Tuesday, February 28, 2006

A sigh of relief

I woke up during the night feeling very nervous about the talk I had to give this morning. I dreamt that my director walked in and said my talk was totally wrong. Anyway, as it turned out, it was totally fine and my Head of Unit was pleased with it. Praise indeed...

It involved getting up really early (for me) and as I was at work until quite late last night I am hoping to escape at a reasonable time tonight

Anyway, it was a busy day yesterday and I didn’t stop all day at work, dealing with one thing and then another, including running round after my Head of Unit. This did prompt be to send an e-mail to someone I used to work with to express my frustration. It was just one sentence, but believe me it said it all! She phoned me later to see if I was still alive and said that often when my e-mails turned up they were already marked as read. That’s kind of bizarre. Obviously my e-mails are fascinating but I wasn’t planning on them having a wider readership. Particularly the e-mail I sent yesterday. Maybe it’s just some quirk in the system. I hope *thinks about the content of some of the e-mails sent from work account- gulp…*

It’s my sister’s birthday today. I have posted her card but will give her a present next time I see. She wanted Pride and Prejudice on DVD, so that’s what I got her. Probably talking to her about it on the phone and saying what a great deal Tesco were running a few weeks ago so I got a really good deal on it, wasn’t the most heart-warming message. Must work on that.

Monday, February 27, 2006

My professional opinion

Another week begins and a busy one at that, I think. Lunch was cancelled yesterday but I went over to see mum to find out how she was doing. She has a really bad cough and was coughing so much on Saturday that she was sick. You probably don’t need too much convincing that I was glad I wasn’t there for that. I only got about six hours sleep Saturday night and so really just wanted to go and see mum and curl up next to her on her bed and go to sleep, but she was just getting up when I arrived and I probably wouldn’t have got much sleep with her incessant coughing anyway. So selfish.

Like most people, I have the ability to become a major expert on someone else’s ill-health. Despite not really knowing what the source of mum’s cough was, there I was giving various remedies and solutions. If it weren’t for the fact that I would instantly pass out at the sight of any patients and that I have absolutely no medical knowledge, I would make a fantastic doctor- maybe that could be my next career move. Anyway it seems mum will be off work for a few more days yet, based on my professional opinion obviously.

I suspect my day ahead is going to be hectic. What with running around after my Head of Unit, actually making sure that I know what I am talking about tomorrow morning, finishing the slides to go with the talk and doing all of my normal work, with various meetings interspersed throughout the day. I also have to leave work at a reasonable time to find a post office to get a tax disc, due to my failure on Saturday. Thank goodness for the Post Office at Trafalgar Square which stays open late. Then I have to get up extra early tomorrow morning, as I probably need to be in by about 7.30am. *sigh* Better get on...

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Some buffoonery

So, it has been a good weekend so far. I haven’t had the chance to sleep in but I’m hoping that somehow I will cope with less than the required eight hours. Although I do feel a bit like death at the moment because I went to bed really late last night so it is not looking entirely hopeful.

Part of the reason I didn’t sleep in yesterday morning was because I had to run some errands first thing, which included getting a new tax disc for my car. My organisation skills had worked a treat and I turned up at the post office to get the disc only to discover that I had not brought my insurance certificate but a different policy document that couldn’t be used to get a new tax disc. So I wandered off downhearted at my incompetence and am now somehow going to have to find the time to buy it before it runs out on Tuesday. Buffoon!

Anyway, I then met up with a friend and had a wander round an exhibition. I was greatly heartened by being able to whip out my Oyster card which entitled us to a two for the price of one discount. Like music to my ears. I can’t resist a bargain.

I really can talk the hind leg off a donkey though and just rambled on in my usual way over lunch afterwards. Fortunately this didn’t have the same effect as it did on my nephew last week, as she didn’t fall asleep midway through eating her lunch. The caffeine probably helped. Must try that on my nephew. 11 month olds can drink caffeine, right?

I then went shoe shopping. I have to say I find any kind of shopping boring. I go out with a firm idea in my mind of what I want and buy it and go home. That’s it. So visiting every shoe shop on Oxford Street was not my idea of a good time. But I was on a mission and was not going to be defeated. Just as I was losing hope, I finally came across a pair that passed muster and am now the proud owner of a pair of black non-descript shoes. I tell you it takes effort to find something that bland.

Incidentally, I went into a couple of department stores during my trek and you usually have to walk in through the perfume bit (I’m sure there is a more technical term for it). Anyway, they’re often looking for people to tout their wares to - but they never ask me. It’s not that I actually want their products, but I do wonder if they look at me and either think “now she wouldn’t be a good advert for our product” and glance away in case I approach, or just think I look really tight and would be happy to make use of their product for free but would never actually pay for it. They’re probably right on both counts.

Anyway, I finished just in time to meet up with another friend and when we met up she said “what do you want to do?” and I replied “well, we could get something to eat”. I’m surprised she even bothered to ask, as that is what I say every time. We went to My Old Dutch and ate pancakes, which was good and filled me up. We were a bit early for Shrove Tuesday but I like to think of myself as a bit of a rebel, working to my own calendar.

We then wandered down by the Thames for a bit and had a cuppa in the crypt under St Martin’s in the Field church in Trafalgar Square. There is actually a café there rather than us just hanging about amongst some dead bodies. I thought it was really nice there and a good place to have a chat out of the cold. All very civilised and I must go back.

The hopeful news for today is that lunch out might be cancelled as my mum might be ill. Apparently she has been off sick all week and has a really bad cough. I’m thinking I am probably not the most attentive daughter, as I had no idea… I had spoken to my sister yesterday anyway and explained my dilemma and she just said “well, I’ll phone mum and ask her not to suggest going to your house” and I instantly felt better and then I wondered why I hadn’t thought to say it to my sister before. You see, I told you I’m a buffoon.

Saturday, February 25, 2006


I am off into London in a bit. It always feels so much more like I have had time off work if I have done something constructive with my weekend, rather than just messing about at home.

