Friday, November 30, 2007


Another week over, which means that I now have two weeks until I am on leave. I can’t wait... Anyway, today should be a nice enough day, as I am not in the office again and should also be able to finish earlier than normal. Then I need to speak to someone later and they will give me £70 for my troubles. Very nice.

I was amused by this article on the BBC about house sharing. I have lived in many different places over the last few years (and in two weeks time will have owned my own place for a year. Wow!) and have had a mixture of successes. One place I lived, every day I got home from work my dinner would be waiting for me and if I was home quite late then it could just be popped in the microwave. However, I moved from there to living with evil landlady.

While I lived there everything I did was wrong. I got told off for washing up by filling the washing up bowl with water. I *know* how much of an idiot am I? The *only* right way to wash up was under a running tap – but it could not be run too fast or else that was wasteful. You could also only wash up using her super special German washing up liquid that she brought back in bulk every time she went to Germany. If wasn’t being told off for that then it was for too many crumbs in the toaster, for creating too much stem when I was cooking in the kitchen or horror of horrors, failing to put the lid down on the toilet. This led to the ultimate sanction of a yellow post it being stuck to the bathroom door saying “lid?” just in case I was stupid enough to forget. I left there a broken woman.

I then had a couple of years’ respite, and then I moved in with obsessive landlady. She was actually quite a nice person but saw no issue with tidying my bedroom and removing items she thought shouldn’t be in there. When she wasn’t available to do this, she would send her father or niece round to do it instead. The number of times I got home from work and found that she had been in my room, moving stuff about and had once again removed the rug from my bedroom floor. Rugs make a room look small you see – there was no connection to the room looking small and it actually *being* small. So small that I had to sleep with my feet in a wardrobe. Every time that someone came into my bedroom (don’t get the wrong idea, I’m not that sort of girl *cough*), they’d always ask where the end of my bed was and then I’d open the wardrobe doors and lo and behold there it was! But the rug was what made it look small…

I did, of course, also end up sharing with a mouse for a bit. At least it kept itself to itself and didn’t complain when I hadn’t done the washing up.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


I had quite a good time away, but the train journey did seem to take forever getting to Portsmouth. When we got there we had to wait a bit for a taxi and then we checked in speedily and the plan was to go to our rooms, drop off our bags, go to the loo and then straight back downstairs to eat. C and I were in neighbouring rooms and she went into her room but when I tried to get into mine, the door wouldn’t open and I kept trying in case I was just going made – and then someone opened the door from the inside. After I got over the surprise I said that this was meant to be my room and I showed him the bit of paper that said it. He had obviously already moved in though so I said I’d go and get another room. When I went and spoke to the reception they were very apologetic and they had somehow just managed to check two people into the same room. Had the chap not locked his door from the inside, I would have just merrily walked in and even if he hadn’t been there, all his stuff would have been. Anyway, they found me another room, but had no doubles left, so I had to take a twin instead, but it was a suite so it was a nicer room for no extra charge. It was weird sleeping in a single bed again though.

C and I then met up and had dinner. In a work sense she is very organised and very capable, but in a personal sense she is so disorganised and several times while we were away she lost her phone, room key, train ticket, credit card and practically anything else you can think of.

She has a job interview this afternoon and we spent a bit of time talking about that on the train and working through some answers. She actually did a mock interview with someone else on Tuesday and apparently she had worked through a lot of the points that I had run her through last week and it meant that it had gone quite well, which is encouraging, but obviously bad news if she then actually gets the job...

Incidentally, I think it is about 26 days until Christmas. How scary is that?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Lies, damn lies and statistics

I didn’t take the tiffin into work yesterday, as I knew that C would not be in and she would never forgive me for taking in anything that contained chocolate on a day when she wasn’t in. It might help to give us a bit of energy for our journey down to the south coast tomorrow evening, as we are on a course tomorrow in Portsmouth which should be interesting. This means no blogging tomorrow, but you get an extra long post today anyway.

C has got a job interview on Thursday, so we are going to spend some of our train journey preparing for that. I have no idea why I am helping her with this, as it might mean that she leaves, but it seems a bit harsh not to help her. We already spent an hour last week going through some bits, so hopefully she will have worked on those and we’ll build on that a bit.

Anyway, I have been reading Freakonomics, which has given me much food for thought. The basic premise of the book is that the author, an economist, looks at a range of things that we perhaps take as a given – the statistics we hear on the news, the assertions about crime (and its rise or fall) in the media etc - and analyses it from an economists perspective. An interesting and amusing economist I might add before your heart sinks.

I am certainly not an economist, but I am a sociologist (of sorts). My degree is in sociology and a lot of my interests in life are connected with what makes society tick, what the influencing factors are and how you can break that down in order to address at least some of those issues. As you can tell, I am *very* interesting at parties…

Anyway, Freakonomics is therefore a book that greatly appeals to me, not necessarily because I always agree with it (or think that it even makes sense in places), but because it challenges assumptions and attempts to put the alternative case and I like that quality. Many a time I read the newspaper and there is so much supposition and extrapolation based on so little evidence that it is why I would rarely bother to pay for a newspaper. I do, however, no someone who deliberately buys the Sunday Telegraph because she *knows* she will disagree with it and therefore enjoys the mental stimulation. Each to their own.

A whole range of subjects are covered in the book from the Ku Klux Klan to estate agents to whether teachers help their students to cheat. However, there are three things in particular that I wanted to comment on about this book. One is the assertions about internet dating and the other is about the link between abortion and a decrease in crime and the final one is what seems to be a total misinterpretation of some statistics about the number of deaths caused by swimming pools and guns.

I’ll start with the least controversial of these – that being internet dating, in case you were wondering. Basically what the author is discussing is the relationship between what people say on their internet dating profile compared to a) its accuracy and b) the likely response i.e. how many people respond to a particular profile. It makes interesting reading and looks at some of the factors that are likely to increase or decrease your appeal to potential suitors. The main reason you’re unlikely to get responses is if you fail to post a photo apparently.

Anyway, the book talks about how people’s profiles compare to the demographics of the wider population e.g. if the US 20% of the population are blonde then does that percentage stay the same when people fill out their dating profiles. It seems not. The book says “[Internet daters] were also a lot richer, taller, skinnier and better looking than the average. That, at least, is what they wrote about themselves. More than 4 percent of the online daters claimed to earn more than $200,000 a year, whereas fewer than 1 percent of typical internet users actually earn that much, suggesting that three of the four big earners were exaggerating. Male and female users typically reported they are about an inch taller than the national average. As for weight, the men were in line with the national average, but the women typically said they weighed about twenty pounds less than the national average”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to suggest that I think that people who fill out internet dating profiles are necessarily either honest or accurate – although you do perhaps have to raise an eyebrow at those who describe themselves as “happily married” on an internet *dating* site. What I would question though is whether you can directly compare the general population with internet users. First of all there is only a certain percentage of the population who have a computer with internet access (a minimum requirement for internet dating surely?) – are people who are on very low incomes likely to own a computer at the same ratio as though who earn an average or above average income. I think not – for a combination of economic and aspirational reasons. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen but it is less likely. Those on poor incomes, so we are told and therefore have to rely on the accuracy of this data of course, are often the ones with a poorer diet. This could lead to two things, first is that they might weigh more than the average and second is that due to poor diet their height may be stunted (I’m not suggesting they are midgets, just a bit shorter…). They are also perhaps not used to going to interviews where you have to really sell yourself. If you have a low-skilled manual job, your need to be able to describe all the different options you consider when you are carrying out that role is probably rather less than if you are a professor of economics, for example. So maybe those who use internet dating sites understand the need to highlight their assets and brush over those thngs that don't show them at their best - maybe that's why they are willing to 'market' themselves in this way.

So, what I am arguing is that unless you look at the demographics of those who use the internet (and those who don’t) and see how that skews any of the statistics, you’re not going to have the complete picture. If the people who use dating sites tend not to be drawn from those on a low income then perhaps that does change the averages and mean those who use such sites weigh less and are slightly taller than the average population. Not quite so revelatory then though is it…

To be honest, I have absolutely no idea about the truth of any of this and am playing devil’s advocate really. I was just frustrated that a book that was meant to be demystifying the things we hear reported in the media etc, jumped a step in the process in this instance and compared like for like, when they weren’t necessarily directly comparable.

Good for discussion, if only because I disagreed with it, but not necessarily good to base your hopes of finding the live of your life.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Anyone for Tiffin?

It turned out to be a very tiring but good weekend, despite having a lot of domestic aspects to it. Saturday I went to see the pantomime my mum was directing, which was quite good. Someone I work with was in it, which was quite amusing, particularly as she was playing the part of a fish. The problem with amateur dramatics is that there can be a very mixed standard of talent. The chap playing the part of the Cheshire Cat was great and I was really impressed by him; the woman playing the mock turtle was somewhat challenged in the singing department (to put it mildly) so having a song to sing all on her own did render me somewhat speechless. Of course, you shouldn’t be speaking during a performance anyway, apart from an occasional “oh yes he is, oh no he isn’t”, but my nephew being two and a half did not know this and there was an occasional “where’s the [white] rabbit?” and “I want to go home”, which maybe wasn’t ideal, but he did seem to enjoy it all and had a chat with the Cheshire Cat and the White Rabbit afterwards.

I then went and picked G up after a night away and we went back to mine. I was hoping that a parcel from Amazon had turned up, as they had tried to deliver the previous day. But there was no card from them. I logged on to Amazon and it said the parcel had been left with a neighbour but with no indication of who that neighbour was. Fortunately the neighbour identified himself yesterday when he brought it round for me. I’m not very impressed with Amazon. I think they have stopped using Royal Mail and instead use different delivery companies. I know Royal Mail has its faults, but they were far easier to use. If you weren’t in they would leave a card and you could just pop down to the sorting office and pick it up. With delivery companies the only way to get it is for them to redeliver and the company they used to send my parcel had delivery hours of 7am to 7pm, I wouldn’t want to wait in that long for a sofa, let alone a couple of books! Even if they had let me go and pick it up from the depot, there is no way it would be as easy to get to as a sorting office. Not even leaving me a note to tell me that the parcel had been delivered and where it was is really poor service as well. I e-mailed Amazon and said I thought that using Royal Mail would have been preferable and perhaps they would think about using them in future.

