Working From Cafe – 10th October 2021

Plug it in and power up
Working here with coffee cup
–Day and night slaving here
Waiting for beer o’clock

Wifi Password 9999
We got the power but not the time
–Living in a deadline fear
That must remain forever online

Twenty four seven three six five
Blown through another portable drive
–PDFs sent peer to peer
Waking up dead just to stay alive

Words were writ, emails sent
Both for and against the government
–What the fuck are you doing here?
With all the wasted time you spent

Earned a dollar, put in bank
Spent on all the coffees drank
–Your boss is making profit clear
Whilst you are just a mindless blank

Paycheck to paycheck, living for what? Every night I get drunk to get sunk – 11th February 2020

The continuum of Problem-solving:

You solve the visible problem.

You solve the problem that caused the visible problem.

You avoid the problem.

When solving visible problems, it’s easy to signal value creation to others. If you work in a large organization with a regular paycheck, few people ask if the problems should exist in the first place. Instead, everyone thinks you’re indispensable because you’re so busy solving problems.

As you move toward avoiding problems before they happen, visibility decreases. Explaining what you do all day becomes harder and more subjective. Rewarding people for something that didn’t happen is very difficult. Thus, it becomes risky for the employee to avoid problems.

From Farnam Street’s Brain Food Newsletter

“If you work in a large organization with a regular paycheck, few people ask if the problems should exist in the first place.” Reading this took me right back to my old IT office job.

I really loved that job when I first started. It was overlooking Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. I worked my ass off to learn as quickly as I could. Years later I was rewarded with a technical administration position, which was better than it sounds.

It was a steep learning curve which involved a lot of testing, installations, maintenance, programming and 24 hour support. The product was a top of the range piece of software. It had just turned the year 2000 and money was flowing freely through the institutions that were supported. Work was interesting and fun.

Slowly, money started to dry up and upgrades were delayed. Often the users would demand it whilst their finance departments would not agree to pay for it. These battles went on consistently for about a decade. During that time all that I needed to do was to make sure the thing kept running. My typical work day could be over after 5 minutes of checking emails. So I made good use of the super fast internet, the office supplies and the printers.

Eventually they started replacing the product I was supporting with a cheaper alternative. Of course users complained because now their minor problems were turning into major problems. To save money, costed money. But it was more cost effective for my employer to pay penalties to the customer for fuckups than it was ensure the fuckups didn’t happen in the first place.

Eventually, after 13 years of arguing for better planning and products, sitting quietly doing my own things on company time, I was made redundant. It was an amazing relief to be honest, and it changed the course of my life. Much for the better, I like to think.

Now, wherever I am working, I can see the same redundant systems in place. The ‘work smarter, not harder’ mantra hasn’t managed to infiltrate everywhere as yet.

It won’t work,
Won’t work no more….

Every everything – 7th December 2019

It’s taken me more than a year and a half to recover!

When I returned from the CELTA training course I found my brain had changed.  I seem to flip between data driven thinking and artistic thinking and often cannot find a good balance.  The training was very linear and intensive (as it should be) and on reflection now, some 18 months later, was easier to complete than I imagined beforehand and during.  The pressure to achieve was very high but that pressure mostly came from within.  Now, I realise that I can turn my hand to anything if I wish to.

Of course, the circumstances since the training have mostly helped me arrive at this conclusion.  First I started doing some free teaching with students from the local university.  This gave me a little self confidence though I was often shocked at the students poor language levels, in the language they are studying for their degrees, whatever the subject.  I can suggest to myself that I could probably easily complete a degree at the university here purely based on the fact I can use the language fully.  Anyway, that’s by the by for now as I’m not really considering that as an option at the moment.

After a few months kicking around and enjoying much free time I ended up working with Grade 5 students at a nearby provincial school.  I have a million stories from there, many which I would like to forget.  I soon discovered the crazy dysfunction in the education system here.  If it’s obvious to me, an unqualified teacher starting their first job then the system must be pretty poor.

I don’t intend to tarnish the education system as a whole as that would be unfair.  The circumstances I was in influenced a lot of my impressions and I try to understand that what I saw was not indicative of other places.  It was, however, the belief of many others teaching here that things are not much better elsewhere in the country.  There are a million reasons for this and books could be filled trying to explain.  The main down side for me was that I felt that I was unable to do a good job and provide useful learning for the students a lot of the time.  I hate doing a bad job – especially when eventually someone else is going to suffer for it.  So that was the other down side – watching willing students deal with the inadequacies of the system which lead to inconsistency in almost everything.  Frustrating beyond belief.

Beyond that though I have found myself with a passion and love for the students that has made me incredibly happy.  It’s a job that I really love to invest my time in and to go to work to do it.  I’ll talk more about this in future.

Just a short one this time as I push myself to get back into this.

“Every heartbeat, every movement, every moment, every sigh.”

Gratitude Journal

I am so grateful and happy to go to school on Friday, which was hard as I had been sick this week and had a bad experience on Monday. The kids also drove me crazy and made me quite angry but I survived and talked to Kru Noon about strategies to get them to listen more. I will take her advice and try this next week!

I walk my love in mornings gleam – 4th February 2018

How to write this?  How to put my feelings into words, express my thoughts clearly.  Maybe I can’t.  So let’s just stick to the facts.

I was contemplating a visit to the UK before settling in to my new life in Thailand.  Knowing my mother was probably in her last year and the timing was kind of right, it had suddenly become a possibility. I know I wrote just recently that I wouldn’t go back but something, I’m not sure what, made me reconsider.  A couple of hours into my first night shift, I called my cousin, Sharon, to discuss.

Sharon was fine with the idea but did warn me that my mum was very ill now and it may not be the way I wanted to remember her.  The doctors at the hospital, knowing a little about my mum’s wishes, had given her a good dose of antibiotics that hadn’t helped her much, so the decision was to switch to morphine for pain reduction and for her body to fight for itself.  This seemed a good solution.  If she had the strength she would recover, if she didn’t, she would be comfortable.

About an hour later, Sharon messaged me saying she had been called urgently to the hospital and perhaps another hour later she sent through a message, carefully worded, “Your mum has just silently faded away.  No more struggle, just peace and tranquillity.”

Sharon had passed on my love whilst mum was still breathing and held her hand until she was gone.

Of course, this outcome was not unexpected, I guess we had all been gearing ourselves up for this moment and I was strangely calm.  I sat at work, contemplating, thinking, sad but not emotional.  I went over memories of my mother and they all provided me with comfort.  I’m grateful her end wasn’t an extended suffering, around the other dramas of the palliative care ward.  Grateful she had been happy in her last few months at the care home.  In fact, my sadness is countered by everything she did for me, knowing that she was proud of what her son had achieved in his life.  I will continue to make her proud.  I just wish I could share these things with her.

I called Amy.  She had just got back from an event and had had a couple or three beers and was in a tipsy chatty mood, so I let her talk and I sat and listened and loved her words, pouring out of her and into me.  I soaked up her love and thought to myself, my mum has gone but my life is still complete.  I have everything.  I am happy.

When Amy talked about my mum, I gently told her that she was gone and she couldn’t believe me.  She burst into tears and apologised for talking all about her night and herself.  I calmed her down, telling her it was just what I needed.  As she continued to cry though I could feel myself starting to crack.  I started pacing the office I was in and managed to stay positive.  Amy insisted we go back to the UK for the funeral and I agreed, though not particularly for the funeral part but it presents us with the right opportunity to catch up with what is left of the family – something I now feel compelled to do.

I finished off my night shift and when I got home set about making new plans.  As I was due to quit work in a few weeks anyway, it seemed to make sense not to bother coming back to Australia after going to the UK, instead ending up in Thailand.  My son, Hayden, was also due to visit me in Adelaide the week before I was going to leave.  So with a little bit of juggling and some flight changes, I’ll leave Adelaide to go to Brisbane to visit Hayden for a few days, then to Sydney, on to Thailand next, to pick up Amy to fly together to the UK.

All of this planning kept me busy and I ended up awake for around 30 hours before finally sleeping peacefully until the following morning, where I failed to get up with my alarm.  No hurry now.  No more work, no more night shifts.

Still calm inside, still quiet.  Doubled meds, finishing off the codeines.  I can’t wait to hold my little Amy in my arms again.

Goodbye mum.  Thank you for everything you did for me.

Love you, always.

