Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Real Hero

I didn't write about it at the time, but I was horrified by the hero-worship of Raoul Moat by some people. I could see nothing to praise in a man who murdered one man, attacked his ex-girlfriend and shot a police officer at point blank range in the face, but the news featured people who thought he was a hero, including one woman who took her kids to his funeral (surely in any sane society this should be grounds for taking her children off her).

The incident brought into the light a section of society who dislike the police and saw shooting of a defenceless police officer as something to be admired. I don't understand this mistrust of the police - as a law-abiding person I've had no contact with the police, but understand why they exist, am glad they do and am relieved there are people who are willing to do that job, because I know I couldn't. And on the frequent accusations of them being racist or power-crazy, like any large organisation, there are probably some people of whom that is true, but like people in any profession, there will be good and bad.

Anyway, the reason I'm writing about it now as I've just heard an interview on the radio with David Rathband, the police officer who was shot. He is now blind, but is not resentful and is probably one of the most inspiring people I've heard speak. His ambition to go back to work and finish the shift that was cut short by the shooting was heartbreaking, but what a brave man.

For all of those morons who dislike the police and thought Moatie was a hero, listen to this man and see what a real hero is.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Nobody Talks about Book Club

I have joined a book club. Apart from online dating, is there a bigger cliché of lonely modern urban life?

My friend C was telling me about it one night in the pub and I laughed so much at his story of nearly getting into a fight with a woman at the previous meeting, that I was tempted to join myself. Then the next day, I was in an Oxfam bookshop and there was a copy of the book they were reading next, so that sealed it – I was joining a book club.

The first meeting was brilliant Not due to any great meeting of minds and a shared love of literature, but because it was just as funny as C’s description of it. I spent most of the night trying hard not to laugh. There was, as I think is obligatory at these things, a woman who looked at everything from a feminist perspective, a literary snob who had read the book in the original French and someone very argumentative (my friend C).

As predicted by C, the other members of the book club would try to turn the subject to something other than the book in question as soon as possible. Sure enough after one sentence about the book, the feminist had moved onto talking about her son, the education system and anything else other than the book, C desperately and unsubtly tried to steer her back on track and I tried to stifle my giggles.

To add to the amusement, the pub where we meet is also the meeting point of a rival book club and I was told to look as if we were having a better discussion than them. Not to actually have a lively discussion, you understand, just to appear to do so. To be honest the other book club did look a younger more fun crowd than my lot and I may defect in the future.

Tonight is my second meeting. This month’s book was Snow by Orhan Pamuk which I mostly found tedious, but I’m looking forward to the discussions or non-discussions regardless. That is, if anyone else has read the book – apparently there was one meeting where nobody had managed to finish the book and most hadn’t even started it.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Hello October

It is hello to thick black tights,
Hello to boots
Hello to coat
Hello to central heating and soup for lunch
Waiting in the wings are hat, scarf, gloves and even warmer coat
Where did my summer days go? Replaced with long dark nights that last most of the day

Sunday, August 29, 2010

No wonder standards are falling

I don't watch the X Factor but heard a feature on the radio about last night's episode where they casually mentioned that one performance received a score of "one million percent".

Is it any wonder that young people lack basic skills in maths?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Why can't I? You just can't, ok.

For every disaffected youth who plays their music loudly on the bus because it is the only way they can feel they have any power in society, at the other end of the scale, there are educated, allegedly cultured people whose over-inflated sense of their own importance makes their manners just as bad.

Volunteering at the Globe brings me into contact with a lot of this type and some days, all it seems that I do is deal with people's whose egos mean they don't think the rules should apply to them.

You aren't allowed to take photographs during the performance. Is this really too much to ask? What theatre are you actually allowed to take photos? None. But lots of people try at the Globe, possibly because they see it as a tourist attraction, more like Buckingham Palace or Trafalgar Square, than another theatre. When caught, many will try to argue that they don't see why they aren't allowed.

