Wednesday, March 31, 2010


On the way home tonight there were various delays on the tube. As I went to walk out through the barriers, my Oyster card didn’t work and the woman behind me did a slightly sarcastic and exasperated “oh God...”. I turned round and said, rather dryly, “sorry to have inconvenienced you”. I think the woman had not expected me to hear, let alone respond to, her comment. However, I think she then suffered one of those moments where she hoped the ground would open up beneath her, and she skulked out of the station.

Today is my last day in the office for a week and a half. Hooray! I seem to have lots to do with my day. Not least because I am in a meeting all afternoon. When I agreed to the meeting, I hadn’t really taken much notice of the specific date and that it was not actually terribly convenient in that sense. One of my team still has to hit her target as well, and she might achieve it if I have got enough time to turn her work round for her. I think I am going to need a holiday after today.

I might be back here some time in the next couple of days, but if not, I am away on hols on Saturday for a week. So, Happy Easter, just in case.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


We had chips with our dinner last night. G got them out the oven and went to test one and put it done on a plate before eating it. I picked it up and ate it instead. It seems G had already licked the chip. Nice.

I went into work a week or so ago and one of my sets of drawers had disappeared. This was particularly concerning because it had my tea in it. After a bit of head scratching, I identified the culprit and asked him to get them back for me, as the ones he had replaced them with were broken. He was not thrilled by this request, but I was less thrilled by his having taken them and stood my ground. When he had finished moving furniture around, he had a bit of a go at the chap who sits next to me about something entirely unrelated. Afterwards I said to him that I thought he’s rather got the wrath of the furniture moving chap’s annoyance with me, to which he replied “Don’t worry about it, it was like being savaged by a poodle”. Fair enough.

Those Australians are rather more direct than us Brits I feel, take the reference to their latest driving campaign as an example.

Monday, March 29, 2010


As you are probably aware, the clocks went forward this weekend (and if you’re in Britain, I certainly hope you are aware of this or else you are probably late for work!) and the debate has raised its head again of whether we should ditch Greenwich Mean Time and move permanently to British Summer Time or even have a combination of BST and moving forward an hour from that.

I have to say that I am not very pro this suggestion. I know there are arguments about the lives that could be saved, and that is a significant point, and the counter arguments about how we have a uniform time across the UK, people in Scotland would be particularly negatively impacted because they would end up having to do more in the dark i.e. it would still be dark when they got up in the north of Scotland.

We have actually experimented with sticking with BST before – from 1940 to 1945 i.e. during World War 2 (and actually we had Double Summertime, so the clocks went forward a further hour in the summer during that time and then back to BST in the winter), and from February 1968 to October 1971.

The reason I am loathed to give up GMT though is that it is the first formalised time that existed. Until relatively recently we did not have a uniform time across the UK, and that was fine because a few minutes difference the further you headed west was ok because you were moving at no great pace yourself. It just wasn’t very noticeable. However, with the advent of the steam engine, the discrepancies began to matter. People could travel much faster – and I guess it was rather difficult to have a timetable if there was no standard time. Being a few minutes out, as would be the case where people knew the time based on the sun hitting a sundial, could make a significance difference and actually depending on which direction you were travelling you could, presumably end up going back in time. Interesting. Anyway, to overcome this the time in London (Greenwich Mean Time) was taken as the standard time for the country. The UK was the first country to standardise time and after that other countries followed suit, with GMT remaining the “base time”. So to give up GMT, we would actually be giving up a huge piece of history. Maybe that is old fashioned to not want change for the sake of history, but it does seem pretty significant to me and to no longer have GMT in the UK would somehow seem like a step too far.

Friday, March 26, 2010


As I walked to the station after work last night, I saw a man walking along with the back of an office chair under his arm. It made me wonder if it would be possible to steal an entire office piece by piece and then put it back together again elsewhere – and how long would it take anyone to notice. Imagine how every evening you could sneak out another key from someone’s computer keyboard and then 110 days later (this is obviously the more time consuming method of doing it), you could take a manual to work out how to put a keyboard back together. Then you could start on the paper clips... I’m not sure that I have really thought this plan through.

I got an e-mail from one of my bosses yesterday. I had asked if I could refuse to go to a work meeting because it was scheduled at 12-2pm. I was told that I couldn’t really get away with an outright refusal but that she would see what could be dine about providing edible bribes. I really object to meetings at anti-social times be that early in the morning or that take up the entire lunch period – and anything that affects my ability to consume food (or to sleep) is always going to draw my ire. I’m on a mission to bring a work life balance back into the working world.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


I was looking at the website for my high school last night. I was rather bemused by what it is like and as much as I didn’t really feel that it was a school I was suited to while I was there, I think that even more based on what it is like now. It has very high academic standards, and when I was there it brought out rather an inertia in me because I had no interest in the focus on academic achievement, seemingly at the expense of a number of other things. While I was there, it actually made me not want to go to university and the only reason I went was because I realised I’d have to get a job if I didn’t! I am glad I went to university (and it had to be a university because applying to go to a polytechnic* would have probably got me expelled from school).

Many years ago I had a friend whose mum one day said to me “the girls at your school are so well turned, out and well spoken. What happened to you?” I didn’t really have an answer to that one, but somehow I don’t think it the worst insult ever to not be seen as a typical product of my educational background.

I was talking to a friend from work recently and she was being rather dismissive of private schools, so I thought it was probably best to mention that I went to a private school – and she was another person somewhat surprised by this. I take it from this that I would continue to be a disappointment to my former school, not quite presenting the required image and, as my school reports used to say, “could do better”.

*yes they still existed (just) when I went to university.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Two nights ago, I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t get back to sleep for over two hours. As someone who normally sleeps the whole night through without stirring, this really was a shock to the system. In the end I read a chapter or two of a book in the hope that my mind would stop whirring and I would lull myself back to sleep. It seemed to work (and also had the added bonus of meaning that I have finally finished The Count of Monte Cristo). I haven’t been very well over the last few days and I think it was actually that which disturbed my sleep, rather than having lots of things on my mind. But it seems that if I wake up in the middle of the night those things that wouldn’t bother me during the daytime become more significant. The other night it was that the big boss is leaving and I was trying to work out how to encourage people to sign his leaving book (people seem to find signing a book rather than card somewhat scary and so just keep passing it on without writing anything). It worked though because I came up with a solution.

It is the end of the reporting year and I have lots of work to do, but not terribly much brain power to do it with. However, the highlight of the day ahead is that my old boss from many years ago is due in for a visit and so I am hoping to see her. She is probably the best manager I have ever had and she still inspires me to this day, so it would nice to be able to say a brief hello if nothing else.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


My neighbour upstairs seems to be about a lot more at the moment. She is often not about for weeks on end, and then suddenly reappears briefly, maybe only for an hour or two and then disappears again. However, more recently she has been about a lot more and I know this because she just seems to walk about incessantly. There are probably track marks across her carpet where she paces back and forth, back and forth, back and forth… you get the idea… We also think she maybe does some kind of full gym workout at various points or else she is up to something very odd.

So the neighbour above is like a herd of elephants, the neighbour on one side has a crying baby and the neighbour on the other side has a barking dog. I think it might be time to look for a house to buy at some point in the future, or I’ll find a new home at Her Majesty’s Pleasure.

I heard back from the woman I knew from school and we are meeting up next Tuesday for lunch, so that should be good. If we can recognise each other.

Monday, March 22, 2010


We went out for lunch with my mum and sister on Saturday, and that was quite nice. We did it on The Times dine for £5 deal and so it was quite a bargain meal. But, we did feel that we weren’t treated quite the same as other customers (a badly located table, despite some tables in far better locations not being used while we were there etc). The food was nice though and they didn’t actually take The Times vouchers from us, so we can use them somewhere else too.

I felt really unwell most of the weekend though. Although I normally have to get out in the fresh air every day to feel that I can stay sane, yesterday I managed to put the rubbish out and went to the post box around the corner and that was as much as I could bring myself to do. Perhaps not taking any leave for three months is taking a bit of a toll. Still, I only have to keep going until the middle of next week and then I am on leave for a week and a half.

Friday, March 19, 2010


I did actually manage to get into work about mid-afternoon yesterday, so that gave me the opportunity to briefly say hello to the new member of my team. I do actually already know her, but have never done overly much work with her before. We’re going to have a proper chat today because she wanted to leave early – and actually my brain was not functioning very well yesterday afternoon, so it was probably for the best.

I went on a work related visit yesterday morning, and although it was not to exactly the sane place, it required making exactly the same journey as I had a couple of weeks ago. When I made the journey a couple of weeks ago, I saw this woman get on the train and spread herself and her bags and other possessions across five seats. She then made a phone call, which went as follows:

“Hi is that Mark?”


“Oh hi Mark, I was wondering who the driver is on the train that leaves Sutton at 9.30 this morning”


“Oh, so it’s you. Well, I’m on a train that arrives at Sutton just before that and I need to get on your train. Can you hold your train a couple of minutes in case mine is running late?”


“Great, see you in a bit then”

I couldn’t decide if I was really impressed that she had so much power that a whole train full of people could be delayed just for her, or if I was aghast at a huge abuse of power. I wonder...

Thursday, March 18, 2010


I am getting a new member of my team today. I am not actually likely to be in the office today, so it isn’t ideal timing, and I also only found out at about 3pm yesterday, so it wasn’t much notice. But, I get someone new (but experienced) who I think is sort of being given refuge in my team and I have to be extra nice to her (not that I am horrible to any of my team…) and initially am either not meant to give her any work or only very limited work. This could be interesting! We’ll see how it goes, but I am not being given any additional work, despite having an extra person in my team, so it should be fairly straightforward to gently ease her into work.

I spent a fair bit of time trying to track down a TV presenters e-mail address (which unsurprisingly is not very well advertised). G is sorting out some event and wants to invite this chap along to it and so I was commissioned to find out his e-mail address. I think I have tracked it down and so hopefully I have fulfilled my task. If I haven’t, I am sure G will give me feedback on this...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


I did some more volunteering last night, which I think was the first in well over a month. It sent fine, but I did do a bit of it quite badly. But I knew I had so wasn’t really surprised when the scary man described that part as “crappy”. How charming. Fortunately him saying such things to me doesn’t really bother me.

G is out most evenings this week, which means that I either have to make my own lunch and dinner or come up with it my some other means. This is not right! I do feel I have rather “deskilled” myself since G has done all the cooking, but I really can’t say that I am desperate to get back to doing it. I do a lot of other chores at home and cooking is not one I am desperate to take up again. I do sometimes cook at the weekend, but I tend to leave the vast majority of it to G. It does make me incredibly lazy though and sometimes when I am home on my own, I have some cereal or toast for dinner, which I would not have dreamed of doing when I lived on my own and therefore cooked for myself every day. I am going to have to ban G from going out if it means I don’t get my meals prepared for me though, or insist on doggie bags being brought home. A supermarket sandwich is on the cards for today though. How exciting.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


I went to my nephew’s birthday party yesterday. This meant that I got to leave work at 3pm, which was marvellous, particularly as work doesn’t seem to have got the hang of the heating system (after about 10 years) and it was like working in a furnace today. My nephew seemed on good form and was really pleased when G phoned to say happy birthday (what with them being best friends).

I am avidly watching the updates on the British Airways strike. We are flying with them to Jersey on Easter Saturday, so we know we will be able to get there because the union has said that they will not strike at Easter, but then I realised that didn’t necessarily mean that we will be able to get back again. I would rather get stuck in Jersey rather than not be able to go at all though, so we are going regardless and BA will just have to find some way to get us home again.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Catching up

It was a busy weekend. It started early on both Saturday and Sunday because G was doing some training and had to get up at about 7am. I ended up getting up then as well because it just seemed easiest.

On Saturday, I went to see a friend from school. I hadn’t seen her for a couple of years and it was good to catch up. She has got a couple of children and they were very nice and we all just had a bit of a laugh and chatted a bit. They’d bought me some sweets from a local shop and also an iced bun and such things and they were very welcoming and it was really lovely. I also realised that her husband works about a two minute walk from where I do, which makes it a very small world.

Yesterday I saw my mum for a couple of hours and gave her a Mother’s Day card. It was actually different to the one I bought a couple of days ago because G forgot to buy one so took the one I had got and I then went and bought a new one (which I preferred actually).

Today is my nephew’s birthday, so I plan to leave work early to go to his birthday party. Hopefully there will be cake.

Friday, March 12, 2010


I was in Marks and Spencer on Oxford Street yesterday evening and I walked passed a man and woman, and the woman was clearly looking for a shop assistant and then I heard her say “where is the little man we spoke to before? Where is the man in the wheelchair?”. I was a touch incredulous that the woman could describe someone in a wheelchair in that way and I could just imagine her finding him and then looking about for his carer so she could ask them to ask him a question. I saw the man in the wheelchair a couple of minutes later and he looked relatively unscathed from dealing with the woman. I wouldn’t have blamed him for “accidentally” reversing his wheelchair over her though.

G is training all weekend for some volunteering stuff (the same as I do, but in a different borough). So I am going to have to fend for myself a bit. I am seeing a friend from school tomorrow. We haven’t seen each other for a couple of years so it will be good to catch up. Beyond that, I have no plans and so will have to think of ways to occupy my time – and more importantly will have to feed myself, which I normally rely on G to do. I am not sure I like this volunteering malarkey.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


G recently got a Blackberry. They are not sometimes called a “crackberry” for no good reason. I now regularly have to perform interventions so that we can speak, eat, watch TV and so on. I am going to have to find some way to remove G’s Blackberry each evening and not return it until the morning if things continue like this. Who knew a mobile telephony device could be so evil?

I had good news at work yesterday. It looks like I can stay on rather longer than expected – at least a year longer. Now I just need to get a new contract signed and sealed. We’ll see what happens longer term, but it is good to be able to stop wondering when I need to start looking for a new job, but not wanting to start looking for one because I want to stay there. Anyway, hopefully that won’t be a concern again for a while.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Yesterday I went to buy a Mother’s Day card. There is s shop round the corner from where I work that sells really nice cards and is normally somewhere that I can guarantee getting a good card from. However, this did not prove to be the case this time. The only card I liked was had been reduced in price (which seemed a bit odd in advance of Mother’s Day) and I just felt that it was somehow wrong to buy a cheap card. So I gave up with that shop and managed to find something at another one instead. It still wasn’t ideal, but at least I paid full price for it.

I was watching a programme on TV called Shrink Rap, which was Pamela Stephenson interviewing Heather Mills. I have no idea if I genuinely believed what Heather Mills said, but it certainly gave an interesting insight into her. Anyway, one of the things that Heather Mills was talking about was her need to help other people and Pamela Stephenson explained that the reason why that help would sometimes be rejected is that the very offer of it highlights the lack of something or inadequacy in someone else’s life, which they don’t necessarily want highlighted to them. I thought that was an interesting point and I can see an element of truth in it, although I don’t think it applies in all situations. I shall ponder that further.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010


I was at work at 5pm yesterday. It seems as though no-one else was though. I looked up from my desk and could only see one other person at their desk and all the rest were entirely empty. Maybe everyone else knew something that I didn’t. That’s the story of my life…

I got home with a great long list of things in mind to get done during the course of yesterday evening. But other things intervened, such as watching TV, and they didn’t get done. Although we did manage to do 25 minutes of chores, which involved me hoovering - and I think maybe waking up the baby that lives next door. Oops. I haven’t met my neighbours yet, but I don’t really want to meet them when they are irate. Although I don’t think 8pm is that outrageous a time to me hoovering. I do think that crying in the middle of the night is more anti-social.* It’s probably not entirely healthy to be comparing your level of anti-socialness (surely not a word…) with that of a small child though. Perhaps I need to get out more.

*if you’re a baby, it’s probably more of a sign of something not being quite right if you’re an adult. But it is the baby, not me, that has been doing the crying in the night of late.

Monday, March 08, 2010


Another weekend over, and quite a busy one at that. On Saturday, we went to see some friends of G’s for brunch. It was quite a trek to get there, as they live on the other side of London, but it was worth it. One of them is Mexican and we had home made Tortillas with eggs and Mexican sauces, plus Mexican hot chocolate. It was so good. I am not sure that we would be able to come up with anything quite so good to reciprocate.

On Sunday morning, we went for a long walk around the local area. It was so nice to be out for a walk in the sunshine and we were out for over two hours in the end, even though it was initially meant to be a fairly leisurely stroll.

We also sorted various things out, like car insurance, flights to Scotland etc etc and generally got lots done. I did also manage to watch a few programmes that had been sitting waiting to be watched, but the list of programmes continues to grow. I did watch one programme about 7.30am on Saturday, but even after such an early start, I still haven’t really made a dent in all the programmes there are to watch.

I am finding it useful to be awake and doing things at odd times of the day because the baby next door is certainly not mindful of such things.

Friday, March 05, 2010


I have realised that having a Freeview box with a recordable hard drive is quite a commitment. It is so easy to record things entirely on a whim and the list of programmes to watch gets ever longer. It seems to be stuck at around the 80 mark, even though I am watching programmes that we have recorded. That is hour upon hour of viewing (at least 160 hours at a guess). I am going to have to set aside a week that involves no sleep or work and having someone wait on me hand and foot in order to catch up – except it is like holding back the tide because the list keeps growing.

Of course, that plan would also mean less time for reading books. It seems that I would not be the first person to go cold turkey though. I have to ask thought, if you were going to write an article for a national newspaper about your reading habits, would the first thing you mention be that you always read on the toilet? I am thinking I might want to portray a slightly different image of myself.

Thursday, March 04, 2010


On the way home last night I changed trains at a different station to normal and as I walked up the steps to the platform and a teenage boy ran up the steps that were for people walking down from the platform and as he did so he shoulder barged an old man with a walking stick walking down the steps. The old man got knocked backwards and a person behind managed to steady him. The boy carried on oblivious.

I was so angry and when I got onto the platform I was going to have a word with him, but then I realised that he was actually with a group of people who were going to the football match*. I decided that this was probably not the best time to intervene and instead internalised my rage. He looked like a harmless enough lad, but it wasn’t the right circumstances.

Then, last night, I saw this story and decided that this perhaps showed it was the right thing to stay silent.

*I think he was Czech (who Scotland were playing) rather than Egyptian (who England were playing).

Wednesday, March 03, 2010


Yesterday, new neighbours have moved in next door – a mere 14 months after the freeholder started to renovate the flat. This should presumably mean no more building work (how it takes anyone using professional builders 14 months to renovate a two bedroom flat is beyond me…), so peace should descend. Or perhaps not.

I have not met my new neighbours, or even seen them for that matter, but I would put money on them having a very young baby. A young baby that cries late at night and early in the morning for long periods of time. Loudly. But not loudly enough or long enough for it to encourage a parent to go and check the baby or do anything to stop it crying.

I was very tired all day yesterday. I bought ear plugs at lunch time.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010


I went for a walk to the supermarket on my lunch break yesterday. It was nice to walk in the sunshine. However, it also seemed to bring out all the bad cyclists as well. In the half an hour or so that I was out I saw:

- A man cycling along talking on a mobile phone with a small boy standing on the front of the bike.

- Three cyclists go the wrong way down one way streets.

- A woman walk out into the middle of the road pushing her bike and then proceed to slowly get on her bike as a van rapidly approached and then she just gently cycled off down the road oblivious to the van that was directly behind her.

If only everyone was as considerate and reasonable as me. *cough*

I heard back from the woman I was at school with and I think we are going to meet up at some point. Should be interesting!

Monday, March 01, 2010


My weekend was good and involved lots of food once again. I think March is going to have to be a month of austerity to try and put a stop to a potentially increasing waistline. It was worth it though... We did bring some of my sister’s birthday cake back with us, so I don’t think it is going to be too much of a shock to the system.

When I was at my parents’ house yesterday I was reading my sister’s “Old Girls” newsletter from school. I never bothered to sign up for it, but always read my sister’s newsletter. Anyway, there was some rather interesting information about someone I knew who was a couple of years below me. So I had a quick search in the interweb last night and found a way to get in touch with her. It would be good to hear from her and given the way her life seems to have headed, there are some things I would like to have a chat with her about. Perhaps my school years might prove to be of more use than I had previously thought.

How can it be March already?