###Tom For Sale###

As many of you know, – the company where I have worked for the last ten months – put itself up for sale a few weeks ago. Many of my co-workers prudently put their CVs online at that time, but for a variety of reasons, until now I’ve not done so. Yesterday a deal was finally struck which sold UpMyStreet to uSwitch, but unfortunately the other company’s offer was not for the entire organisation (cf. Stefan’s comments).

As a result – effective immediately – I now find myself looking for a new project to work on. Ideally, I’d be looking to be developing some new social software or community projects (either public-facing or within organisations) or to work around personal publishing and user-generated content. However, I’m also open to possibilities in other areas, so if there’s something you’d like to discuss with me, let me know…

If you have any questions, suggestions or are looking for clarification on anything, then please don’t hesitate to contact me directly – My e-mail address is on my CV.


On the removal of a wisdom tooth…

So I end today with one less tooth than I started it with. That’s right – the axis of evil that has been building within my mouth-mountain has finally been excised by the pure democratic might of Mr Moselhi – Notting Hill Dentist and International Man of Mystery.

After perforating my jaw and palate with a thousand tiny jabs from his anaesthic needle, I found my dentist passing time in my mouth with a little light drilling. This is clearly always a good start to a dental encounter. No smalltalk – straight to business – let’s drill something good and proper. A quick filling later, I felt almost relaxed. In fact, if I’m honest, the combination of twelve hours without food, forty gallons of industrial anaesthetic and total terror had left me close to tripping. Which is probably just as well.

Do you know how they remove teeth? I certainly didn’t. I’m sure we all have ideas, but what kind of horrific ideas are they? Pliers? Hatchets? Shovels? Lasers? In fact I’d like to be able to enlighten you all, but the device that went into my mouth bore no relation to any tool I’d seen before in my life. Not even Mr Moselhi’s indication that I would probably feel ‘considerable pressure’ was really much of a giveaway.

The weirdest thing about the device itself was that it appeared to be designed to be only able to affect the wisdom tooth from the direction of my right ear. This seemed to mean that my mouth had to be forceably relocated about 180 degrees around my head before anything further could be done.

After about ten minutes of ‘considerable pressure’, Mr Moselhi looked rather exasperated. I started giggling quietly to myself when he turned around. Like you would if you were stuck in a room with a serial killer and after a few hours you noticed he was wearing pink bunny slippers. He reinserted his mystical mystery device, sighed to himself and said “It doesn’t seem to want to leave you!”.

Suddenly hit with the image of a younger Tom being followed around by his faithful tooth ‘Toothy’, I became psychadelically elated. I could have my own TV series, like Flipper except dental rather than dolphine! Or Skippy, but less marsupial-ish. Bear in mind that my mouth was stretched around to my ear. My mood improvement may not have been noticeable to the outside world.

“Tom and Toothy, Tom and Toothy”
“They met at the Dentist’s pad!”
“Tom and Toothy, Tom and Toothy”
“Toothy drove poor Tommy mad!”
“Tom and Toothy, Tom and Toothy”
“They met at the Dentist’s spot!”
“Tom and Toothy, Tom and Toothy”
“One’s decaying, one is not!”

After several more minutes, Toothy still resolutely refused to be removed from his home. Ah, faithful friend. Even with Mr Moselhi pulling at him in alternating directions, causing my head to move side to side (which I seem to remember finding very entertaining), Toothy wouldn’t be separated from me. Until finally poor diseased Toothy was ripped free with a satisfying crunchy noise and displayed to me in a pair of pliers. Half of him was white and shiny and pristene – the other half black and crunched off. Much like that alien in Star Trek. You know the one.

I sat and admired Toothy for a few moments as my mouth filled with blood and saliva and little bits of ground up tooth. And then I was rinsed clean, patched up and sent on my way, with a final word from Mr Moselhi: “This was not an … easy … extraction, ” he said. “I think you should go and buy yourself some painkillers”. And with this piece of advice lodged loosely into my cloudy mind, I stumbled dazed into the bright lights of Notting Hill.

The rest of the day has been pretty unusual. Of course my tooth wouldn’t stop bleeding, and so I’ve hacked up dishcloths and wedged them in my mouth, used ice-packs and tried lying down with my head back. After a while (and after observing a nice film about English people breaking the sound barrier and a match of snooker involving a very attractive young man) I finally decided to talk to my mother about how to stop the bleeding. She suggested, and I kid you not, wedging a tampon in my mouth. I, of course, declared her insane immediately.

I said, “Is that what you used to say when you were a nurse, mother? Take one tampon and call me in the morning?!” For some reason, she laughed. Laughed! As if there were anything to laugh about! It was completely inappropriate. Don’t you agree?

Books & Literature Life

Flashbacks and Comic Books…

Flashback madness. I’m ten – I’m living in a little village in Norfolk called Belaugh. On Sunday mornings my dad drives to the nearest village (Wroxham) for the Sunday papers. Sunday is the only day of the week that the papers aren’t delivered. I look forward to this all week, because it’s pretty much the only time that I can guarantee I’ll be able to leave my village and do anything interesting (apart from go to school). More importantly, I get my pocket money then, so it’s all really exciting.