Who are you and why am I here? Adelaide – 7th January 2018

In the great British tradition of 2000AD, I’ll try and use song titles and lyrics for all post titles.  The previous post was from the Subhumans and this one is from Void.  I can hum them to you.  I often think about this lyric when I’m in situations deserving of its use.  One time I shouted it out whilst Huggy Bear were playing a show at the Joiners in Southampton, UK.  It was a little unfair and the band were excellent.  But they looked so angry and upset with everything that I began to question their screaming.  Better to hand out lyric sheets and/or talk to the audience in between songs.  Maybe they did this, I don’t recall.  I was more than likely drunk too.  It was quite common.

Through some twisting and plotting, I have found myself in Adelaide.  I have been here for 4 months now, with about 10 weeks to go before I exit.  It is unlikely that I will ever come back though I have grown accustomed to the quirks of this little city.  Occasionally I even enjoy it here.

The precarious nature of IT work has led me here.  I was re-employed by my old employer in Sydney, who will remain nameless, and I’m sure at some point soon will likely become nameless too.  When I was re-hired I spent about a month doing nothing whilst accesses were being requested and approved.  Soon after I quickly learned everything I needed to know, which was very little indeed.  The pervading atmosphere in the office was overwhelmingly negative due to constant re-structuring of offices and jobs moving overseas to cheaper countries.  I saw no reason to pursue any kind of career here again and, in fact when I had previously been retrenched from this company I had sworn off ever doing this type of work again.  I became a barista soon after that – an immensely rewarding job and proof that after 18 years in one industry, there were still other options available to me.  However, I got word of this new position and it made sense at the time to re-introduce myself to office life.  I’m sure in many jobs that work is rewarding and innovative but those two adjectives had long left this company in everything except their promotional literature.

So it was, my wife Amy and I worked hard and saved money and made a plan to move to Chiang Rai in Thailand – her hometown.  After having travelled extensively in Asia I have dreamed of living there and Chiang Rai is of a similar size to the small town I grew up in in England.  It also felt like time to leave the fresh high-rises and high rising rents of Sydney, where we had considered starting our own business but thought that the risk was too much.  It’s probable we would have been successful but the risk of failure would have meant losing everything.  With the money we had saved, we could build a house and start some small simple business in Thailand.  We even toyed with the idea of growing and selling our own fruit and vegetables and generally taking it easy.  That was the dream!  The simple life.  Let’s aim for it anyway.

After a year or so the restructuring at the company meant the job I was employed to do was going to move to Adelaide.  By this time we had worked out our plan of action and this sudden change threw a slight spanner in the works.  In August 2017 we had planned to relocate Amy and everything we owned, including our 2 cats, back to Chiang Rai.  I would continue working and saving as much as possible until it was deemed I had enough money to give us a comfortable cushion to survive on.  Amy and the cats would live with her parents whilst she employed someone to build our house.

With the sudden announcement of the restructure I thought, fuck it, I might as well leave now too and head to Thailand too.  Sometimes it’s better just to jump right in rather than think about things too much.  The other possibility, and the one we ended up doing, was if there was a chance for me to relocate to Adelaide and continue earning some precious Aussie dollars.  In the end, it was an easy sell.  I got a two week holiday of sorts in Thailand before returning to Sydney and driving myself across the map to Adelaide.

The new plan was to work until the house was built and then pack up and go.  Leaving Amy in Thailand wasn’t too much of an emotional problem until we had to say goodbye at the airport.  Luckily, just as her lip was starting to tremble and a tear was forming in my eye, she forced herself to turn around and walk away. I felt honoured and relieved.  To have such an impact on someone’s life is an honour.  The relief is that we are usually pragmatic people and that we would continue to be, knowing that we could survive this temporary adjustment.  So off I strode looking forward to reading books on the journey ‘home’.  Unfortunately, or fortunately, as the case may be, as I have gotten older I have found it possible to sleep on aeroplanes and not much reading was done.  Occasional pangs of grief struck me too.  Although extremely used to being alone and having gained much self-confidence, I found myself unsure of myself for brief moments.  The business of sorting things out soon distracted me further though.  The ease of communication these days also helps significantly.  Anyway, I was about to embark on an adventure.

After staying a couple of nights at a friend’s house I was taking my time driving across this part of Australia.  Four days for what can be done in one if you push it.  But what’s the hurry?  I enjoyed the journey although there was little to see for much of the way.  I guess that made it a little more special when there was something to see, such as a river or fields of flowering crops.  I blasted the stereo as I blasted the car not always realising I was hitting 140 km/h on the long straight roads everywhere.  I rarely needed a map as there were so few options for deviation.  I stayed in a couple of provincial towns along the way and they would likely be the option we choose should we return to Australia later in life.  Finally, I closed in on Adelaide.

