in as well for a month or so… and that she was really nice and quiet and easy to get along with etc. Anywho, I decided this guy is a fucking liar and has no integrity. Why didn’t he mention any of this the day before?

We wanted to see a few more people before Hot Chocolate  left to Italy for a few days. We were only able to get one person for that evening. This chap was from Ireland. I recalled living with a few Irish (among other nationals) back in Bundaberg and didn’t have any bad experiences. In fact it was quite the opposite. Nothing but good memories and I also remembered this gorgeous Irish girl at a zouk festival I went to, and she was amazing. Ireland worked for the same company as Babyface and Iran, similarly in some finance job. Another bonus is that he plays the guitar. I figured I could use him as my lucky charm whenever I play the lottery or go to Las Vegas. He’d come in handy!

irish-luck

A few days later the lucky Irishman moved in. I haven’t really seen him much – he comes home past my bed time. He got smashed yesterday as he was having a massive hangover this afternoon but oddly enough went to work today (it’s Sunday).

Amazon has moved out and the Golden Girl is moving in today. I’m looking forward to having a full house again.

I don’t think Ireland will replace Hot Chocolate. It’s been very quiet and boring since my psychologist left this flat and the country. I wish him all the best and that he figures out what he wants to do with his life. I can only hope that the new kids are maybe just a tenth as amazing and entertaining as he was. And maybe one day Amazon learns how to love and not to hate.

Replacing Amazon

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It is official. Nobody loves me. Two of my housemates are moving out. Hot Chocolate is leaving because he is going travelling for six freaking months and Amazon is leaving because she hates me.

Anywho the kids advertised their respective rooms on SpareRoom and booked in some viewings. We had plenty of interest. I didn’t really want to be involved with the housemate search too much but as I am the only one stuck living here I had to be present to make sure I picked somebody I would get along with.

The bigger and most expensive room in the flat had a bit less interest and it was mostly from girls. I think it’s because Amazon’s room looks very girly and no man with an ounce of self-respect would want to live there. As Amazon decided to take off to her homeland and Mr Chocolate was busy getting his travel visas etc sorted, I was the only one who was tasked with meeting the potential tenants for Amazon’s room. Although Amazon and Hot Chocolate were present during the first two “interviews”.

We had a Chinese man who was working as an analyst at a bank but I didn’t get a good vibe from him. I remembered living with a Vietnamese guy back in Brisbane who fried disgusting stuff every day and never washed up. I’ve seen Karl Pilkington’s An Idiot Abroad and I know what disgusting things the Chinese eat. We didn’t seem to click and it was tricky to get a conversation going with the chap. It was a no from me.

people.jpg

Moving on we had a kid who works for SnapChat. He was young and cheerful but very nervous. His leg kept twitching back and forth when I interviewed him. He seemed OK but I wasn’t convinced that this guy was quite right. NEXT!

A girl working for Deutsche Bank showed up late one evening. She came across really well until I asked her about where she’s from. She was Turkish. I’ve had some bad experiences with Turks you know…. Alarm bells were ringing loud and clear. So I asked her if she had a visa to stay in the UK and she had a few issues – her visa was due to be extended and it was a thing in progress she reassured me. She said her paperwork was all ready and that the next day she was going to Turkey to formally apply to extend her visa – she had to be outside of the UK to apply and keep the British bureaucrats happy. I thought that she would never pass the reference checks for the flat. However, I didn’t want to break her heart just yet. As we continued chatting I discovered that she also works super long days… almost all workdays are 10+ hours with a very short lunch which she usually eats at her desk. Wow, I thought. She was doing some corporate banking gig, which probably paid really well but that came at the cost of having no social life whatsoever. It was so bad I felt like I should give her a hug. A bit later I also discovered that she was a smoker, which was a non-negotiable no-no with my new housemates. I spent more than an hour chatting with her… In retrospect I should’ve kicked her out way sooner but I actually tried to find reasons why she would be the first Turkish person who would change my perception of that nationality. However, that didn’t happen. NEXT!

