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The perks of being home (see what I did there)

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This blog is musically powered by Daft Punk….

So I spent last year In Australia, which as a country consists of 3 readily available things

1. Australians

2. Asian Food

3. COFFEE

Literally every third shop is one of the above (although the first is actually not guaranteed), and the second is more specifically Thai food, I’ve not been to Thailand, but if it tastes better than the Australian version of Thai food, then I wouldn’t care if its primary ingredient is mashed up orphans and puppies glazed in a unicorn puree, I would eat it and that would be the last you would see of me before the crane lowers me onto a handmade wooden raft, to be pushed out to sea, to then be accurately set alight by a member of the archers division I’m just presuming exists somewhere for this exact purpose….

Back in Swansea there are very few Australians, there is no Thai food that I know of, unless your pub has a green thai curry, in which case its probably buried down the back of the menu for a reason, and its probably not meant to be green, and you can be almost certain not cooked by a thai person, why would you want to buy goods from someone who isn’t awesome at producing it, in the same way you wouldn’t buy a hang glider from Wilkinson or a car from France, you can’t be certain its been done with any accumulated knowledge, if you disagree, then I challenge you use the electric toothbrush I have designed from a re-purposed power drill.

Anyhow’s the only one on the list that I can get in the UK is Coffee, however cruelly much like the weather, women, lager, BBQ’s, common sense approach to alcohol policing, and most sports…..the UK is alot shitter and blander.

So I have resolved that if I must drink UK coffee to assess the best options, so this week I shall head off the two big guns of UK coffee, Starbucks and Costa Coffee.

Round 1 – The Surroundings!

So I am basing my venue assessment on my experience of Costas and Starbucks from Swansea. Liberty stadiums Starbucks, and High Street Starbucks.  Costa’s I shall be using Fforestfach offering and the one in Swansea Bus Station.

All Coffee venues should have Wifi, free Wifi, because lets be honest the only 3 reasons it seems to go to a coffee shop from my current view are –

1. Meet with other mothers of newborn babies

2. Meet a friend and spend half the time playing on your phone

3. Sit on your own and write blogs in place of the script your supposed to be finishing the first draft of today so you can get out of doing jobs you hate for a short while…..and looking at all the girls doing the above….

Actually on that note, I like new mothers, its a sucky job for no pay, I know non parents always say shit like “I would love my child unconditionally, and they are a joy” which I’m almost 90 percent certain is based on the 8 seconds you have smiled at someone else’s child and got a smile back…..but in general they are like everything else engaging, they are only fun for a bit then its just a routine, and most babies routine is to sit motionless doing nothing except eating, pooping and staring blankly into space….its boring and sucky, and pretty much a crap job unitl they learn to speak or have an opinion…..prime example my buddy has a 4 year old who for the first four years was either ill or a bit of jerk (we both call him that), now he can talk and form opinions he is a pretty funny bloke to be around, other day in the hair dressers a younger baby was bashing the bit of wood he’d somehow found on the chair next to where we were sitting, and then hit himself in the face, my mates boy says “well, I told you to be careful” in a tone usually reserved for “nah nah nah nah nah nah”, love that guy, JUSTICE.

Anyhows, so Wifi – they both have it, its equally easy to get on in either, however if we are going to score, then I would go on the fact that in every Costa its the same log on process, turn on device, find Costa Wifi, connect, log in your details, yay!

In Starbucks its always a gamble, in some you have to get a Wifi number from a receipt, in some the Wifi isn’t the one labelled Starbucks, its the other one labelled open zone, and in some you have to get the password from the Barista, which is a pain in the arse if they don’t know it. so Wifi score, Costa is winning. Point Costa

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Seating is a big deal, in Swansea the focus of Starbucks seems to be number of chairs available, and Costa they seem to go for as many four seater sections as possible, which in rush hour is a pain in the arse if theres only two of you, but Costa in Swansea for the most part are fans of the soft furnishings, where as Starbucks seem a little bit like they got a deal on wooden chairs that almost time release uncomfortable-ness into your lower extremities in a sort of “dont sit here all day” kind of way. POINT COSTA (this was an addendum, actually lets call it an assdendum, because I sat in Starbucks for 45 minutes, and have spent a combined three hours in two days in 2 separate Costas and nearly every chair is upholstered, also they have a variety of colours and types which makes the place look alot brighter and more pleasant)                                     minicosta

