Monday, April 30, 2007


I might need to grow a bigger head. Sadly this is not because anyone has been showering me with compliments or I am suddenly arrogant about my own abilities. Actually it’s because my nephew appears to have slightly stretched my glasses so they are a bit too big for my head now. I’m not really sure how he did it because they’re not the sort of glasses you can do that too – or so I thought. Maybe my head has actually shrunk. At least I only need to wear them to read, so I don’t need to worry that they will fall off when I am running for a bus. Not that I ever run for buses, if they can’t be bothered to wait for me then I merely look on with disdain. And turn up later than planned.

My sister and I took my nephew to Crystal Place on Saturday. We had a picnic that included egg mayonnaise sandwiches. Yum. I seem to think that as a very small child I went to Crystal Palace and vaguely recall the dinosaurs that are there. But they have redone it all since then (unsurprisingly, as it must be getting on for thirty years ago) and there are various dinosaurs around one of the lakes there. My nephew was not thrilled to see them and was actually really scared of them. Very cute. We then went and had a cup of tea and a bit of cake at a tea room and they had a few animals there including a couple of black pigs. My nephew was *really* scared of the pigs as well and wouldn’t go anywhere near them. Very cute again. Aww. His phrases of the weekend seemed to be “No” and “I don’t like it” which is always good… Still we had a good time despite him waking me up yesterday morning by putting a book on my bed and then hopping into bed beside me and relating “pillow” many times until I gave him one of my pillows. He likes to make himself comfortable for his early morning read.

I also realised over the weekend that I need to get my driving licence changes. I actually still have a paper licence and have never bothered to get it changed each time I moved house, as I moved house so often. I just left my parents’ address on my licence. However, my brother in law’s sister was told by the police that she might be fined a thousand pounds for not having updated her address (this would be on top of the three points and £60 fine for using her mobile whilst driving). Eek. Time to get some photos taken.

Saturday, April 28, 2007


A quick post for today because I have my nephew sitting on my lap. Last night my sister and I watched 'The Devil Wears Prada' which I really enjoyed. Meryl Streep was excellent. The thing was that the character she played was scarily like my old head of unit. I spent the whole time cringing at what she was like and having flashbacks to a few months ago when we were still under her rule. I sent a text to someone I work with to tell her I was going to have nightmares last night as a result of watching that film. Scary, scary, scary.

I am actually due to get another new head of unit in the next few weeks. That will be the third in about 6 months - is it something I said?

Anyway, I'm off out for a picnic shortly in the sunshine.

Friday, April 27, 2007


The end of the week at last. I have a nice weekend ahead. I’m going to stay at my sister’s house as my bro in law is away so we are going to entertain my nephew. I think this involves a visit to a farm and going to Crystal Palace and so on. My sister may have arranged this to keep *me* quiet in reality but we’ll pretend it is for the sake of my nephew.

Yesterday I logged onto a computer at work that is a communal area and anyone is allowed to use. Despite all the signs up reminding people to log out of e-mail or bank accounts, I was presented with someone else’s e-mail account. There was that bit of me that was tempted to have a nose or send an incriminating e-mail to someone pretending to be that person. But somehow I resisted the urge and logged out of their account. The things I could have done…

I readthis article yesterday. Is it just me or is there something slightly odd about some complete stranger hugging people, particularly whilst entirely sober? Don’t get me wrong he has obviously tapped into a need, and Juan Mann is probably totally legit but you can just imagine some pervy bloke offering people a hug and having something more in mind than just giving them a nice warm feeling. Quite.

Here’s a video of him and his Juan Mann campaign:

Anyway, wherever you may live feel free to start your own campaign, just watch those wandering hands.

Thursday, April 26, 2007


I went to the Renoir exhibition at the National gallery last night, having navigated my way round the mass of somewhat drunk Liverpool fans in Trafalgar Square. I really enjoyed the exhibition despite having no expertise about art at all and usually I would just wander round and look at the paintings thinking “there’s a field”, “there’s a lake”, “there’s some people”. We actually hired the audio commentaries and that helped quite a lot. If you go to the exhibition on a Wednesday night you can get in for half price. Bargain.

Then we wandered into Chinatown and had a very good time chatting and eating nice food and this time we had very drunk fellow diners who gave the entire restaurant a rendition if many 1970s hits from Abba to Elton John to Queen – and many more that were entirely unrecognisable. Entertaining.

Anyway, it was a lovely evening spent in pleasant, intelligent and witty company. *smiles* Priceless.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


I am one of those last minute packers. I can know for months that I am going away but only finally turn my mind to packing a bag about an hour before I walk out the door. Generally this works out ok and I don’t usually forget things, but it does require an extra burst of adrenaline to get everything done in time to walk out the door.

I followed my usual laid back approach to going away on Sunday. This did not improve my stress levels as I realised that I had only just about left myself enough time to get to Waterloo to hop on the Eurostar. I knew my tube journey was due to be affected by engineering work, so that was going to slow me down anyway. I then managed to just miss a rail replacement bus but at that moment my mum phoned and she kindly offered to drop me off at a station where I could pick up a train service. Phew.

I then started to think of al the other things I had failed to do such as make sure I had left some tickets out that I need for tonight and my poor brain began to think that perhaps I should have put slightly more planning into going away.

Anyway, I made it to the Eurostar and made my way across to sunny France. I thought the Eurostar was really slow on the UK side so maybe it will be better when it departs from St Pancras later in the year. Anyway, let me give you a tip here: Never arrive in France on Sunday night. It’s closed. Apart from the local kebab shop. That’s where I ended up having dinner as there wasn’t really anywhere else to go as even the hotel wasn’t serving food. I used my very poor French to order something vaguely edible. The problem I find I that I can say things in French and be understood but then have no idea what the person says in response. It’s not like in French lessons at school. *shakes head*

After I’d eaten dinner I went back to the hotel and met up with some chap who had arranged the meeting I was going to and we went for a drink and a couple of other people joined us. We did manage to find somewhere a bit further afield that was open and encountered the “Gallic shrug” when the waiter realised that we were British and unlikely to be ordering his entire menu.