I had never been to Adelaide before and hadn’t been given much idea of what to expect.  I had been told that I would love it and that there was much less traffic than Sydney.  That all sounded positive.

I had pre-booked a room at a caravan park near my new office.  Although the company would have paid for it, I didn’t need any fancy hotel to stay in when I got here.  The room was fine, though had no windows at all and just clean brick walls.  The upside of this was that it encouraged me to find a shared place to live as quickly as possible.  I headed to the office on the day after I arrived and got acquainted with my new work environment, which I quickly learned was the same as the old.  In fact, I later discovered that this new place was even more dysfunctional than my old one.  I was able to react positively to this though because I had nothing really invested.  They (the company) needed me more than I needed them.

The work I do is shift based.  Two days, then two nights, followed by four days off, which usually turns out to be 3 days off because the day after the last night shift is usually wandered through in a zombie-like daze.  Sleep is erratic and can last for one hour to 18 hours and by the time you are recovered it’s back to work.

Suburban Adelaide

The difference between Sydney and Adelaide is significant.  I was mystified to find shops closed in the evening and on Sundays or Mondays in Adelaide.  The lack of decent coffee was also a struggle.  Again, the situation actually benefits me well as I am trying to save as much money as possible and don’t want to be spending my time trying to make new acquaintances and using money that that can involve too.  I’ll just sit here, go to work, read books and save money.

Unbelievably, I have stopped drinking for now too.  Adding alcohol on top of shift work really messes you around so taking this opportunity to dry up for a while.  This will definitely not last once I’m in Thailand, though I’m hoping to at least minimize the caffeine addiction as a balance.

I lay in bed slipping in and out of consciousness and thrill to marvellous ideas I have to write about here.  Mostly forgotten by the time I am awake and sitting somewhere to write this.


Here we are in the New Age… – 7th January 2018

It’s been a long time between drinks.  Around 23 years or so.  1994 was a life changing time and then life took over and now I’m looking at another transitional period.

Life changes daily though.  It seems slow but every detail matters somewhat, and if you care to remember it.

Right now I’m sitting in an office, getting paid and doing very little work of reward.  The kind that is emotionally unfulfilling.  But right now, I’ll take the money, thank you very much.

Somehow, over time, you learn that working for ‘the man’, as opposed to working for yourself, is something that must be exploited to the full.  I managed to get myself into a position at one point of not doing any work-related activities at my job and started doing my own hobbies in company time.  Somehow I was also well paid for this.  It was always slightly precarious and eventually, it came to an end.  Then it happened again – and with the same company to boot.  I do thank you, although I wish it could’ve been more rewarding for both of us, to our mutual benefits.  Perhaps I feel guilty.  I know I would sometimes get annoyed when I actually had work to do that was interrupting my personal time and that’s not a good place to be.

The more depressing it became, the more I strove to distraction.  I ended up being very productive.  I could never make that jump though, to make money from doing the things I enjoyed.  I am envious of people who have been able to position themselves in this way.  I’m lacking in artistic talent, not through want of trying.  Often lacking in concentration, born on the cusp of distraction entertainment as I was.  The advent of new technologies only makes this worse and now that even they have surpassed my knowledge and I am like the old man programming his first VCR with only a 3 button remote, I sometimes pine for those days again.

My nostalgia is aligned with depression.  I was deeply unhappy for periods of time that I now reminisce.  That depression was an artistic motivation, a driving force.  The actions often more thrilling than the results.

Right now, I am biding time again.  In this strange period of inertia, the feeling of anticipation is immense and I am highly conscious of the grass always being greener on the other side of the fence.  Hence to take time enjoying the moment, the present, the now.  I visualise vividly a relaxing future whilst aware of the constant need for ‘work’ whether in some paid variety or just the work of remaining alive and managing the mundanities of life.  I hope to derive great pleasures from the digging of weeds or painting of walls but worry that I will start to ignore the dust that settled in the corners many years before.

Luckily I have an outside motivation, my wife, Amy.  Could I do it without her?  Probably, but without so much pleasure, enjoyment and fulfilment.

The bones of the tale are this.  In 1994, I relocated from small-town England to small city Australia. Sydney and thereabouts.  In 2018, I will relocate from small city Australia to small-town Thailand.  In 1994, I documented my time in transition. I have not looked over those diary entries since, but the intention is to add them here alongside current musings.  Let’s see how they compare.  Let’s see if I have really gained some wisdom in the intervening years.

He sings the songs that remind him of the best times – 12th December 1994

Back up the Central Coast on Tuesday for another job interview for Broni at a private hospital set in beautiful surroundings all landscaped in with the bushland, just a two minute walk to the shiny blue lake and a ten minute drive to the beach, wow! If we could live up here it’d be cool! Its a bit of a fogey area but there are some better spots to live nearer the beach so I could practice being a beach bum, learn to surf and write great novels based on old surf folklore!

We came back home to find a regret letter from Newcastle hospital so that has cut our options down even more, so we’re wondering whether to stay here or go to the Central Coast. In our typical ‘we’ve got no money, let’s go spend it’ style we head out to Indian, still not as good as in England, and get drunk and stoned before crashing out.

Up and at them in the morning and off to the beach again, well, why not? Back down to Cronulla Beach again, there’s a bit of a breeze blowing through our hair and keeping the temperature down a touch, though the sun is scorching through our milk screen. The water is freezing to first touch and it takes us an age to get in to our knees but once that far the ferocity of the water crashes up to our hips before dashing back out again preparing for another attack. Once in it gets better and moving around keeps you warm.

The surf is really up today what with the wind and the tide, waves crash down and throw people five and ten feet backwards and then attempts to suck them back out again. Oh, the majesty of nature and it’s terrific forces, stuck in it’s vortex is like an honour but also a danger, Broni heads out, too rough for her liking, she prefers the gentle lapping of a quiet sandswept beach somewhere. Me, with my new waterwings want to be engulfed in the whitewash of crashing wild water, actually I didn’t really want to be engulfed in it but had no choice when jumping into a wave that crest over my head and then pushed up onto the beach leaving me reeling and writhing in the white foam til the power subsided and I’m left stranded and dishevelled on the sand, wary of more imminent attacks, I get up and orient myself and dive back in, struck by some quirky madness and excitable energy.

People line up and anticipate the waves, a big gasp as someone shouts here comes a big one, spotted about twenty metres out and ominously shadowing the closer crests, as it draws up it’s power from below, your feet are sucked from under you and you realise you have to start swimming inland to catch the wave, but all you see below you is a couple of inches of water and sand, the bulk of water sucked up into the wave that is now over your back and you jump and catch the wave and propelled forwards and then left to scramble to your feet in the whitewash water, a twenty foot section of snowy H20.

As you stand you realise you’ve been sucked across the beach and have to swim along the beach to start again or get out to catch breath but getting out is not so easy with the regular suck at your feet and crash of the waves to knock you down. Back out to warm up and burn in the sun. Awesome.

The two images in this post made me laugh. I know exactly how this kid was feeling.

So after that event we took timeout to recover for a couple of days, but now we’re bugged and have to get a water fix and go up to the pool where I’m improving in speed and stamina, racing Broni and nearly matching, soon beat her! Now half the length of the pool under water, somersaults and handstands, I think it remarkable that just a few months ago I couldn’t swim at all and now I’ve conquered a fear of mine and turned it totally around into something I love and enjoy, what’s next on the agenda?

Ok, we pretty much decide to go and live on the Central Coast and make plans to go and look at houses next week and get some addresses to check out and find something near a beach yeah? We get our first decent Indian meal on Saturday night when we go out with Cathy and I’m starting to feel more relaxed, not so concerned with my internal emotions but more at one with my surroundings, more able to face up to the problems that will come my way and deal with them in an intelligent manner (but i can crack any minute!)

So things are good and on this beautiful Sunday morning I phone up Mark, the guy out of Farm of Tongues that I met last week and have a cool talk with him with some contacts and some possibilities for making some noise in the future with people he knows, he’s going to stay in touch and sounded really pleased to hear from me which makes me feel good that I took the chance to speak to him.

Things are coming together for me and Broni after our long long holiday, who knows maybe get some cheap hack job that’ll get me some money coming in so I can afford all those things I’d like to buy, surfboard, skateboard, mountain bikes, amps, noise machines and a million other things I’d like to get involved in.

