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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in shaved_ape's LiveJournal:

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Sunday, February 18th, 2018
12:01 am
Orchids & Garden Photography
I spent Valentines Day at Kew Gardens with the missus again this year and caught two brilliant exhibitions. First was the orchids as Kew are running their annual orchid show again. (That was the main reason for our visit). The second exhibition and unexpected bonus was the Garden Photographer Of The Year exhibition - something I try to catch every year but for some reason this year it had taken me by surprise. Both exhibitions were beautiful and not a bad way to spend any day, nevermind Valentines.

Current Mood: awake
Saturday, February 17th, 2018
11:06 pm
Impressionists In London
Last weekend I went with the missus to Tate Britain to catch the 'Impressionists In London' exhibition. The title of the exhibition is a bit misleading because most of the artists featured are not really impressionists though Monet and others featured. The artists included here were mostly in London aound the same time because they were fleeing the Franco-Prussian war of the time. I had previously known that Money and others had spent some time in London but I had never really considered why (I had just assumed they came for purely artistic reasons). As it turns out the exhibition was really good, not what I had expected but in some ways actually better.

This week i have been mostly re-reading: This Way For The Gas, Ladies And Gentleman byTadeusz Borowski

Current Mood: awake
Friday, February 9th, 2018
1:01 am
The Rockford Files
I don't know what I was thinking but one day last week I ordered the box set of 'The Rockford Files' and now it has arrived.

Truth be told, I think I do know what I was thinking. The Rockford Files was a huge TV favourite of mine when I was a kid. The main character is a kind of anti-hero (which was both cool and interesting to my young brain). The series pre-dated the A Team in terms of series where the formula included the hero of the piece taking on the case of an underdog (also cool). The cars were cool and James Garner was brilliant. Obviously this has al been shined by deep layers of nostalgia but that is why I bought it.

All I have to do now is hope that it holds up!

Current Mood: awake
Sunday, February 4th, 2018
10:28 pm
Works On Paper
As a freebie offer with my V&A membership I was given an invitation to an exhibition called 'Works On Paper' at the Royal Geographical Society this week. The invitation included a +1 so I took the missus on a cheap date. The exhibition turned out to be more of an art sale with all exhibited works for sale and galleries/artists having stalls from which to exhibit and sell. (The only common link was that all the art for sale was as the title suggests, Works On Paper. The first few stands we looked at held little of interest and I began to understand why the invitation was free but as we mooched around we gradually began to find more and more stuff we liked. In the end there turned out to be plenty of interesting stuff and even some works that if I had that kind of money I would have happily bought. Happily the evening was not wasted.

This week I have been mostly reading: Rock Stars Stole My Life by Mark Ellen

Current Mood: awake
Saturday, February 3rd, 2018
10:17 pm
Australia Day (Belated Post)
Just over a week ago we celebrated Australia Day in work - our manager is Australian and our service users need little excuse to party. I feel a little bit bad about it as the more I learn about it the more it appears to be repulsively nationalistic. At work though it's a bunch of adults with learning disabilities wearing silly hats, eating home made ANZAC biscuits and watching 'Young Einstein' on dvd. The alternative to celebrating Australia day would be that it was just another Friday so for our little corner of the world it feels like we are doing more good than harm. That's how I justify it. I would probably find it harder if it was something horrifically British and nationalistic. I guess that is my own set of standards.

Current Mood: awake
Thursday, January 25th, 2018
11:55 pm
Completed QCF 5
A year ago I was enrolled at work on a managers training course QCF level 5 (this would formerly have been known as an NVQ but like all acronyms in care work they are subject to regular change, The good news is that today I sent off my last two pieces of work (the last one barely more than five minutes ago) and if my assessor gives the thumbs up then that is me done and dusted. I would like to say that I am excited but to be honest it is mostly just relief that the thing is finally done. The qualification will only ever be useful if I want to change jobs to another organisation and remain at managerial level (and t that point I will be very glad to have it) and it has also been a bit of a confidence booster - I have both learned some new stuff and surprised myself with what I already knew. I am sure it is all overwhelmingly positive but for the most part I am just glad to get that portion of my life back.

This week I have been mostly reading: 1971 - Never A Dull Moment by David Hepworth

Current Mood: awake
11:47 pm
80's Weekend At Work
Last weekend we organised an 80's weekend for the guys at work. We laid on a bit of fancy dress stuff, decorated the place, played 80's tunes, made french-bread pizza (which was surprizingly good - who knew?!) and had a double bill of movies, The Goonies and Big Trouble In Little China. It's hard to say who had the most fun, staff or service users!

Current Mood: Stereophonics - The Boys Of Summer
Sunday, January 21st, 2018
9:10 pm
Kew Year
Weirdly, I actually thought I had written an entry for this - but actually had not - I finished the Kew project with the missus last week! We made it to our January visit making that out 12th consecutive month, watched the seasons change in quite spectacular fashion and she doesn't know it yet but last night I made a spiffy photo-book souvenir which plugs the gap of Valentine's present quite nicely.
We will still be going back to Kew, obviously. As individuals it was one of our favourite places and now it has played such a large part in the formation of our relationship that is hardly likely to get any less. Next month the orchid season is running again so I will probably make multiple visits for that.