On Sunday, I went out in the morning and when I got back G had thoroughly cleaned my entire kitchen. I was very impressed! Then we had a quick bite to eat and then went and bought rake and broom so I could tidy up my garden. I then set to work doing that, which didn’t take very long but was very tiring. However, that didn’t dissuade us from making some fifteens and tiffin – although we did try not to mess up the beautifully clean kitchen in the process, which was a challenge. So the day was a mix of cleaning, gardening and cooking. What a life of domestic bliss I lead.

Anyway, for those who have ever travelled on the London Underground, you will be familiar with the pre-recorded announcements that you hear during your journey. A large number of those announcements are made by a woman called Emma Clarke and she has set up a website to promote her many talents, which includes some spoof announcements. Non-London residents may appreciate this announcement. Next time your suspicious of someone on the tube then you might appreciate an announcement like this one and I think we can all agree that this one is entirely true. Tube journeys could be so much more amusing...

Update: the links to the spoof tube announcements are currently nto workign properly. This is either down to the sheer number of people who have visited her site after reading what I wrote or that she has been fired by London Underground. I shall leave you to decide.

Friday, November 23, 2007


As it turned out I had a very nice evening yesterday. I still find it weird spending time with C, what with her bring a mutual friend with A, but as long as we stay away from that subject I’m sure I’ll cope. We went to a pub near Marylebone, so beforehand I went to M&S at Marble Arch and wandered round their food section to try and get some inspiration of what to eat at Christmas. G and I are basically going to have a postponed Christmas, but we still have the issue of G being vegetarian, which does not really mix with the traditional Christmas fare of turkey. I was sort of thinking that we could have salmon, but last night G said that turkey might be an option, as long as it is free range. Whilst I like the idea of having turkey, I’m not convinced G would enjoy it and so whilst it’s really nice of G to say that, I still think it might be better to go for fish of some description, despite really wanting to have turkey…

I have an interesting weekend ahead which includes seeing a pantomime that my mum is directing (an amateur production). It’s Alice in Wonderland and as a child I was actually in a production of this and was a playing card. A very significant role, as I am sure you realise… To this day I can still remember singing about “cauliflowers fluffy and cabbages green”. I will be critically appraising the playing cards in this production, although this time they are played by adults. I guess they just could not match up to the pack I was part of.

On a more sombre note, I was really sorry to read of a fellow bloggers relationship demise of a relationship over at Let’s Kill Saturday Night. It seems to be the season for it.

Have a good weekend all, whatever life throws at you.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Yesterday was one of those days. I missed my normal train (I'm still not entirely sure how) and then got into work and turned on my computer and just after I logged in, we had a power failure and I had to start all over again. Then last night I went out in torrential rain to go and minute a meeting. Apart from this meeting that I go to once a year to take the minutes, I don’t minute anything, I have ‘people’ to do that sort of thing for me, but it keeps me humble to occasionally minute a meeting. I do normally take about 11 months to actually write up the minutes. But this year will be different. I’ll do them much quicker this year. Maybe even this weekend. Maybe…

Next week I have to go to the stadium of the best English football team (I’ll leave you to work out which one that is... but I think we can safely say that it is not the *England* football team.). I’m not much of a fan of football but I do listen out for the football scores to see how they’re doing. I think A would actually be rather envious of me going there and had we been on better terms I probably could have arranged for an extra visitor to join me, but instead I shall just enjoy the hospitality myself. It’s not on a match day, so I don’t think there will be champagne flowing, which is obviously a good thing as I don’t drink, but it should be interesting anyway. Sometimes I get to do nice things, I do have to give a talk in return though, which fortunately has nothing to do with football.

Anyway, I am off out for a drink tonight, which will be ‘interesting’ as I am not sure quite how much G will drink. I do find myself feeling wary when I am around people who are drinking. G is lovely and it’s not that alcohol changes this, I just don’t feel comfortable around people who are drinking more than small amounts and it puts me on edge and makes me feel a bit vulnerable, as it can make people unpredictable. In that context at least, I really like predictable. I don’t want to be anti-social, but I guess I can just go home if I feel a bit uncomfortable with it all. Hopefully it will be a nice evening though, particularly if I can manage to eat some food – because it is always dangerous to leave me without food for too long. My sister and G were comparing stories of what I am like when I get hungry. They will not be spending time with each other again.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A Muppet Chorus

For the whole time I have lived where I do and longer there has been a run down car parked in one of the spaces outside where I live – and yesterday it was gone! I think my neighbour who owned it has finally got rid of it. It was this really old Ford Granada and had just been sat there falling apart and suddenly they have got rid of it, which is a distinct improvement. Now if they would just replace there windows, which at the back of where we live seem to be held in by air, rather than something more substantial than that, which some might see as worrying.