Cool, cool, fuckin cool, everything’s cool. Let me finish with my dream I had which was that I was talking to Chrissy and seemed sad and I asked her for a hug and she sensed my worry over the wedding and she said not to worry and that I was marrying the most wonderful girl in the world and then I woke up and held Broni close to me and kissed her, kissed for our humble beginnings, kissed her for today and kissed her for the future.

It smells just like me and it smells just like you – 18th November 1994

After work, the Dublin dude – whose name is possibly Pete – they’re all calling me by my first name because they only have my one name to remember but I have all their names to remember – anyway, he is driving the works minibus to the train station so I gratefully accept a lift not realising what a mad bastard driver he is (should’ve guessed!).

Some hour or so later I make it home where my beautiful baby chatters her beautiful head off to me about all she’s been up to while I’ve been slaving! (ha) And she’s even got dinner all made and, yummy it is and then she rubs my feet in Vitamin E and lavender oils and it’s all too much, I have to go to bed and catch up on lost sleep!

Bang! The alarm clock wakes the dead – out of the cloak of shadows, the depth of dreams, the grace of angels, it’s quarter to five (man, the hour has a four in it – I can’t understand why I am awake – a common problem for the working population) and ah hell, I’m on the train again. Wish me luck.

A-ha! Back on the train, etched with pathetic graffiti and dirty from a decade of to and froing up the North Shore.

Work was work and lunch was lunch but I found out I wouldn’t be needed next week which is some relief (our 14 crates arrive today, yippee!). And after the grind I walk to the train (some distance, dude) via golf course and foreshore trail (smells like shit, that unmistakable estuary whiff) up some roads, still running and gunning after nine hours on my feet, just try and stop me! And I, happy and singing cos for the first time in Australia it feels like a Friday and it feels like anything is possible tonight (even though sleep is probable and probably preferable – leave the Friday night life to the youngsters and wish ’em all the best).

I walk via a storm drain, stopping to watch golfers practice on the driving range, noting there’s a ‘hole-in-one jackpot’ and I reckon I could do that, no worries! (No worries mate! I’m even writing my new language). Then up the street some more to witness a fistfight in the street, holding up traffic and passers-by. Ego! Oh yes, bruised male ego – some guy dinked another guy’s car – big fuckin’ shit, man!

A passer-by says to let ’em get on with it (Jeez – what a wasted life!)(Shaun sits in judgement over all, by the way). What a spectacular life I’m having though, on the train again, homeward bound, leafy in love, seeking Broni cuddles.

25th Mar 2021 – I’ve used this Van Pelt image before but the mention of the golf course in the text brought it to mind again. And of course, now I’m listening to them!

Take a little bit of everything you see – 17th November 1994

Don’t you know it, old Shauny went and got himself a job, across the city, on the river, in Cabarita and fuck all if it doesn’t start at 7.30 in the morning which sees me writing this on the train at 6am with the song ‘9 to 5’ buzzing around my head, like, I wish!

Sure was a shock to get a phone call at 4.30pm yesterday and realise just over 12 hours later I’d have to get up and go to work. On the day our tea chests are supposed to be delivered too.

It’s just packing work, pharmaceuticals and maybe only for today and tomorrow but with the possibility of being kept on if they like me (ha ha!). Guess I’ll have to pack those boxes with more than just skill and dexterity but also with some style and flair! (Man, that alarm woke me up during some wild dreams)

Well, that’s the morning gone and it’s gone ok. People are friendly and helpful but I won’t talk about the work ok, cos work isn’t what’s important but people are.

I’m working with three ladies (I call ’em ladies cos they’re older than me!) on a production line in a room of about six lines. It’s noisy and I don’t understand what people say. Everyone else is used to it or second guesses what’s being said. Everyone is pretty cool though and because I didn’t know what to do yet I’d spend time just sitting around waiting for instructions.

I met some of the other workers in the canteen. A guy from Dublin who married an Aussie girl and loves it here. A guy from Edinburgh who seems to have done the same and also talked to an Aussie who told me he’s travelled Europe and has relatives in southern Italy and was surprised at my query about Mafia presence there, saying it’s not visible to yer average person living there.

It’s cool that people are friendly and talkative and I tried explaining that to them, that people are a bit more wary in the U.K. (maybe half trying to explain my difficulty in meeting new people and being open, honest and forward with strangers, I think the more I practice being like that or around people like that, the more it will rub off on me – an old Fusion lyric sits in my head at that thought ‘Take a little bit of everything you see/Roll it into one, into something you can be’)