Friday, July 30, 2004
Dear Packing personnel
It would appear that the use of common sense does not feature in your job description, having found the following items in one of the kitchen boxes whilst unpacking:
- One small tomato - slightly shrivelled
- One saucer, with two used teabags on it
- Two old sugar sachets
All individually wrapped in yards of bubble wrap.
Furthermore, as your colleague who had to lift them will tell you, loading large boxes entirely with books will not endear you to anyone.
Oh, and by the way:
Tuesday, July 27, 2004
Saturday, July 24, 2004
An old friend of mine pointed me in the direction of this website - it belongs to a girl who went to the same Primary School as we did. After working in Product Marketing for a number of years (I can only imagine it *is* as dull as it sounds), she decided to go and do something she did anyway (advising people on what to wear, à la Trinny and Susanna) and get paid for it. She's got her own television programme too. Well, good for her.
This is the kind of thing I'm searching for. I've taken the first (some might say foolish) step and walked away from my career in corporate drudgery, but I just don't have a plan. To be honest, I don't know if I have the guts to do something along these lines.
I'm still going round in circles about teaching - I know my subject (French), but can I communicate my knowledge to others? Can I take control of 30 odd teenagers, can I command respect and authority, can I deal with confrontations, will I just burst into tears when a kid is "nasty" to me? I get the impression that the only way to find out would be to enrol on the PGCE (Post Graduate Certificate of Education)... But what if it's the wrong move for me?
So, it was with some relief that I found this website over at Billy's, which generated some ideas for my new career:
- Witho, your ideal job is a Village Idiot
Just need to find a village, then!
Thursday, July 22, 2004
I've been infected - by Northerners!
A couple of days with the in-laws, and I'm saying "castle" and "raspberry" with the short "a" sound, instead of the "arr" sound which would be my normal pronunciation... Next thing you know, I'll be having a "bath" instead of a "barth"! What is the world coming to?
Is there a cure?
On the plus side, I got free, unsolicited banana cake, home grown raspberries and fresh salad leaves delivered by hand to my kitchen fresh from the allotment - plus we got an excuse to do touristy things like Chislehurst Caves, the London Eye (pics available chez Housse's moblog) and the Edward Hopper exhibition at the Tate Modern. Hopper - his paintings sometimes strike me as looking... well, a bit amateur. I guess it's the pared down simplicity, but I'm sure some of the perspectives are out too. I do like the moods they evoke - the way the characters often appear to be in a world of their own and you wonder what brought them there and what they're thinking...
Well, all that "couwcha"was merely a brief interlude in the general chaos which is the run-up to our move to Somerset. We've now booked the removal men for next week - having had a couple of quotes now, it seems that it will cost us a lot of money whichever way you look at it - due to the distance involved, the drivers cannot make the journey in one day, a fact which seems to push the price up considerably.
However, due to general incompetence, the letting agents have not yet resolved our various employer and character references, so we haven't got our new residence confirmed as yet... oops...
Tuesday, July 20, 2004
... okay, I was in a bit of a "two 'n' eight" yesterday, as our cockney chums would say ("two 'n' eight" = state). Actually, "two 'n' eight" is an example of a cockney rhyming slang expression where you *do* say the whole phrase, as opposed to the more usual expressions like: "let's 'ave a butcher's" where the whole phrase is "butcher's hook" (= look) or "alright, me old china" where the phrase is: "china plate" (= mate) - i.e. the slang user would not actually say the rhyming bit... Fascinating facts, courtesy of Witho. The original Cockney rhyming slang is, of course, different to what I would term "modern" rhyming slang, based on the old cockney version, but spoken throughout the country - an example being "it's all gone Pete Tong" (=wrong). Often, the whole expression is used in this system.
My favourite cockney rhyming slang expression is "Aris'" meaning "arse" - it's an example of double rhyming slang.
