Friday, September 29, 2006

Moscow Calling. This is Moscow calling.

Well, just a brief post for now. I arrived in Moscow on Tuesday, set off for Siberia on Wednesday and then back to Moscow today - that is a very long way and a lot of time zones in a very short space of time. I'll fill in the details when I get back home, but it has been good so far. The thing is though that it is strange to be in a place where you don't understand the language at all - you don't even recognise your own name for that matter - and you have to hope that there is someone nearby who can translate for you. I guess it makes me feel a bit lonely to feel as though I have absolutely no idea what is going on a lot of the time. Strange.

Don't get me wrong, this is a really interesting place and going to Red Square on Tuesday night was fantastic. All the Russians have been really friendly too, despite us not being able to understand each other, and I even danced with one last night who was this really lovely gentlemen. The fact that we coudn't speak to each other was no bar to him kissing my hand and whisking me on to the dance floor and when the music ended, he kissed my hand again and we went our respective ways. It was really nice though and makes me smile just to think about it.

It has been good so far and I have seen a lot of different places and most of the weekend we are seeing various parts of Moscow, but there is just that little bit of me that feels a bit lost in it all, and I don't mean in some romantic way. Anyway, I shall continue to take in the sights, accept invitations from lovely gentlemen and eat the *vast* amount of food on offer and write about it all some time soon.

Monday, September 25, 2006

To Russia, with some mild affection

It turned out to be a fairly quiet weekend, but given how tired I was after last week that probably wasn’t a bad thing. I did drop over to my parents’ house yesterday but they weren’t in, so instead I just sorted some stuff out at home and finally did a tiny bit of packing. I did also come quite close to electrocuting myself (about three times) which is just another example of the weird state of things in the place where I live.

Today I need to speak to my solicitors and the estate agent to try and sort some things out before I go away because the lease issue on the property seems never likely to come to an end at this point. I will also try and work out how to route my personal mobile through to my work mobile so that hopefully I don’t have to carry both of them about with me while I am away.

I dread to think what my landlady will do to my room while I am away. I’ll probably come back and find my room has been fumigated and floral patterns will be abounding on every fabric in sight. Still, I will return to the final countdown before she moves away. She still hasn’t found anyone who wants to buy the house, so she is likely to be in a decided panic when I get back if that is still the case. Before she went on holiday she told someone that was looking at the house that if necessary I would move back in with my parents if she sold the house before I was ready to move into my own place. This was certainly news to me – and my parents for that matter.

Anyway in about 24 hours time I will be on my way to Russia. I’m really looking forward to it and it will be good to have a break from the office. I’m back late next Monday night and don’t imagine I will be blogging in the interim, but will of course have *lots* of exciting tales to tell you when I get back. Well, maybe. The picture above is from here and with thanks to a certain cynical fellow blogger for pointing me to the site. Anyway, enjoy yourselves while I am eating caviar and drinking vodka (yuck) and trying not to freeze without my hat and gloves. Somehow I think I’ll survive.

Sunday, September 24, 2006


You know how when you want to go and buy summer clothes *actually* in the summer that it’s impossible to get them because they have started to sell all the winter clothes? Well, as it turns out that doesn’t always apply – because there was no hat or gloves to be found when I went out to buy them yesterday. I could get rather chilly in Russia at this rate. I think I’ll just have to buy some suitable items while I’m out there.

My landlady got back from holiday yesterday and I had obviously become complacent while she was away because I had made the school girl error of doing my washing yesterday morning. *shakes head* My landlady was there going through my underwear before I knew it. She must have missed me.

Anyway, I am no further forward with my plans to go to Russia so really need to apply my brain to that today and get some packing done. I might go over to my parents’ later and sort out some things for my mum, such as arranging her car insurance renewal and so on. I lead a terribly exciting life.

Saturday, September 23, 2006


I slept for about 10 hours last night. I must have been really tired. I went upstairs about 9.30pm and decided to watch some TV in bed, so caught up on a couple more episode of Press Gang. I think my landlady’s son was downstairs at one point but am not entirely sure and if it wasn’t home then I don’t know who it was but maybe it was the mysterious person from the other night.

I got a letter from my solicitors this morning which seems to make it more complicated to extend the lease, so I need to think about that. I can’t believe that it is this complicated to get this done and it looks as though it might become more likely that I will just have to move in without extending the lease and then do it in two years time instead, as that would be when I am next legally entitled to do it.

My landlady is due back today, so I need to get the place looking all shiny and then work out if I have everything I need to go to Russia. It no longer seems to be in question whether I am going or not and so it’s time to start getting sorted for that.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Better Days

I think it’s fair to say that it has not really been a good week. Let’s start with these words “head of unit”. Need I say more? Well probably not, but I will anyway.

I’ve been working pretty long hours this week, as my head of unit has wanted me to do various things for her. Then yesterday morning I went into work and she had some more tasks for me and I said that I couldn’t do what she wanted because I was interviewing some people for quite a lot of the day. This was not what my head of unit wanted to hear and she went off on a rant about how ridiculous this was and she would probably cancel the interviews (not that they were anything to do with my unit, I was doing this for someone else) and so it went on. In the end she calmed down and I went off and did some work for her briefly and then did the first lot of interviews.

