Why Bristol Depressed Me, and Other Stories…


It’s not that I feel that Bristol is an intrinsically bad or depressing place. My attitude to it was coloured by the fact that I was a little tired of travelling, tired in general and didn’t entirely want to be there. Also, and this is the key fact, I’d just got back from Iceland. I liked Iceland a lot, despite the twelve hour days I felt almost no stress the entire I was there. There’s something very chilled about the place, and there was almost no traffic congestion, even considering that we drove through the middle of Reykjavik every morning during hush hour. But there’s something else.

I talk quite a bit about how safe I feel in Edinburgh. I’ll walk the length of the city at 3am, no problem. Not that this place is perfect. On my very first night we had to take a diversion on the way back from a night club to avoid a murder scene. But… the last time I tried to walking home after a few drinks back in Maltby a gang of around fifteen guys tried to start a fight with us, and then we had to hide out at a friend’s house and get a lift home in case they were waiting for us further down the road. This wasn’t even in a bad part of town, this was on High Street. Our actions weren’t out of the ordinary, we were just following the drill. Do you get the picture?

It’s not something I generally feel I have to worry about in Edinburgh, sasanack as I may be. In Reykjavik, though, we managed to… hhhmmm… how to phrase this without making myself and my colleague look like complete retards… nope… don’t think it’s possible… leave our belongings unguarded, unwatched and open to theft in an area of town, which, though out of the way, was frequented by the boy racer crowd. Nothing was stolen or even touched. The response we received to our astonishment regarding this: “Well, no… of course it wasn’t.” I didn’t see a single person I would describe as a Ned or a Chav the entire time I was there. Apparently they’re closing prisons down. It was nice.

Then I arrived in Bristol and found my self literally sounded by signs saying “Warning: bag snatchers operate in this area.”, “Pickpockets operate in this area.” and “Remove all valuables from your car.”

That’s what depressed me.

Enough of this talk, though! Here’s some more Jonathon Coulton for you:

I really wish I had a girlfriend right now, ideally one who was also a programmer, so I could giver her these. I’d probably get my arse kicked for it, but damn it would make me laugh…


Well… Here I am…

…In Iceland!

I wanted to come here for a long time (this is no secret), and as the result of a highly unsubtle campaign of strategic hint dropping, here I find myself. It’s not under ideal circumstances, though. I’m here for work and so I’ll be spending most of my time working 12 hour days, doing fiddly embedded computer programming and ridding about in boats waiting for robots to do their thing. I’m also here with my boss (or someone far higher up the chain of command than myself, at least), and though he’s a really nice guy there’s always going to be a significant disconnect. He’s not my first choice(s)* to share this experience with. I’d rather be here with my friends. My friends are awesome, you see.

A particular subset of my awesome friends, appropriately: the Icelandic ones, have furnished me with a list of things I might like to see, do and eat while I’m here. It’s not a challenge on the scale of “cook every single recipe in a recipe book”, but it’s a fun list all the same and one I plan on making an impression on. I’ve found a guide to Icelandic punctuation online and am even working up to actually asking for some of the foodstuffs on the list, rather than simply writing them down, pointing at them and smiling hopefully. We’ll see how it goes. Hopefully it won’t be a repeat of the Turkish “thank you” debacle**.

So far I like it here. It’s pleasantly calm and quiet (except for the boy racers who just went screaming past the office). We went for Italian food last night (not my choice), but I’m hoping for something a little more geographically appropriate tonight. Perhaps I’ll try puffin, it’s always good to try new things. More news as I get it.

It might amuse some of you to know that I’ve typed this while my boss was out of the room, launching into a long explanation of… something.

More news as I get it.

* Why is there no legitimate plural for “first choice”? That’s a linguistic deficiency, right there…

** It’s about 20 syllables long and never elicited anything more than a blank stare from anyone we said it to.