This particular weekend, my friend Adam is staying with me. We have remarkably similar tastes, and have been friends for a couple of years, since I started going to the Norwich School after leaving Town Close (where I was really happy). We go into the newsagents and start looking through the comic books. Now I’m sure I bought comic books before that – but I really don’t remember then. But I remember reading the comic books I bought that day again and again. And until about an hour ago I didn’t remember what they were – and thanks to the internet, here they are! If anyone knows a place in the UK where I can get these, I’d be astonishingly grateful.


Thirty-six hours…

What a strange couple of days. How did I end up four days before my twenty-ninth birthday sitting in my bedroom, while in the kitchen I’m making chicken stock? Thirty-six hours in a nutshell…


12 midday: Receive, through the post, ¬£40 worth of Sainsbury’s vouchers from my mother and grandmother.

12:30pm I receive a phone call from Sam asking if I’m having people around in the evening for a meal and drinks. I had completely forgotten that I had even suggested such a gathering. But I say yes, because I figure I organise it swiftly and that it might be entertaining. The party was designed to be for my gay friends – I thought it a welcome change. Rather than sitting in bars sweeping hair/face/chest/arse/shoes of passing men while talking across overloud Kylie and awaiting boredom, success or frustration, I had decided very much the same effect could be had at home only with my own choice of music and possibly some food. An excellent plan indeed.

5pm I’ve arranged to meet Davo at Sainsbury’s at five to start the shopping experience. I am predicted a five-to-eight person evening and we decide to shop appropriately. Except that I haven’t eaten all day, and become suddenly overwhelmed and excited. But six-thirty, we have ¬£83 of food and drink. Davo has contributed ¬£30 towards the cause, the guilt for which will slowly overwhelm me over the next 28 hours. We leave the supermarket and decide to get a cab home. I have become obsessed by scones, clotted cream and strawberry jam, which I sneaked into the shopping. I decide that alongside a cup of tea, Davo and I can enjoy this experience before we get down to organising the rest of the food.

7pm Davo and I have finished four scones between us and find ourselves inexplicably full. The thought of food over the rest of the evening becomes almost unbearable. Which is a shame, since there is still ¬£81 of it left. I pull a hot chicken carcass from a paper bag and place it decoratively on a plate. We watch the final of Stars in their Eyes with a certain amount of derision. I don’t think we ever found out who won it.

8pm My friends who are supposed to arrive at eight start ringing and continue to ring for the next two hours while they get distracted, get later, more disorganised and lost. Nick H arrives first with a friend in tow. Introduced to James, he seems initially slightly nervous and bored, then after it is determined that he grew up in a part of Norfolk that I know very well, conversation becomes easier. And then it becomes radically more embarrassing, as our lives are revealed to have very nearly intersected on a number of occasions. I decide Pimms and smoking heavily is the future of polite conversation. James moves twice all evening. At most. He seems to have fun, and is thoroughly approved of by all parties, who gradually start to creep in.

10pm Everyone is now present. Sam has joined us and has been regailing us with stories about dreams with stair features and Madonna and cliffs and beaches. He is also obsessed that there exists a supermarket with a secret floor where they store Flour that you can only reach via a lift. John W has also arrived – kind of like in the bible with those wise people, only with only one of them, less Myrrh and a gallon of vodka. The baby Jesus himself couldn’t have been more delighted. There is general agreement that of all present, only Nick is hungry. When Sam declares that he thought the evening was supposed to be an orgy, James starts slightly and looks a bit awkward. Everyone notices but no one says anything. It was funny.


Midnight Many cigarettes have been smoked, much alcohol has been drunk, and many ludicrous stories have been told. Some amused, some impressed, some fell flat on their faces. Various people are drunk or act strangely or approach mini entertaining hysterias – like whirlpools in cups of tea they pass quickly.

2.30 am Nick and James have finally found a cab, after many hours of battling with incoherent taxi companies. Sam has declared himself replete and decides to head home. John and Davo decide to crash on the floor and sofa. We assemble large piles of cushions and duvets.

4.30am In a drunken moment of genious I had decided to counteract all thoughts of sleep with a couple of episodes from the Buffy and Angel stable. John laughs in the wrong places, but enjoys them anyway, which was good. Davo looks enthralled during the first one, and unconscious during the second. At time I join him in prone, drooling sleep. Not the most brilliant of ideas.

11am I awaken to an e-mail from Chris containing some scanned photos of Bristol (see below). I become distracted by the obsession that I have aged dramatically over the last four years. After Davo and John rouse themselves, we watch some bad television, tidy up a bit and decide to go for a bit of a walk. Davo is basically forced to do this, despite his complete sleep-deprivation, increasing the weight that will eventually fall upon me when I finally experience my ‘guilt-lag’. We walk from Little Venice to Camden Town all the way down the canal path.

4pm At Camden we summon Nick C for a snack at Nandos and after bumping into Evil Nick with female companion, John and I go back to Nick C’s place to find out where Jurassic Park III will be on. Davo decides to leave and goes home, slightly tired and emotional. Guilt-lag finally hits and I become momentarily neurotic.

