Friday, February 27, 2009


It's perhaps inevitable that life immediately after a period of travelling is going to seem comparatively dull. But a couple of instances this week have made me wonder if things are worse than I realised.


Firstly, I was in the canteen on Monday lunchtime having the usual "how was your weekend?" banter with my colleagues. On this occasion, come to think of it, banter is probably the wrong word, because the initial conversation consisted of little more than the odd mediocre "meh". I then chipped in with "I bought some new cycling shoes on Saturday!"

This wasn't a word of a lie; I am the proud owner of some new cycling shoes*. However, the reaction I got implied that if that was all I had to say about my weekend** then my life must be monumentally dull. Incidentally, as a bloke I am well aware that getting excited about shoes (even those with a purpose) is Not The Done Thing, but everyone makes mistakes.


Then yesterday, I was chatting to someone on Facebook about their recent visit to Bath. I was quite excited about this because I really loved living in Bath, and being reminded about my time there bought back some good memories. But then, for some reason, the thing I chose to reminisce about as I typed away was the revision breaks I used to take, when I strolled down the hill to the delightful local shops. I padded it out a bit, recalling the sunshine, and the fact that I used to buy a lot of doughnuts, but even so, on reflection, it doesn't bode well. Bath was awesome, and I'm sure I could think about lots of things which I enjoyed - yet here I am going "I used to love going shopping!"



*I have bought some shoes of the type which attach me to my bike as I speed along.  If you see me in a ditch or fall off at traffic lights, you know why.


**Of course, this isn't all I had to say about my weekend.  There is quite a lot I could have waved my hands excitedly about had I put my mind to it.  Church, for example, has been really good.  The Gospel is being preached, and things are happening.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Steve Zodiac is back in the game

Did anyone actually miss me?

JP is annoyed with Vodafone

I'll spare you the details, but let's just say that I'm unhappy with
the fact my last two bills have been very spurious and very wrong and
that all the Customer Services have managed so far is a set of stock
emails explaining that paper billing has been activated on my account.
I don't care whether I see the bill online or on A4 paper-excessive
money has still been disappearing from my account.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Billie Jean is not my lover

Given the continuing absence from Facebook, I'm experimenting with
blog post titles as a way of sharing my status with the world. If
you've missed it when I pop up on your mini-feed with the odd
observation or cryptic take on the way I feel then you may now rejoice
that all has not been lost.

Friday, February 20, 2009

JP disappears from the face of the book

Last Thursday, I updated my Facebook status.  It was something about visiting the Hang Yan Fu Wu Bu for an ice-cream break.  For those people who stalk me on Facebook but otherwise have little contact with me these days, that was the last they will have heard.  Later that evening, I attempted to log in again, and received a message explaining that my account had been disabled by an administrator.

"Shurely there'sh been a mishtake" I thought to myself, before sending an appropriate email to the appeal address I was given. But then later on, as I lay in my window ledge bath and gazed out over the Shanghai skyline it dawned on me. Some time back, and for no really good reason that I can now think of, I may just have updated my details to include "Steve Zodiac" as a former name.

Oh dear.

So, over a week later, and I'm still Facebook Disabled - with all sorts of mixed feelings as a result.

Part of me is very disappointed.  I've evidently completely vanished from Facebook without a trace.  My last known location was Shanghai, with all the mystery that that might entail.  Yet, despite all this, my phone has remained fairly quiet.  My email inbox contains the usual tumbleweed and not a lot else. I was secretly hoping for some small consolation in the form of a worried message or two, but it wasn't to be. No-one seems to have noticed that I've gone, or if they have they don't seem bothered about what might have happened.

Another part of me is embarrassed.  If I have to add my friends as friends again (as it were), that could be embarrassing. If I end up explaining that I once said that I was formally known as Steve Zodiac, that could be embarrassing.  Finally, in the space of a week, my mum is now on Facebook, and I'm not.  That's embarrassing.