Costa always seems to have a nice outdoor section, albeit bus station Costa is kind of like a ninja challenge to make sure that pisshead isn’t about to steal your change off your table, and the one in Fach is in a big shopping section, so constant sound of cars and kids bombing by.  Starbucks seem to be more along the line of, “only have outside seating if its out of the way of hassle”, Liberty Starbucks has its own little outside balcony, which is really nice on a hot day, and also favours comfy seats, so on the seating its a bit of a tie, Costa, more comfy, Starbucks = way more odds of getting a seat, they also all seem to have those raised stools next to a raised long table if you just want to sit on your own and get on with shit, but even though its got stools on both sides there’s no way you could sit opposite someone without being forehead to forehead, so a bit pointless, I was going to detract Starbucks a point for that, but I quite like high chairs because I am short…….. TIE (general environment)

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Starbucks does score points on the Plugs front, this is purely a selfish score, but Starbucks seems to invite the laptop folks in, and have loads of plugs to keep you in the store working and probably buying more coffee.  Point Starbucks

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Costa on the other hand, with its four table set up, and general decor always seems more sociable. Look in a Starbucks and Costa, Costa always seems to invite more old people and families, generally a social group that wants hassle free places to go,  where as Starbucks seems to inhabit more laptop folks, teenagers, and couples out for a bitch, chat or date….so on that front, theres no difference, because yes your more likely to have a group of emo, hipster, teenagers in Starbucks, but they are usually afraid of everyone around them, and in Costa you’ll probably have to watch your language more because of the old people and families, but your arse wont hurt if you want to sit down for more than 40 minutes…. So again, I’d Tie that one but only because Starbucks saved itself with its influx of good looking women.

TIE (not sure what my point was)

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(Second addendum because there is a girl that works in Costa who is unfortunate enough to be captive to my conversational nonsense, but is actually really cool to talk to and is absolutely gorgeous in a multitude of nice ways, particularly an extremely silly penchant for coffee related puns, so while I am a little bit in love, its not enough to score the point…..blame the child that puked on the table next to me).

 

Round 1 Scores –

Costa

tinycostatinycostatinycostatinycosta

Starbucks

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Round 2- Food

Food is unfortunately mandatory in Coffee shops now, just on the odd chance the coffee drinker cant be arsed to go and get food from somewhere good.   I’d bet my left leg that no-one goes to Starbucks or Costa with their first thought being “im hungry” its coffee first and food is a “seeing as Im here and I don’t mind spending 3 quid on a panini” sort of reflex.

I alluded to this earlier, but I don’t like buying any product where the manufacturer isn’t treating the product as their priority for business quality. Like I understand Tesco is massive, and has the infrastructure to do insurance, but if your stuck in Tahiti with a bout of dysentery, I don’t want to ring someone who has to respond to queries about cookers, microwaves, bad pizzas and so on, if its not an area of expertise, its not going to be good unless you spend extra money on it.

But needs a score….So both have the same basic displays, plastic wrapped pre-made sandwiches and panini’s, and a range of cakes and pastries.  Costa has some novelty treats like oversized jammy dodgers and bourbon biscuits, which pretty much brings the kid out of anyone, like seeing two bits of unconnected Lego, but is quickly shot down when you realise both taste like a 6th former’s clay module for their art A-Level.  The sandwiches are simple, hard to fuck up sandwiches like tuna mayo, ham and cheese, so on that front they are at best as disappointing as any “this isn’t sausage or bacon so it must be mildly healthy” sandwich is, but what makes it worse for both stores is the theory that heating it up is better.  Heating a sandwich up in a world that has Subway, if it is anything less than actually toasted, is just a warm sandwich and unfortunately theres about as much warmth applied to heating up a Starbucks or Costa sandwich as there is in that girl from twighlights face, reflexes or emotional range (I could have googled her name, I could have, but I chose to live happily in the knowledge that I cant remember her name, and will never forgive her for the 2 and half soul sucking hours I watched one of those “vampires and werewolves are gay now” pieces of crap, just because I thought it might get me laid with two awesome scouser’s I met travelling, and then ruined it when I spent pretty much the whole film laughing hysterically at every second of how utterly corny and shitty it is. SIPPY CUP IN A BIG BUDGET FILM TO DRINK BLOOD HAAAAAAAAAA.

Anyhows back to my point, if your going to toast a sandwich, surely even the least engaged person, can tell the difference between toast-ed and a bit warmer.  I have literally had toast in both that has come back as just warm bread, how do you mess toast up for fucks sake.