The hotel was slightly manky. I had to wait until I got home until I had shower because my options were a freezing cold dribble of water or a vaguely hot trickle of water. Neither was going to provide much of a shower. I was talking to someone about this and he said the shower in his room was as bad and so the only way he had been able to wash his hair etc was by going down on all fours in the bath. I tried not to dwell on this thought for too long.

There was also much navigation using very unreliable satnav systems, which seemed to leave it until just beyond the last moment to provide directions. Still no-one got last as far as I know and we got to see far more of the sights that France has to offer – some of them several times, as we went round again and again.

I hopped back on the Eurostar yesterday afternoon and headed home, worn out from having to get up an hour earlier than normal and trying to sound coherent in meetings. I till think there is something a bit lonely about going away on work trips like that, but I had a good time and it was preferable to being in the office. Today it’s back to work… *sigh* but I have a really nice evening ahead. *smiles*

Sunday, April 22, 2007


I had a very nice afternoon yesterday and met up with a friend and had a wander around London including going to Green Park for a bit. I am beginning to come to the conclusion that I might have hay fever. Whenever I spend a bit of time in parks my head ends up feeling really awful. It doesn’t strike me as a typical symptom of hay fever but I get a massive headache and end up feeling a bit sick. It doesn’t happen at any other time than when I go to parks. Weird…

I am off to foreign parts this afternoon. Yesterday I went and picked up my tickets, got some currency and checked that I vaguely know where I am going, but as yet I have not packed a thing. I have tried to work out exactly where my hotel is and how I am going to get there but I guess I’ll work it out when I get there. This is such a last minute arrangement that I haven’t had time to get my head round it at all. Oh well, what’s the worst that could happen?

Anyway, I will be back home some time on Tuesday. Be good while I’m gone…

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Ranting again

Yesterday turned out to be more traumatic than planned and for an unexpected reason. By Friday I have normally run out of bread and so I go to the canteen at work and eat there instead. I checked the menu on the intranet and it looked fine. I thought I’d probably have the jacket potato which had some kind of beef filling. So I wandered down to the canteen by which time I’d forgotten exactly what the filling was for the potato and for some reason there were no signs up saying what was on the menu. But I just asked for a potato with the filling, didn’t really think about what they had served me, went and paid and then went and sat down to eat. It was only then that I looked at my plate properly and thought there was something unusual about what was on my potato. My brain whirred through and to my horror I realised that what they had served me was liver. Liver!!!!!

I’m not a fussy eater at all but there is just something about liver that instantly repulses me. I was so unimpressed BUT just to prove that I really will eat anything, I ate it anyway and just tried to concentrate on the fact that it was food and it is bad to waste food, so I couldn’t just chuck it away. You see I really should never trust the canteen at work. I think on Fridays they just sell create the potato fillings from whatever they have been unable to get rid of during the week, which is how you end up with fillings such as “mixed meat” – and to be honest that could cover a multitude of sins – bacon and hot coleslaw and now liver and mushrooms (in a rosemary sauce I might add). I will never, ever trust them again.

I will stop going on about the coverage of the shooting in Virginia at some point, but yesterday I read the BBC’s explanation of why it showed the video of the killer. I have to say I still have no sympathy for them having done it. The BBC’s argument seems in part to be “everyone else was doing it”, which is a highly dubious argument to me. People are also deluded if they think that by watching the ramblings of a killer when he has already killed two people and is about to slaughter many more will give them an accurate insight into why it happened. Are they experts? Do they have all the evidence to build up a proper picture of all the events that led to what took place? Or are they just pop-psychologists who think themselves suddenly qualified to analyse a complex situation that seems to have quite some history to it and led to some very tragic events?

I just find it distasteful in the extreme that any tragedy around the world is beamed into our home and we see people dead and dying and somehow appear to gain entertainment from other people’s tragedies. If it was my life that had been blighted by such circumstances would I want the whole world watching the dying moments of someone I loved or telling me their theories on why it happened? I think not. We should show people more respect and allow others who are rather better qualified time to investigate and draw conclusions based on all the available evidence. I despair of the way journalism is going sometimes.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Feeding the beast

Friday at last. Hooray! Work has been ok this week and I have done a couple of things which have been really enjoyable, the words “work” and “enjoyable” do not often feature in the same sentence for me, so that was good. Yesterday, because of something in particular I was doing, I went into work in jeans which was very odd because I haven’t worn jeans to work for years. I probably could wear jeans to work sometimes but somehow I think I would lose the little authority that I may have by turning up to work looking too casual…

Perhaps it is just me but it strikes me that the media seems to be rubbing their hands in glee at the shootings in Virginia. I do sometimes wonder if they have no sense of the impact of what they broadcast. Do we really need to see the video made by the man who killed all those people? Should we be privy to something that is presumably part of a police investigation and that given that is has therefore not been analysed just fuels speculation and potential misinformation? It worries me that in all likelihood there will be copycat killings and part of what will motivate the next person/ people will be seeing the notoriety that comes from carrying out a mass killing. But it all feeds the 24 hour a day news beast and that appears to be enough reason for them to report it.

Hopefully I have a fairly nice weekend ahead. I’m meeting up with someone tomorrow for what should be a nice afternoon. My Sunday will be cut short though as I have to go away on Sunday night so I can be somewhere for a meeting on Monday. Anyway, I shall leave you with a song that I like at the moment. It’s not a particularly new song, but I like it and think there is something very beautiful about it. It is “Elusive” by Scott Matthews.

Thursday, April 19, 2007


Yesterday lunch time I was walking to another building to go to a meeting and I bumped into one of my old bosses, who was my first head of unit when I joined the organisation that I work for. It was nice to see him, despite him giving me a kiss whilst he had a mouthful of sandwich. I had to dash off though to get to my meeting and I was about to say that I’d drop in and see him but because he is actually still A’s boss I realised that wasn’t really an option.

Suddenly I just feel a bit low about the stuff with A again. I am actually basically fine about it all but sometimes it just creeps up on me and makes me feel quite sad. I’d still like A to get in touch but I guess as time goes on that is less and less likely, but as ever I still hold out hope. I woke up yesterday morning and just thought how much I’d like to give A a hug and to have a catch up. Maybe one day. I still hold out hope. Things are going quite well generally and I’m still feeling quite positive about life but this all still gets to me sometimes.