I have a bit of a dilemma about tomorrow though. My sister e-mailed me earlier in the week to say that she is going to the restaurant that is literally about twenty seconds from my front door with my parents for lunch. She asked me if I wanted to go as well and I sent back a rather non-committal e-mail saying “could do...”

The thing is that I feel distinctly uncomfortable with my father potentially getting to see where I live. I can just imagine that if we had lunch the suggestion would come up that they have a look at where I live and it would be difficult to decline without being offensive.

There is a suspicious part of my mind that wonders if this is some deliberate ploy with exactly that plan in mind. It must have been years since any of my family have been to that restaurant and suddenly when I live almost next door, they plan to eat there.

Since I left home my father has never been inside any of the places that I have lived. He has seen a couple from the outside due to mum dropping stuff off to me on occasion etc and even that I have felt uncomfortable with (dad being there, not mum dropping stuff off). He has never had my home or work phone number and he was only given my mobile number because mum was ill in hospital a couple of years ago and there was no way of getting out of it really.

Part of it is probably a power thing, I have the opportunity to be in control of this situation and so I exercise that power by not letting him see where I live. But it’s not just that, it’s that it is my space, where I want to feel comfortable and at ease and somehow it would feel kind of tainted if he were to be there. I don’t want to hear what he thinks about where I live or for him to have some understanding of things that go on in my life.

All of this because of Sunday lunch. I haven’t even said if I am going yet, hoping that it all just goes away. Speaking of which, it’s time for me to go away as I have to go into London...

Friday, February 24, 2006


I’m glad it’s Friday. It’s been a busy week and I need the weekend to finally catch up on some sleep. Not least because I went to a quiz at work last night (at which we did well thanks to my friend K’s bizarre and broad knowledge, but didn’t win) and I got home about midnight. Well past my bedtime.

Of course, it has also been a somewhat depressing week, what with the loss of Gripes (or her blog to be more precise). For which there should really be a national day of mourning – or at least people should sit down with a decent cup of tea and a slice of cake. Whilst there is more to life than blogging (apparently) it’s always a shame when we suffer major casualties. Fuzzy also seems to have disappeared into the ether. It might just be a technical glitch but it looks more terminal. Let’s hope it is only a glitch, as the loss of two great bloggers in the same week would be a crying shame. *sigh*

Anyway… earlier this week we finally wrote to the people we interviewed recently to offer them the jobs we had advertised. One of them accepted, then declined, then my boss spoke to her again and thought he had persuaded her, and then she declined. Then my boss spoke to her again and she accepted. She had also been offered another job but I think she is now joining us...

My boss said “This has never happened to me before. I have never had anyone turn me down for a job”. So it was his mission to keep up his track record. He is a nice enough chap but I suspect came across as either desperate or slightly obsessive. She’ll probably sue us for harassment!

Taking of being obsessive reminds me of my Head of Unit. I have been preparing a briefing pack for a meeting taking place next week. It is a complete waste of my time to do it and I even have to write her response to each of the speakers because she is obviously unable to do spontaneous. I am actually one of the speakers, which she seemed to think I would be terribly honoured to do. It seems that part of that honour includes preparing the briefing pack and sorting out all the admin, which doesn’t sound like the best deal to me. Oh and having to be in work at about 7.30am on Tuesday. I'm truly, truly honoured I tell you...

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Note: some blood and gore content

Let me be clear, I am very squeamish. I cannot stand blood, broken bones or anything that alludes to medical related issues.

On Saturday night I watched The Bone Collector. I should have known from the title that this was not the wisest choice but like a moth drawn to a flame there I was watching a film where people get tortured to death and bits of bloody bone get left as a clue. When Denzel Washington slams that chaps hand in the bed mechanism, I was almost beyond hope.

Anyway, there I was leaving work a couple of days ago and having a quick check to see if there was any blog reading material for the tube journey home and I see that WWDD had just put up a new post. “Great” I think “and it’s a really long post too so that will eat up some of my journey.” So, let's move forward twenty minutes and there I am on the tube reading this post . Now the fact that it involves a graphic accident involving public transport might be seen as ironic given where I was when I was reading it, but the effect on me was rather telling. Descriptions of gashes in legs, including the fact that the bone was visible was too much for me. I could feel myself beginning to feel a little grey, but I kept on reading because I did actually want to know what happened. Let me tell you, there were a couple of occasions where I wasn’t quite sure whether I was going to make it to the end – of either the post or my journey. Do you ever get a kind of tingling feeling in your hands when you see something that disturbs you? It’s the feeling you get sometimes before fainting (not that I can think of an occasion where I have actually fainted). Well, I was getting that feeling.

When I did get to the end of the post, I was tempted to sit there with my head in my hands in the hope that somehow getting the blood flow back to my head might help, but my brain kept going back to the thought of being able to see the bone in someone’s leg. You know you shouldn’t think about it, but your mind wanders back anyway...

So then I decided to look at the newspaper I had with me to try and put my mind on something else and the story I turn to is about some bloke who suddenly coughs up a nail that he was accidentally shot with about thirty years ago. What is going on?? Suffice to say that did not help and I returned to trying to blank my mind of all medical related images. Fortunately I did finally get myself back to sanity in time to walk home but that was definitely a night to need to clear my head on the walk home...

Once I was on the train going into work and a bloke had a nose bleed in front of me. I was standing up and he was sitting down and I could just about cope with the sight of the blood, until, he started to swallow it… At that point I could feel myself start to feel ill. I broke out into a cold sweat and had to grip the pole I was standing next to really tightly because I knew I would just be on the floor if I didn’t. I really wanted to sit down but he was the most obvious person to ask and it just didn’t seem right it ask him - and I wasn’t sure I could speak anyway. When I got to my stop I managed to get off the train and then had to take a bit of time to recover my composure. In the grand scheme of things it was nothing, but that tell you how pathetic I am about such things.

I just cannot stand blood and gore. At work I do various fire warden type things but just cannot train to be a first aider because I know that I would pass out if I actually had to deal with anyone. It’s just not the job for me...

