Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Driven to distraction

As you probably know, the UK yesterday increased its penalties for using a mobile phone while driving. You'll now get a much bigger fine and points on your licence. Mobile phones are a useful thing and can enhance our lives – never again need I lose my mother in a shopping centre, and have to present myself to the lost child desk. However, we, in my view, are way too reliant on them and if we can’t apply common sense about when to use them then sometimes you have to use the law – and if that law doesn’t work sometimes you have to increase the penalties. I suddenly sound incredibly right wing, which I’m not, in fact my leanings are toward the left, but I just think people are their own worst enemy sometimes.

How many times have you walked along the pavement and someone has veered into your path because they’re walking along talking on a phone? If people can’t even walk in a straight line then how they think they can safely drive a car, which is moving much faster, seems a little confusing to me. But maybe I am just being picky.

People argue that it is no different to listening to the radio in your car, but I’m not sure that I agree. The thing is that if you’re talking to someone on the phone, in your mind you transport yourself to where they are. Your brain works so that you see yourself as basically sitting next to that person – which is not ideal when you’re meant to be concentrating on the road. It isn’t the same as listening to the radio or talking to someone who is in the passenger seat because your brain doesn’t deal with it in the same way.

I would also suggest that you don’t do the following while driving: read a book or newspaper; wear a hat (my driving instructor used to rant about people who did that, particularly old men in trilbies –“why would you need to wear a hat while you’re driving?”); have sex; play a guitar (yes that means you Mr Taxi driver at Waterloo station!); close your eyes, particularly if it’s in the hope that the big truck heading right for you will magically disappear; don’t try and put on tights; and, of course, no text messaging, talking on your phone is bad enough but texting is even worse. Have safe text – do it while you’re parked.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Thought for the day

I think I may have found a decent book to read. I like the author Thomas H Cook, who has nothing to do with booking a holiday, and have read various of his books. I have just started to read his book Red Leaves. He writes quite dark books and this seems to carry on it that genre. It is returning my brain to normal and restoring my faith in writing. I am also dipping in and out of this book.

The plumber was due on Thursday, but it seems that he can’t make it now. Rather then tearing my hair out, I just feel kind of pleasantly surprised that he was polite enough to phone me so far in advance to tell me and arrange another appointment. It’s all about perspective I guess. He’s coming on Monday morning now. I am actually off work several times over the next couple of weeks to get various things sorted out, so I am hopeful that things will get sorted. Not only the plumbing, but also the burglar alarm installed, the sofa delivered and so on and so on… I shall slowly chip away at my leave in the hope that maybe one day I will carry less than one leave year forward.

My neighbour came round last night for a chat, which basically involved her asking me how to plumb in a washing machine, how to hang a curtain rail, how to fix security lights on the outside of the property, what she should do about a cheque that hasn’t been cashed and various other things, none of which are an area of expertise for me, but I managed to sound as though I vaguely knew what I was talking about, but my advice mainly involved suggesting that she paid someone to sort it out for her. We also discussed extending our leases. I think the plan is that I get my solicitor to write first and then my neighbour will get hers to write and hopefully we will manage to get the agreement of the freeholder to extend our leases soon (-ish. I’m not expecting miracles).

Anyway, I shall leave you with an important question to ponder. You can file this in the “be prepared” category and if you ever do end up stranded, you’ll be glad that you thought about it in advance. If you were stranded on a desert island, which five people would you eat first?

Monday, February 26, 2007

Finally remembered

Ages ago I said that I would comment on how similar I am in real life to what is in my blog. At last I will attempt to answer that(if there are other things I have said I will return to then if you remind me I’ll try and do so at some point).

On the whole I think I am fairly like the person in my blog. I have met up with a few people through my blog and the general comment has been that I am like they had expected. Of course, the obviously missing element in my blog is that you don’t know what I look like but I think I look fairly normal and people don’t tend to run away in horror at the sight of me. If you read through my blog you’ll see things that give you vague indicators of what I look like. I think I have probably mentioned things like the colour of my hair and so on and you can then conjure up whatever image you wish with those vague descriptors (make it good though won’t you!).

In real life*, I think generally I come across as reasonably confident, but am actually rather shy and not terribly comfortable with new situations. I am also someone who would rather stay silent and only say things if I have something worth saying. Not that I mean that I find conversation difficult - I don’t tend to have lots of awkward silences with people and I will happily chat away about most things - just that I don’t tend to try and force my opinion on to other people. I would rather think things through and say something if it is helpful or going to give some insight etc. I am also someone who believes really strongly in keeping their word and my natural assumption is that other people will do the same (naïve I know). I don’t like to give up on people, something that sometimes means that I end up putting myself in situations that cause me pain, but it is part of my nature to stick with it. I suppose I am also rather reserved and have quite a serious side to me. But I do really like having a laugh with people and will often have a joke with people at work and am generally seen as approachable. But I suspect you can tell most of that from what I write.

I am also aware that there are some things that I don’t discuss here, some of which I think are quite apparent. There are some things in my life that I find too hard to explain (here). They would take so much explanation that to a degree I wouldn’t even know where to start. If I could sit down and talk to you face to face for a couple of hours then probably you’d really understand why there are some things I don’t comment on, but somehow I don’t think I could explain it so well here and so I stay silent. In fact in real life (sorry for that phrase again) I do discuss some of the really difficult stuff and the general reaction from friends is that they can see why I find these things so difficult and that they just don’t know what the answer is. My... how cryptic this all sounds. Sorry, it’s not meant to be. Maybe some day I will explain here, and just writing these words now makes me think that maybe I will some time, but we shall have to see. (Can you see that when I said in the previous paragraph that I like to think things through etc it is entirely true?!) Hmm, that all got a bit serious... It has made me think of various other things that I must comment on some time though, if I have not promptly forgotten them all.

