Friday, May 30, 2008

Drink like a man...

I don’t know what to make of the above advert, which I have seen a few times on my travels on London Underground. I am someone who is not a fan of alcohol. I don’t drink alcohol at all and am always wary of people who drink to excess. Alcohol is something that makes me very uncomfortable. So you would think that anything that encouraged people to drink less would be something that I might favour. But that advert troubles me. In part, I think it is because the advert is based around looks and image. I’m not sure anyone would aspire to look bedraggled like in the advert, but it concerns me that looks are a way by which we should judge ourselves or that others should judge us. I think it is the judgment that I see in the advert that troubles me.

I also don’t like the stereotypes that seem to underpin the campaign. What it says to me is that the underlying message (beyond the one of not drinking to excess) is that men are meant to look one particular way and women are meant to look another and there should be no ambiguity in that. But surely there is a lot of grey in how people look, or choose to look, and not all women look like ‘typical’ women or all men look like ‘typical’ men – not that I have any idea what ‘typical’ actually means. Perhaps it just reflects a view that as a society we are quite shallow and how we look is something that motivates us in many different and unexpected parts of our lives.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it is important that people are aware of the social, physical and emotional impact of alcohol consumption. I don’t have a problem with that being highlighted. I just feel distinctly uncomfortable with it being highlighted in this way. I would also ask if men could interpret this advert as telling them that “if you don’t drink like a man, you drink like a girl” and encourage them to drink more? I think this an unlikely scenario, but that is actually the flip side of the message in that advert.

Maybe it has achieved its aim by making me think – although as a non-drinker, I’m probably not really the target audience.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


I read a report on the BBC yesterday that power was being restored to London, Cheshire, Merseyside and East Anglia on Tuesday after power cuts. What power cuts? I didn’t even see it mentioned on the national or local news. Did we plunge into some crisis, but someone forgot to mention it – or maybe due to lack of power the message didn’t get through? Perhaps there were power cuts but I was totally oblivious to this (nothing new there then) but I asked about and didn’t find anyone else who was aware either. How very odd…

G is thinking about getting more fit and healthy and we were talking about Paul McKenna’s philosophy on healthy eating. There are four principles, which are:

• Eat when you are hungry
• Eat what you want
• Eat consciously
• Stop when you are full

All seems fairly straightforward. G is not actually following this eating regime but, nonetheless, seems to particularly like the first one and on Monday this voice kept piping up “I’m hungry. Paul McKenna says I must eat, so you need to feed me”. If I queried this then G would just reply “But Paul McKenna says so”. Hmm… The other thing is that G seems to think this would be a marvellous excuse to eat chips everyday because you can “eat what you want”. Yes… technically within the rules, but probably not the wisest choice.

I’m not knocking Paul McKenna’s plan because I do actually know some people who have had great success with it – it is basically about taking control of your eating and understanding what makes you eat and helps you to work out if it is really hunger that you’re feeling, but I think G has rather taken the choicer bits to heart and that it will regularly be quoted back to me to justify many things!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Lady of leisure

My long weekend is finally over. I wasn’t in work yesterday and got loads of things done, after what proved to be a fairly busy weekend.

Saturday G and I went for a walk. The picture above was taken while we were out walking. It was a really pleasant walk in the sunshine and included walking by the Grand Union Canal. We were looking at the canal at one point and I saw that there were a couple of terrapins sitting on a log. I wasn’t very impressed by that (although seeing them was really interesting) because I can’t imagine a British canal is their normal habitat and presumably people dumped them there when they realised that they do actually grow. It made me a feel a bit sad to see them and how lazy people can be. But apart from that it was good! We have a date in the diary for the next walk – which will be in the City of London.

In the evening we went to see a radio recording and that was good. It was called Spike’s Lookalikes and was written by Mark Watson who introduced it. It had Ardal O’Hanlon (the chap from Father Ted) and Doon Mackichan (the woman from Smack the Pony) and Rosie Cavaliero (the woman from the Green Wing). It was very amusing and given that it was about a lookalike agency and is a radio programme, quite a feat to pull off!

