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Michael’s Travel Diary

Friday, 27 Oct 2006

Location: Southampton, UK

MapIt Ain't All Good - This weeks musical interlude bought to you by De La Soul. As they once sang, not too long ago actually - "It ain't all good, things ain't goin like things should...."

Hey guys - finally a pay day.... and as the above suggests, it ain't all good. Getting stuck in the beuracratic red tape that is starting work for the first time in a new country, I have apparently ste myself back a million years (and a few pounds) by failing to fill in various bits of appropriate paper work. Gotta love them HR departments. Think they'd have some sort of an early warning system for people from overseas. Anyway, new I needed an NI number (guess basically a tax number back home) and they take forever to get. i booked in for it at the start of September, and I don't have my interview for it till the 8th November. I don't even know if I get it at my interview, or weeks after it. On top of that, I am also lacking a P45 form that apparently pay roll were to send to me - nope, got sent everything else from medical condition reports, email policy (broken that one already... hmm, yes definitely) and security clearance forms... but nothing to make sure I get paid right! Plus I need a P86 - whatever the hell that is. In any case, I am getting taxed like a mofo, and all of my pre-payment budgets, that were rather conservative, have been blown out of the water. Essentailly, from what I gather, I am being taxed at the top bracket for every dollar, or pound, that I earn. On top of that I had a huge chunk taken out for pension, which I am now lead to believe I can keep as cash in my pay packet... needless to say, in order to live, and more specifically, pay off the credit cards and continue travelling, I will need to sort all of this out.

It ain't all good 2 - Well, the house is basically filled now, as I said last time, 5 guys, 3 girls. We also managed to snag a great letter from the Letting Agent saying the place wasn't in a satisfactory 'state of cleanlines' and then reminded us of clause 58 that says they can hire a cleaner (out of our pocket) on our behalf. Thei rmain concern, skid marks being left in the dunnys. What a joke... Thoroughly enraged, the house snapped back, and having drafted a wonderful letter with the help of the other tenants, we have demanded action citing - 1) Clause 23 states that reasonable notice must be given prior to any examination or inspection of the premises, and no-one was notified of anything. 2) Clause 42 states that we are entitled to the quiet and private enjoyment of the premesis, which is difficull when the landlord comes and goes as he pleases, apparently commenting on the unfit state of the place. 3) Clause 3 explicitly states that internet is covered in the monthly rental cost, but there still ain't no f^%king internet. Get on with it... So we will see what comes of that. Technically, we gave them three working days to respond, and sent the letter Tuesday avo. Theoretically making Friday avo the deadline, but given I do a half day Friday, gonna have to wait till Monday to see if they respond... didn't think that bit through did I?

It Ain't All Good - 3. Well the main reason I cam up with the song in the first place actually... been listening to a lot of De La Soul. Now if you're like everyone else and is wondering "who are De La Soul?" (I've been asked more than you can imagine) I will give you the same response I gave everyone so far. think back, 1991 maybe, maybe '92. chances are you at one stage toyed with putting their song on your answering machine (how original, but i'm sure there's plenty who did it, I may have even at home, know I put it on at Bobby's when his folds were in Canadia-Ay). "Hey, How ya doin? Sorry you can't get through... Why don't you leave your name, and your number and I'll get back to you"

Anyway, De La Soul were in Southampton Wednesday night, and figuring I had nothing better to do (how true) I decided to go to the concert. That's not before getting doused in water whilst playing soccer in the rain. Well it was only raining at the start, but the astroturf got so wet that it was like playing in a swimming pool. Still haven't kicked a goal tho....

So I raced home, quick shower and got changed and then headed to the conert getting there just before 9pm, when I was told De La would be starting. Well, they weren't, instead there were a couple local kids on stage, so I went and grabbed a beer. By the time I got back the kids had left and a guy named DJ A Skillz came on stage. Yawning, I was quickly awoken by something the likes of which I had never heard before. In the day and age where hip hop bites beats from old motown funk tracks and put new lyrics (sometimes...) over them, he stripped back the lyrics from old funk songs (James Brown, George Clinton, Jackson 5, Kurtis Blow, Prince etc.) and layed them over more modern, quicker and heavier beats... It worked a treat. The old party anthems with something you could dance too, without need to pull out your flares and platforms. Glad I got there in time to see that.

After him, a local guy named Coops came on stage and started Beat boxing. Well, he went for 20 minutes or so, which is pretty impressive in it's own right, but generally speaking, once you've seen Rahzel beat box live (eh Timmy?), most people seem to fall short, simply duplicating his ability to 'sing' lyircs and beat box the beat at the same time. All an auditory illusion, but a convincing one none the less.

(Note, I did get some video of De La Soul, but as I said the sound system wasn't great, and it comes across as essentially static... so didn't bother posting links to the video here...)

Finally, around 10pm, De La arrived on stage, and started doing a bit of a best of set. The main problem, despite my respect for the old school hip-hopers, I really don't listen to alot of their music, and of the 6000 odd songs on my mp3 player, I have maybe 6 from De La Soul. In any case, all 6 came out, and they were good. Perhaps the speakers were up a little too loud (ears still ringing the following day) which made distinguishing the lyrics difficult, but the Guild Hall certainly wasn't built for hip hop concerts... so you thake what you can get. They played the crowd pretty well, with the majority of the patrons claiming the front section of the essentially seat-less hall (except for a few who chose to sit in the balcony seats up the back). After about an hour with hits such as Buddy, Plug Tunnin, Rollerskating Jam Called Saturday, Me Myself & I, Ooh Ooh, and It Ain't All Good, they called it a night. Of course, having not played their biggest selling song, Ring Ring Ring (Hey How You doin?) no one was fooled, and after the obligatory 3-4 minutes of shouting they came back on and obliged. All in all, despite knowing relatively few songs, it was a good show, although they guys did look a little old, maybe a bit like the older folk played by Eddie Murphy in The Klumps...

Outside of that, not a lot has been going on. With rain forecast, and brokeness guaranteed, I decided not to head into the AFL match at Brit Oval last weekend. By the sounds of things it was nothing but an excuse for nearly 20,000 Aussies to drink for the best part of a whole day - I just asked, when did you start needing an excuse to do that? So, stayed in close to home, bought a bookshelf to store all of the volumes of books I am reading (am on my fourth so far this week... yeah wow, I know... FYI - finished Space Race, which it turns out I had previously read, started and finished frank Miller's Sin City vol. 2 (The Hard Kill, the one in the movie with Marv) ok so that was a "graphic novel" and Freak-Onomics a book on altering conventional wisdom and looking at things beyond the obvious answer (really, really good stuff). Just as a for example... the biggest drop in crime in the mid 90's in the USA, as all press were reporting the 'streets would run red with blood' was not more police, more money or new crime enforcement policies, but in fact the fact that a generation earlier abortion was made legal in the USA... and that was never once mentioned in the press. Less unwanted kids equals less crime on the streets 20 years later when they reach their 'crime peak', seems simple enough, adn you throw figures into it and it makes more sense. Anyway, very interesting book written by a young economist, from Chicago funnily enough. One more from the book - as much the US (and Aus I guess) public bitch about how much money is spent on election campaigning, the US public spend the same amount each year on Chewing Gum. Seems a small price to pay if you look at it that way...

Now I'm on a book called The Dice Man, that I had no idea was so twisted, or so old when I bought it (1971 first published)... churning through this one at a rate of knotts too. Kinda sick tho, especially when I just assumed it was about a dude who played Craps at a casino!

Casinos - well, still haven't been to gamble at either, but did finally get my first win in the house poker series last Saturday night. At that stage the standing were Dan, Gerard, Tracy, Paul and I all with one will, Tom the only one not to get a victory. Last night I lost the title to Tracy who was the first to get two wins under the belt, with Tom left in second. Horry story of the night though had to be my ROYAL FLUSH going to waste. Yep that's right, first I'd ever seen one in play, and technically it didn't happen - best of all, it was spades, so I had the monster sized ace! I held K-Q spades. The J came out on the flop and I bet at it (all in with not much of anything at that stage, or many chips for that matter) and maneged to scare everyone out of it. Curiosity got the better of me, and I dealt out the rest of the hand only to reveal that I would have dealt myself the bets possible hand in poker... damn.

That about sums up most of everything for now. Talk of a Halloween party on Saturday night, so if that goes ahead, you'll be the first to know, and I'll no doubt dump some photos on here.

Hope you are all well... missin you heaps.

It ain't all good (but it ain't that bad either ;-)