Of course, you *have* had great insight into my life. I have done battle with mice, landladies and assorted commuters and come through it vaguely unscathed. You know I like giraffes and the PG Tips monkey. Hmm, a bit of an animal thing going on there, worrying... I probably have decidedly questionable taste in music and shouldn’t be quite so willing to broadcast that to the world. I work for an organisation that totally does my head in and yet for some bizarre reason continue to work there. I will eat pretty much anything and have never been known to turn down free food. I have very limited criteria in someone to go out with (i.e. breathing) and yet of late still cannot find anyone insane enough to go out with me. Er, actually those things pretty much sum up my whole life, what more could you possibly want to know? Job done.

*Not that I am actually one of those people who says blogging etc isn’t ‘real’, because if people are telling the truth then actually it is. It is just limited in its scope and leaves people having to fill in the blanks.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Power of Advertising

I had a very exciting day yesterday which involved going round to my parents’ house to shampoo their carpets and then going to the library in the hope of finding various books to ease the pain of the one that I finished earlier in the week. I found various books that I wanted to read so hopefully the pain will be eased soon.

Today I am going back over to my parents’ house as it is my sister’s birthday during the week and so she is going over there for lunch today. I ordered her present from Amazon and despite using the supersaver option, it turned up a couple of days later, which I thought was really impressive. I wasn’t home so one of my neighbours took it. I didn’t go round and pick it up from them straight away and so the next night there was a really loud knocking on my door and my neighbour’s three year old son was standing there in his superman vest with the package in his hand. My neighbour said her son had been desperate to bring it round and so had been a bit too enthusiastic knocking on the door.

I shall now prove the power of advertising. I really like the song ‘You’re lovely to me’ by Lucky Jim, which is purely through having heard it on the Kingsmill advert. Every time I heard that advert I looked up from whatever I was doing, so I figured I should track it down. You can listen to it in full here.

Being an old softy at heart, I also really like the recent Bisto adverts. Let me tell you whilst there may always have been gravy with Sunday lunch when I was still living at home, it was always a miserable experience (not the gravy, the sitting down to eat with the rest of my family). But I rather like the sentiment of people wanting to make the effort to spend ‘quality time’ with their family. Gravy is always good anyway.

When I was looking for that advert, I also came across an utterly appalling advert for Bisto from the 1980s. It brought the memories flooding back, but I have to say that I am glad advertising has moved on

Saturday, February 24, 2007


I went out for dinner with a friend from university last night. We usually meet in Victoria because it is quite easy for both of us to get home from there. Every restaurant was totally packed though and so we ended up walking through Green Park to Piccadilly and going to a restaurant there instead. I have no idea why everywhere was so busy, when we usually meet up it’s on a Friday night and we’ve never had a problem finding a restaurant before.

We had a good catch up and a bit of a chat about internet dating. Girl Dates London recently mentioned a dating site and I had a look at it a couple of days ago. Ignoring whether there is actually any talent on there, I cannot believe how er… forward some people are. I am obviously very naïve, but I was just quite surprised that various people seemed to say that they’re not interested in a relationship and just want sex. It’s not that I don’t think that there are people where that is what they want, it was more how blatant they were. But then I suppose that’s the point.

I’m not sure about the whole internet dating thing. I can see that it is a really good way to meet people, but may not be entirely good for the ego if not many people get in touch. Although I suppose if you are just looking for one person then it is more about quality than quantity.

On a totally different matter, I shall leave you to work out what is wrong with the photo above. The chap on the right is the Israeli Defence Minister and was inspecting the troops. Apparently.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Calm returns

I have returned to calm and serenity after yesterday’s rant. I haven’t quite decided what book to read next, it may take a while to get over my recent trauma. Give me time.

I was slightly concerned to see this photo in the paper yesterday:

The article was about how this chap had managed to develop such a relationship with the bird that he could hand feed it and then he said “he will take a worm from my mouth anywhere in the garden.” How exactly would you find that out? There are also so many things that could go wrong with this scenario. If he inhaled at the wrong moment it might be rather a shock for both him and the bird. If the man sneezed, the bird could potentially go supersonic.

Yesterday I opened the door and let someone into the place where I work. Technically, we do actually work together but just in totally different buildings. Anyway, we had actually never met each other before and we had a bit of a chat and introduced ourselves to each other and explained what each of us did and exchanged some banter for a couple of minutes (for no reason because all I had done was open a door) and I then wandered off to do whatever it was I had been on my way to do. But I did think “hmm there’s something about you that I kind of like” (and I do mean in that special way…), which is just one of the most unlikely things that I would ever think. I never normally think that about people I’ve known for a while, let alone someone that is basically a stranger. I do actually take some comfort though in the fact that I am possibly not entirely dead in terms of fancying someone (and also a bit more shallow than I thought!). The chances of me sounding out if this could go somewhere are pretty low as we work in different buildings several minutes apart and it would take some engineering (for that read ‘stalking’) in order for our paths to cross, but anyway it was pleasant to feel a brief bit of hope that I might be able to dust off my emotions at some point. *grins*

Oh and the chap who I work with who likes me (but *not* in that special way) came over yesterday afternoon and gave me a chocolate. He did bring it over in his hand so I hope he washed his hands first, but I said thank you and ate it anyway. I never turn down free food, seemingly even when it might be covered in sweat or other bodily substances. Nice.

Thursday, February 22, 2007


This is going to be a bit of a rant today, which will be of no interest to you unless you have read the book that I have just finished. So apologies in advance. Anyway…

I just finished reading 'Want to Play?' by PJ Tracy (which incidentally is a mother/ daughter writing team). This plot in this book is described as “an elderly couple are found dead in a Wisconsin church, shot dead and then mutilated. In St. Paul, Minnesota a serial killer is copying murders from an online computer game. As St. Paul detectives Leo Magozzi and Gino Rolseth investigate the killings, Magozzi finds himself drawn to one of the suspects. Neither is yet aware of a link to the killings in Wisconsin, and a string of unsolved killings 10 years before.”

