Thursday, January 31, 2008


I have put Part A of Plan B in action for celebrating G’s birthday. I then spoke to a couple of colleagues who gave me some suggestions for venues for Part B of Plan B and hopefully I will have that sorted by the end of the week. I haven’t actually told G what the plan is... *gulp*

The other night G, who is already a vegetarian, said about thinking becoming a vegan. I am generally fairly laid back and think it is up to other people how they choose to live their life, but as it turns out I was soooooooooooooo unimpressed. In the time we have been going out G has gone from a carnivore to a vegetarian and is now considering becoming a vegan. I said that it is up to G to decide but seeing as it would affect what I ate as well (and I am a carnivore) that I was not very happy about this. It’s not that G objects to me eating meat, but practically speaking when we see each other I prepare a meal for both of us rather than a different one for each of us, so basically when we see each other I don’t eat meat. I’m not some slave to meat, but I like to have the choice and I think I was annoyed because G becoming a vegan would take away my choices. I would never expect anyone to eat anything that they didn’t want to but I will eat pretty much anything and yet there are lots of things I don’t make (including my very nice lasagne) because G doesn’t eat meat. So basically I don’t get to eat the things that I *do* want – and with a vegan diet that would be even more limited. I was really unimpressed. Can you tell? Anyway G sent me an e-mail yesterday which said “How are you? I’m just on my third bacon sandwich of the morning”. This was, of course, a complete lie but it did help me to find my sense of humour again.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


I answered the phone last night and it was the owner of the place G and I are going to stay in February. She was incredibly apologetic, but they haven’t actually got a room available on the Thursday night – which is actually G’s birthday. She’d been trying to sort something out but the German’s she has staying (who have booked the entire place) were not willing to share rooms so there was nothing more she could do. I said it was fine and that we’d come on the Friday instead. So this has meant having to come up with a ‘Plan B’ for G’s birthday. I was all set to book some tickets for something last night, but suddenly noticed that the website wasn’t secure so decided that wasn’t a good idea. I might be able to sort it out on my lunch break today instead though.

I have started to read a new book, which is The Day of the Triffids. I’m not much into science fiction, but I think he actually described his writing as “logical fantasy”. Anyway, I’m enjoying it so far, although it is actually quite a scary book and might be the cause of a few nightmares if I’m not careful! I have actually been having some weird dreams of late. I don’t normally remember my dreams but I woke up on Sunday morning and was dreaming about someone who I had known years ago who in very odd circumstances broke off her friendship with me. I had known her when I was at school and we stayed in touch when I went off to university (she was actually at a different school and the year below me). Anyway, I worked at a university near where I lived in my university holidays and one day she turned up to my work with her boyfriend and had an absolutely massive go at me and told me she wanted nothing more to do with me. To this day, I have absolutely no idea what prompted her to do this and I just stood there holding a very heavy cardboard box feeling utterly perplexed. At the end of her rant, I just said “ok” and never made contact with her ever again. For some reason in my dream she had got back in touch with me and something serious had happened (that I can’t now remember) and she phoned me and asked if I could help her - and so I did. I have no idea why she was on my mind – and I can assure you I will not be getting in touch with her. It’s funny the way our minds work though and I’m sure it was prompted by the stuff about A, who, despite everything, I’d still help out if something happened and I guess somewhere in my mind it’s all connected.

On other matters, there is something slightly disgusting about this story. Obviously it is good news that the boy can now hear properly but imagine having a cotton wool bud stuck in your ear for years and not knowing. Ick.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Yesterday I had a very sore eye and it was kind of bloodshot. I felt as though I had a piece of grit in it. I was not impressed by this at all and never did find out what caused it. Perhaps it is too much reading.

Rightio, well Tom Foolery tagged me to come up with six non-important things/habits/quirks about myself, so after a bit of thinking here they are...

1.Every morning I get up and put the kettle on, go in the bathroom, come back out of the bathroom, bring the water back to the boil and pour it on the tea bag and then leave it to brew while I get dressed. Sometimes I leave a cup of tea to brew for about 10 minutes. I like strong tea. (Remember that if you ever invite me round for a cuppa).

2. When I am walking along the pavement, if there is any sort of drain cover I will try and walk round it. I hate walking on drain covers ever since when I was about 7 years old I stood on a man hole cover and it gave way under me (it was broken rather than me being incredibly heavy).

3. When I was a (very young) child I used to drink while I was going to the toilet because I thought it would save me from having to go to the toilet so often. I never was much good at biology.

4. When I get home from work I like to watch Home and Away (the episode on Five Life at 6.30pm). I feel as though I have missed out on the winding down part of my evening if someone phones me during it or I don’t get home in time to see it.

5. I cannot ride a bike – and I can’t swim either. I am therefore never likely to become a triathlete.

6. When I have conversations with G, I very often sing my part of the conversation. Not necessarily tunefully or to a tune that anyone would recognise, but I sing it anyway. So if you can imagine me singing “what would you like for dinner?” and then G might ask what the options were and I would then sing a whole range of ingredients in response and the conversation/ singing would go on from there. I can keep this going for ages. There are a variety of tunes, which sometimes change according to the season – so in the run up to Christmas there tended to be a vaguely Christmassy like tune to the songs or I might pick a kind of operatic style and so on. There is no excuse for this except that it amuses me.

So there you have it. I am now meant to tag some people but I always get scared of doing that, so I will leave it to you take up the quest if you would like to do so. In case you are wondering the rules are:

Link to the person that tagged you. Post the rules on your blog. Share six non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself. Tag random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Feeling the moment slip away

I ended up having a very nice weekend, which included a remarkably large amount of time spent washing my friend’s carpet. Someone (not my friend's, it was before they moved in) spilt some coffee on the carpet and left a big stain. My friend has tried to get it out but has just spread the coffee over a bigger area, so I was trying to undo the damage. It did make a huge difference but I think I could have done a better job if I’d had more time. A Vax is a marvellous thing though.

