Friday, January 29, 2010


I was meant to do some volunteering last night, but it was cancelled because scary man was off sick. I think this is an incredibly rare event (in fact on Saturday he told us that he had only been off sick for three days in the last 20 years), but we may finally have found some ‘weakness’ in him.

I read an article yesterday about how one branch of Tesco has banned people from shopping in their pyjamas. I am not a big fan of Tesco, but hooray for them! What are people doing going shopping in their pyjamas? Pyjamas are nightclothes and should be reserved for that purpose. Personally, I wouldn’t even go into my own back garden in my night clothes, let alone somewhere more public than that. When I get up, I get dressed and the day starts, I’m not a fan of sitting about in my nightclothes. If people stop shopping at Tesco as a result of this, somehow I don’t think it will be that great a loss. I think it is fair enough to require people to get dressed before they go out. I despair.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


My phone was indeed at work, so I got it connected again last night. So that was relief to get it all sorted so easily.

I am someone who likes their sleep and needs a lot of it. I felt rather chastened at feeling hard done by if I get less than eight hours a night, when one of my colleagues told me that she has not slept for more than two hours at a time since the birth of her daughter nearly two years ago. I just cannot comprehend going for such a long period of time without a decent night’s sleep. The very thought of it is hard enough, let alone the reality.

On the way home tonight there were these two men talking to each other on the tube. One of them worked in banking and his friend asked him how old he was when he left home. He replied “27, 28 when I got married”. He said this a couple of times and I thought it was very oddly imprecise. He wasn’t correcting himself, “27, 28” was the actual answer. Surely people would remember how old they were when they got married. Then he was saying that shortly after he got married he went to work in Hong Kong for a few months. His friend asked how long he had been there for and he said “Three to six months”. Three to six months? What kind of an answer is that? Given that he worked in baking, I think we now have an understanding of where our current financial woes stem from.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


I seem to have mislaid my mobile phone somewhere. It might be on my desk at work. Or it might not. On the way home I did wonder if I knew where it was. I had a search through my bag and pockets, but it didn’t show up. I know I had it at work, but beyond that I have no recollection. Although, if I knew where it was, I guess it wouldn’t be lost. So I phoned my mobile phone company when I got home and asked them to block the phone, just in case I wasn’t just incompetent and left it on my desk (although I guess a cleaner or some such might pilfer it. More fool them…). When I get to work today, I’ll see if I am reunited with it.

I read the article about the hostage Peter Moore’s account of his captivity and I could just imagine the moment he described when he was met by someone from the Foreign Office and the sense of relief he must have felt to be told he was finally going home.

"The first time I really believed I was being released was when I stepped out of the vehicle and somebody from the Foreign Office walked up to me and said they were from the Foreign Office and they were there to take me home."

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


For once, I arranged to meet up with G after work so we could travel home together. This was for no other reason that that I looked at my watch as I was leaving work and realised we would be travelling home at about the same time. So we agreed to rendezvous part way through our journey and I was waiting for G to arrive at which point I realised there was some engineering work going on and this meant the trains were not running as normal. This did not make for a pleasant journey home (in that the train was very crowded, we had a nice chat though). Having never arranged to meet G like that on the way home before, I felt as though I had picked quite the wrong opportunity to be inspired to do so. Timing is everything.

I have really got out of the habit of going for lunch time walks. Yesterday I had to really force myself to go out. I actually had a couple of things in mind to do if I went out, but decided only to do one of them so that I could pace myself in order to have a reason to force me to go out tomorrow. I really do not think that 2010 has been good for me so far in terms of exercise and I need to get back into the habit of it or I will end up ten stone over weight and with a vitamin D deficiency.

Monday, January 25, 2010


My training is finished. Hooray! Now it is just the real thing to contend with. As part of the training, we have had to do role plays pretty much every week. Two people had never done the main part of it, so they had to do it this time. It is hard (and more difficult than the real thing in some ways) and you are being watched by other people in the group, who give you feedback at the end. The thing is that it did not go well… at all… and in the end the role play was stopped and we weren’t allowed to give feedback (which was a good thing because I was desperately looking for some positive things to say). One of the people looked entirely traumatised by it all and went very sullen and silent. She was one of the strongest characters in the group and it was difficult to see things go so badly for her and her reaction to it all. She had to have a word with the trainer at the end of the day anyway and I did wonder if she might say that she didn’t think it was for her any more, which would be a shame. It did go really badly though...