Over lunch time my head of unit phoned me and had a real go at me, including telling me that she might stop me going to Russia and so on. I explained to her why it was impossible to cancel my trip to Russia (not in an aggressive way but just explaining that it was too late to cancel without causing some major consequences) and she just said that it was her call. I sat there and listened to all the things she said and responded to the points and then, when we’d finished the conversation, started some of the things she wanted done. But I could feel myself beginning to crumble a bit so after a few minutes I went and made myself a cup of tea.

When I went back to my desk I just set my cup of tea down and thought “Actually I can’t do this” (as in just carry on as though nothing had happened) and just felt myself begin to go to pieces a bit. I went over to one of my colleagues to try and say to her what had happened but as soon as I started to speak I knew I couldn’t keep it together and could feel myself beginning to dissolve into tears. She just steered me out of the office and into the toilets and got me to explain what was going on. I still can’t quite believe that I went to pieces like that and I keep telling myself that there isn’t much longer that I’ll have to put up with this but it doesn’t really help. I do think it is totally unprofessional to get upset like that at work but the fact that I did shows that it must really have got to me.

Anyway, after standing in the toilets crying and trying to explain what was wrong I said that I had to go back into the office, as I knew my head of unit would be back and even more annoyed that I wasn’t there. Sure enough there was my head of unit, but fortunately she didn’t come over. A few minutes later she spoke to the person who’d gone out to the toilets with me and asked her what was going on and she said that I’d just been upset about some things.

The rest of the afternoon I did the remaining interviews and then carried on with the work for my head of unit. About six o’clock my head of unit called me over and sat me down and asked me why I’d been upset. I think she was actually genuinely upset by the effect she’d had on me and she spent a while talking to me and explaining why she’d spoken to me in the way that she had. I explained things from my perspective and how hard things are in the section at the moment generally and I did actually feel rather better once I’d spoken to her.

The thing is that I know she gets annoyed with me because she thinks I am good at what I do and it makes her angry when things don’t go as planned, but actually it makes me just feel totally rubbish and as though I am really bad at what I do. I already have plenty of people to tell me I don’t quite measure up, without it being reinforced by my head of unit on a regular basis!

There are other things too, which I can’t even find the energy to explain here. I’m just hopeful that with the weekend ahead and the prospect of (probably) going to Russia that it will clear my head. On the whole I’m fine, it just gets harder and harder to take the knocks sometimes and yesterday was one of those days.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


A friend e-mailed the other day and said “I can just imagine you doing this job” and sent me a link. It probably is the sort of geeky thing that I would quite like doing. I do sometimes answer questions on Yahoo Answers, but can be rather selective about what I want to answer. I tend to avoid the ones that seem to be answering someone’s homework, like “Explain the role of symbolism in the poem “Daffodils”, giving two examples”. When I see questions like that my brain tends to think that they may not just be asking this for their own intellectual edification. If only such a thing had existed when I was at university…

Strangely a friend texted me last night to ask me to confirm a bit of trivia. I was driving when I got the text (not that I read it while I was driving) so did take about 6 or 7 minutes to go back with the answer, which was obviously pretty poor form. Maybe it is my calling though, must aim to do better though.

I now have my visa for Russia and just need to remember to take my passport when I set off on my journey. We are flying business class and the airline is running an offer where you can upgrade to first class in one direction on any of their flights around the world. Except we discovered that they don’t fly first class to Moscow. What kind of Mickey Mouse airline am I flying with, I ask you? I’m just bitter that I don’t get to turn down the glasses of champagne (what with not drinking) or get one of those fancy bed things. I shall just have to imagine what could have been.

The odd thing about the trip is that we got an e-mail yesterday to say that we might want to bring suitable clothing because we are likely to get very dirty. We have also been told to wrap up warm because it is getting cold there, particularly in Siberia. So a trip to the shops to get some suitable attire is in order I think. Whatever do they have planned for us?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Picture the scene

I did the eye drops for the chap I sit next to again and my accuracy was once again commended. However, we were alarmed yesterday morning when we saw in the Metro newspaper some chap who makes his eyeballs bulge and has got some world record for it. Don’t look at this link if you’re a bit squeamish (there are worse pictures than this, but I have been kind(ish). The ones of him in profile are even more freaky). Anyway, when you have just undergone a major eye operation that includes having had your eyeball removed, it maybe isn’t what you want to see on the way into work.

Anyway, picture the scene. It’s been a long day at working, finally getting to head home at 8pm. You hop on the tube and make pretty decent time and decide to catch up with a friend on the phone while you’re no your way home. You’re chatting away and when you finally get to your house, you notice that all the lights are on. Is your landlady back early from holiday? Have you forgotten to turn off all the lights when you went out in the morning? Has someone gone into the house who you don’t know – and maybe is still there?

So this is the scene that presented itself to me yesterday evening. I opened the front door thinking there must be a rational explanation and wandered about the house noticing how many lights there were on all over the place, including lights that I would never normally turn on. Not only that, but someone had picked up the post, drawn the curtains in the living room, and bolted shut the utility room door – a door that is left permanently open.

Even now I have absolutely no idea who had been in the house. Logically it was probably an estate agent, but why would they draw the curtains? Why would they leave all the lights on when they left? Why would they bolt a door shut? So I have no idea who it was or why they had done the things that they did. Very, very strange.

After I had wandered about checking a few things I decided there wasn’t a lot I could do, so I picked up my work bag to get something out of it and noticed a large dead spider under it. I went and got the hoover to get rid of it and just as I went to hoover it up realised it was not in fact dead but alive and well and about to scarper, but fortunately I managed to hoover it up anyway. *evil laugh*

It was an odd day yesterday.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


As predicted, my head of unit summoned me over several times yesterday. One time I was trying to explain something to her and she suddenly said to me in a really fierce tone “you’re not listening to me”. Only I was listening to her and she was the one who wasn’t doing the listening, but, as ever, you will never win on these things, so I just backed down.

One of the people in my team came and spoke to me yesterday morning and told me that he was sick of having his views ignored by our boss, as though he has nothing to contribute. I spoke to him for a bit and then arranged a section meeting to try and calm things a bit, but it does always feel like an uphill struggle (a meeting that my head of unit then interrupted incidentally). I don’t know why people put up with it really, but I suppose I do, so why not others too?

Last year, we had a different boss (we are on our third in a year) and when we worked for him, our head of unit, to our faces (and behind our backs) on many an occasion described us as dysfunctional. The reality is that we are much more ‘dysfunctional’ now than we ever were then and people in the team feel somewhat aggrieved by it all. It’s the structures that are dysfunctional rather than the people though and keeping morale up and trying to encourage them in that in the end it will be ok, isn’t actually all that easy.

The chap I sit next to at work returned from sick leave yesterday. He was off because he’d had an emergency operation to deal with a torn retina. I was really pleased to see him but when he said things like “I think they must have removed my eyeball because I have stitching behind my eye”, I maybe wasn’t quite so pleased…

I was eating my lunch at my desk yesterday and he said that he needed to put his eye drops in but wasn’t very good at doing it himself. So I dutifully put down my sandwich and went over and put the drops in his eye, which given how odd his eye looks at the moment was very brave of me. Almost as brave as me skulking past the very large spider that is in a vase in the utility room at home. I haven’t resorted to getting the hoover out yet, we are just keeping a polite distance from each other in the hope that one of us will go away. So far it has always been me that has gone, but on some ways if I went in there one day and the spider had gone that would then start a whole new issue of where exactly it had gone… Anyway, I’ll try not to dwell on it too much but the cat did give me a very evil look yesterday morning so I don’t think she is too thrilled by this either. I don’t know what it is about where I live but the spiders just seem to be massive. I’m hoping this is a very localised thing and that when I move I will be in a spider free zone. I know that this is unlikely but a girl has to have something to hope for, but I think it’s about as likely as my benefactor turning up. I haven’t given up hope yet though – on either count.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Back to reality

Another weekend over and what a good one it was, seeing my nephew and sister on Saturday and then meeting up with a friend yesterday. I had a really nice day yesterday wandering down the South Bank taking in the sights and sounds and battling our way through the hordes of people who were doing exactly the same thing. But any day that involves sipping tea, eating ice cream and having dinner in pleasant company is always going to rate highly with me.

I can’t believe how good the weather has been this weekend, I thought the weather forecast had said it would rain but I didn’t see a drop. Mind you a friend sent me an e-mail earlier in the week and said how she’d been kept awake by the massive thunderstorm the night before and I just thought “what thunderstorm?”, so I’m not necessarily that reliable a source.

So now it’s back to work and I am wondering if I might end up being at my head of unit’s beck and call all day – particularly as my boss is on leave. I have to give a talk tomorrow and need today to write it, which will probably mean that I’ll end up having to do lots of other things and so won’t find the time. But I shall focus my mind on the fact that I am off to Russia next week and hope that keeps me sane. What’s the worst that could happen? *looks around nervously*

Sunday, September 17, 2006


I had a really nice day yesterday. I did a few bits in the morning and then went to see my sister and nephew in the afternoon. My nephew was as cute as ever and really know how to play to an audience. He hadn’t had his lunch time nap so when we took him to play on the slide at the local park he was really tired. He went down the slide a couple of times but when I carried him over to have another go, he just gave me a cuddle and rested his head on my shoulder and dozed instead. So cute. He must have been really tired because normally if he was at the playground he would be running about and enjoying himself.

My parents were there as well. My father seems to have got even older. I was really shocked when I saw that he had a walking stick. He is 65 years old, which isn’t exactly old, and now relies on a walking stick to get about. Mum says he is just getting more and more self-absorbed. They are having their garage repaired and apparently dad told the builders off for using too much milk. He was worried that he’d end up having to drink a cup of tea without any milk. I did point out that it is possible to buy more milk and that if he treated the builders nicely then they might actually do a better job, but all he could think about was his cup of tea.

Anyway, today I am off to meet up with a friend and then we’re going to the Thames Festival, which should be good, particularly as a lot of it is free. I do like a bargain.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Do you take visa?

Hmm various things to say today. I got a letter from my solicitors a couple of days ago that said that the estate agent had told them I wanted to proceed with the purchase of the property without extending the lease. This was entirely untrue, so I had to call my solicitors yesterday and sort it out and then the estate agent to find out what was going on. I had never spoken to my solicitor before (I’d always spoken to his assistant) but he was really nice and very friendly and sort of cheeky. I quite like people who are a bit cheeky and I felt much better once I had spoken to him.

When I phoned the estate agent he bluffed a bit, but the fundamental problem was that although he did speak to me about three days ago he had *already* spoken to my solicitor (I know that because he told me he had). Even if he had instantly called my solicitor after he had spoken to me there is no way my solicitor could have got a letter out in the post to me that evening because it was late when the estate agent called me. I hadn’t spoken to the estate agent since the middle of August so basically somewhere along the line he had made something up. Anyway, my solicitor was nice and helpful and everything should be fine now. I hope...

I met up with a friend on Wednesday evening for a coffee. On the way to meeting up I had been feeling kind of down about what happened with A last week. As I left work I had felt a little bit shattered again (technically I think it is probably an oxymoron to say “a little bit shattered” but we’ll gloss over that) and for some reason I had looked at my watch and realised that it was the same time as I had read the e-mail from A last week. Somehow my brain must have subconsciously been tracking it. Strange.

Anyway, my friend asked me how I was feeling about the stuff with A and I’d explained that I wasn’t feeling all that great about it. She said “but I thought you were moving on” and I had to explain that it’s a process and you don’t just wake up one day and suddenly decide that someone, who you have always cared about very much, no longer matters to you. It’s not as though I haven’t moved on in a number of senses anyway, how I deal with stuff now is very different to last year and so on, but I sort of felt as though the question was asked in the sense of A no longer mattering to me, which is something that will never be the case. Like I said before, there is a light that never goes out.

On other matters I had a photo taken for my Russian visa yesterday. What a bad photo... Unless I normally look half asleep and I am just in denial. I wonder if they might just reject my visa application because they are so amused by the photo. We shall see, as I have a morning ahead of trying to get the visa. It will cost about £120 and work hasn’t advanced me the money so I had to go and get it out of the bank last night and will claim it back, which I am not too impressed by. You have to pay cash so I can’t even put it on a credit card. Anyway, I will turn up with the various documents I need to produce – passport, letter of invitation and so on – and hope that I can get through the bureaucracy. I haven’t got any stamps in my current passport so it will be good to have a Russian visa stamp. I’m a simple soul, what can I tell you?

I also have a meeting with someone in my team later who I think is going to tell me how miserable he is at work etc. I will have to resist the urge to say I feel exactly the same...

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Position Vacant

Sometimes I wonder if the reason I don’t like my job, is not (just) that it isn’t a good place to work, but that I actually just don’t like working. Maybe it is no more complicated than that. Maybe, whatever I did for a living, I would always reach a point where I decided I wanted to do something else – or, more probably, wanted to do nothing.

I can see myself living a life of leisure - going out for lunch, shopping during the day, maybe taking a course here and there, catching up with people who are also wise enough not to work. But there’s that little thing called money, which is particularly pressing as I am about to take on rather a large mortgage and the building society tends to frown upon not having the means by which to repay it.

So I think ideally I would like to find someone to financially support me. Not necessarily someone I was in a relationship with (although two for the price of one sounds kind of handy), maybe just a benefactor who saw me as an eminently worthy cause. I could even see if I qualify for charitable status. Failing that anyone who would be willing to pay my mortgage every month, or pay off the whole thing if they particularly wanted to. Then I could venture out into the big wide world knowing that I had a secure roof over my head to come back to any time the need arose.

Yes I rather like this idea. But sadly I think it may be an aspiration rather more difficult to fulfil than I might wish. All donations gratefully welcomed of course.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Running late

Yesterday did not start well. I forgot to reset my alarm on Sunday night so it was due to go off at 9.15am instead of 7am. So when I woke up at 7.55am and looked at the time, my blood did run slightly cold... Anyway, there’s nothing like a bit of adrenaline to get you going in the morning.

My head of unit returned from leave yesterday. I was hoping that, as she had been off relaxing and is in the last few weeks before she retires, she might be on better form. Sadly I was wrong and she sent an e-mail to my boss yesterday morning that was a dig at me, based on a complete mis-recollection, on her part, of an e-mail exchange. She also copied in my new head of unit which was particularly kind of her. My boss, being his usual spineless self, then sent me an e-mail totally acquiescing to my head of unit’s every whim. I sent back a rather terse reply attempting to more accurately explain the situation and attached the e-mail my head of unit had referred to (which wasn’t even to me and was incredibly vague and just sort of mentioned my name).

I know my head of unit is going imminently but my boss will still be here and he is so difficult to deal with. He will say whatever he thinks people want to hear. I have a meeting with him on Friday and will raise some concerns then but I know he will just say things like “There’s no point disagreeing with [head of unit] as you’ll never win. Anyway, she’s leaving in a few weeks time and it will be different then” Except that I don’t think it will be any different because my boss won’t make decisions about anything and as a team we feel as though we just drift somewhat aimlessly with no support or guidance from above.

Working where I do makes me moan a lot, which I don’t think is a good thing. I would just like to work somewhere where we actually get things done and respect each other and make decisions. I don’t think that is too much to ask.

In order to feel as though there might at least be some hope of escape, I e-mailed my old boss to mention to him that I would be interested in working for him again. He replied and said that he didn’t know of any vacancies that are coming up in the foreseeable future (why does that seem to be some many people’s phrase of choice at the moment?), but he’d certainly keep me in mind. So not all that positive but at least I have given an indication of my interest. Strangely, after that e-mail exchange with my old boss, I saw that an advert has gone out for a job where I used to work with A and it would actually be a very good job. But in the circumstances, I can’t apply for it because it would be a bit of a nightmare to work together again.

There is a part of me that is sort of toying with the idea of applying for the job anyway though. I do find it frustrating that A’s refusal to be civil impacts on me and I therefore have to make decisions based on someone not wanting to have anything to do with me rather than on whether it is a job that I might actually want. Instead I carry on working in an environment that I don’t like and have to ignore a job that I would actually want to do. Such is life I guess.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Leave is cancelled

I’m sure I should say something profound because it is 11 September, but I haven’t got anything profound to say – except that it really bugs me when people abbreviate it to 9/11 or the London bombings to 7/7. Don’t know why, but it does. Actually that isn’t profound is it, it’s just moaning. Oh well. Maybe I should find more important things to be concerned about anyway.

I am, however, officially decreeing that all leave for people in my team is cancelled. One person in my team went on leave toward the end of July and hasn’t returned yet as he injured his back. Another was on leave and got beaten up in a pub and a third got rushed into hospital a couple of days into his leave because an optician discovered something seriously wrong with his eye. Obviously if people just came into work and were never allowed out then things like that wouldn’t happen.

I spent most of yesterday evening clearing out loads of paperwork. I seem to have let loads of it accumulate but have managed to get rid of a whole (recycling) sacks worth. I can’t imagine how I fitted it all into my room. However, I still seem to have as much paperwork left as I started with, which is even more confusing. Strangely I did find two Cadbury’s Crème Eggs mixed in with the paperwork. I have no idea how I didn’t notice they were there before but somehow I didn’t. Anyway, I was daring enough to actually eat one of them. Whilst technically that does mean I have eaten some of my Easter stash but as I didn’t know I had them anyway, I have actually increased the amount of Easter chocolate there is left to eat. Christmas chocolates are beginning to appear in supermarkets now, so I’d better get cracking on them.

My level of rebellion has been minimal so far since my landlady went away. I didn’t put the cat’s dishes outside, even though I was clearly *instructed* to do so. One cannot have traces of a pet being present when one is trying to sell a house. Apparently. You’d think the actual cat wandering about might give the game away, but obviously not. *thinks* Beyond that… erm… I’ve parked my car in my landlady’s parking space, but given that she isn’t going to be parking there for two weeks, that isn’t particularly naughty. So, well, that’s it apart from not instantly putting my dirty plates in the dishwasher. I shall obviously have to work on this and have wild parties or something like that whole she is away. Don’t expect too much though will you. I’d hate to disappoint.

Sunday, September 10, 2006


The people came round to see the house yesterday morning, but they weren’t interested because they wanted somewhere that had two double bedrooms and there is just no way that is possible with where I live unless you knocked two bedrooms into one. So my landlady wasn’t very happy about that. However, the house was the main feature on the front of the local paper’s property section this week. I think one of the estate agents was feeling guilty because they showed someone around last week and the estate agent who did it deliberately blocked in one of the neighbour’s cars even though they asked him to move it. This does, however, mean that more people may come round to view the house this week, which is a bit annoying as my landlady is away, but also means that she won’t be carrying out military inspections every morning, She will just have to trust me *evil laugh*.

Things may be moving on soon with me buying somewhere. My solicitors wrote to me this week and said I should be able to exchange at my “earliest convenience”. This does however involve giving them a rather large cheque and so on, so I don’t know how convenient that is! The reason I don’t want to exchange quite yet though is that the lease issue still hasn’t been resolved. My solicitors think she should pay for the lease extension. I did tell them that I was working on the assumption that I would have to pay for it but they said they would approach the vendor and ask her to do it instead. That would save me thousands of pounds but I suspect she will refuse to pay. I am also not 100% certain how reliable she is either because I got sent the details of how much she owes the freeholder a few days ago and basically hasn’t paid any of their charges since she moved into the property.

Anyway, we’ll see what happens but I don’t want to annoy her. I went to see a friend from school last night and she has just moved into a new house and the people who sold them the house ripped out pretty much any fixture and fitting you can think of. That is actually illegal but they were just nasty people who because my friend tried to negotiate on the price, decided to get their own back by removing everything including the toilet roll holders, batteries from the smoke alarms, bathroom cabinet etc. I could do with avoiding confrontations like that, so we’ll see what happens about her paying for it and try and be reasonable.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Some things that made me laugh

My landlady came home fairly late last night and told me that there was someone booked to view this house at 10 o’clock this morning. This was not good news as I really wanted to sleep in this morning. As it turned out, because the power had gone off yesterday my alarm wasn’t set properly anyway, so I overslept and the people couldn’t make it until 10.30 in the end. However, I am focussing my mind on the fact that she is going to be away for two weeks as of later today. I can’t wait. I must say that I was also very brave last night though and despite there being a fairly large spider in the toilet I managed not to run away screaming.

A couple of things really made me laugh yesterday. I was reading the Metro newspaper yesterday and some people had written in response to a letter a few days before where someone had asked what they could do when they heard their neighbours having sex. People came up with various suggestions, but the final letter really made me laugh. Someone please offer this chap some counselling. He wrote “I lived for years with a couple who not only had noisy sex virtually every night but also boasted about it the next day. In the end, I just had to say ‘Mum, Dad; I’m moving out...”

The other thing that really made me laugh was that I sent my monkey correspondent at work an e-mail. It was actually an e-mail about some serious work related issues. A few minutes later I got a reply and I quote it verbatim here:

“[Random] can you buy me one of these at the weekend? It’s a backpack!! Isn’t it cute?”

That was it... the entire e-mail. Not even a word of acknowledgment about the e-mail I had sent - and I just sat at my desk and laughed a lot. Anyway, I’d better go out and buy a monkey backpack - and maybe a bunch of bananas.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The final countdown

This weekend my landlady sets off on holiday for two weeks. I cannot wait. It will be two weeks of peace and quiet, then when she gets back I am off to Russia a couple of days later anyway - and then less than two weeks after that she moves to Cardiff. Believe me, I am counting down…

A couple of night ago, I dared to do some washing. Sometimes I am just reckless and foolhardy like that. When the washing machine had finished I hung it all up and went upstairs. When I came back downstairs half an hour later she had moved all my washing about. It wasn’t that she had done any washing and needed more space, it was just because she is a control freak and likes touching my underwear it seems. Someone I work with reckons that my landlady has a fetish for trying on my washing while it is still wet. I will now be carefully rewashing all my underwear while she is away. My landlady even moved various socks that I had washed and instead of leaving them on the clothes drier put them on a coat hanger to dry. Confused? I certainly was. Maybe she is just insane and is trying to make me insane as well. Just make her stop. Please.

So… anyway… Work yesterday actually went quite well and I got a lot done. I spent most of the day marking application forms, as I foolishly agreed to help someone with some interviews. They’ve recently changed some aspects of the process and it is now so much harder to objectively mark the forms. I got there in the end though. So I got to the end of the day and put my papers away and so on and walked back to my desk to switch my computer off – and there was an e-mail from A.

I stood there and read the e-mail and I think it’s fair to say that it was not good news. I’ll explain more of my thoughts tomorrow, but last night I just switched off my computer and decided to go home. As I was about to leave, one of my colleagues looked at me and said “Are you alright? You look absolutely shattered” and I suppose I was really, I just didn’t realise it was so clearly written across my face. I tried to just brush it off but he came over and spoke to me for a couple of minutes. He then packed up his stuff and we went for a drink and a chat, which helped to restore my sanity a bit.

The words to a Stereophonics’ song keep going through my head “Maybe tomorrow I’ll find my way home”. I’m not 100% certain I can quite explain why that’s the case, but I think mainly it’s just my mind saying “maybe tomorrow you’ll find the peace that you want”. We’ll see.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Deception and lies

I would have hoped my days of acting and deception were long gone, but sadly this is not the case. Not that I was ever much into acting, an occasional school play and the like, and as for the deception, well *thinks* I did once damage a library book and convinced the librarian that it wasn’t me who had done it. *shakes head* I know... that was very bad. It was an accident though. Honest.

Anyway, yesterday someone I work with asked me to do her a favour. Basically she has put in an offer on a house and is a bit sceptical about the estate agent, particularly as the property is still being advertised as for sale on their website. So basically she wanted me to call the estate agent and ask if it was possible to go and see the house. Given that it was meant to be taken off the market she wanted to see what the estate agent said if someone asked to view it. So I thought through some possible questions I might get asked – what if they wanted me to register with them? What if I ended up getting all flustered and making an appointment to see the house - or worse, putting in an offer?

So I phoned and the first time the estate agent hadn’t quite mastered the art of answering the phone and hung up on me. The second time he answered the phone but then didn’t speak. When I spoke he did then reply and I asked about the property and he said I’d have to ask someone else - who was on the phone. Letting the estate agent call me back when he was free would rather give the game away that I worked at the same place as my colleague and the whole evil deception would unravel in front of me. I said I’d call the estate agent back.

When I finally got through to the estate agent, he said that unfortunately the house had been taken off the market, so I couldn’t go and see it. He did offer to take my details and would call me if the situation changed. I politely declined. Anyway, that was actually it, apart from the gratitude of my colleague.

Look, it’s a *true* story, I didn’t say it was an *interesting* story.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A change is as good as a rest

It turns out that it is easier to have an exciting than I had realised. Well, it is according to the Metro newspaper. They had an article in it yesterday that had some suggestions of what you could do each day in order to get yourself out of a rut. Here’s what is suggests:

Day 1: Sleep the wrong way round in bed.

Ah… I see a problem here… if I did that I would be sleeping in a wardrobe. I can cope with sleeping my feet in a wardrobe, but my head seems a bit too much. I’d either wake up in the night and think I was in a coffin or would sit up trying to work out where I was and knock myself out.

Day 2: Eat something you convinced yourself you don’t like but haven’t tried in a while.

Hmm… the thing is that I will eat pretty much anything. I’m trying to apply my brain to think of something I really refuse to eat… I’m not very keen on some sea food, but I would eat prawns and squid and so on if I was presented with it. So I could maybe eat some new food that I’ve never tried before but I’m willing to do that anyway. I’m not so adventurous in other parts of my life, but to turn down any sort of food is just plain wrong and the less fussy you are the more you get to eat.

Day 3: Swap your iPod with someone else

Ah… another problem… I don’t actually own an iPod. I do own a radio that I listen to on the train sometimes, but I don’t think it’s quite the same because I could just retune my radio... Even if I did own an iPod I don’t actually have the technology to download music. I’m planning on buying a new computer soon so maybe I might get adventurous and start to download music at some point. I’m obviously getting reckless in my old age (well maybe).

Day 4: Buy some random ingredients from the supermarket and create a meal using the food you have bought

Now that I probably could do, although I wouldn’t bother to do it if it was just me, unless not having gone shopping for a bit and having to eat whatever weird combination of food there happens to be in the cupboard counts. When I lived at home with my parents, I used to cook dinner every night and would just look in the fridge and have to come up with something based on what I could find (not that we had a bare fridge, I mean that I hadn’t chosen any of the food so had to apply my imagination once I saw what was in there). So it’s not entirely beyond me to work with random ingredients. So now I just need to find a willing friend to experiment on…

Day 5: Visit somewhere you have never been before.

Well, I’m going to Siberia in a couple of weeks time *gets all excited* but that probably isn’t quite what they mean. I like wandering in London but probably end up in the same places again and again. So maybe I need to be a bit more adventurous and get to know a few more places and maybe venture beyond London on occasion. *mind starts to wander off to all the places I could visit* Actually getting round to doing it is going to be the challenge, but I might apply my brain to this one…

The other suggestions were:

Swap your top ten books films and songs with a friend. Each of you should then try something you would never usually read, watch or listen to.

I would actually have to work out what my ‘top tens’ actually were. I’m not sure I could come up with ten of each of those to swap with someone else, but I might see if I can come up with at least a shortlist.

Invite a few friends around for a meal and ask each of them to bring someone they know but others don’t.

That’s actually quite a good idea and could make for a really interesting evening. In the past I have invited friends of mine round who don’t know each other just because they know of each others existence and thought it would be nice for them to meet each other. That’s always worked quite well.

Of course it could also be a good way to meet someone to go out with… I know someone who decided that he needed to meet the woman of his dreams and so got friends to invite him and a friend of theirs who he had never met before round for dinner so that he could meet them. Either the first or the second time he did this, he met this really nice girl and they’re now married. I don’t think the suggestion was mean to be about pulling but I may as well try and get something in return if I am cooking dinner for some strangers!

Wake up an hour early to do something you never usually have time for.

Why would I want to wake up an hour early??! If I woke up early then I would just think “fantastic, I can sleep in for another hour!”

Monday, September 04, 2006

The Return

It was a good weekend. Very sociable and I had the chance to catch up with various people who I hadn’t seen for ages. I went to see the Spanish film Volver (I finally remembered its name, but was also grateful for the prompt in my comments!) last night and that was very good. If you’re into action packed blockbusters then this isn’t the film for you, but I thought it was really engaging and quite humorous, whilst also rather dark in places. I think people who know Spanish culture more would have found some of the scenes more humorous but it was possible to appreciate it anyway. The two friends I went with both have quite strong connections with the film world (that sounds way more pretentious than it is meant to) and one of them actually used to do film reviews professionally, so I won’t even attempt to aspire to such things but I’m glad I went to see it. (Volver means 'the return' by the way)

I’m hoping that now the summer is basically over that my life might get a bit more exciting. I seem to have been less sociable over the summer than I am normally, but I have been trying to arrange a few things over the next couple of weeks to be a bit more busy. *thinks* Not that the months ahead are entirely unexciting already what with going to Russia, The Gambia, moving to my own home at some point and having to get my head round the whole friend being in love with me thing at some point (it seems somewhat impolite not to work out what is going on for me on that one). Maybe my life isn’t *entirely* void of excitement.

Anyway, another week of work ahead and I haven’t actually sorted out any flights to Russia yet or visas etc so had better get on with that or I won’t be going there at all. I got a Russian guidebook out of the library on Saturday so I am going to look at that over the next few days and find out what to expect. One of my concerns was that because they have a big drinking culture there that I might cause offence by not drinking, but the guide book implied that being female means that there isn’t the same sort of pressure to drink, so it should be fine – but if the worst comes to the worst the book said that you should say that you are an alcoholic and then people will back off all embarrassed for trying to make you have the demon drink. As politely sipping vodka doesn’t strike me as a good idea, at least I have a ‘Plan B’ if all else fails. I’ll be signing up for alcoholics anonymous before you know it.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Pleasant times

I had a really nice day yesterday and managed to pretty much dodge the raindrops throughout the day.

WWDD came over and we watched some episodes of Press Gang and went out and drank coffee and ate some cake. Through some crossed wires somewhere along the line, she did seem to offer my services to take the cat when my landlady moves to Cardiff. My landlady now seems very keen on this idea. It’s not that I mind having a cat but given that I go away with work quite a lot and will be living on my own, it’s not very helpful to have a cat, as I’d have to find some way to feed it whenever I go away. Anyway, we’ll have to see what happens on that one.