So for any wouldbe rule breaker, here is a comprehensive explanation. There may have been some issue about image rights, authorised images etc, but more importantly, it is distracting - to other members of the audience and more importantly, to the actors. The actors are working, doing a great job, delivering all of those hard to remember Shakespearian lines and it is disrespectful to have a flash going off in their face. How would you like it if someone came to your place of work, while you were negotiating a sale or working on a difficult spreadsheet, and someone stuck a camera in your face. Bit hard to to concentrate?

(On a side note, if you were going to sneakily take a photo, doing it without the flash on would be more subtle. And you probably don't need a flash anyway, what with the Globe being roof-less, it is like being outdoors anyway).

Then last week, the two girls stood at the front of the stage who both had their mobile phones on and were texting constantly. Rather than stopping, they argued that the "turn off mobile phones" sign didn't apply to them because they weren't talking on the phone, only texting. But they were at the front by the stage, so in full view of the actors, the people behind them could see the lights on their phones - it is rude and disrespectful. If you aren't interested in the performance, go. You've only paid £5 for a standing ticket anyway.

But the bottom line with all of this, is that these are the house rules. They aren't up for debate.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Years ago I worked with a woman who when asked her nationality (I can't remember the situation) described herself as European. I would never have felt comfortable saying that and the trip to Bruges brought this feeling home,

I loved Bruges and the Flemish people were great, but travelling through France then Belgium , I became aware of how un-European I felt. I'm not anti-EU, one of those people who is obsessed about preserving the pound and I can see the benefits of all clubbing together. But since we on our little island here, I don't think we will ever feel as much part of Europe as people who grow up on its mainland. No matter how many tunnels under the water we have, we aren't living as close to each other as the rest of Europe are and our collective lack of language ability adds to this feeling of separation.

I wonder if the residents of Hawaii feel the same about being part of the United States of America? That they are apart of it, but not as much as someone in, say, Kansas?

Monday, August 09, 2010

In Bruges

I'll admit that our decision to go to Bruges was based on loving the film In Bruges. Partly because it was cheap and convenient on the Eurostar, but mainly it was because of the film. However, we didn't encounter any Irish hitmen. Our trip did include the following:
I took a lot of photographs of the picturesque views, especially the canals.

We did a brewery tour and drank a lot of Belgian beer.

We went to a free music festival, where the audience seemed to consist mainly of glum clowns

I drank an "interesting" coconut beer from a coconut bowl.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Black Dress Audit

I bought a new black dress the other day. A long sleeved warm black dress in the middle of summer.

Not to wear now, obviously, but did I really need to buy another little black dress? I’m getting older every day and have a social life that seems to consist entirely of going the theatre, barbecues and weddings. And, this being the crux of the matter, I already have a few black dress.

Time to take stock of them, I thought
1. Black sleeveless shift dress – absolute classic. The oldest and most sophisticated black dress in my collection, I’ve worn it to several fancy events in the past.
2. Black drop-waist short-sleeved cotton sundress. Worn loads, but has seen better days
3. Black organic cotton belted dress with big front pocket. Bought in an emergency in the USA when I realised the dresses I’d intended to pack were still hanging on the bedroom door at home. Worn consistently since.
4. Black cap sleeved high necked fitted mini-dress. Bit too short and tight for me to actually wear as a dress so have only ever worn it as a tunic
5. Black puff-sleeved dress with cute buttons and pockets on the front. Bought for a work event and worn at a couple of similar occasions, but not in the past year
6. Black long-sleeved high-necked, flared skirt 60s style dress. Worn loads, possibly my favourite before the purchase of the new dress.
7. Black knitted jumper dress. Very warm and cosy, looks a bit like I’ve borrowed a man’s jumper to wear as a dress, which was exactly what I was aiming for. Not worn since winter ended.
8. The New Black Dress – long bell-sleeves with a round neck, flared skirt and visible zip up the back.

