Sunday, December 27, 2009


We’re flying to Glasgow later for a few days, so I won’t be about for several days. We are flying with BA and this turns out to be a good thing given that, as there was the threat of strike action, they have given us 10,000 extra air miles to say thank you for flying with them. I already have my miles, G is still waiting but will hopefully get them after we have flown.

We are going to meet G’s new niece. She is two weeks old today. This is assuming we can land in Glasgow, as fog is expected tonight.

Christmas Day was nice. I got a Freeview Plus box, which has been put to good use already, and a new microwave.

The Day of the Triffids is on TV tomorrow and Tuesday night (BBC 1, 9pm). That is such a fantastic book and so hopefully the programme will be good too. If it is good then hopefully that will inspire you to read the book if you haven’t done so already. If it is rubbish then the book is much better and you need to read to read the book to undo the damage. Are you picking up on a message here?

Anyway... I will return here are sometime around the turn of the New Year. I hope you have a good few days.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

We braved the supermarket last night. It wasn’t actually that busy, but it was busier than normal (there were *two* people in the queue in front of me at the till). I didn’t enjoy the experience though, but it was a bit of a bargain shop because Sainsbury’s had issued vouchers to be spent in Christmas week to get £14 off your shopping. So we used those and bought such exciting things as dishwasher tablets and other domestic items.

On the way home we were listening to the radio and the DJ made some comment about the weather being bad and for people to be careful “as everyone has somewhere to go for Christmas”. Except that not everyone does and so the comment rather annoyed me and made me think that the DJ was rather thoughtless.

Here are some recent things I have searched for on the internet:

I wanted to know how often it snows on Christmas Day in London. This was because when we were at the Royal Albert Hall, the programme had a list of trivia, one of which was said “On average snow falls on Christmas Day in London once every twelve years, while in Glasgow it happens every nine years”. My mum did not believe the statistic about London and said I had to find out whether it was true. The statistic is about snow fall rather than it being a snow covered Christmas. Anyway, I had a look about and this website says that there were seven snowy Christmases in the Twentieth Century (which works out at an average of about once every 14 years, although given that it is an average there could be significantly smaller and bigger gaps, as that is how averages work…). You can also see some slightly complicated statistics here (as they cover the Christmas period rather than Christmas Day specifically).

We were also debating the words to “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” and whether the line is “good tidings we bring to you and your king” or “good tidings we bring to you and your kin”. G and mum were saying that it was the former, but said it was the latter. I was, again, commissioned to find out the answer. As we all know, the internet is never wrong, so I am pleased to say that I was proved to be correct and it is “kin” not “king”. You can checkhere, here, here, here and here.

I am unlikely to be about tomorrow, so I hope you have a Happy Christmas – and don’t forget to track Santa, so that you can be sure that you are fast asleep when he comes to deliver your presents. Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


It has been a busy few days. On Friday afternoon I went out for lunch with people from work and, whilst the meal was decidedly average, I was sat with some really nice people and we had a real laugh. I don’t normally work with any of them, but we just chatted away and it turned what could have been one of those awkward work-bases social events into something much more enjoyable.

We went to stay with some of G’s friends on Friday night and then had a bit meal with them and some other people on Saturday afternoon. I made a steamed pudding and that worked out pretty well. There was also a really nice trifle and a chocolate log that put my efforts at such things (a Swiss roll with a bit of butter icing on it) to shame.

On Sunday my nephew came to stay for a few days. While my sister was still about we went to my parents’ house and ate home baked cake and then went to a carol service. On Monday we watched some DVDs (Elf and a Wallace and Gromit one) and fed the ducks in the local park. Then on Tuesday we went into London, to the South Bank. On the way in we had to see who could do the best impression of Elf on an escalator and we (fairly quietly) sang carols on the tube and went on a merry-go-round. Then we took my nephew to my sister’s work and dropped him off.

Yesterday evening G and I met up with mum and we went to the Royal Albert Hall for a Christmas Concert, which was really good. I liked all of it, but I particularly like the version of “Sleep, Sleep, Sleep”. If I hadn’t been in a public place, I might have shed a tear at it. I can’t find a version that is quite like the one last night, but the version below is fairly similar (apart from the bits in German… and Aled Jones conducting an interview for the first 2 minutes 20 seconds (you might wish to fast forward through that…))

As we were walking to the station after the concert, mum fell over and hit the ground really hard. She wasn’t really sure what happened and she does have a bit of a history of falling over for no real reason (it’s a balance thing rather than anything else). G was pretty shocked having never seen this before, but we picked mum up and all made it home in one piece.