Perhaps I could do with this for my life to motivate me in all sorts of things. It seems that if you use an e-Coach you can get texts to motivate you in your life. You can be sent messages such as "What a wonderful morning! It's time to put on your running shoes and go for a jog around the park" because that is just the type of message I would want to get first thing in the morning. The article says “Fraunhofer Institute spokeswoman Susanne Baumer said on Wednesday that the "eCoach" can be tailored to meet the goals of individuals or the needs of organisations.

"For example, if I am a university and I want to help my final years (students) to study for their exams, then the messages could be something like...'60 percent of your fellow students have already read chapter 74. You have not.'"

Can you tell at all that this is a product created by a German company? It brings the memories flooding back of when I lived with ‘Evil Landlady’ a few years ago. She was German and would bark orders at me and try and motivate me by constantly telling me off for not doing things in exactly the way she expected. “Stop creating so much steam in the kitchen!“ “Get rid of the crumbs in the toaster!” “Recycle! Recycle! Recycle!” Yes it was very motivating. It motivated me to move out and never look back. Somehow I think I would end up switching my mobile off or changing my mobile number so I couldn’t be tracked down by the system and yet there is something about it which makes me wonder if somehow it would stalk me and I’d end up getting texts telling me that there was no escape and I would finish whatever the task was even if it killed me. Not that I am paranoid or anything - or need coaxing to pressure things, like still reading Armadale even though I should really have finished it weeks ago. Nope not me.

Anyway on a different note, I just thought these photos were really cute. Awww………

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


I met up with a friend from school for dinner last and we had a really good catch up. We went to a restaurant just off Regent Street and it was all very nice. At the moment I am trying to sort my social life out a bit – catch up with a few old friends and make a few new ones. I feel that it is time to be a bit more proactive and this may of course help out on the dating front as well, so it’s all good. There are a few possibilities coming up on the dating horizon anyway, so things seem to be picking up a bit generally.

I spoke to a solicitor yesterday about extending the lease on my property. I have had to find a new firm because my old solicitors don’t do that sort of work. They recommended another firm to me which I called a couple of weeks ago. They turned out to be entirely useless and after a bit of procrastination decided that they don’t do lease extensions, which was surprising as they originally said that they did. So then I got my old solicitors to recommend another firm and spoke to someone yesterday who was really, really helpful and gave me some good advice and suggested a couple of things I could so to cut down on costs etc. He also said that I should talk to my neighbours about potentially buying the freehold, as that might work out better in the long run. So I will do that shortly and then make an approach to the freeholder asking for terms for extending the lease and also for purchasing the freehold. As much as I liked my last solicitors, according the chap I spoke to yesterday they actually gave me a bit of bad advice and despite the freeholder’s unwillingness to engage in the lease extension process could have extended it anyway, but the previous owner would have had to start off the process. That is a bit annoying but there’s nothing I can do about it now.

It seems I may have potentially been sending you all to an early grave by suggesting the other day that you should learn how to cook the perfect bacon sandwich. A study now seems to be showing that bacon and other cured products could damage your lungs and increase the risk of lung disease. You’d have to be eating vast amounts of bacon for this to have much of an impact – at least 14 times a month. Mind you I do work with some people who eat a bacon sandwich every day, so if they combine that with a 50 a day smoking habit then they might be in trouble. Although, in those circumstances they would probably be in trouble without eating the bacon sandwich.

Anyway, so far this week we have learned:

Chocolate: good
Bacon: bad.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Matters of the heart

I was shocked to see the scale of the shooting at a university in Virginia yesterday. I’m afraid that I don’t have much time for the people who say “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”. Yes that is true and yet putting a gun in those people’s hands make them so much more deadly.

I watched the film “Bowling for Columbine” a few years back and thought that was a really good film that highlighted a whole range of issues about guns and gun control. I thought Michael Moore overstepped the line a couple of times in it but ultimately it was difficult to get to the end of the film and think that the “right” to bear arms was a good thing. Yesterday yet more lives were devastated by someone exercising their rights.

Anyway, on a completely different note, I was amused by this story yesterday. It seems that chocolate is better than kissing. Apparently your heart rate increases more when eating chocolate than it does when you’re kissing someone. They tested this in a lab and everything, so it must be entirely true and accurate. I cannot imagine that the results were skewed at all by the people kissing being watched like lab rats in a cage and having their heart rate etc being measured by electrodes being stuck to their head. There is just nothing more sexy and able to make you focus on the task at hand.

I am sure any number of people being offered the opportunity to kiss someone they really fancy or to eat a Mars bar opting for the Mars bar. Hmm… Admittedly you can share a chocolate bar but I think there are other things that can be a bit more pleasurable than that – and also less likely to cause you to put on several stone and then die early from a heart attack. Of course if only one of them is an option, I guess it’s better than nothing, but I think I know which one is likely to make my heart race a bit faster.

Monday, April 16, 2007


I ended up having a very pleasant weekend, which included going out for lunch with my parents yesterday. Lunch with my parents is not always a pleasant experience but it was nice enough yesterday, despite my father being his usual slightly odd self by just throwing in totally irrelevant questions on occasion. I still wonder if he has ever learnt how conversations actually work. Anyway, it all went much better than normal so that is good and mum even gave me an Easter egg (I hadn’t seen her for a couple of week).

Last night I kept thinking how hot it was and was surprised that so late in the evening it was still so warm. It was only when I was sorting out some stuff before going to bed that I realised that actually the heating was still on full blast and that was actually the reason for feeling so warm all evening. Idiot.

So now it’s back to work again. I was so hoping that the tube strike would be on today, but sadly the unions called it off. I was hopeful of a rather late arrival at work (if I could get in at all) and then being able to leave early because it would take me so long to get home. Life can be very cruel sometimes. I shall have to go and sharpen my pencils in preparation for work instead.

I cannot imagine that most people would ever be tempted by a goat, but let this be a warning to you that you may end up with rather more than you bargained for. Just be warned.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Size does matter

Well, yesterday was a day of revelations. Well one revelation in particular really. When I woke up yesterday morning I though that it was time to have my first ever bra fitting. Until yesterday I had just guessed what my bra size was and for some reason decided that it was time to check. So I wandered off to M&S on Oxford Street and asked to be measured.

