Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Internet is jumpy today, time to read

Having finished The Importance of Being Earnest, I am still dissapointed a bit with this great reading.

The thing is that I was inspired by this quotes collection when I started, but the book proved to be no more than a quotes collection itself - a merrymaking vaudeville. The plot exists only to let the author have an opportunity of making a display of his witness - which, I must admit, is very worthwile though - and being impressed with a remarkable number of biting quotes I expected something deeper and more dramatic, like Woe from Wit.

Also, it may be a problem with my language taste but I find rather cheap rhyming Ernest and Earnest. See, it's like Wild Wilde, geez.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Tottenham Hale sketching

As far as I remember, last time I drew at university. No wonder today's attempt wasn't very successful, but still I'd like to share:

A rather actual hobby - only 2 pounds at local Tesco for paper and pencils and even an ordinary walk becomes exciting.

Friday, September 25, 2009


When we were being registered with the NHS I was confused with the colours of medical cards - blue for females and pink for males.

First I assumed another case of customs difference, like with wedding rings weared on a left hand here. But today I had an opportunity to ask a nurse in a surgery about it, and she admitted that it is really a mess and a source of confusion for medical staff.

By the way, I've read a lot of critiques about NHS lately (mostly in connexion with USA healthcare reform), but I must say that at least in the beginning UK system is much better than, for example, Russian one that is also run by government. I mean, local NHS surgery at the ward which is, well, rather far from being rich, turned out to be more clean and friendly than the paid polyclinic at the centre of Moscow I used to attend in Russia. Don't know if the treatment quality differs also (I am not ill yet and hope it will last) but this far my impression is definitely positive.

P.S. Of course, speaking about NHS one must bear in mind that it comes to about 15% of UK budget to maintain service.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Collateral damage

Two days ago I was amused with presence of exotic birds in believed-to-be-grey London, but there are also those who wasn't that lucky. The common and well-known house sparrows almost vanished in Britain :( As distinct from other urban species sparrow nestlings must be fed with insects necessarily and they are hard to find in London parks.

I only realized that I haven't seen a single small chirping fellow in a whole month when I noticed a special extinction warning sign at one of the Victoria embarkment small gardens.

Good luck to RSPB and partners and all hail the imperial sparrow!


There was a lot of racket today about an indicative case showing Labours being addled by their own overcomplicated immigration rules.

Many expect Tories to tighten either 'to enter' and 'to remain' criteria next year but I hope that at least for those who fit the bill system would become more friendly and less bureaucratic.

By the way, I've stumbled upon quite an interesting discussion on BBC 4 radio on about 5pm explaining Lady Scotland fault circumstances. Hope they publish transcripts so I'd recommend to look for that conversation later if you're somehow interested.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Celebrating diversity

Nature here has something in common with local cuisine - it is believed to be dull and not very manifold by foreigners. But really similar stereotypes are no longer actual in both cases, for those were enormously enriched during the last century with novelties from all over the world growing into everyday life and culture.

Okay, coming to the point, I just wanted to show this low-quality picture of London parrots:

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

I've found an article about English parrots from 2004 but from that time as you can assume their population only rised. Birds from the picture above are green parakeets also mentioned in the text.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Reader's comment

Working at the public library, a friend of mine has found this handwritten note enclosured in a book about IRA:

Friday, September 18, 2009

Little suprises

It is very likely that you have an idea about left side traffic, separate taps and specific plug sockets in UK. But I suppose you aren't awared of local light bulbs and phones fittings.

Now you are.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


In a walking distance from our house (literally, no longer than in 5 minutes) there are four various Protestant, one Catholic and one Judaic religious organizations. Actually, there can be more but yet I noticed only six of them. Newcomers to UK are often asked in their countries about mosques, if they are dailymailing British society for real. See, those mosques being widely discussed are, uhm, not the only ones.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Hello from TfL

Today, power supply went off in our home. After futile messing with fuses and switches I went outdoors to check if some works were in progress and indeed discovered the cause:

That bendy bus smashed into the house right next to ours.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Cash is the king

UK coins are hard to get known with for a novice. While visiting UK for the first time as a tourist I had permanent problems with counting out needed amount, annoyingly slowing down the line and finally shamefully paying with a note (which resulted in extra coins received as change).

The problem is that coin value in Britain is not simply a function of its diameter. So when you're holding 10p and searching for 20p in your wallet you can't just grasp a coin that is bigger than one you're holding. Also there are often text values on coins instead of easy recognized digits, and that captions are hard to read.

