Monday, March 31, 2008


It was meant to be a fairly quiet weekend and in many ways it was, but mainly because I spent most of yesterday feeling decidedly unwell. I woke up really early yesterday morning feeling very odd and it took me a long time to work out what exactly the problem was – at which point it dawned on me that I felt really sick. At that point I decided that going to the bathroom would be helpful and promptly threw up. I then went back to bed for a bit and then realised that all was still not well and threw up again. I felt absolutely terrible and whilst I stopped being sick, I had the most awful stomach pains and kept having to dash to the loo.

I have no idea what caused it, but I had eaten some vegetarians haggis the previous evening and that is the only ‘unusual’ thing that I’d had. G had eaten the same food as me over the weekend and did feel a bit off colour on Saturday night, but that was it. Anyway, I shall now be avoiding Scottish food for the foreseeable future.

Yesterday I had a bit of toast and in the evening I ate a bowl of cereal, but beyond that the only thing I had any appetite for was Easter egg – which, as is my usual way, I hadn’t eaten yet. So I ate half an Easter egg (and still have two whole ones to go) and, despite wondering if it might be a really bad idea to do so, actually felt so much better afterwards. I will keep this in mind as the new cure for all ills. I didn’t even get dressed yesterday, which is unheard of, as I am not really one for wandering about in my night clothes, but yesterday I just felt so terrible for a lot of the day that I just wanted to be in bed, where when I wasn’t dozing, I was watching Columbo or reading my book. I was reading The Invisible Man and have been really enjoying it. I did listen to a bit of it via Librivox yesterday when I wanted something to distract my brain but wasn’t up to reading. I think the chap reading it has a really nice voice and that was very soothing. G also read to me for a while. G has a soft Glaswegian accent and that was really nice as well.

Being ill rather eclipsed everything else this weekend although I did watch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on Saturday night and I really enjoyed that and thought it was a great version of Roald Dahl’s book.

Other things to report… On Friday I told my boss I have an interview for that job. The only reason I hadn’t told him before was that when I got the letter he was really stressed about some stuff and I also didn’t have the date (and still don’t), but we were walking back to the office and given some things we were talking about, it was a good time to mention it. He just went really quiet.

On Friday I was talking to someone I do a lot of work with and we were trying to make a decision about something and in the end we decided to make the decision based on the toss of a coin – so we did. Always a good way by which to make decisions.

On Saturday I phoned my sister because I wanted to know if they had made any provision for my nephew if both she and my brother in law died. Obviously I am not hoping for that to happen, but I wanted to know where my nephew was likely to end up. I said that I’d like to have him if the need ever arose. Mainly just because I would really want to have him, but also because my sister’s in-laws are really weird (even more weird than my own family) and I would hate for him to be brought up by them. My sister said that they haven’t made any provision as yet, but then she went out with some friends last night and mentioned what I had said and they said I was absolutely right and there is no way my nephew should be brought up by her in-laws, as they were indeed very weird. They were even willing to sign a document last night to reflect this if my sister so chose! I think my sister politely declined.

Friday, March 28, 2008


For a short week at work, it has been really quite tiring, so I am glad it is Friday. We also found out yesterday that some people we do some work with have decided that they no longer want to engage in the process. I think this is a delaying tactic on their part but we shall see. Anyway, that means that one of the people has killed himself (his death had no connection to our work) and two others are refusing to engage on it. Also yesterday I agreed a leaving date for C who works for me, as she has got a new job on promotion. I also think that last week I heard my boss asking for some details on a job, so he might well be leaving. So my forthcoming interview can’t come a moment too soon! I really hope I get the job, as doing various bits of homework in preparation for it has really reminded me how much I like the work.

The other day G asked if A maybe thought I was just considering going back there to be annoying. I replied that that would be an incredibly manipulative reason to get a totally different job and then I said that it really isn’t my problem what A thinks anyway - and incidentally A left and then went back a while later and so hasn’t got a leg to stand on in being affronted or thinking it odd that I might go back. But, as I say, it’s not my problem – and yesterday I actually got an e-mail from someone else who works there telling me that she really hopes I get the job. A couple of people there know I’ve applied and they both seem really pleased at the prospect that I might return and I’d rather focus on that than the negatives.