There’s this woman I often see on the floor where I work. So far as I can make out she just comes to our floor to use the toilets. This always makes me suspicious. What can she possibly need to do in the toilets that means she has to use ones on a different floor to where she works – and do we want the pleasure of sharing in that? The thing that makes me even more suspicious is that I think she always uses the disabled toilet (and is not disabled). What can she be doing that requires her using the toilets on another floor and it is the disabled toilet? Perhaps it’s best not to ask some questions…

Anyway, last night I was thinking about the Muppet Show (as you do). I grew up with a Muppet show cassette tape that I would often listen to as I fell asleep – I somehow need to get a copy on CD or somehow transfer it on to CD. Last night I was thinking about the song “Just One Person” that there was a rousing version of on my tape and I do actually think that it influenced my thinking as a young child – the difference that it can make having people who believe in you and that if one person does then why not other people too? The Muppets have much to answer for in forming me into the fine person that I am today. *shakes head* On YouTube I managed to find the Muppets singing the song! There are actually two versions in the video, neither of which are the one on my tape, but it made me happy listening to it last night. No sniggering at the line referring to a threesome – this is a very serious and moving song. *sniggers* Who can resist the whole cast of the Muppets singing to you though?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


I felt as rough as a badger’s behind all day yesterday. I don’t know why as I got a reasonable amount of sleep over the weekend but just couldn’t shake off a headache and a general feeling of lethargy. But maybe that was just because it was a Monday. I am counting down to when I am leave, which is less than four weeks to go now...

I did manage to sort out an order for various Christmas presents on Amazon last night. This ended up stretching my brain far too much, as in the end I decided to do it as two separate orders so that the things that could be sent straight away were in one order and the items that would take a bit longer to send were all grouped together. It means I have made a decent in-road into my Christmas shopping and hopefully in a couple of weeks’ time, I won’t have to think about it at all, as it will all be sorted.

The weather is just so miserable at the moment and this also meant that the road flooded outside where I live. I called the council yesterday to ask them (again) if they’ll come out and look at it and the woman sounded *so* concerned by this and said that she’s get someone onto it. It would be good if they sorted it out because it is a real pain getting in and out of where I live when it’s been raining. This is what your life becomes when you’re a home owner...

If you’re looking for a couple of new ways to look at the world, then here you go… First, is a map which tracks where sunlight is in the world, which I find somehow strangely fascinating. Maybe the weather at the moment makes me want to follow the sun. The other is this site, which is where people can submit pictures from around the UK and it gets added to a pictorial map of the UK. Add your own, look at places that you know. See places in a new way.

Monday, November 19, 2007


Another busy but nice weekend. I was only due to see G on Friday night, so we met up for dinner at the newly refurbished Café in the Crypt beneath St Martin’s in the Field. We had a very nice dinner and then G ended up coming back to mine anyway. I then had to get up early on Saturday morning as I needed to drop my car off to be serviced. While I was waiting for my car I just traipsed fairly aimlessly around the local shops not achieving a lot.

In the evening I went to see a friend from school. We were trying to work out when we had last seen each other and I think it must have been over a year, which is not good as she is a really great friend. So I really need to make more effort. She said that I seemed to have been going through one of my “quiet phases” which she usually takes to mean that thee is stuff going on in my life that I am taking some time to think about before I talk to her about it. She said she just waits for me to get in touch and tell her what’s been going on, which is fair enough. I spent a while talking to her about some of the stuff going on in my life at the moment and for once didn’t end up crying, which seems to happen most times I talk to her!

It’s weird how my friends react to things. I wrote to a friend last weekend about some important stuff that has been going on and have heard nothing from her. She might be on holiday or have some other reason for not being able to reply, but I still find it weird not to have heard from her. Another friend phoned me on Thursday night and I talked to her about some things that have been happening. She told me she was ‘disappointed’ by what I had said and then I seemed to spend the rest of the conversation counselling her. Mind you, what she said this time was (marginally) better than when I’ve talked to her about such things before. She sees life in a very black and white way and I was trying to explain to her that there is so much grey in between, but she just doesn’t seem to see that. Nor does her husband who apparently wants to speak to me at some point. Excellent…

Anyway, yesterday I met up with my sister and nephew and we went to the London Aquarium. Ever the bargain hunter, I found us a two for one deal by showing our Oyster cards, which saved us over £13 – the London Aquarium is very expensive! It was good and my nephew went from being very scared by the sharks to being mesmerised by them and every time we tried to show him some other fish, he’d just end up running back to the sharks to look at them again. I really liked that there was a bit where you could stroke the fish. There were some that you could stroke and they reacted like you might expect a cat to do. You could just run your hand over them and they seemed to really like it. At one point I had my hand in the water and wasn’t really looking at what I was doing and one of the fish came up and started nudging my hand so that I would stroke it. I was like some little kid about this and fortunately had my nephew there as my cover story.

