Friday, May 29, 2009


So today is my last day in my current job. At the end of last week my boss decided to take this week as leave. I think he did have a genuine reason to take the time off but I did think it slightly strange timing given that I would then have left by the time he returned. Last Friday we didn’t even really say goodbye to each other. We were sort of saying goodbye and then my boss’ phone rang and so I waved goodbye and walked off. I think he is a bit upset that I am leaving and was a bit down about it. I haven’t had a chance to sort it out yet, but I will send him a card next week. I am not entirely sure that my big boss has quite twigged that I am leaving today. We shall see if it is acknowledged in any way. I don’t particularly want a leaving presentation etc, but on the other hand I don’t want to feel that I have been totally forgotten before I have even left!

Anyway, yesterday I went out for lunch with some colleagues who work for another organisation but we work in a joint team. The food was very nice and we had a good chat. One of my colleagues pointed out Howard from The Apprentice, who came into the restaurant part way through the meal and had lunch as well. We were sitting very close to him but unfortunately I have no overheard conversations to report. But I would just like to point out that clearly where I go the celebrities* follow. But you knew that already.

*if calling Howard a celebrity is not a misuse of the term.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


I was feeling decidedly rough yesterday. I just seemed to have a headache all day and despite taking some tablets and drinking a lot, I couldn’t shake it off. I was meant to be in a meeting at 10, but was feeling as though I just needed to spend some time at my desk to get a few things done and also because I needed to just “exist” for a bit rather than sitting in a meeting.

We do now seem to have finalised where I will be working with my team as of Monday – at last! We are back at the start and working from the office where we were due to be in the first place. It seems that the people we would have had to evict to get the other office we were offered wanted to keep that office so much that it meant that we got our first choice. Result. I also sent over a spreadsheet to some of the other managers I will be working with and the big boss to show them the task ahead. The big boss was so impressed by my ability to sort some data that he said he hoped the other managers would see if they could do something similar in future. I had no idea such simple things could impress so easily... I do often tell my colleagues that the way to attain promotion is all about the ability to colour in. I have had so many experiences over the last couple of years where picking the right colour in a document or table has been what has been taken as the way to assess the quality of a piece of work. The new big boss is not like that, but I will add “the ability to sort things in Excel” to the list.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


It was great to have an extra long bank holiday weekend (as in taking a day in addition to the bank holiday). I got lots done, including various things I should have sorted out ages ago. Like getting the boiler cross bonded, which should have been done a year ago…

On Saturday G and I went to John Lewis. Once again it has sunk in my estimation. They seem to have lost that ability to pay attention to detail. I get more and more frustrated with that shop. They also seem to sell some rather bizarre items – the sort of thing that are suited to people who already have everything that they need, particularly when it comes to the kitchen. I would show you some examples, but they seem too ashamed to put them on their website.

You can see a photo below of one item that meets all of the above criteria. It is a cat crumb pet. As the name suggests, you use it to hoover up crumbs. It’s a strange item anyway, but if you look at the picture carefully you will see that the person who typed the label either wasn’t paying enough attention or decided that because they sell an array of strange kitchen items (how many different lemon related products do you really need? Clearly a net bag to catch the pips is vital though…) and cat related products, including this somewhat odd (and painful looking) one that a cat crumpet was not something worth raising an eyebrow about or perhaps asking “we sell cat crumpets? What would the RSPCA think?!”

John Lewis, I despair.

Monday, May 25, 2009


Bank holidays. What joy! I also have tomorrow off work. It has been a really good weekend so far, except for one issue…

Last night I was doing some stuff on the computer when G came into the room and said “The biggest spider I have ever seen is on the kitchen floor” followed by “do you want to come and look at it?”. I politely declined and shoved G out the room to go and deal with it. G went to get a glass to put over the spider, which meant stepping over the spider. The spider ran off and has not been located since. I am traumatised – and also now have the perfect excuse not to go in the kitchen.

G is now on Spiderwatch.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The kindness of strangers

G is now doing a course on a Thursday night. I think it is on Developing World Economics (I do normally pay more attention that this and think I will probably end up having to follow the syllabus as well). Anyway, I think that officially makes Thursday nights “meat night”. Hurrah! G doesn’t object to me eating meat, but as I don’t normally do the cooking now, I don’t eat meat anywhere near as often as I used to. I am sure there is some strange imbalance between what G is studying and me seeing it as an opportunity to be a carnivore.

Anyway, last night I watched “Playing the Part”, which was about Denise Welch finding out what it is like to be a teacher. I have never had much of an urge to be a teacher, but I certainly don’t envy those who are. Two particular things struck me though. First was that, whilst I am sure some of the pupils were troublesome, they were all in their own way quite decent and were rather different to the image we are so often shown in the media. Second was how kind they were when Denise went to pieces a couple of times. They sat there and patiently waited for her to return and the teachers encouraged her to face the pupils by explaining how they would support her – and they did.

It reminded me that one of the things that I find hard to deal with is when people are kind. It just has the ability to really want to make me cry. It does when people are kind to me, but even more so when I see someone being kind to someone else. Although it makes me want to cry, it’s not a sentimental thing, it’s a real gut reaction to seeing someone reach out to help another person and I just find that a bit overwhelming. I have no idea why that is the case, but kindness is something I find hard to see.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


I have not actually started my new job yet. Based on the amount that I have had to do for that job so far, it does seem quite hard to tell though. Yesterday, I spent a lot of time dealing with issues around the accommodation we are meant to be getting, which given that we don’t seem to be getting anything that we wanted, has led to morale plummeting in the team. The team now feel that they were mis-sold some of what they were being offered and that some of the incentives have been taken away. This is so disappointing given that they were really getting into it at the beginning of the week. They are definitely confirming that they are an opinionated bunch though!

I actually have no problem that they are really upset by the situation. I just can’t give them the answers at the moment because other people are making the decisions. I spent a while talking to my new boss (who I know of old) and we were trying to decide what to do. He has basically said that I can do what I think necessary to sweeten the pill. The last time I got an update yesterday though, I was told that we may not now be able to have the rubbish accommodation that we were offered, which would then mean that we potentially have nowhere… I am waiting to see what happens today. I have not mentioned this latest bit to the team as yet.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


I met with my new team on Monday. They are a lively and opinionated bunch! We are definitely in the rather run down accommodation, but they took the news really well and we went over to look at it that afternoon and said where we wanted our office to be and hopefully they will sort it out for us. They have less than two weeks to find us desks and computers and cupboards and absolutely everything that you need to have the basics of an office. They are really enthusiastic about the task ahead though and we went through the work they were going to be doing from 1 June and I gave them a proposed workload each and they went off and started on it when they went back to the office that afternoon. I had to send an e-mail to their current managers to apologise for cutting across their role. Hopefully not too many feathers were ruffled.

Yesterday I was at a conference which was for various people in my directorate. It was ok, as conferences go. Perhaps I would have enjoyed it more if I wasn’t leaving, but it didn’t particularly inspire me. At the end of the day, the directors where I work were answering questions people had submitted throughout the day. One of the directors was handed a question by his boss to answer. It was about a really good example of leadership that he had seen. I don’t know how long he has worked for the organisation, but I would say it has been several years. He also has a lot of staff who work for him now. Who does he give as his example of great leadership? That’s right, his boss. The very person who gave him the question to answer and was sitting almost next to him. Pathetic.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Press the Button

I went out for dinner with a friend on Friday night. We had a very nice evening. I was, however, a bit distracted at one point. The restaurant we ate in was opposite a branch of Boots, which closed at 8pm. A little while later a man turned up to remove all the rubbish from the shop. He opened the doors, raised the shutter and walked into the shop. He then proceeded to walk off several times leaving the shop open with no-one in it.

A few minutes later he walked back in with someone else who was also collecting the rubbish. His colleague then walked off and the man went to leave the shop and the doors wouldn’t open. As much as he tried to prise the door open, they were not going to move. His colleague came back a few minutes later and they talked about it through the door. His colleague then somewhat casually walked off. The man trapped in the shop started to make phone calls on his mobile, with an occasional attempt to open the door. The other man came back a while later and they spoke to each other through the door. The man outside the shop then pressed a button next to the door and the doors opened. Probably not their normal Friday night outing.

It does make me think that when the IT people tell you to switch your computer off and on again that maybe it just sometimes works. When people ask if you’ve tried pressing the button maybe sometimes we should do the most obvious things...

Monday, May 18, 2009

Strange Things

G made some humus this weekend, apart from chickpeas, the other major ingredient seems to be tahini. Tahini is a very weird product and is sort of like peanut butter, but not the sort of thing you would want to spread on your toast.

On Saturday I had my hair cut and on the way back, I walked passed a woman who was sitting on a small plastic stool on the pavement. As I got closer I realised that she was repainting in all the letters on a road sign that had been sprayed over with graffiti. Very public spirited.

Yesterday I heard a very loud banging outside and looked out the window to see a man standing on the drive with a large hammer smashing the taps off the bath that has been removed from the flat next door. I guess he wanted it for scrap metal, but I didn’t feel like challenging him, what with him having a very large hammer in his hand.

We watched ‘Come Dine with Me’ last night. They all seemed like nice enough people, but I could not get my head around what would have made one chap think that it was ok to serve his guests sushi that was on the torso of a teenage boy. Yes he had shaved some of his more hairy bits, but food and flesh at a dinner party probably don’t often mix. It was just wrong on so many levels.

Friday, May 15, 2009


There might now be a slight spanner in the works on the new job, in that we don’t currently have any desks. These do seem fairly fundamental. Some had been arranged in another building but that offer now seems to have been withdrawn. We may have been offered some other desks, but they would involve being located with some organisations that it would be totally unsuitable for us to be with, as part of what we are doing is scrutinising their work. So... we now have two weeks to finalise where we will be working. I have a meeting with the team on Monday and am going to have to tell them that things are a bit uncertain now (but do this in a positive sounding way) and that they might now not have access to all the facilities they were expecting (like a canteen and gym or any way to arrange refreshments for meetings etc...). The big boss is meant to be told today so I am hoping that he will be able to get something done about this.

If you’re at a loose end later this month, you could go and watch some live surgery. Somehow I don’t think that is for me, but if I passed out (probably before the scalpel even touched any flesh) at least there would be a doctor nearby.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


I’ve been doing various things to get organised for my new job. We are meeting as a team on Monday, even though that is two weeks before we actually start the work, because we need to do some planning for it. Fortunately my current boss is fine with me doing things like that, given that I should be concentrating on my current job. Anyway, I sent them an e-mail yesterday which included a whole load of data for them to look at. I got various e-mails back from one of the people, who was the one I was most concerned about, and she seems to have really started to engage with the task already and has come back with various questions and is starting to analyse the data and look at the detail behind it. I feel really encouraged that she is really giving it a go. She has old me that she is quite daunted by what we have to do, but I think if she carries on like this she will be more than capable of keeping up with the others.

Apparently my overly friendly colleague knows I am leaving. So far he hasn’t said anything to me, but I feel that at some point I may get cornered by him. This may primarily be for him to demand lamingtons but I may have to make sure that I have a colleague to accompany me at all times.

There was an article on the BBC a couple of days ago that I wanted to mention a quote from, but I can’t now what the article was about or anything about the quote. Useful.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


I have realised that what with bank holidays and other such things I only have 11 working days left in my current job. That is not a lot of time… I probably should start to shred all those papers that have built up over the last *four* years. That is rather a lot of paper. I should also transfer lots of files on to the shared file system. That is rather a lot of files. I think I could be busy over the next 11 working days.

I have got a bit behind in updating what book I am currently reading. At the moment it is “The Double” by Jose Saramago, an interesting if weird read. You have to be willing to read very long sentences because the author’s style seems to involve him avoiding the full stop (although all other punctuation does not appear to be a problem). Sometimes there is a whole page without a full stop and also you have to be aware that conversations are not punctuated and just move from person to person without any warning. But even so, it is quite readable. Saramago won the Nobel Prize for Literature, so it seems that punctuation is not a requirement to win that award. There is hope for us all.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


I have realised that going on holiday once a month is something I could really get used to. I do actually have a couple of days off at the end of May (one of them being the Bank Holiday Monday), but it is nearly nine weeks until my holiday to Canada. I don’t know how I will cope. Of course, I do have a new job to start before then, so the time will probably fly by, but I still think I should be booking a holiday for June or maybe winning the lottery so I can retire early.

While I was away I discovered that my nephew is a big Enrique Iglesias fan. He was singing away at the top of his lungs in the car. Very cute. I am not sure if that is a good sign – does it show he is a sensitive soul? Or is it a bad sign – lots of heartbreak ahead?

This is one of his favourites.

Don’t forget to sing along.

Monday, May 11, 2009


Cornwall was great. We had a really good time and the weather was much better than in London. It was nice to spend time with my sister and nephew. We ate lots of ice cream and pasties and various other unhealthy things. We saw various sights that I had been to previously (Land’s End, The Lizard etc) but I enjoyed going back to them and we also went to some places I hadn’t been to before, such as an owl sanctuary. This was a baby owl we saw.

The highlight for my nephew was when we spent time on the beach running away from the waves. We weren’t always very successful at getting away from them fast enough though.

G was there for the first couple of days but had to be back in time for work on Tuesday. My mum had invited G over for dinner one night, but had to cancel, which I was sort of relieved about because there is something slightly freaky about G spending time with my family when I’m not about!

It was our second anniversary on Wednesday, so when I got back on Saturday we went out for a really nice meal. I had scallops and black pudding to start and wild boar as my main course followed by orange bread and butter pudding. It was a really nice restaurant and a very nice meal. I think G had missed me and seemed to have lived on take away while I was away, so a good meal was probably very welcome.

Anyway, back to work now and I don’t have quite such a “back to work” feeling this time, as I only have about three weeks left in my current job.

Friday, May 01, 2009


My phone line has been out of order (hence no blogging yesterday) and I still don’t seem to be able to receive incoming calls. Grr…

On Wednesday morning I was sitting at my desk and was rubbing my temples due to having a headache. A colleague saw me doing this and said I looked as though I was having a bad day and I explained I was feeling a bit off colour. He asked if I had been near any Mexicans recently and I told him I didn’t think I had, but I had recently eaten some fajitas. He backed away to err on the side of caution.

I found out who my team is going to be and four of them are definitely really good, one is fairly good but might need a bit of a steer and one is going to have to seriously up her productivity. Apparently that last person really wants to do this work though and put together some arguments to show why she should be allowed to do it, so I am hoping her enthusiasm will mean that she will have a new energy to put into her work because we have a tough task ahead. There is also a big team incentive to get the job done and so that might mean they will encourage each other to persevere if any of them start to flag. I’m looking forward to the challenge and those in the team I have spoken to seem to be raring to go, so that’s good. I really need to do something new and I’m hoping that this is what is going to make me enjoy work again.

Last night we went out for a friends birthday and walked to Kings Cross station to get a train home. When we walked into the station a man had collapsed on the steps and there seemed to be a lot of panic going on. We walked on and G had run out of top-up so couldn’t get through the ticket barrier. One of the station staff had a go at G about this and then he apologised and said he was feeling stressed because they thought the man who had collapsed was probably going to die. An unpleasant end to a very nice evening.

So I am off to Cornwall for the week tomorrow. G is coming down for the long weekend but has to head back for a course so can’t stay the week. On 6 May we will have been together for two years but I shall be sunning myself and eating cream teas while G will be hard at work in London. Such is life.

Anyway, have a good week all...