We went for a walk in the New Forest on Saturday, which was very pleasant, despite getting a bit lost and having to wade through a river, as a lake had mysteriously sprung up, which wasn’t marked on the map. Fortunately, there were no ‘serious conversations’ during the weekend, which was a relief and we just enjoyed each others company. The only problem during the weekend was how slow the M3 was on the way home, which was due to people slowing done to look at the aftermath of an accident on the opposite carriageway. A really nasty accident judging by the state of one of the vehicles. I am not one of those people that slows down to look at accidents, but as everyone ahead of me was slowing down, it was kind of difficult not to notice what had happened.

My friend collects the caps off plastic milk cartons and I asked her why and she said she didn’t really know, but someone at work collects them and gives them to some charity. I know that recycling schemes don’t include the caps from milk cartons so was kind of interested in what they could be used for. As it turns out there are two schemes in Hampshire that collect them, but it is worth reading this slightly amusing take on it. In case you are wondering and can’t be bothered to read the links, they are turned into pellets that are then turned into things like milk carton caps. Couldn’t they just wash them??

On Friday I suddenly realised that I have been an absolute fool over the stuff with A – and just thought “A really is never going to get in touch”. I just realised that I’d known the answer all along and for some reason had just never understood that I did before, but I suddenly had a moment of clarity, not in some profound “the answer lies within you and you’ve just never seen it before sense”. I just realised that I know enough about A, the circumstances that surrounded our relationship, the stuff in the run up to when A broke off contact and so on to know the truth. I guess I judged the situation by what I saw as fair and reasonable but A saw it differently. It’s as simple as that. What a shame I took so long to realise it.

I leave you with a video of one of my favourite songs “Feeling the Moment” by Feeder

Feeling the moment slip away
Losing direction you're losing faith
You're wishing for someone
Feeling it all begin to slide
Am I just like you
All the things you do - can't help myself

How do you feel when there's no sun
And how will you be when rain clouds come and pull you down again
How will you feel when there's no one
Am I just like you

Turning to face what you've become
Bury the ashes of someone
Broken by the strain
Trying to fill that space inside
Am I just like you
All the things you do - can't help myself

How do you feel when there's no sun
And how will you be when rain clouds come and pull you down again
How will you feel when there's no one
Am I just like you
All the things you do

Don't ever feel
That you're alone
I'll never let you down
I'll never leave you dry
Don't fall apart
Don't let it go
Carry the notion
Carry the notion back to me

Feeling the moment slip away
Feeling the moment slip away

Cause I'm just like you

How do you feel when there's no sun
And how will you be when rain clouds come and pull you down again
How will you feel when there's no one

Am I just like you?

Friday, January 25, 2008


It’s Friday! It’s the end of the week! I am going to Southampton for the weekend. Eek! Why “Eek”? Well, I’m going to see my friend who cried the last time I spoke to her on the phone and I think she and her husband might be lining up to give me a good talking to. She didn’t cry because I was mean to her, by the way, she cried because she was disappointed in me (or maybe more charitably “for me”, but I’m not really looking for anyone to be disappointed in my presence). Another friend sent me an e-mail yesterday and said “so have you set ground rules for going to see them?” I replied and said no because I’m hoping they’ll just mind their own business, but if the worst comes to the worst I will just tell them we are not discussing it. My friend replied and said “fine. But just make sure you have a strategy.” It’s always good to feel you have a relaxing weekend ahead with friends when you have to worry that you might get lynched. My friend is very into domestic chores (think 1950s housewife) and I am taking my Vax with me to help her get a stain out of a carpet, so maybe we’ll get so distracted by that so there will be no time to actually speak. About anything.

I believe tonight is Burns Night. So happy Burns Night to all the Scots out there. I only know this because I go out with a Scot. G was reading various Burns’ poems to me last night and then got all shy while reading this one. Awww… and then set me the task of learning Address to a Haggis, which I failed miserably to even attempt.

Anyway, if you’re at a loose end this weekend, you could cast your votes for the Bloggies or maybe discover a few new blogs (but don’t be wandering off and not coming back). I thought this year several sites came up quite a few times, and so it could have been a bit more varied. One to vote for is Diamond Geezer. I have actually met him and he is a very nice man, so you should vote for him just because of that. Many a year ago A sent me a link to Diamond Geezer and that was the first blog I ever read. My first thought was “what on earth is a blog?” and then I worked it out and the rest, as they say, is history. Don’t let that put you off voting for him though...

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Burning ambition

That chap who I worked with who was refusing to work has gone. He resigned and left straight away. Apparently he was offered all sorts of compromises, including paid leave to take a bit of time to think, but he resigned anyway with no job to go to. Weird. We await some form of (unjustified) legal action. Someone I work with says that he would take copious notes after any conversation that he had, which sounds like someone trying to put a case together.

G is coming over tonight. I am away over the weekend, so we’re meeting up tonight instead. G will be the first person to see my new fireplace and so I hope the verdict is good. I suspect that whatever the weather may be like tonight, there will be a nice fire burning in my living room.

I’ve almost finished my next book, which is “The Light of Day” by Graham Swift. The book is ok, but not as good as I might have hoped. I find it switches back and forth a bit too much for my liking. I feel as though I am really expanding the books I read though, as I have a whole load lined up that I wouldn’t have considered reading previously. I’m really starting to enjoy reading again, which is good news.

