Metropolis 2010 Christmas Carnage

Kareoke Kings and Queens

For those Metropolis employees who attended last night’s Christmas party and made it to the office today, it must surely have been a case of the morning after the night before at Metropolis’ Croydon base this morning. I was lucky enough to have the day off thanks to some careful planning earlier in the year so I spent the first part of the morning in bed before leaving the Jurys Inn Hotel― where the party took place and I was lucky enough to have a room for the night― to grab a nice greasy fry-up.

So how did Christmas Party unfold? Did anyone get so drunk they can’t remember what happened? Were there any kisses under the mistletoe or any revellers who sneaked off for an early night? As far as I aware there was little naughty business, but one thing is certain. Everyone made the most of the free alcohol lurking around.

For several Metropolites it all started around 1:00 pm at The Ship, a regular Friday lunch-time haunt where many of us choose to toast the end of the working week. Mine was just a pint of Fosters to get me in the mood but for others it was at least a couple more.

The boys are back in town

At around 3:30pm we all made the short walk to the Jury’s Inn where the party was taking place. Most went straight to the hotel bar for a few quick drinks before the party started― not too many drinks, however, because they were not free unfortunately― while I checked into my luxurious penthouse suite which was granted to me for the night by the Metropolis hierarchy. Thankfully they recognised the fact that my long commute home would possibly feel even longer after several pint of beer, even more glasses of Jack Daniels and Coke and perhaps even a few Sambucas. All I can say is I am so glad I had the room!

After checking into my palace, penthouse, hotel room or whatever you want to call it there was enough time for a quick pint with the troops before dinner was served. My meal consisted of soup, lamb (with vegetables and potatoes etc) fruit salad and let’s not forget the wine, beer and more beer between courses. As the alcohol flowed, sounds of Christmas crackers being pulled, blowers being blown and conversations louder than they would normally be in the office, echoed around the room. One Metropolis employee, who shall remain nameless, even managed to decapitate the armrests on one of the chairs.

Girls Aloud

Once dinner was finished it was time to boogie the night away on the adjacent dance-floor. The deejay played an array of pop, hip-hop, R&B and other music genres before spicing things up a little. The winner of a dance-off to the tune of classic S-Club Seven’s Reach for the Stars would win a bottle of bubbly. It was only when the winner was announced that it became clear we had a professional dancer in the Metropolis ranks. When I mean professional I am talking about someone who has been dancing from an early age under the tutorage of those at famous London dance school Pineapple Studios. Her victory in the dance-off was a cue to strut her stuff and for a few minutes she was displaying moves which many present, including me, could only dream of being able to do. It wasn’t long, however, before she was joined on the dance-floor by yet another dance-pro in the Metropolis ranks has danced for leading sports brand Reebok. A two-way dance-off suddenly ensued spanning a couple of tracks and to say that both went of it hammer and tongs is an understatement.

Metropolites continued enjoying themselves while displaying unity and passion with their dancing to certain tunes until the clock struck 10:30 pm and it was time to stick or twist― stick meaning calling it a night and twist meaning continuing the party elsewhere. Some decided to stick while others were keen to party on for another few hours.

The plan was to head to Lloyds Bar where the deejay at our party was playing until 2:00 am but for one reason or another we never made it there and ended up in Reflex where it was Kareoke night! The walk there was eventful to say the least and saw two people, who shall once again remain nameless, transported part of the way in a shopping trolley. Thankfully I wasn’t one of them!!

All smiles

After arriving at Reflex it soon became a question of who would take the microphone first. Being the Kareoke fanatic I am, my name was soon registered with the deejay, but it appeared I was beaten to it by two ladies who went on to deliver a perfect rendition of Lady Gaga number Bad Romance with the help of some enthusiastic Metropolis employees.

It was soon time for the main event of the evening, the showstopper Andrew Pentol to take centre stage, pick up the microphone and belt out Bon Jovi classic It’s my Life. I promised to rock the place beforehand and with the help of my Metropolis buddies I duly delivered.

Before long, after some more dancing and singing, it was time for some to head home for a few hours sleep before waking up for work (not me of course as I had the day off and was sleeping in the palace remember) and others to begin the painful recovery process. I left with most of the others and after a couple of journeys to and from the hotel to the chip shop to buy food for some of those staying in the hotel― the second journey was because I put ketchup on someone’s chips when I wasn’t meant to― it was time to turn in for the night.

I am sure today has not been easy for those in attendance last night with hangovers and tiredness the order for many. But if next year’s Metropolis party can produce sumptuous cuisine, a free bar, shopping trolleys, fiercely contested dance-offs and a trip to the nearby karaoke bar or nightclub, it will surely be another night to savour.

Roll on the Metropolis 2011 Christmas party!!!!

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The joys of the underground

Oh the joys of the London Underground. When it is working properly and not overcrowded it consists of people with a plethora of annoying habits. These people tend to have no consideration for anyone but themselves.

Not only are there commuters who refuse to give up seats for those more needy, there are also those who sneeze without putting their hand in front of their mouth and make a right mess (if you catch my drift) and others who cough in people’s faces.

The words “Move right down inside the carriage” recited by station announcers when doors open on incoming trains are ignored nine times out of 10 by commuters. All too often there are scores of people trying to get on trains but having to admit defeat because they think they are too busy. On some occasions carriages are actually completely packed but most of the time people simply refuse to use available space which stops other commuters from getting on.

Even if you are lucky enough to get on a train at the first time of asking you are often delayed by people standing against the doors. When this happens the train will attempt to pull away from the station, move forward a little, jolt and come to a halt. An announcement from the driver tends to follow warning passengers to refrain from obstructing the doors. One would think one warning would be enough, but unfortunately this is rarely the case and those wanting to get home are held back by a few idiots. The worst is when the train suddenly jolts and comes to a halt mid-journey. I don’t know which is more fun― the beginning or end of the journey.

There are those who have bad habits and do not mean to offend anyone, but there are others who simply could not care less. Do I really need to hear every word of the songs people are listening to on their headsets, for example, first thing in the morning or at the end of the day? All it takes is to keep the volume at a reasonable level. Is that too much to ask?

Carelessness is another common characteristic of many commuters travelling on the underground. The other day I was coming to the end of yet another wonderfully entertaining journey when I spotted this well-built man enter my carriage. The seat next to me was vacant and as he tried to sit down he just fell on top of me to the amazement of the other travellers. The question is why did he fall? Was it tiredness, a lack of concentration, or his loud music which caused him to lose his bearings? The latter was the reason I am afraid.

The London Underground is often frequented by large numbers of tourists. Almost all of the time, unless they are speaking Spanish, I cannot understand what they are saying. But if I had a pound for the amount of conversations which are slating our underground system I would surely be a very rich man.

So where do we go from here? The answer is who knows? Unfortunately each Sunday night I not only find myself looking ahead to another long week of work but also find myself contemplating another 20 journeys on the London Underground.

No one is perfect not even myself, but if people can be a little more considerate and think of others before themselves, then surely we can make the best of a concept which most people love to hate.

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A day to forget

To say that today has been one of the most frustrating days of my life is nothing short of an understatement.

It all started at 4:15 am when the dreaded alarm went off to wake me up ahead of my work trip to Madrid. I was in my own little world as usual when staggering out of bed, but had to get a move on as the taxi was coming at 5:00 am to take me to Gatwick Airport.

For the past few days my mother and father have been providing hourly weather forecasts – a sign of old age if you ask me – and constantly telling me to be careful in the thick snow. If I had a pound for the amount of times they told me how much the snow will disrupt things and how dangerous and slippery it will be outside I would be a very rich man. To be honest I was sick and tired of hearing about the flaming snow, which had yet to reach London. I even went as far as suggesting that the various advanced weather warnings were over exaggerated and that the so-called snow would never materialise.

How wrong can one be? When I opened the curtains and looked outside I soon realised what all the fuss was about. There was thick snow.

The taxi arrived bang on queue and after a quick stop at the cash point – why the heck I didn’t get cash the night before is beyond me – we were on our way. It was all going well until we hit the dreaded M25 which is bad enough in terms of traffic without snow and ice to complicate matters. Lo and behold we were soon at a stand-still which prompted me to look at my watch and panic about missing my flight.

I then proceeded to check the status of my EasyJet flight on my phone – Oh the joy of Blackberry handsets – only to discover my flight had been cancelled. There wasn’t even time to curse under my breath or out loud like I usually do in times of stress before I received a call from the trip coordinator ensuring I was aware of the cancellation.

The coordinator wasted little time transferring my booking to the next flight bound for Madrid due to take off at 9:30 am. Meanwhile the taxi was still at a stand-still on the M25, but at least I did not have to keep glancing at my watch every five seconds as there was plenty of time before my new flight.

Thirty uneventful minutes passed. We were making slow progress on the M25 so I took the opportunity to check my phone to make sure my new flight was on schedule. Guess what? It was cancelled, which made me extremely angry as the possibility was beginning to dawn on me that I had got up at stupid o’clock for no reason.

There was one last hope. A call from the coordinator revealed there was a flight departing from London City Airport to Madrid which was also due to take off at 9:30 am and still had availability. All I had to do was somehow make it to London City Airport in good time.

After more than 2 hours of crawling traffic in icy conditions I eventually arrived at Gatwick by which point I wasn’t in the best of moods to say the least. I quickly took the shuttle to the North terminal where the train station is located to see if there was any possibility of commuting to London City Airport. Any hopes were dashed in a matter of minutes when it became clear there were no arriving or departing trains from the station due to adverse weather conditions. Not only was I unable to reach London City Airport it turned out I was stranded at the airport indefinitely.

If I wasn’t in the best of moods on arrival it would suffice to say I was in a vile one following this latest development. All I could do was phone the coordinator, inform her of the news and sit on my fat bottom until the trains started up again.

The seconds, minutes and hours passed before eventually at around 12:00 pm, after a full English breakfast, I was able to board a train for East Croydon. It wasn’t long before I reached the office where I had the opportunity to at least spend a few hours being productive.

I will leave you with some final thoughts. In 2012 London will host the Olympic Games and one thing is certain. The organisation will need to be much better than it has been over the past few days which have seen abandoned vehicles, traffic at a stand-still, trains cancelled, flights grounded, passengers sleeping at airports and people in general at their wits end all because of some lousy snow. England may not be used to regular snowfalls but perhaps the authorities should seek advice from their Russian and American counterparts which do a much better job than us in these sort of situations and not just because they are used to them.

Tomorrow we discover if England has been successful in its bid to host the 2018 World Cup. If the verdict goes our way, at least we have a good few years to get things right. The London Olympics, however, are less than two years away and at the moment I am finding myself questioning our ability to organise a piss up in a brewery let alone a world sporting extravaganza.

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A night on the tiles

What a poser I am

It all started with a nice meal sat opposite a special someone at a local Italian restaurant. This was followed by a few pre-30th birthday celebration drinks at the Valentine pub, a regular haunt during my teenage years.

The shots were flowing and the anticipation was building ahead of the train journey to London where most of my friends were congregated.

We eventually arrived at Gem Bar (www.gem-bar.co.uk) around 10:00 pm, an hour late due largely to a certain person who shall remain nameless and our inability to find the club. Once we finally made it inside, the music was pumping, everyone was buzzing and it was time to get the party started.

Some people like to keep their birthday’s quiet and do little to celebrate but I have always been the opposite. For one day of the year I like to be the centre of attention and I am not ashamed to admit this. This is why I always organise a celebration, usually in Central London which is a common meeting ground.

It was great to see so many of my friends in attendance. Some I see on a regular basis while others I do not see that often all. We went on to party the night away and other than a few instances where voices were raised between couples, the night passed off without major incident.

What a lovely couple

An indicator of a good night is often the noise level during the journey home. In this instance everybody, with the exception of those who let the alcohol get the better of them and were sleeping, were reflecting on a good night. Organising a mini-bus to take us home was a blessing in disguise as it meant we did not have to brave the cold and spend ages looking for taxis.

This morning I woke up early and had a nice fry-up before having an afternoon nap and watching football. Tonight I will travel to Crystal Palace to stay with a friend so I am not affected by the latest tube strike on my way to work tomorrow. Watch this space as my feelings on the recent tube strikes could well be the subject of an upcoming blog.

So now I have turned 30 years old does this mean the mad nights out have to stop? Not a chance methinks. As long as

What a lucky man

they are planned in moderation and balanced with various other commitments, there is no reason why they not continue.

Oh well my 30th birthday celebrations may have ended, but there is plenty to look forward to. A trip to Madrid next week for work, followed by various other birthday celebrations, Christmas and New Year’s festivities should mean an exciting end to 2010.

Who knows? My local Italian restaurant and the Valentine pub could well be the start of several nights out on the town before the year end and in the future.

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The Big 30!!!!!!!!!

I will leave you all to decide whether I was a cute little boy

It’s 11:39 pm on November 24th 2010 and in 21 minutes I will turn 30 years old. Many believe that age is only a number but the fact is I feel really old and cannot help it!

The last three decades, some of which I don’t remember because I was in a pram, have been nothing short of eventful. Having successfully negotiated nursery, primary (Ilford Jewish Primary School) and secondary school (King Solomon High School) and University (Middlesex University), I also had to contend with the passing of my grandpa when I was around seven years old, severe acne and a subsequent confidence crisis in my teenage years, the passing of my grandma and the loss of my dear friend, the late Ben Bernstein more recently.

But despite these difficult times, there have been more highs than lows and I have few regrets. I performed to the best

Living the high life

of my ability throughout my education, have always had great friends with whom I have enjoyed and continue to enjoy fun times and been in jobs which challenge me and keep me on my toes. I may feel old and ancient at this moment in time, but once the dust settles and I come to terms with the fact I have reached this milestone, it will surely be a case of onwards and upwards.

When I look back at this post in years to come I will probably ask myself why I had that initial feeling of fear when I turned 30 years of age. Almost inevitably I will wonder why it took so long to realise that age really is only a number and that it never has to hold anyone back.

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The After Hours GP Service

Believe it or not the purpose of this blog was to offer an insight into my day-to-day life and not to rant about anything and everything. But after last night’s episode at the after-hours GP service I have decided to take this opportunity to vent my frustration.

To cut a long story short, my mother had been ill for several days and it reached the point she could no longer sleep without being in pain. I made the relevant phone calls and she was given a slot at the clinic for 10:30 pm.

We arrived there in good time thinking we would have to wait no longer than 10 minutes to be seen, but to our amazement we were not attended to until 12:45 am. During the 2 hours and 45 minutes that followed, we saw and heard the following.

1. Ill-tempered patients hurling abuse at staff
2. Patients who had arrived after us being seen first
3. People emerging from consultations looking more disgruntled than when they went in
4. Massive queues at the various reception areas
5. Staff and patients seeming to have no idea what is expected of them

I am not sure if the situation is the same elsewhere in the UK or in other countries across the world but surely something needs to be done. The complaints of the patients at the clinic last night may not have been life-threatening but a better more fluid system can only benefit both staff and patients in the long-run. I have my own opinions about the overall state of the health service in the UK, but this is another discussion for another day!

Thanks for allowing me this one off rant. Hopefully it won’t happen again!

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Introducing Andrew Pentol

Hello everyone!

My name is Andrew and I am a London-based journalist of around 10 years. After several years of contemplation I have finally decided to enter the wonderful world of blogging and offer an insight into my everyday life.

After several years as a sports journalist with the Jewish Chronicle I am now working as a writer for a trade magazine entitled Duty-Free News International. During the past three or so years I have travelled extensively and look forward to sharing some of my many stories in the years and months ahead as I continue my journey around the world.

Away from work I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and generally living life to the full.

I hope you enjoy reading my blog and I will try to keep you updated on the goings on in my wonderful little world as often as possible.

Andrew

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