On an entirely unrelated note, I am not someone who uses Facebook. I can waste plenty of time on the internet without that as my excuse, I can assure you. But for any of you who do, you might want to keep this tale in mind, particularly with the Christmas season approaching. You have been warned.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Stand behind the yellow line

I forgot to take my glasses into work yesterday and so had to do things at a bit of a distance. This included to moving my computer monitor a very long way away, which looked very odd to any casual passers by, but it got the job done and I managed to lave work without a massive headache. I will be taking a spare pair of glasses in to work today...

On the way home last night I had the most irritating tube driver ever. Ever. Ever. As we departed one station he said:

“Can I remind passengers not to lean on the doors. The doors are not solid objects and must not be leant against. I repeat that the doors are not solid objects and must not be leant against. If you are touching the doors or have a bag or any other item in contact with the door then please move. I repeat they are not solid objects and they will move if you come into contact with them. They could move and cause you an injury and are dangerous. Move away form the doors.”

He then went silent, which gave me time to ponder if my rudimentary understanding of physics was entirely wrong and that I had no idea what the word “solid” actually means. It appears he had only paused for breath though and as we were drawing alongside the platform at the next station he started again…

I am sorry I had to blow the whistle just then [I was totally confused by this comment, and wondered if he had just been reporting someone, but as it turned out he meant he had just blown the train whistle]. As we approached the platform a young woman in a white coat was standing on the *white* line at the edge of the platform. I therefore had to blow the whistle as I came within inches of hitting her. Do not stand on the white line, make sure that you stand behind the *yellow* line.”

At this point passengers started to get on the train. The driver continued.

“For the benefit of the passengers now boarding I will repeat the message again. Do not stand on the *white line* at the front of the platform. It is very dangerous. Stand away from the platform edge. The young woman in the white coat who got on the rear carriage could have been hit by the train had I not blown the whistle."

The doors to the train then closed. He continued.

“This message is directed primarily at the young woman in the white coat who boarded the rear carriage. You came within inches of being hit by a train. 350 people a year are injured using the tube. This is not the fault of London Underground but is down to the behaviour of passengers. If you get hit by a train you will be seriously injured. I am sure that you don’t want that and nor does anyone else want to be hit by a train. I don’t want to hit someone with a train either because I can tell you that it is not very pleasant. This is a 200 tonne train and it will cause a lot of damage if it hits someone and therefore you should stand away from the platform edge. Make sure you stand behind the yellow line in future.”

He then remained silent for the rest of the journey. I know it must get lonely in the driver’s cab sometimes, but was it really necessary to go on that much and in such a personal way. Everyone in my carriage, which was not the rear carriage, just looked at each other incredulous that the driver just kept going on and on, and was also deliberately targeting one passenger. This is why *no-one* should ever speak on London Underground.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Show Must Go On

As I said yesterday, I so enjoyed having the day off work. I am so suited to becoming a lady of leisure. If only I had a plan that meant that I could somehow pay my mortgage, afford to eat *and* go on lots of nice holidays. Give me time…

Anyway, yesterday morning G said to me “Do you ever think about the possibility of us living together?” “Erm…” I replied and, not entirely deliberately, changed the subject. G pointed out that I hadn’t actually answered the question and asked again. I said that it certainly was not beyond the realms of possibility, but not after only six months and that we would also end up killing each other if we lived together at my place. G agreed that this was a likely outcome! It’s not that I am totally unromantic, but I am very practical and six months is too soon to be considering things like that and it’s best to hold off from doing these things too early. Perhaps I should tell G that the right say will be the one when I become a lady of leisure. This could be the beginning of a plan…

If you have a cat you might think that he or she is quite a docile thing that maybe chases an occasional bird or mouse or climbs a tree, bit is generally content to curl up somewhere nice and warm and have a bit of a snooze. But your cat is obviously not called Sergeant Podge. It seems that this feline sets off each night on a walk and the next morning his owner picks him up one and a half miles away, but has no idea what he’s been up to during the night or why he always ends up there. But every morning she dutifully drives to the pick up point and the cat hops in and they go home. What has the cat been up to? Is he leading a secret double life? Is he working the night shift to keep up his expensive lifestyle? Might you end up speaking to him if you phone a telephone call centre at 3am (although his replies might be somewhat lacking…)? Or maybe he’s just decided to take up some exercise to try and cast off his name of Sergeant Podge? Or maybe he is just trying to get his own back on his owner for giving him such a stupid name?