You have to be willing to take your top off in front of a total stranger but apart from that it isn’t anything too traumatic.* Not that I found that traumatic, it seems that I don’t have an issue with taking my top off in such circumstances… I just whipped my top off and resisted the urge to say “but we’ve only just met!”

The basic process is you get measured, the woman then goes and gets lots of bras for you to try on and then through that process you identify exactly the right fit. Anyway, as it turned out, my guesstimating over the years was totally wrong and I have been rather under estimating my assets. So I am now the owner of some nice new bras.

I would highly, highly recommend that you have a bra fitting (if you’re female) and I think you are meant to be rechecked every couple of years. It is so worth it.

Unconnected to the above, of late I have been in a very good mood. Some of it is probably the nice weather, but also I just feel more sorted about various things that have been rattling around in my head for a long time. I’m sure that I will tie myself up in mental knots again but I am rather enjoying feeling more content with things and just generally feeling quite happy. *contented sigh*

*You keep your bra on, I might add. You don’t have to bare all.

Saturday, April 14, 2007


At the moment I am still reading Armadale by Wilkie Collins, a book that I have been reading for about 6 or 7 weeks. I have to say that I am finding it really hard work - 680 pages of hard work... I may have mentioned before that for years I avoided reading 'classic literature' because it reminded me of being forced to read books at school (which is maybe quite odd to think that given that I have an A-level in English literature and therefore *chose* to study a subject that meant having to read those books...). A few months ago I read Wilkie Collins' book 'The Woman in White' and I really liked that, but this latest book is not quite doing it for me. It just takes me back to those times of having to plough through page upon page of description and not a lot actually happening. I have read over 500 pages of the book and am having to push myself to get through the final quarter. By the end I am hoping that the sense of satisfaction at having finished it will outweigh the pain of keeping on reading it. I think the book is probably better than I give it credit for but he didn't half take a long time to get around to what he was saying. The book was serialised in a magazine originally and he was therefore paid for each section that he submitted, so the more material he provided presumably the more he got paid - need I say more.

Yesterday when I wandered back to my desk from my lunch break (which I had used to try and get though a few more pages of that book) there was a large box of Roses chocolates on my desk. I had helped someone prepare for an interview the other day and she had given the chocolates to say thank you, which was very kind of her and not at all why I had done it. I had been slightly concerned that I had managed to make her feel even more nervous about the interview but it seems that I had actually helped.

I was thinking about the BBC journalist Alan Johnston who was taken hostage last month. Obviously that is a very worrying time for all concerned but I wonder if it is a good thing for people to be making a fuss about it. I can see that people want to put pressure on the kidnappers to try and get them to release him, but I wonder if it might actually be counter-productive. The more publicity you give to someone, the more valuable they appear to be, the more valuable they are then surely the more likely the kidnappers are to want to hang on to him because they think they might be able to get something of value in return for him - or that it would have a bigger impact if they killed him. It strikes me that the more anonymous you are the better in these situations because if you're a 'nobody' and no-one gains from killing you or holding you hostage then the more likely you are to be released. But perhaps my logic is flawed. I can see as well that people might think that by showing that he was there doing good and that he is part of a family who desperately want him back etc might also be seen as helpful, but then I remember the example of Margaret Hassanwho was taken hostage in Iraq. She was there doing humanitarian work and actually held dual Iraqi-British citizenship, but her captors still killed her.

Maybe the petitions and protests about Alan Johnston are helping but I do wonder if lots of high profile public pressure might actually be counter-productive and end up doing more harm than good. I hope not, but I do wonder.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Water, water everywhere

I was at a meeting most of yesterday afternoon, which was particularly good as it meant I got home from work a bit earlier than normal, as the meeting was held was much nearer to where I live than where I work. Anyway at the meeting there was some water on the table but one of the bottles couldn’t be opened because the thread had gone on the cap, so the cap just went round and round and couldn’t be undone. The person who was taking the minutes had brought along a bottle of tonic water for her own personal consumption and even though people were thirsty she refused to let some poor chap have any of it and directed him to the bottle that couldn’t be opened. It was like some scene from a film where people start to plot how to kill one of those trapped with them so they can have the last morsel of food. I didn’t take much a liking to the woman so if someone had killed her for the water I would never have told.

Something that was slightly more difficult to overlook yesterday though was an incident on the way into work. I was in *such* a good mood yesterday, I even had a smile on my face on the way into work, which is pretty much unheard of, I might add. This was probably good considering the sight I was about to see.

I change trains part way through my journey and I went and stood in my normal place on the platform and awaited my train. As I glanced across at the platform opposite, which was almost entirely empty, I saw a Sikh chap dressed in a suit and maybe in his sixties standing there and he suddenly reached down to his crotch area. My thinking went as follows

“He must have realised his trousers are undone. You’d think he’d want to turn the other way so people can’t see him doing them up”

“Hang on a minute he appears to be reaching into his trousers”

“Oh my goodness what has he just removed from his underpants?”

“I wasn’t expecting to see quite that much of anyone this morning…”

He then proceeded to urinate on to the tracks, exposing his somewhat unimpressive manhood to all 300 people standing on the platform opposite. Yes that is right he did this in front of about 300 people*. For a split second I had thought he was intending to do something else other than have a wee, so he was not the only one who was relieved when that is all he did.

Someone told a member of staff who then proceeded to make an announcement over the voice address system telling the chap to stop urinating and that what he was doing was illegal. At this point my train arrived and when I glanced across at the other platform the man had disappeared. I assume he was either dragged off by some London Underground staff or realised that there were toilets at that station anyway, which were preferable to his previous choice of toilet facility.

You really do get to see everything in London- and believe me yesterday I really did see *everything*.

*I may be being generous here but I think he was perhaps oblivious to his audience and was just thinking that because the platform he was on was empty therefore no-one could see him.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Like herding cats

In recent weeks you may have seen that a blogger, Kathy Sierra, was very majorly harassed and threatened - including receiving death threats. The other day I read that there is a suggestion of drawing up a kind of 'bloggers code of conduct' that would mean people know what to expect and what is acceptable on any particular blog.

In many ways this is a good thing. Being offensive, rude or threatening is not acceptable in everyday life and can be a criminal offence but some people don't seem to believe that the rules apply in the online world (which it does). But why should anyone be subject to those things and have no redress just because it is via the internet?

There is also some suggestion that anonymous comments would be discouraged. This strikes me as a bit odd... There are a huge number of bloggers out there that do not use their real identity and I think that is fair enough. There are also different levels of anonymity in comments, there are those that just leave comments under the name "anonymous", there are those that pick an identity and use that but have no presence in the blogging world themselves and there are those who don't use their real identity but have their own blog - that might be a personal blog or on sports or politics or whatever they want it to be about, but to a large degree all are anonymous. Would I want people who read my blog and comment to have to identify themselves, well, no not really – and allowing people to use an alias but saying they have to provide a valid e-mail address surely is unworkable. I’m not actually going to check if an e-mail address is real. I think when I comment on Blogger blogs my e-mail address is blocked as a way to prevent spam (although it’s here on this page if someone actually wants it for some reason).

If people want to say something, as long as it isn't nasty, then I don't mind if I don't know who you are because that is part of the nature of the internet. I probably prefer it if someone has a blog but that is mainly due to feeling there is a bit of reciprocity - an "I'll show you mine if you'll show me yours", if you prefer- or maybe it's just nosiness. I think it would be a shame if people were discouraged from dropping by and commenting because they felt they had to state exactly who they are or provide information that they don’t want to (or don’t necessarily need to).

What bothers me more is when people make assertions on their blogs as fact when actually it isn't. I think that is what irritated me so much the other day about the "Easter is just nicked from the pagans". With many things I see on the internet I would reply "Really - and where is your evidence to support that?" If I made an assertion at work I would be asked how I knew that and would have to substantiate it. If I couldn't substantiate it then I shouldn't have said it. But on the internet things become 'fact' that are actually someone's opinion or based on some urban myth or some half remembered tale that actually has no substance to it. Don't get me wrong, there is a lot of good stuff on the internet, but it doesn't mean it is all true.

I am not a regular viewer of Newsnight, but I saw it a few weeks ago and the author of Guido Fawkes' website was on there (blacked out to maintain his anonymity, although it turns out that most people seemed to know exactly what his name is and what he looks like and I think these details are even on his site). His blog basically publishes the latest rumours about Parliament and politics. Anyway a chap from The Guardian was on the programme as well and he kept questioning Guido about where his information comes from and whether it was accurate. Guido kept maintaining that it was and that it came from various reliable sources, but when he was asked to substantiate some of what he was saying there was much squirming involved because when it came to it there was more supposition than first was apparent. But do people question it? Maybe some people do. But do people question a lot of what they read in the newspapers? Probably not - and a fair bit of that is, at best, biased but at least it is regulated.
I am in the fortunate position of knowing some very nice people through blogging and whilst I have received the occasional e-mail from people who are a bit odd, on the whole all has been fine. There are some people who will go to the extreme end of the scale when it comes to abusing the freedom of the internet and will say and do things that are unacceptable in any context, but the problem is that you can be pretty much anywhere in the world and access the internet and you can claim to be anyone that you want to be and then slink off into the shadows again if that's what you want to do.

I don't know what the answer is really. Codes of conduct are all well and good, but will only work if they are a) enforceable and b) actually enforced. To a degree each of us as an individual has to take responsibility. Treat fellow bloggers with a bit of respect, read things with a questioning mind and just because something is asserted as fact don't necessarily assume that it is therefore true - and if you don't like or "approve of" a particular blog or the views expressed there, then don't read it. That doesn't deal with the issue of those who threatens harm, sometimes serious harm, to others, a code is probably a good thing and so long as it does not take away some of the freedom and creativity that is present on the internet. But I do wonder how you can enforce something as wide ranging and international as the internet. It does strike me as being a bit like trying to herd cats though.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Donkey business

On Good Friday I was watching a bit of daytime TV and some programme about animals was on (can you tell I wasn't actually paying a lot of attention, as I have no idea what the programme was). Anyway, a donkey was brought to see a vet because it was ill and its companion donkey had to go with it because apparently donkeys don't cope well on their own. Unfortunately the donkey was too seriously ill to be saved so the vet decided the best option was to have it put down, so the two donkeys were left alone for a while so that they could spend a bit of time together to say goodbye, which would then make it easier for the one that was left behind. It was really rather touching and there was something about it which made me think "I wonder if I am a bit like a donkey?" You might think that this is a classic case of why I should not be left unattended with a TV or the internet, but go with me here...

Anyway, so I had a bit of a search on the internet and came across a website about miniature donkeys and what their personalities are like. Let me take you through this and I think you'll find the resemblance uncanny:

A single miniature donkey would be most unhappy and distressed, they are herd animals and will not thrive well on their own.

Yep, that's me. I wouldn't say I am exactly looking for a herd to be part of but I don't thrive well on my own. I like other people around me and interacting with people. If I was left on my own for too long then I might actually go insane - not least because of the amount of daytime television I would probably end up watching.

Miniature donkeys love to play and pair up for life. A single miniature donkey will pine without a companion no matter how much time you spend with it.

We'll brush over whether I like to play or not *cough* but I am a somewhat monogamous sort and have never been interested in a string of relationships (chance would be a fine thing!), just someone who might be able to tolerate me into my old age would be good. As nice as my friends are, it is never a complete substitute for being in a relationship with someone and sometimes I pine for that something more.

They can become unmanageable if lonely as they will chase you and try to hold you in the field.

Er, well I don't recall ever trapping someone in a field and to be honest if ever I feel lonely I am more likely to withdraw into myself rather than try and hold you hostage.

These donkeys are one of the most affectionate and friendly animals of their kind. They are tame, gentle, loyal, playful and affectionate.

Well, of course, I am all of those and I am normally friendly, unless I have just woken up, have PMT or am travelling on the tube during rush hour.

They are very social animals and like to give and receive a great deal of attention. The more time you spend with them the better.

I wouldn't say I demand a lot of attention (although it has been known on occasion, but I am female after all) but I definitely like spending time with people and I probably thrive off that to a reasonable degree. But I can also be quite attentive and if I was spending time with you I am unlikely to get out a book and just ignore you.