6pm Jurassic Park III isn’t on. Tomb Raider is. I’ve seen it before. But I see it again. It’s ok. After the film, John departs and Nick drives me home.

9pm Alone in the flat, reclaimed gradually for my own use after a year and a half of sharing, I try and resolve the various things that I have done in the last few hours and come to some conclusions. Firstly, that I feel intruded upon when people appear who are connected with my past, and this makes me behave defensively. Secondly, that I love my friends, both old and new and thoroughly enjoy their company. Thirdly, that pictures of the past and pictures of Max are sometimes difficult to deal with, but are not a particularly big deal. Fourthly, that I have to get a job. And finally, that it is very very important that I use my chicken carcass in an appropriate way. So I decide to make Chicken Stock.

I suspect I will never use it.


The Price of Happiness is ¬£1 million…

An article in the Sunday times purports to discover the Price of Happiness [via Metafilter]- which is, it appears around £1m. Here in an insight into my current frame of mind on this issue. I have never chosen a job on the basis of how much money it earns, which might explain why I have never earned myself any money. Instead I look for factors like my ability to produce creative work, to work in an environment that I have respect for and to enjoy the company of those around me. Money has always been a fair way down the scale.

This has to be the reason that I transferred myself from a doctorate, to penury as a London temp, and then to retraining as a journalist. There is little scope in this developing lifestyle for cash.

But over the last few months, as I have looked at my work life and found that (recently at least) it hasn’t been fulfilling me enough, my mind has started to turn towards money as a way to follow my own interests absolutely and without interference.

At the worst point over the last six months, the thought of escape was almost over-whelming. The thought of having control over every aspect of my life became almost transformatively addictive, and with it, the desire for enough money to cease to worry about what I was going to be doing for the next thirty or forty years. A couple of weeks ago I bought ten pounds worth of lottery tickets. I knew I wasn’t going to win of course. But the thought that I might cheered me up a lot. I found myself teasing myself – not checking the numbers until several days afterwards. The feeling of maybe being free was so much better than the discovery of still being trapped.

Over the last few days, my mind has calmed to an astonishing extent. My life at this point feels like it could go in any one of a number of interesting directions. Money is fading from my mind as an issue once again. But part of me is still thinking about the two bedroom flat in Soho, the year-off work and the travelling I could get done with the money that I’ll probably never have.


On the male competitive arena…

So I went out for lunch today with a group of friends and their friends and was disturbed to find myself feeling defensive and edgy which dragged me back about ten years to gawky teenage years of perpetual embarrassment. I’ve been thinking about it all afternoon and I can’t really understand why I should have felt that way, except that it coincided with the arrival of Fenner’s friend George, who for some reason unsettles me deeply. I think I find his absolute confidence unpleasant. From the point of his arrival onwards the lunch stopped being about a group of old friends getting together and chatting comfortably and started to become some kind of male competitive arena, in which mobile phones were carefully compared and examined, hair-cuts and clothing were noted for signs of appropriate consumption and physical presences were assessed for signs of weakness. I fear I was the only one feeling uncomfortable, and I could just as easily still be feeling the effects of too little sleep and continual vagrancy. I don’t know really…


Two anecdotes about clubs…

In order to maintain the record of the week, I decided that I should go drinking directly after work last night. And (I suppose inevitably) this resulted in a few of us ending up at Popstarz. Which led to:


Anecdote One:
  As I wander through the passages of the Scala, I keep passing this bloke who looks vaguely familar. And he keeps making ‘knowing’ looks in my direction. I will be completely honest and say that as he wasn’t really my type, I decided to have a ponder, but not launch into a conversation that might be misconstrued as flirting.
  Anyway, after a couple of hours of this kind of behaviour, we find each other wandering towards each other in a corridor. There’s no real reason to avoid chatting, so I turn and say to him:
  “I’m really sorry – but you look really familiar, have we met?”
  “Yes”, he replies, “I fell over in front of you twice while clubbing at the old Popstarz about four months ago…”
  I look slightly dumbfounded, and don’t really know what to say. He glances down at my favourite t-shirt of the moment, a dark blue A&F thing, and continues:
  “At the time I was really embarrassed, but now you are wearing that stupid t-shirt, I feel a lot better. I hope to hell you are being ironic.”
  And then he walks off.

Anecdote Two:
  As I wander through the passages of the Scala, I find myself running into this other guy who looks both familiar and rather devilishly attractive. After my experiences with the nasty t-shirt hater, I am a bit sceptical of wandering up to strangers, and so I leave it – particularly when it becomes clear that he doesn’t have the slightest clue who I am either.
  As it approaches 3am, however, it suddenly hits me – this is a guy that I met (once) around a year ago when I visited a friend in Cambridge. I must have spent no more than four hours in his company.
  Slightly sceptical of my realisation, I wander up to him, and indeed – it is he. We chat for a while and then wander off back to our respective friends. At which point my friends (Rhonda, Evil Nick et al) decide that it is beyond necessary that I flirt with him. The young gentleman listens manfully to my abortive attempts to demonstrate my interest with a light smile, while I slowly turn an inelegant purple. And then, with a look of mild exasperation, he pounces…