So some level of warning - perhaps rating the blood and gore factor of a post - would be appreciated. You wouldn’t want me to pass out on the tube, now would you?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Stay You

Time to come up with another song and I was trying to think of a more cheery song than the ones I have mentioned of late. It is actually far easier for me to come up with songs that have a sad tinge to them though and so while I will try and put in some that are a bit more upbeat, I can’t promise. Having said that I have thought of a song I like that for me is a bit more cheerful, but it is also a song that most people will never have heard of.

I really like the song ‘Stay You’ by Wood. It’s a song that is about being yourself and somebody thinking it’s really great that you are exactly who you are. I like that it’s a song that recognises that everything isn’t perfect, but it doesn’t matter because that is what makes the person who they are. It’s a song that says “just be yourself” and I really like that about it.

The song kind of exudes a confidence that I really like and the combination of the words and the music can lift my mood - and I can have a good sing-along to it too.

I love the way you speak
And I love the way you swear
I love the way you walk around with your head held in the air
I love the way your words move
And I love the way you drive
I love the way you're scared of people, scared to be alive

Stay - stay you that's the toughest thing to do
Stay - stay you that's the toughest thing to do

I love the way you dress up on a Saturday night
I love the way you never speak until it feels just right
I love the way you're spending all your money on yourself
I love the way you answer the phone and pretend you're somebody else

Stay - stay you that's the toughest thing to do

And now I don't want to talk about the things you overcame
By dragging up the past I'll put you through it all again
I've got the greatest admiration for the way that you got through it
Couldn't ask nobody else to do it better than you do it

Stay - stay you .......

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Telling Secrets

I like the blog PostSecret. If you don’t know what it is then basically people send in postcards and reveal some secret about their life, confess something, say something naughty they did once and so on. Then over the course of the following week people e-mail in comments about them and some of the comments are posted on the site as well. Last week very much had a Valentine’s theme and lots of people seemed to send in postcards that were of the human organ rather than the more artistic impression that normally appears on the front of cards declaring undying love. I am very squeamish so that wasn’t ideal for me!

Maybe I am just really nosy and so it appeals from that point of view. But, I like that people send things in and are sometimes really creative or choose great pictures. I really liked this postcard this week. I liked the picture and the caption that went with it “My wildest dream is to find happiness in my every day life”.

Given my very unexciting life, if I ever sent something in it would probably be along the lines of “I had an extra chocolate digestive with my cup of tea today” (if that postcard ever does appear there, I’m going to be your prime suspect now…) but you never know, they might get a whole flurry of e-mails in response saying “I was so relieved to see that postcard. I too had an extra biscuit today. I’m so glad that I’m not the only one.” I like to feel that I am in touch with where people are at...

Monday, February 20, 2006

Losing my marbles

I think I am beginning to lose my marbles. I went to give someone a hand with some stuff yesterday, except as it turned I was a month early. A whole month! Oops. It was useful for me to be there anyway, but I could have got up a bit later had I realised.

I still seem to not be getting as much sleep as I need and I am back on call again this week so that doesn’t help. I really need at least eight hours and can cope for a couple of days on less than that, but that fuzzy feeling you get in your head when you haven’t got enough sleep is horrible. I have a friend who gets one to two hours of sleep a night and constantly feels like that. I don’t know how she copes.

I also am not really up to speaking when I get up in the morning. I don’t normally have any caffeine until I get into the office and don’t find it very easy to be coherent. To be honest just don’t really want to say anything at all until I have drunk a cup of tea (and caught up on some blog reading). My landlady is really chatty in the morning and often attempts conversation while I am in the kitchen eating my breakfast. I think it would be too rude to ask her to stop talking to me, but I just want to operate on auto-pilot until I get on the tube and then doze until I get into the office.

A couple of years ago I woke up in the middle of the night thinking I wanted to go to the loo. The next thing I knew I was lying face down on my bedroom floor in a lot of pain. I think I must have got out of bed to go to the loo and fallen back to sleep while I was walking to my bedroom door. I ended up with a massive bruise on one of my legs and did something really painful to all the muscles in my neck. Because I hadn’t realised I was falling, I didn’t put my hands out to break my fall and the consequences were particularly painful. I still managed to go into work but every evening could hardly move my head and lay on the sofa and took painkillers. So it seems I can’t always stay awake long enough to go to the toilet. I think that is probably very weird, particularly as I was entirely sober…

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Travelling on the underground

I spent most of yesterday at my sister’s house apart from me going into London briefly. At one point I was at London Bridge station which is on the Jubilee line extension, so it has permanent barriers along the edge of the platform with doors that slide open when the train has come to a stop. While I was standing waiting for a train, a child was asking his dad why there were barriers and his dad replied, in all seriousness “It’s to stop people with mental illnesses from pushing people under trains”. Erm, right because that happens all the time on the tube.

Admittedly I can think of one instance, a few years ago, where someone who was mentally disordered deliberately pushed someone under a train. But did this man really think that London Underground went to all that expense just to stop people being pushed under trains? Also, what does it tell this child about people who are mentally ill? Probably most people wouldn’t think anything much of what he said but I have done quite a lot of work on mental disorder and unravelling the myths from the reality was quite some task and I did think it was a bit of an unhelpful answer for the man to give.

Anyway, don’t be paranoid about travelling on the tube, there aren’t loads of people waiting to push you under trains - unless you fail to queue properly or try to board before people have got off the train. But to be honest you deserve what you get if you are foolhardy enough to attempt either of those. The other instance where some instant punishment should be given happened on the way home last night. There was a chap who was sitting in the same carriage as me who was busily clipping his fingernails. I could just hear a constant clipping sound and had to turn up the volume on my radio to try and drown it out. Most unpleasant.