They are easy to train and learn quickly.

Oh indeed, you would not believe some of the tricks that I can perform...

A miniature donkey is a friend for life and should not be considered a short term pet.

Whilst I do have friends who have drifted in and out of my life, I am pretty loyal to my friends and if someone were to get in touch that I hadn't had any contact with for years I'd be fine with that and just pick up where we left off. If you cross the threshold to really being a friend then that is pretty much for life.

Remember folks, I am not to be considered as a short term pet. You cannot just leave me in a cardboard box on the steps outside the RSPCA.

Miniature donkeys are not stubborn - they are just careful.

That is going to be my new mantra in life "I'm not stubborn, I'm just careful".

In the event of perceived danger a horse's instinct is to flee - whereas a donkeys is to look the situation over and determine the best approach.

That does actually describe me quite well. I do tend to take the option of taking some time to weigh up a situation before deciding what to do. Generally my instinct is not to automatically flee from things, although I may duck for cover on occasion.

If they trust you they will go anywhere you ask.

If I trust someone then that is pretty accurate - but then I would probably trust you because I know you are unlikely to lead me off the edge of a cliff. Hopefully.

They love going for walks with their owners, attending shows or a palm Sunday parade.

I do like walking and in fact won the prize for the shiniest coat at the recent Palm Sunday parade.*

*That last bit might not be entirely true. I was actually 'highly commended'.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


I actually had a far nicer bank holiday weekend than expected. Seeing my sister, bro in law and nephew was good and yesterday I had a nice day wandering in London. I went to Hyde Park for a bit and just sat there and watched the world go by and it was a really pleasant thing to do.

On the way home I went to M&S to try and purchase a couple of ladies’ undergarments *whispers* I mean bras, but don’t want to embarrass anyone. Without meaning to sound as though I am boasting in any way, I am not lacking in this department. We’re not talking Pamela Anderson proportions here but statistically I am above average *winks*. Anyway, what with being above average, I’d have expected that the flagship store of M&S would have ample stock to supply my ample needs but in fact they basically had nothing in the right size unless it was very expensive. I believe this is what could be referred to as a let down, which is never the ideal in such circumstances. What is the world coming to – last week Tesco did not have the cakes I needed and this week M&S didn’t have bras in stock. My search for the latter will continue.

I have actually managed to make a vague bit of progress in the dating stakes – and this was achieved by totally wimping out of something that I had planned to do. Cutting a long story short I am meeting up with someone in the next couple of weeks for something that isn’t a date, but could potentially turn into one or be a stepping stone to more exciting things. So in a strange kind of way it is all potentially exciting, but being my usual reserved self I am only allowing myself to smile about it a dozen times a day.

Finally, I think you should read this article, follow the advice carefully and then invite me round to sample your culinary skills.

Monday, April 09, 2007


My calm seems to have returned, so I don’t think there will be any ranting today. I don’t know why that so irritated me yesterday, but it was better that I blogged to let out my irritation than kick a small dog or something (not that I would ever actually kick a small dog - which is why it is good that I have a blog…).

I am loving the weather at the moment and I think I’ll go out later and maybe sit in a park and read a book – after doing such exciting things as going to the supermarket. I am also very pleased not to be at work and am not too thrilled to be going back tomorrow. It should be a fairly peaceful week at work though. I am hoping that peaceful does not mean boring though. It’s always weird being in work when there are quite a few people off.

I was thinking that I would text my friend L today and she what she is up to and maybe meet up. She is my friend who lives in youth hostels, but then I remembered that she hasn’t got a mobile phone at the moment, so is basically uncontactable. This is probably not ideal as she is still not in a good way at the moment. I might see if I can dig out an e-mail address for her at some point.

I am trying to be a bit more decisive with some things in my life at the moment and maybe do a few things that might up my chance of finding someone to go out with. I’m just trying to take a bit more control of things – I am slightly wary of talking about “taking control” because it reminds me of my friend telling me last year that I was being “controlling”. Sometimes I have to remind myself that one person saying that to me doesn’t actually make it true and also taking control of your own life is actually a good thing. It’s funny how the negative things that people say often have more of an impact than the positive. Actually when I was out with my friend K on Wednesday night she did tell me that I am very funny and good company and an interesting person to talk to and so on. I don’t say this for any other reason than to remind myself that people do think good things about me and sometimes I forget that – having a bit of a balance in things is good. Writing it down just makes it easier to remember. I am totally rambling here, sorry about that.

Anyway, the above was not really an example of being decisive, so I think we can conclude there is still much work to be done. So I am off out to start work on my plan…

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Catching up and a brief rant - apologies

I’ve been over at my sister’s the last couple of days. Despite my brother fixing IT for a living, he is unable to fix his own computer which died the other day, so horror of horrors, I have had no access to the internet since Friday.

I had a good time at my sister’s. We went out for dinner on Friday night to a place that served really nice food – and in vast quantities. My brother in law also really liked it – but wasn’t so keen the next day when he couldn’t stop throwing up and other stuff that I won’t mention…

I woke up yesterday morning and realised that I was dreaming about what I would do if I hoovered up a large spider. The issue being what would I do about it being in my hoover. The two solutions were to immediately phone my mum and get her to empty it or to put my hoover in the car and drive over to my mum’s house and get her to empty it. Whatever happened it could not remain in my hoover for any longer than absolutely necessary particularly as I have a bagless hoover so you can see the contents of it. I’m not sure why I was dreaming about that except that Caroline over at In Search of Adam posted a photo of a horrible spider the other day (I’m not providing a link to the actual post, you’ll have to scroll down through her blog if you want to see that).

Anyway this morning I was still as my sister’s and we hid some Kinder eggs in the garden and my nephew then had to search for them and there was a general Easter egg exchange. How long will my Easter eggs last me this year? I don’t actually think as long as last year, but we shall see.

I read something on someone’s blog earlier and it just makes me want to defend Easter a bit. I won’t tell you whose blog it was* as I’m not into slating other bloggers, but I just thought it was a bit harsh to totally dismiss Easter as a “hijacked pagan festival”. I just get a bit tired of people dismissing Christian celebrations. I think it is a bit disrespectful and people don’t tend to do it about other religions but somehow Christianity is always “fair game”.