Wow I just did a whole section to just give Starbucks 1 Point, just because they didn’t get my hopes up with a big teacake and bourbon, only for it to taste horrible, Starbucks just promise disappointing food, and they stick to it. POINT STARBUCKS

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Costa

tinycostatinycostatinycostatinycosta

Starbucks

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ROUND 3 – All things Coffee

Ok, so in the words of Adam Hills, “Starbucks for coffee is like prison for sex, you can get it anytime you want, but its going to be rough.”, but dont think for one second Costa is that much better, but there are subtle differnce’s in the range.

So both have iced drinks, which stick to very simple rules that never fail –

1. SUGAR GOOD

2. FLAVOURED SUGAR GOOD

3. ICED ANYTHING WITH FLAVOUR GOOOOOOOOOOD

4. CREAM ON EVERYTHING IS AWESOMEEEEEE

So I think the main thing with coffee is that you can always tell how much of a fuck the person making it gives about the person drinking it, like when you make a cup of tea or coffee for someone you like in work or a family member or guest, you take time with the amount of coffee you put in, or putting heaped sugars in or how much milk, you ask questions etc

Now obviously I’m not expecting a Barista who probably makes 10 cups of coffee in 5 minutes to give a remote fuck about every customer, however Costa gives the person making it a chance to make it good.  Starbucks always seem to have those automatic looking machines, its probably just the streamlining that means I am missing the care, butalways seems more lacklustre.  I think on the face of it though if I did like different flavours of themed coffees, Starbucks would score a massive point, but as it happens Costa scored all the points by having a christmas themed day and all the staff came in Pyjamas and onesies, glorious epic win for the good people at Costa.

 

 

To summarise, I started writing this ages ago, because I was really bored one afternoon, then forgot about it, since then I have been to Costa probably 2 dozen times and Starbucks 4 times, which in alot of respects says it all.

The chairs still suck in Starbucks, the Coffee is still not Australian, but much love to the staff that work in both because having worked in retail, I both respect and fear the amount of effort it takes serving that many people on a constant basis, some of which will kick up a massive fuss over something as trivial about whether their milk is skimmed or if they have to much froth…..

 

But saying that I bet none of them wrote a blog about it…….

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Review and Catch Up……

First quite literal review – Iron Man 3 was utter garbage, good and bad thing about blogs is you can see your thoughts over a time line, and look a few blogs back, fuck I was excited, and how utterly fucking disappointed I was.

Do not under any circumstances ever take a beloved series or character, and change its core principle or characters, that’s why it sucked in a nutshell… this gets it pretty right –

So to catch up, I moved away from Bristol for a few contributing factors, briefly they were

Psycho Housemate

Asked me to help her through a Psychotic episode then spent an hour explaining how her other housemates would have had to call an ambulance and not leave her with sharp objects,   That was with about 3 days left, I was having Murtaugh syndrome and half expecting to be taken out by psycho posh girl or an angry South African ric…….oh never mind your probably to young to get the reference DIPLOMATIC IMMUNITY.

So the usual Dai-me line is – finish job on own terms – have two weeks of enjoying being off – realise i’m skint – find job quickly because jobs are not hard to come by if you put some effort in.

I thought things were a little to convenient when I took an interview in a job that resembled my Australia job on paper, Digital Content, did the interview,  strictly talked about Digital, nice boss, turns out I knew what I was talking about.

I’ll happily admit I don’t pay enough attention to certain things, one of them being money, it’s just money, but I just saw I was getting paid 18000 pounds a year, and thought “this will do” and at no point noticed the OTE at the end…… when we sat down to watch a scene from Glengarry GlenRoss as a training exercise it dawned on me

“I’d taken a sales job”

That week was possibly the longest first week of my life, I was enjoying training to a point, because at 32 I know training is pointless, I learn by doing, and I figured  I had a week until the work started.  First two days I was crap and wanted to quit…

I’m pretty amazed 3 weeks later, its the most engaged I have ever been in a job.  On a personal level everyone in my office is tidy, lots of nice people, no arseholes so far, my boss is pretty supportive.  It never occurred to me that to be good at sales, 95 percent of the skill is being able to strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know.  Fuck, I can do that, seriously I could make a documentary just about the conversations I’ve had on the train!!

I am enjoying it, I still know I’m not a salesman, I don’t sell, but I can talk to people about how good my place of work is, and they seem to go for it, its telling the truth, so I can live with that, what I imagine will eventually do me in is the targets thing.

Fact is if no-one wants to buy something, I don’t think you should make them, if my pay depends on me making one person who doesn’t have 70 quid, spend 70 quid because I convinced them to, I’m not sure what sort of person that makes me.  But at least I can be broke and guilt free..

Personal life is pretty crap.

