Monday, June 28, 2010


It felt like a very busy weekend, primarily because having a six month old around seems to fill the day up very easily. I don’t know how people who have young children have time to do anything other than look after them.

It is amazing how good having people arriving with very late notice is at focussing your mind and energy though. This meant that we had to get the place tidied so that it looked presentable. Everywhere except the main bedroom got sorted out in about an hour – but this involved turning the main bedroom into an absolute bomb site. So keeping the door closed on that bedroom, and only going in there under cover of darkness, have proved to be the solutions to that issue.

I watched the England match yesterday, even though I had not planned to do so, and it reminded of all of the very painful reasons that mean that I don’t normally bother.

Friday, June 25, 2010


G’s sister and niece are coming down to stay for a few days (or longer, it’s all a bit vague at the moment). There seems to be “trouble at mill” (you have to say that with a northern accent, even though they are Scottish). They are driving down today from Glasgow, which will be a long old drive and then we’ll see how long they are staying for.

Their visit was unexpected but it will be nice to see them. It was G’s niece’s christening that we missed due to the ash cloud, so it will only be the second time we have ever met her.

Anyway, have a good weekend.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


The cat has returned! She strolled back in in the early hours of yesterday morning and was totally unfussed about her time in the wilderness. That's cats for you.

So, England play today. I have no interest in watching the match, but am looking forward to the tube being really quiet when I head home.

Tomorrow, I am off somewhere really early so there will be no post. Have a good couple of days.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


My parents are back from their holiday, the cat has not returned. Perhaps it will turn out that the cat has just been in a strop since my parents went away and that she will return as though nothing has happened.

I’m pretty miffed that Portugal beat North Korea 7-0. I think this make it less likely that Honduras is going to end up with the worst goal difference. Life is very cruel. Although the North Koreans might argue that it has been more cruel to them than to me in this World Cup, particularly given its human rights record and so on. It would have been nice to win a tenner though.

Monday, June 21, 2010


It was a mixed weekend. G was ill and so that limited our plans. I went out on Saturday morning to see if I could help to track down my parents’ missing cat. No progress on that one, but my parents are home from their hols today, so perhaps she will turn up then. I also went to a friend’s on Saturday night (G was too ill to go) and we ate lots of nice things and I was given leftovers to bring home for G.

After I was at my parents’ on Saturday, I decided to walk to their local high street to try and pick up a few bits. I went into their local Oxfam to have a quick glance at the books and there was this chap who was in there who was just acting a bit oddly. I couldn’t quite identify what it was that he was doing, but it seemed to involve rustling carrier bags. He saw that I had twigged whatever he was doing was unusual and he walked closer to the door, then he turned and looked at me and I looked at him. Again I wasn’t quite sure what it was that was odd, but I knew it was something. Then he took a swift exit out of the door – and, to the best of my knowledge, walked out with a couple of books he hadn’t paid for. I think it was in the back of my mind that it looked like he was trying to do something like that, but I wasn’t quite sure. When he went out the door, I still wasn’t 100% certain, but didn’t really feel that I could accuse a stranger – and if I had, who knows what he might have done. So I said nothing, which I wasn’t terribly impressed by, but the woman in the shop, who was well over retirement age didn’t really look the sort to be able to do much either.

I do sort of feel as though I should have done something because that chap probably got away with stealing from a charity shop (not that it is any better to steal from anywhere else). If he did, he will now possibly think he can get away with it again. But there’s not a lot I can do now.

Friday, June 18, 2010


My parents are away on holiday at the moment. My mum phoned me last night to say that their cleaner, who has been feeding their cat, phoned to say that the cat has been missing for several days. I wasn’t entirely sure that this was a great thing to phone my parents about while they were on holiday (as there is nothing they can do), but the woman is over 80, so perhaps I should be a bit more charitable.

Anyway, I phoned their cleaner to talk to her about it and to reassure her a bit, and it does seem that she is very worried, has been losing sleep over it and spends a lot of her days there in the hope that the cat will reappear. She even put a note through the door of several neighbours in case they had seen the cat.

The thing is that there is a cat flap, so the cat can go in and out as she pleases and the cat doesn’t really like it when people are about so hides. I suspect that she will reappear when my parents are back. I’m going over there tomorrow morning anyway to meet up with their cleaner to try and stop her worrying so much and in the vague hope that the cat will probably appear from somewhere.