Anyway, as I've said, what I am going to write is likely to make no sense unless you have actually read the book, but I need to rant about it anyway. I thought this was one of the most preposterous stories I have read in years! I will try and explain why without giving away the entire plot of the book. Basically we learn there is a serial killer on the loose and soon it seems that the killer is copying a computer game that has been on the internet briefly for testing. Who can the killer possibly be? But as the story unfolds we learn that the people who wrote the game were themselves on the run from a serial killer who years ago brutally murdered several people and left one of the main characters so scared that she has had her whole house wired up to prevent even the smallest possibility of it being able to harbour a killer and she carries a gun, never goes out after dark and so on. So what does she decide to do? Write a game which consists of twenty different scenarios where people are brutally killed - they even re-enact the killings – and then market this as a fantastic game for people to play. You wouldn’t write a game that trivialises serial killing – and you also wouldn’t do something that would potentially draw your own serial killer to you who you have spent years running from. It’s just totally ludicrous. Maybe someone could argue she did it to ‘slay some demons’ but there is no way that you would write a game that was for other people’s entertainment in those circumstances. It just would not happen!

I won’t explain how the book ends because even after this you might still want to read it. The ending is an even more unlikely and incredible set of circumstances than the bit I have already described and for it to have happened in that way is just beyond all credibility.

You can also add to that some really clichéd dialogue, lots of jokes about how “this would never happen on NYPD Blue” and so on. You had to totally suspend common sense for this book to work for you but if you look on Amazon loads of people rave about this book, so maybe I am totally wrong. Having said all of that I wouldn’t say never to read this book. It was engaging in its own way, even if to find out how such a preposterous story would turn out. (Sorry if you really love this book by the way…)

I had a look on the www to see what people though and was really amused by a site that rates various aspects of the book, including a book’s more risqué content. It assessed it as follows:

Sex: Yes
What kind of sex: - descript of kissing

What?? The book has sex in it because it describes two people kissing? I obviously really did not pay attention in biology lessons at school. No wonder teenage pregnancy is so rife in the UK.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Slippery slope

The monkey slept* on my bed on Monday night. Anyway, the thing that concerned me about this was not that the monkey has long arms that might wander but that I wonder if it could be the start of a slippery slope. You start with one small monkey and then soon you add a big floppy eared rabbit, then it’s a replica dog, a large panda and a collection of stuffed cats. “Just one more…” you think “It can’t do any harm…” Before long you turn into one of those people whose bedroom has transformed from a sophisticated and enticing boudoir to one that would be equally suited to a five-year old. A girl has a reputation to maintain and I don’t think I want mine to be one that involves lots of stuffed animals, so the monkey is going to have to find a new resting place at night.

Sometimes I also worry that if I don’t monitor what I wear that I will suddenly start buying jumpers with large cartoon animals on the front or look at clothes in the shops and think “Ooh yes, I’ll buy that. That’s really ‘fun’.” Neither cartoon animals or ‘fun’ should be part of the criteria when purchasing clothing - unless you are a children’s entertainer or some such occupation, in which case it might be acceptable during working hours but should never be worn in one’s spare time. I need to keep a check on that one.

The other undesirable alternative is wearing clothes because they’re “comfortable”. You start by wandering outside in a tracksuit (or, perhaps even worse, some tight fitting lycra) that shouldn’t even be worn in a gym, let alone in front of poor unsuspecting people on the street. You then move on to wearing elasticated trousers and so much polyester that you might actually catch fire if you walk too fast. Then, finally, one morning you get out of bed and decide that you don’t need to change out of your animal print pyjamas in order to go and buy the paper and a pint of milk - and at that moment you realise your life has gone into such a decline that you will indeed be dieing alone…

The monkey is *definitely* finding a new place to sleep tonight.

*Hmm… Scarily, I’m making it sound like the monkey is actually alive. Let’s brush over that shall we…

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Monkey magic

It is good news dear reader. The campaign to find a monkey had been successful. I mentioned to my monkey obsessed colleague that PG Tips are currently giving away monkeys with packs of tea. She instantly sent me out on a mission to find said monkey. That’s right, I was brave and went out on my lunch break for once, and that surely shows how serious this quest was. I looked but the shelves were bare, I think others had been there before me, so I traipsed back to the office empty handed. My colleagues face dropped at my return, which obviously is not the ideal response. Anyway, I promised her I would go on a monkey search on the way home.

I hopped off the tube part way through my journey and went to the supermarket. There on the shelves of Sainsbury’s were boxes and boxes of monkeys waiting to be released from their cages and taken back to loving homes. I released three - one for myself, one for the woman at work and one that I will probably give to my nephew.

Look how well he has settled in already.

I think I may also have found a new technique for trying to pull. I think this t-shirt could be the answer to all of my problems.

Anyway, enough of all of this monkey business. Normal service will be resumed tomorrow. *wanders off to play with the monkey*

Monday, February 19, 2007


I went out for lunch with my parents’ yesterday, we went to Pizza Express which was nice enough. My father did his usual thing of coming up with totally irrelevant things in the middle of a conversation. Mum and I were talking about a place I lived a couple of years ago being up for sale and that it having been on the market a couple of months now. My father then suddenly said “The other day I found out what the difference is between white and black pepper” and then went on to explain it. Very odd. He also asked if I would go away on holiday with them after Easter. Dad wants to go to Cologne but he thinks he might not want to do much while he is there, so in order for mum to have someone to do things with he was wondering if I would go as well. It would be a complete nightmare and we would just spend the whole time arguing so I declined.

I had a cup of tea at the end of the meal. I had assumed that I would be given a pot of tea, but actually the waitress brought over a coffee cup (it had names of different coffees written on the outside) that had hot water in it and there was a tea bag on the side for me to dunk in it. I was also given some milk which was actually in a small cup rather than a jug. I was really surprised by this - I try and avoid drinking tea when I am out because it is normally so horrible and this was no exception. Pizza Express might wish to note that to make an even vaguely decent cup of tea, you *have* to use boiling water. Using hot water doesn’t let it brew properly, so if you bring out a cup of hot water then it has already dropped well below boiling and will never make a decent cup of tea. Do people know nothing?

I had a look on YouTube to see if anyone had made a video about how to make the perfect cup of tea. There are various videos, all of which had various flaws in them. The main one being most people adding tea to their cuppa. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Why ruin a beautiful drink by putting sugar in it?

