Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Until now, I have failed to mention Michael Jackson’s death. We were talking about it in the office on Friday and one of my team was rather upset about it, both on a personal level and also because she had tickets to his concerts that were coming up. She then went through a list of concerts she had been to where something had happened to the performer (Luther Vandross having to stop a couple of times and then sit on a chair and then giving up etc) and she had so many of these stories that in the end I said to her “Have you ever though, it might actually be you?” We did then conclude that the person dying was probably about as bad as it could get, although the person actually dying on stage would be a whole new low, I guess.

We were also talking about someone from the office who came over to speak to me and she kept referring to her team as “my people”. Afterwards one of my colleagues said “Do you think she sees herself as being like the Pope?”. Very possibly…

I am currently reading The Great Gatsby and there was a quote in it that made me chuckle. Perhaps it just appealed to my sense of humour and will pass others by…

“Every one suspects himself of at least one of the cardinal virtues, and this is mine: I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known”

Monday, June 29, 2009


I gave in and bought a Sat Nav on Friday. A TomTom to be precise. Despite being rather anti such things, I have actually become rather engrossed in messing about with it. We drove to Oxford yesterday to see G’s cousin and we tested it out. This did also highlight that it displays the speed of travel, which may have been something that G was best off not knowing... I downloaded a map of Canada for the Sat Nav and have also programmed in the addresses of various places that we are staying, so hopefully we can't get lost. We also decided on loads of CDs to take with us to Canada and that is now sorted and next we need to decide on a talking book or two to take with us.

On Friday I went back to where I used to work to sort out the rest of my stuff. While I was there my old boss told me that the woman who worked for me had got the bonus I had put her forward for. So while I was there I told her about that. She was rather overwhelmed, as she hadn’t been expecting it at all, and she told me she thought she might cry! She then said she would take me out for lunch to say thank you. I told her it would be nice to go for lunch but she did not have to pay, but she was set on the idea. So we are now going to meet up after my hols, on my birthday, and go for lunch. My old boss asked if he could come along too, so the three of us are going to meet up, which will be really nice and gives me something nice to look forward to when I get back from holiday.

Anyway it’s off to work and I get to spend quite a lot of time with some dogs today. My new job is good fun sometimes!

Friday, June 26, 2009


This Sat Nav idea is growing on me. I might go to John Lewis tonight and ask them for some advice. They might not get my business though because all the Garmin Sat Nav’s they sell are considerably cheaper through The AA. *note to self* Get a life...

My team really seem to be getting through the work they have. They still have masses to do but most of them keep asking me for more work so that they can try and get through it all in a more structured way. I am really pleased with how it is going and am hopeful that we are going to have some really good figures next week that will reflect the amount of work that has been done. We’re almost a sixth of the way through the project already. Time has really flown by.

I got a letter from a surveyor a couple of days ago about how much it will cost to extend the lease on where I live. £10,000! I now need to workout what to do. The dilemma is that the price will go up the shorter my lease gets, but it is a *lot* of money to spend. I also have no idea how to negotiate this. Do you go in with a low offer and then work your way up or just show the freeholder what the quote said and say that is all you’re willing to pay? Or something else? I haven’t a clue and am not good at having a poker face with things like this.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Last night I watched the programme on BBC1 about homelessness. The programme made me kind of angry, which I knew it would before I watched it. I find something very distasteful about people pretending to be homeless. I find something quite patronising about that, even if it is meant to be showing people the reality of life on the streets. I was impressed by the sheer kindness and generosity of some people, but that made me angry as well because the people they were ‘helping’ didn’t really need help, as after a few day these people would be returning to their nice homes. I feel as though taking money from people when it could have gone to someone who generally needed that help or care is morally dubious to say the least. I was very unimpressed.

I am trying to pull together our itinerary for Canada. We have a lot of driving to do and various places to visit. This has made me wonder if perhaps we should get a SatNav to take with us, but a) I’m not a fan of SatNav and b) I haven’t a clue how they work really but from my brief bit of research I think I would either need to buy one with Canadian maps preloaded on it or would need to pay to get some on top of paying for the SatNav. This sounds rather expensive. But I do think it might make our trip rather easier. We will need to decide.

Some work I was doing yesterday made me think that whilst I may be a bit of a Puritan in some ways (don’t smoke drink, swear etc), I am a very liberal Puritan. I think I have got more and more liberal as I have got older – and even shock myself with my somewhat liberal attitude to some things. This amuses me.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


In my new job, I seem to have a large amount of admin that needs to be done. In my last job, I had a secretary/ admin person, but never needed her to do much. Now I don’t have one, I seem to spend so much of my day sorting out admin jobs. This is mainly because of having to sort out various things to get us fully functional in the office space we have been given. If I was in their main office, none of this would need to be done, but yesterday I was even having to order some chairs because there were a few missing, which must have been acquired by people when the desks were empty for a while. I also seemed to spend a large amount of time trying to sort out some double-sided adhesive pads to stick a couple of posters up to make our territory. Given the amount of difficulty in getting the backing strip off I may have had to suggest a team bonding activity that marked our territory in more base and animal ways, but fortunately this did not prove necessary in the end.

G registered with a doctor yesterday, which involved downloading a form and taking along a couple of forms of ID. There were a number of things that make me think G may have been better registering at the same surgery as I use. Let me give you just a few quotes from the receptionist.

G hands over the form.
Receptionist: Are you sure you are trying to register with us? I don’t recognise that form.
G: I downloaded it from your website...
Receptionist: I didn’t know we have a website!

The receptionist inspects the form.
Receptionist: You need to fill in the country where you were born.
G: I have. It says UK.
Receptionist: But you’re from Scotland, aren’t you? So you should have written that down.
G: But that isn’t the name of the country – it’s the UK.
Receptionist: Oh right... I’ll put it down as you being from Scotland though.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Monkey business

We’re growing various bits of veg in the garden. Some tomatoes, sweet corn, onions, broad beans etc. They might make it if we remember to water them, although I am not entirely sure if they will survive the two weeks while we are on Canada. At the very end of the garden there are a lot of nettles. We have not been cultivating these, but over the weekend it did cross my mind that we could perhaps use the nettles for various things. However, I then inspected the nettles and decided that the amount of bird poo they seem to have on them was enough of a reason to ditch that idea. This would be going a step too far in terms of making use of nature’s resources.

I was talking to someone in my team today and she was telling me about all the weight she put on and then lost over the last few years. She said the really defining moment for her was when she heard the story on the news a while ago about the 14 stone monkey that ripped the face off a woman. I don’t actually remember that particular story being in the news, but I can see how that might be one of those moments that makes you look at things in a whole new light. It might put you off eating too many bananas though.

Monday, June 22, 2009


On Friday I was sitting at my desk and heard a clipping sound. I turned around and the chap sat at the desk behind me was clipping his finger nails. I didn’t know this man at all - although he is the one who seems to have his clothes hanging up all over the place – and so didn’t feel I could say anything. Late afternoon the clipping sound started again. He obviously hadn’t managed to do the job properly in the morning. I decided it wasn’t the time to say anything. Next time I might have to ask him to stop. Or perhaps vomiting on his desk will get the message across.

We stayed at my sister’s house on Saturday night and yesterday morning my sister and nephew were finishing off a cake. I think my nephew was the excuse for the interesting cake decoration technique, rather than the cause...

Friday, June 19, 2009


I have been on a course for the last three days, so am wondering if there is going to be a massive pile of work waiting for me when I get into the office. I have been keeping up with my e-mails, as I can check those at home, so at least there aren’t those to deal with. Yesterday evening I spent quite a bit of time doing some work because someone had given me something really complex to look at earlier in the week and I want to have it pretty much sorted by the end of today. I have to keep up with the pace of work because if I get behind it will be difficult to catch up.

It is all about perspective though, as however bad things may ever get at work, at least I am not the pilot who died on this flight... or the co-pilot who had to bring the plane into land... or the doctor who was on the flight and determined that the pilot was dead and then very probably had a moment of thinking “and I hope it’s not me next given that there is now no pilot”. I imagine that wasn’t a great time for anyone involved.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


I was at home last night when I heard some sharp braking on the driveway. I looked out the window and my neighbour who I wrote the note to at the weekend had reversed into a van that was being driven by the mad builder who is doing the work next door. I think it was a low speed collision and any damage was really minimal, but I did feel a certain poetic justice in this. It is probably totally wrong to have felt some satisfaction...

My nephew phoned last night. He spoke to me briefly and then wanted to talk to G. I have been downgraded to being a switchboard operator, merely routing calls to the intended recipient. *sigh*

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

How not to get more business

I got a letter from my mortgage provider a couple of days ago. The letter started by reminding me that I might die or get a serious illness and that I needed to have cover in place in vase this happened. According to their records I don’t have any cover. They would be phoning me to discuss this.

Let me interpret this letter for you. “We have noticed that you don’t have your mortgage protection products with us. We would like to make some money out of you by phoning you to tell you that you might die. You don’t actually have to have your mortgage protection products with us, nor do you have to tell us who those products are with. But if we phone you, you might be willing to divulge these details and we might also persuade you to change providers for these products.

We want to make money out of you – and remind you again that one day you will die. We look forward to talking to you.”

I wrote back to them by return of post and told then not to write me letters like that - a paragraph telling me I might die, was not a great opener (and they should at least have bothered to use headed paper). That suggesting I don’t have the required products in place was incorrect and I did not want them to phone, as I had nothing to discuss with them.

I may have put it slightly more politely than that but I think they will have gathered that I was not impressed.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


My neighbours seem to be fairly compliant at the moment. I was wondering if I had perhaps made a mistake in mentioning the parking. I remembered that the woman’s personalised registration plate contains the digits ‘666’. Maybe not the person to choose as an enemy.

My sister phoned me last night to see if we were watching the programme on BBC 2 which was about the various food fads of the 1980s. My sister said “do you remember potato waffles?!” I replied “Er... yes... I had some last night with fish fingers and baked beans”. I felt slightly naughty confessing this, but it was a good meal...

Monday, June 15, 2009


I got woken up at 5.40am yesterday morning by my neighbour getting into her car and running her engine before driving off. She hand her partner both have cars and they had parked one of them in the space right in front of my bedroom window because that neighbour isn’t about very much. So going out at 5.40am she woke me up, which is annoying in itself, but even more so given that she shouldn’t have been parked there in the first place.

She and her partner have lots of visitors. My neighbour who lives above me thinks that the chap is a drug dealer. I’m not convinced by that, but he certainly gets an awful lot of visitors, some of whom stay for only a very short amount of time. The constant stream of people also often means that the visitors park their cars in my upstairs neighbour’s parking space because she is not around a lot. So sometimes my neighbour has to block my car in or ask me to move mine so she can fit hers in as well. They are nice people, but the amount of parking they take up really drives me mad. It’s always the petty things that cause the problems…

Anyway, I decided that being woken up at 5.40am (again!) was enough reason to mention it to them. But I wasn’t brave enough to knock on their door and speak to them. They are very nice people, but I didn’t want to have the conversation. So I wrote them a very polite and slightly apologetic note and asked them if they could park elsewhere, as they keep waking me up and also our parking spaces keep getting used.

I don’t know if it will have any impact, but I have wanted to say something for ages and have finally done so. But now I feel like I need to sneak about in case I bump into them. I made sure I had put my rubbish out before I put the note through their door, in case I bumped into them later!

I find confrontation a difficult thing. At times I can be very bolshy – my last boss would testify to this! – but in situations like this, I am not bold at all and try and avoid the situation, even if it really bothers me. I am hoping that it doesn’t negatively affect things with my neighbours, but given that at some point someone will be moving into the empty flat next door, the situation will get worse then, so I wanted to speak up. I was also quite tired from being woken up so early, which may also have made me reach the point where I had to say something. But I do still feel kind of nervous about it...

Friday, June 12, 2009


So it’s back to work today – not that I wasn’t working the last couple of days, but I just cannot get into the right frame of mind if I am trying to work at home. There are only going to be two of us in the office today anyway, so it perhaps won’t be much different to working at home, except for no daytime TV to distract me.

I bumped into the freeholder yesterday, which turned out to be quite useful. I mentioned to her that I might try and extend my lease soon and she was fine with that – it is free money for her, so I guess she would be unlike to complain too much about it. She also said to me that they are thinking about changing a couple of the front doors and I said that if she was going to do that then I would be interested in doing that as well. Of course, having endless amounts of money would help with this.

There were a couple of stories in the news this week that made me raise an eyebrow. One was that Earth might collide with another planet. Potentially alarming, what with that possibly meaning the end of the world. But it then seems slightly less alarming when, if it does happen, it is not going to be for more than a billion years. I know we should show concern for the next generation, but I think a billion years is beyond most people’s imagining - and we are likely to have destroyed the plant long before then anyway. I was amused when I saw the item on the TV and the BBC showed a planet crashing into Earth and then added that it was only a simulation. That was a relief because at times I am not very observant and might have missed the end of the world.

Also Caroline Flint has said that she left government because Gordon Brown thought she was disloyal. Since then she has appeared in various media totally slating him. Er... did he maybe have a point?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


I was going to go into work today, despite the tube strike. But then I saw my boss yesterday and he told me not to bother and to work from home. I decided this was enough of a steer to comply. I am rubbish at working from home, so we’ll see how I do…

Yesterday I spoke to the woman I used to manage. She told me that I have been replaced – by two people! I did tell her that I wasn’t entirely surprised to learn that it takes two people to somehow replace me, and now I have my proof. She also told me that she misses me, which I thought was a really nice thing to say. I must arrange to see her at some point.

I was also talking to a couple of people in my team about the only time I have ever had an argument with someone at work. This was about three years ago and my boss and I had a real row. We sorted it our very quickly (although I have never had any respect for him and that hasn’t changed). The people in my team said they were really surprised I had ever fallen out with anyone at work because I just don’t seem like the sort of person who has a temper. I assured them that I do, but at work you have to push me really hard for it to surface. It’s really funny the perceptions people have of you because I would say that I am a bit of a grumpy person, but it seems that somehow at work I manage to keep this hidden! If they ever saw me when I am commuting to work they might have a different opinion.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009


When I went round to my parents’ house on Sunday, despite not having lived at home for a number of years, I ended up having to tidy my bedroom. I don’t think I was ever told to do this as a child (this could explain a lot). I did get to eat some birthday cake but then had to go back upstairs and finish tidying up. Or not finish, given that it would take more than an afternoon to sort that room out… At least there was cake and it was home made and even had lemon curd in it, which strangely I had been thinking about earlier in the day. I wish that I could have things that were a bit more significant than lemon curd turn into a reality.

The job is going well, although I had to stay at work late last night to make a phone call. I’ve decided that I need to do some of the work myself, as opposed to mainly supervising the work of the team, and so was sorting out some of it yesterday evening. We have such a massive target to achieve that anything I can do to help us get to the end of it is going to help. It makes the job more interesting and helps to fill in some of the quieter moments as well. It helps to keep life interesting.

Monday, June 08, 2009


It was my father’s birthday on Friday, so we went to my parents’ house for lunch yesterday. G wanted to take something to give to my dad, but I was not very keen on this. I am not much into giving my father presents*, due to our somewhat strained relationship, and didn’t really feel that I wanted G to do so instead.

We talked about this a few times on Saturday and G, being a Scot, had been brought up to believe that you shouldn’t turn up to someone’s house empty handed. I did say that as this was about going round to my parents’ house I didn’t really think the same principle applied - and that I wouldn’t try and impose my way of dealing with things on G’s family. In the end I conceded that G could take a bottle of wine, but had to give it to my mum and not my dad.

So we turned up yesterday and we said happy birthday to my dad and G then handed dad the bottle of wine and said it was a present. I gave G a look, who then realised that this was not what we had agreed, but had been overcome by the moment.

We were due to have lamb for lunch. So I beat G to death with the leg of lamb and, in one of life’s ironies, G’s (who is a vegetarian) dying words were “See? I told you meat was bad for you...”

Life is cruel. Don’t mess with me.

*I do actually pay for his subscription to the Radio Times, which he seems to think is the best present he has ever had, but as that automatically renews, I feel as though I maintain my 'no present’ stance. Sort of...

Friday, June 05, 2009


So I voted yesterday. The Polling Station was very quiet and the ballot paper was over two feet long. Bizarre. A canvasser wanted my polling number, but I told him I didn’t have my polling card with me (which was true) and he looked horrified by this. I was decidedly unimpressed with him, as it is none of his business, and it made me glad I didn’t have the card with me.

I’m almost at the end of the first week of my new job and it has gone ok. I still can’t get my head around how they have quite such an inscrutable database that you can’t even search properly. This then makes me scratch my head on how I can then copy other people’s homework, as someone else has probably dealt with similar issues in the past. I will clearly have to be more ingenious – or just ask people instead.

Thursday, June 04, 2009


At the moment it does rather feel as though the Government is imploding what with mass resignations and lots of in-fighting. I had high hopes when Gordon Brown became Prime Minister, but those were soon dashed and it seems as though he may face challenges to his leadership soon.

That said, it’s the European elections today and whilst they may not seem the most relevant elections to our every day lives and the state of politics at the moment maybe makes people even less inclined to vote, but if you have a vote then today is the day to use it. People are disillusioned with the mainstream parties, but unless lots of people go out and vote that means there is a much higher chance of far right parties getting into power.

So go and vote if you can – and try and cast your vote by voting for something rather than against.

Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.

John Quincy Adams

To make democracy work, we must be a notion of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.

Louis L'Amour

Wednesday, June 03, 2009


I have had the most awful headaches recently. I wouldn’t say I am generally someone who gets headaches, but the ones I have had of late have been there when I have woken up in the morning and lasted until I have gone to bed at night. I am hoping (if that is the right word) that it is hay fever related and that if I take more medication that it might keep it at bay. I really want to be on good form for my job, but am struggling a bit at the moment.

I was really shocked by the disappearance of that Air France plane. It seems hard to believe that with all the technology we have available on modern planes that one can disappear like it did on Monday. I realise that this doesn’t quite fit with the solemnity of what has happened, but whenever I saw news reports about the missing plane, it made me think of the film “One of our dinosaurs is missing”, which is perhaps rather more of a humorous scenario than the current one.

Anyway, I have a busy day ahead and so I am hoping that I can shake off these headaches...

Tuesday, June 02, 2009


The first day of my new job seemed to go quite well. Everyone turned up and that in itself was quite an achievement. It was a bit like the first day of high school though in that I forgot to take my lunch with me and I also had to sit on my own. That was actually deliberate on my part. There are seven of us in the team and there are sic desks together and I thought I should let all of them sit together. I am actually sitting right by them, but that’s not the point!

I just finished reading a book called Sputnik Sweetheart which is by Haruki Marukami, the chap who wrote The Wind-up Bird Chronicle. It was a good book and I would recommend it, although it is a bit sombre in places. There were a few quotes I liked in it:

“The upshot of all this is that when I was young I began to draw an invisible boundary between myself and other people. No matter who I was dealing with. I maintained a set distance, carefully monitoring the person’s attitude so that they wouldn’t get any closer. I didn’t easily swallow what other people told me. My passions were books and music. As you might guess, I had a lonely life.”

"And it came to me then. That we were wonderful travelling companions, but in the end no more than lonely lumps of metal on their own separate orbits. From far off they look like beautiful shooting stars, but in reality they're nothing more than prisons, where each of us is locked up alone, going nowhere. When the orbits of these two satellites of ours happen to cross paths, we could be together. Maybe even open our hearts to each other. But that was only for the briefest moment. In the next instant we'd be in absolute solitude. Until we burned up and became nothing."

"Why do people have to be this lonely? What's the point of it all? Millions of people in this world, all of them yearning, looking to others to satisfy them, yet isolating themselves. Why? Was the Earth put here just to nourish human loneliness? I turned face-up on the slab of stone, gazed at the sky, and thought about all the manmade satellites spinning around the Earth. The horizon was still etched in a faint glow, and stars began to blink on in the deep, wine-coloured sky. I gazed among them for the light of a satellite, but it was still too bright out to spot one with the naked eye. The sprinkling of stars looked nailed to the spot, unmoving. I closed my eyes and listened carefully for the descendants of Sputnik, even now circling the Earth, gravity their only tie to the planet. Lonely metal souls in the unimpeded darkness of space, they meet, pass each other, and part, never to meet again. No words passing between them. No promises to keep."

Monday, June 01, 2009


G and I went to Southampton for the weekend to see one of my housemates from university. We had a good time and went for a major walk on Saturday in the sunshine. I took the somewhat radical decision that whilst we were walking I would drink the stuff you normally take after you have dehydrated, so that I didn’t end up feeling like death. It worked, so as disgusting as that stuff is, I think I will do that again.

It was my friend’s birthday yesterday as we had a mini-celebration for that and had a very pleasant time. I should have taken a cake though. Schoolgirl error…

During the weekend, I discovered that the Brownies are propagating a complete falsehood. I was actually a Brownie for a while, but absolutely hated it and even the incentive of becoming a Sixer wasn’t enough to convince me to keep going. Anyway, those who are familiar with the Brownies will know that the leader of the group is called “Brown Owl”. Except there isn’t any such thing as a Brown Owl in nature and the nearest to it is a Tawny Owl. I think there must be any number of mis-educated youths who will believe that there is such a thing as a Brown Owl. Shocking.

1 June already, how did that happen...