Actually, this isn’t as many as I thought I’d have and in writing them all down, I can see that they are all significantly different from each other (at least to me).

Of course, this list doesn’t include any patterned dresses which are predominantly black that I may have...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Loving your work: Willy Vlautin

I first became aware of Willy Vlautin when I received a copy of his third novel, Lean on Pete, to review for LibraryThing. On reading the blurb I did wonder why I’d requested this book as a tale of a young boy and his horse hardly sounded like my sort of thing (I still shudder at the thought of the film The Horse Whisperer and the soft focus horse pictures my ex-flatmate hung around our lounge). But far from being sentimental claptrap, it was a Steinbeck-esque story of poverty, bad luck and bad choices.

From the Lean on Pete blurb (more helpfully this time) I discovered that Vlautin is something of a renaissance man as he is also a musician. He fronts an alt-country band, Richmond Fontaine and since I’m partial to a little bit of alt (and some not-so alt) country music, I downloaded one of their albums. His song lyrics tell stories similar to his books – more tales of woe and the American dram turned sour, but set to some great tunes. I’ve since bought another and I’m tempted to buy more (they have quite a back catalogue). The album Post to Wire has been my listening choice recently and Richmond Fontaine find themselves being in the unique position of being the only band that still exist that I listen to at the moment.

Whilst in San Francisco, I bought his first two books. I read The Motel Life immediately and loved it. I’ve been saving the second Northline because once I’ve read it, I won’t have any more of his books to read. It even comes with its own CD of music, which I’m looking forward to almost as much as the book.

The sound of wind blowing through the trees

After a period of inertia, I’m throwing myself into London’s cultural life again, taking up every opportunity to experience what the Capital has to offer. This has involved stepping way a beyond my comfort zone (see One no One account below for just how far outside I’ve gone!) and trying out some different things.

Recently this led to me road-testing the “production” Susurrus, which The Gate Theatre is “putting on” in Holland Park at the moment. The apparent overuse of quotation marks here is because I’m not entirely sure that the language normally used to describe theatre applies here. Susurrus is (to borrow from the publicity material) “a play without actors, without a stage and with only one person in the audience”. What that translates into, in layman’s terms, is being given a headset and a map, navigating around the park, listening to dialogue, sounds and bits of opera.

I was sceptical before it began, but was quickly won over by the soothing Scottish voices and wonderful music. The setting of Holland Park, now moving up first place in my list of favourite parks, was perfect and the elements behaved in synch with the play. While all was well in the play, the sun was shining brightly and I enjoyed strolling past the tennis courts and cafe, but just when the play took a sinister turn and I was directed to more secluded spots, the wind picked up speed and howled around me.

The story became something dark, but there was still a beauty in the words and the music and I was completely lost in this world in my headset and far from my initial self-consciousness, I was reluctant to return to real life at the end.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Reflections on the One on One Festival

To keep some connection with the arts world, I have been volunteering at the One on One Festival at the Battersea Arts Centre.

I was considering starting this post:

"Theatre doesn't have to take place on a stage with a curtain and the audience sat neatly in rows"

but equally valid would have been:

I arrived for my shift to be greeted with the question "Have you ever seen a grown man naked?"

One on One was a festival of theatre at the experimental end of the scale. Around the venue, there were over 30 different shows, usually with just one performer, which audience members experienced on their own. It involved facing fears, darkness and yes, some nudity, but there were also experiences of joy, beauty and comedy.

I experienced the festival first as a volunteer steward, which meant that I saw audience reactions without actually seeing the performances themselves. It was fascinating to see how people reacted so differently to the same piece.

On the final day, I went along as an audience member, although I think my journey was a tame one (clothes were all kept on) but I saw some wonderful acts. I had my own private concert in Folk in a Box, with the musician Clem Leek, who specialises in modern classical ambient music, a genre I was previously unaware of, but found rather lovely. I experienced a haunting acoustic performances by Sarah Johns in which we both stood in front of a mirror by candlelight. I was treated for Existential Angst in the piece Nurse Knows Best, which was a lot of fun. Other bits I was less keen on and on the whole I decided I had enjoyed watching others' reactions more than taking part myself, which is interesting in itself.

