Meeting with dodgy blokes to receive a bundle of used £20 notes is not how I usually spend my lunchtime. Cash, to me, is something that usually only exists in cyberspace - numbers on a web screen or graphs in MS Money. But circumstances had led to this eventuality, sitting at a road junction at the arranged time, waiting for someone to turn up with the money. There were no dark alleyways, no manilla envelopes, no helicopters hovering overhead. Quite a disappointment, really. Next time somebody crashes into my car and makes an offer to pay for the damage in hard currency, I'll at least stipulate that they wear a trilby..
Back to work. What a culture shock. It took me until mid-afternoon to remember who I was, what I did, etc. At the moment I'm still officially "twiddling my thumbs", although I have the promise of much solid work to come, specifically regarding the Euro. Whether a single currency is actually a sensible economic idea remains to be seen, but as long as it provides me with some more coding to do, I'll happily vote for it in a referendum.
I'm missing Scotland, and the people I was there with already. I think perhaps I've finally transcended the introspective solitary persona of my youth, and am coming to the conclusion that I actually need to be around people. The right people - those I can empathise with and relate to vaguely, sure, but people nonetheless. It's quite a big step for me in a way, admitting this. Being alone isn't becoming difficult, it's just becoming less fun.
Have received a few phone calls since returning from Scotland, in a similar way to those I received in the week immediately after the New Year trip. It serves to neatly confirm that the end of a holiday doesn't mean the end of friendships and relationships, and helps ween us off the hedonistic relaxed lifestyle of the past week, and back to the bleaker, more rigid conforms of the daily grind. The telephone can indeed be a lifeline, affecting your mood like no other gadget.
Looking further afield, being a little less self-obsessed for a while, the world seems an even more depressing place. Ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, racist attacks in London, continued uncertainty over the future of Northern Ireland, the murder of Jill Dando, the Columbine High School massacre.... I don't really know how to deal with these things on a personal level, I certainly don't think I could bring myself to make intelligent comment on them. It's not that they don't affect me in some way, but I just think it would appear glib and superficial for a half-baked online journalist to comment on events of such magnitude. So please don't think me ignorant or uninterested if I skirt round the subject - I simply don't wish to find myself mentioning the Balkans war in the same paragraph as the new Catatonia LP.