Friday, August 29, 2008


I had a busy day yesterday, not least because I had to go and sort out my new member of staff being evicted from her desk. She is sitting somewhere else at the moment and when she got in yesterday someone was sitting at her desk. I went off to crack some heads together and managed to get it sorted out. I spoke to a couple of people and I did wonder if it might come down to having a punch up with someone else to gain ownership of the desk. Fortunately it didn’t come to that though. I would have won though, as the other person already had an injured hand, so I would have used that to my advantage. Don’t mess with me.

Do you remember doing things for the first time – first day at school, riding a bike, first date? Well do you remember the first time you took a flight? You turned up at the airport, checked in, handed over your luggage and then thought “now where do I go to get on the flight?”. Did you think “I’ll hop on the conveyor belt where I’ve just left my suitcase because that is bound to get me on the flight”? Well, this lady did. They did manage to retrieve her, but only after she had accidentally been sent with a number of unidentified bags to be sorted in Rome before being returned to their owners*.

If you aren’t keen on spiders then don’t look at this link. If it had been me who thought they had a spider like that in my house, I would probably move out and never return. As an antidote to that though, check this out. Awwww. Much cuter.

*Part of that sentence *may* be a lie.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


One of the things that I really dislike is going to the supermarket. I don’t mind it so much on my lunch break because I know of a really quiet supermarket a few minutes walk from where I work, but doing my main shop is a real chore. I can sometimes drag myself to Waitrose to buy a few bits to keep me going because that never has very many people in it, but generally it is a task best avoided. A few times this year I have tried to run my supplies right down and then order my shopping on the internet and get it delivered. But last night, having looked on mysupermarket and finding to my surprise that Sainsbury’s came out by far the cheapest, I wandered off to the supermarket.

It was practically deserted. I don’t think there can have been more than about 10 other customers in the whole supermarket. There were more staff than that though and they seemed to look at the customers as an inconvenience wanting to go up and down the aisles to pick up items to put in their trolleys. Odd. I did buy some toilet paper, which is another thing in life that I really object to doing. Clearly I see that it serves a practical purpose and should you ever use my toilet you will not have to worry that there won’t be any available, but it just seems like such a pointless product because you just flush it away. Somehow, I object to that.

Another of life’s dilemmas is choosing passwords for things. So many services we require access to need a password, so how do you choose one? Well, you could pick something of sentimental importance or your favourite football team or some other such thing. Or you could choose something designed to have a bit of a dig at the company who require the password. Is it just me or it is slightly risky to insult a company that could well with a click of a button send your worldly wealth into oblivion?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Keeping your head

I set off for work early yesterday morning, as I wanted to get some stuff done before the new member of my team arrived. But the tube managed to conspire against to me and due to various delays, I only managed to get into work a few minutes earlier than normal. I should have got more sleep. At least my journey was better than that of a woman who was standing on the tube platform who it seems had stepped back from the edge of the platform as the train came in and as she did so she slipped her show came off and fell on to the tracks. She was left with only one shoe, with the other one lying there on the tracks, irretrievable during the rush hour. I guess something rather worse could have happened and losing a shoe was preferable by comparison.

I find that my mornings are now a bit quieter than the last couple of weeks. I had been watching the Olympics each morning before going to work and now its over I have rather more tedious mornings. I never thought that I could find any interest in a whole variety of thoughts and on Saturday this included watching the Taekwondo, including our British hope being told she had lost and then going through on appeal and in the male matches the disqualified Cuban kicking the referee in the head. Probably not the best way to submit a successful appeal. I am going to have to find a new form of entertainment to get me going in the morning now.

I would also draw your attention to this story. There are times when it is definitely better to follow the rules. Sometimes when they tell you “don’t open the cage”, you should follow that advice. Keep that in mind. It might help you to keep your head.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


It was a fairly successful Bank Holiday weekend and I return to work today and have a new member of staff starting to work for me, so I had better be on reasonable form, so that I don’t scare her off on her first day.

