Saturday, December 30, 2006

Gifts and Ghosts

So that's Christmas over with for another year.

I was expecting it to be worse but it was ok. I got through it and it was easier this year.

Two years ago, my Dad died on the day after Boxing Day. So Christmas is a bit of a struggle now.

But it was easier this year. The urge to still buy presents for him seems to have subsided - while he was alive it was always so difficult to buy for him but last year the shops were full of things he would have liked. And the day passed without tears, which made me feel guilty, which is perhaps why I'm writing this now, to show that even though we weren't sat around sad all Christmas (or worse, the forced jollity of last year), I still missed him.

The other (much lesser) thing about going 'home' as that it always stirs up memories of the ex. Its been 9 years now, so really I should be over it but visits to my mum's are always haunted by dreams of him and wondering what could have been.

So now having been fully depressing, I will move onto the good bit of Christmas - the presents! With our immient house-move (actually still some time off due to problems with the lease now), this was the focus of our Christmas presents. Here's some highlights:

2 Alessi Storage jars for the kitchen (to add to the 3 I already have)
Metal fruit bowl, mug tree and kitchen roll holder
Ceramic bathroom set (toothbrush holder, soap dish etc)
Spice rack
A hefty sum of money in John Lewis vouchers
Dark brown slouchy boots
Beautifully soft dressing gown (its been a struggle to get dressed most days since receiving this)
Pyjamas & slippers (it wouldn't be Christmas without them)
Various DVDs - Ross Noble, Mighty Boosh Live, State of Play and Brick
A bag of Haribo!

And here we are waiting around for another year to begin, with a fridge full of chocolate and cheese.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


Not really much to report on the party front. It passed pretty much without incident really.

My Secret Santa gift was fairly awful - a jangly bracelet thing - not at all my sort of thing and its already shedding beads, but of course I had to say how lovely it was for fear of offending the unknown buyer. I'm always really disappointed by Secret Santas though - I don't know why I always expect something great or at least funny, but I nearly always just get some generic woman's gift.

Anyway, the meal was fine, although I've come to the conclusion that I just can not eat a three course meal without feeling ill. Rather pathetic I know.

So tired and bloated, but rather smug at being sober and sensible, I left before 11. I had to wait three tubes for the right one, which wasn't too long, but then half way home they decided to redirect it so we all had to get off and wait another 15 minutes for one going that way. So in the end it was 6 trains before the right one, which is pretty poor service.

And for the final leg of the journey, I was stuck in a carriage that had the faint odour of vomit and a Spanish man, chatting up a Swedish girl by telling her how great Abba were, quoting statistics about their record sales, saying they were better than the Beatles and singing Fernando in Spanish. I couldn't get out of there quick enough.

I don't like Abba. Another unpopular opinion I know and its not really that much to do with them. I was once stuck on a minibus for five hours with a drunken ex-rugby player from Yorkshire who sang along to the Abba CD for the full length of the journey. Somehow everyone else managed to sleep through it, except me and I haven't been able to stomach Abba since without flashbacks. This was a work outing with my previous company (a day trip to Calais!) which was rather different from last night's do.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Christmas Grinch

I'm just not in a Christmas mood. I was last week, but its been and gone.

Tonight is the office 'party'. It isn't really much of a party - nobody changes clothes and its in a very civilised restaurant - last year it was in the meat-market hell-hole On Anon, so I suppose the safety of a restaurant is preferable. But I'm really not in the mood. Despite being here over 2 years, I don't really know many people very well - most of the people I know well and like aren't coming. The others I either know and don't like, or are incredibly clichey and only talk to people in their own teams. I always go to these things though - firstly in an attempt to socialise with more people here in the hope it will get better and secondly, I'm incapable of saying no to free food/booze.

But at the minute, I'm thinking I'd have rather gone for a wander round Topshop, then home to one of my rice concoctions and an episode of Law & Order on the Hallmark Channel.

Sunday, December 17, 2006


I'd forgotten how much I hate Louise Redknapp, but I've just watched the Clothes Show. I don't buy that cute simpering act for one minute. She is Satan. A rather bland Satan admittedly, but don't let that fool you.

I don't like her husband much either - I was indifferent to him while he was just an injury-prone footballer, but since he became an injury-prone football pundit and seems to have taken up permanent residence on my television (while the OH is here), I've started to dislike him nearly as much as his wife. I do quite like his Dad though - he might be a saggy-faced wheeler dealer, but at least he has a personality.

Saturday, December 16, 2006


My weekend hasn't gone as planned. Yesterday I was taken out for lunch by my lovely ex-boss and then I went to the pub with a group of ex-colleagues. I had a really good day and was home by 10.15, merry but not drunk. Then at about 2am, I was quite violently sick. I really don't think it was the alcohol as the contents were quite recognisable as my lunch which I had finished eating 12 hours earlier but was undigested. It wasn't pleasant and I got quite scared about it as I'm on my own. So I didn't go to sleep. I phoned my mum when it reached a reasonable hour and she agreed that it sounded like something to do with the food. I'm feeling a bit better now but it made me feel very isolated and made me wish I was nearer my family as there really isn't anyone here I could contact. My mum has called back again this evening to check on me and I'm feeling calmer, but this was not how I thought I would be spending my day. I still haven't been to sleep either so I've now been up for about 36 hours.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Lady of Leisure

I have ended up with a glut of holiday time left to use up by the end of the year and as no rolling over is permitted, I am off work today and tomorrow, as well as a bizarre pattern of half days next week in order to use it up. This is a result of a combination of using it sparingly in the hope I wouldn't be there much longer, accruing several days off in lieu and my workload being cleverly fixed to make it pretty difficult to ever take much time off (despite the fact I am often chronically underemployed, in most months I have to be there for a couple days in at least three out of four weeks - which made the week in Cornwall a rare luxury).

So what have I done with this leisure time? Today I have done the following:

- Made 8 decorative reindeers, 4 doves and 5 stars.
- Watched two episodes of Adam Adamant Lives! on DVD
- Tried to sort out some flat-buying issues

and the highlight of my day (booked in anticipation that the flat-stuff would stress me out):
- a Hydromassage 'Sunbath' at a local spa, described thus:

"Research has confirmed the many benefits of bathing in the warm, sunlit, mineral rich Dead Sea. Now you can take a Dead Sea 'mini holiday' much closer to home - bathing in water rich in Dead Sea salts & minerals in our Hydromassage Sunbath. As your skin benefits from absorbing valuable minerals and other elements, thousands of tiny bubbles softly massage away stresses and strains, whilst specially filtered UV lamps help encourage a light colour - you will emerge feeling relaxed and glowing with radiant health"

Whilst I'm not sure I would describe myself as glowing with radiant health, I did enjoy it and am pleased that I at least did one thing interesting with my time off.

Overheard Conversations No. 2

Overheard on the tube last night.

Man in early thirties talking to a woman of a similar age:

"It was going really well with your sister. But then I mistook her dog for a cat and she hasn't spoken to me since".

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Lost your love of life, too much apple pie

As well as turning the lounge into the Blue Peter studio, I also watched a documentary about JFK last night. I can't say I found it particularly shocking. A powerful man takes risks by having sex with a lot of unsuitable women.

I'm sure I knew this already, but it might have been because the Kennedy family is one of my mother's favourite subjects. She can't get enough of them. She is also interested in the Mafia, Henry VIII and Biblical epics (somewhat unusual for a staunch atheist - 'Such good plots' being her defence').

Its seems my grandmother also had a pet subject, which came up in conversation with my mum recently. My gran apparently was very interested in true crime! 'Oh yes, she loved Crippen and all that lot' said my mum. Nice, although I am partial to a detective programmes and watch Law & Order SVU more than can is probably healthy, so perhaps this is what I've inherited from Grandma Molly.

The title of this post, is lyrics from 'Kennedy' by the Wedding Present, which popped into my head this morning after years of absence. I suppose unpopular indie music is another of my interests. I'm quite tempted to download a few of their songs for old times sake. Their version of Pleasant Valley Sunday is particularly good - my favourite Monkee's song sung in a strong Leeds accent!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Project Christmas

After this morning's post, I was griped with the determination to make some decorations.

I spent most of my lunch hour looking for festive shaped cookie cutters, but to no avail. This even included going into a dedicated Christmas shop, but star-shaped cutters it seems can not be bought for love nor money in the my locale.

Not to be defeated, I resorted to printing images of the internet to use as templates. I must admit, I have form with type of thing, having produced a great string of cardboard onions to complete a Parisian fancy dress costume, which was then followed up by giant cardboard pineapples that dangled dangerously from the ceiling at a particularly messy Hawaiian themed NYE party.

So tonight has been spent sat in a sea of wrapping paper, card, Prit stick and wire. The result - a chain of 8 reindeer and a string of five stars.

I'm fairly pleased with results (the rubbish camera phone picture doesn't do them justice on this you will have to trust me), but it hasn't made much impact on the overall room. I think I need about three-times as many and I'm not sure I've got the man hours left before Christmas.

Hark the herald angels swig?

I've finished my Christmas shopping, buying the final couple of things yesterday. I've wrapped them all up (except the office Secret Santa which hopefully should be arriving soon).

This morning, I lifted down the box of decorations to see what we had that didn't require a tree (since we aren't going to be here over Christmas we aren't bothering with a tree). A couple of strands of tinsel, a few glittery snowflakes and two wire angels. Not exactly enough to transform the lounge into a magical Christmas grotto.

The OH always laughs at this wire angel too. To my eye, probably helped by having gone to a religious school, it is obviously an angel heralding the good news of Christ's birth on some sort of angelic horn. To the OH, I'd bought an angel swigging from a wine bottle. Judge for yourself.

I might have to buy some more decorations, but really I quite fancy making some myself. I'm haunted by images of that Danielle Proud woman smugly doing marvellous crafty things in the Sunday Times each week.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Things I've remembered about living on my own

1. Its possible to waste a huge amount of time doing very little (i.e. changing the Blog layout!)
2. It means either wasting food or eating the same thing a few days in a row (I'm mix between vegetable chilli and stirfry for a bit of variety)
3. I tend to pick at things in the fridge purely out of boredom
4. A bottle of wine lasts alot longer

Home alone

The OH left for Australia last night. Not being deported for highway robbery, but off to see the cricket, which given the recent performances he was no longer too thrilled about. So I'm home alone for 12 days. I'm pretty independent and have never been the sort of person who once in a relationship never does anything alone. I could have gone with him but decided it was a long way and a lot of money to go to watch a game I don't understand. So I was looking forward to spending some quality 'me' time, but now I can't remember what those things were that I wanted to do and to make matters worse, I seem unable to sleep.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Jump in, we'll take you for a spin...

and show you round the Wheelie World....

Inspired by reading Cinedelica, I rented the complete first series of Chorlton and the Wheelies.

I've always had a bit of thing for men from the north west and I think Chorlton was probably the first one (although he is actually a dragon, not a man - a happiness dragon if you want to be precise).

I watched three episodes this afternoon - fantastic. It has everything - politics, the class system, a great theme song and psychedelic talking toadstools.

Although I'm slightly worried that Fenella the Kettle Witch might give me nightmares.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Easy Listening

The inabilty to drink, cope with hangovers and needing an increasing amount of make-up to achieve the 'natural look' are undoubtedly signs of the onset of middle-age.

However, perhaps most alarming is my growing love for easy listening* music.

We were practically raised on Neil Diamond in our house and I've always been partial to a bit of Bacharach & David, but my longing for proper singers singing proper songs is getting stronger. I do still like MC5 and The Stooges as much as the next man, but more and more I want something soothing to listen to.

The new Lee Hazlewood album was released today and I've been looking forward to it for weeks (this picture is not the latest album, but him 'back in the day'). It contains a new version of Some Velvet Morning which is one of my favourite ever songs.

So I went to HMV at lunchtime, but couldn't find it anywhere. I even braved going to the Country section, but couldn't find him there. (Johnny Cash is still located there as I found out the last time I bought one of his albums - it didn't feel right having him in the same section as Billy Ray Cyrus and Garth Brooks and I worried that people might think that I liked that sort of Country music).

I also searched the New Releases where I spoted a new Neil Diamond Best Of, which I momentarily cooed over but if there is one thing I don't need its Neil Diamond albums.

So I was thwarted in my quest, which almost brought on 'easy-listening rage'.

* I'm not sure easy listening is the right term - it always has slightly derogatory connotations like muzak or Mike Flowers Pop, but this isn't what I mean. I think I just mean good old fashion songs.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

High & Low

Last night, not only did I watch the final of 'I'm a Celebrity..' but I also watched the extra show on ITV2 afterwards (quite pleased the young Busted lad won).

Then today, I watched 'Make me a Supermodel: The Winners Story' (dazzled by the handsomeness of the winner, Albert).

In an attempt to salvage some brain cells, I've made myself watch some more high brow stuff tonight. First The Culture Show - not sure Karl Pilkington, Faithless and designer handbags count as highbrow really and I found myself rather distracted by Lauren's outfits and lipgloss.

Next, I watched The Turner Prize Challenge, sort of a reality tv programme about finding an new critic to overcome the problem of connecting with modern art. Not typical Saturday night viewing, but very interesting. I thought one of the 'contestants' was dreadful though - she kept on about wanting art to relax her and be beautiful which seemed rather a naive view even to me who knows a miniscule amount about the subject.

Of course, I do realise that I could turn off the television entirely and read a book or listen to some music, but that might a step too far.

Friday, December 01, 2006


I had a spare three hundred and thirty pounds, I would buy this Biba dress.

But I don't.

Thankfully, the largest size it goes up is a size 8, which puts it well of temptation's reach.