We are going to try and brave the supermarket later. Fortunately we don’t need anything very major, so hopefully we will leave unscathed.

Friday, December 18, 2009


I waved my neighbours off on their trip to Australia last night. They are flying out this morning but what with all the snow they decided they should stay in a hotel by the airport so that they can make sure they get their flight. They went about 9pm and they knocked on my door as they were going to give me some contact details and it was only then that I realised it had been snowing during the evening and it was starting to settle. I did tell my neighbour not to put her bikini on until she gets on the plane.

Normally I would hope that it might be an excuse not to make it into work, but we are going out for a Christmas work meal this afternoon and so I am hoping I will make it in, particularly given that we have all paid already. It is also my last day before I finish for Christmas so I should go in to try and finish a few bits off.

It’s a busy few days ahead. Tonight we are meant to be staying with some friends and then spending the day tomorrow preparing a Christmas feast with them (which we will then eat). Sunday my nephew and sister are coming over for lunch and then we are going to a carol service. My nephew is then staying until Tuesday and when I have deposited him back with my sister, G and I are meeting up with my mum and going to a Christmas concert. I will probably sleep the whole way through it, as I will be totally worn out from looking after my nephew.

Anyway, it’s time to face the elements.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


It was snowing in London yesterday. My team asked if they could go home. I told them that they couldn’t but we should go and play in the park (even though the snow wasn’t settling at all) but they didn’t want to build snowmen (with no-existent snow), so we just carried on and did our work.

I was talking to one of my team later in the day and I was saying that I don’t like books or films that are violent to which she said “I love things that are violent. I don’t even really notice how bad it is and I can’t be trusted to take children to see films because I can’t tell if they are unsuitable. Do you see why some people say I have serial killer tendencies?” I couldn’t decide whether it was polite to agree or disagree. In the end we just agreed never to make film recommendations to each other.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Given my nephew’s recent query about how many Father Christmases there are I have been asking people who have children what the ‘professional’ answer is to this question. The consensus seems to be to explain that Father Christmas is very busy at this time of year and sometimes he needs other people to help him. But, you always should assume it is the real Father Christmas because you never know when it will be him. My nephew is coming to stay on Sunday, so I feel a bit more prepared for his difficult questions now. I do actually have a book called “How Santa Really Works” and I think I am going to have to take him through this book in order to ensure that there are no doubts left in his mind.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


I was so tired yesterday. On Sunday night it took me many hours to fall asleep and so I knew Monday would not be good. I expected to wake up feeling absolutely terrible, but fortunately that did not prove to be the case, it was still a struggle though.

The potential strike action by British Airways is not good news because G and I are due to fly with them to Scotland just after Christmas. Apparently when there is strike action like that, it is the domestic flights that suffer the most. I don’t think we will go by alternative means if we can’t fly with BA because it will be too short notice and likely to be very expensive. G has a new niece as of Sunday and so it would be a shame not to be able to get there to meet her soon.

I have been diligently doing the Radio Christmas quiz, working out what all the programmes are. I have about two programmes to go (out of 50), but am really struggling now. I think I am going to have to watch a lot of television over the Christmas period so I can get some inspiration.

Monday, December 14, 2009


I never really know what to make of my freeholder, but I feel I built some bridges this weekend. Her husband cut the hedge outside where we live. It is a massive hedge and took hours to cut and he had to use scaffolding etc. He did it Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning and I went out and cleared up all the branches etc. None of my neighbours came out to help (I’m not sure all of them were about anyway), but I think it made it all the more noticeable to him that I did help as no-one else did. It looks so different outside now as it had been completely overgrown. Now the only problem is getting rid of all of the garden waste.

Anyway, I thought I would give you a small insight into the workings of my brain. Here are some things I have looked up on the internet recently. I am one of those people who often thinks “I wonder why…”

I wanted to know why Frank Gardner was able to stand up on the news recently. In case you aren’t familiar with who he is, he is the BBC journalist who was shot and left for dead whilst reporting from the Middle East. It seems that he uses callipers and this allows him to stand and move about a bit but in reality he is still largely wheelchair bound. I think he is a very impressive person for his determination.

I also wanted to know how you can heck that someone who claims to be a solicitor really is one. The way to do this (in the UK) is to check via The Law Society. You can check a firm by looking here.

Another thing I wanted to know was about Teletext shutting down. It seems that today is the last day it will broadcast. This is due to drop in demand and the switch to digital services. Ceefax on the BBC will continue for now though – and actually I prefer that, as it is now filled with adverts. It’s still the end of an era though.

Friday, December 11, 2009


I went to a Carol Concert last night. There were meant to be three of us going from work, but one person was unwell. So I went with a chap that I don’t really know very well, but he is a nice chap (and quite posh). It was only when we got there that I realised that it is probably quite weird to sing in front of someone that you work with and I think we both felt a bit self-conscious about it, despite both of us being willing singers. It was quite a good concert, but they were a bit ambitious expecting the audience to sing along to the Hallelujah Chorus. It is quite complicated with various parts repeated and different parts being sung at the same time etc. I suspect it didn’t quite go as they had planned. At the end there was going to be wine on offer so some girls were pouring it out as the concert was coming to a close with a rendition of the Lord’s Prayer being sung by the choir. The girls were clinking the bottle so loudly that someone had to go over to them and ask them to be quiet. This all rather broke the spell of the moment.

Anyway, after work today I am going to visit someone from work in hospital as she had a big operation this week. The rest of the weekend is a blank sheet at the moment.

Have a good weekend all.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


My freeholder has been driving me mad for ages – due to her complete inability to communicate about the work she was having done on one of the flats she owns and on my request to extend my lease. She finally wrote back to me yesterday (after me pointing out to her that I had been waiting four months for a reply, despite chasing letters!) and she suggested a price. The price is fine, but her reason for suggesting it is “to be friendly”. To be friendly?? Whilst I accept the sentiment (and I am getting a reasonably good deal), I think she sums up the problem with her understanding of her role as a freeholder. It’s a business relationship and therefore taking four months to deal with things is not acceptable. We’re not mates (and haven’t even been friendly with each other of late given her complete inability to deal with things or follow through on the things she has agreed).

Of course, there was a sting in tail because she also explained that she will be writing shortly to ask for the building insurance plus £7000 to carry out works. Fortunately, I will have to speak to a solicitor anyway about the lease extension so will seek advice on what I should be asking her for to substantiate a demand for that amount of money – and given that there is a huge deficit due to her failure to collect maintenance money for a number of years, I am wondering whether it should be for us to make up that loss. Very possibly yes, but a lawyer might have another view. I feel that I need to get the lease extended before I go into battle though.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009


Half of my team is still off sick and the ones who are not ill don’t seem to be doing much better in other ways. One of them has had rather a bad run of things. First she was involved in a car crash on the way into work. Then she was stopped at some traffic lights and a police officer in the car next to hers indicated that one of her children was not properly strapped in. He had undone his seatbelt a few moments before to pick up a car he had dropped on the floor –and the officer saw this. So my colleague pulled over to the side of the road to do his seat belt up and the officer then pulled over and issued her with a fixed penalty fine for driving while her child’s seatbelt was undone. My colleague asked what she should have done to do up the seatbelt other than pull over e.g. should she have got out of the car in the middle of traffic and done it, but the officer (who was female) wouldn’t answer the question and just continued to write out the fine. I was very unimpressed by this and have suggested that she speak to a solicitor (we can do this for free through work) and find out what would happen if she tried to contact the fine and that she also should put in a complaint to the police.

She then phoned me at home last night and said that her car had been broken into and she had left her handbag in the car so she had lost all her bank cards, money etc etc etc. She was also worried that she’d had her work passes stolen as she didn’t know how to report those as lost, so those were the only things that she hadn’t sorted. I didn’t know either, but will check at work today.

I did say to her that they say these things come in threes (not that I am superstitious, but it seemed the right thing to say) and so hopefully it was going to be better from here on in.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009


Three of my team were off sick yesterday. One had swine flu. One probably has swine flu and the other has a bad cold. Somebody else didn’t come in because her central heating broke. So there was a grand total of us three of us in. I think the rest of the office was grateful we work in another building, as clearly we need to be in quarantine.

We put the Christmas decorations up last night. That took quite a while and clearly should have been on the chores list (as an annual chore), as it took up a lot of time. We are now only willing to do things if we get full credit for it. We have possibly released a demon by drawing up the chores rota.

Tonight G and I are meeting on Oxford Street to try and finish the last bits of Christmas shopping. After tonight we should pretty much be done, although extra present requirements seem to keep appearing (I have now had to buy two different Secret Santa presents), but hopefully the Christmas shopping agony will soon be over. I am very short of Christmas present ideas though and a few people have asked me what I want and I have no suggestions at all. My normal suggestions of a house or world peace don’t seem to cut it.

Monday, December 07, 2009


I am not sure if this shows that we have too much time on our hands or not enough, but yesterday afternoon G and I spent ages writing a list of all the chores that need doing, room by room, and then we turned it into an Excel spreadsheet and then we worked out how often each one needed to be done and then how long each job takes. It is now stuck on the fridge as a chart and we can tick when we have done each one. We are terrible at doing some chores and so are hoping that a new system will help, and perhaps show how long it has been since we have done certain tasks. I have no idea if it will work or just show how inadequate we are.

On Saturday we met up with my mum and nephew and went to see Father Christmas and then went to a puppet show. As we were waiting for the puppet show to start my nephew turned to me and said “so, are there two or three Father Christmases?” I asked what he meant and he said that the one he had seen that day looked different to the one he’d seen previously, as this one wore glasses. Mum warned me to answer very carefully and I after playing for a bit of time explained to him that a lot of people changed their appearances – so my mum sometimes wears glasses but sometimes doesn’t, but she was still the same person. Sometimes people just look a bit different. I think he took this on board was still a bit sceptical. I think all Santa representatives should have to sign up to a particular “appearance code” to avoid awkward questions like this.

Friday, December 04, 2009


I am going to the dentist this morning, which means that I will be late into work. This is probably a good thing because I am the only person in my office today. Someone is coming over for a bit in the afternoon so we can talk through some of her ideas before she changes jobs in the New Year, but beyond that I think I will be on my lonesome.

There should have been a couple of other people in, but one of them has swine flu and the other has some symptoms of swine flu and her husband has full blown swine flu. This is despite swine flu apparently being on the decline. Another person in my team hasn’t been in this week because her children have got chickenpox so she needs to be at home to look after them. Hopefully there might be a slightly better turn out next week.

Thursday, December 03, 2009


My trip Up North went fine, despite a somewhat dodgy northbound journey. I felt a bit ropey by the time I got off the train and said this to the woman I was travelling with, and she said she felt the same. Then a woman who got off the train at the same stop said she had felt the same. I don’t know what was going on during that journey, but I was not a fan.

When I got back to London, I met up with G and some friends for a drink. One of them didn’t turn up though as she was unwell, and she had been unwell the last time we met up. I asked her partner if she was ok and he explained that she was mainly unwell in the morning. I think G and I took a few moments for the penny to drop and we then picked our jaws up off the table so that we could say congratulations. G was fairly quiet for the rest of the evening, I think due to the shock of this news! It’s good news, just totally unexpected and I think G thinks their friendship has changed so much over the last few years that this will just change it all the more. Not that G is a selfish person or isn’t pleased about their news, but it does mean quite big change. We were actually meeting to discuss the menu for a Christmas meal we are going to have, and we did manage to discuss that and come up with a truly delightful menu that appears to include my mum making s steam pudding. I am not sure how that happened…

I would also like to say that tube travel does make Londoners aggressive. I am not sure if that justifies me being a grumpy commuter or should make me try extra hard to break the norm.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Food for thought

Early mornings and late nights do not mix. So to get you in the Christmas spirit, I think it is time for you to start thinking about what you are going to have for Christmas dinner, so I am going to suggest some turkey and some sprouts.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009


It’s an early start today to head up North. I don’t like early starts. I am going with someone else and she is new to the office, so she is coming on the visit with me. I spoke to her briefly yesterday to explain a bit about the visit and I also thought it was a good opportunity to tell her the rules of train travel which are “you don’t have to pretend to do lots of work on the train. If you want to read a book, read a book. If you want to go to sleep, go to sleep” and so on. I thought it was best to avoid those “am I going to get into trouble if I’m not looking really busy the whole time” situations.

At work, I still don’t have a new contract. My only concern about that is that I need to make sure I am still on the payroll, as I really need to get paid at the end of December (as I do any month actually…). I can’t seem to get confirmation at the moment and the payroll cut off date must be fairly soon, so I need to get someone to confirm this for me asap.

Welcome to December, by the way. I hope you are starting to get into the festive spirit. I now have a Christmas meal to go to every week until Christmas. I hope I don’t peak too early.