Saturday, October 14, 2006

No, they're not

Plumbers, that is. All the same, that is. Lukos is here. Toilet number one is fixed and toilet number two is being addressed as we speak. Lord knows, it will cost. But it's worth it not to have to put a rota on the toilet door this evening. We didn't want to have to insist on people booking in for a pee at 15 or 20 minute intervals during the evening, with only the possibility that those in significant personal relationships would be able to follow each other without flushing...thus speeding up the whole process.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Plumbers, they're all the same

Here at BondBloke we have been pleased about the arrival of the sizeable Polish contingent in Edinburgh. It makes our friend Madry feel less lonely. It should, in principle, improve the service provided by plumbers. Except, it would seem, they quickly fall into the same old habits as British plumbers. Lukos the Handyman first came round to our flat when I called a firm, which has since folded, which supplied people to fix very simple straightforward jobs really quickly. It wasn't cheap. But my, was it quick. He was round at our flat tightening our plumbing under the kitchen sink within twenty minutes of me speaking to some Australian bloke on the phone...

Anyway, he left his phone number, saying he would be cheaper than the people who employed him...

Nuff said. Over the summer, we needed some work doing on Junior Bond's flat, so we called Lukos. Reasonably satisfactory job done.

And now, we have defective toilets (ball valve it would appear), beyond BB's plumbing skills, anyway, and a party tomorrow evening. Oh dear. I call Lukos. He says he's now very busy, he'll call back on Tuesday. He didn't. Because, on Tuesday, I thought BB would be able to fix the problem, I didn't bother chasing him. On Wednesday I was in London, and BB was...well I'm not quite sure where he was. Peebles and out and about, he said. Anyway, Thursday lunchtime and he's trying to fix the plumbing. Doesn't work. Call an emergency plumber, he says. Yeah, funny, I said. I'll try Lukos again. I did. Lukos says - oh dear, I forgot. At least we still have honesty. British plumber would have said "I said I would call back on Tuesday. I didn't say which Tuesday..." Lukos says he will come tonight at 5.30pm. I rush around at work, cutting things short and am cycling down Leith Walk at 5.25pm, braving the rush hour traffic which makes for a much more unpleasant journey home than an hour later. Phone goes. Lukos: am stuck in Musselburgh. Can I come tomorrow just after 9am? Well, there's not much I can say, except yes.

So...will we have properly functioning toilets tomorrow evening? Who knows? But one thing I am sure of. There is some sort of norm to which all plumbers, whatever their nationality (we used have a South African plumber when we were in rented accommodation in South Edinburgh and he was just the same...) will revert in time.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

More or less sleeping city

I had an interesting cycle ride up Leith Walk this morning, to catch an early train to London. I would have blogged it earlier, using the GNER advertised free wireless access, except that it didn't exist, despite announcements and adverts on the window either in the train on the way down, or the one on the way back up.

Coming out of building at 5am this morning, I had to manoeuvre my way around a taxi. Revellers (there are lots of *young people* in our building), I wondered, or someone making an early start? It would appear the latter as it was empty, and seemed to be waiting for someone. Cycling through Pilrig Park in the dark was a spooky experience as ever, but I am too lazy to cycle round. But I do have a feeling that it might be cycling through the park, and the access path to the park, which is responsible for at least some of my recent flat tyres.

Along Balfour Street, it was interesting to see the number of lights in windows. Up late, or early, I wondered again? What were the people there up to? Out onto Leith Walk, though, the difference to the day time or the evening was most stark. It was quiet enough that I could hear the shoes of a man walking up the opposite pavement scuffing the pavement; and the squeaking of a car door as it closed was deafening. Further up, there was a young man drinking an energy drink (breakfast) before getting into a battered Astra and driving away. I thought he looked perhaps Polish. What looked like a duty manager at the Tesco halfway up was just opening the door to receive a delivery from a truck parked on the Walk. They'd both had early starts to their working days. And there was the tramp whom one often sees on Leith Walk, who looks like a proper traditional 'gentleman of the road', sitting minding his own business in the bus shelter, drinking a cup of something steaming in a styrofoam cup from the early opening cafe. As I cycled past, he watched me rather deliberately, and with a certain curiosity. buses! Normally Leith Walk is awash with buses. A few people were waiting for them, as opposed to occupying the bus shelters like the tramp. But I wasn't passed by a single bus before I got to Princes Street. Remarkable.

The higher I went up the Walk, the more normal the sounds became. Although, not quite. As I said - no buses. But the sights and sound of the quiet street almost made up for the rather truncated night's sleep suffered in order to make the early train.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Does my tyre look flat in this?

