Friday, October 30, 2009


I had the day off work today. I met up with my sister and nephew and we went to see the Changing of the Guards and then went to the National Gallery and looked at some paintings and ate jam and scones in the café there. I am no expert on art but we were trying to get my nephew to look at some of the paintings and he then had to describe what he saw and tell use whether he liked the painting or not (he generally did like them). He also has a very good sense of direction and was really good at directing us using the map we had picked up at the entrance.

G flew up to Scotland this afternoon and will be back on Monday. I am wondering quite what I will do with myself on Sunday. I lived on my own for ages and never had a problem entertaining myself, but it is strange how quickly we adapt to other circumstances. I am busy most of the day tomorrow because the training for my volunteering starts. I am sort of looking forward to that, but also wondering what I have signed up to…

I assume G made it to the airport. I walked with G to the bus stop, as I needed to get the tube about the same time. It was only on the way there that G thought to wonder which terminal the flight was from. I texted a friend who looked it up on her computer and then texted me back. G phoned the airline anyway to check. I guess I normally sort these things out for us and G just hadn’t thought about it. G also texted me and said “do I get off the bus at [a station near where we live]” to which I replied “No, [station much further away]”. This did not bode well. I am going to drive to the airport on Monday and collect G so hopefully it will be a bit less fraught then.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


My team has been given a stay of execution. We can now stay together until the end of December (although I guess the second half of December will be a bit of a right off anyway). After that? Who knows… Maybe we will get another stay of execution of sorts.

Anyway, at work the managers at my grade have been asked to apply for a new project that the office is going to run and it will be the ‘replacement’ for my team. I can apply to run it (and may or may not get it) or if one of the other managers does it then I will backfill their post. They want a side of A4 explaining why we would want to do the job and I am just not sure that I can be bothered to fill out the application. I would be interested in doing the project, but equally would be fine with backfilling the vacated post. But I feel as though I should apply and the work would be quite interesting, but sort of venturing into the unknown… And also possibly entirely reshaping the way that we work, which might or might not be welcome. Hmm, I have a couple of weeks to get the application written, so we shall see if I can summon up the energy.

I am off work tomorrow. I can’t wait.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


As you might have noticed, I do also have a book blog, which is, primarily, my way of keeping note of the books I have read and some of the basic details of them. Since January last year, I have read 121 books, 61 of which were read this year, which is probably quite good going.

I was looking at some of the details of the books I have read over the last 22 months and was really surprised that 60 of the books have been written by British authors, which, in case you haven’t worked it out, represents almost dead on half the books I have read. The next nationality I have read the most of is American authors – and I have read 25 books by Americans. The latter figure is probably somewhat skewed by my discovery of Paul Auster because he is my top ranking author – I have read six of his books since I started that blog and imagine I will read several more by him. The author that comes next is John Wyndham (a Brit) and I have read five of his books – of which The Day of the Triffids was the best.

Over that time period I have actually really broadened the types of books I read, thanks in part to the book ‘1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die’. I am thinking of stopping at book 1000 in case it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. I have also got some great book ideas from other bloggers, such as Sarah and I continue to be amazed at some of the books out there (although I have also read some that I have found absolutely dire).

I really like books and my biggest problem seems to be finding the time to read them all.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


I seem to be suffering jetlag from the change in the clocks this weekend. I am very pathetic. I think I just am so used to going to be at about the same sort of time most nights that any break to the routine and I get sleep deprivation. I know that we actually got an extra hours sleep, but I still went to bed later than normal and somehow my body clock take a bit of time to adjust to any change. The sooner I can retire the better.

We went to my parents’ house for dinner last night. We had sausage and mash and G fell off the veggie wagon again and ate pork sausages. Mum would have cooked G something different, but the temptation was too great. I had briefed my family not to comment too much is G ate meat, as I feel that being supportive of such moves is for the greater good. My nephew and sister were there as well and my nephew just does not get that things are not quite so hyper on a week night and tried to entice me into various activities, but without success. This did include him wanting to compare belly buttons, but I declined his kind invitation. I am actually taking Friday off work to do stuff with my nephew so I will have to be on better form then (but I think I will probably still decline the belly button invitation).