Anyway, politics is a funny thing. I have been bemused by a few things of late. First was Hillary Clinton telling a story about how she came under ‘attack’ in Bosnia once – when in reality it had been a very pleasant trip and she was actually met by a little girl who read her a poem rather than having a grenade thrown at her. I did have high hopes of Hillary Clinton, but now just wonder if she is as untrustworthy as the rest. You can see a video on it here.

I have also been a bit bemused by some things to do with the mayoral elections in London. Primarily how the Conservatives can put up a candidate who is as much of a buffoon as Boris Johnson. I am not a Tory voter but sadly there are a number who are in London and I fear for the reputation and future of London if he gets elected (and for the electorates sanity). In yesterday’s London Paper though there were a few items about the mayoral elections including a letter from a chap who lives in Guildford in Surrey and is affronted that although he doesn’t live in London he can’t vote in the London mayoral elections. He seems to think that because he works in London that should make him eligible. Well, I work with people who come from huge distances to get to work. I have a colleague who used to come in from Southampton everyday which must be about 80 miles away and I have worked with people who have lived even further away than that. Are they all meant to have a vote? Do we get to vote in their elections too? If you want to vote in the mayoral elections move to London, it’s as simple as that.

The London paper also interviewed various celebrities to find out their top pledge if they were to become mayor. Nick Ferrari who is a DJ on LBC said that he would exempt everyone over 65 from paying the surcharge in our council tax for the Olympics because “Certainly none of them will be competing and many of them will be dead”. I’m sure that pensioners will be thrilled by Nick Ferrari’s declaration that they will probably be dead in four years time.

Then finally, I was amused that our dear Prime Minister seemed to get lost at Windsor Castle during President Sarkozy’s visit. You can hear the Queen talking about it here. It’s a good job that he doesn’t have an important job or anything like that.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


I got my car repaired yesterday and hopefully this time it is actually fixed. It did also mean that I got to leave work early, which was probably the highlight of the day. I’m a simple soul.

If you’re thinking about getting a new job, then you might want to consider this. Assuming that you don’t mind moving to New Zealand – and appearing on television with no clothes on.

You might also want to look at the world in a new way, in which case try and look for ducks wherever you go. They are more common than you might think. Or so it seems. You can even submit your own photos. Very odd.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Meet the family

I heard a bizarre story about someone I do some work with. I had heard that she had been injured last week and required some emergency surgery on her face, which all sounded very painful. Then just as I was leaving work someone told me what had actually happened. Apparently she was walking along the street and not paying a lot of attention to what was going on around her and so didn’t notice the dumper truck reversing towards her… I don’t think it actually ran her over but she somehow ended up face down in the dumper truck and the impact of this seriously injured her face including needing some urgent dental work. I have no idea quite how she didn’t notice the truck or how you end up inside one by accident, but it all sounded incredibly painful and the sort of thing to be avoided.

Anyway, here is my latest addition to my household. This is Sidney the snake and I liberated him from the Natural History Museum.

Look at his lovely face, how could anyone resist him.

He is also jolly handy for keeping the drafts out. He is actually a rattle snake and if you shake his tail (or is that body? Do snakes have a tail?) he does rattle. I am very pleased with him.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Well it turned out to be a nice weekend. Lots of time off work, lots of chocolate and lots of other good things.

Thursday I met up with my friend K. I used to work with her and she has been off sick from work for about the last year, so we don’t see each other very much now. Her girlfriend is from New Zealand and they had just got back from spending a few weeks there and are now thinking about moving there. I have already reserved my holiday to go and visit them.

Friday G and I met up with my sister and nephew and we went to the Natural history Museum, which was good but soooooooooooooooooooo busy.

We saw some dinosaurs:

And a polar bear:

And the blue whale:

I don’t know if you can tell in that photo, but it so desperately needs a dust. If you are every popping along there then do take some polish and a duster.

I also made a very exciting purchase (of which TF will totally disapprove) which I will post a picture of tomorrow.

Saturday we were going to go to Bath for the day but when we set off the weather was so terrible that we decided it was better to turn back, so instead we turned off the M4 and went to Henley, which I would have to describe as “disappointing”. Not very exciting and had quite a few really yobbish teenagers and the own two places to get a cuppa was Starbucks and another café which was just filled with children.