I miss my Australian family, my friends and family here don’t need me here, they are all getting married, having kids, enjoying retirement or knee deep in making life choices, all things I should be doing, instead I’m just counting the days down until I can move back to Sydney and be with my other family and close ones, because my oldest friends get I loved it and its not a commentary on my love for them, just that I hate being back to square one here.

I can still chat to some of my Aussie mates like it was yesterday, when in truth its going to have been a year in November.

I have started a project for Edinburgh Festival, but as my musical accompaniment is getting married, that may be a stumbling block, a great one, but I can’t really use up any of his time to help, that would be pretty selfish…..

Anyhow’s, needed to get out of my own head for a few minutes, back to work tomorrow to hit targets and be nice to folks on the phone…….

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A great few weeks

So there was the Warsaw expedition, I travelled with my oldest friends Simon, James and Horse otherwise known has Nicholas, and my little brother adam, who at 26 isnt so little but still argues like hes 5 and im 10 and thats MY FUCKING MARS BAR.

 I dont know what happened in Warsaw, well no I do, it was cluster fucked like Justin Bieber in prison to all buggery in the 40’s, but I dont get how that has left it seemingly teeming with nothing but genetically beautiful women. I jokingly said I would time how long it took to see another good looking woman, on average 17 seconds, and this was in minus five on a Monday afternoon when presumably most people were in work, so had we been there on a Friday or saturday afternoon I can only imagine I would have left of a trail of sweat and exuberance (yes thats what we are calling it)…..

So its still a really cheap place to drink, which got me thinking, in such a poor economy over in the UK why dont Britain adopt the same approach.

 

Ok already I know that every spastic and their brother, who have never been out or got drunk, or just drink with friends in the corner would scream “no but if you make pubs really cheap, then everyone will get so drunk the country will end and everyone will get injured and hurt, and it will be chaos”, to that I say 1. No it wont, because it wasnt in the 90’s when we all did it 2. The legal age is 18 because when you are 18 you are supposed to be responsible for yourself, even when you drink, and if you do to much of it, well thats what trained bar staff and bouncers are for, to stop you drinking.

The trouble is Britain has it backwards, the beer makers have to account for tax increases, which Parliament put on to get more money from a source of revenue that will not really ever stop delivering, however they did it the wrong way round, they should be raising taxes on supermarket booze.  

With bars and clubs closing, lowering the cost of alcohol in an environment that is both supervised and largely attended by adults who can cull their own, puts money back into the pubs and clubs, keeps jobs, makes a few more jobs, and keeps Britain spending, the knock on is yes you might get more drunk people, but sorry you have to trust adults to be adults and if you cant, then thats their parents and peers problem, its how you learn, making mistakes, and besides, where are you more likely to be supervised, in a bar or pub or night club (where your main goal is to stay mildly cognisant in front of the opposite sex) or in your living room with your friends with no limit on how much you can drink, and no readily available source of authority.

Also by increasing the cost of alcohol in supermarkets you largely cut off the source of alcohol from the biggest nuisance to drinkers, the public drunk.

Honestly whats more hassle and more “oh fuck I have to walk past that” a pub, or a group of 17 year olds drink a 2 litre bottle of cider they bought 2.50…. also being able to buy alcohol so cheaply doesnt exactly help people who are homeless, or have drinking problems, in a pub or bar setting those people cant get served, can be identified by staff and word gets around, and god forbid they stop drinking for a bit and maybe see a different perspective, instead of just taking solace in alcohol.

Truth be told most people who just drink at home dont do it to get smashed, we might have a couple in front of a film, or with friends, or a bottle of wine with your other half, which you would still pay a couple of quid extra for, because you know you dont have to worry about taxi’s, paying for clubs, trains etc, the trade off is the environment your after.

Sorry its all abit rambly, but my basic point here is.

Britain needs businesses to survive, it needs people to want to go out of their houses, drinking shouldnt be the answer, but to some people its a social need to go have a few beers in their local.  Supermarkets dont need beer money to survive, so lets put the beer money where its needed shall we.

 

 

 

 

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Ok I got Distracted

Sorry, I was meant to write a bit more but thanks to work, moving and actually making an effort to go meet locals in Bristol, I have not put much thought into uh….thought….

So best part of my week, Iron Man 3 trailer, Movies are finally working out that instead of making movies about Vampire fiction, or big budget films about board games, that comic books are the best option, why 

 

A. Best writing.  Next to tv series there isnt much more pressing story wise than needing to keep story arcs going bi monthly, and knowing that fans love the characters so specifically, that if they do one wrong, they lose a fan, this means the writers know the characters inside and out, have a good head for what fans expect and enjoy about their characters, and in purely fan terms, will go to any film about it.  Also they constantly reference their pasts, which gives the characters credibility to the fans. Also with most of the characters being decades old, there is the challenge of recreating the characters, and keeping stories fresh or reworking them creatively, one of the best things I read, while not being into comics at the time in the slightest was Old Man Logan, great read, especially if you watched Xmen as a kid.