The weekend went well and G and I met up with my mum, sister and nephew on Saturday and we went to the South Bank. My nephew loved all the street performers there – particularly as he got us to give him money to get them to do things. He also really liked the water exhibit outside the Royal Festival Hall and stood there staring at it for ages. I kept asking it he wanted to go in it but he gave me several very definite nos. But after a cuppa and some food he wanted to go back and then G and I went and stood in the water at which point he decided he was missing out and dragged mum in and then he was dashing in and out for ages. He got so wet that we had to strip him down to his underpants in the end. G considered doing the same but was persuaded that thus would be inappropriate.

G and I were going to go out for a walk on Sunday but I asked G to look at my vacuum cleaner and this turned out to be a mammoth task that took about five hours to fix. This was really helpful for me, but possibly not the most exciting thing to have done with a day, but we did then have a Chinese takeaway in the evening.

Then yesterday we did go for a walk and after G had gone home I mowed the grass and put some stuff on it to make it look a bit more grass like and put weed killer down. Then I went to see my friend C for dinner, which was really nice and we sat in the garden and chatted and it was a very pleasant end to the weekend.

Now it’s back to work and at least I am on leave as of the middle of next week…

Friday, August 22, 2008


We’re nearly at a bank holiday weekend. Hooray! I think it should be a fairly busy, but pleasant, weekend. Tomorrow I think I’m meeting up with my sister and mum and nephew and Sunday I think G and I are going for a walk somewhere. I am also hoping that G will find time to have a look at my vacuum cleaner to see if there is some way to stop it keeping getting blocked. I’m not sure that will be the highlight of G’s weekend…

At lunch time yesterday I walked passed the lifts on my floor, as a colleague stepped into the lift. There was someone else in the lift already and I then overheard the following conversation:

Person 1: So where are you off to then?
Person 2: well, I haven’t got a particular plan I was just going to wander about for a bit and see where I ended up.
Person1: Right… Er… I meant what floor do you want…

You probably would have had to have been there to have picked up the full (but slightly toe-curling) humour, but somehow I wasn’t surprised by my colleague misunderstanding the question.

I shall leave you with this example of some bad parking I saw recently. Parking really must be at a premium these days.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


It’s been a fairly busy week, which does not help me to achieve my new aim of eight and a half hours sleep a night. Tuesday night I went to see Hairspray with my mum and sister, which was very good. Michael Ball was very good in it, as was pretty much all of the cast members actually – and it was fairly obvious that this has some kind of cult following, as a lot of people in the audience were clearly there having seen it many times before. People’s enthusiasm was so high that they even applauded the recorded announcement asking people to turn their mobile phones off. Anyway it was very good and do go and see it if you get the chance.

Then last night I went to my sister’s to babysit for my nephew. On the train on the way over, the ticket inspector and a passenger were having a big argument on the train because the man had been sitting in the first class seats without a valid ticket. Both of them were really winding each other up and whilst the chap shouldn’t have been sitting in the first class seats the ticket guy was making it worse by saying stupid things like he was going to arrest the man and the man then told him to arrest him and then the ticket guy said he hadn’t said that (even though he had) and that it was an arrestable offence. A call ended up being put out on the train for a police officer. Any police officer should have arrested them both for being complete idiots. It was not the only incident on the train last night, as there is an unattended Cumberland Pie on a train somewhere, as my sister left my dinner on the train on the way home last night. She didn’t really have any other food to offer me so I had two boiled eggs and some soldiers for dinner.

I did manage to summon up the energy to phone a solicitor yesterday to talk to him about the possibility of buying the freehold. He was soooooo helpful and I hope if we do buy the freehold that we use him. Strangely not only did he know *exactly* where I live, but clearly knew of the current freeholder, as he told me of various problems he’d had when he’d been the solicitor for someone who previously lived there. I was somewhat surprised by his level of knowledge and he must have a very good memory to know all the things he did. Anyway, he gave me some really helpful advice on how to proceed and did basically say we really need to buy the freehold, as dealing with our particular freeholder is so awful that we are just storing up problems for the future by not doing so. However, the freehold could prove to be very expensive, so it does depend if we can all afford to do it – although I am going to suggest to my neighbours that we go for a really low offer in the hope that the freeholder doesn’t contest it.

Oh and I was wondering about adding this song to my repertoire to sing to G… (It's 'You're Timeless to Me' from Hairspray)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


One of the things about the Olympics is that you probably end up watching lots of sports that you wouldn’t watch in any other circumstances. Over the years the sports line-up has changed and so I present you with a few of the more weird and wonderful sports that for reasons that might not be entirely difficult to work out, have been dropped from the Olympics over the years.

Tug of War (1900, 1904, 1906, 1908, 1912, 1920) – basically who could pull the opposing team over a line. A bit school sport’s day for some, but actually featured in the Ancient Olympics. Apparently the Brits beat the US at this in a matter of seconds once and the US said this was because GB was wearing spiked shoes. So GB offered a rematch in their socks. The US still lost.

Club swinging (1904) – basically holding a juggling club and swinging it around a lot (the clue was in the name I guess. Judges awarded points for the routine.

Rope Climbing (1896, 1904, 1906, 1924, 1932) – again the sot of thing you might expect to do at school – except they were only allowed to climb using their hands and arms, so entirely reliant on upper body strength. The first one to the top of the 8 metre rope won - in some of the earlier years it was 14 metres…

Live Pigeon Shooting (1900)– a rather gruesome sport. They released lots of pigeons and the person who shot the most won. Presumably leaving lots of carcasses and feathers to clear up afterwards.

Horse long jump (1900) – well, erm what it says it is, getting horses to do the equivalent of what athletes still do in the athletics.

Obstacle Race (1900) – swimming through lots of obstacles: climbing over a pole, over a row of boats an then under another row of boats…

And finally…

Solo synchronized swimming (1984, 1988, 1992)- there was some doubt that it was possible to be synchronised when doing this event on your own. Competitors argued that they were synchronised with the music *raises a sceptical eyebrow*

Something else that has been changed in the Olympics is the releasing of doves during the Opening Ceremony. This tradition, representing peace, came to somewhat an abrupt end when in Seoul they released the doves, they flew around a bit and some of them settled on the cauldron where the Olympic flame was about to be lit. Let’s just say the barbecue stall outside the Olympic stadium was given some extra delicacies to sell that night… And not only is the motto of the Olympics “Citius Altius Fortius” (Faster Higher Stronger) but also “Light the Olympic flame first and then release the doves”.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


I forgot to mention yesterday that when I was in Southampton my friend had made me a birthday cake:

It has astronomical rather than astrological meaning behind it – well sort of astronomical, it’s based on some glow stars actually. I think it will make even less sense if I explain it beyond that, but it did have a really nice marble cake and butter icing in it. Lovely – and I still have some more left to eat.

I was looking at an article on the BBC yesterday about the effect on the UK since winning all the Olympic medals at the weekend. It was a light-hearted article and reading the comments at the end, I just have to conclude that there are some people who wouldn’t find anything to celebrate if everything they have ever dreamed of came true. What’s wrong with being proud of the competitors from your nation who have achieved so much and are at the top of their sport?

On a lighter note, you may recall the ex-England Manager Steve McClaren. Well it seems that when he left England to manage a Dutch team he also lost his ability to speak English (for those who doubt, he is actually English and was born in Yorkshire…)

Monday, August 18, 2008


I had a pleasant weekend in Southampton despite feeling rather under the weather before I drive down there on Friday night. We spent quite a bit of the weekend watching the Olympics, but we also went to the Spinnaker Tower, which I really liked and we had great view of the South Coast.

I was really impressed by our performance in the Olympics and getting to third place in the medal table was quite some achievement, although I imagine it won’t last. But we came up trumps in sailing, cycling, rowing and swimming, which was great. I was particularly impressed by Rebecca Romero who won a silver medal rowing in 2004 and has now won a gold in cycling this time. I did feel really gutted for the women in the quad sculls who got the silver. Whilst normally a silver would be great, they so desperately wanted the gold and when they were interviewed after the race you could just see how shattered they were by missing out. You can see the interview here.

We did also win a bronze in gymnastics, which was our first in about a century. Apparently Louis Smith had two ambitions in life (he’s only 19 so hopefully he still has more…) and one was to win an Olympic medal. The other was to become King of Jamaica. Well the Head of State is Elizabeth II, as in our monarch and so he might have to add “stage military coup” to the list in order to achieve that, as it doesn’t tend to be the sort of thing you can just apply for. I think we can conclude that he thinks big though.

As much as I like the cycling events, some of the ones in the velodrome are very weird. The keirin, for example, is about riding around behind a guy on a motorised bike and then after doing a few laps he goes off the track and the cyclists race each other. You can watch a video if it here. Weird.

Friday, August 15, 2008

And the bronze medal goes to...

Well the sore throat developed and on the way back from a meeting at lunch time yesterday I had to get some cold and flu remedy. That gave me a brief respite, but by the time I left work I felt terrible. I couldn’t got straight home though because I needed to go and buy some theatre tickets, so I waited for a bus but it didn’t show up and then I caught another bus to try and take a different bus later on, but the other bus didn’t turn up and then I caught another different bus and got stuck in bad traffic and was beginning to wish that I had a) walked or b) just not even bothered and just gone home. About an hour after leaving work I finally made it to the theatre and bought the tickets and then when I went to get on the tube that was packed despite it being about 7pm and I just wished I could just be at home already. I made it home eventually despite the tube driver insisting that the train was going to a different destination to the one it said on the boards and finally took some more medication that made me feel a bit better for a short time. I hate being ill. But I plan to go into work today, as I covet my perfect sickness record – I haven’t been off work sick for over seven years and so unless I could not move I would always try to go in. Perhaps I should find more important things to care about.

I heard that A’s dad died at the weekend. What sad news. Despite our differences, we did used to be very good friends and I feel sad for A. What I would like to do is reach out a hand of kindness to A and just say “I am sorry for your loss”, but unfortunately I can’t do that. But still, I am.

Anyway… I’m meant to be going to Southampton this weekend, which should be good. This does depend on me feeling well enough to drive down there though.

And penultimately… wherever you live surely you would recognise it in a photo? Even if you didn’t surely you’d expect your local council to know what it looks like. Well, it seems that Birmingham doesn’t. Regardless, it was worth spending £15,000 to send out 750,000 leaflets to pat residents on the back about how good they have been at recycling so that all the leaflets can then be put into local residents recycling bins and this help them to truly exceed their recycling target. All in all, an entirely successful campaign.

Well finally, I may have found a way for us to increase our medal haul. This one is going spare. If he doesn’t want it, I’ll have it.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

You learn something new...

I have a sore throat. It’s the height of summer and I have a sore throat. Admittedly it’s the height of a miserable, wet and wintery feeling summer but it stills feel wrong to have a sore throat. Grrr…

I just finished reading a book called “The Duchess of Bloomsbury” which is the follow on from 84 Charing Cross Road. I only read it because both books were in the same volume, but actually it was a pleasant read. It was about an American author’s first ever visit to London and whilst it wasn’t meant to be a guide to London I did come across some things that struck me. First that when Franklin D Roosevelt died the UK government decided to honour him with a statue in Grosvenor Square. They wanted to do it by public subscription and each individual contribution was limited to one shilling so that everyone could subscribe. They decided to keep it open for as long as was needed to raise the money via this method. They raised the money in 72 hours. Can you imagine anyone now who if the government decided to do that we could raise money in such a short amount of time just based on small public contributions? Surely unthinkable now.

I also read that after the war there were a lot of books that booksellers wanted to get rid of because they didn’t have enough shelf space for them, so hundreds of books were thrown into open bomb craters in London’s streets. They were then built over, so there must be lots of books buried under some buildings in London, although presumably unreadable by now.

I watched “Who Do You Think You Are?” last night (which is a programme about celebrities looking into their family history in case you have never heard of it. Anyway it reminded me of a recent sketch on the Armstrong and Miller show, which rather amused me. It is a spoof by the way, in case you are worried.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Smoke and Mirrors

I am still trying to work out the best option for car hire in Scotland. We have kind of complicated requirements. This has led to me producing a spreadsheet with the various options laid out. At the moment the winner is Enterprise, but I await their response to an e-mail. I also have sent an e-mail to a friendly sounding Glasgow firm and will see what they come up with. I think perhaps I chose the wrong occupation and should have gone into logistics –or something that allows you to draw up spreadsheets of information and highlight bits of it. It would probably be best if it wasn’t very mathematical though. I am not sure there are many jobs that allow you to look up lots of things n the internet, put the results in a spreadsheet and then do some colouring in.

One of the things I find about the Olympics is that I end up watching all sorts of sports that I would never consider watching under any other circumstances. Canoeing, archery etc. Anyway, I think we’re doing pretty well at the moment in terms of medals and I think it is good that people who are relatively unknown have won most of our medals, as that feels like some of what the Olympics should be about. I am not so sure that the Olympics is mean to be about choosing the ‘prettiest’ though. Apparently the Chinese substituted a prettier girl for the one who was meant to be appearing to sing in the Olympics opening ceremony. The less attractive one was still allowed to sing though and the pretty girl obviously wasn’t quite up the job as she had to mime along. The Chinese justified this by saying "The reason for this is that we must put our country's interest first[…] The girl appearing on the picture must be flawless in terms of her facial expression and the great feeling she can give to people." Because clearly anyone who didn’t reach physical perfection would ruin the whole of the Olympics. If the Chinese are so controlling over something like this then it gives just the tiniest indication of how they are likely to deal with other less public issues.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Yesterday, for a Monday, I felt remarkably wide awake. I seemed to go through most of the day feeling surprised at how awake I was. Clearly a rare even but very welcome.

It was a good job I was on reasonable form yesterday as the chap who has a bit of a thing for me called me over to his desk and produced a large item for me to look at – a huge marrow. It’s probably about two feet long. It’s not often that you get to see one of those in the office. Later on in the day he came over to speak to me, but he has this somewhat annoying habit of leaning on the back of my chair so that it tips backwards – and therefore me as well. I had to resist the urge to tell him to get off my chair, but did mange to free myself by putting my weight on the front of the chair. It felt like someone invading my personal space, something he does quite often, and he hasn’t even given me any cake recently. I think I am moving desks at some point and no-one will be able to walk up behind me. I think I will be glad when that day arrives.

If you’re looking for some summertime reading then this might help you to get ahead at work. I think it might take a bit more than that for me, but if it could work for David Cameron then it could potentially work for anyone surely?

Oh and after work yesterday I went in search of this. Not only is it a guide to mammals, but also their footprints and droppings. Anyway, if you happen to know anywhere that I might be able to go and pick it up in person before the weekend then that would be marvellous. I won’t hold by breath on that one though.

Monday, August 11, 2008


Another good weekend over. Despite a somewhat wet weekend, it was a good barbecue and we ate lots and chatted. I was commissioned to make some scones and they turned out remarkably well, although if I did it another time I would make them bigger. I spent quite a bit of the time at the barbecue talking to a 5 year old who was totally bored out of her mind. She was there with her brother who was deeply absorbed in some computer game and so she didn’t have a lot to do. So we chatted for a while, although at times it was like pulling teeth. I did see if the hosts had a pack of cards, but it seems they didn’t. Who doesn’t have a pack of cards??

The slight downer of it all was that it seems that this was the second barbecue they’d had in the last few weeks and normally G would have been asked to anything that was going on, but for some reason wasn’t asked to the last one – which C was asked to. They haven’t actually seen or spoken to each other since the argument a couple of months ago and there is a part of me that wonders if there is some move to exclude G from things because it therefore means that I’m not there. That would be very unfair on G and would not bode well for the future, in terms of friendships. I’ll keep an eye on things and see if there are other strange happenings.

I finished reading Strangers on a Train yesterday, which I quite enjoyed. I did always have this slight paranoia that one day whilst reading it on the train someone might try and put some deadly proposition to me. Fortunately that didn't happen. It had an interesting quote in it that made me think:

“The Theological Germanica, Guy recalled, said that the ancient Germans had judged an accused man innocent or guilty by the number of friends who came forth to vouch for his character. How many would vouch for him now?”

I wonder how many would vouch for me? In the past I think rather more than would now. As I seem to have let so many people drift from my life and seem just as lax about building up new friendships. Although I suppose we shouldn’t judge these things by quantity but by quality. Let’s hope the Germans aren’t right though.

Friday, August 08, 2008

There's always an answer

Friday at last. Hooray! I was woken at 6.25am today by some bloke callign the wrong number. Grrrrr! Dial more carefully that early in the morning! I am off to a barbecue tomorrow, but am not overly hopeful about the weather.

Is fidelity a problem in your life? Well if it is then this might be the answer for you. Cheat Neutral is a way to 'offset' cheating on your partner and basically you get paired with someone who is monogamous and for a small payment you can absolve yourself of all guilt. Watch the video and read the small print to find out what it is all about. Brilliant stuff*!

If that was a all a bit too much for you then why not spend some time creating some of your favourite album covers in Lego. Some people have too much time on their hands…

Oh and isn't today 08/08/08?

*What they are *actually* doing is "brilliant stuff". Cheating is not. I do actually think they have a really good point, but I will expand on that another time and let you just enjoy the link for now.

Thursday, August 07, 2008


The talk I gave yesterday went quite well. Initially I thought the audience was quite hostile and was thinking that it was going to be a bit of a rough ride, but actually it went much better than expected and ended up being very constructive – and the chap who was chairing the meeting came up to me afterwards and gave my shoulders a kind of squeeze* when he was enthusiastically saying thank you.

The BBC have run a couple of articles on what makes men cry. Not being male, clearly I don’t need to come up with a definitive list of things that I am allowed to cry at, but I have to admit that a couple of the things on the list made me cry just reading them (see numbers 61 and 70 in particular). Sometimes I am very pathetic.

Lesson of the week – ‘bum’ is a naughty word. I learnt this when I used the word in front of my nephew, who looked horrified and promptly told me that I was naughty for using it. I spoke to my sister about it later and she confirmed that it was indeed a naughty word. You learn something new every day.

*slightly weird, but not in a creepy sort of way.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Reading Matter

Look at the list of 'classics' and:

1) Bold those I've read.
2) Italicise those I intend to read.
3) [Bracket] the books I love.
4) Pass it on to a few others.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
[8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell]
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch-22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
[15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier]
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
[18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger]
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie-the-Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 Er...
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 The Magus - John Fowles
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
[58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley]
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby-Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - A. S. Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White Maybe, apart from the obvious problem that it’s about a spider. Eek!
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom = after finishing novel 3.
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
[96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute]
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

A bit of a poor show from me, but a few of them are actually on my list of books to read… I am slightly concerned that a number of the books I plan to read are actually children’s books. I’m not sure what that tells you about me, but there you go.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


I think G and I have decided where we are going on holiday – well, we already knew it was Scotland, but not where in Scotland. I think we’re not going to the Argyll region. We have booked our flight back to London and that’s it so far. We haven’t booked:

- The journey up there. This will be by train. We can’t come back by train due to engineering work hence booking the flight.
- Where we are staying.
- A hire car so we can get about (and G can practice driving again, having not done so for a few years)

So quite a bit left to do then and less than a month is which to do it, but at least we can get back. Add to that the slight apprehension of meeting G’s family while we are in Scotland and there is an interesting time ahead.

One of the many books I am reading at the moment is Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain, which has an interesting quote

“There is still, I think, not enough recognition by teachers of the fact that the desire to think - which is fundamentally a moral problem - must be induced before the power is developed. Most people, whether men or women, wish above all else to be comfortable, and thought is a pre-eminently uncomfortable process; it brings to the individual far more suffering than happiness in a semi-civilised world which still goes to war, still encourages the production of unwanted C3 children by exhausted mothers, and still compels married partners who hate one another to live together in the name of morality.”

This book was first published in 1933 but I thought it was a thought provoking quote even today. I am actually really interested in people’s ability to think and how it is developed – Edward de Bono’s books are an interesting approach to this – but that aside ultimately I think most people do aspire to a comfortable life and so challenging things around us and in our own lives can become secondary to just going with the flow, just because it is easier. I don’t really know where I am going with this, but I found something challenging about the quote.

Monday, August 04, 2008

And the good news is...

Another weekend over and a reasonably busy week ahead. I have various things in my diary pretty much all day today, tomorrow I’m on a course and Wednesday I am speaking at a conference. At some point I might find time to do some actual work. But to be honest it is quite nice to be busy, as work is making me feel a bit miserable at the moment. I just find it quite boring and I am also doing the majority of my work on my own at the moment and I miss the interaction with other people. I am still hoping to find a new job at some point that interests me more.

I had a nice time on Saturday with my family and my nephew was on good form and we spent ages running up and down the garden while we were trying to get 50p off him. Only the rules of the game kept changing and sometimes he would just hand over the money (which I would then give him back) and it also turns out that at three years old he doesn’t actually know the value of money, as it was very easy to get him to exchange his money for a one pence piece. I could have made my fortune, I tell you!

There have been some horrible stories in the news of late. I was particularly horrified by this one. Basically a man travelling on a long distance bus in Canada was stabbed to death and decapitated by a fellow traveller. They were complete strangers. Then yesterday I read that a man had decapitated his girlfriend in Greece. There is so much awful stuff in the news at the moment. People being killed or doing terrible things to one another. Perhaps I should stop listening to the news, it is just so depressing at the moment.

More light-hearted items on the BBC at the moment though. First, you can follow reporter who is trying to cut down on her plastic usage. You can also look at a clip from a BBC programme that is about Britain from above. I found it kind of fascinating to watch it.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Remarkable things

Well it turned out to be a good birthday, despite being in work. I did have an annoying time when someone sent me an e-mail telling me something couldn’t be done. I sent them a slightly ranty e-mail back and she then rather sheepishly replied and said actually she was wrong and it could be done.

G and I went out for dinner to a Spanish/ Moroccan restaurant which was very nice. We were both very full by the end, but I’m glad we managed to find space for dessert because it was lovely. They made such nice baklava, it practically melted in your mouth. A very nice evening.

When I got home I opened some cards that had arrived in the post and one of them was from a friend I hadn’t heard from in ages. It now seems this was due to crossed wires. I had written to her about something really important last year and as far as I was aware she had totally ignored what I had said. Except it seems that she hadn’t and had actually replied by e-mail but to an out of date e-mail address. I think she then thought I was ignoring her and so we both weren’t sure what was going on with the other person and so were each a bit wary of getting in touch. I think we probably both thought it was very odd, as neither of us is the sort of person to ignore someone or give them the silent treatment. Anyway, in her card she told me how much she wants to see me and that she misses me and that was rather surprising, as it wasn’t what I was expecting having thought she had been ignoring me all this time. We actually have exactly the same birthday – same date, same year – so I guess it was a nice birthday present for both us to realise that actually both of us wanted to be friends and it was all just down to miscommunication. Thank goodness for good old Royal Mail coming to the rescue. I got a card from another friend, which was also very touching and basically it was clearly trying to get across that she loves me. As much as it is nice to get presents, those two cards were pretty much the best thing I could have got for my birthday and I have to admit that I shed a tear or two over them.

A good birthday.