Friday, August 28, 2009


The meeting went ok with my team. Strangely they actually wanted more objectives set for them. I also talked to them about bonuses and, with a million caveats, explained to them what the situation was. The team was hitting a bit of a lull (despite to having been their most productive month to date, in which they again broke all records for work completed) and actually the meeting managed to pump a bit of enthusiasm back into them.

So, this weekend we are going to a posh hotel for two nights. I am leaving work early and will make my way to the hotel and then spend a relaxing couple of days in London. As a Londoner, apart from because of tedious work things, I have never stayed at a hotel in London. That is hardly surprising, given that I am a Londoner, but this will hopefully give a new perspective on the city and for a couple of days I will be a tourist and just relax – and not have any commuting. We are also going for a very nice meal tomorrow night with my mum and sister and shall generally have a very decadent time. It’s a hard life.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


I have a meeting with my team every Monday morning. We talk about progress and I update them on any issues and give them the opportunity to raise anything that they want to say. This week, we had the meeting on Monday, but they also want another one today. I clarified what their objectives were for the six month project earlier in the week and sent them an e-mail to make sure they were entirely clear – although in that sense the task that we are doing is relatively straightforward, along the lines of “you have six months to complete this much work”.

Sending the e-mail seems to have opened a can of worms and they now want to meet today to discuss some ‘issues’. I had a bit of an idea what that meant, but then last night I got a text from one of the team to say that they were going to specifically ask me what the bonus would be for hitting their target. The person who texted me was concerned I might get “ambushed”. Fortunately, that has given me a bit of time to think and hopefully I will sound reasonably coherent when they ask me.

I am not quite sure what has brought about this sudden slightly militant approach by the team, but hopefully this will calm things a bit.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


When I got back from lunch yesterday, I reached into my bag and came into contact with the wire bit of a notebook. The wire, rather painfully, went under my fingernail and when I pulled my hand back out I was bleeding. I did bravely soldier on (once I had stopped it bleeding, but it didn’t half hurt.

Despite sustaining a work-related injury, we are still well on course to achieving our target. We have just hot two-thirds of our target and the end of August we will be half way through the project. I am still amazed at what the team has achieved and at the beginning of September I think we need to go out and celebrate.

Last night I was saying to G that I will be a bit miffed if I don’t get to stay on at the end of the project, given that my team are churning out a lot more work than the other teams and I have also now been asked to help run a course to teach other people in the office how to do their jobs better and more efficiently etc. Time will tell.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


I am concerned about the call for a boycott of Scottish products as a result of the release of the Lockerbie Bomber on compassionate grounds. My main worry is that if I complied with such a boycott, does G count as a Scottish product. This could be a problem for our relationship, but actually perhaps more of concern is whether I would get my dinner made for me each day.*

We had a team meeting yesterday morning and I said to my team that I am planning on leaving early on Friday. I said I was thinking about leaving at about 3.30pm. One of them looked at me and said rather dryly “You really do know how to live. Why don’t you go crazy and leave at lunch time...”. I feel that I don’t necessarily have the most racy life.

*I don’t actually have a view one way or the other about the release of Megrahi. I think we should show compassion in some circumstances, but it depends on the individual circumstances of the case and I don’t know all the details to be able to know if it was the right decision. I bet the SNP are wishing they weren’t involved in it though...

Monday, August 24, 2009


We had a good weekend. We went to a barbecue on Saturday, which was very nice. I was supervising a dog most of the day due to some young children being there – and lots of food. I did get told off a couple of times for not keeping enough of an eye on the dog so she still managed to lick some small children on a couple of occasions. I don’t think I will be signing up to be the next Dog Whisperer any time soon.

We went for a picnic in Hyde Park yesterday with my sister and nephew. We met at the Princess Diana Memorial, which was actually very good and we ended up spending ages there. You can just roll your trousers up and walk through the water and enjoy it. My nephew loved it and we had lots of fun there. We enjoyed the picnic too and ate lots and I’d brought a flask of coffee and some cake as well. Very civilised. Conkers had started to fall from the trees and my nephew then had a mission to find as many as possible. As ever, it is the minor and somewhat impromptu things that ended up being the highlight for him.

Anyway, it was a good weekend. This weekend coming up G and I are staying on a rather posh London hotel (for free) and are really looking forward to that. Roll on next weekend…

Friday, August 21, 2009


I was in Trafalgar Square last night. The fourth plinth is still being occupied (in an artistic sense) by people. The first chap I saw there last night just seemed a bit bemused by the whole experience and he just stood about for an hour. Then when a woman took over, she got out her camera and was taking photos of people in Trafalgar Square. I think these people need to understand that they are there to entertain us (meaning me) and not the other way around. I wanted action and art!

There was actually more action down on the ground though (that sounds far more suggestive than it should…) because “One Magic Summer” started last night, which means you can sit in deckchairs in Trafalgar Square and pretend you are on holiday. At about 6pm we were shown the delights of Bad Taste Cru who did some dance thing that probably had some deep meaning that passed my by, but it was quite good.

I saw the Evening Standard billboard which said something like “Murdoch to end free London Paper” and I heard people discussing this headline:

Person 1: So one of the London papers is being stopped. I wonder which one?
Person 2: I don’t know. There’s the London Lite or The Metro, so I guess it must be one of those.

I had to resist the urge to turn to them and say “Or have you thought that maybe it means The London Paper. There was a clue in the headline.” But I thought they might not appreciate this somehow.

It’s the weekend ahead, which includes going to a barbecue on Saturday and for a picnic in Hyde Park on Sunday. Very civilised.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Yesterday was a strange day at work. Two people were working from home anyway, once texted me and said she needed to work from home due a ‘domestic crisis’, another was in during the morning and then when I was out at lunch time sent me an email to say she was taking some flexi time for the rest of the afternoon and someone else phoned me mid-afternoon to tell me she had got home so late the night before that she was still in her nightclothes and so would take the day as leave. This meant that, apart from me, there was one person in all day. Perhaps some have started to find the task a bit of a slog now.

There is actually one person in the team who is working slower than the others, so I have done some of her work and then given her all the information to write up and she will then get credit for it all. I think she needs a bit of help so that she doesn’t feel as though she is totally lagging behind. I am sort of wondering if we are hitting a point with the work where people are going to need a bit of a push to keep them going. I know I am certainly rather tired, so I guess they are too.

In other matters, I am reading Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami at the moment and I really like it. It is a bit gruesome and bizarre in places, but it’s a good read. Another good author to have found.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


I seemed to spend a lot of time sorting out financial type things last night:

My credit card bill didn’t seem to have been paid by direct debit. I phoned my credit card company and they assured me they had the money. I am hoping they have taken the money from someone else’s account now!

I shut a savings account that was giving me a rubbish interest rate and am about to move it to a new account that also has a rubbish rate, but not quite so rubbish.

I realised that some Tesco clubcard vouchers were about to expire so cashed them in for some restaurant vouchers. G was going through the pile of vouchers and found two that expired a while ago. So... when I was ‘buying’ the restaurant vouchers, I tried the expired vouchers and one of them still worked, despite being about four months out of date. Result! Let’s hope the voucher now turns up in the post.

I remembered that I needed to apply for £20 cashback for the SatNav I bought. So I filled out the form for that and will send that off today.

Totally unrelated, I really like this song by Arcade Fire. I just thought I would mention this.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


G seems to have turned into a different person – a very industrious person. The kitchen is now clean enough to eat your food off (I prefer a plate personally, but there you go…) and during the ad breaks on TV G seems to find various chores to do. This is not normal for G and I am wondering if there might be some alien involvement.

We were thinking about going to stay down on the south coast again at some point and I was checking the website of the place we often stay, only to discover it has changed owners. I don’t think I would want to go and stay there with new owners because it wouldn’t quite be the same. I think we need to find a new seaside destination.

In other news, it is really great to see LKSN back in blogging world, but the circumstances are not so great. You might want to wander over there and be nice.

Monday, August 17, 2009


We went to a wedding (not a weeding, as previously stated) on Saturday. It was at 10am in Richmond. This meant an early start. I was not too impressed by this, particularly as I didn’t even know either of the people who were getting married. Anyway, despite the brevity of the marriage ceremony, the registrar certainly packed in more jokes that you’d get in a stand-up routine. There was much laughter, including at the brides middle-name to which the registrar looked at her and said conspiratorially “we all have out secrets” or when he asked if there was any legal reason that they should not be married and the bride started to turn round to look at the guests to which he said “Don’t look round! I’m sure all the guests were handpicked anyway”. I had certainly woken up by the end of the ceremony.

We all then went and drank tea and ate cake at a café, which was very pleasant and then went to a pub and ate some lunch and just sat about and chatted. A very laid back and different experience.

Two of the guests had both done a diet that involved only being allowed to eat 500 calories per day. I did ask one of them if she spent her whole day being bad-tempered, but she assured me she didn’t. Such a drastic change in eating holds no appeal for me at all (not that I am desperate to lose weight). The thing that concerned me though was these two women were saying that they didn’t think there could be any major long-term problem with eating so few calories as they had survived and also there are people like Fern Britton who have had a weight operation which means that they can only eat a very minimal diet. Except surgery like that can actually kill you. Also, women should eat 2000 calories per day, so cutting that by three-quarters doesn’t seem sustainable in the long–term to me. They had both lost several stone watch (at a huge financial cost), but I was most concerned that they didn’t seem to think that there was anything potentially dangerous about eating so little. There almost seemed to be a slight brain-washing behind it – and these were perfectly intelligent people. Everything in moderation is what I say.

Friday, August 14, 2009


Last Friday I felt a bit down and I was wondering why. I realised it was because the builders were about so much and were rather taking over. I think I felt kind of powerless to deal with it and given that it affected my home and my privacy, I found this a rather uncomfortable position to be in.

I bumped into my neighbour on Friday night and she told me that the builders had said they would be back on Saturday. I didn’t really want to speak to the freeholder, who the work was being carried out for privately on the two flats that she owns. She had no idea that they were coming back the next day. But I assured her that the builders said that they were and in the end she agreed to see what she could do, as it would affect my barbecue. She did manage to get them to agree to come early and said that they would be gone by 2pm (it was 5pm as it turned out). In some ways I felt sort of elated that I had tried to do something about it, rather than just letting the builders do as they please.

The next day the builders started work before 9am, but they did start on the windows that would most affect the barbecue. Late morning I found one of them in my garden with his ladder. He put it up in my garden and then trampled on my plants to go up and down the ladder. After a few minute is went outside to say that I didn’t appreciate him standing on my plants and that eh should have spoken to me before coming into my garden. One of the other builders told me that it was not my private property and bizarrely I then had to explain to him that it was and that I owned my flat and garden. Then the main builder shouted at me and told me that I should direct any comments to him because he was “the boss”. I told him that I had nothing to say to him and he answered back (I already knew he was really rude) and in the end had to very firmly say to him that I didn’t want to talk to him and walk off.

It’s not that I can’t stand up for myself (although sometimes I do it somewhat nervously). It’s that I think I find it hard when people somehow threaten (in a psychological sense) my home, which is in its own way a sort of security for me.

Sometimes over the last couple of weeks I have found that I could leave work pretty promptly, but then my heart has sunk because I have realised the builders might be here. There is a part of me that thinks that it is justified to feel the way that I do (and I think it is fine to not like people treating me and my neighbours with the contempt that the builders do). But there is also a pat of me that thinks that I should learn to “hold things more lightly”. If you don’t get your security from ‘things’ then people can’t, either deliberately or accidentally, affect that.

Things to ponder.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


There have been a couple of stories in the news recently that have made me scratch my head. One is that Alan Duncan decided discuss the impact of the changes to MP’s expenses in a ‘woe is me’ way with the guy who was found digging up his law. Is he showing that he has no judgment whatsoever? If you are going to pick a confidante then I would suggest someone who is clearly opposed to your spending of public money is not the right person. Although Alan Duncan was only joking, as he later went on to say. Of course he was.

I am wondering if it being August has somehow meant that people are allowed to talk on the tube. On the way home a couple of nights ago, a woman struck up a conversation with me and we chatted for a few minutes. Then on the way home last night, the two people next to me started a conversation with each other (although I think one less willingly than the other). I would say it was the hot weather, but I am not sure we have seen enough sunshine for that excuse to work.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


I may have been a little premature yesterday. Last night we were due to eat some of the burgers left over from the barbecue. We’d discussed it the night before and G wasn’t going to eat meat, but implicit in what I said – implicit I tell you! – was that I would. So I went into the kitchen last night to see G removing veggie burgers from the grill and there was no beef in sight! I stammered out “but… but… I thought I was having a beef burger…” and G looked at me blankly and reminded me about not wanting to fall off the veggie wagon too rapidly to which I said “but I’ve always been a carnivore”. And then I ate my veggie burger and it was very nice. I also know that I should be grateful that someone makes me my dinner and my lunches etc etc etc. It was just a shock. G has promised me beef burgers another evening though, so the cow did not die in vain. G did also offer to catch a moth that has been flying about recently and put it in my lunch, so that there was a bit of meat in it. I declined the kind offer.

My team is running about five weeks ahead of schedule at the moment, which is really good news. We are just beginning week 11 and have already reached the mid-way point in our target with about 16 weeks to go. I am just hoping that they don’t start to feel a bit worn out. Anyway, there progress to date has been marvellous and now it’s about keeping them on track. We have achieved far more than I would have expected by this point, so I’m really impressed with that they have done.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


The barbecue was good, but one of the best things that came out of it was – and I know I can trust you to keep a confidence here – G fell off the vegetarian wagon. G confessed to me that there was some chicken eating that took place on Saturday and since then we have eaten chicken *together*. This is indeed a major event and might mean that I get to eat meat on a more regular basis. But I am trying not to celebrate too much in case G regresses.

I am reading a book called Vertigo by W.G. Sebald at the moment. I am not much of a fan. Anyway... on the back of the book there are a number of quotes, one of which says:

“...the fact that W.G. Sebald chooses to tease, dazzle and mystify should not blind us to the fact that he does the one thing that every novelist should do: he entertains, provokes, stimulates and inspires”

If the writer of that review rates himself as being good at English, I hope that he is more realistic in his assessment of his ability at Maths.

Monday, August 10, 2009


Another weekend over. In some ways this weekend felt a bit like being on holiday. We had a barbecue on Saturday and I think it made being at home more of an event and it was very relaxing (after various builder related stresses that I shall explain another day this week). There were about 15 of us, including some children (and there were also two dogs) and we ate food and chatted and tried not to lose any of the children or dogs (the former was more successful than the latter).

One of my neighbours came and we were actually using their garden as well. They have a Jack Russell and he has a habit of disappearing if he is not kept in check. If he is kept in his own garden he will jump up and down and leap at my fence and if you can imagine what it would be like to have a dog on a trampoline then you have the right sort of image of what it was like. Apparently if he is left alone in the hall he has learned to run at speed down the hall and leaps up and opens the living room door. He did manage to get on to the top of my fence three times and he would then be perched there wondering which way to go. My neighbours told me they were training him to do that so he would poo in my garden instead of theirs.

My nephew had a good time and was in floods of tears that he had to go, but somehow I didn’t think this was about me and was more about not being able to play any more. Life is very cruel when you are four years old.

Anyway, it was a good day and the weather was great. I did also manage not to kill the builders and so it was a success all round.

Friday, August 07, 2009


My mum came round last night. She came to pick up some theatre vouchers because we are meant to be going to the theatre next week and also to drop off some paperwork which is for G and I to have a two night free stay in a very nice hotel in London. When mum left it was pouring with rain and I was about to say that it was like a monsoon and then I remembered that a monsoon is not actually rain, even though that is how we normally use the word, but describes a wind. So I think I said something like “what a lot of rain”. I think I need to find a new word.

We are having a barbecue this weekend, so I am hoping that rain holds off tomorrow. We have pretty much all of the food and need to spend tonight doing some cleaning and making things a bit more presentable. I think this will be about the first time I have actually done anything in the garden other than mow the grass and the odd bit of gardening.

Have a good weekend all.

Thursday, August 06, 2009


I was doing some major tidying in the garden yesterday to make it look a bit more respectable for the barbecue this weekend. My neighbour came out to speak to me. She told me she was furious with the builders because the day before there had been water leaking into her flat from the one they are renovating. So she told them and they managed to stop it in the end. Then a short time later all of her lights went out and so she got them to come down and have another look and the fuses had burnt out. But they denied it had anything to do with the water leak and said it wasn’t their problem. My neighbour spoke to the freeholder, who didn’t have a clue, but then phoned back yesterday and said it was nothing to do with them because the builder had said he hadn’t caused it. My neighbour still had no lights, so I gave her the phone number of an electrician who is going to come out today to fix it. Today, the freeholder will also get a letter from me saying how unimpressed I am with the builders. Somehow I am not sure that it will make any difference though.

Recently I read a story that suggests I have competition on the book reading front. A woman has borrowed about 25,000 books from the library. It might take me quite a while to catch up, given that she started borrowing books in 1946, but I’m willing to give it a go.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009


For about six months there has been building work going on where I live because the freeholder is renovating the two flats that she owns. The builders are often about when I leave for work, still here when I get back and about lots over the weekend too. It feels really intrusive and relentless and I have been holding off saying anything to the freeholder because I need to stay in her good books because I want to extend my lease. However, I got home from my work to find that one of the builders had put a bag on the roof of my car. I went up to them and asked them to remove whatever it was and told them that the roof of my car was not the place to put anything. The chap apologised, but I was really annoyed.

So I wrote to the freeholder and asked if she could do something to make them less intrusive. They woke me at 8.15am on Saturday morning and then were about all day going back and forth right in front of my living room window and making lots of noise. We have gone from living somewhere quite private to being in the middle of a building site – and we don’t even get any benefit from it. Them using my car roof to store things was the last straw. So the letter was friendly but exasperated. I am hoping that things will now change, particularly as we are due to have a barbecue this weekend and I don’t want people turning up to find builders’ vans parked on the drive and builders working all around them. Grrrrrrrr…

In other news, Rebecca Romero and James Cracknell had to call off their world record attempt from Land’s End to John O’Groats. Rebecca Romero had injured her knee, so they had to stop. What a shame. I bet they must be gutted.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009


I enjoyed writing a post by hand despite it perhaps being more of a challenge for you to read it. I tend to write very fast which means that I merge letters together, so I often have to make myself slow down a bit to make it more legible. I did actually send someone a card on Sunday and had to try my hardest to make sure she would be able to read it. The card was to someone who was my boss a few years ago. When she retired about four years ago I wrote her a card to tell her what a great manager she has been, even though I hadn’t worked for her for ages by then. Since I started the job I am doing at the moment I realised how much the way she managed me still impacts me today and the way I am doing my job both in terms of the decisions I make and the way I manage my team. So I wrote to her and told her how much she still inspires me and that sometimes when I get stuck I ask myself what she would have advised me to so and often the answer comes! I am not sure I can think of anyone else I would be bold enough to say such things to, but she has crossed my mind several times of late and I wanted to just say thank you to her (again).

I really want to see this film. It’s not because of the subject matter, which is a guy dying from cancer, but because the film is meant to a kind of “love story about Canada” and show an amazing journey across the country. The problem is that I don’t think this film has ever been released in the UK, I don’t have a North American compatible DVD player and I actually I would like to see it at the cinema anyway, as I think it is the kind of film you need to see on the big screen. One day maybe...

Monday, August 03, 2009

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Today's post can be found by clicking on the image below (you may need some help reading it!)