I suspect it may be the sort of thing that people who think the arts shouldn't receive any public funding would hold up as an example, but for those that attended the festival seemed to be a success and it was certainly different from anything else I've ever experienced.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

I Write Like

You've probably all done this already. It has taken the web by storm this week.

I Write Like

Paste in a sample of your writing and the clever program will tell you which best-selling author you writing style is most like.

I feed it with numerous past blog articles and most of the time, it said I write like William Gibson (I've never read anything by him). One post it said was like Mario Puzo, probably because I mentioned mozzarella.

But putting aside the vanity of knowing who I write like, I decided to feed in some writing related to my work. I put in something my Chief Executive wrote. Dan Brown. Hopefully, it means he writes in a populist accessible style, rather than being a conspiracy theorist.

I put in an extract from the new Government's (more about them at a later date no doubt), Big Society document, thinking it would funny if it came out as Orwellian. It came out as like Kurt Vonnegut. Surreal and absurd?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Elephants on Parade

During my long and fairly uneventful absence from the world of blogging, I became obsessed with the Elephants on Parade.

If you aren't in London or walk around the city with your eyes closed, you might not know about the Elephants on Parade, so I'll explain.
London's streets were taken over for a few weeks by herds of colourful elephants, decorated by designers, artists and other such people. The elephants were sponsored or bought by companies with some elephants sold at auction for thousands of pounds, with the money going to help protect Asian elephants whose numbers are dwindling.
The now-husband and I spent a lovely Saturday tracking down the elephants on a route that started at Paddington and finished on the Strand, spotting around 70 elephants as we went. We spent another morning viewing herds of the elephants when they were gathered together at the Royal Chelsea Hospital and the Westfield Centre. I like elephants and we did our bit for the cause by buying a minature one (the now-husband was keen to put in a bid for a full-sized one, thinking it would be a novel way of spending the money we received as wedding gifts, but my money sense won out).
But more than the charitable element, I loved the way that such a diverse range of people were just as smitten with the elephants are we were. The sheer delight of people chancing upon an elephant around a quiet corner. The freedom for children to clamber all over them as they wished. This is what public art should be. Not some bronze memorial to some military person whose significance has long since been forgotten. But something that people can enjoy and interact with in their own way.

The elephants have gone now from London and our streets look sadder without them.

Making my excuses

I've been:
  • too busy
  • too tired
  • too low

I've had too little

  • energy
  • enthusiam
  • time
  • to say

But I will

  • try harder
  • write more frequently

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Life without Coffee

I have given up coffee. I am now in Day 5 of Life without Coffee.

I haven't had headaches or any of the withdrawl symptoms I'd read about, but it hasn't been fun. I don't think I miss the coffee itself that much, but rather the ritual of coffee drinking.
At work, it breaks up the day, giving me a reason to get up from my desk for a break every few hours. So I've invested in some fruit tea so I can still have something to drink (do) at work.

But more than the work habit, I love the thought of sitting in cafes, enjoying a latte, perhaps with a cake or pastry. And cakes, pastries and biscuits just don't go with fruit tea, but then I should probably be giving up those too.

Today is going to be tough. Sundays were made for reading the papers with an endless steam of coffee. And despite thinking I was doing well, last night I actually dreamt about breaking my coffee-fast, dreaming about having a coffee in an art gallery cafe. I was pleased when I woke up and realised that I hadn't "fallen off the wagon", but the dream illustrates that as well as giving up biscuits etc, I may also have to give up on galleries and museums in case their cafes prove to be too much temptation!

(I'm still drinking regular tea, but I take my tea so weak that the caffeine content must be negligible. Once I get over coffee, I may get rid of the tea too, but one step at a time)

Friday, May 07, 2010

The Election - Some Thoughts

Firstly, why am I still awake? I have work tomorrow.

Ken Clarke is quite funny. His comments about the media coverage were most amusing when the BBC wanted to cut off the interview with him to show pictures of Gordon arriving at his count.

Sara Brown's skirt was rather short. Her legs pretty good, but I think it is too late to win any votes by showing a bit of leg.

Where is the glory for the Sunderland seats to be the first to declare? Surely it would be better to boast of a decent turnout and an electorate that put some thought into their voting.

It saddens me that in many areas the BNP get more votes than the Green Party.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


Should I pretend I am writing this from an overcrowded airport, where we have been camped out for days, suffering boredom only interupted by assaulting airline staff, rioting with other passengers and crying for the television cameras?

Our "stranded" overseas experience has been vastly different from what I'm seeing on the television here and what my family are telling me is being shown back in the UK. We extended our stay in the apartment we had rented until the next people were arriving and today we have moved into a hotel. Not a hotel I would have normally picked, but it is cheap and clean, I'm writing this from the desk in the bedroom, there is a pool and gym and there is a "pillow menu" in case the standard pillows don't meet requirements. So I don't feel I can complain too much.

At the moment we are paying for it ourselves and there is no guarantee that we will be able to claim any of it back. By the time we get back, I will have had a month off work (until last year, I'd never taken two weeks holiday before) so will likely face a nightmare when I get back in. But still I'm enjoying myself.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Eloped (sort of)

For once I have a very good reason for not posting for a while. The OH and I got married!

We did it on our own in the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. We did tell family and friends in advance so it technically isn't eloping, but I did it without informing readers of my blog, so for these purposes, we did elope.

The service was lovely and initmate. The mini-moon to the Napa Valley was fabulous (plenty of wine tastings and gorgeous scenery).

There is a slight downside to this story. We are now stranded in San Francisco due to this volcanic ash business. We should have left yesterday and at the moment the earliest flight available is 30th April, considerably extending the honeymoon. But I can think of worse things to happen - like actually going back to work, so we are making the best of it.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Less Happens

I don't think that central London is the centre of the universe, and I'm sure people who have nothing to do with London lead exciting lives, but since I stopped working in central London, I've had less to say here. Away from the assorted tourists and nutcases that inhabitat central London and the underground system, my daily life has become decidedly uneventful.

The now-not-so-new job isn't great, it has its ups and its downs, but it doesn't inspired me on way or another to write about it as it really isn't that interesting. Tellingly the best thing I can find to say about the whole experience is that there is a great cafe nearby that does a great latte and I'm ignoring that common bit of money saving advice about not buying coffees on your way into work.

One thing I am doing a lot of is going to the theatre. Oh the irony of having left the theatre industry, I now find myself going to the theatre more than I did before. The reason I'm going more is actually related to having left working in it, as I'm now on a judging panel for theatre awards, which I couldn't do while I worked there. I would have more than enough material to write a theatre-related blog if I could be bothered.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

RIP Alex Chilton

Sorry for the prolonged silence. I didn't have much to say and now I come back because someone dies. And it isn't Corey Haim.

Alex Chilton was the frontman of the band Big Star. After Primal Scream, Big Star are my second all time favourite band. They never achieve huge fame or success but are often quoted as influences by other bands (Teenage Fanclub pretty much borrowed wholesale from them). I was lucky enough to see them (not in the 70s) but at a festival a few years ago.

Here are a few of their songs:

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Wise Beyond His Years?

I somehow I ended up watching "Country Tracks" this morning. This is particularly odd as the countryside just to induce panic attacks in me, but I am learning to deal with open space now.

Anyway, there was a feature about the poet Ted Hughes and John Craven was talking to a group of young children, asking them if they knew Ted Hughes went to their school and did they know the story "The Iron Man". His final question was "Do you think, you'll become a poet" to which a cute little ginger lad firmly said no. "What will you be instead?", asked the presenter.

"A plumber".

Perhaps not the most romantic of ambitions, but plumbers certainly have a steadier income than poets. (although less cachet when it comes to pulling literature students)

A Balanced Diet

I was sat in a window seat at Pret a Manger, eating my lunch. A man came and sat at the table just outside the window. I noticed that on his tray were five pots of Pret's Caramel dessert. I thought perhaps some friends were going to join him and each enjoy a Caramel Pot, but no. Methodically, but pretty quickly, he worked his way through the five pots. Then he was gone.

That's can't be healthy?

But then again, I was eating a mozzarella and pistachio sandwich at the time, so I'm in no position to talk.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Everyone who has ever cut my hair

Some of the names are now lost in the mists of time, if I ever knew them in the first place, but as far as I can remember this is a list of everyone who has ever cut my hair (a list that compiled itself while I had my hair cut today)

My mother - inflictor of many a crooked fringe as a child. Strangely I still allowed her to cut the back of it when I was a student.

Carron - a friend of a friend of the family. She has arthritis in her hands despite being in her twenties but somehow could still cut her. She was the first glamorous person I remember wearing glasses.

A series of ladies at "Cutz" - responsible for the awful "Wolf Cut" that was apparently all the rage (where outside of lupine circles, I'm not sure). They were also very fond of using the tongs on my fringe .

Lisa - a childhood friend of mine who I hadn't seen of spoken to for years. She came round our house to cut everyone's hair. We were both too shy to make conversation. It was awkward. She's recently been in touch via Facebook.

The Hard-Faced Blonde - I was a student and after years of the same hair style, having spent ages growing out the ever-present fringe in my late teens, I decided I would go for a change. I picked a salon in the centre of Norwich and was determined I would go for something different. I was ready to explain that I didn't think my round face would suit anything too harsh, but my hairdresser was a hard-faced woman with a very severe haircut that didn't suit her face at all, so I was unable to say that. Instead I had a trim.

The Cutting Crew - I don't remember anything about the hairdresser or the cut, but the bailiffs came to repossess some things while I was having my hair washed.

Julie - a lovely hairdresser in my hometown who would cut my hair on my visits home in my early years of living in London. Her usual customers were the set and rinse crowd, so she liked playing with my young, straight hair.

Mavis aka the one that got away - after Julie's salon closed, I asked my mother to make an appointment for my visit at another local salon. Unknown to me, there were two next door to each other. She made the appointment with the wrong one. I decided that a) I didn't want my hair cut there and b) it didn't need a cut yet. So I rang to cancel and the woman said "I'll let Mavis know" and I was convinced I'd made the right decision.

The Lonely Chinese Man - my first hairdresser in London and the first hairdresser to give me a head massage - it gave me a headache. I'm pretty sure I didn't ever find out his name. He used to ask what I was doing that night, but specificially where he might be able to find me. He spent Christmas on his own at the cinema. He cut my hair several times, but one day I went back and he was gone.

The Big Girl - at the same salon as the above. She was alright. She was a big girl with a big personality and a very dated perm.

The Blonde Aussie druggie with a rich boyfriend - again at the same salon, I sometimes got this nightmare instead of the Big Girl. A man once came in and sold her drugs while she was washing my hair. The shop owner chased him away. She was apparently dating a very rich man with yacht and was setting sail around the world with him, but by my next visit, he had dumped her. She made a terrible mess with the hair dye.

Justina and the Big Greek Man - a one-time visit to a salon near the gallery I used to volunteer at. The Big Greek Man was the owner, who instructed Justina on the hair dye part, without consulting me. It came out bright red around the roots, auburn everywhere else. I stayed another two hours, while they tried to make it all one colour again.

Sonia - Sonia is a great hairdresser but a dreadful time-keeper. Your appointment time is just the time you are welcomed into the salon, the actual cut (always good and quick once it started) would usually happen 2 hours later. She had previously been an accountant in Iran.