B.  Creativity, literally nothing you can’t put in, if you can imagine it, and again theres loads of content fans want to see, how do they make the armour work, how do they do the Mandarin etc  I like the batman movies, but they almost made them to …..Real, if thats the right word, part of comic books is that they are meant to be larger than life, and Batman, while is the grittiest comic book character, the villains are meant to be terrifying and larger than life to, I loved Tom Hardy as Bane, but Most people probably wanted to see him 8 foot tall on the steroids, this is partly why Im not looking forward to Justice league, because If its meant to be close to real life, then the villains will probably be close to real life and thats where SUperman becomes the most boring superhero alive because your fully aware that if he wanted to he could rip their arms off, and game over, but never does.

C. Actors, ok some of the actors may be jumping on the band wagon, but the casts have been ridiculously strong every time, Downey Jr has made Tony Stark real, and you get Don Cheadle, Paltrow, Ben Fucking Kingsley.  The actors have a whole bunch of material to dig into, and again the directors they attract are at the top of their game, Nolan Christian Bale, Michael Keaton, Gary Oldman, these are great actors.

FInally – they are the most fun.

my biggest gripe with the Twighlights, the fifty shades of greys, Les mis, Life of Pi, is they are always billed as life changing movies, that are taken way to seriously by fanatics, and in some cases, especially with Twighlight, absolute nut jobs, comic book fans love being comic book fans.  they love that not everyone gets it, and that it is just ever evolving fun and escapism without anyone going “yes wolverine battled the hulk, and thor made a glib comment while smashing the moon, but the message was, dont eat carbs when trying to raise your children…..”

Comic Books have made the cinema an event again, they gross the highest, and are getting kids into actually reading stuff, and its all being done by the best writers, actors and directors out there.  Truly it s an excellent time to be a geek.

If you want to watch something but want it gritty, watch Warner Brothers Dark knight rises 1 & 2, its ridiculously dark, but great to watch.

Enjoy!!

Yes I know, this is truly the work of a 32 year old fan boy.

 

 

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Iron Man 3

Sploosh, although Im a bit annoyed the merchandisers have got hold of it and theres now half a dozen Iron man alternatives at the end, which far as I know aren;t in the comics…..

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Doubts

Ok, so I know work is important, because sadly I cant pay for things with glib or geeky comments…………

But is working strictly to pay for your future career/training, actually a hindrance to looking for the training or work you actually want.

Essentially, to lead a happy life I have to have time to do all of the following – 

 

Training – I like exercise, playing basketball, weights and generally just want to stay in shape to be healthy, and to be slightly better looking to.

Creative – I used to be really creative, acting mainly, but I have always tried to stay reasonably creative, even if its just writing stupid jokes, just anything to either get a reaction or a laugh, I dont know how this is going to happen going forward, I have written numerous stand up routines, but havnt had the balls to try them, bar one drunken attempt that actually went ok.

 

Friends – I miss my friends, I know I can make more but in the meantime I miss having them to talk stuff through, my australia friends are really important but I know we will meet again and pick up like it was yesterday, but my UK friends, my old friends, are miles away and in the process of all getting married, kids etc, which is awesome, but I dont want to disturb that.

 

Having this job means I have had to move to Bristol, because simply there were no jobs forthcoming in Wales, maybe I should have waited until February once the christmas period had died down, but Im impatient and needed money so now Im up here, for pretty shitty money, and living in a nice house with a nice housemate, but its not the same as having a friend near by.

 

Trouble is by the end of my working day, if i do one of the above needs, thats me done for having time to find another job, until the weekend, I need to make more time, and prioritise my needs going forward, but Im fucked if I know how to do it.

Also my job is kind of soul sucking already, and its not even been a month, so i dont want to fall back in to that old place Apathy, id love to have a self help group of apathy, but trouble is how would I get anyone to show up……

Missed a day, if you are reading this, someone suggest punishment, or solutions to my first world problem.

 

Dai

 

 

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Great

One of the great things about getting older is you start to speak in definites, as In “Football is definitely gay” or “I definitely hate you”

It also makes you give things their full attention or no attention, so see the link for something that broke me a little bit, because as a basketball player, and hater of all teenagers everywhere, this is a sign of greatness.