I was really shocked to see that Heath Ledger has died. I always had a soft spot for him - based on my liking for US teenage films. I was always a big fan of River Phoenix, what with ‘Running on Empty’ being on one of my favourite films. I just thought it was sad news.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I knew I couldn't be trusted

I did have my doubts that all was entirely right with the booking for the place G and I are staying at in February. Monday night proved to me that I should perhaps have relied on my instincts more. The phone rang and a very nice lady was on the phone to say that they had been expecting us to arrive that evening – a month early. I think she thought the mistake was hers, but I think I may not have been entirely clear when I booked... *looks slightly guilty* Anyway, she was very apologetic and said the booking was fine for February. I phoned G and said that I should never be trusted to arrange things and if ever that responsibility falls to me again, I must be given a full script to follow, possibly including a check list.

The new fireplace is looking good. If you’re very lucky, I’ll post a photo at some point. However, it’s a good job I intended to redecorate, as my skirting boards are a complete mess, having been somewhat damaged and there are glue marks where the previous fireplace was held in place. They also didn’t cut the carpet very well in a couple of places, so last night I filled in the gaps they had left with some trimmings of carpet. Despite that, the fireplace is really nice and will look even better once the room has been redecorated.

If you’re looking to up your reading then I you might be interested in a site I have mentioned before – that being DailyLit. There are hundreds of books on there (the vast majority are free) and you can set it up so that you get an excerpt sent to you each day. Choose a book, choose how often you want it to be sent, choose what time and 675 emails later you could have read the whole of War and Peace or The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in a mere 131 instalments or The Time Machine in 38 instalments. It also has the added bonus tat it could be the perfect way to read a book at work without anyone knowing. Use your time at work constructively for once – and earn your salary at the same time#.

Oh and I have no words to describe the Arsenal score last night. *hangs head*

# This blogger will accept no responsibility for any disciplinaries or dismissals resulting from reading books at work.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


I finished reading The End of the Affair on Friday. What an excellent book. It was so well written and just so easily evoked the thoughts and emotions the characters were going through and took you back to the moments when it unfolded. It was very 'English', very thought provoking and challenging. Some have said that Bendrix is a character that is not very likeable, but I didn’t find that. He isn’t someone who you would particularly like, but that isn’t the same as disliking him. I think he came across as a troubled man who was looking for answers – and perhaps he was more honest than most about what he really felt, which was not always very palatable, and maybe that is difficult for people to deal with.

Sometimes it’s good to read someone else’s account of circumstances to which you can in some ways relate. Whilst the book is fiction, it is actually based on real events in Graham Greene’s life and you can feel the depth of emotion that was poured into it. The book tells the story of two people, Sarah Miles (a married woman) and Maurice Bendrix, who had a relationship and the aftermath and self-questioning that came when Sarah broke it off unexpectedly with no word of explanation. Bendrix was left with unending questions and no real understanding of why that was – did it mean that the relationship meant nothing and that Sarah had just moved on to her next ‘conquest’ with no thought of him? The questions continually haunted him until one day, some years later, he saw her briefly and from there his questions took a new course.

“I cannot say how many days passed. The old disturbance had returned and in that state of blackness one can no more tell the days than a blind man can notice the changes of light”

An idea was inadvertently planted in his mind by Sarah’s husband – that a private detective might be able to help find the answers. So Bendrix contacted one and one of the things that the detective uncovers is Sarah’s diary. There laid before him is the truth of what happened. One night during the war they had spent the night together and a bomb had flown overhead and landed nearby. When Bendrix went down to survey the damage another bomb came over which was a direct hit. Sarah rushed downstairs to see what had happened and there he was lying ‘dead’ on the floor. She went back upstairs distraught and made a bargain with God, a God in whom she did not believe, that if Bendrix would live then she would learn to believe in God.

“Let him be alive and I will believe. Give him a chance. Let him have his happiness. Do this and I’ll believe. It doesn’t hurt to believe. So I said, I love him and I’ll do anything if you’ll make him alive, I said very slowly, I’ll give him up for ever, only let him be alive with a chance, and I pressed and pressed and I could feel the skin break and I said, people can love without seeing each other, can’t they, they love You all their lives without seeing you, and then he came in at the door, and he was alive, and I thought now that agony of being without him starts, and I wished he was safely back dead again under the door.”

Despite moments of weakness she never did make contact with him and Bendrix was left not knowing that it was because she loved him that she had let him go. When he did finally find out the truth he was elated, but by then, it was too late, as she died before they could be reunited.

“I sat on my bed and said to God: You’ve taken her, but you haven’t got me yet. I know Your cunning. You take us up to a high place and offer us the whole universe. You’re a devil, God, tempting us to leap. But I don’t want Your peace and I don’t want Your love. I wanted something very simple and very easy: I wanted Sarah for a lifetime and You took her away. With your great schemes You ruin our happiness like a harvester ruins a mouse’s nest: I hate You, God, I hate You as though You existed.”

Sometimes I wish that there was some great meaning behind A having broken off contact with me all that time ago. That somehow there were something that would make sense of it all and help me to understand. I can look at it on the surface and offer explanations, but they’re not really the answer because they are my answers, not A’s. But somehow I think it would be so painful to hear the truth that perhaps I am better off not knowing. I had thought that anyway, but a while ago G said to me that a mutual friend had given the impression that A did not have a good account to tell of me. A hard thing to hear.

When I met up with my friend K on Friday she asked me about A and I just said I hadn’t heard anything. K said to me “the problem with you is that you take people at their word. If someone says they will do something, you believe them and assume they will do it. A promised not to let you go and that your friendship would survive, promised to be in touch with you when you bumped into each other a while back, swore to you that the two of you would come out the other side of this. You believed those promises and you still do. All you can do is be disappointed in A for not honouring them”. I shrugged my shoulders and just said that it is my nature to believe people. K then said “You also have to accept that A will probably never believe that you are honourable in your intentions and that the friendship in itself matters enough without their being some other strings attached.” I just nodded my head in agreement*.

I woke up in the early hours of Sunday morning and was dreaming that A and I did finally get back in touch and were on decent terms with each other and it felt like such a relief. But then I remembered that it was just a dream and the moment was lost. Maybe one day.

“I wrote at the start that this was a record of hate, and walking there beside Henry towards the evening glass of beer, I found the one prayer that seemed to serve the winter mood: O God, You’ve done enough, You’ve robbed me of enough, I’m too tired and old to learn to love, leave me alone for ever.”

* At some point I will try and explain why that friendship was so important to me and continues to matter to me even now.

Monday, January 21, 2008


Another weekend over, another Monday of not going to work. Working 5 days next week is going to be such a shock to the system...

Anyway, Friday turned out to be a good day (mainly). My friend K had sent me a text the previous day to ask if I was about on Friday to meet up. She is someone I used to work with and she has been off work sick since last April with a wrist injury that has caused her so much pain that she is basically permanently doped up. Hopefully the end is in sight and she will be back to work within the next couple of months (I did do a mini-celebration at this news). She is a really good pal and is the sort of person who says what she thinks, but not in an obnoxious kind of way. Just before she went off sick we went out for dinner and she gave me a really stern talking to about sorting my life out and kept pushing me to work out what I was going to do to get myself out of a rut. It was a testing conversation, but I knew what she said was right. She said to me on Friday that she felt quite upset when she had went home that night, as she thought she had been too hard on me. Apparently she even shed a tear or two (and she is not the sort of person to do that at all). I’m really looking forward to her coming back to work and we might meet up for lunch before then anyway, as she doesn’t live very far from me.

After lunch I walked back to where I work and as I walked into the building, I slipped over. I’m not really sure what happened, but it certainly hurt (although my pride was probably more hurt than anything else – but I do have a nice black bruise on my leg). Someone I vaguely know was walking out of the building at the time and was apologetic that she hadn’t caught me as I fell, but I assured that would have been more than was necessary. Then as I passed one of the security guards, I told him I was drunk on my lunch break and as he seemed to instantly believe this, I had to assure him that I was entirely sober.

G came over on Friday night and we watched Coronation Street which saw Vera Duckworth make her final exit. Her husband Jack, seemed to determine that she had died by the temperature of hers hands. G said to me “You’d better hope that people are more thorough than that with you or else you’ll just be sitting there on the sofa one day and they’ll be taking you away and measuring you for your coffin.” It seems I have rather cold hands...

Saturday we went to the supermarket and this reminded a) that I don’t like supermarket shopping and b) I particularly don’t like it on a Saturday. It just always feels so chaotic and the mean and aggressive people seem to be out. So I am either going to have to make sure I get food shopping done on a week night or will have to order it over the internet, as I intend to avoid going on a Saturday, if I possibly can.

Then last night the people who are installing my new fire dropped it all off so that it’s all ready for tomorrow morning and now the transformation shall commence...

Friday, January 18, 2008

Planes, trains and oddness

Yesterday we watched a bit of the coverage of the plane crash at Heathrow, which fortunately turned out not to be too serious. I was wondering quite how ‘expert’ some of the reporting was though. I know that with 24 hour a day news coverage they do have to keep talking, but I was slightly surprised when an “expert” said all authoritatively “Landing is easy. It’s downhill”. I don’t suppose engine failure or anything like that would in anyway impact the ability to land then. I’m sure the pilot and the passengers from that flight are saying to themselves right now “But, I don’t understand how that can have happened. Landing is the easy bit!”

There’s a very odd chap at work. He only joined a couple of months ago and recently has just decided that he does not want to do any work. So every time he gets asked to do something, he just says “no”. There’s been some big furore about it (understandably) and it seems that it has been agreed that he can just leave. He has been perfectly fine with me, laughing and joking and being perfectly friendly, but with some others he has barely been willing to speak to them. Anyway, it seems that he will no longer be with us. I’m not sure if that means he has resigned or if he is expecting to be transferred to a new job, but he is remarkably calm for someone who has done himself out of a job and will have a hard time getting a reference for anything else he wants to do. Very odd…

There is a sign of a good book, which whilst a bit inconvenient, is one that speaks for itself – that being totally missing your stop on your tube journey home. Last night I was reading my book and when I looked up the train was stopping at the next station up from where I live. I just hadn’t noticed where I was. So I crossed to the opposite platform and made my way home – which of course allowed me more time to read.

“You needn’t be so scared. Love doesn’t end. Just because we don’t see each other...”

Thursday, January 17, 2008


Since I went back to work, which was admittedly only a week and a half ago, I have been very disciplined about what I have eaten. During meetings I haven’t eaten any biscuits and haven’t eaten any of the chocolates etc that sometimes appear in the office. Every lunch time I have gone for a 30 minute walk, even when I have really not felt like it. What effect has this had? Well, maybe if I stand on one leg and the wind is blowing in the right direction, I have lost maybe a quarter of a pound. Hmm...

Fortunately I’m not dieting. I’m not a fan of such things and think that they are unsustainable. I just want to be more healthy, make sure I get a break from my desk and generally just give myself a bit of time to clear my head each day. I was doing this at the end of last year anyway and so, fortunately, this is not a New Year’s resolution or else it would be very depressing. There is no way that I am eating to excess, it just seems that eating more healthily and getting regular exercise seems to have pretty much no impact on me. Perhaps I defy medical science? Perhaps I am just a bit slow on the take up? Maybe my body needs to catch up with itself and understand that what I am doing should make a difference?

For years I used to go for an hours walk every lunch time and then, basically connected to stuff going wrong with A, I stopped and took up rather more of a sedentary lifestyle. But I’m hopeful that by walking for at least half an hour on my lunch break, plus the walk to and from the station each day might actually begin to get me back to where I was at a couple of years ago. If all else fails though, I will have to consider starting to amputate limbs. Perhaps I’ll go for a few more walks on my lunch break before making a decision on that one though.

Anyway... reading The End of the Affair is going ok so far and it is a very engaging and really well written book. I think I’m heading towards the more traumatic bits though. Without going into the whole plot of the book, the main characters in the book Maurice Bendrix and Sarah had an affair a couple of years back and Sarah suddenly and unexpectedly breaks off contact with Bendrix and he never has any idea why and it has tormented him ever since. Then one day they see each other briefly, in the presence of her husband and they then speak on the phone and arrange to meet in a few days time.

“I sat with the telephone receiver in my hand and looked at hate like an ugly and foolish man whom one did not want to know. I dialled her number, I must have caught her before she had time to leave the telephone, and said “Sarah. Tomorrow’s all right. I’d forgotten something. Same place. Same time.” And sitting there my fingers on the quiet instrument, with something to look forward to. I thought to myself: I remember. This is what hope feels like.”

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


The weather is appalling at the moment and there seems to be a trail of abandoned umbrellas across London. I saw lots of umbrellas that were left deserted on pavements, at bus stops and anywhere else you can think of. I guess the wind was stronger than people realised. I appear to have lost a glove. Not due to the weather, I think I must have just dropped it somewhere but that’s a bit irritating.

You have to keep things in proportion though. If I ever need a reminder of why that’s important and that you have to make sure that you don’t turn into someone who is slightly unhinged then I will look back to the woman I saw yesterday. The tube was packed on the way to work yesterday and we got to one particular station and there was just no room for all the people on the platform to board. Some woman walked along the platform a bit away from the door and started to bash on the window and shouted at the people on board (of which I was one) “Move up! Other people want to get to work. Move up!” If you have to resort to taking out your anger on commuters already on a packed train then you have to start thinking that something isn’t quite right in your life. Yes it’s annoying, but surely it is better to head to work a bit earlier and thus avoid the peak of the rush hour than die at 45 from a stress related heart attack. Anyway, no-one moved and a few people crammed on board and then we couldn’t leave straight away because the driver had to re-open the doors several times because they wouldn’t shut due to their being so many people on board. There’s a lesson in that…

I finished “The Book of Illusions” which was quite good. I wouldn’t rave about it but it was a reasonable read. A story within a story within a story I guess is the best way to describe it. I have now started reading “The End of the Affair”, so we’ll have to see I get on with it. I am actually a bit nervous about it, but what I have read so far has been very good. I might keep some tissues to hand though because I think I’ll need them. *gulp*

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Having time off is tiring

Back to work today – but by the looks of it I have another four day week next week because they want to come and fit the new fireplace on Monday. It was quite a busy day yesterday, the chap turned up to look at where the fireplace will go and did things like set off a smoke bomb in the chimney. While he was there a chap from the council dropped in to talk to me about the flooding on the road outside where I live. Then I had to phone a chimney sweep (it would never have really crossed my mind that such a thing now exists) and he is coming over on Thursday to sweep the chimney in advance of the fire installation. Then I went to the supermarket and then it was lunch time. At about 5pm I fell asleep in the sofa for a bit. I should have people to run my life for me, I’m too delicate to have to achieve so much in a day. I am suited to being a lady of leisure, which means no work and no having to actually *do* anything (except nice things preferably involving eating).

Christmas is now a thing of the past for another 50 or so weeks (or about 30 weeks given when the adverts will start), but Easter is soon approaching, hence the Cadbury’s Creme Eggs already being in the shops. Cadbury’s are running an ad campaign to go with it, better known as Goo-ology, click on the link and see more ways than you can possibly imagine to release the goo in them. Somebody had waaaaaaay too much time on their hands when they designed that site, but it’s well worth a look. Unfortunately I am trying to be healthy at the moment so it is the closest I will get to a Cadbury’s Creme egg for the foreseeable future.

Monday, January 14, 2008


It was so nice waking up late on a Monday morning. I’m waiting for the fireplace man to come round and I’m not entirely sure when he’s arriving (some time before 11.30am) but I didn’t have to get up at 7.15am so that was good.

Over the weekend I helped tidy G’s room. G had sent me an e-mail on Friday saying “I’m a bit worried about you seeing my room. It’s even more messy than when you saw it last time”. I seem to think there was some episode of Friends where Ross is going out with a girl and goes back to her apartment and it is like a rubbish dump. Well, for some reason that episode came to mind on Friday night. To quote Ross:

“You know how you throw your jacket on a chair at the end of the day? Well, it's like that, only instead of a chair it's a pile of garbage. And instead of a jacket, it's a pile of garbage. And instead of the end of the day, it's the end of time and garbage is all that has survived!”

Anyway, Friday night we spent ages going through loads of stuff and found that there is both a sofa and a floor in G’s room. Amazing! G got a box to put recycling in. G works well with incentives and I kept pointing out how much we had achieved by comparing the very small amount of paperwork being kept as compared to the large boxful that was being chucked out. G is quite into recycling and so I tried to explain it in terms G could relate to “When you leave an envelope on the floor, you are keeping it from its destiny. You’re saying that it can only ever be a used envelope. But by recycling it, you are allowing it to fulfil its destiny. Perhaps it will become a newspaper, perhaps one day you’ll use it again as a piece of printer paper, or perhaps it’s destined to become an envelope again, but this time an airmail envelope that will travel the world. By leaving it on the floor you are holding it back from that destiny”. G nodded in agreement.

Friday, January 11, 2008


My spare monkey hat has found a new home. Someone I work with is a monkey fanatic and I showed her my monkey hat a couple of days ago and she almost passed out with excitement so I promised I would bring in my spare one for her. She even came back to see me later that day to remind me. This is someone quite senior in my organisation and so it is always very bizarre to see her get so excited about monkeys. I left the hat on my desk for her while I went for a meeting and when I got back there was a very excited note and a drawing of a monkey waiting for me.

I am staying at G’s this weekend and the agenda for the weekend includes doing the cleaning, tidying G’s bedroom including buying some storage boxes and maybe having another look at the computer to see if I can get it to run any faster. It’s an exciting life… We are also going out for lunch on Sunday and then meeting up for a coffee with someone I don’t know, but am very curious to meet. I will then get to Sunday night with the somewhat smug feeling that I don’t have to go to work the next day as I have Monday off because the fireplace man is coming round.

I can’t remember where I read it, so I can’t find the exact words, but the other day I read a quote from John Betjeman who apparently said that in the event of a nuclear attack should he hear the four-minute warning, he would proceed at a brisk pace to Peter Jones on the ground that nothing bad could possibly happen there. Peter Jones being the Sloane Square branch of John Lewis. A man after my own heart I see.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


I spoke to soon about my book list. If you never take on board anything else that I say then perhaps you will still remember this. If you spend ages working out a list of books to read, when you wash your jeans do remember to remove it from your pocket. *shakes head in despair*

Whilst my thoughts on last year are that the quality of relationships has deteriorated there have actually been a couple of good things that have happened this week. When I checked my work e-mail on Monday there was an e-mail from a friend who contacted me before Christmas to try and arrange to meet up for a drink, but as I was already on leave I hadn’t got it. I replied to his e-mail and when he responded he said that that morning he had been thinking about the fact he hadn’t hear from me and was a bit concerned about what was going on. Sometimes I just go through phases of being a bit anti-social and he had actually texted me as well (although I hadn’t realised it was just to me) and I didn’t get round to replying to it. He had been down in London over Christmas and said he would have dropped in had he known. I think I was just kind of touched that it bothered him.

Then on Tuesday I got an e-mail from my friend S, who was one of my housemates at university, and she said that she had tried to phone me the previous evening and said “I didn’t have anything particular to say. I just missed you.” I have been particularly anti-social with her because sometimes I just don’t know what to say to her and some of the things I say she just doesn’t want to hear, but then she phoned me last night and we had a good chat about nothing in particular and I am now going to see her at the end of January. Eek.

So that’s all progress of sorts, even if just by realising that it does actually make a difference to my friends if they hear from me or not. I guess it is nice to feel missed.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Saving the best for first

Last night I booked a few nights away in February for G’s birthday. Just down on the coast for a few days, but it should be really nice and a good way to celebrate. Something to look forward to. Now I just keep feeling paranoid that I booked it wrong but they’re writing to confirm so if there is a problem, I have a few weeks to alter it.

My mum gave me a book called ‘1001 Books to Read Before You Die’ and I went through that while I was off work and picked out some that I thought I would give a go – in fact when I had added it up I had chosen exactly 100. If I read one a week (which is clearly no going to happen) it would take me two years to read all of them. I think it will take me decidedly longer, particularly as I may well read other books as well.

I used to read about 50 books a year and I would keep a brief note on each one. Nothing profound, just a reminder of whether I liked the book and might therefore want to read other books by the same author. I just lost the inclination to read when things went downhill with A and that year I read a grand total of 9 books. At that point I decided to stop keeping notes, as life was depressing enough without also recording my failure to be able to even read a book! Anyway, I’ve got back in to reading a lot more over the last couple of years and was pleased to get the book from my mum as it has given me lots of ideas of books to try – the weird thing was that I hadn’t even heard of most of the books from the last five years or so. I really have got very out of touch with the book world. But I’m enjoying reading new things and will even try to read some classics, despite having been thoroughly put off by having to read them at school. By my calculations I have read something like 41 of the books in that book, so I have a long way to go to achieve 1001 – and suspect I never will, any description that started “this mighty tome” was instantly downgraded and there are some that I just don’t want to read.

At the moment I’m reading The Book of Illusions by Paul Auster and I’m enjoying that. I also have a few other books lined up to read which includes a book that I am slightly nervous of reading. That being The End of the Affair by Graham Greene. I saw the film adaptation of it a few years ago (which I think was generally not all that well received) and it really disturbed me and for days afterwards it kept coming into my mind. I’ll explain more about why when I read it, but it just had some themes in it that really struck a chord with me. I think now though that I want to see if the book does the same because I want to use it as an impetus to think about some difficult things (not that I had an affair by the way even though that might be the obvious things to conclude based on the title!) and maybe just see someone else’s perspective on those things. We’ll see how it goes…

The other books I have lined up to read are Youth by JM Coetzee and The Light of Day by Graham Swift and I want to read some more Margaret Atwood and have a whole range of books that I’m quite excited about reading. When I was younger if I started a book I had to finish it, even if it was terrible, but now I’m with Henry David Thoreau “Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them all.” Indeed.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The Return

Going back to work wasn’t as bad as I had feared. This was definitely helped by booking next Monday off work and also a week and a half at the end of February. Roll on being on leave again!

I am trying to be more healthy. Yesterday I ate much better than I have over recent weeks. Lots of vegetables and no bad stuff (apart from a very small piece of baklava when I went over to see a friend last night). I also walked all the way up to my office without using the lift when I got to work. I wish I worked on a lower floor… Plus I forced myself to go out on my lunch break at lunch time despite the weather being utterly horrible. C said tome that she lost a lot of weight over Christmas because she got that norovirus bug that is going round, so she is trying to eat a lot to put weight back on (she is underweight anyway and seems to be able to eat endless amounts of food and basically put no weight on). I said to her that we could perhaps balance each other out, as it would be good if I could lose a bit of weight and she replied “well you could give me some of yours”. As we all know, the correct response was “you don’t look like you need to lose weight at all”. She will now be marked down on her appraisal.

I was talking to G on the phone yesterday evening, who had had a frustrating day at work. I have two words for you I replied. G pondered this. I continued “office voodoo!”. I had given G Office Voodoo for Christmas and already it has proven itself to be the ideal gift. The answer to all office related problems.

I did also start my return to work with a positive mindset and set off from home trying to think happy thoughts. When I was on the tube I suddenly noticed that the chap sitting opposite had his trousers undone (in a wholly accidental and him blissfully unaware kind of way). I sat there and wandered whether to say anything. It’s one of those things that is kind of embarrassing to tell someone and also obviously breaks the vow of silence that everyone takes using the tube. However, I decided it was probably better to say something, and that the best time to do so was as I got off the tube at my stop. So the train came into the station and I stood up and lent forward and quietly said to him “Your trousers are undone” to which he said “sorry could you repeat that” so I then had to repeat slightly more loudly “you’re trousers are undone”. He just said “thanks very much” and I disappeared off the train not daring to look back lest I get turned into a pillar of salt.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Oh the inhumanity...

It’s back to work for me today *weeps and wails*. Only another 50 weeks until Christmas. How do people in countries like the US put up with some much less leave than in the UK? I think I’d go insane. Anyway, I need to take a day off in the next week or so to have a chap come round to check that the fireplace that I want is ok to fit etc. I went to a few shops with my mum on Friday and he last one I went to was perfect. As it turned out, I knew the chap who served me and he is a really nice man and was very helpful and gave good advice; one of my concerns was that they’d turn up with the fireplace and then say my chimney etc wasn’t right, but as standard they come out to check your property in advance; and, I had already seen the fireplace I wanted but this shop was about £300 cheaper than the other place I had seen it. Result! So I just need to phone them today when I have checked my work diary to arrange for them to come round to have a look and then they will come round in a few weeks time and install it. If you’re very lucky, I might even post photos. Then I intend to redecorate my living room…

I actually had a very nice weekend and reached the end of last night feeling as though I’d used my time off well (despite three weeks not being long enough off work!) and that I had achieved quite a lot. I really want to watch more films this year. I don’t think I went to the cinema at all last year, but even if I don’t again this year, watching some DVDs etc would be good. After G went yesterday I watched a couple of films, one of which was Amelie, which I thought was a charming, if slightly off the wall, film and I really enjoyed that. It was quite a sweet film and just had some really good insights into brief moments of life. It was well worth a watch (I had recorded it on Film 4 and I think it is will be on there again and I think you can also watch it on the Film 4 website).

I then watched another film called The Dish, which was an Australian film about the first moon landing – it was the Australians who beamed the picture around the world of Neil Armstrong taking the first steps. That was also quite a good film. I really like Australian films and think they tend to have a really good humour to them, as did this one. The only thing that irritated me about it was that there was some chap signing in the corner of the film, which is fair enough but he kept obscuring various people – it was a bit like

Both the films I watched had a couple of lines in them that wriggled about in the back of my mind.

From Amelie:

“My little Amélie, you don't have bones of glass. You can take life's knocks. If you let this chance pass, eventually, your heart will become as dry and brittle as my skeleton. So, go get him, for Pete's sake!”

From The Dish:

“My wife said something. She said, "Failure is never quite so frightening as regret".”


Friday, January 04, 2008


My last day of leave *sigh*. I’m still not feeling very well, but I’m meeting up with my mum in a bit and we’re going to go and look at fireplaces.

Yesterday was ok. I went over to see someone who I used to work with and it was good to catch up. She has been really struggling with her health, mainly her ability to walk and she did seem quite down when I saw her. She’s also really worried about work and if they might start trying to crack the whip a bit. They’ve just got a new boss and she is a lot more hard-edged than the previous one who would just always take the easy route and so she’s worried if there might be pressure put on her to do more, even thought she doesn’t feel well enough to do so. She also told me that there might be a job coming up in the office soon and that I should think about applying for it. She, A (as in the ex) and I used to be in the same team together and so it would mean going back to work there. I just said that I didn’t think that I was looking to go back there. Since I have worked for the organisation that I do (which is about 7 years), the only job I have really liked is working there, but things have changed so much since then. The boss we had was great but when she moved on the job was never the same. I do actually keep in contact with several people from that office and it might be nice to work with them again, but I think there is certainly that element of things never quite living up to what you remember. We also spent a while talking about all the politics of the office and I certainly don’t miss that – and there is, of course, the issue of A working there, which makes it all rather unpalatable anyway.

Anyway… then I went over to see if I could improve G’s broadband connection. It’s a wireless connection, but basically doesn’t work. I had a bit of a nose about and then decided that the best thing to do was move the receiver away from the radiator (because it’s made of metal and can interfere with the signal) and also just to see if the receiver being elsewhere in the room might mean the signal is stronger – and hey presto, it worked! This was a rather cheaper solution than buying a new computer, so G was very happy.

I have been thinking about the sickness bug that is sweeping the country at the moment and whilst I am sure it is horrible, it does have the advantages of being a very effective weight loss plan and would also mean some time off work, which would be two rather good outcomes. Perhaps there are more preferable but slightly longer term plans that could achieve both of these though. Mind you, going back to travelling on the tube next week might mean that I have no choice as to whether I get the bug or not.

Finally… the nominations have opened for the 2008 Bloggies and I shall be putting my mind to coming up with some blogs to put forward, although there are some categories that I wouldn’t have a clue about. Anyway, now’s the time to start coming up with your favourite blogs. You have until 11 January.

Thursday, January 03, 2008


I am so glad that I still haven’t gone to work. I don’t feel as though I have had a break at all and my cold is also getting worse by the day, so I feel a bit rubbish. As G said, I would just like to have found time to get bored this holiday; G went back to work today incidentally, so we’re now planning some time of work at the end of February to get bored then instead...

This afternoon I am going to see someone I used to work with. I got a letter from her just before Christmas telling me how unwell she is because she has such trouble walking and really painful hips. She thinks that she needs a hip replacement but the doctors say she is too young. She sounded so miserable so I am going over to see her to find out how she is doing and I’ll maybe try and see and go over and see her a few more times. Then this evening I’m going to go over to G’s for a bit, but will then be coming home because I don’t want to have to get up really early tomorrow when G heads off for work.

Then tomorrow is my last day of leave *weeps* and I intend to continue my search for a new fireplace for my living room. I do feel as though I have achieved quite a lot with my time off, it has just gone so quickly and been so busy. Perhaps 2008 needs to be the year of taking a lot more leave.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

New year...

2008 at last. I have to say that I am not feeling 100% today. A combination of a cold, a headache and not enough sleep. Although I have been off work for a couple of weeks, I really don’t feel as though I have had a break. At least I don’t have to go back to work until Monday.

So, what did I make of 2007 on a personal level? Well there were certainly some good things, such as going out with G, which has been great - and very welcome having been single for so long! There was also a change of job way back in January, which whilst not the perfect job and maybe not really want I would ideally want to be doing, is much better than my last job and I have a really nice boss and there are times when I have had to do things that are really difficult and have done them well. I could have been a better boss at times, but I have done some positive things to manage and encourage C but I need to think about how to do that better. I have also owned where I live for a year and have really started to make that my own. I’ve decorated, fitted a burglar alarm, fixed things, learned new things about owning property and generally enjoyed owning my own place. I certainly get a form of security from owning my own place and have made some good in-roads into paying off my mortgage. So that’s all been pretty positive.

Having said that, my overall view of 2007 is one of disappointment. It has been a challenging year in a number of ways and if I were writing my school report it would say “could do better” (as it so often did!). I think on the surface many people would look at my life and think that it has a lot of good things in it, which indeed it is does, but on a number of fronts I think it didn’t go as I would have hoped. The main area that I am disappointed in is relationships. Relationships with friends and family. I look at the quality of both of those and just don’t really think they were enhanced on any really tangible way in 2007. I have a good relationship with my sister and that has been good, but friendships in particular have been tested and found to be wanting. I have talked to a few friends about some really difficult stuff and there have been very mixed results. A couple of them have been great and one of them I have been pleasantly surprised at how great and supportive she has been. But a couple of other friendships have just once again surprised me at how far those friendships have changed – or perhaps it is me that has changed and the friendships have stayed the same and are never likely to catch up. S was one of my housemates at university and for a long time was my best friend. I spoke to her on the phone a while back about some really difficult stuff and she told me how “disappointed” she was and even cried because she was so disappointed. Who wants to be friends with someone who is disappointed in them? I have just withdrawn from things there and now can’t quite understand how we were ever really good friends.

Another friend was someone I had also known through university, although we weren’t actually at university together. I knew that I had neglected the friendship and I wrote to her at the beginning of December to try and offer a bit of an olive branch (not that we had argued) and explained what had been going on in my life during the year. How did she respond? Well… she didn’t. Not one word. She did send me a Christmas card, but that was just a very standard card that she had signed, there wasn’t even anything ‘personalised’ in it. She could have sent it to anyone. I was really honest with her and in response she couldn’t even write a few words to even acknowledge that.

I could go on, with other examples of where friendships feel as though they are just slipping through my fingers but you get the point.

There is also the shadow of A still in my life. It is a really unfortunate situation that I go out with someone who is really good friends with the one person who knows A’s perspective on what happened between us and knows why A finds the prospect of being in touch with me so abhorrent. I never want to have a conversation with C about it but I still know that she knows far more about a relationship that I had than I do. I find that difficult and uncomfortable. But this year I intend to try and deal with some of those things, which you may well read about here – I bet you can hardly wait.

As for my family, well things are the same as ever with my father and I cannot imagine us getting back on to good terms. There’s just too much water under the bridge and my father lacks so much self-awareness and is so unpredictable and just downright odd that I just don’t want to spend time with him or have him know about my life. Things are fine with my mum, we just don’t see each other very much and I like to keep myself to myself when we meet up. I might take an occasional day off work and try and go out and do stuff with her, as it would be a big regret for me if I let those opportunities pass.

I’m not really one for New Year’s resolutions. I think often you just set yourself up to fail. I also think you don’t need the turn of a year to make changes, if I want to change something I can make the decision to start to do so there and then. I would hope that there are a whole series of new resolutions, however minor, throughout the year and I take a bit of time every now and then to evaluate where I am at on some things. But for 2008, I do plan to try and build a few bridges, some with people already in my life or who have been at some point in the past and maybe with some new people as well and to have the hope that I might reach the end of this year and feel more satisfied with where I am at and the quality of those things in my life. Here’s hoping.

Whatever 2008 holds, I hope that it is a good year for you. Happy New Year.