Without going into major detail on this, the timing of Easter has its origins in Judaism. The death and resurrection of Jesus (which is what Easter is about) was during the Jewish Passover, which is always in the Spring, and Easter’s specific timing is connected to when the first full moon is after the Spring Equinox (and is why it si not a fixed date). Now there is a Pagan festival called Eostre which also takes place in the spring but apart from the words possibly coming from the same origin, the two are not connected and Christians have not “nicked” a pagan festival. Basically it's timing is connected to Passover and as Christianity has its origins in Judaism (but has a different emphasis given the resurrection etc), I think that is fair enough.

In defence of Christmas as well (I’m on a roll here!) I’m not sure the church has ever really taught that Jesus was born on 25 December. They picked a day and that was 25 December, it could have been 20 March or 6 August or 9 November or any day you like but the point is that the particular date was not significant, it is what it represented in terms of Jesus being born. Yes it was a date of a Pagan festival that was chosen, and maybe that was slightly controversial and possibly entirely deliberate, but that doesn’t mean you have to write off the whole thing because of that.

I think it’s easy to knock people for what they believe. It’s easy to think that those who have religious beliefs base that on wishful thinking or never question what they believe. But if people are so willing to dismiss significant religious celebrations then might I suggest that it might be worth checking out why you believe what you believe. Why are you so certain that what you think is right? I’m not suggesting you have to accept what any religion teaches but maybe show a bit of tolerance and thought for why a particular celebration might take place when it does and don’t just dismiss it.

Let’s not lose our sense of wonder and respect for things that maybe we don’t ourselves understand but that we are invited to be part of. So, Happy Easter, however you choose to celebrate it – and even if you don't.

*It’s not someone I link to, but I do read it regularly and it is actually a good blog. What I have written above is not directed at that person it is just an explanation of why it sometimes riles me when people are a bit dismissive of such things. I could actually give you a much better explanation of all of this but I'm sure what I have said is more than enough!

Friday, April 06, 2007


When I got out of bed yesterday I decided that my hair needed a cut so I wandered off out into the sunshine and got my hair trimmed. My life seems to have changed now that I have started to use Supercuts because you can’t make an appointment it is a matter of just turning up. Time will tell what I think of my haircut but at least it is a bit tidier.

I also went out yesterday evening to get a few bits from the supermarket. As it turns out all it was that I bought was yogurt, which didn’t seem worth the trip really. I had wanted to buy some cakes for Easter but Tesco didn’t seem to have any so I’ll go to Sainsbury’s and get them from there instead. Anyway, it was still a really warm evening and there was that stillness in the atmosphere that you get after a day of pleasant weather and when I got back home I could smell freshly cut grass. It was a really nice evening.

The other day I read that there is a new CCTV initiative. This will allow CCTV operators to tell people off for anti-social behaviour. If a member of the public drops litter then the CCTV operator can speak to the offender via loudspeaker and tell them to pick up the rubbish. Apparently this is not Big Brother-ish at all. On Wednesday I believe children were actually used as the voice of CCTV to try and add that extra bit of shame for people who were chastised for their misdemeanours. I can imagine that on a Saturday night it will come in very handy when some fight breaks out and suddenly a mysterious voice appears saying “You there! Yes you! Stop that now! Fighting isn’t nice. Let go of that mans ear. You are very naughty!” I wonder if it might have the unexpected side effect of meaning that church attendance goes up because people think they have heard the voice of God.

On the tube the other day I was very amused when a little boy got on with his mum and asked “Is this a standing train?” It’s good to learn the painful truth of public transport at a young age.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


At last I am off for Easter. Last night I went out for dinner with K who is someone I used to work with. We went via the pub as she and a chap she now works with wanted to watch the cricket for a bit. Cricket is not really my thing but we sat there and had a chat with the cricket in the background. Or maybe my friend was focussed on the cricket and talking to me was the background…

Anyway then the two of us headed off for dinner at a restaurant rather nearer to where we both live rather than where we work. On the way to the station she asked me how I was doing and I said that of late I had been feeling a bit down. She then asked me a question that absolutely hit the nail on the head and is something that has been rumbling round in my mind for ages. We talked about it for a while and she kept asking me “so what are you going to do about this?” and I just kept saying that if I knew the answer to that then I’d do it! She’s always good to chat to though and it made me feel better about things even though I am no further forward.

We then met up with her girlfriend and had dinner which was at a very nice burger restaurant. Don’t be thinking McDonalds here, my brighter had pineapple and beetroot and a fried egg and all sorts of other things on it. With all that fruit and veg surely it must have been really healthy? I ended up getting home really late but as I knew I could sleep in late this morning I made the most of having a really nice evening out.

I was talking to my boss yesterday afternoon. He is such a nice guy. We actually spent a while talking about books, which is much better than talking about work, but earlier on in the day I was very amused to overhear him saying to someone when they were discussing inviting someone to a meeting “well, we’d rather have them inside the tent urinating out”. Fair point and this will now be my new criteria in inviting people to meetings.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


Today is my last day in the office until after Easter. We only have to work a short day tomorrow so I can’t be bothered to go in. This maybe isn’t the wisest decision as I am not a huge fan of long weekends. I sometimes just find them a bit depressing, and at present I don’t have huge amounts planned so this is not the ideal combination. I will see my sister and nephew (and bro in law, he does exist, even though I don’t think I generally mention him!) at some point, but I’m not sure quite when and so on.

Something I could do with my time off is go to the Science of Spying exhibition at the Science Museum. The Science Museum recently commissioned a survey which asked people what they have done to spy on their other half. More than half of those surveyed admitted to reading their partner’s text messages. Really? There must a lot of untrusting, or at least nosey, people out there. If I think about some of the messages that I have in my phone, I’m not entirely sure that I would want anyone else to be reading them. I don’t just get stray texts, I do occasionally get messages that are actually intended for me that are enough to make a girl blush.