The good news on the tea front though is that PGTips are currently giving away free small monkeys with packs of tea. I will have to go in search of these now. Which reminds me, here's the latest PGTips ad:

Sunday, February 18, 2007


I had a pleasant enough day yesterday. I went over to my parents’ house because my sister phoned me and said that she going to go over there with my nephew. I did feel a bit frustrated by the plans though because it was originally me and mum who were meant to be meeting up and then my sister asked me what I was doing yesterday and I said I was meeting up with mum, so my sister said that she’d probably join us. That was all totally fine and it was nice to see her. The thing was that mum never spoke to me about the plans for yesterday and just spoke to my sister about it, so I only knew she was expecting me to go over for lunch because my sister told me. I phoned mum and asked her what was happening and she then said that she’d thought that my sister and I had arranged to do something and that our plan to meet up had therefore been cancelled. It was just a whole load of crossed wires and a bit irritating.

However, what was really irritating was when I went and got some money from a cash point on the way home. I checked my balance and was really confused by it. It was showing a balance that didn’t quite make sense to me and then it struck me that not only did it not make sense but in fact it was showing a negative balance… A negative balance! I have never ever had a negative balance. I’m not particularly well off, I just have a rule that I live within my means and if I don’t have the money to pay for something then I don’t buy it (apart from the purchase of the place I live obviously). Anyway, them’s the rules and I have always stuck to it.

I went home and logged into my back account to see if I was going mad. I wasn’t. I scanned through my recent transactions to see what had happened and realised that two payments had gone out to pay my credit card bill. I always pay off my credit card bill every month (because that’s the rule…) and what had happened was that when I got my statement I had set up the payment to go from my bank account but what I had failed to realise was that because I had asked my credit card to set up a direct debit to pay off my balance every month they had already set this up and so took the money as well. Having just moved house I reckon this is probably the biggest credit card bill I have ever had – and I managed to pay it twice. Annoyingly, I think basically the mistake was mine.

I phoned my credit card company and they said that they could refund the money either to another credit card – I don’t have another credit card - or send me a cheque in seven to ten days. I asked why they couldn’t refund the money to my bank account and she didn’t seem to be able to explain why and just said they couldn’t. I asked if I spoke to someone more senior if they might have the discretion to pay the money back by other means and the woman basically said it wouldn’t make any difference and wouldn’t let me speak to anyone else. She did however tell me that they don’t advise customers to go into credit. I pointed out that I hadn’t actually deliberately gone into credit and that was the whole point of my phone call.

I then phoned my bank and they didn’t seem very fussed. The woman actually said to me that she didn’t think I would be charged because I was still within my overdraft limit, but I’m a bit confused about that now because I thought that even if you stayed within your agreed overdraft limit they still charged you (I actually have no idea though, having never used it before…). But, my bank account is the one I set up when I was student and there is a chance that they have (mistakenly) never removed the free overdraft facility even though I stopped being a student many years ago. I’ll wait and see if they charge me and if they have I’ll go and speak to my bank and see if they will refund the charges because they’ll be able to see from my statements what caused the problem and hopefully they’ll be kind to a loyal customer.

Anyway, I’m now going to have to dig about for some money to get my bank account back into the black and then await a cheque from my credit card company – which might not get here until the beginning of next month and won’t be for the whole amount anyway because they will deduct this months spending from it and then return the balance.

Added to that is that somehow in the process my bank account then locked itself so that I had to order a new password for it, which will be posted to me.


Saturday, February 17, 2007


I am feeling most uninspired today. I had to get out of bed about 8.30am as the postman couldn’t get an envelope through the letter box. It was actually my photos from when I went to Russia and The Gambia. I realise I got back from both last year, but I sometimes can be a bit slow at getting round to doing these things. I might post a couple of photos, if I can find any that are suitable.

I went to see my financial adviser on Thursday. He’s a nice chap and we talked about various things to try and do something better with my somewhat depleted finances and also hopefully get some tax back from the taxman next year. I don’t really know very much about the best way to deal with money. I live within my means and so on, but seeing as I probably could have had various bits of tax back over the years it is all a bit beyond me and so I need people who know rather more than me how to do these things.

I’m seeing my sister and nephew later and I think maybe my mum as well. I quite often refer to my nephew as “monkey boy” but of late have started to call him “chicken boy” (much to my sister’s disapproval) given his recent brush with chickenpox. I think that enough time has now passed that mean I haven’t got chickenpox, which is very good news. I wondered if the reason why I feel quite rough the week before last was because I was fighting off the possibility of getting chickenpox and also had a cold and the two things were kind of wearing me out. So hopefully I am out of the woods on that one.

I was talking to someone I used to work with yesterday. One of his brothers died in January and another one was seriously ill. I asked him how his brother was doing to which he replied “well the funeral’s next week” Oh…

Completely unrelated, if you get irritating phone calls, you might find this website useful in order to get rid of unwanted callers.

The image is from toothpaste for dinner

Thursday, February 15, 2007


On the Tube on the way to work yesterday I was sitting opposite a chap who was in his fifties. He was reading his book and every so often would have a good rummage around in his nose and then sort of surreptitiously wipe his fingers across his beard. This was not a pleasant thing to observe and so I decided this was a good time to close my eyes and try and doze. I think the lesson to us all though is to be wary of men (or women) with beards.

Sadly my front door mat was somewhat lacking in cards when I got home last night, which I am sure is just because I have recently moved home. It will take a while for my address to filter through to everyone who needs to know it. I was somewhat disturbed by the London Paper’s coverage of Valentine ’s Day. On a lot of the pages they had boxes entitled “My Valentine Hell” and people had sent in stories of awful Valentine’s Days experiences. There was also an advert from the London Assembly reminding people to recycle their Valentine’s cards and compost their flowers. I think romance is indeed dead.

Mind you, I was slightly irritated by a woman talking to her boyfriend on the phone while I was waiting for a train. She was talking very, very loudly and repeating everything her boyfriend said. (You have to imagine this said in a girly laughing kind of way but sounding as though she was talking to someone with an IQ of a cabbage. “No, I don’t want to know what presents you have bought me!" *girly giggle* "I want to wait until I get home" *girly giggle* “You’ve got me four presents! You’ve already bought me so much already” *girly giggle* Even though I am not anti-Valentine’s Day I did actually want to push that woman under a train because she was just sooooooooo irritating.