As it turned out, it was a good thing that we didn’t make it to Bath. When we got back in the car, we drove for a few minutes and a warning light came on on the dashboard and a message that said the engine was in danger of overheating. I pulled over and lifted the bonnet and all the coolant had gone from the engine. You may recall that when I was away at the end of February my engine had a leak and I had to call out the AA. I then took it to a Ford dealership to get it repaired and they said the coolant had been leaking into the cylinder head, but that they had fixed it. Seemingly not… So I have to phone the garage again today and see when they can take it back to repair it. The problem is actually worse this time, as the car is only drivable for the amount of time I can keep the coolant topped up. I topped it up at a garage on Saturday and when I got home it had all drained out again, so this does rather limit my movements, at least before the car was driveable and I just needed to get it repaired when I could find the time. Now the only time it is wise to drive it is to get it to the garage. I am decidedly unimpressed.

Anyway, back to work. At least it is a short week.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


The first day of my long weekend. How lovely… Today will consist of meeting up for lunch with someone I used to work with and then G is coming over later. Then tomorrow I think we’re going to a museum with my sister and nephew and there’ll be another day trip somewhere over the weekend as well – the destination is yet to be firmly decided but maybe somewhere in the west country.

I will also spend some time trying to work through my interview examples because at the moment I feel as though anything I would say at the interview would be entirely incoherent. Fortunately I have time to get my head round it though.

Beyond that there’s a not a lot going on here, but I will try and be more inspired tomorrow, if I have time to post anything.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Just Saying

Last night I watched a bit of a programme about the illegal trade in body parts (as you do) and G phoned me while the programme was on and I mentioned I was watching it. G said “I was just wondering… which of my body parts would you want to keep if I was dead”. “Er…” I replied and decided that this would not be the moment to say “well, as you’d be a decomposing corpse, I’m not sure I’d be desperate to hang on to any of your body parts”. After a quick calculation I decided that saying I would keep G’s hands was the most appropriate response – but then said “but to be honest you would actually be dead, so I could so any body part that I liked and in reality keep none of them”. Somehow, I think the authorities would generally frown upon people retaining body parts.

I’m reading Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult at the moment, which is quite good. It’s about a US high school shooting and its aftermath. Kind of morbid reading I suppose but a fairly speedy (but lengthy) read. It has made me think back to my time at school and to be honest, I can’t really remember much by way of bullying or name calling or other such things at school. There were some people who were really popular, but on the whole they were also pretty nice and I don’t really remember there being this massive hierarchy at school of people who were popular and those that weren’t. I’m sure some people felt left out, but that was probably more due to academic ability rather than anything else. Maybe the years have changed my perception because I know that I certainly didn’t like school and wouldn’t ever want to go back, but I made some good friends at school and when I went to a school reunions a few years ago it was just nice to catch up with a few people.

Having said that, I know that there is horrible bullying that goes on and that some people have a horrible time at school that was just unbearable. The boy who carried out the shooting in the book was a big ball of rage because no-one would listen to him and he was the butt of everyone’s jokes and left out of everything. Sometimes you forget how horrible (some) teenagers can be and how they can pick up on the most insignificant things and make someone’s life a misery over it. I suppose the book has made me think that if you take away someone’s voice (whatever age they are) that sometimes they find new and more extreme ways to express it and you cannot always predict what that will be. I sometimes think that if we just gave people the opportunity to say what is on their mind, to be heard, that there would be a lot less pain and frustration in this world. But then we also have to make the time to listen and I’m not sure that people are always willing to do that. I read somewhere a while ago that in a conversation instead of listening to what they are saying, we are actually thinking about our own response. So instead of focussing on them, we are instead thinking about ourselves and what we are going to say next. I guess maybe that’s human nature, but maybe we should just try and listen a bit more.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Despite having some Irish blood in me, I have never had much interest in celebrating St Patrick’s Day. This year it seems like it was a good thing, as it was cancelled. Charming. Still it might mean that there are a good few people with slightly less sore heads today – because I am sure that they will have listened to the church telling them that due to it being Holy Week, St Patrick’s Day was ‘downgraded’.

The dog we have at work seemed to eat well yesterday. His owner snuck a whole tray of sandwiches out of the office and I saw her removing all the fillings and feeding them to the dog. She just chucked all the bread in the bin. I was really unimpressed, partly because I would have quite liked to eat some of the sandwiches, but mainly because work had paid for those and they will have cost a lot of money and instead they were just fed to a dog. Dogs aren’t even meant to eat human food, as it can kill them. It’s why dog food was invented. I do wonder about the people I work with sometimes.