I had an Aussie girl who works for Ernst and Young. She was a posh accountant who came across very rich and fancy. I think I had the shortest interview with her. This girl was from Sydney and when I told her I spent two years in Australia, mostly in Brisbane, her response was that Brisbane is really boring and that nothing ever happens there. Oi!, That sure wasn’t a smart thing to say. I didn’t argue and acknowledged that Sydney is so big, I’m sure there’s always something fun to do there. She, of course, agreed. I asked her the visa question as well and she said – rather importantly – that her employer spent tens of thousands of pounds to get her ass to London and granted her a minimum two year visa for the UK. If she was to leave E&Y, she’d have to pay it all back and there was no chance in hell of that happening. I didn’t like her attitude or her persona. I had a big smile on my face after I kicked her out. Later I got a message from Amazon (as she was the one who arranged the viewing) that the Aussie girl loved me and would like to take the room. I could not believe it. It was a flat out NO from me. Next!

The next girl was from Belarus. She was absolutely stunning – tall, very fit, with long blonde golden hair in a ponytail, she was very polite and in every way perfect. I was in love. In fact I would’ve paid her rent for the privilege of breathing the same air with her. She worked for Bank of America and similarly to the Turkish girl, had very long working hours. She was a dancer as well and does a bit of running too. She ticked so many boxes I was all smiles. Unfortunately, she didn’t think the room was good value for money as she had tons of stuff and was worried how she’d fit it all in. Oh well… I cried a little when she left.

As the blood returned to my brain I realized I had another meeting that day. This time it was a German girl. She was very young – 21, and 22 in a few weeks time. She did some corporate banking stuff as well – and just like Belarus and Turkey – she worked very long hours. In fact, it was a Sunday and she said that she came from work to see the room and after our chat went back to work. Welcome to corporate banking!

Anywho, she came across really well – I am so biased here…. I had so many positive experiences with Germans in Australia that I think they’re all great people. She was quite funny and I noticed that she played with her hair when she was talking to me…you know rolling it between her fingers, pulling a few strands through her lips… – textbook signs of attraction. Or maybe… she was just manipulating me. I didn’t know what to think, so naturally I picked her.

I quite liked her really. She was young and beautiful and had that spark in her eyes – the one which withers away as work beats the life out of you. She reminded me of my Australian kids when I met them. She works for Goldman Sachs – that’s a fairly difficult thing to do… especially at 21. I would love to work there. I think she’s rich and/or has very well connected family. And, if we don’t get along, she would never be in the flat anyway as she works all the time.

She decided to take the room and now is in the process of being terrorized by the agency and their referencing process. Fingers crossed she makes it to the other end.

I will tell you about the second housemate in the next post.

Ivar

Richmond Park Marathon

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“Must. Keep. Pace. [breathe]” was my mantra for about 20 minutes until I stopped running. I made the same mistake again. Just like the Chelmsford marathon, the Richmond Park race was a multi-terrain course and everything started hurting real quick. You see, I trained on the pavement but not on a combination of grass, gravel and road. You might think it doesn’t matter much but over the course of 26.2 miles / 42.2 kilometers the pain and agony and discomfort adds up. Bit by bit.

Following the Chelmsford marathon (finished in about 3:50) I remember I told myself that it was not worth going through all of that pain. I should’ve quit and gone back home to lick my wounds. I made a promise to myself that I’d never run a multi-terrain course without proper training again. However, two years later I forgot about it and that’s how I found myself in the this particular pickle of a situation.

Things at Richmond Park started out quite well actually. I decided to run with the 3H pacer and follow him for as long as possible. I was blissfully unaware about the course for about half an hour. Then the terrain started to gradually get crappier and crappier. I felt quite foolish and started questioning myself. Maybe the case with the Chelmsford marathon wasn’t about the terrain… maybe I didn’t train enough last time around etc. However, the pain in my ankles started to creep up and I began struggling with keeping up with the 3 hour chaps.

Not too long after that I lost sight of the 3 hour people. The race was lost. I was quite demoralized but kept going. Things started to look good again around the half marathon mark as I did that split in 1:31, which was almost 4 minutes faster than in my London marathon six months ago. I got a bit more confident and figured that I might actually finish faster this time around. All was not lost after all.

A few miles later, the pain got worse and I started my “Must. Keep. Pace [breathe]” mantra until that stopped working. This is the first race in which I stopped running and had to walk. I walked at least 10-15 minutes until I was able to start running again.

I finished in 3:35:48. 146th out of 680 runners:

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This is 14 minutes slower than my finish in the London marathon, which was a proper road race. Although I’m a bit disappointed with my finishing time today (I was hoping for a personal best), I’m pleased with the result given the circumstances. Oh! and I didn’t suffer anywhere as much as in the Chelmsford marathon this time around. I’m a bit fitter I guess.

I’m glad I took part in the marathon. Sure, it wasn’t what I expected but I finished and can still walk… you know… what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. In addition I have another medal to add to my collection. Proof:

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My next race will be the Paris marathon on 9th April. I tried to get in on the Tokyo marathon (February 2017) but didn’t get in on the ballot. It’s way too expensive to go via the charity or travel agency route. I hope I have better luck next year.

It’s been a busy and rewarding weekend.

Ivar

Flashing in crowded places

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Every Sunday for the last six or so weeks I’ve been going to this place in Camden Town. It’s dodgy as hell. You need to go under a rail station bridge, walk through a dark garage which smells like motor oil and exhaust fumes, then take a turn into a narrow tunnel, walk into the light and see how far the rabbit hole goes. We’re not quite there yet, but almost. Take a left and with a sigh of relief you can see the entrance to the studio. It’s always locked but all you need to do is press the buzzer and it opens up. Then up the stairs and bingo, we’re in the money.

I was always late because I run on Sundays and tend to underestimate my finishing times. Once, I was an hour and 20 minutes late – I hope nobody noticed.

The room is warm, hot yoga warm. I’ve never done hot yoga but you know what I mean. Anywho, all the kids are up there practicing a little routine we are doing for the International Zouk Day.

I have very fond memories of the first time I flashed in Australia three years ago. I was very keen on doing it again when Miss Valentine asked what our thoughts were on doing it in London. I said I’ll do it but the other three parties were more reserved and less enthusiastic about it.

Fast forward to September 17. This is it – the Big Day. Following a quick 20 minute run and a chat with a potential new housemate I headed out to a park near Kings Cross to meet up with the trio – Miss Valentine, Covanova and Lady Smiles. We rehearsed the performance a few times, declined an offer to buy weed from a friendly Londoner and headed towards the station.

England, being retarded, required all of us to sign a form, get a safety briefing and cough up £4 each for insurance before we were allowed to flash at Kings Cross station. It was quite a buzzkill. I’m glad Mr and Mrs BBQ handled the paperwork and took one for the team. Well done guys!

It was a very similar experience to my previous flashmob. People were all excited and nervous and anxious to make it all happen.

The music started playing. Only the main couple (teachers) flashed at first. All others gradually joined in as the crowd of travelers watched the spectacle come to life. One by one we claimed our spot on the floor – me and Miss Valentine had to fight some other kids for a place in the front row. It was brutal but worth it.

The first song was an introduction and entirely freestyle, followed by the main song and our performance. We got a massive applause and for a moment there was peace on earth – at least that’s what I’d like to think. We did about twenty minutes of social dancing (freestyle) afterwards and flashed again. For good luck!

Then we moved outside of the station and did all of the above again and then again at St Paul’s Cathedral. We were quite tired at the end of it but very happy.

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I had a lot of fun, made friends and am very pleased with our mob. I’d like to thank our teachers for doing an amazing job at showing us how flashing is done and adding a bit more life into our moments.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a video for you guys just yet. I will share it once I have it.

Besos,

Ivar