There are strange things going on in blogging world at the moment. There are lots of blogs that seem to be shutting up shop at the moment (er, yes I do know about one in particular but there isn’t anything to say really). I realise people give up on blogs for all sorts of reasons, but I can think of three or four blogs that in the last week or so which have finished because people basically seem to have been intimidating them in some way. It’s very, very strange. What is going on out there?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Miracles and other things

The above image is from Gaping Void

I was looking at the amount of leave I have to take this year. This leave year I have a mere 55.5 days to take. This *is* an improvement - last year it was 58 days. At this rate, by the time I retire I should be about at zero. I was looking at various bits of leave I might take, a few odd days off here and there, like when I have my burglar alarm installed, plus I might go and visit a friend in Germany who I have not seen for years, and visit another friend who now lives up north (she really does live up north, this is not a Southerners perspective of anything north of the Watford Gap being northern). I might also go to Wales with some friends at the end of May and so on. Add to that probably taking off two weeks at Christmas and it pretty much accounts for a whole (normal) leave year. Although I do actually have to get round to booking the time off which has always been one of my great failings.

So anyway the burglar alarm installation is booked and now I am trying to get in touch with the plumber I want to use, which is proving quite difficult because I think there is a fault on their phone line. Plus my TV signal seems to be really dodgy on occasion so I might consider getting that fixed at some point as well. Of course this would be rather easier if money were of no object. It’s a good job I am going to see my financial adviser tomorrow afternoon because he can hopefully pull a rabbit out of a hat for me – or more usefully a large stash of money.

I saw that this week is meant to be Random Acts of Kindness Week. I can’t say that I have experienced any such random acts myself or been the bearer of such things but maybe by the end of the week I will be inspired. I think if this week was “Be a Totally Grumpy Git” week then I would be doing admirably, but sadly people never seem to organise weeks like that.

Anyway, in honour of the day, here’s the video of “Miracle of Love” by the Eurythmics. It’s a song that has gone through my mind a few times recently for various reasons, not least just because I like the song and think it has good lyrics. Enjoy - and Happy Valentine’s Day.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Case for the Defence

When I got into work yesterday the chap who has taken a shine to me greeted me with a “Good morning my little petal”. I replied with a more simple “morning”. A few minutes later he wandered over to show something (work related) he had written years ago and I sat there and flicked through it and made suitably enthusiastic comments. I still don’t know quite what to think about all of this, but I’m reasonably sure that he is just a friendly chap.

I went over to a friend’s house for dinner last night, which was really nice. She had her husband are flying to Phoenix in a couple of weeks time (I did sing them a few lines from “By the time I get to Phoenix”). Apparently if they had flown economy on BA and booked a particular hotel it would have cost £6000 for this deal. After I had picked my jaw up off the table I did say that surely they must at least throw in a couple of prostitutes for that amount, but apparently it didn’t even include meals at the hotel. They booked by other means and paid about £300 for the flights. That leaves money for any *cough* extras that might be required.

I know it’s tomorrow, but there seems to be a lot of cynicism about Valentine’s Day out there at the moment (‘there’ being blogging world) with lots of people saying “it’s all commercial nonsense” “we shouldn’t need one particular day to tell someone we love them” and so on. These are entirely true but I just wonder whether people do actually tell their other half that they love them and so on – and maybe there are a few people where it is the only time their partner makes some attempt to show they love them or maybe there’s some poor chap who’s been plucking up the courage to tell some girl how he feels and maybe Valentine’s Day will be the opportunity to finally say it. I’m not someone who thinks Valentine’s Day is some magic formula but some people do actually enjoy it and get wined and dined and have a good time. Obviously that doesn’t include me this year, but I feel as though someone should stick up for the day – because it is after all about what people make it. If you don’t want all the commercialism then don’t go down that route. If you don’t need Valentine’s Day to tell someone you love them then good for you, but tomoorow tell them you love them anyway*.

Anyway, to get you in the mood for tomorrow, here is an animation from the National Film Board of Canada showing that there is hope for us all.

*Not that I'm telling you what to do...

Monday, February 12, 2007


The image is from Digitalfog

I phoned a school friend yesterday afternoon and we had a really good catch up. She is the one who has been in hospital because being pregnant has made her really, really sick. She didn’t sound too bad but I was somewhat horrified when she told me that her daughter (who is probably about 18 months old) shut her finger in a door a couple of weeks ago and had to be rushed to hospital. Her finger is still bandaged up and it is only when they remove the bandage in a couple of weeks time that they will know if she has lost the end of her finger. It makes me feel funny just thinking of it – although I suspect that is nothing compared to actually going through the experience.

I wandered into central London yesterday afternoon. I didn’t do very much while I was there, but I did take the opportunity to observe this from afar. Believe me there was no wearing of red on my part, I was just interested to see if it worked or not. I would say that maybe 40 or 50 people were there, although I’m not sure if some of those were people who just happened to be walking through the area and got caught up in it all by accident. The most noticeable people there were three choir girls dressed in red cassocks. I assume they were chatted up some men and then wandered off to church, as all good girls should be doing on a Sunday evening.

I actually cannot think of a less appealing way to try and meet someone (*thinks* well possibly meeting someone on death row or something like that), speed dating and that sort of thing is just so not me. The actual speed dating process would be bad enough in itself i.e. talking to complete and utter strangers with the aim of instantly impressing them – without even the aid of alcohol. Plus add to that the fact that you are then evaluated by each of the people you talk to and I think my ego is not really up to that.

However, there is another possibility. I am not one for going to the gym. I could actually go to the one at work which is very cheap, but just cannot be bothered. But maybe this would make it more appealing, although I reckon I’d want to go to the gym so that I was up to going to the gym, if you see what I mean. Anyway, it might be a way to meet new people but it would certainly leave nothing to the imagination - and I think sometimes there are some things that you should wait a while to find out about someone.