I've also found being unable to use Facebook quite frustrating, and I've found that I rely on it more than I'd ever want to admit.  Not being able to read my Mini Feed or stalk people from my mobile phone means that if I finish the Metro and am unable to procure thelondonpaper, the inevitable standing about on a platform or travelling on a train becomes very boring indeed.  I've also found that I use Facebook as a communications tool more than I thought I did.  To rely purely on text messaging for this sort of casual communication seems so turn of the Millenium.  I've not even got mobile numbers for some people I otherwise see and communicate with regularly.

If I'm honest though, I am also slightly proud of my 'achievement'.  Being accidentally thrown off Facebook is the sort of thing one might expect to find in a mediocre book of 101 things to do before you die.

Finally, in light of a couple of news items this week I'm also feeling quite smug.  Whilst many of you are getting your knickers in a twist about who owns data on Facebook I'm kicking back with the realisation that I appear to have no data on Facebook to be worried about any more.  I'm also avoiding some health risks, according to the BBC News Page today.  A point proven by the fact that it's Friday night, and I'm just about to go out and see some friends in person.  This is likely to involve clogging up my system with all sorts of pizza-related goodness and poisoning my liver with a moderate amount of beer.

Friday, February 06, 2009

there's no snow on the line here

Picking up on Starkey's comment about "China Rail" I thought I would post this video of the Shanghai Maglev, which I took on my way to work last week.

This isn't one of these "London to Brighton in 5 minutes" high speed videos, it's real-time footage.  Believe it or not, however, I covered 30km.

Compare this to Southern Railway, where my 21km commute takes over half an hour.  Even off-peak, the Shanghai Maglev is cheaper and I'm pretty sure that if it did snow here it wouldn't come grinding to a halt.

It makes you wonder where it all goes wrong in the UK, though on the plus side I do get a free paper and time in which to read it.  You've got to love the Metro.*

*and thelondonpaper, of course.  No commute home should normally be complete without random photographs of the lovely Kelly Brook.

Scottish Idiocy?

You might be pleased to know that the BBC News page hasn't entirely slipped from my radar, and I picked up on this saga earlier from my Oriental vantage point.

I was particularly intruiged by this comment:

"Most people here are proud that the prime minister is a Scot and believe him to be the right person to get the UK through this global economic crisis."

Most people where, exactly?  Not anywhere in my vicinity, that's for sure.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

where have all the cowboys gone?

So go the lyrics of a rather catchy song.  I had spent a week in Shanghai wondering something similar actually, though in my head I was thinking of people in general and not just cowboys.  The part of town in which I am resident has been remarkably quiet for somewhere which is apparently home to 20million people. I know that it's been a bit of a holiday season out here, but even so it did feel a bit empty.

At the weekend, however, I went downtown, and my questions were answered.  This is where everyone has been hiding.  All 20million of them.  Really.

the other side to life

So we've seen the view from my lofty vantage point, and I've talked about feeling sophisticated as I indulge myself over breakfast.  I even alluded to the fact that on some scale I might be "posh".

Before I get too carried away with my delusions of grandeur, however, let's bring things back down to the ground floor and remind you what I've been eating for dinner on a fairly regular basis.

All things considered, however, they have been surprisingly satisfying.

Eye on Shanghai

Murky though it can be, I do love the view I get when I open the curtains in the morning.  It's not got classic natural beauty,  but it is certainly quite impressive.  

There's that bottle-opener building again, look.

Knowing me, JP, knowing you Miss Yu.


I'm becoming well settled here now, to the extent that I am on first name terms with the girl who serves breakfast in the lounge. It's got to the stage where my fresh orange juice is on my favourite table by the window almost as soon as I walk in through the door.

I was kicking back contentedly this morning however when a slightly disturbing thought occurred to me.  Here I am lapping up the lifestyle and feeling quite sophisticated, but am I actually completely deluded?  Have I become little more than a posh version of a certain Radio Norfolk presenter?