Daniella - briefly worked at Sonia's and cut my hair once when Sonia was too busy with the fifteen other people who had been waiting hours. She did quite a good job.

Marta the Butcher - Also at Sonia's. The worst haircut I've ever had. The fringe, cut in first, with layers. On my birthday.

Esme - a friend of my sisters' and my favourite hairdresser. She cut it twice, but then went freelance because she was sick of the low pay in the salon and I never quite managed to arrange to see her again.

Lynne - owner of the salon that Esme worked at. She could cut hair, but her bedside manner left a lot to be desired. She insisted on putting my hair up as part of some special Christmas promotion.

Carly - another friend of my sisters' and worker in the same salon as above. I've witnessed her eating both portions of a two-for-one deal on scampi and chips, although this was in the pub and not in her capacity as a hairdresser at all.

Georgina - the current hairdresser, who all in all I'm quite happy with.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Complacent Canvassing

I'm at home again for part 3 of the ceiling debacle. From the window I can see a man in an anorak coming up the path. There is feeble knock on the door. I answer it and the man, who is holding a clipboard in the same blue as his anorak, introduces himself as being from a political party. Can they count on my support in the election, he asks. I can't help but smile as I say no, although I think he can tell that what I'm too polite to say is that I wouldn't vote for your lot in million years. He asks who I will be voting for. I tell him who I will probably vote for. He then asks if the OH would vote for his party. I tell him probably not (what I mean is that if he did vote for them, he wouldn't tell me).

Then he was gone. No attempt at persuading me, no hard or soft sell on why his party has to offer, what makes their manifesto worth voting for or anything. And I feel slightly disappointed. I know they pretty much have it in the bag, but I would have liked to have been made to feel that they would have liked me personally to vote for them.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Another company to avoid

I think I may have found a company worse than BT.

You may recall the flooding from upstairs. Our insurance company were pretty effecient in starting the process to sort it out and arranged for a building company to carry out the repairs. We decided it would be easier just to use the one the insurance company sent round rather than pay ourselves and wait for the money to be given back. This was clearly a mistake. The company, Rok, sent an assessor round in December and then called to arrange a date (more than a month away) to carry out the work. I rang them back to confirm but no one ever answered the phone so I left several messages instead.

The week of the date they were due to come round, I called them to ask what time they would be coming and they said between 8 and 9. So I took a day off work and waited in. It got to 10 without any sign of them so I rang them. Eventually after 15 minutes on hold, I was told that my appointment had never been confirmed. I explained that no one answered the phone so I had left messages but they said nothing was logged. They then said it wasn't their fault or their problem, and if I wanted to make a complaint I should speak to my insurance company.

So here we are again. Another day off work. Again I rang to double-check they were coming and this morning just before 9, someone did arrive. But within a few minutes we hit another problem. It will not just take a day as they said it would. It will take at least two days, so I will have to take more time off.

He starts on the job. Cuts two big holes in the ceiling and then stops.

Another problem. The light is broken (which they are supposed to be fixing as well) but needs to be disconnected completely before they can continue. This builder isn't qualified to do that. They should have sent an electrician first.

So now they have to try to find an electrician and so I wait.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Not a Musical

I rarely rewatch films and hardly ever re-read books, even my favourites, so it is a huge endorsement that I wanted to see the current play at the Soho Theatre twice in the space of ten days. And truth be told, I could happily go and see it again.

The show is "Midsummer (a play with songs)", and I saw it for free as part of the theatre awards judging thing I do. I took a friend along to it, fearing the songs would put off the OH, who strictly does not do musicals, but it was so good that I thought he would enjoy and I wanted to see it again - I was even willing to pay to see it again.

It is a Scottish play (not the Scottish play) and I have admitted that I am definitely a Scotophile, plus it is about turning 35 (just a few weeks off for me) and the music includes a quick blast of the Jesus and Mary Chain, so I was always going to enjoy it. But equally the older people in the audience, who probably didn't own a Jesus and Mary Chain record between them, still seemed to love it too. And the songs were all really good too, sounding similar to Belle & Sebastian in places, definitely not like the songs you normally hear in musicals, but then this isn't a musical, it is a play with songs and that difference is important.

So if you are in London in the next two weeks, go to see this show. I thoroughly recommend it (although I'm beginning to think it may have been a mistake to recommend it to a couple of recently married friends who met in the internet as the play contains the line "Its an internet thing. I'll give it a year" which they may be offended by).

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Not over the age of 30? - Ice Skating

I was never a brilliant skater, but I liked it and held a romantic notion about gliding along arm in arm with a loved one. Sadly since the OH is firmly of the "can't skate/won't skate" mind, I had to make do with going with female friends. Over-enthusiastic about the idea, we ended up booking two outings, one a freebie in Canary Wharf, another at Somerset House.

The first trip did not get off to the best of starts. My balance was noticeably absent for the first ten minutes and as I lurched (not glided) from railing to railing, I wondered how I would survive a whole hour of it, let alone another evening of it. Thankfully, I did improve - not to any great standard, but enough to go around unaided at my own leisurely pace. And so long as I wasn't in danger of being skated into by the show-offs (one in particular was fast without actually being in control and took down a group of children in one fall), I did enjoy it.

But what I wasn't prepared for was how tiring it is. I remember the balance issues, my lack of pace and wariness of other teenage skaters, but I don't remember it being so exhausting. I had to stop every ten minutes for a breather. Proof once again that all the swimming I do doesn't seem to translate into any other type of fitness.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Inauspicious Start to 2010

New Year’s Day, i woke up feeling dodgy. Not on account of the Cava consumed the night before, which was adequately absorbed by the copious nibbles. I was coming down with a cold. So once we got back from our jaunt to Exeter, I spent the next couple of days confined to the house.

Sniffles had cleared up sufficiently to go into work on Monday, determined to be a dynamic go-getter in 2010. I spent the morning reading emails, listening to colleagues grumble and trying to get warm. Then around lunchtime the electricity went off. It didn’t come back on, so we were sent home.

Today, I arrive at the office to find it is still in darkness. The rest of the building has their power back, but for some reason (unpaid bills?) not our office.

On the positive side, it is easing me back into the working routine, but foiling my plans to be dynamic.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Wear a Coat!

After the Tyne Bridge, the second sight heralding my arrival in the North East is usually an inappropriately dressed female, shivering on the platform with corn beef legs. And in days gone by on nights out in Newcastle I was used to being the only person the Quayside with a coat.

So I almost expect it when I'm up north and unlike the OH, I wasn't shocked when I saw a group of men on Boxing Day evening wearing just t-shirts. But this aversion to coats seems to have spread. During the day, when the ice was still thick on the ground, I saw teenagers wearing just vests! Vests! Temperatures were sub-zero.

And in London, I saw a pair of girls without coats when there was snow on the ground and one of them was wearing denim hotpants! Admittedly she was wearing tights (in the North, the legs would have been bare too), but who decides in snowy weather that hotpants are the ideal wardrobe decision?

Are coats out of fashion and nobody told me? Are they hopelessly unhip amongst the young? I remember reading years ago that Victoria Beckham never wears a coat because she thought they made her look bulky, but then she is ill/crazy/unlikely to be getting the bus anywhere. Surely this aversion can't have spread?

I don't understand it. I love coats. I have loads of them and could happily buy a few more if I didn't already have loads.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Overheard Conversations Part 9

On the train to Exeter, a woman is talking loudly on her mobile phone to a friend who has just enduring a trying Christmas break with her family. The subject turns to the friend's sister which sparks this statement from our woman.

"Does she have a boyfriend?
(presumably the other person says no)
"I thought she would find it easy to find a boyfriend. She likes Top Gear"

I didn't realise affairs of the heart were so easy!