It has been a pretty good weekend so far. I am feeling remarkably mellow and relaxed, despite being really tired because my sister’s cats kept waking me up on Friday night. It’s always nice to see my sister, and we get on well even though we are incredibly different. That probably helps in some ways though, as we have never been in competition with each other. We don’t even look alike. Most people can’t believe we are even related. After my sister got married, I was there when the photographer came round to show the photo proofs and she asked if we actually had the same parents. We assured her that we did, I am sure our parents would have mentioned it if they had some legitimate way to disown me!

Oh and I have a new song that keeps going through my head. It’s “Love is in the Air” (which it isn’t). Fortunately I like the song but I blame 30-Something for this current earworm. Or maybe my brain knows something that I don’t...

Saturday, February 18, 2006

The Man from the Ministry

It seems that my power over young children may have waned. I have previously mentioned that young children seem to find me fascinating and often end up watching me when I am speaking. Well it seems this may no longer be the case. I was looking after my nephew last night and half way through eating his dinner he fell asleep right there in his high chair. There I was chatting away to him (he is only 11 months old, so is kind of a captive audience. You have to make the most of them not being able to speak) and he fell asleep. Admittedly he was sitting there staring at me immediately before lapsing into unconsciousness but I suspect that he was willing me to stop talking so that he could doze off undisturbed.

I think I may just generally be a bad aunt. I had to change his nappy and put him to bed and managed to somehow remove his dirty nappy and get it stuck to his foot. I think maybe I need to go back to aunt training school.

Anyway, this isn’t going to turn into one of those blogs which gives a blow by blow account of some child’s life. I think we can safely conclude that I am a bit of a rubbish aunt and highlighting this on a regular basis is not going to do much for my street cred. Not that I actually have any street cred…

On other matters, on one of my wanders through the weird wide web, I realised the BBC news website is doing a tribute to Public Information Films, which is kind of strange as last Saturday I mentioned one of those films that really scared. Anyway, if you used to watch those films then it might bring back a few horrifying memories. Do you remember the one on the dangers of electricity sub-stations?

I had totally forgotten that there used to be one on the dangers of rabies. After watching that film, I was worried that if I went anywhere near an animal in another country that I was probably going to get rabies and die. I remember going to Italy when I was quite young and there was a small dog at the hotel we were staying at. I really wanted to stroke it but thought it might be fatal to do so - and when it actually licked my hand I’m surprised I didn’t draw up my last will and testament.

It might not be entirely unreasonable to question how accurate the films were if they just seemed to fill most children with absolute horror, but I never have caught rabies or been electrocuted whilst playing Frisbee and maybe that is entirely thanks to watching those films. Thank you Man from the Ministry

Friday, February 17, 2006


The office I work in is a friendly place, I think a lot of it probably comes from the ‘blitz mentality’ we have formed by having to cope with our Head of Unit. We often end up chatting about various things and this week was no exception.

I am not a huge fan of EastEnders but my landlady likes it and so if I am in the room I will watch it. In the office we were talking about a couple of bits that had been going on (Gripes says it all about one of the story lines *shudder*) and mentioned about Pauline Fowler getting married. I said “If even Pauline Fowler can pull, then at least it gives me hope”.

One of the people in my team turned round and in a rather furious tone said “Don’t you dare compare yourself to Pauline Fowler, she’s really awful”. I was slightly taken aback by the vehemence of this comment but laughed and said that I thought in there was perhaps hidden a slight compliment to me. However, we decided that we were starting from such a low standard that it didn’t really prove very much at all. But there you have it folks, I am maybe marginally more appealing than Pauline Fowler. Now I just need to see if I can get the script to my own life to come up trumps.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

I might actually have to do some work...

I am now the owner of a shiny new laptop. Well, possibly not entirely new but work has now given me some technology that is slightly more compact than the laptop I had previously and not entirely steam driven.

I had to go on a course this morning to work out how to use it. It is *much* more complicated than just switching it on and being able to play on the internet. Erm, I mean doing some very important work – and given that I have now lost all of my favourites in IE, I might actually have to do some work. *Grumble*

We were not a very good group of students. The trainer kept saying in a slightly exasperated tone “Is that *actually* what I asked you to do?” and we would all sheepishly reply in chorus “No, miss”. We had to learn about synchronising wiht our desktop computers, doing stuff offline and so on. Things that I already know how to do, but they have managed to set it up totally differently on the new laptops and I just know that I am going to keep losing my work somewhere, as there are so many different ways to dial in which means you have to press a totally different combination of keys to get it to work as you might expect.

There are also lots more logins and passwords to learn. One login and password to get it to even switch on properly, another login and password to log in and yet another password (this time a number - four digits of which you have to memorise and the remaining six digits regenerate every 60 seconds) and then you can finally get into it.

So the conclusion is that it is far better to use it only for the purpose of looking on the internet. If I don’t do any work on it then I can’t possibly lose the work then can I? Sounds perfectly logical to me.

Taking the long route home

I live about a 20 minute walk from the station, but there is also a bus route that goes from almost outside my front door to the station. In the morning I would pretty much always get the bus because I am not generally awake enough to want to even think about walking it.

But on the way home this week, even if the bus has been there I have been walking home. It’s not some health kick, there’s just something in my head that needs a bit of space and time, and getting home quickly on the bus just doesn’t appeal. It’s not that I don’t want to go home, I just need some time to myself and that walk home seems about the only time that can be guaranteed. No interruptions, no hearing other people’s conversations just time inside my own head, maybe often not really thinking about anything at all.

I do feel as though I have stuff on my mind though, stuff that needs a bit of time to form into proper thoughts. I’m not depressed (although I can do that big time), more pensive. I am kind of wondering where my thinking is going to take me. Time will tell I guess.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Heaven and Hell

I left for work before the post this morning so obviously I can’t comment on the stack of Valentine’s cards that will be waiting for me when I get home.

I did actually have a very amusing conversation on the phone yesterday about Valentine’s Day when I was changing my house insurance details. The woman at the call centre said “Have any of your other details changed? Are you still single?” and we then started a really funny conversation about how I would have been cut to the quick had she asked me that the following day (i.e. today) and we were both complaining that we thought it unlikely we would get any cards. We ended the conversation by saying we hoped each other would get many cards and bunches of flowers. It was a most bizarre conversation and I just hope she did also remember to change my address...