Totally irrelevant to anything else but last night I was reminded of the song “The Show Must Go On” by Queen and what a great song it is.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I like being on leave

Here I am at last. The late post today is due to having the day off work and getting distracted by a whole load of other things. I had today off to have a water meter fitted. The chap was due between noon and 5pm but phoned about 11am and asked if he could come over early. He duly arrived, had a look about and then said that he couldn’t fit a water meter as I have a shared water supply with my neighbours. He did then give me a really interesting tip. He suggested that I phone the water company, tell them I can’t have a water meter fitted and then ask them to reduce my water bill anyway. I live on my own so he said that my water charges will be far higher than they need to be. Apparently, if you are willing to fill out some questionnaire for them every year so that they can estimate your usage they may be willing to reduce your bill. It had never even crossed my mind that your water bill was negotiable (I assume only if you can’t have a water meter fitted though), so that will be the next thing I will try. You will be pleased to hear that if you come and visit you may still flush the toilet rather than me having to impose a one flush a day rule.

Anyway, because I was off today, G came over last night and then took this morning off work. We had a really nice morning chatting over a bowl of porridge (each) and drinking real coffee. It was a shame G then had to go to work, but I think we might do it again some time. Even with all my Christmas leave booked (all three weeks of it), I still have 29 days leave to take…

I went out at the same time as G set off for work and I did some shopping. I just felt really happy wandering about this was because a) I’d had a really nice morning b) I was able to spend some time outside during the working week that involved seeing daylight. I just kept thinking how nice it was to be able to wander about aimlessly when I should be at work and c) I was able to do some Christmas related shopping without hordes of people about, including going to a couple of shops I’d been meaning to go to for ages but hadn’t had time. I also managed to get things like some chocolates for C (who works for me) and for my secretary and so that is them sorted for Christmas. They are M&S Belgian chocolates and I was going to get them anyway, but at the moment they are reduced from £7.99 to £4.99 so they were a real bargain. Then I wended my way home and bought myself a really nice cake to have with a cup of tea and I have just eaten that sitting in front of my computer. I like days off work. A lot.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Creature Comforts

If while you were talking to someone on the phone you said to them “I did actually phone because I wanted to speak to you about something” would you perhaps expect them to ask what that thing was? If they then phoned you back a bit later and asked if they were in trouble for talking too much and not giving you the chance to speak and you said “yes”, wouldn’t you then expect to be give the opportunity to say what it was that you had wanted to speak about? I sometimes think that I must be speaking to myself because if I am actually talking out loud nobody seems to be hearing what I am actually saying!

Anyway... on to other matters... In the next day or so, this website should spring to life with some new animations called Creature Discomforts. There’s a brief clip on there at the moment and if you watch it a few times you’ll notice more and more details about it. I’m looking forward to the others *thinks* – and of course the very important message about disability.

My favourite character in the Creature Comforts series was the hamster, so I here are some clips. It’s the little things...

Monday, November 12, 2007


Another weekend over and not too bad a weekend at that. On Friday night as I left work, it suddenly struck me that I wasn’t going to seeing G and would be all on my lonesome and I felt a bit sad about that. But then I thought about all the things I could get done as a result and came up with a plan of action.

So Saturday I set off for the big smoke and went wandering along Oxford Street to do some browsing and make some purchases. I did buy a couple of Christmas related items for G, which included a chocolate advent calendar (fair trade, I might add, or else I would have been told off) but you don’t just get to eat chocolate, it also opens out into an advent scene. While I was out, I walked past a Big Issue salesman and just as I passed him he, slightly sheepishly, said “Buy me and you get the magazine for free”. I decided that this would be the ultimate in impromptu purchases and decided against it. I did, however, manage to buy some more soda farls so the current crisis is averted, but I have now tracked down a recipe of how to make them and think I might give it a go at some point soon.

I then went to my parents’ house for dinner, which included mum trying to make me eat the wood chip stuff that orchids grow in and her then spilling a bottle of red wine all over both of us. It was a fun-packed night.

Then yesterday I spent a bit of time writing a friend a letter. I am aware that I have distanced myself from some of my friends of late and so am trying to undo some of that bit by bit, as it’s not really what I want to do. The old safety setting of keeping people at a distance has set in recently though and I need to do something about it before I leave it to late to fix. So we shall see what happens there.

Today, it’s back to work, but only for two days, then I’m off work on Wednesday and then it’s only another two days of work until the weekend. Yay!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

For the Fallen

Another Remembrance Day, another year of many losses in wars. Remembrance Day is not just about those who died in the two World Wars, but also for those who are engaged in combat now and those who have already fought in conflicts and have returned home, whether in one piece or injured.

To my mind, people can argue all they like about the rights and wrongs of war in general or any particular war, but those in the armed forces who have engaged in combat have done their duty and they deserve to be remembered for that. The fact that people have the right to disagree is because others fought for those freedoms - as the saying goes “freedom is not free” and sometimes it comes at a very heavy personal cost.