The original rhyming slang for arse was: "bottle and glass", shortened to "bottle" (with appropriate glottal stops replacing the "t"s of course...)
Then they invented a rhyming slang for bottle, being "Aristotle", shorted to "Aris'" - which is almost full circle, because it sounds like arse! I bet you're on the edge of your seat with excitement. Not.
Anyway, all of this was a round about way of saying that I was in panic mode yesterday. I keep having waves of anxiety about the move, which will probably continue until such time as I'm ensconced in our rented house in Taunton, bum on sofa and cup of tea in hand...
We've got one thing out of the way anyway - we've found somewhere to rent (subject to references etc) - a 3 bed Victorian Terrace close to the station, the school and the centre of town. (Swiss, did you know that Taunton is so called due to the river Tone which runs through it? Thought you might appreciate that...) The latter half of last week was spent viewing houses - most of which were modern ones with pokey little rooms, no character and no storage. The house we settled on was our last viewing of the day and we were relieved to find that we liked it. Funnily enough, the current occupant is a teacher too!
So now we have to get all the stuff down to Taunton - and apparently, this is the busiest time of year for Removal firms. Funny how you only find out these things when it's too late, though I suppose it makes sense when you think about it. We've had one quote already from a major firm which was astronomical (4 times as much as I paid to move from Southampton to London) but we have some local firms coming round tomorrow so hopefully they will quote us something reasonable. I suppose the main cause of my concern is getting the removal booked and packing the stuff. Before you say it, we're not going to get them to pack - the process of packing will allow BF to go through his stuff and work out what he actually needs - with help and advice from the Witho of course ("No dear, I'm sure you won't need that Man U scarf or that Metallica t-shirt" ;).... ). I already went through this process when I moved from Southampton, and the amount of stuff that I gave to charity , chucked away or recycled was unbelievable...
So, at the end of last week, we were in Taunton, and on Friday we set off for Manchester, where we had a wedding to attend on Saturday (BF was an usher). The journey was horrendous - we left Taunton at about 11.30 and arrived in Manchester at 18:15 - you do the math! I was frazzled... But the wedding was lovely, despite the torrential rain in the morning (it's grim up North, you know...). BF looked lovely in his penguin suit and "ushed" to perfection - he also did a reading which was delivered beautifully, despite his so-called friends' attempts to scupper him with lewd gestures from the pews... He was wise to keep his eyes on the lectern...
On the way back to London, I went on my current favourite stretch of motorway - the "M6 Toll" - each time I've been on it (erm, that'll be twice Witho...), it's been wonderfully empty, and the novelty of seeing a signpost towards "Toll Plaza" does not seem to have worn off yet. I'm not sure quite why the whole thing excites me so much, but the BF will attest that I was "woo-hoo"ing with glee as we joined the Toll section - best £2 I've spent in some time... The journey back to London took about 3.5 hours - which is about right.
I think that's quite enough for now...
Monday, July 19, 2004
Well, I would list it here but it would take too long and I haven't got time as I've got to do all the things on my to-do list.
The move to Taunton is fast approaching and panic is setting in.
I can't cope with blogging for a while...
Wednesday, July 14, 2004
I was reminded of an email "faux pas" I once made while I was working at [insert old company name].
A new contractor joined the department and, apparently, took a bit of a shine to me. A colleague told me that he had likened me to the woman out of the Fry's Turkish delight advert - not an unflattering comparison. Trouble is, the guy was not really my type. Firstly, he can only have been about 5'6", was balding with a greasy "comb-over", wore a bum bag and a waxed hat when it was raining, and always wore braces. Ahhh, the joys of an IT department - where, so often, aesthetics and style are forgotten...
Now, my colleague and friend "Mooro" (incidentally, the first person who referred to me as "Witho" - he cannot know the significance of this!) was, in essence, a wind-up merchant of the very highest order. He "befriended" Steady Eddie (or "Ed the Head" as he was also known) and encouraged him in his pursuit of the Witho, egging him on to ask me out at any available opportunity, but, of course, knowing that I was repelled by him in a number of ways.
So, one day, it was Steady Eddie's birthday and, in traditional fashion, he sent out an email to the department informing them of the nature and location of birthday-related sweet and cake products for the consumption of the masses. Witho thinks: "I'll forward this to Mooro, with a jokey remark..."
So I hit "forward", type: "I wonder if there's any Turkish delight... ;)" and at the very moment that I'm pressing send, a thought suddenly strikes me. I don't remember typing Mooro's name in the "To" box. Everything goes into slow motion, I now know what's happening and am powerless to stop it, I'm pressing Send and it's too late to stop - I realise that I didn't forward the email - I actually replied to Steady Eddie!
I'm still shaking when a reply comes back:
"No, but there is some Fry's chocolate cream - dark, creamy and sensual...."
Tuesday, July 13, 2004
Whilst I acknowledge the fine work you have done in recent times, both laundering and drying mine and the BF's general "linens" in a multi-purpose fashion, I'm disappointed that you have suddenly started making terrible scraping noises whilst on the spin cycle. I suspect that the underwire which disappeared mysteriously from one of my bras may be responsible, but you could at least have deposited the errant item into the filter zone so that I could retrieve it safely. Instead of which, I find myself listening to your cacophony with some trepidation, wondering why you couldn't have had this tantrum whilst you were still under warranty.
I await a full explanation of the situation
Monday, July 12, 2004
Saturday was decidedly "ad-hoc". Only one thing was planned - we were going to Camden Town so that I could attend a talk at the Open University on their flexible PGCE course and on post-graduate study in general (this being one possible career direction I've considered). Other than that, there was a vague idea of visiting my friend in Chingford, since we were North of the river (oh, to be North of the river, where they have tube lines and no Millwall supporters....).
So, we go to Camden. While I'm at the talk, BF takes a stroll up the High Street - his mission being to seek out a haircut and a luncheon venue.
The talk was informative, though it could have been more so if people hadn't spent so much time pondering over whether their foreign degree was equivalent to a UK honours degree and whether the exams they did at secondary school were equivalent to GCSE maths and English and whether it mattered if they didn't know where their GCSE certificates were... Call me Miss Picky, but I would have liked to have known a bit more about the course content. I do get annoyed when people spend time on details relevant only to them which can be worked out at a later date... But I did learn about the course structure and the limits of flexibility dictated by the TTA which will determine how I could fit the course in with work if I chose to take that route...
I came out to find BF waiting for me in the chosen lunch venue - an Italian style "tapas" bar. The food was good, but I was disappointed that they couldn't provide me with a mixed leaf salad on the side - they only had rocket leaves. There were some French people on the table next to ours who couldn't quite understand the concept of everyone sharing the dishes - the manager had to explain it to them, bless. They call us insular...
BF mentions that he noticed that there is a showing of Fahrenheit 9/11 at the Camden Odeon, and we had discussed seeing it, so we decide to go - but not before a quick foray into a couple of shoe shops and an excited look at some Snoopy bags (why *didn't* I buy one? But I couldn't decide - pink or black? Large or small?).
The film was fascinating. What I liked about it was its accessibility. It's not presented in a high-brow way like many documentaries - it uses a kind of "faux-naïf" style, partly playing on Bush's reputation of being a simpleton, but that was handy, as I'm a bit of a simpleton too! It doesn't assume that you know certain things already, everything is presented "from scratch" so if, like me, you don't keep up with all the news and find yourself lost in the fog of ideas about Bush and the wars in Afghanistan and the Gulf, this film presents the whole picture - albeit in a one-sided way of course, but there do seem to be many facts which are undeniable - the investment of Saudi money in the US, the links between the bin Ladens and other eminent Saudis and the Bush family. I guess, as a Brit, I wanted to understand more of Blair's role in the whole débacle, but that was the only thing which I felt was lacking for me personally. As BF said, the audience applauded at the end of the film, which is a rare thing in my experience.