I also wonder about this. It seems that Basil Brush is being investigated for racism. That’s right, a toy fox is being investigated for racism. In an episode that was originally broadcast six years ago. Right… Mind you, if you spent your life with someone's hand up your backside, you might also make an occasional inappropriate comment. Set the dogs on him, I say.

Finally… if you ever look at your life and wonder what it would be like to start all over again, then maybe you can relate to Ian Usher. If you can relate to Ian Usher then why not buy his life. Yep, buy his life. From 22 June, you have one week in which to place the winning bid on e-Bay to buy his life in Australia and you can have everything from his home, to his car, to his job at the local rug shop (on a two week trial for that bit. It seems that his current employer is willing to give it a go but not entirely insane) and even his friends. He will walk away with his passport and his wallet and hop on the first flight out of Australia. Perhaps you need some time to think about this. Well, you have until bidding starts on 22 June, what more do you need?

Monday, March 17, 2008


I am so glad that this is a short week ahead. I only plan to be in work Monday to Wednesday, work permitting, and then it should be a nice break from work.

I was talking to G on the phone last night, whose sister is getting married over the summer – and apparently I am invited to the wedding. I am not entirely thrilled by this prospect, particularly as I am not sure that the first time I get to meet G’s family would ideally be at a wedding. But I guess at least the focus will be on someone else that day! It all just feels a bit serious to be going to family weddings and the like and it’s making me a bit nervous. I’m sure that in time I will get used to the idea though.

I got a text from a friend yesterday to say that she’d just had her new baby – it weighed 10lbs 3oz. Wow. I have no idea if she had a caesarean section, but one has to hope that she did because that would have been quite some mammoth task otherwise. Compare that to some friends who had a very premature baby last year. He has just celebrated his first birthday and now weighs about 12lbs. I guess it’s all about context.

Friday, March 14, 2008


It’s Friday, which is a good thing. I am so tired and am on the countdown to a short week next week. It’s my nephew’s birthday tomorrow and I have got him Play doh operation. You get to make the internal organs yourself. What more could a three year old want? I went to a shopping centre reasonably near work to get it and it was like walking into the 1960s. I have not been to such a horrible shopping centre… *thinks*… ever. Still it got the job done.

Anyway, should you wish to know your carbon footprint and how many planets it would take to sustain us if everyone lived the same way as you, then look here. I came out as a 6 and apparently the average for the UK is something like 5.3. There is no way that my carbon footprint is more than the average. I’m not trying to be virtuous, I am just sure that there are a lot of people who are worse than me. So either it is people who are particularly eco-friendly out there or a lot of liars!

This is an interesting website, it has some interesting articles on it, but also some good photos. Worth a look.

Have a good weekend.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Sometimes you win...

We have a dog at work, which belongs to one of my colleagues. When the dog first arrived he was a happy animal who would bound up to people and get a stroke in return. He is now a miserable looking dog, who is a bit smelly and spends his time going through our bins looking for food and doing circuits round the office to keep himself amused. He does keep us amused too, when he occasionally wanders into meetings or leaves a paper trail of destruction behind him. There is something kind of therapeutic about having him about though, and if you can go and wash your hands after coming into contact with him then it can do you a world of good to just give him a bit of attention.

I was talking to someone at work yesterday about the chap who killed himself and she just said “well, it shows that there’s no type. Anyone, however, strong they may appear to be can reach a point where they see no other option but to take their own life.” I can see that – and also that people who kill themselves are not therefore ‘weak’. I think that sometimes make such decisions for seemingly (to them) very rational reasons. It does make me wonder if there was some way to understand the devastation that it would bring to those left behind (meaning family and friends, rather than people who were at rather more of a distance such as myself) that it could somehow have tipped the balance. There’s no way to generalise about these things though. There might be common themes and steps that can be taken to reduce the likelihood but ultimately everyone has their own story, different ways to cope and different thresholds beyond which they potentially can bare no more. It makes you think.

Another thing that made me think was an article on the BBC about missing people. I think I’ve said before that this is an area that really fascinates me, mainly because when I worked at a university one of the students in my department just disappeared one day and had never been heard of since (which must be a good ten years ago now and even at the time the belief seemed to be that she had probably been murdered). Then a few years ago, one of my friends disappeared one day leaving behind her husband and home. I managed, after many months and much persistence, to track her down and I spent a long time talking to her about what was going on with her and she did eventually come back. I sometimes think it is experiences like that which give me my dogged persistence about things – and sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Sometimes people run away whether literally or emotionally and despite attempts to draw them back there is no way of doing so.

I think I am just in the mood to ponder things at the moment – but am neither depressed or in need of an intervention. Have no fear!

I shall leave you with a nice song though.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Strange times

Yesterday turned out to be a weird day. I was about to go home when we heard that someone we do quite a lot of work with had died. Although it’s not confirmed yet, everything is pointing to him having killed himself. Him dying is tragic enough, but through suicide is somehow even worse. He is probably one of the least likely people to take that course of action (although, as it turns out, seemingly not). It has to be said that if we’d had a choice about working with him we would probably have preferred not to. I think it’s best to describe him as robust and direct - but there is no way that we would ever have wanted our working relationship to end like this. We were just utterly stunned by the news and I phoned some colleagues from another organisation that we do a lot of work with to make sure that they didn’t find out through the somewhat unfortunate route that we heard the news. They were equally shocked. We were actually meant to have seen this chap on Monday but at the last minute he said he couldn’t come to the meeting. It now looks as though this was not entirely unconnected to his death.

Strangely, last week, one of G’s colleagues also died unexpectedly. No-one has confirmed what the circumstances were but the death was certainly unexpected and the chap was only his in thirties. They think that might also have been suicide. Strange times indeed.

Anyway… I was slightly perplexed by the suggestion of children pledging allegiance to the Queen. I can see that there might be more of a case to pledging allegiance to the country (although I still think that a bit odd), but pledging allegiance to a person, with all their human fallibilities and frailties, seems downright bizarre. I think it is a suggestion that is doomed to failure and is likely to be more divisive than uniting. Anyone who is in favour of a republic is not likely to standing their at the front of the queue pledging allegiance and is more likely to be standing in the back row laughing at it all. I like that we have a monarchy, I just don’t think this is the answer to “being British”

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


I went over to see one of my friends last night who was one of my housemates at university. She got a new car on Saturday – a Lexus 4x4 hybrid. A very nice car but I told her that I was glad that we had met up under cover of darkness so I didn’t get spotted by people in her 4x4. (I’m a very supportive friend sometimes). I also had a quick look at her husband’s new car - a Maserati. I think I must have chosen the wrong career.

I finished reading The Three Musketeers, which I really enjoyed (much to my surprise). I was amused by one particular part of the book, which just had the most stereotypical view of what women are like and made me laugh. The book wasn’t like that anywhere else, there was just one page that seemed to suddenly turn a strong, evil female character into a pathetic mess.

“To escape from prison you have to make holes in wall, tear up floorboards, and loosen bolts, tasks possible for a strong and determined man but impossible for a mere woman.”

And then a few lines later

“Yet had she been a man no effort of that sort would have been too great for her. She had a man’s courage and brain and cursed Fate for having given her a woman’s frail body”

And then finally

“Being a woman she had at first been unable to control her feelings. But by degrees she had calmed down”

The other bizarre thing about the book was that if you read the translator’s preface, it actually told you what happened at the end of the story. Thanks… A good read though and I’ll add something over on the other blog in the next few days.

I meant to mention before that if you have a desire for political power, you could become Mayor of London. Just sign up here and say why you should be elected and if you win the blog vote they’ll give you campaign money to run for mayor. I will be voting in the mayoral elections so if you do turn out to be the successful candidate then maybe I’ll vote for you. Maybe... I suspect anarchy would break out if some of the candidates won though, so we’ll see if democracy is all its cracked up to be.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Lifting stones

Another weekend over and time to go back to work again. I seemed to spend quite a bit of the weekend going through G’s job applications, making some suggestions and redrafting parts of them. Then last night I finally got round to starting my homework for the job I have an interview. I just seem to keep lifting stones and finding more areas to think about. I have made a good start though and am beginning to get my head round some of the issues.

Friday was an interesting time at work. One of my colleagues had a really severe pain in her neck, so we ordered her a taxi so that she could go and see her doctor, but when the taxi turned up she stood up from her desk and dissolved into tears because the pain was so acute. We sent the taxi away and I called a first aider to come and give some advice, partly because we didn’t really know how to get her out of the building and she didn’t want an ambulance. Anyway, the first aider’s advice was to call an ambulance, as she was in such pain and couldn’t walk herself out of the building. So we did and they said they’d send one, but a while later they phoned back and said there was such a high demand for ambulances that they would have to prioritise who got one. An ambulance service assessor then phoned to try and find out how my colleague was doing and after speaking to her and another colleague the assessor said she wasn’t going to send an ambulance and we would have to find some way to move her ourselves. My colleague was just slumped in a chair unable to move because she was in such pain and we did explain that we had previously tried to get her home but that was what had prompted us to call an ambulance. We were left with no choice though because an ambulance was not going to be sent.

In the end one of my other colleagues had some really strong painkillers and we gave them to her so that it eased the pain enough for her to move and we took her to an NHS walk-in centre because she would get seen quicker there than in A&E and she waited there for about an hour and half to be seen (after the hour and a half it took them to say that they weren’t sending an ambulance).

Don’t get me wrong, I know that the ambulance service have a really difficult job to do. I also know that given the choice between attending a major car crash or something of equal severity and sending an ambulance to someone who is in severe pain, that the car crash should probably win, but we only phoned for an ambulance because we felt there was no other option. We went through every other option we could think of to avoid calling an ambulance, but my colleague was in such agony and the plan we had to send her home in a taxi proved unworkable that we didn’t know what else to do. So to be told that we would have to find some other solution regardless was somewhat of a frustrating conclusion to it all.

Incidentally, the diagnosis turned out to be that she had suffered some severe neck muscle damage (I have no idea how) and was given some super-strong painkillers by a doctor and sent home. Hopefully she’ll be feeling a lot better today.

Friday, March 07, 2008


I have on occasion mentioned that I am a fan of John Lewis and I suspect that today all its employees are having announced yesterday that its employees are getting a 20% bonus. 20%!! Wow. It makes my head of unit paying for a few drinks at Christmas pale by comparison.

Anyway, whilst I don’t really see my future career working for John Lewis – although I have now suggested that G gets a job there (bonuses plus a staff discount!) – I have passed the first hurdle on getting a new job. Yesterday I got a letter saying that I had made it through the sift and was on the shortlist for the job I applied for. I am actually impressed with how quickly they wrote to me to tell me. However, the interview will not be until the end of April, as some people have to sit exams first and they have to wait for those to be finished before they can hold the interviews.

I am hoping that a few people will drop out due to the time lag until the interviews and it is unlikely everyone will pass the exams, so hopefully this will whittle down the competition. I sat my exams about five years ago (I can’t believe it was that long ago...) and I think they are worse now then they were then. Not necessarily harder, but you just have to do role plays and all sorts of other things that sound horrible. I am so glad that I don’t have to sit the exams again. I am so pleased to have made it through the sift, so now I am going to turn my mind to preparing for the interview. I think I will have to give a presentation, which is fine, but I really want to read around the subject and make sure I have a broad enough knowledge that I have a view on anything they might ask me. I really want this job and was so pleased to have go this far, so I want to stand the best chance of getting the job.

I can’t remember if I have mentioned this site before, but this is a great site if you want to know what you’re looking at when you gaze up at the night sky. It teaches how to identify the constellations. A little bit of knowledge can go a long way.

Update: The links should now be fixed. I think I was tired when I wrote this...

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Summer is almost here. Apparently.

I bought a pair of gloves from Marks and Spencer in January, but took then back yesterday because the leather had split. I had wanted to exchange them, but they didn’t have any in the shop. When I went to get a refund, there was a sign up that said for refunds you had to go to the refund desk, so I had a look for it and then asked a member of staff and was told that they don’t have any refund desks and you can just go to any till. Right. I don’t know if they always did this, but now if you want a refund they have to call a manager over who inspects the goods and sanctions it. The way the woman spoke to the manager etc just made me feel as though the whole process was about assuming that the customer was lying. Whereas actually I have just thought that their products of late have not been up to their usual standard (and I am also not the sort of person who would try and get a dishonest refund, partly because of honesty but mainly because I would crumble under even the mildest cross-examination. I am rubbish at lying). I then asked if they were going to get any more gloves in and they said no, as they are now getting their summer range in. In March. Just as the temperature is starting to go down again. Now that I have no gloves. Pah.