What, oh what, have I done to anger the god of punctures? Another one this morning, and a knackered tyre to boot.

At least my bike doesn't quite look like the one in the picture.


Sunday, October 08, 2006

Busy Busy

Am thinking of using this blog in the future more as a sort of conventional record of what I do and what I think, and not worrying so much about the high falutin' content of posts. So here goes. Busy, busy. Went to an 'Enlightenment' lecture with Professor Tom Devine at the University yesterday. We both thought he was fab. He spoke for 35 minutes, basically without notes, kept a thread, kept a structure, informed and entertained, and was just incredibly impressive. We weren't so sure where the panel discussion which was following on afterwards was going, so since we had to catch a train to Glasgow, we slipped out after a couple of rounds of discussion, hoping to be unnoticed, only to run into a woman from the press office at the doorway, who said... "you're going" as if our presence amongst about 1000 really made a difference...

Went to Glasgow in train with small number of members of tartan army. Blogmet. Met old bloggers (see blogroll) and new bloggers, some of whom we had read, some of whom we hadn't. Was informative and entertaining, and alcoholic (at least for both of us), as last time. BB made himself be sociable. I guess it wasn't always so easy for him.

Came back from Glasgow by train, this time surrounded by hundreds of jubilant and drunken, but ultimately apparently harmless, members of the tartan army. There was a lot of singing, and a fair amount of drumming of hands against the ceiling of the train carriage and the perspex carriage dividers. Consequently, we were glad to be off the train in Waverley, but escaped with nothing more serious than a bit of a headache from the noise. I have to say that this is the first time I have ever willingly been in the vicinity of that number of football fans before, and I wonder whether, had they been English fans travelling from Manchester to Leeds on a train, similarly pissed up, it would have been such an entertaining experience. Perhaps most remarkable is that no litter to speak of was left on the train, and the train was in a fit state in Waverley Station to go straight back to Glasgow, presumably fetch another load of them.

Now we are off to do help a friend negotiate the catering for his upcoming 60th birthday party, see a new baby, and generally rush around Edinburgh, whilst still not managing to do the one thing we *always* get done at the weekend, namely our supermarket shop.

Oh well, it's probably better to be busy than bored.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

BW in NY

Weehee. I can still remember how to blog. I was starting to wonder, and I guess so were any others who happen to stop by this blog. Anyway, finally, I'm going to manage a post, but only really for the most trivial of reasons, namely to blog some photographs. I am, as the photos show and the title of the post reveals, in New York, and in fact this is a first for me. I spent six months in Boston in 1998, but never managed the short trip down to New York to see the Big Apple, as they call it. So when I got an opportunity to come to a conference here (they flew me across the Atlantic for an eight minute contribution...), I took it. The conference has been interesting, and the trip overall worthwhile, although it will mean I am a bit wrecked next week, and I also had to rearrange some teaching to accommodate this. C'est la vie. Everyone has to suffer for their vocation.

I got here on Thursday afternoon, and 'enjoyed' a rather nightmarish journey in from Newark Airport, which at least has direct flights from Edinburgh. There was vast quantities of traffic, and I found it deeply unpleasant coming through the Lincoln Tunnel onto Manhattan Island from New Jersey in an overfull overhot Super Shuttle van with the windows open. I have now worked out how I can back to the airport by train tomorrow and I shall be taking that option, to be sure. Unfortunately, no one told me about it in advance.

I haven't really had an opportunity to take photographs until this afternoon, when the conference had ended, and sadly this afternoon did not display the bright blue skies which were in evidence this morning when I walked from the hotel to the conference. Undeterred, I found my way across Central Park to Fifth Avenue and walked all the way down there (passing a well known landmark - see above, BB!) to the Empire State Building.

I then did something I would never do if I had been with BB. I went up the Empire State Building. I know, very sad, but it fits well with my obsession with maps and stuff like that that I really like viewing cities from high points. When in Boston, I used to inflict a trip up the Hancock Tower on all visitors from the UK, to the point where even Junior Bond was heard to reflect that there must be other sights in Boston that we could go to with our visitors. Anyway, BB wouldn't have tolerated the queues (I did Kakuro whilst waiting), the lifts, or probably the vertiginous sights. I loved it.

And when I came down (much quicker than going up, which is curious because the same number of people have to come down as go up, in the same number of lifts...) I took another picture of the Empire State Building just to remind me.

Perhaps more serious service here, and on the EU Law and Politics Blog, might be resumed soon. You never know.