This week I have been mostly re-reading: Perish The Privileged Orders by Mark O'Brien

Current Mood: awake
Saturday, January 20th, 2018
12:54 am
Finished Xmas at Last!
I finally caught up with my friend Sarah tonight which marks the formal end of my Xmas season. As a busy mother of twins with family to visit in Birmingham we never get to celebrate Xmas in December but usually manage to catch up in January though this year was slightly later than most due to a pile up of commitments on both sides.
It was good to see her and catch up finally, being able to finally close any thoughts of the long since wilted festive season is just a pleasant side effect.

Current Mood: awake
Thursday, January 18th, 2018
10:54 pm
Flu Season
We have been having a bit of a rough time at work in recent weeks and this week properly stretched us. We had two staff who booked about a month's holiday over Xmas and New Year which was fine when the booked it but around the time they travelled we lost another staff member to early maternity leave (due to a premature birth), one to complications arising from a minor exploratory surgery, one get sacked (to be fair she was pretty rubbish at her job) coupled with several other staff taking short term leave (like myself over Xmas) and several suffering with minor illnesses. Since Xmas we have had one service user go into crisis with his family (while in Nigeria on a family holiday), ane fall ill with a severe cold, one take a relatively minor fall, but coupled with a (chest?) infection it has left him so ill and bed-bound that for the first day or two we strongly suspected that he had a stroke (!) and another service user end up in hospital because of a severe chest infection. Those last two service users have injured two members of staff, one by accidentally falling on her, causing her ligament damage in her leg, the other service user attacked the staff with a broom handle - but her larger injury came when she fell as she was running away from him rather than from the attack itself, both are signed off for at least two weeks because of their injuries. These last few factors all generate a significant amount of paperwork, meetings and so forth and the cherry on top of the shit-cake is that the manager and two other members of staff have called in sick leave due to having Flu. Bonus. I went into work on Tuesday morning and we were so sort of staff cover (especially with this additional work over and above the usual) and I eneded up doing back to back sleep-ins, only making it home around 4pm today. I am knackered!

This week I have been mostly reading: This Is Going To Hurt by Adam Kay

Current Mood: tired
Friday, January 12th, 2018
11:59 am
Cezanne Portraits
The second exhibition we caught yesterday at the National Portrait Gallery (and for me the main attraction) was the Cezanne Portraits. This is the first time there has been a large scal exhibition of just his portraits and it was intereting to see his work from just that particular perspective. I don't think a more general retrospective would have had the same effect. My personl take on Cezanne is that he seemed to be halfway between the impressionists and those like Picasso which came later, bridging both styles and it was great to see that at play last night.

Current Mood: awake
11:51 am
Photography Portrait Prize '17
After work yesterday myself and the missus met and took ourselves across town to catch a couple of exhibitions at the National Portrait Gallery (which stays opens late on Thursdays).
The first of the two we saw was the annual Photography Portrait prize. For me this was something like the fifth year I have visited this exhibition but it was a first for the missus.
For the first half of the exhibition I was not particularly impressed. The stadard just did not seem up to it this year. As we got into the latter half I found a lot more stuff that I liked. Plenty of the images were striking and some were even beautiful (my personal favourite came second in the judges eyes) but this year more than ever the submissions seemed to come from photographers working on some kind of important social project - which added a more poignant, powerful story to a lot of the images - and in that regard a lot more depth.

This week I have been mostly reading: The Verso Book Of Dissent (Various contributors)

Current Mood: awake
11:40 am
Two Years In
About two hours before I finished my shift yesterday I realised that it was my second anniversary in my 'new' job. Clearly, I need to stop thinking about this as my 'new' job. I'm two years in now. 'Current' job would be more accurate, or even just 'job.' Obvously there was no fanfare or anything, I barely even remembered it myself! Taking my baseline measurement from when I first started, I'm two years in and nobody has died yet. Yay!

Current Mood: awake
Monday, January 8th, 2018
12:27 am
M is for Mexican
The eat the world project was nudged a little further along this weekend as we all bundled out of the theatre from Young Frankenstein and across the Road into Leicester Square for Mexican food. The restaurant there was part of a chain and being in central London on a Saturday was pretty packed but the food and service were good even if the atmosphere might have been less than entirely authentic. This means that we have now completed:

Cuban, Spanish, Italian, Vietnamese, Thai, Korean and Mexican. 19 (possibly) more to go!

Current Mood: awake
12:20 am
Young Frankenstein: The Musical
As part of the Xmas present for my goddaughters and birthday present for the missus we trooped off to see 'Young Frankenstein - The Musical' at the Garrick Theatre on Saturday. Myself and Kate are longtime fans of Mel Brooks, the girls have seen a few of his films but have been raised on shows and musicals but the missus is pretty new to both Mel Brooks and live shows. Despite the fact that the tickets were comparatively very cheap (and therefore had a slightly obscured view of the stage) the show was brilliant and went down well with everyone. Most of the best jokes from the film were present but with less rigid censorship some were made a little more filthy! There was obviously also more songs and more dancing but the key number (you will know it if you have seen the movie) was very much front and centre. I saw Brooks' adapted version of 'The Producers' a few years ago and while I marginally preferred that show Young Frankenstein was of a similarly high standard and also boasted Ross Noble in the cast. This was a good show and (thankfully) successful gifting.