In other words, you can't just rely on your instinct and are forced to analyze.

Well, actually, diameter rule remains, but is has effect not through all the coins available but in particular groups only. Here they are:

Colour: coin that isn't all white can be of either smallest (1 or 2 pence) or greatest (1 and 2 pounds) value.

a) If the color is more red than yellow then it's 1 or 2 pence. 2 pence have bigger diameter.

b) If the coin is more yellow than red then it's 1 or 2 pounds. Additionaly, pounds coins have unique properties: one pound is thick (obviously much thicker than others) and two pounds are bimetallic (white centre, yellow borders). And again 2 pound are bigger than 1 pound.
If the coin is all white, proceed with shape: if it is polygonal rather that round then the value is either 20 or 50 pence (again, bigger coin size for 50p). Otherwise, it is 5 or 10 pence (yep, bigger diameter for 10).

P.S. Of course banks card can be a bliss but in many cases it needs to be chipped, i.e. chipped cards are required by automatic services (selling and tickets machines, etc). And many Russian banks issue only magnetic cards without a chip integrated.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Age matters

Another local detail to catch - when quoting somebody named, often age is given in UK press. "Bloody hell," says John Bull, 34.

This custom doesn't just seem unusual but has also a touch of contradiction to me because in other cases it is not polite to state your or somebody's age where it is not necessary. For example, some companies warn canditates not to state age (or sex, or marriage status) in their CVs for it may be a discrimination of those younger or older.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


If you somehow managed not to hear about the greatest London heist in August, you surely must pay attention.

The thing with it is that the event was perfectly cinematographic. I mean, from the huge booty taken in two minutes to the every detail. Just look through the newspapers websites and put a mark when you face some criminal movie cliché: two of robbers, black and white, sharply dressed, disguised with Mission Impossible latex masks, grabbing precious jewels without any casualties, leaving the place changing cars etc.

And the final detail - get ready - Britain's previous largest robbery took place at 2003 at the same store! So, it was a sequel.

Also, why 'cinematographic' instead of 'cinema' for CCTV shots and bypasser's mobile video are available to the public. Gosh, it's better than a movie!

See, conclusion honest person must come to: Guy Ritchie is a bloody realist.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

One step right from Russian immigrant results in bumping the wall

Recently, I had stumbled upon a livejournal post questioning about UK nuclear arsenal. Of course, the discussion followed (as the question itself) was predictably naïve but actually it isn't an issue in UK livejournal.

He who really astonished me was the user who appeared with curses and Rand quotes. Quite an occasion for the Europe! Look, I said to myself, stereotypes aren't true, but some doubts resisted -

- when I clicked this user nickname, his journal was found to be in Russian.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


We've been living in this flat for about three weeks already but still we've got no broadband internet connection.

The thing is that UK internet providers need customers' bank details to get them served (the same story as I described before with mobile phones plans). Without local bank account, only prepaid ('pay as you go') plans are available and there are no such plans for DSL or optical connections. Geez.

To open a local bank account you must be either employed or live in a country for at least three months. There is still a opportunity for newcomers called 'passport account' that requires international address to be proved. Unfortunately, I was unlucky enough first to leave Russia before address verification letter from bank arrived to Moscow address (so I wasn't able to prove my former address simply by demonstrating this letter). Then, it took time for me to know what documents can be recognized as an address proof (for example, Russian landline bill turned to be invalid showing address but not name which is obligatory too). Btw, for me Russian bank statement worked, but still I had to verify my translation of it in a UK translation bureau (another visit to bank branch spared to know it). Finally, bank employee who initiated account opening for me left for vacation so right now I'm stuck without any news.

That's why I still don't have local bank account and it is impossible for me to use 'pay monthly' services.

Another way to use broadband is to buy 3G modem USB dongle with special 'pay as you go' SIM card. But as you can expect this way is more expensive, less reliable and includes nasty traffic limits. You can use your 3G phone as a modem also but it is more expensive because of the phone plans and limits are even more strict.

However I have perfomed some calculations recently and discovered that for the first two months the cost of using 3G dongle and DSL/optic connection is equal. Maybe I'll buy it finally this weekend but still I am not sure because if I decide later to bring a wired connection to our flat then again it'd be needed two weeks for enquiry to process.

See, all above is a serious business! And don't laugh please.