I was talking to G on the phone last night, who is applying for a new job, and we were discussing whether if you went for an interview and all the candidates had to be naked, whether that would make the process fairer. It would mean that there wouldn’t be the ability to persuade the interviewers by wearing a particularly slick suit etc, but I did point that not everyone looks the same under their clothes, so there would still be a certain amount of difference between candidates anyway. But on balance we decided that unless they thoroughly cleaned the chair between each candidate, it could be a rather unpleasant experience to sit where a previous candidate had been. We concluded that going clothed was therefore preferable. We talk about a lot of very important subject matters.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


Yesterday I had a meeting with some people who work for another organisation but I do the bulk of my work with. Two of them applied to get promoted and got turned down, which was not good news. It therefore looks like they both might have to find new jobs in the near future, C is already going and I applied for that job I was interested in – so our merry band (and perhaps more importantly, the work we are doing) might be heading for a sticky end. If they are all moving on, I really think that I should try even harder to find a new job, as there is no way I want to be covering the work of four people!

Anyway, I have made some progress on finding a surveyor. I have had three positive responses (out of six enquiries) and it is really interesting to see how different the responses have been, and their quality really affects my perception of who I would be tempted to use. It’s not just down to me, of course, as my neighbours will have to pay part of the bill as well, so will have to make the decision as well. I have a clear favourite out of those I have heard from though (but have no idea what his charges would be…).

On other matters, I am reading the Three Musketeers at the moment. It is a very long and wordy book (which is not necessarily a bad thing). I do think it could have been decidedly shorter if Alexandre Dumas had got on with the plot a bit quicker. I did struggle with it at the beginning because I kept imagining the characters were dogs. Check here, if you have no idea why I would struggle with that…

I have also found a website that is useful for listening to audio books for free, which includes my current read. It is books that are outside of copyright (so published before 1923). It’s called LibriVox and volunteers record chapters so that anyone can listen to a whole array of books. You can volunteer if you want. I think most of the readers are probably American so it could add a new dimension to have a few British accents. Great service though.

If you are into the written word then you might like to take a look at this staircase. I would never make it to the top of the stairs! It’s in London somewhere so maybe I should go and find it. I don’t have any stairs where I live but perhaps this is what I should aspire to.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Snail's Pace

The return to work wasn’t too bad. I still prefer a life of leisure but at least it was still light when I left work – is that normal at the beginning of March?

Anyway… at the weekend G said to me “I wanted to talk to you about something” “Oh, right” I said. “Yes” said G “I was thinking… have you thought about what you might think about us living together at some point” “Erm…” I said.

We talked about it for a while and I said that I wasn’t against the idea, but not at the moment, not least because I think we would kill each other in the amount of space we would both have where I live at the moment. I will buy a house at some point, but not now. I know it’s very unromantic but I said to G that my main reservation is a very practical one. If we lived together and split up, I wouldn’t want either of us to have to be without a home. At the moment, the only circumstances in which I would do it is if my property remained mine and ultimately G bought somewhere else and maybe rented that out. I don’t want to lose the roof over my head, one that I have taken so many years to be able to buy – and after many years of moving from place to place - because of splitting up with someone, and I wouldn’t want G to be without somewhere to fall back on because of us living together. Not very romantic I know, but that’s the way my mind works about such things.

Don’t get me wrong, there are obviously positive things about living together, but I guess I’m not in a hurry. I still feel as though it is early days in our relationship and also that we don’t need to be really intense about things. Slow and steady wins the race, as they say.

Monday, March 03, 2008

The end result...

Back to work today. I think it is fair to say that I am not impressed by this prospect. I had such a nice time off work, what with spending time at the seaside and then also completing a major task – namely redecorating my living room. I also got my car repaired and it is running really nicely now, bought some more shelves for my living room, got my boiler and burglar alarm serviced, got my hair cut and went to the dentist. I probably did more than that, but can’t now remember. It was a busy time.

Anyway, as promised, here are some photos. The room started off like this, which was nice enough, but was a getting a bit tired and rough around the edges (particularly after having the fireplace put in):

Then I painted it all white, including repainting the ceiling (hence the tall ladder):

Then I put some colour on and it turned out like this:

G did put a mug on the window sill on Saturday, which damaged the paintwork, so I whipped out my paintbrush yesterday and fixed that. I will fill the bookcase on the right shortly (mum has been itching for me to take various books from home). I also plan to replace the lampshade (whihc was left by the previous owner) and put a mirror above the fireplace and another couple of pictures on the wall, but beyond that it’s done. A pretty successful week’s work, I reckon.

My next task is to find a surveyor to try and buy the freehold for where I live (incidentally, if you happen to know a good surveyor in the London area then I’d be interested to hear about them). This home ownership thing keeps me busy. But now it’s off to work to pay for it all.