Should you wish to offer practical support to those in the armed services, the run up to Christmas is an ideal time to do so. You can send parcels to the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan to send them some Christmas cheer. Should you also need a reminder of the losses, then you can look here for a list of those who have died in the current conflicts.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

For The Fallen by Laurence Binyon

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

Friday, November 09, 2007


G and I finally got round to celebrating our six monthiversary last night and went to Fire and Stone in Covent Garden. We had a really nice starter and then pizza. Basically the pizzas were named after cities around the world (I had a Sydney) and had very unusual combinations of toppings. Whilst it was a very nice meal, I felt that they were really a bit too generous with their toppings and that they should have kept it a bit simpler because it became a bit overpowering. I would go back, if only to try some of some of the other combinations (I want to try the one with black pudding on it), but I wouldn’t rave about it like some people do. We did get two pizzas for £10 though (there’s a link on the website and you have to book in advance to get that deal) so it was a real bargain though. It was a nice meal, just a bit too overpowering in terms of flavour combinations.

This weekend I have to amuse myself because G is away helping some friends to move house. So I am going to do all those things that I can’t always do when G is about, which includes browsing around the Oxford Street area tomorrow and trying to sort some stuff out more generally. Of course this mightchnage as G is going to the Kent coast and might get washed back into London on a tidal wave.

C applied for a new job yesterday and because I am her line manager I had to write nice things about her on the form. Not that it’s difficult to write nice things about her, it is just not very nice to be saying things that might mean she leaves, as that would be a shame. Such is life though.

Anyway, have a good weekend. I might be about here at some point over the weekend but we shall see.

Thursday, November 08, 2007


You’ll be pleased to hear that I made a detour via Sainsbury’s yesterday and managed to track down two packets of those elusive soda farls, so the crisis is averted for a few days at least.

One of my neighbours came round to see me last night and we chatted a bit about the possibility of buying the freehold and then she asked if I might be interested in going swimming some time and maybe going to some belly dancing classes… I laughed at this but am not entirely against the idea and suspect it could be very good for stomach toning. It wouldn’t start until the new year so that would give me time to get used to this idea!

On the BBC yesterday they reported on a new study that suggests that there are a couple of things that help people to seem more attractive – those being eye contact and smiling. Apparently if you look away when you are talking to someone it makes you seem evasive and therefore less attractive. I am generally very good at eye contact and will normally look someone in the face when I am talking to them. Given my various prolonged times of singleness, I am obviously the exception to prove the rule then…

Anyway, following this principle, we can therefore conclude that this chap is unattractive:

Note the eyes looking off into the distance and that he is even scratching his nose in some obvious nervous tic.

However, by contrast, look at this fine specimen. Good eye contact and a nice big smile. How could a girl resist?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Desperate Times

I decided to try and use yesterday evening constructively. I am running low on soda farls, which as we all know are the breakfast item of choice. So I went to the big Tesco to get some more. They had none. Not a sausage. Actually they probably did have sausages, but none of the things that I actually wanted to buy the main one being soda farls, but you may also add to that list glace cherries and chocolate digestive biscuits. Tesco was already in my bad books as I was eating a salmon fishcake and in the middle of it was piece of plastic. I should have taken it with me on my shopping trip and slammed it down on the customer services desk and told them they needed to carry out a full investigation – or give me lots of extra club card points. I’m easy…

So then I went to Morrisons to see if I might have greater success there. Alas, there were still no soda farls, but they did have glace cherries, but they did not have marshmallows which I had entirely forgotten I needed to buy when I was at Tesco, but they probably wouldn’t have had anyway. I am going to have to take a detour to Sainsbury’s at some point to see if I can get them there, but I did try one branch yesterday and they didn’t have any. All of my usual options have run out. What is wrong with this country?? I do have to tell you that I am getting dangerously low on soda farls. I might have enough to make it to the weekend but it’s going to be a close call. If I run out, I will actually cry.

Yesterday was actually the six monthiversary of me going out with G. I remembered this when G phoned me yesterday morning to say “happy six-monthiversary”. I then promptly forgot again until G mentioned it again at lunch time and then entirely forgot again until G reminded me in the evening. I am rubbish. Although we didn’t actually see each other yesterday, so it’s not like I had to actually make any effort. *shakes head at self* *note to self* must make more effort.

Incidentally, I was buying ingredients to make some edible items for work. Two of my colleagues are putting pressure on me to bring them in things to eat. Hence needing to buy plain digestives, chocolate digestives, raisins, desiccated coconut, glace cherries and condensed milk, but as I am still lacking key ingredients, they are going to have to wait for me to turn these items into a couple of (different) culinary delights. Also C told me yesterday that she might apply for a new job this week, so she doesn’t deserve any. Pah!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


The Christmas leave card didn't come round yesterday. I cannot tell you how much I need to have time off work, not least because I still have about 40 days leave to take... But the main reason is that I had a week's leave at the end of July, took a couple of days off in August and then haven't had any time off since - and I can really feel it. Last night I was so tired and fell asleep before 10pm and today I still feel a bit worn out. I do have a day booked off next week, but yesterday I sat there looking at my work diary and counted the number of weeks until I plan to be off for Christams (less than six now!) and can hardly wait.

