Wednesday, April 30, 2008

There's no I in team

I took yesterday morning off work to get another boiler quote. The chap who came round looked a bit like Captain Birdseye but I decided not to point this out to him. I don’t know how much they would charge yet, but the chap was very helpful and knowledgeable and I asked him loads of questions and he answered them all very well. I’m hoping he comes in with quite a good quote because I would like to use them if possible.

Anyway, today is ‘I Day’ meaning ‘Interview Day’ and as a result of that, when you are meant to be spend the whole time going “well, I did this” and “I did that” and generally saying how fantastic I am, although perhaps being a bit more specific than that. We’ll see how it goes. I’m just glad that the day has finally arrived as I have known about the interview for so long and it will be a relief to get it over with. I just hope it was worth the wait.

C is back at work today and we’ll see if she is a bit more talkative than at the end of last week. Her boyfriend works with us and I had to ask him for some information yesterday and he was really short with me. I wasn’t sure if that was because he was just stressed about something or if he was being off with me because I had upset C last week. Whatever the reason, it didn’t put me off getting him to do the work.

Then I’m meant to be going out for dinner tonight, although if I am feeling totally worn out, I might bow out of that.

Rightio, I’m off to sell my soul.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

You get what you pay for

When I went to see my friends on Friday night, they were talking about how they’ve got lots of things that never get done and so they’re thinking about using a concierge service. Basically they would pay a company a fee and they would arrange their lives from them. Be it booking a holiday, arranging for goods to be delivered or getting the boiler serviced. Pretty much anything. I think this comes with somewhat of a price tag. But having said that there is a certain appeal to having someone do all those jobs that I never get round to – not that I can afford to pay someone to sort my life out for me. There is also a part of me that thinks it would be a very cool job to have. Although it can be a hassle, I do like finding things out, working out to get a good deal on something, helping other people out with finding products or services. Maybe I should have this as my second career. Not that I feel I have had a ‘career’, as such, to date.

Anyway, should you want to make use of a concierge service, then these people might suit you, if you are rich and famous (so rich that you would be willing to apply for membership without actually knowing how much they charge… Or you could try these people who seem to charge a maximum of £40 an hour, which whilst quite a lot of money, if it saves your sanity then maybe is worth it. A green alternative (as in how to make your life more eco-friendly) is these people. They charge about £200 but I guess you might make that back through the energy savings.

However, for something that doesn’t involve inviting strangers into your home, you could make your life a bit simpler by using a vacuum robot. You can programme this one and it will start vacuuming in the middle of the night if you want. It is about £800 though… Or you can get a rather cheaper one here, for a mere £230. Or if you want one that you don’t have to give up eating for a month to be able to afford then you can get this one for about £20 and it can mop your floor as well, although I think the fact it is cheap probably also means it isn’t as effective as the others. You really can buy anything these days though.

Monday, April 28, 2008


I really enjoyed being off work on Friday. When I used to work at a university I used to go for a walk on my lunch break and I would look at some of the people who were seemingly wandering aimlessly about the local streets and wonder how they were able to be do leisurely things on a working day. I like doing leisurely things on a working day and should try and do them more often.

Anyway, the first order of the day was British Gas. They, as I already knew, are very expensive. The quote I had from another firm is for £3400. British Gas would be £4400. BUT, I would get a £250 discount because they would trade in my old boiler. So, they came in at about £4150.

I have a few thoughts about British Gas’s offers. First, they are just very expensive, although I don’t mind paying a bit more if I think the quality of the work will be better. But that £250 trade in is a con – they are going to do nothing with people’s old boilers but chuck them away, so they are basically making you think that you are getting a discount, when actually they could have just given the lower quote – but then the customer doesn’t think they are getting a bit more of a bargain. If I was one of their homecare customers, they would have given me another £150 off – but if they have fitted the system right then presumably I would be unlikely to need the service, and they probably get a lot of customers who continue to keep the service (and therefore British Gas get lots of money in subsequent years). So it's just a way for them to make money in the longer term.

I told the chap that I didn’t really think their quote was very competitive and he said that they do normally come in about £5-600 more than local firms, but he then told me why they were still such a great choice. However, he then said he could give me another £200 off if I would sign the contract that day because he "wouldn’t have to come back to get the paper work”. Two thoughts came to mind with that. First, it costs £200 to collect some paperwork??! But also that it is just a sales pitch because surely I could post the paperwork, but also it must make people sign because they will want to save £200 if they can. I imagine that if I hadn’t already got a quote and don’t also have another appointment booked then I might have thought that it was best to sign to save £200. Despite the fact that British Gas just aren’t that competitive. The chap wasn’t doing the hard sell, by the way, he was very pleasant, but I think that by the time he left he was thinking he was unlikely to get my business.

Anyway, after all that I went out and got my hair cut. I went somewhere different to normal because it was easier to get it done in Central London. The hair cut was fine, but a bit shorter then it has been for quite some time, so I’m trying to decide if I like it like that. G liked it though, so I have do have an endorsement of it.

Then I saw my financial adviser and it was interesting talking to him about his thoughts on the current ‘credit crunch’ and I am just very glad that I don’t need a new mortgage at the moment.

G was over for the weekend and we went for a very nice walk in the sunshine in Windsor Great Park on Saturday. That was very pleasant and I just so like going out for a walk in the sunshine and Saturday was a particularly nice day to do that.

Then last night I went over for dinner with one of my housemates from university, which was just so nice. We used to see each other loads but recently that has been more difficult to do and I have just missed the opportunity to spend time together and chat. We put the world to rights, as ever and ate lots of nice food. All good.

Friday, April 25, 2008


I’m off work today and waiting for the British Gas man to come round. Then I’m going to go and get my hair cut and then I’m going to see my financial adviser (and I will presumably say I haven’t got any money as I have to spend it on a new boiler!).

Anyway, yesterday proved to be a bit of a challenging day at work. C is leaving and so we have been looking for someone to replace her. We looked at various options and decided that the best approach was to upgrade her post because there is some difficult work coming up and there was also a very good candidate from a recruitment run by one of my colleagues and we were then able to offer that woman the job. We got HR’s agreement to all of this and it meets all the rules – the woman was recruited through fair and open competition etc. This woman accepted the job yesterday and so that was the first opportunity to tell C what was going on. I really believe that you should be honest with staff and that you need to make sure that you tell staff properly rather than them finding out through Chinese whispers, so I explained to C what was happening about replacing her. She was so unimpressed and had a real go at me.

We sit next to each other and normally exchange a bit of banter, but yesterday afternoon we didn’t really speak (not in a childish way, we just each got on with our work) and just before she was due to go home I asked her if there was anything else she wanted to say about our earlier conversation she said “no, it’s none of my business really because I’m leaving”. She then momentarily paused for breath and it turned out that she actually had plenty to say and told me what all those things were! Basically she doesn’t think it’s very fair and to a degree suggested that I had sold out my principles by doing this, she said something like “you talk about always wanting things to be fair, but when it suits you, you change the rules” and I explained that what we had done was fair and we’d had to go through a process to get permission to do this etc and I explained why we’d regarded he post and the election process to get her replacement etc, but she still didn’t think it was fair.

C wouldn’t have been eligible for this upgrade because of the way the grading structure works and she said that we would never have done this for her, which I was surprised that she would say. I told her that we were working in theoreticals now because I couldn’t predict what we might have done in the future had she stayed but I talked to her about all the things we had done to try and get her post upgraded but ultimately she didn’t pass the exams and so we couldn’t upgrade her. I even helped her prepare for the interview for the job she is now moving on to. I have worked really hard to do the right thing by her, even if it was to her benefit more than that of the organisation. It’s not that I think she is ungrateful or want her to thank me for it, I just feel really disappointed that she might leave next week and her abiding memory is that I sold out and did something for convenience rather than being fair. If it were true I’d just have to accept that, but what bothers me is that it isn’t actually true. There was nothing dishonest about this recruitment and I always did the right thing by her as much as possible, but somehow I feel there’s a bit of a cloud over that now. I’m not feeling sorry for myself about it and I don’t feel guilty about what we have done because it is all above board - and I also suspect if I was on C’s position I would have said very similar things to what she did – but I do think it’s a shame that C feels the way she does. The fact she said the things she did is because we have good and honest relationship, but sometimes it seems that isn’t always a good thing.

Well, what’s done is done.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


On the way into work yesterday morning I went to change trains as normal and could see a passenger talking to one of the station staff on the platform. Initially I couldn’t quite work out whether they were having a friendly chat or if she was annoyed (as weird as that may sound). Anyway, as it turned out she was annoyed and I could hear the station chap politely explaining to her that if she tired to go down on to the tracks they would have to call the police. It was then that I saw a mobile phone on the tracks and it seems she had dropped it there. He said that they would retrieve it for her after 9.30am which was about an hour away and she was so unimpressed and then seemed to think that I might lean over the platform edge and steal her phone and practically elbowed me out of the way while I stood there waiting for the train to come in. I suggest you hang on to your phone tightly when you’re out and about.

I was talking to a colleague yesterday about various things and while we were talking he suddenly told me that he’d been unwell recently. Apparently when he was on leave a couple of weeks ago he was rushed to hospital because he seemed to be having a heart attack (this chap is in his forties). They ran tests and in the end decided that it was actually stress induced by work. While we were talking he said that he felt a tightness in his chest. I asked if he had told our boss about it and he said no and that I was the only person he had told. I said that I thought he should perhaps say something, but he just said “no, you can’t afford to show any weakness here and if I tell them that’s what they’ll see”. I despair. I do still think he should say something, but he says he won’t and it’s not my place to tell people at work. I did, however, assure him that if he ever collapsed I would try and resuscitate him - and then further assured him that I would be happy to punch him in the chest any time he liked. I like to be helpful.

Anyway, if you live in London and are wondering who you should vote for, you could try this website. Just answer some questions and it will tell you which of the candidates you’re most aligned with. I should perhaps get G to do this. We were talking on the phone the other night and G was reading the candidates booklet (we have very interesting conversations) and was threatening to vote for the BNP*. I assured G that if that was the case that not only would it be vote day but also ‘dumping day’.

*This was a joke by the way. G would never vote for the BNP.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


I have had some odd conversations this week.

Example 1:

G phoned me at lunchtime yesterday.

G: Hello Poppet.
Me: Er, hello…
G: That’s from Mrs Doubtfire.
Me: Oh right.
G: So it seemed entirely appropriate to say it given that it was a transvestite talking to a small child.
Me: Er, quite…

Example 2:

I had a meeting with someone I had never met before. We were talking about some work related things and suddenly he said:

Ooh look at me being so indiscreet and we haven’t even slept together.

Well, indeed.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Clay Feet

One day down and only three more days of work this week, as I am off on Friday. British Gas are coming round to give me a quote for a boiler and I have a whole list of other things that I also need to get done.

My interview next week keeps crossing my mind and when it does I then think that there’s no way I am going to get through the interview. I just keep doubting myself, even though I have experience that is entirely relevant and am usually pretty good at interviews and have been doing my prep. I just need to have a bit more confidence in myself, I guess.

Something else keeps going through my mind, which is entirely unconnected to the above. One of G’s friends was over last weekend and when we were having some cheese after dinner he licked his knife and then put it in the butter spread that on a cracker and then sliced some cheese with the knife. He’s a really nice chap and I get on with him well, but somehow I just struggle with someone licking a knife (I’m not keen on that in and of itself, but have sort of got used to that as G does it sometimes) and then dipping it into a communal product. Ick.

Anyway, I read this article on the BBC and thought it was quite interesting. Should the personal life or views of an author influence whether we read their books? It’s an interesting dilemma. I’m certainly not of the burning books type (oh the horror!), but if someone held views that I found abhorrent would I decide that I should not read their books. I guess I might choose not to buy them so that I did not line their pockets – but what if I borrowed the book from a library or the person was dead so they did not really personally benefit? Is there work somehow devalued or should be ignored because of extreme or unacceptable views? I don’t know.

In the comments on that article someone mentioned that Roald Dahl was anti-Semitic and yet that wouldn’t stop me from reading his books, but perhaps that is because I am not Jewish. Is it somehow more acceptable as long as you are personally not threatened by that person? That seems like flawed logic to me. We can find things unacceptable that don’t directly impact us and would be pretty selfish if we only measured things by whether it affects us as an individual. But banning authors or blacklisting them seems a worrying thought to me, but maybe finding out things about the author can so taint their work for us that we choose not to read it anyway, even if those views are not themselves apparent in their books. But having that choice does in itself seem an important thing. I will end my somewhat incoherent thoughts with something someone said in the comments on the BBC article:

“One of the biggest dangers of meeting your heroes is discovering they have feet of clay.”

Monday, April 21, 2008


If you live in London then you might have seen the adverts for the forthcoming mayoral election that are basically telling people that they should find out where their polling station is and not just rely on stumbling across it on the day. Well, as it turns out, my own council doesn’t know where my polling station is. A few weeks ago I got my polling card which said that my polling station was at the school along the road from where I live. Then on Friday I got a letter from my council saying that they had made a mistake and actually that isn’t my polling station and it is in fact about a 15 minute walk from where I live. Oops. I guess, at least they realised in advance. I was planning on voting on the way into work but I don’t think I’ll have time to get to the polling station and into work at a reasonable time, so I might have to wait until the evening. Grrrr…

Anyway, it was quite good weekend – despite getting a quote for fitting a new boiler which is for £3400!!!! I went to my uncle’s house on Saturday to celebrate his birthday. To get there I had to go to St Pancras, which is where the Eurostar departs from. I wasn’t actually heading for the continent and was using one of the domestic platforms, but from what I saw of the station, I thought it was pretty impressive. It was a pleasant enough afternoon, despite one of my cousin’s being as irritating as ever. He is about 8 years old and is a militant vegetarian. He is happy to point out to people how disgusting they are for eating meat and my uncle told me that they had recently been to an aquarium, which my cousin had enjoyed, but then there were some stuffed animals and my cousin was so horrified when he saw a stuffed polar bear that my uncle had to cover his son’s eyes to escort him out of the exhibition because he could not look at it. I know stuffing animals is not a great thing to do (although having said that, there is a very funny scene in Alan Alda’s biography “Never have your dog stuffed” about the after effects of his childhood dog having been stuffed which I thought was very funny) but my cousin has no middle ground in any of his thinking and if he doesn’t like something you certainly know it… He’s always a challenge.

Yesterday I met up with G and we went for lunch at Wagamama’s and then had a wander in the National Gallery and around the local area up to Piccadilly and then had a cup of tea and a bit of cake before heading home. All very civilised and there was a nice bit of sunshine to go with it all too. Very pleasant.

Friday, April 18, 2008

In hot water

I left work really promptly yesterday because a heating engineer was coming round to look at the strange set up with my hot water tank. There is basically a cylinder directly above the tank that is rusting away. He looked at the system and basically said it is all very dangerous. A plumber had commented on it previously and said it needed looking at, but I had never quite got round to getting the problem fixed because that plumber then became very elusive and it slipped my mind after that.

Anyway, the problem is that there isn’t a proper outlet on my hot water tank, so if the water boiled (which admittedly is unlikely) then there would be nowhere for it to go and my hot water tank would explode. It seems I have two options. First is to get the agreement of my neighbour to run some pipes up through her property so that there is proper outlet up to where the cold water tank is in the roof. This would cost several hundred pounds. I have a fairly old heating system which will break at some point and need to be replaced and you can only get combination boilers now, so ultimately I would have to get that fitted instead anyway. The second option is to get the combination boiler fitted now. This would mean a lot of work and could be quite destructive, including possibly taking up the flooring in my bathroom that I had fitted less than a year ago, plus they would put new pipework in my kitchen and I’d have to get that all boxed in as well. This would cost around £3000.

I can’t decide if it is best to persuade my neighbour to let them do some work in her flat and get the quick fix that is relatively cheap (by comparison…) but run the risk that when my boiler breaks (and it is difficult to predict when that would be though it is running fine at the moment), I’m going to have to go for the new boiler option anyway, so it would be several hundred pounds now plus the cost of then installing a boiler. Or go for the pain now consisting of destruction, more work and lots of money to get the problem totally fixed for the longer term.

I can’t quite decide what to do. Whilst obviously the expense is a big factor, I am ultimately a practical person and like to get things done properly, which would make me lean towards getting a new boiler. But it is the thought of all the destruction and then all the other things that I might also have to get done that really puts me off. Why can’t this be more simple??

Anyway, it’s the weekend ahead. I’m going to my uncle’s house tomorrow as it is his 60th birthday. I think my sister is going to come back to mine for a bit afterwards, not least to pick up her Easter eggs that I haven’t been able to give to her yet. Incidentally, I still have two Easter eggs of my own to eat.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


I have been feeling really tired this week. On Monday it was just because I’d taken ages to fall asleep on Sunday night, but then on Tuesday night I had felt fine all day but by the evening, I just felt totally worn out and fell asleep really early. There is a part of me that wonders if I am just going into hibernation mode (despite it being the wrong season for it) because I feel a bit down about some things at the moment, which is making me a bit anti-social and feel really tired. But then last night I went out with a friend from university and we had a really nice evening and just spending a nice evening in pleasant company, talking about nothing in particular helped a lot. I did take the opportunity to ask her about her views on Boris Johnson. She doesn’t live in London, but has a definite leaning towards the right and she said that she thought he was awful and if she lived in London, despite being a staunch Tory, she would have to think about voting for someone else.

On the way into the station this morning a man gave me a leaflet and when I looked at it, it was a Boris Johnson campaign leaflet. Had I realised before I’d taken it, I would have just said to the man “I don’t think so” and refused to accept something proclaiming that man’s supposed virtues.

Anyway, at least I can be grateful that I’m not bald. Not only that, but I’m not a teacher who appears to be frightened of their own pupils and trying to cite baldness being a disability as my defence. Let’s just look at the dictionary definition of a disability:

• lack of adequate power, strength, or physical or mental ability.
• a physical or mental handicap, esp. one that prevents a person from living a full, normal life or from holding a gainful job.
• anything that disables or puts one at a disadvantage.

So technically, it seems that being follicly challenged could indeed be a disability as being called “baldy” and having to skulk about so you don’t see any pupils at your school does seem to be not living a “normal life”. But can you imagine if baldness became known as a form of disability? Winston Churchill helped to win the war *puts on a whispered slightly patronising tone* “despite his disability”. Kojak was not the story of some slightly maverick cop but was in fact an insight into the everyday troubles of someone who was disabled. Also, given the number of people I work with who are somewhat lacking in the hair department, we must easily meet any disability equal opportunities quotas. Children can be cruel, but I’m not entirely sure that I can see the chap’s case.

Oh and I got a letter from a friend from school yesterday. She has had child number three and called him Max. When she was at school she had a dog called Max. Is it just me or is it a bit weird to pick the name of your dog for your latest child??

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The kindness (or otherwise) of strangers

Someone I work with was on the tube going to work yesterday and, although she is English, was reading a book that was in French. There were a couple of people sitting opposite her who decided that based on her reading material, she must be French and therefore started talking about her shoes in totally audible English. So basically, if you read a French book you must therefore actually be French and if you are French you can’t understand any English. I think that is a path potentially destined for trouble.

As if to illustrate that the French are potentially more charming than the English (or certainly the two people on the tube yesterday), a friend was out on hr lunch break last week without a coat and suddenly it started to rain. This chap came up to her who she didn’t know and put his umbrella over her and in a French accent asked where she was going and walked her to her destination (which wasn’t very far away). There were no strings attached and there was nothing sleazy about it, this chap just saw someone who was going to get drenched and helped her out. I’m not sure there are many people who would do something like that.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Lighting up

I felt so tired all day yesterday. It took me ages to fall asleep on Sunday night (I think due to over-consumption of caffeine) and so didn’t get anywhere enough sleep. It does tend to mean that I get a really nice night’s sleep on a Monday though, whicg did prove to be the case.

Anyway, yesterday sent someone an e-mail to ask about he colleague who has an interview for the same job as me. He came over to see me and said “she’s rubbish. She is a real worrier and panics about everything.” That’s what I like to hear. That doesn’t mean she isn’t fantastic at interviews though, of course...

I was looking in my airing cupboard yesterday and there is a strange cylinder attached to my hot water tank. It seems to serve no purpose and is just slowly rusting. I think the rusting is getting worse though so have arranged for someone to come round and look at it, as it’s either going to rust through one day and presumably cause a problem or it’s just dripping rust into my hot water tank, which isn’t great either. The firm I spoke to, who fitted my fire and serviced my boiler etc, are so helpful and I arranged an appointment for next week for them to come and assess it, but they phoned back and said they’d just drop round one evening and have a look and then presumably will just get on with the work next week instead. I so like having a firm I can call up and they just do what they can to help. I have no plumbing expertise and have to rely on people who do know what they are talking about and it’s so easy to get ripped off. So it’s good to feel confident in a company. I should perhaps look into getting some skills in that area though, just to deal with basic ‘incidents’ at home. You have to be corgi registered to deal with some things though and somehow I think that might be going a bit too far.

If you have some lighting expertise then you might want to try installing this though. Why bother with actual lights when you can get your wallpaper to glow. How very bizarre, and yet kind of cool at the same time.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Know your enemy

Monday again. Always a disappointing end to the weekend... Anyway, it was a nice weekend and all the cooking etc went well when G’s friends came over. They are really nice people and also great fans of the finer things in life, so you always know that they will either feed you lovely things or if they come to you will bring lovely things with them. This was no exception, as they even brought home made cakes.

On Friday, someone I used to work with who knows I have applied for a new job said that she knows someone else who has an interview. I don’t know this other person very well, but I felt kind of disconcerted by that. But then I thought that as there would obviously be other candidates, perhaps I should just work on the philosophy of “know your enemy”. I know that the job would be a promotion for her, whereas I already have a proven track record at the grade over several years. I also have worked in the unit before and so have more of an idea of what they might be expecting. I don’t know I she knows I have an interview as well, but I could just poison her so that she doesn’t actually make it that far...

Over the weekend I was talking to my visitors about the mayoral elections. For some reason I am becoming fearful that Boris Johnson might actually get elected. I don’t actually know anyone who has so far admitted that they will vote for him, but presumably some people somewhere will, so he is still a danger. So I am taking the next couple of weeks before the election as an opportunity to beg people to vote so that whoever gets elected is not based on people’s failure to vote. Incidentally, a few weeks ago I mentioned about a bid to get an independent candidate to run. Well, it looks like that bid failed. I have no idea if the account of it is accurate, but it makes interesting reading. So despite the claim that “it could be you”, well, actually no it can’t...

Friday, April 11, 2008


This week has gone by fairly quickly and it’s almost the weekend. Tonight a big Tesco order is being delivered and then some friends of G’s are coming over tomorrow and, I think, staying the night. Should be good. I must make an effort to be more sociable though. My home phone has rung a few times this week and I just can’t be bothered to answer it. The advantage of a mobile phone is that you know who is calling you and at the moment I’m not sure I can be bothered to speak to people when I don’t know who it is in advance. Anyway, I shall make a special effort this weekend to be friendly (so long as it doesn’t involve having to talk on the phone).

I have watched this series of The Apprentice right from the beginning, which I have never done before. I have to say that I am decidedly unimpressed by it. The people just seem to argue the whole time and no-one seems to have any skill apart from pointing out other people’s faults. Is it normally this bad??? I think I have only ever seen the last few episodes in previous series and it has to be said that I don’t feel as though I have missed out. Maybe I just can’t understand why they would be interested to put themselves through that process. If it was me I wouldn’t have applied to be on it in the first place, but if somehow I still ended up being selected, I would have said very early on that life is too short to spend it arguing and walked out. Am I somehow missing the point of this programme? Aren’t these people means to have some greats business acumen – because I’m not sure I have noticed any so far.

It’s probably a good thing that there is lots of food on arriving tonight because I was looking for something in a kitchen cupboard yesterday and found this:

I am wondering if I should perhaps look through my cupboards a bit more regularly in future. You’ll be pleased to learn that I threw the potato in the bin and wasn’t tempted to eat it.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


I was on the tube yesterday morning and there was a girl talking on the phone to her friend. She was very talkative but not particularly loud. However, the woman sitting opposite me and her husband obviously took exception to this girl and the woman kept making comments like “I hope we go in a tunnel soon” and other such polite things. The woman and her husband were each reading their own copies of the Daily Mail. I think that about sums them up really and I knew who I was more keen to be quiet.

I had a meeting yesterday morning and after an hour we finally reached the first point on the agenda (note that is “reached” not “were still talking about” or “finished”). We then commenced the first point, which was the minutes and were doing the standard thing of checking the actions had been completed. We got to the first action and spent 45 minutes on that. After the meeting had been going for two hours we abandoned it and decided that what we had discussed would have to do. I wasn’t chairing this meeting, which is probably a good thing, as I don’t think it would be the sort of example I would want to use in my interview.

I had an interesting bit of news yesterday that a chap who works in our unit and is sort of “spare” would be interested in my job (not that he knows I am applying for a new job, he just expressed an interest). So that means, if I got the job I have applied for, I could probably leave pretty quickly, as he could replace me, which would be good because it is never good to have to hang on. Anyway, now that means I just have to actually *get* the job. I’ve been practicing the written task and think I have got pretty good at that and am still working through all of my examples for the interview and making sure they are up to standard. I am going to be so gutted if I don’t get this job.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Evidence for the prosecution

As you will probably have noticed, the inquest into the death of Princess Diana is now over. Yesterday, the BBC published an article on three members of the public who regularly attended the inquest. One of them is a chap called John Loughrey and he was asked what he would now do with is time to which he replied "It's fine, I move on very quickly from things, I have plans, firstly I'm going to go on holiday with my sister. Then I'll think about getting another job."

Let’s just consider the evidence for that:

- He rented out his house and moved in with his sister so he could afford to attend the inquest.

- He told the BBC "I'm going down in history for this. It wouldn't surprise me if there wasn't a portrait of me hanging in Kensington Palace in 100 years time" which some might suggest is a little overly optimistic.

- And... Diana died over ten years ago and he followed every word of the inquest in person. This man attended every single day of the inquest (over 6 months of it) and even got a special mention by the judge in his summing up.

So, yes it sounds to me like he can move on very quickly from things. Perhaps his next project could be following the Olympic torch around the world. That should keep him occupied for a bit.

On an entirely different note, yesterday I kept thinking of the song “Lost” by Michael Buble. I think this is partly influenced by walking past a branch of KwikFit on Sunday and they were listening to it full blast, but anyway, it has been rattling around my head. So I present it here for you, so that it can rattle around your head as well.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008


One day down, four more to go and it’s another early start today. Yesterday, despite not needing an early start, I seemed to be doing things ahead of time. Today, not so good... Yesterday afternoon I went to a meeting and we went through a document paragraph by paragraph and, believe me, there were a lot of paragraphs to go through. I am surprised I managed to stay awake until the end of the meeting. One of the chaps there really wanted a cup of coffee but there weren't any cups left by the time he arrived. His boss then left the meeting early so he took his bosses cup and poured himself a cup of coffee. I just found that quite odd. I think, however, much I wanted a drink - or how good my relationship was with my boss - that I wouldn't have chosen that option.

Anyway, yesterday I was talking to someone I do a lot of work with about how we could occupy some particularly irritating people we have a meeting with tomorrow. We are thinking of setting them a colouring in task. It would have nothing to do with our work, but it’s a great way to keep children occupied, so it might work equally well with them.

If modern living gets you down, then you might like to look at this site. You’ll either really be able to relate to it or end up totally scratching your head. I’m still trying to work out which side of the line I am on...

Monday, April 07, 2008


Another weekend over and it was the opportunity to experience pretty much any type of weather you can think of – sun, rain, snow, thunder, lightning. Perhaps it was the beginning of the apocalypse and I just failed to notice.

Anyway, Saturday G and I went to see one of G’s friends. That was a really nice day. I’d never met this chap or his wife before but we just chatted away and ate lots. They have a little girl who is about 14 months old and she is learning to sign. She isn’t deaf, but it seems that one of the things young children can learn these days is signing, which means that even though they might not be able to speak yet they can still communicate what they want. So, if they are in pain or want a drink they can sign that rather than leaving perplexed parents trying to work out why they have a screaming child in front of them. I just thought it was so simple and was really impressed by it. I am now trying to learn the sign language for “a cup of tea”, so that I can get G to brew me a cup in the morning without me having to speak. Although to date, a sharp poke with my elbow has been found to be remarkably effective.

I saw that Charlton Heston died yesterday. Whilst best known for his acting, he was also known for being the president of the National Rifle Association in the US. Maybe someone can finally prize that gun from his "cold dead hands".

Friday, April 04, 2008

There's always an answer

Yesterday I got the letter confirming when my interview is and, despite them previously saying I would have to give a presentation, the details of a written test that I will have to carry out. The odd thing is that they have actually told me what the written test is – which basically means I can practice it in advance. I won’t be able to practice the precise detail because I will only find that out on the day but I know what the key elements are. It makes me wonder if there is some catch. But I guess they are maybe just testing my ability to speedily take in information and summarise it in writing. I am scratching my head about it though. My main concern is that I have terrible handwriting, so somehow I am going to have to make it legible before the end of the month.

Anyway... ladies, are you worried that you’re going to be left on the shelf? That you’re going to end your days lost and alone – or worse, still living at home with your parents at the age of 75? Well, have no fear, there is an answer. Get your parents to add you to this website. They can get about $50,000 for you and live a life of luxury, while you’re married to some creepy guy who has to resort to buying a wife.

If you do get picked by the man of your dreams (there’s none of this silly women having any choice in the matter, so don’t worry, just spend the time making yourself look pretty) then you might want to think about where to go on honeymoon. At the same time you can test your world geography by having a go at this game. Of course you’ll only actually get to go to any of those places if you get the washing done and have done all the cleaning. So starting getting those dishes clean.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Scarred for life

I have to be in work early today, which I am decidedly unimpressed about. I just don’t to early. It’s odd because a few years ago I used to get into work for 8.20 every day, but now I get in about an hour later and the thought of getting in that early seems beyond comprehension. I shall soldier on though.

Anyway, there was a horrible story in the news last Friday about a woman who was killed in Colchester, Essex. She attempted to cross the railway lines after the barriers had gone down and she got her foot stuck in the track. Despite a couple of men trying to help her, they couldn’t get her foot free and she was killed when the train struck her. This brought back memories that we had to watch as children at school teaching us the dangers of various activities. One of the films was about the dangers of playing on the railway lines. It has to be said that filmed really scared me, I was probably only 6 years old when I saw it. Had I ever been set for a life dicing with danger on the train tracks this film forever changed my destiny.

I can’t find a copy of the film on the internet but I remember the film, including the football boots hanging on the back of a door and the voiceover saying something like “Robbie won’t be playing football any more”. This being due to him and some friends walking home along the railway line one day and he got his football boots stuck and while he was trying to pull them out, he got struck by a train and his legs were cut off. Just the kind of thing you needed to learn about at the age of 6. I told my sister about the woman being killed in Colchester and asked her what it made her think of – and she named that film as well. It was obviously very memorable – and my sister doesn’t play on the railway lines either.

Robbie isn’t actually a Public Information Film, but I came across some of those when I was trying to find a copy if it on the internet. It really reminded me of some classics out there and they can all be found here. I really remember the one about rabies and that made me a bit paranoid about going anywhere near animals when I was on holiday (even going to visit my aunt in Ireland...).

Some of the more peculiar ones though are... one telling you about the dangers of polishing your floor if you have a rug, one about what to do if there is a nuclear attack and perhaps the most strange one involving the analogy between road safety and a hammer hitting a peach.

Mind you, I have never been hit by a car, contracted rabies or killed myself slipping on a rug so maybe I shouldn’t be so sceptical.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


Yesterday was the 90th anniversary of the RAF, which included a fly-by by the Red Arrows. I managed to get out of the office in time to take a photo of them. It was only when I got back to work that I could see the picture properly and realised they were in shot, what with them being quite fast and also because I was looking into the light I couldn’t see at all whether they were in shot (click on the picture for a bigger version of it).

That's a cropped version of the picture but when I looked at the picture more closely on my computer last night I was amused to look at the whole picture and see the writing on the side of the bus.


Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Still laughing

I was very jolly yesterday, which I think was down to three main reasons. First, I felt soooooooooooooooooooooooo much better than on Sunday that I was just very happy. Second, with the clocks going forward at the weekend, the extra hour of daylight in the evening was great and I just soaked in the light on my way home. Third though was that yesterday morning I got an e-mail from one of my friends which left me laughing so much and through out the day, the story would just come to mind and I would start laughing again. If people saw me walking along the street they probably would have seen me grinning and thought I was slightly mad. Nothing new there then.

Anyway, my friend said that she had been staying with her cousin over the weekend and the cousin’s sister in law phoned to say that she’d had an unfortunate incident in the local DIY store. She had gone there with her three year old son and they were walking round together when a woman tapped her on the shoulder and said “is that your son?”. At which point the woman turned round to see her son sitting on one of the display toilets and doing rather a large poo…

I guess it’s difficult to explain to a three year old that despite it being a toilet, its lack of plumbing (and being in the middle of a shop) is not an ideal place to relieve yourself. The shop was not very impressed and gave her some rubber gloves and a brush and got her to clean it up. I’m sure that story will haunt that boy for the rest of his life!

I also heard yesterday that it seems the longest word that you can type just using the letters in the QWERTY line of a keyboard is… typewriter! I wonder if that was done deliberately.

By the way, I have no recollection of where the above picture came from, but it just makes me laugh.