Actually I also had another really funny conversation yesterday evening. I was talking to my friend S on the phone and I was asking if he was sending his girlfriend a card. He said he was but thought he might have made a slight error in judgement.

He’d seen one card he liked but thought it might not be suitable and then another card he really liked and for some reason decided to buy them both. He did get a strange look from the woman in the shop. Anyway, for a reason he can no longer fathom he then sent one to her anonymously in the post, even disguising his handwriting, and will give the other one to her in person today. I tried to be reassuring but we did conclude that this was a somewhat dubious plan as there are so many ways it could go wrong. What if she doesn’t mention it or thinks it is from someone else? He was feeling a little apprehensive about today. Must find out what happened,

Anyway, I could write a suitably cynical post about the commercialism of the day or bemoan my singleness, but to be honest, to me it is just another day of the year and if I was with someone I would acknowledge the day, but it really is just another day.

However, I feel a few words on the matter may be in order and I shall therefore hand over to CS Lewis

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully around with hobbies and little luxuries... lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket — safe, dark, motionless, airless — it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable... The only place outside heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers of love is hell.

I am not a cynic about love and relationships or the highs or the lows that go with them. I think relationships are a mighty fine thing (if you're with the right person) and are worth going through the tough stuff for. If you have cause to share the day with someone even vaguely significant, enjoy.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Guilty pleasures

I was talking to someone at work about the huge amount of money she must spend each week on driving into work. Not only is there the petrol costs of sitting in queues for ages but also the £8 per day congestion charge. That quickly mounts up. But she said to me that it’s her little luxury in life and then said that surely I must have one. I thought about it and couldn’t really think of one. I don’t really have some guilty pleasure that I spend my money on - buying a flat screen television doesn’t count. That was a necessity...

I did used to spend quite a lot of money on books but have tried to cut right back as I just don’t have any space for them. I don’t really like shopping generally and have no particular interest in browsing for clothes and so on. It is a good job that I am not a shopaholic, as I don't have space for anything much at all where I live now.

But I do think I need to find a ‘guilty pleasure’ something that is a bit of a reward to myself, or a pick me up on a bad day. I think maybe it would have to be something food related, partly because I just really like food and any excuse to eat is good. But on a practical level, it is consumed so hopefully wouldn’t take up too much space – although if I consume too much of it, I might end up taking up more space of course. Or maybe some kind of tea type drink. You definitely cannot beat a really good cup of tea (none of those ‘fruit teas’ though which to me is just not tea, but some weird flavoured hot water).

Is that completely uninspired though? Should a guilty pleasure be something more than a cup of tea? Somehow I suspect it should be... I would sometimes have a biscuit with it, when I was feeling particularly daring. Maybe even a chocolate one. I know how to live on the edge.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Sometimes ignorance is bliss

I am now the proud owner of a flat screen TV. Marvellous – and means that when I am freezing in the living room, I can actually go to my bedroom to warm up and watch a bit if TV.

I met up with my friend, L, for dinner last night. I realised I hadn’t seen her for a few months which is surprising as we normally meet up every few weeks. L was my first boss when I started work and we stayed in touch for a bit after we stopped working together, lost contact for a couple of years and then got in touch again about two years ago.

Last night we were chatting through some stuff that has been going round my head of late, trying to work out what it means. We even talked about blogging but fortunately she didn’t ask for the details. I am not sure how I would feel about someone I knew reading it.

Anyway, we talked through various bits of what’s been going on in my head which helped to bring some clarity and made me realise that it has been a bit of a weight on my shoulders. I am not angst ridden about it all, I just know that I have to work some stuff out because I don’t deal well with being in some sort of limbo. The problem is that in knowing chances are that I would never be able to do anything about it all. That I would think it all through so that I am no longer in this dilemma, but instead would be in a place where I will never get what I really want. Surely we are meant to work things out to find a bit of peace and yet by doing so I run a real risk of not finding that at all.

So I shall plod on through it all in my usual way and see where my brain ends up. They say that knowledge is power but in my case I think I would be better off deciding ignorance is bliss.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

There's nothing to fear...

I seem to have come across dogs on public transport a few times this week. Twice on the tube and once on a bus. I don’t think it is particularly common for animals to be on public transport, or certainly not at the peak hours I normally travel at.

Anyway, on the bus on the way home last night a woman got on with a really big dog and walked to the back of the bus. The woman sitting behind me leapt out of her seat and told the woman that she was really scared of dogs. The woman totally ignored her and the now very scared woman sat back down but then moved further forward in the bus to get away from the dog and kept glancing back to see where the dog was. She really was terrified.

I can’t say that I can relate to a fear of dogs or animals generally for that matter, although if someone got on the bus with a lion then I would probably be quite scared of that. However, I do seem to have a few fears/ phobias of my own.

The only animal type one I can think of is spiders. I really hate spiders although I can tolerate them a bit more than in the past. When I was really little I woke up during the night once and there was a spider on my pillow and ever since then I have had this real fear of spiders. There is some statistic that says we eat something like three spiders each year while we are asleep, so I am right to be scared.

I can put up with money spiders but the bigger and darker spiders are the more scared I am. Once when I lived with evil landlady I found the biggest spider in the bath I have ever seen. I was that scared that I could feel myself starting to shake. I did just want to shut the door and hope it would go away but the problem with that plan was that a) the only toilet in the house was in the bathroom and b) if it disappeared, where had it gone? It might have been lurking in the shadows waiting to jump out on me. Evil landlady had just gone away for two weeks so I was kind of stuck for options.

I do actually think this is not a nice thing to have done but in the end all I could think to do was kill it with boiling water. So that’s what I did and was then left with this huge dead spider in the bath and had to try and wash it down the plug hole because I still couldn’t stand the thought of coming into contact with it. However because it had such long legs they got wrapped round the plug hole and in the end I just had to put one of those hair catcher things over the top and try and ignore it. Every time I had a shower I just kept thinking about how there was a dead spider very near my feet. I just can’t stand spiders dead or alive. Ick!