Those who weren’t reading texts were reading e-mails, rummaging through pockets or reading personal diaries. Fortunately, I never write anything personal down so the last would never apply to me anyway. I can see that if someone has some reason to distrust their partner that the might want to test that. I am not sure that any of these are the best course of action. Would it not be better to try and find some other way to deal with it other than snooping? Obviously it’s not great to have reason to distrust your partner but I can’t imagine that these approaches are actually helpful. You reinforce the lack of trust by trying to find out if it is true through covert means – and if you are right, well what do you do then? It’s a slippery slope.

By contrast though it also seems that Britain’s favourite word is “love” (I can’t find a link to this but I read it in the paper so it must be true...). This was followed by “smile”, “happy” and “chocolate”. A few years ago I read that the favourite was serendipity, but it seems we have got more romantic over the years. When I say ‘we’ that actually means ‘women’, who are the gender that overwhelmingly voted for this word, although it was still the overall winner by a big margin. What did men actually say was their favourite word? Men voted for “antidisestablishmentarianism”. Somehow I don’t think they chose it for its meaning (it means people who are opposed to the disestablishment of the church e.g. they think the state religion such as the Church of England should continue to be supported by the state) but instead because it is a very long word and they like saying it. So men are either very deep or very shallow. I think I know which one I would vote for...

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


My friend C came over last night so that she could meet my sofa. I hung about in the background providing tea and cake whilst they got acquainted. It seems that the sofa has received the seal of approval, which was of course pleasing. It’s always difficult introducing your friends to something significant in your life.

I spent most of yesterday in a meeting. It finished much earlier than expected, which was a shame because I had planned to go straight home after it. But as I would have been home by about 2.30pm I felt this was pushing things a bit too far, so I went back to work instead. I asked someone else who was at the meeting how he was getting back to work (he works just round the corner from me). He said that he had his motorbike with him and if he’d got a spare helmet with him he’d have given me a lift. Now that would certainly have got rid of the cobwebs. Another time maybe.

A survey was published yesterday that rates the quality of living (as opposed to the quality of life) across the world was published yesterday. My two favourite places in the world – Vancouver and Auckland – came third and fifth respectively. What excellent taste I have. It prompted me to send a text to a friend last night saying that I want to go to Canada and I think she should come with me. I have something like 100,000 air miles so I reckon we could get a pretty good deal to go there. The only UK city to feature was London and it came 39th in terms of quality of living. Glasgow ranked 48th in the health and sanitation rankings (but didn’t rank in the quality of living list) – and London didn’t feature at all in that one. Make of that what you will. The survey was carried out by Mercer Research who appear to wish to be contacted via their Geneva office. Zurich was the top ranking city closely followed by Geneva. It seems these people may be wiser than we think.

Monday, April 02, 2007


The photo has absolutely nothing to do with today's post, it just made me laugh.

As weekends go the one that has just finished was probably not one of the most exciting. I met a friend's week old baby and he was very cute, I had a chat with my sister and the friend who I was meant to see on Saturday night and other things such as that. I did realise some of the reason I feel subdued though. It’s been about 7 months since I last heard from A and there are now some changes going on at work which just make me feel that A is (metaphorically, I don’t think literally, but I’m not sure) going even further away than is already the case – although quite how someone can be any further away when you already don’t have any contact with them at all I’m not sure, but psychologically it has an impact. One can but hope that A is getting to a point where contact seems viable. There’s a nice long Easter weekend ahead which would be an ideal time to try and be civil to each other. In fact looking back at what I wrote about A just before Easter last year, I could pretty much echo that right now. It’s good to know that my life has moved on so much... (Actually I have moved on quite a lot but it doesn't mean that I no longer want to be in contact with A)

A couple of songs come to mind at the moment. First is the song “The Long and Winding Road” mainly because there is a part of me that believes that however long and winding that road is somehow one day we will end up speaking to each other again and will be on reasonable terms. Obviously I have absolutely no evidence on which to base this belief, but still I live in hope.

The other is “Have a Little Faith in Me” because in some ways that is what I would want to say to A “Just have a little faith in me that us being in contact could actually work out ok”. I’m not interested in some trauma filled contact, I just want my friend back and for us to enjoy each other’s company again.

But just in case this doesn’t work out I will also hold out the hope that tomorrow looks like a better day anyway.

That last song was “Feeling Good” by Michael Buble. Normal service will resume tomorrow. Oh dear...

Sunday, April 01, 2007


Given my somewhat subdued mood yesterday, I went for a wander in the sunshine. Where is an ideal place to wander on such days? That’s right, the Holocaust exhibition at the Imperial War Museum. You were going to say that weren’t you?

I have been to the exhibition a couple of times before but haven’t been to it for a while. I think partly what put it in my mind was that on Friday night when I was browsing through some books I saw a copy of Night by Elie Wiesel which is a brilliant, if rather depressing, account of the holocaust. I must read the other books in that series. Anyway, the exhibition is a very moving experience and I had to keep reminding myself as I looked at the photos and footage that those were the actual people who perpetrated those crimes and those were the actual people who were slaughtered. I think it would be possible to go round that exhibition and look at it from a very academic perspective and see it as an “interesting look at history” and yet if you’re willing to let yourself engage with what is there before you, you’re reminded that it’s real people, actual lives, people who were exterminated because of their religion or their sexuality or their ethnic background or for standing up against oppression.

At the end of the exhibition there is a video made up of interviews with the survivors of the holocaust and they are explaining how it impacts on them now. Some were able to return to the cities that they were taken from all those years ago, others cannot bear to be reminded of a place that brought so much sorrow into their lives. Some have rebuilt relationships with those who looked on powerless to stop what was happening and others look at the people they meet now and on instinct judge whether they can be trusted - and most often do not trust.

The holocaust impacts me in a number of ways. It makes me wonder what can make people hate a particular group so much that they would want to see them totally wiped out. It makes me think about what it takes for people to survive such evil perpetrated against them and somehow rebuild a life. It makes me wonder if we are blind to things going on around us right now that somehow allow people to carry out acts that one day could be comparable to those crimes committed by the Nazis. Would I notice? Would I be willing to do something about it? Or is it just easier to stay silent? I think it is often the extremes of life that show who we really are and I wonder who we would have found ourselves to be if we had been faced by those circumstances. Elie Wiesel once said "Take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented."