Friday, October 27, 2006

So now the fun really begins...

Our offer was accepted on the flat. I'm fairly certain the other couples did exist (we saw one set of them) so I'm not sure why they picked us. Perhaps because I asked if the dog was included in the price? (Its not, but the oven is)

But the journey to property ownership is only just beginning. Its a long road ahead. I'm very pleased, but I'm still nervous as hell. My stomach is still all over the place (too much information I know) and I'm not sleeping well. I keep thinking in spreadsheets of expenses and budgets.

Hopefully I'll calm down soon once things start to move along. I am a worrier and control freak.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


So we viewed the flat again last night. The kitchen wasn't as small as I remembered and actually rather charming. But the Estate Agent tells us three other couples are also interested in it. This morning we make an offers, a bit below the asking price. Seller wants more. We raise to the asking price. Apparently so do the others. We can't really go any higher. So now the owner has to decide what to do. We have our finances ready go, are first time buyers and have a fairly good deposit, but I assume so do the others. So how do they decide? I guess someone will crack and offer them more and they will win.

I know the old cliches that there will be other properties and if it doesn't work out, it wasn't meant to be, but I'm very worried about whether anything else will come up - this was the only one we have seen that was even fit for human habitation.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


I have had butterflies in my stomach all day today. I feel a fluttering of nerves as if I was going on a first date.

The cause of these nerves is the second viewing of a flat tonight.

We thought we liked it after we'd seen it on Saturday, but over the course of the day, I started to go off it. Now I can barely remember what it is like. I think the OH is pretty much sold on it already, but I think it might be because he can't face looking at any more places (he has no patience).

I'm worried that I'm might be being too fussy and if we don't go for this one, nothing else as good will come up. And while I realise that our budget won't buy a palace, I want to like the place I'm living in and putting my life savings into.

I have a list of questions to ask, about boilers, roofing and drains, wihch I probably won't understand the answers to, but have been told, I really must ask.

I've found a great little feature on my graphics package that allowed me to create the lovely butterfly picture here, which seemed quite apt today. It also does button, animals and flowers.

Paris (Mis) Match

In the paper yesterday was a story about Japanese tourists being so traumatised by their visit to Paris that lots of them have to receive counselling. This struck a chord with me as we went to Paris for my birthday this year and it was a bit disappointing.

I'd been before but never with a partner, and parts of it were great, but it wasn't particularly romantic and the rudeness of lots of the people did make it a bit of grind (and I really did try to speak in French whenever possible). I had a bit of a cafe rage moment with someone smoking in the non-smoking section of a restaurant. I'm not normally that bothered by other people's smoke but when you are eating, have specifically requested non-smoking and the person is turning towards you to blow out her smoke, it is annoying. After asking her (in my best French) several times, I was very close to tipping my drink over her head. (OH was rather terrified by this point, as I'm not usually confrontational at all). Then there was the waiter who insisted that I was mispronouncing Amstel and wouldn't serve us until I could pronounce it 'correctly' - which annoyed me as its a Dutch lager, not French so I'm not sure his way was right. And worst of all was the scammer up on MontMartre who pulled a knife out on the OH, forcing him to pay them 10 Euros for some tat. Obviously this put a bit of a downer on the trip for him.

So I understood the plight of the Japanese tourists.

Up until the point in the article when it claimed that one of them thought he was Louis XVI.

No matter how let down by a place I may have been, it has never brought on the delusion that I am one of its most famous monarchs.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Westworld - Gunslingers and Remakes

On Saturday night we watched Westworld on the Scifi Channel. We had started watching it on Friday but typically I fell asleep 30 minutes in, so I was pleased it was being shown again at a more friendly time. The OH was amazed that I'd never seen it before as it is a classic apparently. For once he didn't trot out the 'Call yourself a film buff?' line that he usually does when I haven't seen a film (I have never ever called myself a film buff - I did briefly go out with one once - he is now apparently directing music videos in LA - he was incredibly dull though).

Anyway, I really enjoyed it. Yul Brynner was very menacing as a Gunslinger robot, despite wearing a ridiculously tight shirt. I quite fancied James Brolin - he looked rather like an in his prime Clint Eastwood. I spent much of film thinking about which 'world' I would go to, the choice being Wild West, Medieval or Ancient Rome. The OH unhesitatingly picked Medieval for the buxom serving wenches and banquets of meat, although I associated the period more with plagues and poor sanitation. I would probably go to Rome - I like grapes and they invented drainage, I can take or leave the orgies.

I described the film to the OH as being like Jurassic Park with robots instead of dinosaurs and on looking it up on IMDB this morning, I find out that it was written by the same person, Michael Crichton (who also wrote Disclosure, quite possibly the worst film ever made).

It seems there is going to be a remake of Westworld, although there aren't any details of who will be playing the Gunslinger. I hate remakes, even more than I hate sequels. I can't think of a single remake that has improved upon the original (feel free to correct me). I particularly hate Hollywood remakes of foreign or British films. Can somebody not write something new?

Weekend in Numbers

1 film watched – Westworld
2 games of football sat through (I really wasn’t paying them any attention)
2 episodes of Seinfeld watched
2 bottles of lager, 1 bottle of cider, 1 vodka, 3 glasses of wine drank (a shocking amount considering it didn’t involve any nights out)
3 cups of coffee drank
2 cups of tea drank
7 properties viewed
8 miles walked (probably)

Friday, October 20, 2006

The Politics of Cringe

The comedy of cringe has been popular in recent years - The Office, Extras and Curb Your Enthusiasm (the latter being genuis but I can't stomach more than two episodes at a time). But now, cringe seems to be spilling over into politics.

Perhaps politians have always been this bad and I've not noticed, but I really do think they are getting worse. Previously they might have been bigots/buffoons/pompous/liars etc, but I'm sure they weren't so downright embarrassing.

Bush is an obvious culprit, but then everything about him is wrong. The 'Yo, Blair" greeting was particularly cringe-inducing. Blair has had his moments too, but now David Cameron is at with full force.

Yesterday, he met with the rapper Rhymefest for 'tea' to discuss the negative effects of hiphop. Probably as much a publicity stunt on the part of Mr Fest as Mr Cameron, but how embarrassing is he? Apparently he like 'Stan' by Eminem because he can hear its message and Mr Fest invited him out clubbing with him! He only declined this offer because of his busy diary. Can anyone really imagine him in an RnB or rap playing club? He would have had to swap his trademark Converse for Nike or Adidas for a start. Is anyone really taken in by this?

I've not felt this embarrassed for someone since my dad threatened to wear jeans and a denim shirt to my parents' evening when I was thirteen.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Estate Agent Watch

I'm boring myself with this now, so will try not to make every post about this subject. But for now, here is this week's 'progress'.

The one decent flat that I have been trying to arrange a viewing of for the last two week has now gone under offer. It was well within our budget, had all the essential rooms and a garden. But on the bright side, at least it does mean there are properties out there that are inhabitable and now my phone is filling up with Estate Agent numbers, we might get in there with the next decent one.

Have two viewings on Saturday - one is on a main road, the other one has the lounge in the loft. But I thought it would be best to see as many as possible.

According to the Porsche Driving Estate Agent (PDEA), there is a chance of a property with a conservatory coming on the market next week. I presume the conservatory will be in lieu of another room.


Having moaned about not getting much in the way of free theatre tickets, I was given tickets to the press night of "Summer and Smoke" last night, which was much appreciated. The stars were Rosamund Pike and Chris Carmack, who was in The OC (I'm clueless about such things, but the girl sat next to me told me).

It was very good (not much of theatre critic, me). Having done quite a bit of backstage amateur stuff, I'm always impressed by the set design and stage management in the West End, although I was pleased to see people dressed in black moving chairs last night - that brought back memories!

I also got a free chocolate bar in M&S yesterday and two free cinema ticket vouchers on Saturday (plus copious amounts of wine on Sunday). I'm on the hunt for more freebies!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

I just don't know what to do with myself

Now I'm down to just having one full time job (like most normally people) rather than the one and half jobs I've had the past couple of years, I will have a lot of free time on my hands. I really don't want to just end up sitting around watching television. I want to do something useful with my time.

Obviously 'Project Flat-Hunt' will take up a bit of time, but I feel I need some other purpose (I really do have trouble just relaxing!). I would ideally like to spend my time going to see more theatre and films but theatre especially is expensive (despite working in the industruy, I really don't get much in the way of freebies or discounts). So I'm looking out for inexpensive activities to occupy my mind.

So far I've decided I'm going to have a huge spring clean (somewhat out of season) and aim to read all of the books on the Booker Shortlist. Any other suggestions gratefully received.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

A Confession

We are looking to buy a flat. After lots of humming and harring, pipe dreams of leaving London and my hopes for property crash, we have decided to make tentative steps towards buying somewhere. I have been reluctant to mention it on here before as its rather embarrassing that at 31 we are still renting. However (and here comes an even more shocking confession)

We are poor

People feel very uncomfortable about this fact, but there it is out in the open now. We've never had particularly well paid jobs (me in particular with my insistence on working in a sector that interests me, rather than having become a lawyer like my parents wanted) and we don't have anyone who can help us. No parents to buy us a flat or give us £100k like most people I know have had. We've managed through saving and death to put together a modest deposit but really its a drop in the water compared with London prices.

So on Saturday we looked at two flats that fall within our meagre budget. They were both awful. One had an open plan kitchen - now some people don't mind these and I think they can work in certain properties, but this one was awful - the room had three doors in it too so was more like a hallway.

The next property, the man was clearly selling because his wife had left him - evidence the topless calendar in the bedroom, wedding photos in the hall. This one didn't have a bathroom and large cracks in the bedroom walls. Perhaps he had thrown the wife against it in anger when she announced she was leaving him for someone with a bath?

Maybe I'm being too fussy? But for a life-times committment, I think I want a kitchen and a bathroom. We have another one to look on Saturday - the owner of which has had a hernia (not sure what relevance this has yet).

Monday, October 16, 2006

And the winner is...

Last night was the Theatre Awards. This is regional theatre so it lacked the glamour of its West End counterpart, but I still had a great time. Celebrities were a bit thin on the ground and as ever most of those that were there I didn't know. Anyway here comes some name-dropping (sort of).

I was introduced to Michelle Collins. Its an awful cliche, but she really is tiny in real life . I always thought she looked quite tall on the television but she must only be about 5ft4 and very petite. She was wearing a gorgeous dress and was very pretty in the flesh too.

A woman who used to be on Casualty won an award (to be honest I didn't know her but it was mentioned) . She was wearing an awful turquoise dress that she was falling out off , tit tape very much visible. She fell over drunk later in the evening.

The entertaiment in the ceremony was very good, especially the songs by a quartet dressed as mice. They did a great number about cheese which included rhyming gloomy with haloumi.

I ended up staying there rather late and am suffering for it today, not hungover but very tired. I spent a long time talking to a bizarre pair of musicians who had gatecrashed, neither of whom seemed to believe I was English (he thought I was Irish, she thought I was Hungarian - this is a new one). At the end of the night I was talking to the writer who won the award for best new play and his director, a lovely woman from Stoke. I think the writer took a bit of a shine to me as he tried to persuade me to stay longer, but as I'm very much attached and have a proper job to go to I left at just after eleven. Not sure how much longer the party was going on but the cleaners were already in.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Riding the Silverlink with Dominic West

On the way home yesterday, I foumd myself to be sat opposite the actor Dominic West on the Silverlink train. Now, Dominic West is hardly a household name, but he is one of the stars of my all time favourite programme 'TheWire' (which hasn't received the attention it deserves over here).

I was sat next to his daughter who was reading aloud. I then realised that actually she wasn't just reading, they were going over a script, with her testing him on his lines. It was at this point that I looked up at the man she was with and I thought 'is that him?'. I was never quite certain it was him as I have a very poor record of not recognising/mistaking people, but I did think he was in London doing theatre recently and having looked it up I now know he going to be in Rock n Roll soon, which fits with the script he was reading (he still needs to do a bit of work on it!)

The OH was very annoyed with me for not talking to him. But I really wasn't 100% certain it was him and I never know what to say to 'famous' people. The other thing is that at my work it is a huge faux pas to come over all fan like in the prescence of actors. Tonight is my work Awards ceremony where any such behaviour is pretty much a sacking offence. I wonder if he will be there? If he is, I will have an opening of 'We were on the same train yesterday'.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Last ever gallery shift

I'm nearing the end of my final shift as Co-Director of the Gallery. I gave my keys back to Eva and she put them in the tray of the new Co-Director. A symbolic gesture that nearly made us both cry. I think I'm going to find it harder to let go of this than I thought I would.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Your feedback is appreciated

I had an event at work this week which I had organised and had been worrying about. It went reasonably well - all of the speakers turned up and on the day the delegates seemed pretty happy. But yesterday was spent going through their feedback which is so disheartening. Overall the response was still good, but people's little moans really get to me.

The award for the best complaint goes to this gem, in answer to a question about the event's catering:

"The biscuits were too far away from the cheese."

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

We love Colin Murray

Its not just me, my OH loves him too.

I think he's joining the elite list of men that the OH wouldn't mind me running off with. Ian Brown, Bobby Gillespie Russell Brand and Lee Gorton, ex-singer from band Alfie being the others - the latter he actually once conspired with Badly Drawn Boy to fix me with/pimp me out to - a bizarre moment in our relationship and a rather name-dropping tale at that.

Anyway back to Colin Murray. I wasn't really aware of him until Glastonbury 2005 coverage and the Primal Scream interview, which is my favourite ever television moment, as I've no doubt mentioned before (now available on youtube). I've heard him a few times more recently on Fighting Talk (OH choice of listening, not mine). But this week, we have been listening to his new late night show on Radio 1 and it is brilliant.

According to an article in the Guardian, he wanted to be moved to what is normally considered the graveyard shift so he would have the freedom to play the music he likes, which is by and large the music I like! There are also lots of silly features for listeners to get involved with.

To borrow, the OH's description of him:

"He is a top man adept as disguising himself as a buffoon"

What more could you want?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

On a lighter note

To balance out the gloom of the last post...

As I was crossing the road tonight, there was a man with a jumper tied about his waist. Not particularly unusual, you might think. But this was a pinky-beige colour jumper and it had been tied in a way that left it dangling in a certain manner that looked familar. I did a double-take and was then mightly relieved as he drew level and I saw it was jumper, rather than him being the most casual flasher ever.

Perspective, too much f***ing perspective

I found out today that someone I know has got breast cancer. Not exactly a friend, more a friend-of-a-friend, but someone I like and have alot of time for. She is only about 2 years older than me. Apparently she is coping well - she is a super organised sensible person so I can easily imagine her being practical about while everyone else does the crying. It was this thought that made me cry and I want her to be ok more than anything else right now.

The friend in common told me about this by email and ended with the phrase 'it puts it all into perspective, doesn't it...' This is the same person who kept talking about death when we last tried to go clubbing and I think used that same phrase then too. I hate this phrase, its such a cliche. And to be honest I don't need things putting into perspective. I may moan nearly constantly about my job and obsess over trivia, but its mainly to stop myself from thinking about the big things in life. I'm all too aware of the mortality of those I love. In the last couple of years, there has been plenty of illness and death to help with my perspective.

Monday, October 09, 2006


As well as 300 junk emails, there was a little parcel waiting for me at work today. It was addressed to me, but with the wrong company name (the other part of our office, not the bit I work for). Inside was this little fella.

A present from Firebox via apparently. I've never bought anything from either company so far as I can remember and certainly never using work's address and the wrong company name.

He is part of a collectable set and this one is Curious. Others in the set inlcude Shy, Surprised and Silly. He apprently expresses his moods through lights and has an impressive array of 5 different light shows (like a weekend in Blackpool!)

The instructions state he is for one user only - it had never occured to me that he might be for multiple users.

Where are they now? - The Goonies

On Saturday, we caught the end of The Goonies. We seem to see the end of this on a different channel quite regularly and always end up watching it. The last time, we realised that one of the bad guys had been in the Sopranos, so this time the conversation turned to what the rest of the cast had done since. Sean Astin is doing ok for himself (Lord of the Rings), Corey Fieldman has spent a lot of time in rehab and Martha Plimpton has been a few things, but to me she will always be bettered remembered as being River Phoenix's girlfriend (I admit I was jealous).

So in case anyone else was wondering, I've looked it up on IMDB. It would appear there is curse on the rest of the cast. The fat kid Chunk did very little else - perhaps he lost weight and thus his USP? The mother gangster was nominated for an Oscar in Throw Momma from the Train but died just afterwards. The bloke who played Sloth did a bit of television work and then died too of suspected steroid abuse. The rest don't seem to have done much else of note.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

More questions than answers

The holiday has thrown up some very interesting questions about our plans for the future. Despite having previously claimed to hate the countryside (open fields have brought on huge panic attacks, the Oxfordshire countryside nearly induced vomiting), I have now found myself contemplating life outside of London. We have talked about leaving London before, but usually for Manchester, Edinburgh, Newcastle or New York i.e. sticking with the urban life. But this holiday has made us consider that a gentler pace of life might be for us afterall. I'm still not a big fan of the proper countryside, but I can cope if its near the sea (I know is doesn't make sense, but its my phobia) and Urban Outfitters now has an online shop, so perhaps I could leave the metropolis.

People in Cornwall seemed so much happier than people in London so why are we slogging away in pointless jobs for very little reward? This is the question we asked ourselves frequently during the course of the week.

I think I'm coming to the point where I'm past caring what I do for a living and would swap a so-called career for a nice little house and a garden that didn't cost the earth. But as we aren't independently wealthy, we will still need to work, which is the main thing holding us back. OH's job in particular is rather London-centric so it might be difficult to find gainful employment elsewhere, and I think the pasty-baking/fudge-making industry in Cornwall is already sewn up.

Why are there no easy answers? I wish someone would just tell us what was the best thing to do. I hate being an adult at times!

Pasties, Scrumpy, Fudge and Clotted Cream

Back from a wonderful holiday in Cornwall - Lelant, just outside of St Ives for anyone who knows the area. It was lovely - I'd even go so far as to say its one of the best holidays I've ever had. Here's a quick round-up of what happened

Friday: epic train journey. Arrived in the dark and had to scramble around looking for the key which had been strategically hidden.

Saturday: went for a walk to explore the local area. Saw a dead badger on the pavement, which was very traumatic as it was the first time I'd seen a real badger before. OH tried to pretend it was just asleep so I wouldn't be so upset but he wasn't very convincing and to be fair it did have its legs stuck up in the area. Nearly got hit by a golf ball when walking to the beach - the coastal path cutting dangerously through the links golf course. OH cooked a lasagne for tea - he's been promising to do this since we moved in together 6 and a bit years ago.

Sunday: Went to St Ives for the afternoon. St Ives is lovely - it really doesn't look like somewhere in England - kind of Mediterranean looking. Ate the first pasty of the trip which I can understand why they would have been popular with workers like fishermen and miners as they really do fill you up for the day, but now I could happily go the rest of my life without eating another one.

Monday: Took the bus to Penzance, had a quick look a round before getting the bus to Lands End. Saw the Merry Maidens stone circle thing from the bus - didn't know anything about this before and didn't realise it was something of note until a woman asked to get off the bus there - it was another hour until the return bus so we wondered what she found to do there for all that time. Lands End was pretty dramatic but not really much to do there unless you shell out money for the tacked on attractions. We didn't - instead we ate another pasty, took some photos and then returned to Penzance on an open top bus! In October, an open top bus is a matter of endurance (or stupidity) but fortunately we made it back to Penzance before it rained.

Tuesday: Another long walk and then another trip to St Ives. Unimpressed by the Barbara Hepworth museum - £4.75 entry fee seemed rather steeped - have decided I'm not that keen on sculpture as an art form. Dined in the pub opposite our cottage - had far too much as I gave in to the bread & butter pudding.

Wednesday: Went to Truro for the day, still feeling bloated from the night before's feast. Wandered aimlessly around, resisting the temptation to go into Topshop.

Thursday: another trip to St Ives, had the obligatory cream tea, walked most of the way back along the coastal path.

Friday: epic journey in reverse. Very sad to be going as I'd quite settled into village life.