Worked at Oxfam books in the morning; the first half of the morning was quite frustrating, as neither the manager nor the deputy manager was in, and Sheila (the shift leader) didn't seem to know what needed doing, but also didn't seem keen for anybody to do things that they might not be authorised to do (but that obviously needed doing!). Still, she gave the new boy (an American called David who's doing a PhD in History here in Cambridge) an explanation of how the shop works, which gave me a chance to realise that he actually seemed to be somebody I'd be able to talk to -- he was obviously a bit bored with the long-winded explanation of mostly very obvious stuff, and made one or two vaguely intellectual jokes which I smirked at and Sheila didn't seem to get at all. Anyway, once Roger (the manager) got in there was a lot more stuff to do, which was more satisfying -- I prefer to be doing something useful, though at least with volunteer work if there genuinely is nothing to do then I don't feel guilty about getting paid for just being a slacker!
It was an astounding coincidence that the personnel lady from the Police managed to phone during the 20 minutes or so that I was at home at lunchtime, but jolly lucky that she did, because she had good news -- they want to interview me, next Tuesday. :-)
After some faffy car-swapping and a lightning-quick change into "smart but sexy" interview clothes (long-jacketed black trouser suit with hot pink silk shirt) I headed off to WaxInfo for a "chat" with the CEO. Which turned out to be more like a combination of a chat over coffee and a careers advice interview. The first thing he told me was that he'd changed his mind and actually didn't need a tech writer any more, but needed a Java programmer instead. Obviously I wasn't much use to him in that capacity (and at that point I was rather wondering why he'd bothered to get me in for an interview), but he then started wondering out loud "what else he could find for me".
So he asked me about pretty much everything on my CV (good practice for real interviews, at least!) which led into some random conversations about piano music and Julian of Norwich; and he asked what other sort of writing I could do, to which I said "pretty much anything" (assuming I understand the contents at least vaguely, and assuming someone can tell me roughly what the required style is), and asked whether I'd thought of going into teaching (yes, but), and asked if I could do HTML (yes, a bit). Anyway, eventually he said he'd try to get me in for a couple of days at least to do some work on the website, and he'd bear me in mind if he decided they did need a tech writer after all.
Then he said that if I could proofread then maybe I should talk to his friend in the publishing company down the corridor... so he dragged me off for another impromptu interview with 2i Publishing, which went roughly along the lines of "Can you proofread? Right, you're on, I'll call you next week", as a result of which I should be getting some freelance work from them as well.
I left feeling rather dazed. :-)
I went home via The Music Gallery to take my violin in for repair. When I came to restring it on Thursday night I found that the D string wouldn't tighten properly, and on closer examination realised there was a crack in the head going right the way from the peg-hole to the edge of the wood. When I showed this to the violin expert at the Music Gallery he pointed out that there was another smaller crack on the other side of the head as well. The D string is also cutting quite deep into the fingerboard, and he reckoned he might need to do some minor repair work there as well; he also noticed that the bridge is warped (well, it was only a cheapish one at the time, and that was about 10 years ago), and said I could do with a) some better strings (which I knew, because I was a cheapskate and bought the crap ones) and b) some adjusters to take the strain off the new bridge. I was left with the same "bad parent" feeling as I have when things go wrong with my car -- I feel like I'm not taking good care of my things. Anyway, the violin expert is getting back to me at some point next week with a quote; goodness only knows how much all that's going to cost. He's also valuing the violin for insurance purposes, as I really have no idea how much it's worth -- it cost about £200 over 10 years ago, but I don't really know how they appreciate/depreciate in value.
Still full of a general feeling of Organisation and Getting Stuff Done, I decided that I did have time to take pto452 to Iain Allen to get her dynamo fixed, as he'd said it would only be a 10-minute job. And true enough, it only took him 10 minutes or so to take out the old dynamo and put in a new one. Started the car and the dynamo light went out as it should do, so it seemed that the problem had been fixed; I wrote him a cheque and headed back to Cambridge to pick sion_a up from work, already running a bit late because of rush hour traffic on the way there.
I'd got as far as Chittering when the dynamo light went out.
Anyway, there was nothing to do but keep going by that point, in the dark, rain and cold, in a car with no heater, with my fingers slowly turning to ice and my breath forming clouds in front of me. Made it home in one piece, despite one horrible moment when I had to brake very sharply and ended up skidding badly; dropped my car off at home and then picked up sion_a's car again to collect him from work. Goodness only knows when I'll have time to take my car in again now, and I just hope they can work out what's wrong with it -- wonder if brrm was right and it was the control box, since it's clearly not the dynamo itself that's causing the problems.
Just in time to grab dinner at KFC (meeting up there with angua) and head over to the Boat Race (where we also met up with mobbsy) to see John Otway. Well, actually, given that the gig didn't start until very late, we were in plenty of time. The support act was a solo set by Murray Torkildsen, who's played with Otway in the past; unfortunately on his own he wasn't terribly inspiring. He played a seemingly endless set of songs which seemed to be intended to be political and humorous, but didn't quite manage to be convincingly either.
Otway, on the other hand, barely had to pick up a guitar to get a laugh from the audience. Which was fortunate, since he spent a lot of the set picking up guitars -- he didn't play the same instrument for two consecutive songs! -- swapping not-remotely-seamlessly between acoustic guitar, electric guitar borrowed from the Boat Race (having broken his own), his "emergency" electric guitar (because he didn't want to risk breaking the venue's guitar as he'd broken his own...), a double-ended guitar, and a theremin.
This instrument-swapping is representative of the hyperactive energy which characterises an Otway gig -- he throws guitars, turns somersaults, leaps about the stage pretending to be a "pop star", capers for sheer joy at the fact that he is a "pop star", and mostly avoids looking like "a bit of a prat". Or if he does descend from popstardom into pratness, he does it in such an endearing way that it's impossible not to forgive him.
He played all his hits, of course... :-) including a rendition of "Bunsen Burner" as it was (apparently) originally written -- a poem full of cringeworthy puns in response to his daughter's homework. He read it out almost apologetically, waiting for the well-deserved groans -- which made the result even more effective when he brought Murray back on as backing band for a proper "disco" version of the Latest Hit, and then there was no hint of apology for what is really a damn fine pop song.
So, lots of positive stuff, but all in all a busy day which left me quite worn out.