I am glad I don’t have pets.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


A new manager who started a few weeks ago is growing on me. She is a bit like a whirlwind at times, but with a bit of work, she does listen. I think. We had a long chat a couple of days ago and I managed to persuade her that now was not the time to put some of her team on performance plans i.e. for underperforming. They have all been set a hard task until the end of July and so I managed to make the case that this was the way for them to up their game, and if they don’t so it, there’s still the opportunity to take further action in August. I am more into carrot than stick (although there are times when a “stick” is the only way), so I am now hoping that her team manage to up their game over the next few weeks.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


G and I both did some volunteering last night (separately). It was reasonably successful, except that with mine, one person failed to turn up and the other arrived very late. I could have just done with an early night as well. I have to go back next week to see the person who failed to show up last night. I feel I will be tasked with tearing a strip off them.

I am reading a good book at the moment by William Trevor – The Story of Lucy Gault. A somewhat sad tale, but very readable and a speedy read at that.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Things have been somewhat quiet of late concerning G’s wayward niece. G phoned her yesterday though and it turns out she has got engaged. At 16. Interesting. In some ways it is a relief though. She has got his name tattooed on the back of her neck (which was done only a few weeks after they got together). So it would have meant a life of only being able to go out with blokes with that particular name. Every cloud and all that...

Monday, June 14, 2010


Time seems to be flying by. Another weekend passed and another week ahead. We did various things over the weekend, including me baking some cake to try and eat something sweet that doesn’t have any sugar in it. We will see if it worked, particularly as I changed one of the ingredients and didn’t have a couple of the others!

I seem to have an ever-growing list of books to read. I keep seeing things on the TV or hearing about various things and wanting to learn more about them. The latest thing I want to know more about is Operation Mincemeat, which was a British plan in World War 2 to mislead Hitler about our invasion plans. Very interesting. But so are many things that I keep learning about.

On Saturday, we also watched the film The Lives of Others, which was a really good film. It one the best Foreign Film Oscar a few years ago and I can see why. So if you are ok with subtitled and very un-Hollywood films then it’s well worth watching.

Friday, June 11, 2010


So, the World Cup starts today apparently. It’s not really something that interests me. In previous major tournaments, I have seen the times when England plays as a really great opportunity to go out and do things because everywhere is so quiet. That is probably terribly unpatriotic. I will be (sort of) supporting Honduras - in the sense that I hope they lose every badly because then I will win some money in the sweepstake at work. I might find a new interest in football for a few moments if I win a few quid.

This weekend is a blank canvas at the moment. I have a very bad habit of sometimes waking up rather earlier at the weekend than I do during the week. I usually use that extra time to either catch up on the mountain of programmes that are waiting to be watched or possibly read a book. The books are piling up and there seems to be so little time to read them. So, hopefully this will be a fairly lazy weekend with a lot of “catching up” going on.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


I am going back to my old office today (as in where I used to work before I went on a secondment) to help them out with something for most of the afternoon. I have to say that, whilst the people I used to work with were really nice, I don’t miss the work itself. It will be good to see them again though.

Work has been really busy this week. My team have had to take work from another team to help them out, so I have taken on some of the work myself because I thought there was too much to split it amongst the people in my team. I currently seem to have a complete lack of time to deal with this work myself though. This is not ideal. I will be glad when the weekend gets here.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010


Yesterday when I went into work I took the lift to the floor where I work. As the lift ascended I momentarily thought it sounded a bit odd, but then it arrived at my floor and I stepped out of the lift and thought nothing more of it. About two hours later, someone I work with got stuck in the lift. As it turned out, others had thought the lift sounded a bit odd as well and had thought nothing more of it. I guess at least we were all equally deficient. I actually still have no idea quite what it was that I thought was odd. But perhaps I should pay more attention to my instincts in future.

I found the latest government announcement of asking the public to decide where the cuts should fall to be somewhat concerning. I thought we had elected a government (or not quite elected a government…) to make the decisions, but, in another example of sloping shoulders, the decision making is up to us, the public. So that in years to come the finger can be pointed at us as being responsible for the ensuing problems.

I was concerned to see mention of “star chambers” though. The reading of my history books has already paid dividends as I read about those recently. It is not encouraging though. Star Chambers lasted until the end of Charles I reign i.e. when he was beheaded. Various monarchs used them, and Charles I did it in the most extreme form. Star Chambers were undemocratic ways of hand picked individuals to make secret decisions where those issues could not perhaps withstand public scrutiny. In other words, they were highly dubious decisions which did not stand up to the rule of law. Charles I used this system the most. He refused to let Parliament sit during his reign and used a star chamber to make the decisions instead. I can’t imagine why he ended up having his head cut off. Still, if that is what brought the star chamber system to an end, maybe there is hope – perhaps the beast that is out current government will face the same fate.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010


On Saturday morning, I watched a very small portion of a programme that had Sophie Dahl on it. She was creating a very indulgent meal just for herself. She went and selected her favourites of all sorts of products, down to picking a cheese that she absolutely loved to finish off the meal.

Whilst I am sure what she made was delicious, I couldn’t really get my head around the concept of truly enjoying a meal, however delicious it was, that I consumed on my own. Part of the enjoyment of a really great meal, for me, is to be able to share it with someone else. To me, it would be like going on holiday and seeing the most amazing sights and having no-one to turn to and say “wow look at that” and share the experience and the exhilaration.

Perhaps that is a reflection on my character. Perhaps it shows that I, generally, would rather have someone to share things with, and that, whilst I am fine with my own company, ultimately I would rather have someone else about to truly enjoy an experience. So, maybe I slightly envy Sophie Dahl’s ability to truly savour something in that way – be that food or some other experience – but for me, however great the food or the sight, having someone to share the experience with is a whole part of the enjoyment. So maybe that is a useful thing that I learned from Ms Dahl.

Monday, June 07, 2010


At the moment I am reading a number of different books. As it turns out, but perhaps not unsurprisingly, this is a very ineffective way to get your reading done, but that hasn’t stopped me. One is a fiction book – The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins - and the other two are both non-fiction – one on civil liberties and another on politics since 1918.

For some reason, I seem to have a need at the moment to understand how we have got to where we are as a nation, primarily on a political front. I am not someone who is very political really, but I see how much politics impacts our lives. One of the things I have noticed over the last few years is that we lack real characters in politics these days – and I think that character is generally represented by someone having a strong ideology. They are known for having a strong view that impacts the way that they operate. But actually over the last few years, the main motivator for politicians seems to have been staying popular – primarily with the media and secondly with the public. It makes for very tedious and directionless politics in my view.

There is also an old adage about history repeating itself and so I wonder if, in uncertain times, it is possible to have some idea of what the future might hold.

On a more minor note, one of the things I have learned though is that until about the middle of the last century some people had more than one vote. It seems that it was a way of giving the working class the vote, but allowing their “betters” to have more of a say. If you were a graduate, right up until the 1940s you could vote twice in an election. How very democratic.

Friday, June 04, 2010


Today I am going back to where I used to work to help them out with something and then next week giving a talk. My “personal development plan” for the year, as identified by my boss, is to spend time keeping in touch with where I used to work. To which I said “so basically you’re telling me I have to go and drink coffee with people”. Of course, I think it is also a bit of a double edged sword because the underlying message is that at some point I might need to go back there if the money runs out. So probably I shouldn’t be spending too much cash (my own, I might add. It isn’t that generous a development plan) on coffee in case I need it for other purposes at some point.

Thursday, June 03, 2010


It was only about 5pm yesterday that I saw there had been that shooting in Cumbria. What a terrible thing to have happened to so many people who were just going about their ordinary lives. G and I went out for a walk for half an hour last night and, despite walking along quite back streets, saw three different policemen either on bikes or in cars. I wondered if they were out to show a visible presence and reassure people (not that it happened anywhere near London).

It was hard to get back into work mode yesterday. I pottered my way through the day and got everything done, but really I was still in holiday mode. We’d also had some office moves over the weekend, so it was a bit chaotic at times, but during the course of the day, various things got sorted out. One of the other teams had their monthly meeting and when one of them came back from the meeting early I briefly explained why things had been moved about a bit. He absolutely bit my head off, and it was only when the others came back that I found out he had walked out of the team meeting. As much as my team might get miffed about things at times, I have never had that happen. I feel there is a bit of tension in the office at the moment and today I need to have a word with someone from my team who sent me a very stroppy e-mail last week. The joys of management.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010


We had a really good time away in Poole with my sister and nephew. We went to the seaside, Monkey World, Brownsea Island, ate fish and chips and much more. Unfortunately there were no waves for my nephew to run away from. Possibly not helped by the reef that was recently installed.

Monkey World was great. We saw lots of moneys (unsurprisingly), and it was hard to choose between the orang-utans, chimps and gibbons for cuteness. I am not sure if the orang-utans won or totally lost it when one of them drank the urine of another and then spent the next several minutes licking up all the urine it had missed. Very, very amusing. But not generally recommended as a cleaning technique.

Here is the offending orang-utan for your perusal: