Friday, August 31, 2007

Bruce Springsteen to be in my postcode!

The news nearly made me fall over: Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street band will be touring the world in the autumn, and stopping in London in December. Not only will he be in London, but he'll be in my postcode-- SE10! (albeit on the other side of SE10, but still...)

I learned this the night before tickets went on sale, so I planned my strategy for Thursday morning at 9 a.m. Ideally, I would have preferred to be trying to get tickets online, but duty called and I had to be at the tennis courts instead, so I knew I would have to use my mobile to call Ticketmaster. How times have changed. Twenty years ago, the best way to score tickets would be to sleep out in front of the Ticketmaster office or the stadium where the concert took place. Obviously, I never scored good tickets 20 years ago because there's no way on earth my parents would have let me camp out for tickets.

Being the optimistic person that I am, I convinced myself that Bruce Springsteen wasn't nearly as popular in the U.K. as he is in my home state, N.J. "I think I'll get some tickets," I said confidently. "No way," said Mr. MarathonMum. "He's huge everywhere."

At 9:01 a.m., with the boys running ahead to the courts, I started dialing. Cheeky Ticketmaster has changed the phone system since 1987. Rather than getting a busy signal or a line that won't stop ringing, you get connected (and charged for) a recording that tells you that "due to the high volume of calls there are no ticket agents available." Thanks for nothing.

At 9:10 a.m., I'm still calling and ignoring both my friends and my sons in my pursuit of The Boss. I'm developing a callous on my thumb from redialing.

At 9:13 a.m. I begin to worry that I'll run out of Pay-As-You-Go credit.

At 9:16 a.m. I begin to hear the start of a different message. Could this mean I've done it? Alas no. As the Ticketmaster recording woman adds to her spiel, "All tickets for the Bruce Springsteen concert have sold out."

At 9:17 a.m. I yell, "SON OF A BITCH!!!", oblivious to the fact that several young children are nearby.

So Bruce Springsteen will be in my postcode, but that'll be the closest I get to him in December. Unless he adds some dates (again, note the eternal optimism).....

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Beach, Or How I ALMOST Got To See The Rolling Stones

It was another beautiful autumn day here in London yesterday...

Oh, wait. The calendar tells me it's August. But surely with the gray skies, blustery wind and ongoing rain it must be November, right? In any case, it was another terrible day and our fruit picking expedition got cancelled, so we headed to....

The Beach!

(Or as Thing One calls it, "The Fake Inside Beach at the Dome.")

The Dome, now known as the O2 Centre, shipped in a couple of tons of sand and set up a beach. Desperate to remember the hot fun days at the Jersey Shore just a month ago, we went for a visit.

A good time was had by all. We made a sand castle, we played with the free beach ball and we buried our feet in the very COLD sand. But unfortunately, as we were leaving, Thing Two got his finger caught in the door at the S&M Cafe where we had lunch. ("I told you we shouldn't have gone there," he said between sobs. "We should have gone to Pizza Express.")

I carried him over to the concierege desk and asked to be taken to First Aid, so Thing Two could get some ice, a band-aid and some attention. In that order. The man took us through to what I thought was the office, where I heard some thumping music. He and the other man behind the desk were discussing where the closest first aid station was and they decided the closest place would be backstage. I perked up immediately. Now THAT could be fun.

I then asked where the music was from.

"It's the Rolling Stones, doing their sound check for tonight," he said.

I quickly did the math: Thing Two Needs A Band Aid + Backstage First Aid Station + Sound Check = ME MEETING THE ROLLING STONES!!

The excitement was short lived. As I was doing that calculation, the man behind the desk did some searching and found a plaster for Thing Two.

I Can't Get No Satisfaction.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Help Wanted

With stock markets around the world imploding, it made me ever-so-slightly nostalgic for my old job, where a 4 percent drop in the FTSE would be enough to give me either (a) an adrenaline jolt so big it would take me two days to get to sleep; (b) a nervous breakdown; (c) a combination of the two. However, I got this e-mail from a friend describing my current job, and it made me laugh, so here it is for you to enjoy too.

POSITION: Mother, Mum, Mama, Mummy, Momma, Ma

Long term, team players needed, for challenging permanent work in an, often chaotic environment. Candidates must possess excellent communication and organizational skills and be willing to work variable hours, which will include evenings and weekends and frequent 24 hour shifts on call. Some overnight travel required, including trips to primitive camping sites on rainy weekends and endless sports tournaments in far away cities. Travel expenses not reimbursed. Extensive courier duties also required.

The rest of your life. Must be willing to be hated, at least temporarily, until someone needs £ 5. Must be willing to bite tongue repeatedly. Also, must possess the physical stamina of a pack mule and be able to go from zero to 60 mph in three seconds flat in case, this time, the screams from the garden are not someone just crying wolf. Must be willing to face stimulating technical challenges, such as small gadget repair, mysteriously sluggish toilets and stuck zippers. Must screen phone calls, maintain calendars and coordinate production of multiple homework projects. Must have ability to plan and organize social gatherings for clients of all ages and mental outlooks. Must be willing to be indispensable one minute, an embarrassment the next. Must handle assembly and product safety testing of a half million cheap, plastic toys, and battery operated devices. Must always hope for the best but be prepared for the worst. Must assume final, complete accountability for the quality of the end product. Responsibilities also include floor maintenance and janitorial work throughout the facility.

Virtually none. Your job is to remain in the same position for years, without complaining, constantly retraining and updating your skills, so that those in your charge can ultimately surpass you.

None required unfortunately. On-the-job training offered on a continually exhausting basis.

Get this! You pay them! Offering frequent raises and bonuses. A balloon payment is due when they turn 18 because of the assumption that university will help them become financially independent. When you die, you give them whatever is left. The oddest thing about this reverse-salary scheme is that you actually enjoy it and wish you could only do more.

While no health or dental insurance, no pension, no tuition reimbursement, no paid holidays and no stock options are offered; this job supplies limitless opportunities for personal growth and free hugs for life if you play your cards right.