We then went to another radio recording on Monday night, which was of Bleak Expectations. I had tried to see this last year but didn’t get in. Sadly this time it didn’t have Celia Imrie in it, but it was quite amusing nonetheless. It had Anthony Head in it and Geoffrey Whitehead in it (and others but I wasn’t so familiar with them, including Mark Evans who wrote it and I didn’t realise until I saw him on the stage that he had been standing right in front of me in the queue talking to a couple of people) The second episode we saw recorded (which was the last one of the series) was more amusing and was a take off of The War of the Worlds. It was an acquired sense of humour but was certainly amusing. I’m not sure when either of the recordings we saw will be broadcast though.

Yesterday I had the day off work and managed to get a lot done, including getting my car MOT’d, putting a whole load of lawn feed/ moss killer down, digging out a plant that was taking over and generally tidying up my place. The first task of getting the car sorted went slightly awry when I realised I hadn’t got any money with me, but I had time to get home on public transport, get my money and then do a quick bit of shopping before going to pick up the car. This included buying a Frisbee, as G wants one - so I bought it in the green of Celtic.

Now, today, it’s back to work. I am only in the office for two days, then doing something work related but not in the office on Friday, which should be interesting and then am on leave all of next week (but only to get a boiler fitted), so hopefully I can survive a couple of days at work. Every time I am off work it reminds me how much I like being a lady of leisure (with the emphasis on ‘leisure’ rather than the ‘lady’…).

Friday, May 23, 2008


I had a very irritating day at work yesterday, mainly due to a meeting where one of the people was in a very bad mood and just tore everything that we had done to shreds. His comments weren’t actually justified and pulled him up on some of the things that he had said. Judging by the look on his face, I have made a bit of an enemy there. Anyway, by the time I got back to my office I was really hungry and a bit grumpy. I heard my Australian stalker shuffling over and on his lunch break he had been out to try and buy some cake. He sometimes buys lamingtons and splits one with me, but hadn’t been able to get any but instead he had bought a doughnut for me. I don’t think he buys cakes for anyone else, he just sometimes likes to appear with a cake for me. Yesterday it was perfect timing and I finished my lunch and then ate the doughnut with a nice cuppa and some vague normality was restored. Although it probably wasn’t great for the waistline.

Anyway, it’s a nice long bank holiday weekend ahead and G and I are going for a walk on Saturday afternoon and then going to see a radio recording and another one on Monday. I think we’re having a celebratory take away tonight due to G getting a new job.

Incidentally, if you’re a fan of Cadbury’s Creme Eggs then they’ve brought out a new version of the bar. If you look at the videos here then I’m not entirely sure why a chocolate bar of an animated poo would be something that people would want to eat, but that aside, I might have to give it a go some time soon. Of course, I do still have an Easter Egg left to eat so perhaps I should do that first. Looking on that site did remind me of my favourite chocolate bar though. Oh yes, indeed.

Anyway, have a good weekend all.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Good news and a rant

Right let’s start with the good news. G got the job!!! So that was indeed light at the end of the tunnel and escape is now in sight. The not so good news G then said “but I’m not sure we can go on holiday now, as I am due to start the job on 7 July”. We spoke about that later and G is going to try and come up with a solution to this – it all goes back to having a really inflexible boss at the moment who sets bizarre rules. Fortunately that will all be over soon.

Anyway… I finished reading “Rebecca” which was very good and am now reading Pies and Prejudice by Stuart Marconie, which is a non-fiction book about the north of England. I have to say that I am not too impressed with it so far. Why not? Well, writing about the North seems to have to involve slating the South. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of things that could be said about the South, but why can’t you praise something without denigrating something else? Also, and I say this as a Londoner myself, London is not representative of the whole of the South of England – and in fact the entire first chapter of the book which was about the rubbish South was mainly about London but not a London that I actually know. He seems to have an obsession with cockneys.

“Chelsea Pensioners and Pearly Kings for instance. What is it about London that even the old codgers and marker traders have to ponce about in ridiculous costumes doing what can only be described as “showing off”? Northerners […] are generally inoculated against showing off by slaps administered in childhood. Pearly Kings and Queens: really, what is all that about? They are market traders, the people who sell you knock off batteries and pressure and snide versions of Nike tracksuits.”

What part of London does he frequent? Do I stumble across Pearly Kings and Queens on the tube each day? Erm… No… Are they on the market stalls round the corner from my office? Erm… no… When did I last see one? Probably as a small child and it was most likely at some sort of school fete. This chap has been watching too much Mary Poppins.

The book then moves on to talking about The Krays and the infamous pub the Blind Beggar and that after he visited it he looked up some reviews on the internet and people described the pub positively and one person said how nice all the staff are that there’s never any trouble. A point that Stuart Marconie is incredulous at because some 40 years ago someone was notoriously murdered there. Who here seems to be stuck in the past and unable to let stereotypes go?

Or how about “We don’t really get the Londoner’s much vaunted love of the royal family”? Er… all Londoners love the Royal Family? I don’t have much of an opinion on the Royal Family and I’m not sure I know many Londoners that do, but most people who have a strong view about them seem to be anti-monarchy not pro them.

But the bit I really couldn’t get my head round was when he wrote about seeing the musical My Fair Lady.

“But halfway through, something really quite dreadful happened. The scene changed from Park Lane to what was unmistakably some theatre director’s notion of a ‘cheery’ down-at-heel street scene in Lambeth or the Isle of Dogs. Slatternly woman in a shawl shrieked horribly as ‘cheery’ costermongers pinched them on the bum. Scamps and scallywags ran about nicking apples from barrows; chestnuts were sold and the contents of chamber pots flung about. Fear and apprehension began to grip me as it does when you hear the whine of the dentist’s drill or the opening music to Last of the Summer Wine. But in this case, I was the fast approaching whine and clatter of Dennis Waterman and a troop of choreographed ‘geezers’. The clatter was the sound of the dustbin lids they had attached to their feet as they stomped and hoofed around. The whine was the awful version – I’m not sure there is a good one – of ‘Get Me To The Church On Time’. When Dennis and co. got to the bit about ‘having a whopper’ and actually hooked their thumbs, behind their lapels, that inexplicable Cockney gesture of, well, ‘cheeriness’, I could feel the blood drain from my face. […] At heart, northerners feel the Cockney lower orders shouldn’t be so happy with their pathetic lot but organising a whelk stall strike and staging a violent revolution, whatever the Queen Mum might think.”

Right, perhaps I have missed the point here, but isn’t he taking a musical and suggesting that it is an accurate portrayal of Londoners? Do people go and see the musical Chicago and think that if they go to the Windy City that there will be lots of scantily clad women who commit murders? My Fair Lady is a musical and is meant to be a stereotype and is about a London that never existed – and I’m pretty certain that not only was there not regular singing and choreographed dancing in London markets of yester-year but also that people who were like Professor Henry Higgins didn’t break into song in their drawing room over an afternoon cup of tea. Any comments he has about the portrayal of London is a reflection on musicals not on London, surely??

Funnily enough on Tuesday I had been discussing Land’s End with my boss and how you have to pay to visit parts of it and then that evening the book in its very brief (two sentence) mention of the place it did actually cover where to park your car and the £3 admission charge to see the exhibition, and how you can wander half a mile down the road and see the wind and the waves for free. That’s helped with the holiday planning at least.

I did learn that the only football team in England not to be named after a place is Port Vale FC. Remember that if you’re into pub quizzes - and give me a share of any of your winnings.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


I got home last night to find that my water supply had been turned off. The water company has said that they would switch it off during the day as they are replacing lots of pipe work but it was due back on by 4pm. I spoke to my neighbour and she’d had no water all day. She was so unimpressed. I phoned the water company and they said they’d get someone out to have a look and try and find out why there was no water. By the time I went to bed, there was still no water. Marvellous. It was back on this morning though.

G was not happy yesterday, primarily due to having one boss who is a bully and another who is so weak that she has to rely on rules to manage staff. The rules are in control she isn’t – and she doesn’t necessarily know what the rules are, in which case she panics even more than normal. It’s all turned into a complete mess and it is too excruciating to go into the detail of it here. I was trying to advise G on what to do but in the end I had to say that I couldn’t really give the right advice because if they were reasonable people this just wouldn’t even be an issue.

Let me give one example of how illogical G’s big boss is. One of G’s colleagues is American and she wanted to go back to America for two weeks for a wedding. The wedding was during term time and you’re only allowed to take two days leave per week during term time. How do you solve that? Well you tell the person they can go to America but must “work from home” on the three days that are not allowed to be taken as leave. The end result, G’s colleague got to go to America for two weeks during term time but only took four days leave as the other six days were “working from home”. Did she work from home – well what do you think? Could she have even if she had wanted to? No. But the big boss didn’t break the rules so it was fine. Do you see how there are some people you just cannot argue with, as there logic is so warped. G has two job interviews this week, let’s hope the light is finally at the end of the tunnel.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


I slept really well on Sunday night, but last night I was still feeling really tired. I am now thinking that I might like to become a giraffe. Apparently they only need to sleep a maximum of two hours a day. I’m not entirely sure how one would go about becoming a giraffe, but I will try and work on this.

I think I’ve mentioned before that there is a chap at work who has taken rather a shine to me. I don’t think it is in a romantic sense, I don’t really know how to explain it though. He often comes back from meetings and if there are chocolate biscuits left over he brings back the chocolate biscuits for me in his sweaty little palms and leaves them on my desk. He also negotiated a discounted ticket at a conference for me, except that I didn’t want to go to it (and hadn’t said that I did), but I felt bad that he had gone to so much effort and so have arranged for someone else to go instead, so that his efforts weren’t wasted.

Every day I am can hear him shuffling over towards me. I sit with my back to where he sits and so he comes up behind me and knocks on my chair and updates me on his weekend or gives me an article he has found on the internet that he thinks I might be interested in. Yesterday morning I was standing at my desk switching my computer on and he came right up behind me (very close, but nothing one would want to start a grievance over) and then started to tell me about a chocolate custard he had made over the weekend. I moved to a slightly safer distance, told him it sounded very nice and then made my excuses and went and made a cup of tea.

He’s well intentioned, but hard work at times. I do have the ultimate way to get rid of him though. He’s Australian and sometimes I call him a “gentleman” which apparently Australians take to be the worst insult imaginable. I can’t use this weapon to often but it does normally seem preferable to killing him which at times seems like the only other alternative. Always best to keep that one in reserve though I find.

Monday, May 19, 2008


Another pleasant weekend over. G and I spent some time planning various activities such as a walk we want to do next weekend, plus picking out various radio broadcasts to try and see being recorded. We also spent some time trying to decide where to go on holiday. We were thinking about Spain but we think it would be too hot there when we want to go and we thought about a few other places in Europe but I have been to quite a few parts of Europe over recent years and haven’t got and strong urge to go back to any of them. I think we might now stay in the UK and go to various places that we have been thinking of visiting, such as the Eden Project. We’re planning on going to Montreal later in the year anyway, so hopefully we will get out of the UK for a break at some point anyway.

At the moment I am reading Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier and I have to say that having read a few books of late that I have been fairly non-plussed by, it is with some pleasure and relief that I am finally reading a book that I am enjoying. That seems a strange thing to say about this book because it isn’t a cheery read, it would more accurately be described as sinister and there is certainly a sense of foreboding in it. But it is a good read and one that a few people have raved about of late. I just don’t think it’s going to end very happily…

On the way home on Friday I picked up a copy of the London Paper that someone had left on the tube. As I flicked through the paper I got to the Sudoku page, which is not something that really interests me.

I was amused by the way the person had marked it. Judging by the size of the first tick they were obviously very pleased with their performance on the first one, on the second one, it was more of a struggle and they gave themselves a sizeable but not as enthusiastic tick and by the third, well it seemingly lived up to its ‘difficult’ label. Do people normally mark their own puzzle-doing like that? Perhaps giving themselves marks out of ten for how quickly they can answer the cryptic crossword in The Times? It has to be said that I don’t even attempt such things, so I’m not really one to criticise.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Animal Adventure

My animal adventure yesterday was a success. Despite some very grey skies my colleague and I set off to see some animals that live not far from where we work. It was just a really nice way to spend a lunch break and we’re going to go back again soon.

There were all sorts of animals, of which here are a few.

Some calves:

A pig:

A cockerel - there were lots of different chickens and cockerels but this one amused me:

Some goats and cows. If you look carefully at the black cow you will see the goat is actually standing on its back, where it proceeded to walk up and down to its heart content, which really made me laugh.

A marvellous little adventure. So my colleague and I are now going to look for other hidden gems in the local area.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


I’m hoping that on my lunch break today I’m going to do something exciting – and it involves animals… But it’s dependent on a) there not being a massive downpour at lunchtime and b) the chap I work with who is going with me getting back from a meeting in time. But it involves animals and I am (genuinely) very excited at the prospect of going to look at some animals on my lunch break what with working in a big city. If we don’t do it today then we’ll go next week instead. We also have plans to go and see a range of other places near work and soak in a bit of culture or just to totally escape from work in the middle of the day.

I have been trying to get tickets for a particular BBC recording. I got some last year but when I turned up all the seats were taken due to a massive guest list. Then I ordered some more last week, as they are doing some more recordings, but got an e-mail yesterday to say that the recording was cancelled. So I have now ordered some more tickets. Third time lucky? We shall see.

I made a discovery yesterday. One that is unlikely to change my (or your) life, but a discovery nonetheless. I found out why digestive biscuits are so called. Basically when they were first created by McVities, it was believed that they had medicinal properties that aided digestion. This was later found to be untrue, but the name continued. Biscuits that aid digestion? I imagine if they contained prunes they might, but beyond that I don’t think biscuits are generally hailed for their health benefits.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Gardeners' Question Time

Yesterday I mentioned to my boss that I am thinking about doing some volunteering and told him about one of the things I am considering doing. He was *really* enthusiastic and very supportive of me doing this and he told me that I would get leave from work (in addition to my normal leave year) to do it. This was all very good news and so in the next week or so I am going to go and observe what goes on a couple of times and then chat to a friend of my mum and then maybe apply. So I might have one thing in the pipeline already, which is a reasonable commitment in itself, but once I’ve got my head round this one, I’ll see if there’s anything else I might be interested in doing as well.

A couple of days ago I mentioned that I was trying to identify some of the plants in my garden. They might be really well known plants, but I must admit I know nothing about gardening, so that wouldn’t really surprise me.

If you have any idea what any of them are then feel free to let me know.

Number 1:

Number 2 (the one in the foreground):

Number 3:

Number 4 (not just one plant, but I don't know what any of them are):

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Right, well TF cast me on to a Desert Island recently and I had the task of deciding what food and other items I would take with me. I have finally got round to doing this (I am a last minute packer when I go on holiday too, so this is true to form). Anyway, here we go:

1. First course – my mum makes this really lovely starter which involves melon, Parma ham, cucumber, tomatoes and goats cheese all in layers and then a honey mustard dressing on it and it is so nice.
2. Main Course – My mum’s homemade beef goulash (you may be picking up a theme here that my mum’s cooking is really good)
3. Sweet – a New York cheesecake
4. Drink – a cup of tea. How could it be anything else? Most days I only drink tea anyway…

One piece of music/song - So much to choose from but it should probably be something that I think would endure, so Appalachian Spring by Aaron Copeland.
One book - Again, so much to choose from but I shall go for A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute.
One luxury item - A radio playing the BBC World Service (or my mum, so she can do lots of nice cooking for me!).

I was also going to do Titration's tag which was as follows:

The rules of the meme:
1. Pick up the nearest book.
2. Open to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people, and acknowledge who tagged you.

However, the problem with this was as follows (click on the image to enlarge it):

I shall give it a go another time!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Don't try this at home

Another pleasant weekend over. This one was actually filled with various domestic chores but I enjoyed them. I got up early on Saturday and pottered about before mowing my grass and then my neighbour’s grass as well. Then I had a chat with my neighbour for a while and she, as ever, asked me lots of questions like why I thought her gas bill might be so high and if I could work out how her gas fire turned on (not that she needs it at the moment). The primary problem with the fire appeared to be that there was no gas coming out of it when I tried to switch it on. I said I’d drop round the details of a firm who could look at all her gas appliances for her.

I spent a bit of time trying to identify the shrubs in my garden. I have managed to identify some of them, but others are still unknown. I’ll post some photos in the next few days in case there are any gardeners out there who can identify them for me. I also made some repairs to my shed roof but have decided that the only way to fix it properly is to re-felt it, so I’ll be doing that in the next few weeks.

G and I met up for lunch on Sunday and we went to The Mango Tree, which was very nice. We would have enjoyed it anyway, but we didn’t actually pay for the meal because G had collected enough points through TopTable so that we could use those to pay. We did have to pay for the drinks (which is has to be said were pretty pricey) but beyond that we didn’t pay anything. Very nice – and if you can go there through a TopTable deal (normally 50% off the bill), quite a bargain as well. I have come up with a list of places that I want to visit or go or a meal so we have a whole array of things to do over the coming months now…

I was talking to G on Saturday and the conversation went something like this;

G: I didn’t tell you what I bought on my lunch break yesterday.
Me: *ponders for a few seconds* A 99!
G: Oh, I did tell you.
Me: No you didn’t, that was a complete guess. Did you really buy a 99?
G: *somewhat disconcerted” Er… yes.

How weird is that?? I really had no idea what G was going to say and yet managed to guess.

I also read something in the local residents’ association magazine which said “3 Brits die each year testing if a 9V battery works on their tongue” and my first thought was to wonder if that’s true and then some vague thoughts about trying to test if that is what would happen – but then thinking that was probably what gets those three people killed each year. I wanted to know the answer to this and seem to have found it here. It is seemingly not actually lethal but best to be avoided nonetheless. Fair enough.

Friday, May 09, 2008


It’s Friday and I have quite a busy day ahead, what with a long and tedious meeting this morning and then giving a talk at lunchtime and then another meeting this afternoon etc etc. This is not what I want on a Friday. I also seem to be suffering from hay fever, which is particularly annoying seeing as I don’t normally get it. I shall blame it on global warming.

I am thinking about doing some volunteering. I have a few ideas in mind, but will have a bit of a think about what I might pursue. I think I’ve decided that as I don’t find my job all that satisfying, I am going to have to get that satisfaction in some other way. I don’t mean that I just want to do it for what I can get out of it. I just want to do something that makes a bit of a positive difference. That job I applied for would have been a really great move towards achieving that, but as that didn’t happen and my current job is more about bureaucracy than anything else, I feel I need to get involved in something else. Work would give me time off to do various bits of volunteering as well (in theory at least, as I haven’t actually asked my boss as yet), so I should think of how to take make the most of that.

A builder came round last night to give me a quote. He seemed a nice chap and he’s going to phone me today to tell me how much it will cost. All being well, I should then be able to get the boiler sorted at the beginning of June – and I will just have to hope that it doesn’t blow up before then.

As you may be aware, Labour did not do well in the elections last week. It seems that Gordon Brown is facing another vote and you have until next week to have your say. Should Gordon Brown have a waxwork made of him at Madame Tussauds? The choice is yours. I don’t really know what they have in terms of waxworks of former Prime Ministers but if it is meant to show who the PMs have been over the years it does seem a touch odd not to immortalise him in the same way, electoral mandate or not. Anyway, you can have your say.

Thursday, May 08, 2008


I went out for dinner with a friend last night. We went to Giraffe, which is normally a nice place, and it was this time, but the service was so slow and so disorganised. We got there before 7pm and wanted to order from the menu that is only available until 7pm, but by the time they came to take our order it was gone 7pm and they said it was too late. To give them their dues, I did point out that we had been there for a while and they went off and spoke to a manager who agreed we could order from the menu we wanted. But even that took ages to get agreed. Nice food but poor service throughout.

I read yesterday that Sheriff Ken Boris is going to ban alcohol on the tube from 1 June. Even as a non-drinker I have a few issues with this. First, a rule is only as good as the ability to enforce it and there is no way that it will be possible to stop quite a lot of the people drinking on the tube. Are they going to start searching people for illicit alcohol? Will they ban people from the tube who have just bought their weekly shop at Sainsbury’s including a can of beer or two to be consumed at home? I would also say that is the problem really caused by people who drink on the tube or by those who have spent the evening drinking in London and are heading home? Are they really tackling the right people?

I do have solution to this problem though. I think that everyone should be breathalysed before they are allowed to board a tube train - people who are teetotal such as myself may carry the “card of smugness” which means that you can just flash the card and walk past the queues of people being breathalysed and go immediately to the platform without delay. Anybody found to have drunk alcohol will not be able to use public transport. This will have a number of effects:

- More cars on the road, including drunk drivers who aren’t allowed to use the tube. We will therefore need more traffic police officers to detect them. This increase in police officers will mean more people in employment and therefore reduce unemployment figures.
- More cars on the road will also mean that potentially more revenue will be raised through congestion charging.
- Some people may choose to walk instead, thus increasing the fitness of the nation.
- Those allowed to travel by tube will be greatly decreased in number thus making the tube less crowded and me more likely to get a seat. This would make me happy. This is what is important.

Perhaps Boris isn’t going to be so bad after all.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008


Well, not a lot to report here beyond a very nice evening spent by G and me celebrating our anniversary. Back to the office today which I am not looking forward to particularly, but I shall soldier on. Actually not being in the office yesterday meant that it was a real pain sorting out various things that I would normally do with instant access to the internet, so perhaps I should be glad that I will have the chance to plan various other parts of my life by being back at work.

Apparently some research has shown that yesterday was the most expensive day of the year for Brits. (I’m not really sure why that link is to Yahoo India, but there you go…). I am very dubious about that piece of research anyway and am not convinced that it is true. I really don’t believe that somehow one day is most expensive for most people. There are various bits I don’t believe but this one in particular stands out:

“And more than one third are making their own clothes, growing their own food or making their own wine.”

You have got to be kidding me. This is the same country where we use 17 billion carrier bags a year and so yesterday M&S started charging us for carrier bags to stop us creating so much waste – but we’re all at home making jam and knitting. Some seriously dubious research there...

In an economy drive*, I gave G this as an anniversary present. Yes, I gave G a link to a website. G gave me a jar of marmite. Romance is not dead. You need your speakers on to understand it. G is a number geek and was so thrilled by this website. G is a simple soul, but it is strangely mesmerising.

*not really an economy drive (or really an anniversary present for that matter), we’re just not much into buying each other presents and I came across this on the internet recently.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Time passing

The long weekend is over *sigh*, but I don’t have to go into the office today *hooray* as I have a meeting elsewhere *sigh*.

Anyway, it was a nice weekend. G and I went over to see my sister and nephew and we went to a farm. We all seemed to enjoy it but my nephew now seems to be more fascinated by playing than by looking at things like animals, so I may need to find a new alibi to visit places like that. Hopefully I can still persuade him to go to Monkey World though. My nephew is so funny though and it seems is also somewhat scared of some animals. There were a few occasions when some sheep bleated and my nephew clung on to me for dear life and was shaking like a leaf. So cute…

Then on Sunday morning G and I looked after my nephew while my sister did a 10K run. We amused him in a play area and fed him kit kat until we reckoned my sister was due again and then we walked back to the track and watched my sister appear again (she was doing three laps). My sister did really well and did it in about an hour. I’m not sure she enjoyed it though, so we’ll see if she does it again.

My sister then dropped me and G at a station and we waited for a train but my sister and nephew reappeared a few minutes later as my nephew was really upset because he hadn’t said goodbye to G properly. I think G was rather chuffed by that. We then headed off and had a picnic and I was so tired when we got home (I’d slept really badly the night before because the job was going round in my head) that G bought a takeaway which I ate and then I fell asleep on the sofa.

Today is actually G and my first anniversary. It’s amazing that I have even remembered because I am rubbish about things like that. I can’t believe a year has gone by already!

Monday, May 05, 2008


Right, well, lets get this over with. I didn’t get the job, which I have to tell you is such a disappointment and I cannot tell you how gutted I was. I got a letter on Saturday morning and had to read it and go straight out, so I didn’t even have time to think about it properly. I am somebody who likes to process things and take time to think about them before talking about them. I sent G a text (as we were about to meet up and go over to my sister’s house) to say what had happened and that I didn’t want to talk about it and then just talk a bit of time to have a ponder.

They actually gave me feedback in the letter and it has to be said that the feedback was very positive and they said what a good candidate I was and how I demonstrated so many of the qualities that they wanted. Basically there were just a couple of things that I should have expanded on more and then this probably would have been a very different story. Actually after the interview I had realised I hadn’t said those things and the feedback was entirely in line with what I had thought, so it wasn’t a surprise and the annoying thing is that I had some very specific examples that would have easily illustrated the points. It’s strange how close elation and despair can be.

Whilst I was upset about not getting the job, I was even more upset about how nice the letter was. This was not one of your bog standard “sorry you didn’t get the job” type letters. It was really personal (the person who wrote it knew me) and she also said how much the head of department had wanted to contact me himself, but as he was on leave they wanted to let me know the outcome anyway. I was really touched by it and I think the head of department wants to speak to me (the letter does actually say to get in touch with him), so I’ll send him an e-mail when I am back in the office on Wednesday. I always find people being kind to me very upsetting and the way that office has dealt with this has therefore been very upsetting!

I have a few thoughts about it all, most of them are actually very positive. I think it can be easy to lose your confidence in this sort of situation, but actually I feel that what the process did is show I really could do that job and I just didn’t keep one small part of the interview focussed enough. This actually makes me more likely to apply if another job comes up there. I just need to keep my focus the whole way through the interview.

What it also proved to me was that my motivation for going back to the office was to do the work. The whole time I was applying, preparing for interview etc, my thinking to do with it was always about the job and what I would do if I got it. It was not about working in the same place as A again (apart from the occasional feeling of fear about potentially doing that!). I think it was important to me to know that and now I do. If I had got the job, I would have wanted us to be civil and if possible for us to be friendly with each other. My thinking about A as a person will always be positive and that will never change, regardless of the changes in my attitude more generally about the situation itself. But that was a side issue and not my motivation for applying. I knew all that in my head, but now, because of all that has happened, it has actually proven it to me and I actually feel pretty good about that.

I am decidedly unimpressed that I have to carry on with my current job though. What I do is interesting enough, but I don’t really care about it, whereas the job I applied for would have really mattered to me. I think it is going to be hard to get my focus back on my current job – and to be honest I think I am going to be keeping an eye out for another opportunity in that office and will just bide my time until then.

Having said all that, I take you back to my first point – I am gutted about not getting it. There’s a song that sums up how I feel. Possibly you won’t see any connection and I’m not sure I can explain it, but the whole feel of the song describes what not getting that job felt like. The song is “Here Comes the Flood” by Peter Gabriel.

Friday, May 02, 2008


Well, it’s Friday at last and we are also on the second day of May – how did that happen? There’s no news on the job front. I’m not taking that as a particularly positive sign but hopefully I will hear something today, one way or the other.

Today is also C’s last day and I feel quite sad about that. We have worked together for about 18 months and have always had a good working relationship and got on well. When she’s on leave for a few days I usually miss her being about, so her leaving altogether is going to be more of a challenge. I went and sorted out the presents we are giving her and hopefully she will like those. I really shouldn’t be given responsibility for things like that – although I did ask her boyfriend for suggestions, so at least I can blame him for it in part, although not publicly as I think I might get in trouble for revealing their relationship to the office.

At least it is the bank holiday ahead. G and I are staying at my sister’s house tomorrow night and then looking after my nephew while my sister does a 10 km run. I think we will do something rather more relaxed than that but rain or shine we will be there waiting for my sister to cross the finish line, hopefully with my nephew still in one piece.

By tonight we should know the outcome of the mayoral result. If you had the chance to vote in the election then I hope you used your vote wisely. I voted on the way to work yesterday and when I was on the tube I began to wonder if maybe I had been too tired to vote and therefore voted for the wrong person, so let’s hope I didn’t lose the ability to put a simple x in a box (well four boxes actually). Anyway, tonight all will be revealed. If Boris gets in then London property prices may drop rapidly based on the number of people who have suggested they might have to leave the capital if he is elected. That’s democracy for you.

Thursday, May 01, 2008


Well, the interview is over and I was pretty pleased with it. They had told me the interviewers in advance but there appeared to be a last minute substitution and I was actually interviewed by two people, not three, and I knew one of them. I was pleased with my answers and whilst I can now think of additional things that I could have added, I think it went as well as I could have hoped. I should find out by the end of the week – and I can tell you that I will be gutted if I don’t get it.

I felt really nervous all morning and managed to eat some of my lunch but wasn’t really that interested in eating, despite feeling hungry, but fortunately adrenaline kicked in and kept me going – and then I had a curry to look forward to in the evening. Although it turned out to be quite a long time in the pub and then not much time to actually eat the curry before having to head home.

Anyway, if you have British blood in you then you might be interested in finding out if it is tainted by crime. The Proceedings of the Old Bailey have been published on the internet and you can check if your ancestors were up to anything naughty and if so what gruesome punishment they were given.

Rather more of the moment than that though is a reminder that if you live in most parts of the UK then it’s time to vote for local councils and if you live in London you get to vote for the London Mayor. I was talking to someone yesterday who helped design the system of voting in London, where we get two votes for mayor (plus a range of other votes). Apparently they decided on the two vote system so that with your first vote you can vote with your heart and for the second with your head. So in other words vote for who you would ideally like to win with your first vote and then with your second vote make that for the person you think will actually get in (or that will tip the balance away from the person who you think will be the other major contender). Of course this only works if no-one gets 50% of the votes in the first round, as then it would be irrelevant who you voted for second. This voting business is complicated. As it said in one of the papers yesterday: go and vote because don’t bother complaining about the outcome on Friday if you didn’t.