This week I have been mostly re-reading: Manufacturing Consent by Noam Chomsky

Current Mood: awake
Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018
2:33 am
New Year Again
I brought in this year in much the same way as I brought it in last year - at work supporting my guys to atend their LD end of year Disco/party. The difference this year was that the missus was also on shift so we kind of brought in the new year together at work. We also travelled home from work in her car which is a significantly more pleasant experience than the night bus I had to catch last year.
In terms of reviewing the last year and looking at the year ahead, last year was very much about having a good solid first year of relationship with the missus, watching my god-children take their first steps into adulthood and developing my skills and managerial skills at work. By my family standards there were surprising few moments of crisis, though some of my friends fared less well this year.
I certainly would not turn down another year of relative calmness and stability and by August I should have moved in with the missus which will be an interesting experience for us both. In the early months of the year I should have completed my NVQ5 for work too, once both of those bits are in the bag I should be able to relax a little and my prospects can start to look a little brighter all round. Part of my worries about how optimistic that sounds - its almost like asking for trouble! What else can you do other than press on?

This week I have been mostly re-reading: Power & Terror by Noam Chomsky

Current Mood: awake
Friday, December 29th, 2017
1:18 am
Wales and Back Again
So I have survived another Christmas trip back to family and friends in my hometown. They are nothing like as stressful as they used to be (since my father passed) but there is still enough family politics bubbling away beneath the surface to just give it an edge. Everything went more or less to plan on this trip so there is nothing new to report.
The closest thing to news on this trip was the return journey last night. Due to railway maintenance work there were no direct trains from Newport to London Paddington but there was a special alternate route that came in to London Marylebone instead. That shouldn't be too much of a hassle - but I ended up waiting 90 minutes to catch the train in a (literally) freezing station and then when it did finally get going it managed an epic route from Wales to London that managed to somehow take in the cities of both Bath and Oxford!
Had I been able to see anything out of the window other than pitch black countryside this probably would have been a wonderfully scenic route. Instead the journey took twice the usual time (six hours instead of three) and there were times I began to wonder if either the train driver was drunk of whether his designated route was also scheduled to take in both Hogwarts and Narnia.
Still, its more or less over now. I have had a full day at home with the missus to recover and I am back in work tomorrow. Once New Years Eve is out of the way I will only have to deal with the January birthdays (including both myself and the missus) and the the festivities can finally be declared closed. Yay.

This week I have been mostly re-reading: Hegemony Or Survival - America's Quest For Global Dominance by Noam Chomsky

Current Mood: awake
Friday, December 22nd, 2017
10:45 am
As part of our festive fun at work we took a day trip to Canterbury on Wednesday. It had originally been planned as part of our Summer activities but it fell through at the last moment. For most of the guys (staff and tenants) it was their first trip. I used to be a fairly regular visitor there while one of my friends was there to study at University but this was my first visit in more than 15 years. We took in the sights (including the famous cathedral) mooched around the medieval parts of the city and the overpriced Xmas market generally had a good time and then came home again. Canterbury is a lovely place but one thing I really don't like about it is the walk from the train station (Canterbury East) to the city centre takes you through the ugliest part of town (including a really crappy bus station). Whatever else you see in the city, good or bad, this is the first and last parts of the city you will see. Its a shame but we had a good time anyway. The missus was on shift with us today too so that was a cheap date for us too!

Current Mood: awake
10:36 am
Xmas Fun @ Work: Star Wars & Birthdays
The festive fun continues at work. On top of the usual Xmas larks we have two residents celebrating birthdays so far this month. We have two more coming, one on New Years Eve and One on New Years Day! In my mind that is the perfect excuse for a two day bender (especially on New Years Eve!) but the guys aren't that into it and one of them is staying with his dad over the holidays so only one of them will be at home.
Last weekend we also did a special Star Wars day which included seeing the new film in the cinema. This has possibly been my favourite 'Xmas' activity so far!

This week I have been mostly re-reading: Keeping The Rabble In Line by Noam Chomsky

Current Mood: awake
Wednesday, December 13th, 2017
1:36 am
Xmas Fun @ Work
As has become the custom our Xmas activities at work are now well under way. We have decorated the house again (the downstairs hall and upstairs lounge at least. Having done this more or less solo last year I swore I wouldn't be doing it again this year but I still had to step in just to stop it being arsed up - including spending another solid hour untangling the bloody lights from last year!
The activities have started up good and proper again with Carol concerts and the like. On Monday we took a bus tour to see the Xmas lights on Oxford Street/Regent Street etc. I'm not sure which order we are going to do them but between tomorrow & Friday we are doing Covent Garden (decorations, street entertainment & hot chocolate) and Winter Wonderland (funfair & xmas market in Hyde Park).
Yay/Humbug. (Delete as applicable).

Current Mood: cold
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