Another phobia is gold cutlery. I just really struggle to use it to eat. Sometimes they have gold cutlery in restaurants and it kind of freaks me out. I think it’s because it is quite hard to keep it really shiny and when it looks tarnished it feels like I am using dirty cutlery. In fact cutlery that it is slightly damaged or that has very short tines on the fork I also have to force myself to use and have to focus on the food instead of the implements.

I also hate walking across manhole covers. Partly that is just practical because if it is wet then they are easy to slip on. But when I was about eight, I was playing in a field and trod on a manhole cover that I didn’t realise was broken and I fell and one of my legs disappeared down the hole. Since then I have never been too keen on stepping on them.

Another phobia is of people cracking their knuckles or that thing people sometimes do when they crack each of their fingers. It makes me want to leave the room. When a friend was doing it once and I had to ask him to stop. It made me feel really uncomfortable and slightly faint.

I have a phobia about walking across railway tracks as well. I realise in many ways that is sensible. In a contest between me and a train I think it’s safe to conclude I would come off second best, but I think the root of it lies elsewhere... When I was at primary school we used to have to watch public information films like Superman teaching us the evils of smoking and learning about the Green Cross Code. One of the films we watched was about the dangers of playing on the railway tracks. My memory of it is that there were these teenagers taking a short cut along the railway tracks and they hear a train coming and go to move off the tracks and one of them drops the trainers he is carrying and the laces get stuck in the tracks. He is trying to free his football boots and the train hits him and cuts his legs off and his sister screams so much that she is unable to speak again and other really, really bad things happen. The film ends with the legless boy lying in bed and his now defunct football boots hanging on the door. Can you see why I would have this fear and have never been tempted to go on the railway tracks and think it is just plain dangerous to go anywhere near them??

Anyway, if you have various phobias you might take comfort that, hopefully, they are not as extreme as the ones here or that you are not this person. The oddest phobias have been highlighted here, although to be honest most of the ones on the site are pretty odd. I would also like to point out how brave I was linking to this site because there is actually a picture of a spider on the homepage and I had to quickly scroll back up whenever I scrolled too far down.

I had never realised there are quite so many things to fear until I looked at that site. I was particularly concerned by the person whose fear is of being shot by a spider during the night. Now I have a whole new level of things to be afraid of...

Friday, February 10, 2006

Tedium and ravings

I read an article on the BBC today about blogging and have to say I was slightly perplexed by it. It just didn’t match with my perception of a lot of the blogs out there – not that I somehow have an amazing insight into the world of blogging.

Maybe I am completely off beam and just operate in a very limited world of blogging, but I read a fair few, a number of which don’t appear on the side menu (not sure why…) and just generally keep an eye on what is out there, and this article just seemed to be at odds with what I have seen.

Anyway, I sent the author a brief e-mail, saying that I thought his article didn’t match with my, admittedly limited, perception. He replied and said that he was just picking out what was relevant to his in the mainstream media, which is fair enough, but to me the article doesn’t differentiate between the types of blogs that are out there and instead suggests that the purpose of pretty much all of them is to keep the media and big business in check.

I think part of the appeal of blogging to many people is that it can be whatever the author wants it to be and criticising big business or appraising the accuracy of items in the news doesn’t necessarily feature all that high on a lot of people’s agendas.

However, I will leave you with some words from the article.

“[Blogs] are seen as the rantings and ravings either of the unbalanced or the tedious”.

This is probably difficult to argue with for my blog, but if you are also a blogger it is, of course, entirely untrue in your case...

Time keeping

I have to say that I found writing yesterday’s post strangely cathartic. Maybe it was a way to empty my head a bit instead of letting myself get weighed down by the winter blues. Anyway, it helped, whatever the reason. So we’ll see what other songs I can dig up from the recesses of my mind in due course.

Anyway on other matters, my Head of Unit gets more annoying - please let it be true that she is leaving! Yesterday morning she said to me that the section I work in needs to be staffed from 8am. We already have people on call out of hours and I have no idea what on earth cannot wait until 9am anyway. My personal thoughts are that it is actually that she wants to be able to ask whoever is in to do things for her. As she cannot use a computer or switch on her own TV, I think it is an excuse to get someone running round after her until her secretary gets in. Someone in my team usually gets in at 7.30am (out of choice and then goes home really early) but is on leave for a month and I think this is my Head of Unit’s way of getting someone else to be her dogsbody.

However the thing that really made my jaw drop this week was when someone in my section was summoned from the toilet because our Head of Unit wanted to speak to her. C was in the toilet and someone was sent in to knock on the cubicle door and ask her to go back to the office. Unbelievable! Now we can’t even have a wee without being disturbed. Instead of going straight back to the office C went and made a cup of tea and then wandered back in. Good on her, I say.

My landlady is actually away this weekend so I have the place to myself. That’s quite handy as it gives me the chance to turn the heating up. I live in a really old house and whilst my bedroom is generally nice and warm the living room is extremely cold. It’s not that my landlady is tight with the heating I think she is just used to the temperature, although she does often have an open fire at the weekend. However, the cat seems to keep stalking me, which might be because I cooked some fish for dinner last night. In fact I found the cat licking the plate I had defrosted the fish on. It’s a good job I spotted this because I was going to eat my dinner off the same plate.

I actually have no idea what I am doing this weekend at the moment. I had invited a friend over for lunch on Sunday but he hasn’t replied and beyond that I hadn’t really thought about what to do. I have a few bits in mind though, including maybe going out to buy a nice flat screen TV...

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

It's the thought that counts

Someone in my team sent round a birthday card for us all to sign, as a reminder in her calendar had told her it was H’s birthday. So we all signed the card and someone got her a box of chocolates. When H opened the card this morning she was somewhat surprised, as her birthday is actually in May. It seems that the reminder was in fact about someone totally different. She appreciated the thought anyway and I guess it’s better to be early than late. We got to eat the chocolates so it was a bit of a result really.

I had to give a talk this morning, only I was reliant on someone else’s slides that I didn’t even have a copy of, so there was a certain amount of ‘winging it’ involved. I ended up talking the hind legs off a donkey and more than filled my time slot. I have no idea what I was talking about for all that time, but I have to back shortly to give the same talk again and I’ll see if the donkey manages to lose its other two legs.

Happy Days

For some unknown reason I was in a remarkably good mood yesterday. When I was walking into work yesterday I stopped and offered directions to someone who looked decidedly lost. That’s right, a Londoner being friendly and offering directions and not just begrudgingly giving them when asked! One of my colleagues even commented on how happy I looked. I have no idea where that really good mood came from but it was nice to feel quite jolly, particularly as it was a bit of a miserable day weather-wise. Perhaps it was a sugar rush from thinking about Cadbury’s Creme Eggs. Today I have returned to a tired and subdued state more suited to the time of year.

We interviewed three more people yesterday and that went ok. One of them was very good and so I imagine we will offer her one of the jobs. One of the other candidates didn’t really do herself justice but really desperately wanted the job. I feel rather mean that we are just not going to be able to offer it to her and would like to give her extra marks for just being incredibly enthusiastic. We would have beaten that out of her very quickly though. I am glad that I can just write to her to break the bad news.

The good news though is that someone said to me that apparently our Head of Unit has indicated she plans to leave. It seems she has decided that it is time to move on, as her time is done here. I e-mailed my friend K to tell her and she e-mailed me back and said “when are you going to accept that the universe always has a way of putting these things right”, which made me smile. Let's hope this is the light at the end of the tunnel...

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

You don't have to tell me I need to get a life...

Well, should you have ever wondered if I have waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much time on my hands, let me officially give you proof that indeed I do.

A while ago I mentioned Cadbury’s Creme Eggs and that one of the things I like about them is that they are only available for a certain part of the year. Someone commented that they are available all year, which then kind of confused me. This piece of information sat at the back of my mind and the other day I finally remembered to e-mail Cadbury to ask them. I know, I know... it’s unbelievably sad to do that but I have always been a curious little creature who likes to acquire useless pieces of information and I just needed to know the answer. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

Anyway, I got an e-mail back from them yesterday, which I assume was from some Oompa Loompa type creature and this said:

Cadbury’s Creme Egg is produced for the Easter period only and hopefully you should be able to find stocks in the shops and stores from Christmas right through to Easter. Some retailers buy sufficient stocks to extend their sales into the spring, but as with traditional Easter Eggs they are only intended to be on sale for the first few months of the year"

So there you have it. Quite how the Easter period seems to start at Christmas is a bit beyond me but I won’t dwell on that point. I hope you feel well and truly educated. Don’t all rush out and buy one at once.

Monday, February 06, 2006


I am about ready to give up on IT altogether and go back to the simpler days of using a quill. Yesterday Blogger was doing strange things and today our computers are very ill at work. Someone accidentally loaded a patch on and it has meant that lots of people are unable to use most of the functions on our computers. Even the internet isn’t working very well. What was the point of coming into work today? Apparently today is the most common day in the whole year for someone to take a sicky. Maybe that is what has happened to our computers. I am not even entirely convinced this post will publish but we’ll find out.

Anyway, the house viewings went ok yesterday. The first house was quite nice and not dissimilar to the house we got gazumped on, apart from being two bedrooms instead of three. The only thing that I wasn’t entirely keen on was the location. There was just something that I couldn’t quite put my finger on that didn’t sit well with me. The second house was very nothingy. We looked round it and felt that there was nothing that really appealed to us about it. It was just very bland. We went for a drink afterwards and chatted about it and we will put the first house on a backburner and see if it grows on us and go back for a second viewing if it does.

The weekend seemed to go by so quickly and I can’t believe it is now the start of another week of work. For once I am meant to be in the office all five days, which is never a good week. Particularly if my Head of Unit is about, and I believe she is this week. However, I have the added fun of interviewing this week. There is one interview today, some more tomorrow and one on Friday. I am interviewing with my boss and I suspect we have very different interviewing techniques and we haven’t even discussed what questions we are going to ask yet. We’ll see if I manage to reduce any of them to tears – or them me.

Oh, and that song is still going round my head...

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Blogger is a curious creature

Hmm... not sure what is going on with Blogger at the moment. All of its own accord it reverted yesterday's post back to a draft and promptly removed it from my blog. Are the Blogging police introducing censorship? Anyway I have republished it and we'll see what happens.

House viewings went ok. More on that tomorrow though, as the roast chicken is calling. Not literally of course, as I do like my Sunday lunch to be well and truly dead.


That song is still going round in my head and I keep humming it or singing along.

The bridge evening was very civilised, although I am sure you will be disappointed to learn that I wore nothing smarter than a pair of jeans - and a top, obviously, as it wasn’t ‘strip bridge’. In fact it was contract bridge, which is basically whist but you start by placing bids about how many tricks you are going to win and then if you win the contract you then have to fulfil it. Or something like that... I had trouble remembering whose turn it was a lot of the time so anything else was a bit beyond me.

Anyway, today I am off to see a couple of houses. I don’t know any of the details of them as my friend C has arranged them and sent me a text to say where to turn up later. We have seen a lot of houses but they have been rather mixed. There was one we really liked but it was too expensive, which is surprising what with this being London... Most of the others have just not felt like the right place. We want a three bedroom house so that we can rent out the spare room if we want to, but a lot of houses round here have real box rooms as the third bedroom.

Some places we have looked at have been in a real state. One was a nice enough house but the owners had not tidied up at all and there was stuff everywhere. Plates of food, toys, clothes, papers – pretty much anything you can think of. Another house we looked at they hadn’t even bothered to flush the toilet – and they really should have.

We did actually put in an offer on a house back in September which was accepted but we were then gazumped. I remember when the estate agent phoned me to tell me and I just replied “But that’s totally unethical!” as though she was then going to promptly tell the vendor off and make her change her mind. It was a really nice house so we were rather gutted and we haven’t seen anything comparable since. Hopefully the houses today will inspire us.

Then I have to go over to my parents’ to try and return some order to their house, but mum is going to cook some roast chicken, which is my favourite, so that will be good.

Mum is also going to give me hand with moving my TV from the old place. I spoke to a friend last weekend who had agreed to take it and we’d sorted out a plan. I then texted her on Friday night to check it was all still ok and she replied saying she was not busy all weekend. I was decidedly miffed, as it is the final thing I have to move and this is the last weekend I have full access to the house. I couldn’t be bothered to make a fuss, so instead just asked mum if I could store it at their house temporarily.

It does really frustrate me when people back out of a plan. There is a part of me that is like a little kid that just wants to say “But, but you promised”. Obviously there might be circumstances where it cannot be avoided but to me if you agree to do something then you should do what you can to honour it. I suppose I just don’t like letting people down.

I guess that means that contract bridge is not really the game for me because every time I make a contract and don’t fulfil it, I am going to have a terrible sense of guilt at having not done as I had said I would. It’s serious stuff you know.

Saturday, February 04, 2006


The song ‘Fragile’ by Sting keeps going through my head. I don’t know why but I just keep finding myself humming it or the words going through my head. This has happened several times over the last few days.

Although I don’t think it is the reason it keeps coming to mind, it’s a song that sometimes makes me think back to a time at university. I went back to university one time after the holidays and was told that this chap I knew had killed someone. He had been infatuated with a girl and she had rebuffed him a few times. He then went round to her house to try and talk to her about it and ended up stabbing her to death in a ‘crime of passion’. All rather horrible and he was actually a nice chap (I didn’t know her at all).

I used to go and visit him in prison and he could never quite believe what he had done. We never really spoke about it in any depth, it never seemed quite right to ask him about the details of what had happened, and I knew as much as I needed to through the newspapers anyway. We would just sit there and chat. He was an international student and all his family lived abroad so he wouldn't have got many visitors if I hadn't gone.

They held a memorial service at the university for the girl and they played Fragile as part of the service, which just seemed to sum up what had happened.

If blood will flow when flesh and steel are one
Drying in the colour of the evening sun
Tomorrow's rain will wash the stains away
But something in our minds will always stay
Perhaps this final act was meant
To clinch a lifetime's argument
That nothing comes from violence and nothing ever could
For all those born beneath an angry star
Lest we forget how fragile we are

On and on the rain will fall
Like tears from a star like tears from a star
On and on the rain will say
How fragile we are how fragile we are

On and on the rain will fall
Like tears from a star like tears from a star
On and on the rain will say
How fragile we are how fragile we are
How fragile we are how fragile we are

Friday, February 03, 2006

Signs of Winter

It is freezing in London at the moment. We have even had a little bit of snow. So presumably the Groundhog went back into his burrow yesterday deciding that Spring is actually not just round the corner. Last night I spent most of the evening traipsing about in the cold because I was moving the last of my furniture. It took a very long time as I was moving it to a friend’s house who lives about 15 miles away. My friend C was helping and we did start later than planned as I was helping someone at work prepare for an interview and ended up not leaving work until 6pm and then felt it would be rude not to C a bite to eat before we started. I finally made it home gone 11pm, but at least I am pretty much there now.

My tiredness mixed with being really cold, could explain why I tripped and fell over while I was walking up the escalator at the tube station this morning. You would think that I would be reasonably well practiced at how to use steps, even if they are moving, but seemingly not as practiced as I had thought. I have a somewhat sore knee now. However, at least my effort was not on the same scale as a woman I saw fall over on an escalator a couple of months ago. She somehow managed to fall over backwards and ended up lying on her back with her head pointing toward the bottom of the escalator. She was rather a large lady and her friend was trying to help her up but it proved quite a challenge. I was actually on the escalator travelling in the opposite direction so couldn’t really help, but as far as I know she didn’t get sucked into the mechanism at the top.

I have a fairly busy weekend ahead. Not least because it seems I am going to learn to play bridge tomorrow night. My landlady has a few people coming round and one of them is going to teach people how to play. She invited me to join them so I figured I would give it a go. I don’t actually even know the principle behind bridge let alone a basic idea of what it involves, but hopefully I will pick it up. I seem to think it’s the kind of game where you are meant to sip sherry though. I’d better dig out the twin set and pearls.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Food glorious food

So I made it to Birmingham, gave a talk this morning, stayed on long enough to eat some free food and then headed home.

The last few days seem to have involved much consumption of food. On Monday I had lunch in a cafe. I had some gammon which was about the size of half a pig, accompanied by a fried egg, pineapple, chips, peas, mushrooms and tomatoes. I had forgotten quite how generous they were there. While I was eating that a friend called and invited me over for dinner that night and so I had another nice meal.

Yesterday I ate my lunch at work, then I got fed on the train (I can travel first class with work, so I have to get value for money), then had a three course meal in the evening. Today I had a cooked breakfast, then a reasonable sized lunch and then ate on the train again. It’s the free food - I just can’t turn it down.

Throughout my schooldays and when I was at university I was very overweight and it was only about 6 or 7 years ago that I turned into the fine figure of a woman that I am today (ok there might be a slight exaggeration somewhere in that sentence). The weird thing about getting slimmer was that it took no effort whatsoever. One day someone commented to me that I was looking slimmer and I realised that this was in fact correct. I had slightly changed what I was eating, for some reason I now can’t remember, and instantly began to lose weight. I never consciously went on a diet but because of the progress that I had made I began to eat more healthily but always insisted on eating really nice food. I know lots of people struggle to lose weight but somehow it just came very easily to me.

However, if the current trend continues I will be returning to my previous form. I do now have a far longer walk to the station, which is a good thing based on current evidence. I read somewhere once that our bodies remember the biggest they once were and are constantly trying to return to that. I think I may be trying to assist other people in their efforts by eating their share as well.