Having said that, I'm not actually looking forward to Christmas itself. It's never a tiem of year that I particularly relish, but I like all the things that happen in the build up to Christmas and it is just the actual day which I don't like. Weird but true.

Actually on Sunday, G and I had a bit of a chat about Christmas because I was feeling a bit miserable about it. I think Christmas just brings together a whole load of thoughts in my head that I find difficult to deal with, not least the thought of who I am going to spend it with, which is always an issue. When November comes around it starts playing on my mind and G and I were talking about that because it had come up a couple of times over the weekend. I have no idea what I will be doing and G will be in Scotland, so I may need to be particularly imaginative this year. Less than 7 weeks to go to come up with a really great Christmas plan which doesn't involve siting at home on my own with a ready meal turkey...

Monday, November 05, 2007


I had a really nice weekend. There was indeed much food and some walking and even more food. Soooo, much food. So very much food. So very, very much food. G’s friends are just so nice and really generous and even on the walk we had the nicest rolls that you could have on a walk filled with really nice blue cheese and relishes and so on and every meal was just delicious. G and I hardly stint when we eat anyway but our usual efforts paled into insignificance this weekend.

It also felt like a real break away, even though we were maybe 20 miles from where I live. But it was all so peaceful and different and just a real opportunity to get away from it all. I did, however, threaten to dump G at one point, who put on the *most* appalling hat when we were getting ready to go for a walk. Suffice to say, the hat did not make it on to the walk – and the great British public was saved from a sight that nothing could have prepared it for.

I’m not sure when I am going to see G over the next couple of weeks, as our social calendars clash with each other, but I’m sure we’ll sort something out. But for now, it’s back to work – and I’m hoping the Christmas leave sheet comes round today so that I can book three weeks off over Christmas. Yay!

Friday, November 02, 2007


It’s Friday… at last… and not a moment too soon. I felt quite drained at work all day yesterday and left really promptly at the end of the day. G was coming over anyway so I went home to cook dinner in anticipation of G’s arrival. Then we went to the supermarket (I am such an old romantic ) and then baked a cake. This was not one of my greatest successes, although in my defence I was not using my usual recipe and I have never baked a cake in an electric oven before, but I think we can best describe the end result as “dense”… I may have to use some inspiration from the film Calendar Girls and go and buy one at Marks and Spencer’s and pass it off as my own.

I was baking it because G and I are going to stay with some of G’s friends for the weekend. Nothing says “thank you” like slightly dense chocolate cake when the person you are giving it to is really great at baking. I see a flaw in this plan…

Anyway, hopefully my weekend will consist of eating, some walking, fireworks and more eating. Although hopefully any eating of baked goods will only be items that are beautifully prepared and cooked *sigh*

If you’re already into the Christmas spirit and are trying to decide what to buy a loved one then how about this – your very own toy venereal disease. It could also prove a really useful way to break uncomfortable news to someone. You hand over the present, they open it and discover that it is a lovely venereal disease “Er… thanks, you gave me gonorrhoea” they say. This then gives you the excellent opportunity to reply to that with “Er… now you mention it, that isn’t the first time I’ve given it to you.” A truly excellent way to start those awkward conversations. You can also buy ones for bad breath, acne, Lyme disease, e-coli, salmonella and even the black death. The picture above is of a flesh eating disease, by the way. There’s something for everyone.

On an entirely unrelated note, today is actually A’s birthday. So once again I raise a cup of tea to my friend and say “happy birthday”.

Have a good weekend all.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Trouble Ahead

I feel very confused this week about which day of the week it is. My brain seems to be running a day ahead of itself and so to me I have already reached the end of the week. Sadly, this is not the case. However, G is coming to stay tonight which I think it because we are away at the weekend and it is the only way that the boxes of G’s stuff that I have accrued of late is going to somehow magically disappear in the foreseeable future.

I saw an article on the BBC last night about the US trying to force some of its diplomats to go and work in Iraq. An unpleasant prospect I am sure and I can understand that they might not be too keen on this prospect. But that reminded me that a few years ago I looked into going to work in Iraq for a bit (at the time when it was going to be a reasonably quick process to ‘restore’ Iraq. I am not a diplomat by the way - I am sure many who know me would be amused at the thought of that!) but then as it turned out it didn’t all come together to go there. In retrospect this is probably a good thing, but I guess if the opportunity came up again then I might consider it. *thinks* Although I’m not sure G would be too impressed by this. I had totally forgotten about that though and when I read that article I suddenly thought “hang on a minute, you were *willing* to go!”. How different my life might have been had I actually gone. Not that I have any regrets one way or the other, but I think it would indeed have rather changed the course of things though. Weird.

Anyway, on an entirely unrelated matter, ages ago I mentioned that I rather foolishly sang a song in G’s presence once who then continued to sing it endlessly afterwards. Ages ago I stumbled a cross an old clip on Morecambe and Wise performing the song and so I thought I would include it for your viewing pleasure (if you like that sort of thing). A really classic clip of theirs and it even includes Angela Rippon. So here you go...