Saturday, February 10, 2007


This image came from

I have been feeling decidedly rough most of this week, but yesterday I finally started to feel a bit better. I still haven’t reached the point where I can say I have not got chickenpox (it usually takes about 10 days to fully show itself), but I’m hoping that I was just feeling under the weather this week because of a cold. I have been running a bit of a temperature though, so time will tell.

Yesterday at work was quite amusing. I was making my colleagues laugh by bemoaning my singleness (I have no recollection of how we got onto this topic) and explaining that my criterion is “breathing”. They then suggested a couple of entirely unsuitable people to end this dry spell to try and gauge my level of desperation. It turns out I am not *that* desperate. A girl’s got to have some standards.

Mind you the woman I sit next to phoned our IT people up and the chap she spoke to was really chatty and for some reason decided to ask her what she was doing at the weekend and if her plans included him and then started to quiz her about her plans for Valentine’s Day. She didn’t quite know how to respond. I don’t know quite where our IT department is but it is nowhere near where we work, so I guess this chap just decided she had a nice voice and thought he would try his luck. I have no idea what he would have done if she’d responded in kind.

Someone I work with (or technically, used to work with, as I have now changed jobs) was going on leave at the end of yesterday, as she is getting married next week. Her boss was meant to give a leaving speech, but was absent at the crucial moment and time ticked on and it began to look more and more like we weren’t going to give her a send off. Apart from me, there wasn’t really anyone else suitable about to give a quick speech, so I had to give a very impromptu speech and presented her with a card and a bottle of Archer’s in a carrier bag. We like to make people feel special.

When I got home last night, after a tube journey that was devoid of people shouting at me, there was a newspaper sticking out my letter box, which was a copy of the Daily Telegraph. It had my house number on it but it definitely was not mine so presumably someone didn’t get their paper yesterday. Anyway, amazingly, there was also a letter from the freeholder saying it was fine for me to have an alarm installed and just asking that if there was any damage to the exterior of the property to ‘make it good’, which is fair enough. So that was a bit of a result.

Today I shall probably wander about aimlessly, even though I have various things I need to do, such as shampoo my carpets. Once again I despair at my change in priorities since I have become a home owner.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Love and hate

Yesterday was an interesting day. I met up for dinner with my friend C last night. It’s always good to see him and we went for our usual curry and a catch up and it was a nice end to the day.

I didn’t get home very early last night. Yesterday’s snow slowed my journey to work a bit, but for some reason my journey home took much longer. I was feeling fairly cool, calm and collected and when I got off the first train to change trains there were none going to where I wanted so I thought I’d get the first train and then at least I’d be nearer home and hopefully the right one would arrive at some point. As I went to get on the train I stopped because I saw there was someone about to get off but there was a woman standing behind me and she started to huff and puff about having to wait and so she pushed passed me and got on the train. I rather dryly said to her that it was polite to wait for other people to get off first. I think it is fair to say that she went absolutely mad at this and started shouting and swearing at me and even when I had sat down she carried on and said various offensive things. In the end I just ended up laughing because I just could not understand why this woman was so riled. She was with her husband and he just seemed to mumble things - I think he was cut from the same mould as his wife but was possibly so hen-pecked that he had lost the ability to speak coherently.

When we got to the station where I was going to change to wait for the next train they didn’t realise I was going to get off and made some big fuss about “going to sit somewhere else where there was more space”. I stood up and got off the train and left them to it. Another woman then came up to me while I was standing on the platform and asked if I knew the woman who’d had a go at me and I told her I’d never met her before in my life. This woman said that she could not believe how the woman had spoken to me and how incredibly rude and offensive she’d been. I just had a bit of a joke and laugh with this woman and she suggested that if I met the woman again I should push her in front of a train, which I thought was helpful.

Earlier in the day I’d been feeling cold since I’d set off to work because I think the cold had just sort of seeped into my bones. Just before lunch I was in a meeting with a couple of people, which included the chap who seems to be a bit of a fan. I mentioned how cold I had been falling all day and the conversation then moved on. Anyway after the meeting I went back to my desk and a few minutes later this chap came over and said “I’ve got a spare fleece if you want to put it on” and handed it to me. I was really cold and so I thanked him and put it on and we exchanged a couple more comments and he wandered off. One of the people I sit near looked over at me and mouthed “He loves you”. I just chuckled. At least somebody does.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


I have made some vague progress on housing related issues. I did get some legal advice through the people who provide my home contents insurance. I phoned them on Monday night and the chap I spoke to was quite helpful but not very willing to say anything one way or the other. But then on Tuesday evening, I got a phone call from them checking if anyone had phoned me back after I had phoned them last Saturday and I talked to that chap about the situation and he was rather more practical and, given the disinterest of the freeholder, he suggested what would probably be the best course of action. So I am now going to re-read my lease (yet again!) and check if there is anything that I haven’t considered already and then write to the freeholder and say that I am going to ask for the installation to take place and they therefore have until then to object.

I think I have also found a company to fix my thermostat. They’re not the cheapest people but they seem to be really good at what they do and they gave a clear pricing structure etc as well*, so hopefully it isn’t entirely venturing into the unknown. I’m going to try and get them to come round on the same day as the burglar alarm installers (in fact the two companies are really near each other, so I suspect the people know each other). I also got a letter from my mortgage company last night saying that they are going to (very, very slightly) reduce my mortgage payments. Woo hoo! I have an appointment to see my financial adviser next week and I am hoping he will give me a gold star to go on my sticker chart for that.

As the motorway signs often tell us “Take a break, tiredness kills” – and so, it seems, do jealous astronauts, if they get the chance. Did you see the story about the female astronaut who traveled across America to track down another female astronaut who had been having a relationship with the same chap as she was? (why does that sound like the beginning to a joke?) Anyway, the particularly significant thing was that she did this wearing a nappy so that she didn’t have to slow down her journey. It could bring a whole new dimension to GCSE maths:

"If an insanely jealous astronaut sets off by car at 9am to travel 1000 miles across America at an average speed of 102mph and does not need to stop for toilet breaks, at what time will she be picked up by the police for attempted murder?"

*What has my life become that I get excited by a company having a clear pricing structure? *Shakes head in despair*

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


I have been feeling a bit full of ill-health recently. I have a cold of some sort rumbling just below the surface and it is not very pleasant. It just involves a horrible feeling throat, me coughing sometimes, not all the time, but when I do cough it makes me feel really sick – as in that I’m going to actually be sick. It’s lovely. That combined with the last couple of nights of being really tired but when I have gone to bed, the moment my head hits the pillow I’m wide awake, is not a great.

Still, it could be worse… My sister phoned me yesterday
“I’m at home” she said.
“Oh are you? Why?” I replied
“Because [nephew] has got chickenpox”
“I’m really sorry”

So, why the problem? The thing is that I have never had chickenpox and getting it as an adult is not ideal. Mind you, they thought he had it before and he didn’t have it. Of course, I would be much more likely to get it had I been in close contact with my nephew. On Sunday when I was over at my sister’s house my nephew and I played our usual game of him lying on the floor and then he points to his back and I then have to blow a raspberry on his back and then he’ll turn over and I have to blow a raspberry on his stomach. We carry on like this until he decides he wants to move somewhere else and then he expects me to crawl after him and we carry on where we left off. This game can go on for well over half an hour sometimes. I don’t suppose that would count as close contact though, would it?

On other matters, for those who are not wanting to celebrate the joys of Valentine’s Day next week, here is the site for you. Very amusing.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Compare and contrast

I woke up yesterday morning and my first thought was "I hope there is a really long time until my alarm goes off” at which point the radio instantly came on and a voice screamed in my head “noooooooooooooooooooooooooooo”, but as it turned out I probably was not alone in thinking this*. Apparently yesterday was the most likely day in the year for people to take a sickie. It seems that the reasons for this were:

Post-Christmas blues
Poor weather
Credit card bills
Long wait for the next holiday

You may recall that 24 January was meant to be the most depressing day of the year. It seems the reasons for this were:

Post-Christmas blues
Poor weather
Credit card bills
Long wait for the next holiday

Hmm, now I’m not always good at spotting similarities but I think I can possibly see some there. I’m also not a scientist, but I reckon I could have come up with those reasons without carrying out some research. However, I would have added an extra reason which is “because it’s a Monday”. Let me give you some words of advice here “this isn’t always the most cheerful time of the year, you might feel a bit down on occasion, if so this is normal and you don’t need a thorough piece of research to tell you this”.

Anyway, my friend who is in the Gambia and I have exchanged a few e-mails over the last few weeks about the President of the Gambia (as you do…). The story has now made it on to the BBC. Basically the President claims that he can heal Aids (and asthma). He tells people to stop taking medication and he will heal them, but only on a Thursday- and if it all goes wrong then it is the fault of the patient because they don’t have enough faith. Can you even imagine if Tony Blair said “Today I will not be running the country, instead I will be healing people. Come to me my children, let me cure you of all that ails you.” Somehow I just don’t see it. *Insert your own joke about the poor state of the NHS here*

It seems a few people may have questioned his ability to do this, to which his reply was "I am not a witch doctor and in fact you cannot have a witch doctor. You are either a witch or a doctor." Erm, ok, well we stand corrected then.

*Just to clarify, I was actually alone in bed – apart from my hot water bottle.

Monday, February 05, 2007

They should have listened

I had a good time over at my sister’s house. We had lunch which was roast pork and was really good. My parents were there as well and my dad was his usual charming self and, even though he had been told what time lunch was, when it was ready dead on time he said “I can’t eat now, the rugby is on” and he just flatly refused to go into the dining room. After we had all eaten my father ate a couple of sausages and some bread that my sister took into him. He may as well have stayed at home if all he wanted to do was sit there and watch TV and not be disturbed by anyone.

Anyway, after lunch my mum, sister and I went for a walk on some open land nearby. I kicked a football about so my nephew could chase it and there were some cows and dogs and so on, which all made my nephew really excited and hopefully it all tired him out so that he went to sleep easily last night.

I borrowed my sister’s carpet shampooer so that I can get all of the dirt that has been trodden into my carpets over the last few weeks. Until I finally bought somewhere, such things would never have even crossed my mind. It’s amazing how your priorities change. Plumbing, burglar alarms and carpets. I would shake my head in despair, but to be honest, my life wasn’t any more exciting beforehand, so this is actually the peak of my existence.

I see bird flu has hit the headlines again, which has led to the culling of thousands of turkeys. I can see this needs to be done to stop onward transmission, but I suspect it will also cause a mass paranoia about eating turkey and chicken. As far as I am aware, cooking the meat would kill the virus anyway, so there is no way to catch it via food assuming you cook it properly. Anyway, I refer to my post last year on bird flu. If only they had listened to me...

Sunday, February 04, 2007


The above is from the very nice site

I went for a wander in Central London yesterday afternoon. I hopped on the tube and went to Trafalgar Square and then went to Piccadilly Circus and then back to Charing Cross Road. There’s something about strolling around London that sometimes is just a real pleasure in itself, particularly when there’s a bit of sunshine. Some bloke walked past me at one point and just said “nice”. I carried on walking somewhat perplexed by this. But there you go.

I phoned the people who provide my home contents insurance because I have legal cover as part of my policy. Basically I want a view from them on what my options are if the freeholder doesn’t reply to my letters asking if I can have a burglar alarm fitted. They were meant to phone me back with some advice. I’m still waiting. That seems to be the theme of my life at the moment. People who are meant to be providing a professional service just not coming up with the goods. I’ll phone them again at some point to see if they can answer my question.

I also continue on my search for a plumber. Someone was suggested to me, but I can’t find him listed anywhere so I am slightly suspicious of using him. So I’m going to ask about a bit more and see if I can come up with someone who seems as though they might be ok. I came across the details of a female plumber and I might actually see if she can do it. As someone who knows nothing about anything domestics, somehow I feel as though a female plumber might be more trustworthy. Dunno, we’ll see.

Anyway, I am off to see my nephew in a bit, so I shall leave you with a couple of places for you to peruse on the www. This site is just plain weird. It’s animals morphed into insects. It is very slightly freaky… Also, just to prove that hell does indeed have no fury like a woman scorned, here is a site where women fill out the details of men who have wronged them. What a wonderful world we live in.