Monday, October 26, 2009


Yesterday morning I was not very impressed when builders turned up to do some work for the freeholder in her empty flat. They had already been there all day on Saturday and then turned up at 9am on a Sunday morning. I phoned the freeholder at about 9.20am to ask if they were going to be there all day, as I was so unimpressed that they were that at all during a weekend. The freeholder was confused, as she was under the impression that all they had left to do was to put in the cooker – and they had also been asked not to do any work at weekends. Her husband was going to come over later in the day to see what was going on, but I went out at lunch time so have no idea if he did.

I have been interested in the discussions about Nick Griffin and his appearance on Question Time. I think it was fine that he was on the programme, but that it shouldn’t have been quite so focussed on him and he should have been able to show his true colours (do you see what I did there?) on a range of issues i.e. that his party lacked any policies beyond anything on race and immigration. Anyway, the whole furore reminded me of something I read in the book Freakonomics, which explained part of the downfall of the Ku Klux Klan*. Basically in the 1934s a man called Stetson Kennedy infiltrated the Klan and by way of radio broadcasts gave away their ‘secrets’ thus destroying its ‘mystery’ and making it a bit of a laughing stock. He supplied to secrets to Hollywood writers who then used them as part of the plots for the Superman radio programme broadcasts, which children listened to. The children then re-enacted these scenes in their playground games and it helped to undo the power of the Klan and people were embarrassed to be associated with it. I am sure that is a very simplistic summary of what really happened and there were likely to be a number of other factors as well, but there is a part of me that thinks that maybe not taking the party too seriously might actually be the what could bring about its downfall. This is not the same as not seeing the threat it could pose. But laughing at something, rather than treating it like an enemy to be defeated – which surely puffs it up and makes it feel stronger and a force to be reckoned with - is potentially a better way to bring about its demise. Just a thought…

As a minor aside on another matter – that of the Jan Moir/ Stephen Gately furore – if you want to read a really good take on the shallowness of journalists of that ilk, you should read “What a Carve Up” by Jonathan Coe. One of the characters is a really brilliant satire on that type of journalism. It is also a very good book and worth reading anyway.

*I can’t quite recall how this bit of the book had anything to do with economics, but we will brush over that.

Friday, October 23, 2009


So, unexpectedly, yesterday I found out about my job and also the future of my team. The news is that I can stay on in the office for longer (until at least the end of the financial year) but my team is being disbanded. Another team will be created that I might or might not manage and might have people from my current team in it but might not. So it is all a bit uncertain, but I do have a job and I do also have a slightly miserable team, as they were very disappointed by the news that they were being split up (as was I). I will have a team to manage but at the moment it isn’t clear who that will consist of, but all should become clear over the next few weeks. So I am pleased, but a bit disappointed.

Anyway… G and I went out for dinner with my mum last night, which was very pleasant and didn’t cost very much either as we redeemed some TopTable points. The restaurant was very busy, and so there was a fairly quick turn around on the table, but the food was very nice.

When I got home I phoned the woman from my team who had been in hospital and found out she has now been released, which is good news. I told her what the decision was about the team and she wasn’t very happy about that and said she would talk to the others and think about what she will do. At least she is on the mend now, so that is good.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


The course went pretty well yesterday and the feedback was all very good – and the new bosses was very complimentary, which was pleasing and hopefully it will have convinced them that they cannot possibly survive without me.

Last night I spoke to the woman in my team who is in hospital. She is still there and it seems they have now identified that she has an enlarged heart. They don’t seem to have worked out why this is the case or what can be done about it. I asked her a few questions but she said that without her usual source of information - Google- she was a bit stumped. I was actually sitting in front of my computer when we were discussing it but didn’t really think it was wise to offer to look it up for her in case I made some terrible discovery about life expectancy or some such thing.

Anyway… A couple of nights ago I realised that sometimes it is good to take advice. I got on the tube was about to sit down when someone told me that seat was wet. I put my hand on the chair and said it didn’t feel that wet, so said I would sit there anyway. But after a couple of minutes I realised that I should perhaps have heeded that person’s advice as the dampness seeped through my trousers in greater and greater quantities. By then though I felt that I had rather committed myself to sitting there and felt I had to abide by my decision – and in fact giving up the seat would have made it available for someone else, which would have just passed the problem on. So I endured it, but took my trousers off when I got home and had to wash them as they were very wet and had also picked up a somewhat unpleasant odour. Sometimes it is worth listening to the advice of strangers.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Keeping on

I spent most of yesterday evening, in fact all of it apart from when I ate dinner, doing work. The course went pretty well yesterday, but I foolishly agreed to conduct an interview, which will be videoed, today and I hadn’t plotted out the interview so I had to spend last night doing it. I haven’t actually agreed a script with the other person because it is meant to be vaguely genuine looking, but this might prove to be a mistake! Both of us are nervous that we are going to be one to let the side down, but hopefully we can wing it.

I also spent a while talking to the woman in my team who was admitted to hospital on Monday. She is still in hospital, but seemed in good spirits. This was rather an improvement on what she was like on Monday because for quite a while she thought she was going to die, including when a doctor saw her at the hospital and he did various things and lots of blood started to appear. I think it has all been rather traumatic and she isn’t entirely happy that they still don’t know what is wrong with her, but they appear to have ruled out some of the more serious options.

Hopefully this is the last team drama for now. My team are lovely though and my boss commented to me yesterday about how touched she was to see how enthusiastic my team were about me. Hopefully it will be enough to convince them to keep me on...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


The two people in my team who were not getting on seem to have patched up their differences. I believe they even gave each other a hug yesterday. So, that is certainly an improvement.

The new team related issue is that one of my team is currently on hospital due to breathing issues. She got taken to hospital yesterday morning and had various tests run and stayed in hospital over night. I think she might get released today. My team are nothing if not eventful. Actually when I got into work one of my team told me straight away that the partner of this colleague had phoned and my team wanted me to phone straight away to find out if something was wrong. This wasn’t because they are nosy but because our office seems to have a higher than average death rate and they therefore wanted me to make sure that something really serious hadn’t happened. So I phoned as soon as I sat down at my desk and the rest of the team breathed a collective sigh of relief that it wasn’t worse news. It’s amazing how paranoid you can get working in my office! I hope things improve today.

Anyway, I am off out early today to go and meet up with the other person I am running this course with. I hope I survive the next two days.

Monday, October 19, 2009


I had quite a busy weekend, but the majority of it was spent doing work. I am running a two day course on tomorrow and Wednesday and I was running through all my material for it, rewrote small parts of it and also had to write a scenario for something I foolishly agreed to do on the Wednesday. Part of the course is about conducting really difficult interviews, so I have arranged for another manager to join us on the second day and I am going to interview him and he is going to be really obstructive and we are then going to get the group to tell us how we could have done it differently etc. If it works, it should work well, but there is also much scope for disaster... I also found out last week that my two new bosses are coming on the course. Given that they have yet to decide if I can stay on in the office, this is going to feel like a two day job interview!

Yesterday we did find time to go out for a walk in the sunshine and we also went for dinner at the local Lebanese restaurant. The food was nice, but the service was so incredibly slow. I’m not sure I would go there for a meal again, but I might go there for a coffee and some baklava.

Anyway, I shall be so glad when the next couple of days are over...

Friday, October 16, 2009


Yesterday was another difficult day. The woman from my team that I had spoken to the previous day phoned me and told me how utterly upset she was by the whole conversation (by the content rather than upset with me). She burst into tears on the phone and so I spent ages talking to her and trying to help her get what I had said into perspective. I managed to get her from a position of wanting to just walk away and never come back to agreeing to sit down with the other person and for them to communicate directly, which I do genuinely think will solve the problem.

I then had to speak to the other person (both of them work from home on a Thursday and Friday) and I couldn’t get in touch with her until about 4pm. She had seen how upset the other one was the previous day and had been upset by that and so we then talked about that for a while. She has agreed that they should talk to each other and hopes that they can clear the air. Now I have got them to the place of being willing to speak to each other, I shall step back and leave them to deal with it.

Anyway... I like the new PostSecret video (although it is slightly clichéd at the end). So I shall leave you to reflect on that.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Hard days

Yesterday was an odd day. I met with my two new bosses, which was fine except that the big boss had clearly not told them that a) I could very, very probably stay on and b) my team was very, very likely to stay together. They told me that the realised the need to make a decision very soon and would get back to me.

Anyway, my team then met with the new bosses and that went well and at one point someone in the team said what a great manager I am and they all then gave me a round of applause. I was rather touched and the new bosses asked me afterwards how much they had paid me!

It all went downhill from then on. I spoke to the woman in my team who had upset someone else in the team. She was utterly shocked by the news that she had upset someone and couldn’t understand why what she had said might have been upsetting. We talked about that for a bit. But she was also upset that the other person had come to me rather than spoken to her about – as if it was the other way around, she would have spoken to the other person. I said that not everyone deals with things in the same way and that there was nothing wrong with me being the one who was told, and that it as a manager I then needed to do something and failing to do so would have just been sloping shoulders on my part. I did explain that I wasn’t accusing her of anything and that I was talking to her raise the concerns and to listen to what she had to say. But I did say that perhaps I should have encouraged the other woman to consider talking to her directly, even if she then declined to do so.

It didn’t really go very well and I just felt that I should have dealt with it differently, even though I’m not really sure what else I should have done. She was very upset by the whole thing and after we had finished speaking she then spoke to someone else in the team to say how upset she was (by the situation rather than with me). That person then spoke to me at the end of the day and said that they were going to speak on the phone last night, at which point she would say that she thought the (original) person who was upset actually deserved an apology and intended to say so on the phone in as tactful a way as possible. But it’s a mess and I am now concerned that the team might start to unravel and all the good things we have achieved will get lost or at least seriously overshadowed by this. *sigh*

Then while I was eating dinner, my mum phoned to say that my sister was having a crisis and she was going to drive over and see her, but could I phone and talk to my sister while she was on the way there. So I spent a while talking to my sister, who was not doing very well at all, and trying to help her piece together some even very vague thoughts about the way forward.

It was a hard day yesterday.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


My team are meeting with the new bosses today and we get the chance to ay what we want to happen in the future. Whether they will agree is another matter, but at least the team have the chance to have their say.

One of my team spoke to me yesterday and said that she is feeling rather “got at” by someone else in the team and I can kind of see what she means. I think they are both quite strong characters, but in different ways, and this sometimes means that one of them is a bit harsh at times. I said that I’d talk to the other person about it to see what is going on. The one who spoke to me said that she is thinking of changing the days she comes into the office because she is finding it all a bit much. I said that wasn’t very fair and that I’ll see what I can do.

I suppose my fear about it is that I will talk to K about it and put her back up and she will then say that she doesn’t want to continue to be in the team when the six months comes to an end. I don’t want that to happen and so I feel as though I have a fine line to tread in terms of challenging questionable behaviour without appearing to be too draconian. Sometimes I don’t like being a manager.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


My team went out for lunch yesterday. We went to a rather nice restaurant very close to work. Work was paying for it, as a reward for our hard work, so we decided to go somewhere posh that was doing a good deal. So we went to a restaurant that was part of the London Restaurant Festival, which finishes today actually. We ate some great food and had a very pleasant time. We are thinking of going back there for breakfast some time soon, as you can get a really good deal on it through TopTable. Fortunately, all of my team are keen on eating so they like to consume as much as possible. In fact yesterday I took a box of Quality Street to the team meeting and they had eaten every one of them by the end of the meeting (and I didn’t eat any of them!).

I seem to be having a slow reading month. I started one book and then decided I didn’t like. So I started another one and am not far off finishing that. But my reading seems to be lacking inspiration at the moment. I need to rectify this by finding a book that gets my reading juices flowing*.

In other news, this article gives a whole new meaning to pets being therapy.

*I’m not really sure what “reading juices” actually are, but I shall leave that to your imagination.

Monday, October 12, 2009


This weekend was a mixture of the mundane and the creative. The most creative thing I did this weekend was to make some raspberry ripple ice cream. I really like raspberry ripple ice cream and this was a sort of cheesecakey version of it. I think it worked fairly well, but wasn’t 100% convinced. I also couldn’t quite work out how you put the swirls in without making the whole thing turn a pink colour, but managed to work out a method that was fairly successful.

My sister and nephew came over for lunch yesterday (hence me making the ice cream). G made some sweetcorn pancakes to start and then we had sausage and mash. My nephew was particularly enthusiastic about the pancakes, which he described as “the best thing ever”. After lunch we went to the park and fed the ducks and looked at some budgies that were in an aviary there – expect there were two dead budgies on the floor of the cage, so we decided it was probably best to move on fairly quickly.

Today, my two new bosses start. I already know them, as I worked for them both a few years ago. I am hoping that they will confirm that I can stay on and we can get it signed off asap. As we have already exceeded our target, I am hopeful that they will not take much convincing of the benefits of keeping me on. We shall see...

Friday, October 09, 2009


I am pleased to report that I managed to get through a day of work yesterday without anybody dying (that I know of).

I have also pretty much finished writing the first day of the course that I am running and have prepared all of the materials to go with it. Just the second day to sort now…

At work I sit on my own. I am only a few feet from my team, but when we selected the desks I left it to them to sit together and then took what was left, which I knew would mean sitting on my own. Anyway, another team is coming over to join us and one of them phoned me today to ask if she could sit next to me. It was like being back at school, but in a nice way, given that I hated school. I think some of it is that she doesn’t want to sit near her own manager, but I shall take the compliment and look forward to being less lonely.

Thursday, October 08, 2009


It has certainly been an interesting week. I spoke to the person from my team who had made the mistake. She told me she had hardly slept because it had been on her mind so much. I said to her that she’d already spoken to the big boss and as far as he was concerned, the matter was now closed and not to beat herself up about it. We chatted for a while and I think she felt better by the end of the conversation.

My team also reached, and exceeded, its target yesterday. We have now achieved what we had until the end of November to do. However, we still have absolutely loads of work to do, so I have told them they can’t put their pens down. It’s good timing though, as we are going out for lunch next week and also the new bosses start, so to be able to tell them that we have completed our really stretching target already. So that’s good.

Other things are not so good though. Yesterday we heard that a colleague died at the weekend. We hadn’t worked with her for a while, but we were all rather shocked by this, and there were several people from the office who were still in regular contact with her. She was a really nice person and we used to be in the same team when I worked in the office previously. So that was bad enough news in itself, but actually someone else from the office (who had also left a while ago) died on Monday. So four people from the office have died in about three years. We don’t do anything dangerous or that risks our lives. It isn’t even a big office. None of the people were even old. But we seem to have the most phenomenally high death rate.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009


Yesterday, I spent an incredibly tedious day in a meeting. I did chat to my new boss who starts on Monday though. I did already know her, but it was nice to catch up with her and be reminded what she was like. I then went back to my desk for about an hour to then be contacted by the big boss to say that someone in my team had made rather a big mistake while she was out on a visit. He had found this out from the place she had visited, but she phoned him later and explained herself what had happened.

I think she was absolutely mortified by it all and for her to have phoned the big boss showed that she knew she had messed up. He’s a nice bloke though and will have been pretty decent about it. She’s not in the office again until tomorrow so I will have a chat with her then. But as the big boss has already talked to her about it, it will be primarily to see if she is ok and so she knows I am aware what happened. I judge things on overall performance and she won’t face any further consequences of it – and I don’t think there is anything I could say that would make her feel any worse than she probably already does.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009


Yesterday was interesting… there was some news that wasn’t so great, but I can’t even begin to explain about that, so the least said the better. However, in good news, I got offered a place as a volunteer. The scary man left a voicemail so I sent him an e-mail last night to make sure that I didn’t get into trouble for not being enthusiastic enough. The training starts at the end of the month, so I need to get some practice in now so that I don’t cry if the man tells me off.

Monday, October 05, 2009


On Thursday last week I walked past a van that was making a delivery to a house near where I live. I happened to glance at its tyres and saw that one of them was totally bald – it had no tread on in it whatsoever and was basically an entirely smooth tyre. I would have spoken to the driver, but he was about to drive off. The tyre looked completely dangerous so I thought about what to do as I sat on the tube going to work. By the time I got to work I had decided that they best thing to do was to contact my local neighbourhood policing team (I don’t know if you get these all over the UK, but in London there are a small group of officers dedicated to each area of a borough). So I sent them an email giving them as much of the registration as I could remember and an internet link to the company and explained my concerns.

The next morning the police emailed me back and said they’d spoken to the company the previous day and spent ages talking to them about the importance of the roadworthiness of vehicles etc. It was such a helpful response from the police and I was so impressed with the way they dealt with my concerns. I wasn’t really sure whether it was worth contacting them but was glad that I had because they took what I said really seriously. I wouldn’t do it over minor things, but I was so concerned about the state of that van (and it was a big and reputable company as well) and thought it would have been remiss to do nothing.

In other news, on Friday the big boss told me that he intends to extend my secondment, which is really good news. Not only that, but he thinks my tea, should stay together (assuming none of them want to go back to their previous teams because they only signed up for six months). I still want to get it all in writing and I have two new bosses starting in a week’s time and they will have to agree it. But it is all looking very hopeful and I now just need to get them to sign in blood.

Friday, October 02, 2009


None of my team were in yesterday (and actually none of them are in today either), but I was talking to one of them on the phone. She was telling me how unimpressed she is with the manager who I mentioned in yesterday’s post and that she doesn’t rate her at all. There’s no point explaining here why she thinks that, but what the person from my team also said was how much my team want me to stay on and that they want to keep on working for me after the project has finished and she was going to make sure that they said this when my new bosses start in just over a week’s time. It’s nice to get a vote of confidence from them and I hope they are quite persuasive with my new bosses.

Yesterday I had the interview for the volunteering I want to do. I was interviewed by two people, one of whom was the scary man who I met a few weeks ago. I think I managed to escape relatively unscathed (as in didn’t get told off!) and the interview seemed to go quite well. I’ll find out next week if they want me. If I get it, it’s going to be pretty tough work, but I think I will learn lots – not least, how to deal with scary people.

Thursday, October 01, 2009


Another team is meant to be joining us from the main office. That team’s manager is the person in the office I seem to have a bit of a mixed relationship with. I think she gets stressed quite easily and, certainly when I started, she was quite off with me several times, which I think was because she wasn’t coping very well with all the things she had to do.

She came over yesterday to see the desks, which was interesting. Her team had already been over the previous day and they were in the process of choosing their desks, but she said to me “I told them they needed to stop because I needed to go over and see the desks so I could pick mine and they would then all fit in around me”. I just looked at her and said “ok”, but I wasn’t very impressed by that. There are times when managers have to be in the lead, but I really don’t think this was one of them. When my team had to pick their desks, I told them to decide amongst themselves and I would then take what was left. I knew this would mean I ended up sitting on my own, but it really isn’t an issue and it was more important that the rest of the team got to sit together.

She then told me she had to rush off because she had so much work to do. She is going to be on leave as of the end of this week, so I just said that if I didn’t see her before she went that I hoped she had a good holiday. Apparently earlier in the day she had also said that unless the office took on more staff to form another team that she couldn’t see there would be any point in me staying on at the end of my secondment, which I didn’t think was a very helpful thing to say and I don’t suppose she would have appreciated it if I was broadcasting my opinions on whether I thought she should continue to be employed by the office. She’s a nice person, I think she just doesn’t cope well with change or pressure.