The barbecue was good and there were some people there who I hadn’t seen for ages, so we had a catch up. Amazingly it didn’t really rain while the barbecue was on, so it went better than feared because the weather forecast had been for torrential rain. A couple of people were trying to convince me to have a housewarming party when I move. We’ll see... I then went over to my parents’ as I needed to give a book to someone who was visiting them and I had a bit of dinner with them before going home feeling really worn out.

Today should be a pleasant day as I am meeting up with a couple of friends from school and we’re going to see a Spanish film. I can’t remember what the film is called at the moment but it is the Spanish film that has Penelope Cruz in it. It will be good to catch up with them both, I saw one of them a couple of weeks ago but I haven’t seen the other one for ages. She is someone who it is always great to catch up with but she has had a really awful time over the last few years, as her sister was killed a few years ago and she has never come to terms with it. Not that I suppose you ever quite come to terms with such things. She has had to admit herself to psychiatric hospitals a couple of times because the depression has got so bad. The last time this happened, one of the doctors said to her that because she is a very strong atheist that she will always find it harder to ‘recover’ than most people. Basically the doctor said that even if it is just a vague belief in some kind of spiritual life then there is a far greater possibility of dealing with life crises and so on. I can’t imagine that was the most helpful or encouraging thing to be told but she is pretty resilient regardless. Anyway, it will be good to meet up later even though there won’t be much chance to chat, as that is generally frowned on when you’re watching a film.

On a more positive note, happy birthday to a certain fellow blogger who I won’t name, in case they don’t want to broadcast to the world that it’s their birthday today. Happy birthday anyway though and enjoy the day.

Saturday, September 02, 2006


The other night I was watching a programme about how to “dress a house” so that it is easier to sell. This turned out to be a mistake, as my landlady kept coming into the room to watch bits of it and seems to have rather taken it to heart. She spent last night stripping the house of all personal effects and clutter and “grouping” things and basically slavishly following the advice on this programme. All the photos have disappeared and a whole load of other stuff has been turfed out. Fortunately she hasn’t turned her attention to my room yet, but I fear I may have to barricade the door. It might not only be my underwear that she is after.

On Thursday night, J, a friend from university stayed over and I warned her about the dangers of engaging in conversation with my landlady about the house. My landlady could talk the hind leg off a donkey when it comes to talking about the history of the house and so on. Sure enough Friday morning my landlady tried to quiz J on what she thought of the house. She wanted to know what J thought of the room, how it was presented, what was off-putting about it and so on and J just tried to avoid answering the questions. She didn’t think it was entirely polite to say “your problem is that the rooms are tiny and people have to sleep with their feet in a wardrobe, but maybe if you put away all your photos people won’t notice.”

Anyway, nice day ahead, WWDD is coming over later for lunch and a bit of Press Gang DVD watching and then I think we’re going out somewhere to eat cake. I could have sounded as though I have *loads* of friends but as WWDD said on her blog yesterday that’s what we’re doing, I guess I’d better tell the truth. Then this evening I am meant to be going to a barbecue, but as torrential rain is forecast, I’m not sure that is likely to be happening but I’ll check later. Any day that features lots of food is bound to be a good day.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Diversity training

Someone from my team is on leave at the moment and was meant to have gone to Turkey on holiday but as it turned out, was unable to go. Given the bombings there of late, she may now be relieved about that, but at the time probably not. She couldn’t go to Turkey because one day last week she was at a pub with her fiancé and some bloke started a fight, so they went over to try and break it up and they both ended up getting rather badly assaulted. The police reckon they know who did it and just need to track him down so they can arrest him. So much for having a nice break from work.

My landlady has continued her campaign to go through my underwear. I got home the other night and she had once again separated out my underwear and this time left them on the stairs – not in a provocative manner I might add, unless in the sense of provoking my wrath. Why would you leave someone’s underwear on the stairs? It just seems plain weird to me. Roll on the middle of October when she finally moves to Wales. I can’t remember if I have said before but I am wondering if she might ask me to have the cat. Her son said to me a while back that the cat isn’t going to Cardiff and although I could have just asked why not, I kind of didn’t get round to it. So, unless she plans to have the cat put down, my landlady must then need a new home for it, so I’m thinking she might ask me. Given the cat’s track record of lounging round not doing a lot apart from eating food and sleeping, I’m not sure whether I’m keen – I’m perfectly good at doing those things all on my own without having a cat to copy me.

This week I shall announce a new diversity award for making supportive and diversity aware comments at work. This was an overheard conversation between two colleagues where I work. One of them was Muslim and wearing a hijab headscarf and the other woman said to her “I love your headscarf, it must be so great never having a bad hair day”. Diversity training anyone? Although having said that I do work for an organisation that ran a diversity course once which seemed to suggest that you should treat people who are gay the same as people who are epileptic. I did ask if they were suggesting that if someone was gay you should therefore treat them like they have an illness and they basically replied that the way you deal with them would be no different. Hmm, interesting... Diversity training anyone?