Saturday, February 03, 2007


I was so tired by last night. The previous two mornings I had woken up well before my alarm went off. The first time because I kept wondering if I was going to sleep through my alarm and I *had* to be in work promptly for a meeting. Then yesterday morning my friend had said she’d be up and gone before I got up, but I kept wondering if I had heard her leave. I didn’t think I had so kept worrying that she was still asleep (not worried enough to get out of bed and check you understand). In reality I was there for plenty of time for the meeting and in fact was running so early that I went and got a couple of keys cut to kill some time before it started and my friend had overslept but when I finally got up this prompted her to wake up and she was up and out of the house in about 5 minutes!

There’s a chap at work who comes over to speak to me a lot. He’s in his mid-fifties and is just this friendly chap who sees a bit of an ally in me because I am always really friendly to him. We don’t actually do the same work but he sometimes has to come and check things with me and pretty much every day he will come over and speak to me, even if it’s just to tell me that he hasn’t got anything to speak to me about. Someone commented last week that this chap seemed really happy that I now sit much closer to him. Yesterday he came to tell me that he was leaving work (which isn’t really anything to do with me) and was going to the opticians so that he could get his glasses fixed so that he could see my radiant beauty all the more clearly when he is back in the office next week. I told him he would need to make sure he got a very good adjustment to his glasses. When he had gone the person I sit next to said “awwww, he really likes you” and I just laughed. I think he sees me as someone to exchange banter with rather than anything else by the way, but I think people look on with amused interest!

On a Friday I have usually run out of bread so I go to the canteen to eat something, yesterday I had lasagne which was remarkably good, but it came with garlic bread so I felt a bit self-conscious talking to people for the rest of the afternoon. I’ve noticed though that at work they come up with questionable fillings for the jacket potatoes. Often they have hot coleslaw as the filling. It might have bacon or something similar mixed in. Hot coleslaw though- there are a lot of people who can’t stand it cold, let alone heated up. I’m not the greatest fan it has to be said. However, it is preferable to when they serve the potatoes with “mixed meat”. I was foolish enough to try that once. I think it included a bit of Chihuahua and some Pekinese.

Friday, February 02, 2007


Last night a friend came to stay. I wasn’t actually entirely sure whether she wad still due to come and stay or not. We’d talked about it ages ago and then hadn’t really spoken since. She’s a teacher at a school just down the road from where I live and it was parents’ evening last night so rather than trek all the way home she stayed the night at my place. It’s really nice to be able to have people to stay as and when I want - not having to ask people’s permission or have to mention to them that they might have to sleep with their feet in a wardrobe. It’s the little things in life that make the difference.

Anyway, it was a pleasant evening and we had a good catch up. She’s pregnant and so she was updating me on that (not too much detail you understand. I do know about the birds and the bees already) and she seems to be doing rather better than my other friend who has been hospitalised because being pregnant has made her so ill. I still haven’t phoned that other friend. I really need to get my act together on that.

I don’t have an answer machine at home. Not even 1571, which I know I could set up, but I don’t really see why if someone phones me and the line is engaged they should be charged for getting through to an answer phone. I sometimes dial 1471 to see if there are any numbers that have come up that I might need to call back, but normally they aren’t numbers that I know. Have you ever googled the numbers that are listed on 1471? Most of the time I just ignore whatever the number was, but strangely any number I *have* checked seem to be of businesses that I have no dealings with. You might not think that’s very strange because it’s not unusual to get sales calls - except that for me it should be, as my home phone number, and any number that I have had for as many years that I can recall, have all been registered with the telephone preference service, which is generally very effective. Even if an occasional call gets through you only have to mention the TPS and the cold caller apologises and goes away. There was a Liverpool number on the phone a couple of days ago. I don’t know anyone who lives there and I thought I’d see if the number came up on the internet and sure enough it did and it was some law firm. What slightly freaked me out though was the location of where that firm is based, which I can’t explain here, but it suddenly felt very Big Brother-ish (as in the George Orwell meaning of that, rather than like a Channel 4 reality TV programme). I’m sure that it was a total coincidence, but sometimes the internet reveals information that causes me to wonder.

Thursday, February 01, 2007


Wow, it’s February already. How did that happen??

Anyway, sometimes you do things because they are very sensible or logical but then you realise they might look a bit odd. It may not be a surprise for you to learn that London Underground is not one of the cleanest environments. In terms of coming into contact with grime it maybe isn’t so bad if you are sitting on a seat because it is probably only your clothes that are in contact with it, but if you are standing up then you normally want to hold on, so your hand touches one of the handrails. Of late, I have taken to putting a glove on before my hand touches a handrail. I’m not someone who is overly fussed by muck or dirt but there is just something about touching things on the tube that particularly appals me. People do all sorts of things with their hands - touch things, stick them in places that most people wouldn’t if they were in polite company and just generally move dirt and germs about. Somehow I don’t want to come into direct contact with that and so I put on a glove. But just the one glove. I occasionally wonder if people think it is odd or perhaps instead they secretly nod in agreement at the good sense I am showing – or more likely that they don’t care at all absorbed up in their own little world.

Although there are hundreds of people on a train, people still seem able to be oblivious to all that is around them. With the increase in iPods and MP3 players people shut out more and more around them. Most days I end up standing next to someone who is listening to their music so loudly that I could actually sing along. I can hear not only the dull beat of it, but also the tune and every single word of whatever song happens to be playing at the time. I don’t think I have ever seen anyone ask someone else to turn down their music instead people seem to get their own iPod and play that equally loudly in order to block out the sound. If you have not put your own defence system in place you are surrounded by a rising cacophony of sound with people’s competing music tastes music attacking you from every side

Mind you, if you cut everybody else out then you also miss out on listening in on other people’s conversations, such as last night when two men got on the tube engrossed in conversation and all I caught of what they said was “It’s really the most selfish thing you can do. Leaving some poor person having to use a toothbrush to clean up the mess made by your kidneys” Erm, yes that does sound quite selfish - and also an unusual use of a toothbrush.