I have finally updated my book blog. I have done it without reviewing one of the books I have read, which is a shame because it was a good book and Sarah (at her newly renamed blog), in particular, would have wanted to know what I thought it, but to avoid being tracked down, I decided that silence was the best option! This blogging thing can be overly complicated at times or perhaps that is just me making it so!

Friday, January 22, 2010


I did some more volunteering last night. It was meant to be easy, but actually the person we were dealing with was very cocky and it was not quite the simple process it was meant to be. At the end of the evening the trainer gave me and the other person I was doing it with some feedback and it was all pretty positive. I’ve noticed though that perhaps one of the things I have got from doing the training is the ability to take feedback, whether good or bad, and accept it and look for how to learn from it and not to take it personally as such. One of the things I need to do in the volunteering is leave my ego out of it all and perhaps I am learning to do that a bit. I don’t think that is the case for the rest of my life, but somehow when I deal with the very scary trainer I have learned to take the rough with the smooth and perhaps to get a bit of backbone!

Hopefully tomorrow is the last day of training and then I can get my Saturday’s back. I realised I am basically working a six day week at the moment and could do with having a two day weekend again. Volunteering is hard work.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


I suffered my first work “defeat” yesterday. Not my first ever you understand, but I think it is the first since I started working where I do now. My team had come up with a proposal to change how some of our work is dealt with, and, as far as I knew, the other managers were in favour of this change and it was just a matter of agreeing the details of it. What actually happened was that they all just flat refused to do introduce the change, so in the end I said my team would do it for our own work and they could carry on as they were. The thing is that I am very hopeful that my team will reap some real benefits from this (relatively minor) change and I suspect other teams will complain that they were not allowed to do it too. I shall have to bite my tongue and not say that they had the chance but their managers said no. It’s times like this that I am very grateful for having such an enthusiastic and willing team.

Yesterday on the way into work I concluded that I really need to get my eyes tested. I have been feeling rather tired and have not been working as fast as normal as a result and have been wondering if it had been eyesight related. So when I got to work I phoned an optician to make an appointment. They fitted me in at lunchtime. I got my eyes tested. I found my eyesight had actually improved a bit meaning one of lenses was now too strong. I picked some new glasses. I went back after work and picked up the glasses. Sorted.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


We are due “heavy snow” for most of the day where I live and “light snow” for most of the day where I work. I have had enough of snow for this year, so am not thrilled by this prospect. The Met Office seem to be quite slow at confirming the snow (can you “confirm” something you are forecasting. I suspect not) this time around and I have heard rumour that they are nervous about forecasting the weather because they have got it wrong several times. I had noticed previously that the weather forecast has often seemed inaccurate, but this did not seem to have put off the weather forecasters from giving the actual forecast.

I can’t decide if this is a sign of humility from the forecasters, perhaps showing that we are less able to predict, let alone control, the elements or that, given their job is to predict the weather with a fair degree of accuracy and reasonably far ahead, it is a failure to do what they are paid to do. I think I would find it somewhat refreshing to hear them say “we simply don’t know”. The ability and willingness of someone to admit when they don’t know is something that I admire. But I do still come back to the rather difficult point: their job is to predict the weather. Somehow I think that if I kept saying that I didn’t know or couldn’t possibly comment as part of my job that in the end someone might think that I was probably not quite doing what I was paid to do. So, I think, for the sake of the forecasters, that I hope for snow, but also that it will soon pass.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Feeling better healthwise unfortunately means having to catch up on the chores. I spend an hour and a half last night doing various household jobs. Perhaps it was better being unwell. G helped with some of the chores and also cooked the dinner. I went into the kitchen while G was serving up the food and politely enquired why the side of the toaster had somehow got cooked. We now have a somewhat burnt looking patch on one side of the toaster. G had noticed a slightly odd smell, but somehow didn’t notice the source of it. Dinner was nice though.

“Smells” reminded me that yesterday morning there was a homeless man on the tube. He seemed liked a nice chap, but was very, very smelly. I felt quite bad for him though because he kept moving his bags in case they were in the way of anyone who wanted to sit down in the seat next to him, but everyone who approached the seat would suddenly clock him with his various bottles and cans of alcohol and also smell him and would then walk off. He even spilt his beer at one point and then he got out a tissue and mopped it all up. I thought that maybe it was quite hurtful to him that people were seemingly so repulsed by him, but I was no better than anyone else because I didn’t get too close.

Monday, January 18, 2010


I feel much better healthwise, but still haven’t shaken off the tiredness that came from being unwell last week. However, the training on Saturday went well and I have foolishly agreed to do some more volunteering on Thursday night this week – foolish because it means very probably taking the ‘lead’ on it, which given that I have incredibly limited experience and what I do has potentially legal implications, might prove to be unwise, but there you go…

On Saturday I was watching a programme and there was just a fairly insignificant comment in it that made me think of the friend I made on the first day of high school. We stayed friends after leaving school (many years ago now…) but over the last couple of years have not been in touch very much for a whole variety of reasons. The moment in the programme just made me feel very sad about our lack of contact and so I sent her a text apologising for being such a rubbish friend and telling her how important she is to me etc. She texted back and said she had been an equally rubbish friend and other such things. I miss my friend and we need to get back in touch properly.

In exciting news (for me rather than you, admittedly), we have just booked to go for a day trip on the Orient Express. It’s not until May, but we have a nice bit of luxury ahead and will go to the coast and back on the British Pullman. Incidentally, should you ever want to do this, you need to check whether you are going both ways on the Orient Express or one way by coach and the other on the train. We are going both ways by train and I think I would be a bit disappointed if we’d book one and had to go by coach one way. Anyway, this trip should help to satisfy our desire for a bit of luxury and some fine dining.

Friday, January 15, 2010


My team got assigned its new batch of work yesterday (we get a new batch of work on roughly a weekly basis now) and two people offered to take all of it on. Then when I was having a one to one with one of those two people she offered to take on the entire next allocation of work, which is a generous offer that I shall take her up on. It is interesting seeing how different people perceive ‘teamliness’. Some seem to think that if they aren’t being given as much work as everyone else that their colleagues will interpret that as them “not pulling their weight”, whereas others see that the work that has to be done is everybody’s “problem” so sometimes they will get more work than others and at other times less. I am really glad that the two people from my previous team came with me to the new one because they are really good at being good team players and just rolling their sleeves up and getting on with it.

This weekend I have more training for my volunteering. I could really do without it because I could just do with catching up on some sleep, whereas I have to get up at about 7.30am for the training. Anyway, hopefully the worst of my cold is gone and I will return to normal function levels.

Have a good weekend all.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Yesterday I felt really rubbish for the first half of the day. I’d been moaning to one of my colleagues about how bad I felt and at lunch time she disappeared off and when she came back she presented me with some cold and flu remedy that she absolutely swears by. I thought it was very kind of her, particularly as I don’t know her all that well. I work with some very nice people.

Productivity at work must be practically going through the floor. A lot of people have been working from home or working very short days. One person in my team took ages to get in and was then concerned she’d struggle to get home, so she just collected some files and went straight back home again. I am bored of the snow now (and in fact was bored of it by about day 2). I want my cold to go away and the snowy and cold weather is not what I need to be getting fighting fit. It hasn’t even been kind enough to make it impossible to get into work. I do seem to have a relatively positive outlook to my current ill-health and often I find myself thinking “I’m going to feel really great when this cold has gone away”. I’m hoping to feel better soon…

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


I did my first ‘proper’ bit of volunteering last night. It went well (not that I did anything other than sit there), but I did have to try and stop myself laughing at a few points, which was quite an achievement on a couple of occasions.

Yesterday I also started to have one to ones with my new team (although a couple of them are actually from my previous team). I think I managed to earn some brownie points with one of them by telling her I don’t plan to give her any more work for a bit and instead she should spend the time dealing with the work she already had. I think she was a bit shocked by this (in a good way) and then was concerned that the others would think she wasn’t pulling her weight, but I assured her that I really didn’t think that would be the case and it would all even out in the end. She has twice as much work as some of the others in the team so it is just daft to keep giving her more work to do. Hopefully this will also buy some goodwill from her for the future. I am hoping a happy workforce is also a productive one.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


G is not in my good books. I have a cold and I got it from G, who was off sick from work for two days last week. I can’t be sick! My new team has just started its work and I am doing my first bit of proper volunteering tonight (as opposed to the training for it). I can’t possibly tell the man who runs it that I’m not well, as I think any condition I have might become somewhat fatal.

Anyway... I found a very amusing website and I feel the need to share it. Do you ever have those occasions when someone asks you a question and you wonder why they couldn’t just find out the answer for themselves? My neighbour asks me all sorts of things, so perhaps I should refer her here. So, nest time someone asks you one of *those* questions. Here’s your answer. So… next time someone says to you “The other day I was trying to remember when the Battle of Hastings was. Do you remember when that was?” Then here’s how you can respond. Brilliant. And somewhat passive aggressive... But very amusing.

Monday, January 11, 2010


Recently, I read an article in the Independent on Sunday. It was an opinion piece by the author Tim Lott about anger. Given that my level of anger seemed to reach whole new levels at the end of last year (levels that have, fortunately, since decreased), I was interested to read his thoughts on the matter.

Tim Lott acknowledged that there are different types of anger and that there are a range of sources, but his view was the majority of the anger exhibited these days comes from a sense of “insult” or “negation”

But much anger in the modern experience is neither righteous nor artistic, nor does it arise from the threat of physical harm. The anger that occurs most commonly comes in reaction to a purely symbolic threat, in response to a sense of insult, or negation. This threads through every day, through every life.

Mr Lott basically sees the anger coming from people feeling as though their identity has been undermined or belittled, their sense of self being removed. Of course sometimes this is only in the person’s perception, rather than some overt (or actual) attempt to do this by others.

I thought this was a really interesting take on the matter and that if I were to look at those things that make me angry often I think it can be boiled down to that sense of being undermined or ignored or not seeming to be acknowledged in some way or my voice being ignored – think of that person who pushes in front of you on the tube as though you aren’t even there and the sense of anger that can swell up. Over the weekend there was another story of someone who died following a queue jumping incident. Of course, there are probably all sorts of things that we don’t know about what happened, but on the surface it looks like it fits with Tim Lott’s assessment.

So that’s the diagnosis, but it isn’t the solution, which I think is probably pretty hard to achieve. I guess the answer, at least in part, is about people trying to empathise more with others or letting it go when they are slighted or learning that what others think of us is not really all that important in many circumstance. It’s more about mutual respect than trying to make sure people show us “respect”. I think there are real things to reflect on about what Tim Lott said – around looking at situations that make us angry and asking what the source of that anger truly is. We can’t usually change other people, but we can change ourselves, and sometimes learning to deal with our own demons and sense of self in different, less destructive, ways could save many a battle.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Honest Scrap

Well, Sarah over at Sarah’s Books tagged me to do this meme. It didn’t start off as specifically book related, but Sarah changed it to a book one and wanted a book related response from me too, so here goes.

a. ‘The Honest Scrap Blogger Award’ must be shared.
b. The recipient has to tell 10 (true) things about themselves that no one else knows
c. The recipient has to pass on the award to 10 more bloggers.
d. Those 10 bloggers should link back to the blog that awarded them

1. As a child, after I had been put to bed I would get up and sit on the landing and read. If I heard my parents come out of the living room I would dash back to bed. To this day, I have no idea if they know that is what I used to do.

2. I really, really dislike the defacing of books in any way. Be that bending the corner of the page, writing in it, highlighting words, underlining words or even damaging the spine through normal usage. Sometimes I want to tell people on the tube how badly they are treating their books.

3. However, once I did have a library book in my bag and a pen leaked on it. They asked if it was me who had done it and I said “no”…

4. I like to have a target number of pages in mind to read each day. It gives me a sense of achievement to reach or achieve the target. I find if I don’t have a target in mind I sometimes drift my way through a book and can take far longer to get to the end of it. There is no consequence for “failure” though.

5. For years and years and years I hated anything that could be described as “classic literature”. It reminded me too much of school and being forced to read books. I have started to overcome this aversion (I think this is illustrated by me reading War and Peace about a year ago), but I still take some persuading.

6. I have a printout of the books listed in 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die and can often been find wandering around various libraries looking for books on the list to read.

7. I find that the 1001 book list has really expanded by taste in books and has helped me to discover brilliant authors that I would never even have considered otherwise (Paul Auster and John Wyndham to name but two).

8. I often see people on the tube reading books and want to ask them what they think about it. But this isn’t allowed in London, so I have to restrain myself.

9. You are strongly advised never to lend me a book. I have a distinct aversion to returning them to their true owner. Once I have a book in my hands (apart from ones from the library) somehow I struggle to return them. If I really like a book I have borrowed from the library then I will go and buy a copy. Perhaps people who lend me books should threaten me with overdue fines to make sure that I return them.

10. My mum and I sometimes talk about writing a book. The plot often seems to revolve around killing my (fictional, of course) father and burying him under the patio. Perhaps we haven’t written it yet because we feel that we need to have more first hand knowledge before writing it…

I am rubbish at tagging people, but do give it a go if you would like to because I would really like to read your answers (if you don’t have a blog yourself feel free to leave it in the comments here).

Thursday, January 07, 2010


So, I made it into work yesterday and I was only about 15 minutes later than normal. The desk move also took place – and it was a good job I went in given that there was no-one else there to sort it out from my team. I did go home early though as it was snowing a lot, and, as it happened, G left work at the same time so we met up and travelled home together.

I feel as though I haven’t quite caught up with the year as yet. What with having to sort out some of the logistic of moving desks and catching up on work from over Christmas and the snow, it has meant that things have not felt quite settled. I also have the scary training starting again on Saturday and I don’t really feel mentally prepared for that – not least because I have not constantly been memorising the ‘script’ we are meant to know. If I don’t know it properly I think I will get told off. This volunteering thing is rather hard work at times – and I haven’t even started it properly yet.

Anyway, it’s time to go back out in the snow again.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010


Wow, it is cold. And snowy. It’s cold and snowy. I am not sure if I will go to work or not. I really need to go in because we are moving desks today and I have a few things I need to do for that and it is also the first day of my new team. On the other hand, I have brought work home and having the time to sit down and get through it all would actually be very useful. We shall see.

My nephew is an inquisitive chap and he asked my sister two questions and she didn’t know how to answer them. The first was about why you can’t hear the food in your stomach when you jump up and down. He asked this because when he stayed with me he drank some Ribena and you could hear that in his stomach when he jumped. I feel the answer lies in some long explanation about digestion.

The second question was that he wanted to know how blood is made. I talked to G about this, who has lots of biochemistry knowledge, but we decided that words like haemoglobin were probably a bit advanced. So how to explain this to a child. I feel I need to find the answer to these questions. If I didn’t genuinely have some work to do, I could have devoted my day to coming up with the perfect answers. My poor nephew will have to continue wondering about these important life questions.

Oh and I will update my book blog, but I have had a dilemma over it because I accidentally mentioned it (in very vague terms to someone) and am now paranoid that if I update it they will find it and therefore this blog as well. I will find a solution to this (which I am hoping will not mean having to kill the person concerned. But no promises).

Tuesday, January 05, 2010


It’s been an exciting start to the year. One of the things that G and I have to do each evening is 30 minutes of housework (this is a not a permanent thing, it is merely to undo the chaos). Last night was the kitchen, which is looking pretty good now, and tonight is the bedroom. The bedroom will take more than an hour of collective work to sort out. I might also have to check the definition of exciting as well.

Over the weekend I watched the BBC adaptation of The Day of the Triffids. I imagine taking so long to comment on it (a week?) makes it old news in blog world, but I shall throw off convention. If I had never read the book I think I would have thought it was really good. Having read the book, it certainly strayed some way from the original, although was not entirely at odds with it. Bill Masen’s father does not appear in the book and the nun is puritanical rather than a bit deranged. I think ultimately what the TV adaptation lost was the sense of man’s weakness. Both a meteor shower and some plants get the upper hand in the book, but on TV you never got a sense of quite how many people were blind (about 95% of the population) or that it was truly a global phenomenon. The TV programme also implied that were it not for an error the Triffids might have been defeated – and they could actually be foxed by black magic – whereas the book shows the great toil that humans would have to face if they had to pretty much start all over again, whether that be in terms of building a population or laws or morality. Whilst the TV version gave food for thought, the book offered far greater things to ponder and was, in all ways, the superior.

Monday, January 04, 2010


Christmas is officially over. We’ve opened all the presents, taken the tree down and it’s back to work today *sigh*.

Christmas was good and we had a nice time in Glasgow just after. We actually came back before New Year, as this seemed to be the best way to ensure that we got a peaceful New Year. Not that G’s family is argumentative, it just would have been the New Year they chose, not us.

Yesterday I set the alarm to go off just gone eight. I figured it was going to be hard to get going today if I hadn’t tried to get up fairly early yesterday. I then spent a lot of the day doing various chores that would mean that I could return to work feeling as though there wasn’t a massive list of things to do. This was pretty successful and the place was looking much better by the end of the day.

I should actually have a relatively interesting return to work. I have a new project starting on Wednesday and am losing four of my current team and getting three new people instead. The project should be really interesting and whilst we are likely to face some opposition (we are going to make various changes to the way the office works), the aim is to make people feel less burdened. The other managers described their teams as feeling as though they were “drowning” so we are going to try and come up with ways to help them to be productive but not as though they are constantly bailing out water. We have six months in which to achieve this…

Anyway, it is time to go to work. Life is very cruel.

Happy New Year, incidentally.