The BF was in thoughtful mood when we came out - "I feel I need to *do* something..." he said on the way back to the car, and was restless as we drove up the A503 towards my home town... He found a leaflet I'd picked up from the OU talk and the keyring pen I carry around in Cat Bag and started scribbling his thoughts as we headed toward my friend B's house...
I had phoned B from the restaurant and, not knowing how long the film would be, suggested a vague arrival time. In fact, we arrived at her house at exactly that time and spent an enjoyable evening eating her home-made curry and discussing the film further.
Our evening was only spoiled by the fact that the Blackwall Tunnel (our most direct route home) was closed Southbound. Now, I had checked various teletext pages (I maintain that "old skool" teletext is far superior to the nonsense offered by Sky Digital...) to check if it was closed, as I knew that there had been closures some nights, but no information was forthcoming so we assumed that no news was good news. No such luck - as soon as we got on the North Circular, heading towards the A12 and Northern Approach to the tunnel, the signs indicated that the tunnel was closed. My first thought was to take the A13 further into town and use the Rotherhithe tunnel. This, apparently, was everyone else's thought too, so a swift U-turn later and I'm heading out towards the M25. A circuitous route, but we got home eventually... on checking teletext again at home, it tells us, after the event, that the Blackwall Tunnel is closed Southbound. Thanks for that!
Now, if you don't mind, I've got various things to attend to now that I'm a lady of leisure, so I'll be off now...
Friday, July 09, 2004
The other day at work, the boss asked me to send an email to a client on her behalf - she doesn't send any of her own emails. This fact is worthy of a post in its own right, and I will come to that eventually, but for now that's not relevant.
So, I send the email. A little later, colleague S checks the incoming emails "Oh, there's a reply from client G". She prints out the email (this too deserves comment, but again, I digress) and passes it to the boss. His reply is a simple question in relation to the original email sent by the boss.
Boss: *reads email* I don't think he's seen my email yet has he?
Colleague S: Erm, yes he has, that's the reply you're reading now
Boss: But what I mean is, he hasn't seen my email yet, has he?
Witho: *largely incredulous* Well, yes, he replied to it, so he must at least have opened it or viewed it in some way
Boss: *bewildered* I just don't think he has seen it
Colleague S: *somewhat exasperated* But the fact that your message is attached at the bottom of the message means that he must have opened the message and pressed "reply"
Boss: *concept still not quite grasped* How do you know?
Witho: *can't believe she's even having this conversation* In order to reply, he has to open or select your message and press reply. That means he must, at the very least, have seen your message
Wednesday, July 07, 2004
Dear Big Fella
Whilst I was happy to take your suit to the Dry Cleaners for you, I'd assumed you'd removed the following items from the pockets:
- 2 floppy disks
- 1 biro
- 1 almost empty coke can ("almost" being the operative word - let's just say, there was spillage... lucky I was taking it to the cleaner's...)
- Various bits of paper
- Some bus tickets
This is my last week at [insert current company name]. I think there's plenty of material for a ranty blog post next week, but I'll keep schtum until then. One question for now: will I *ever* find a job I like?
Sunday, July 04, 2004
I'm not sure what it is about adverts on the television and radio, but some of them make me beside myself with anger. The normally mild-mannered Witho (except for "Car Witho" who is a completely different creature altogether) becomes a purple-faced ranting psycho in the face of bad adverts.
The current contenders for Witho's most hated are:
- The Dominos Pizza TV advert for their new "lower fat" pizza, whose message is along the lines of "now you ladies can enjoy pizza too". This, I find deeply offensive and patronising.
- Badly dubbed adverts are always guaranteed to wind me up - the latest, most screamingly obvious offender is the advert for "Vagisil" (yes, Vagisil - don't ask). I mean, if they can't afford to remake an advert with English speakers, then I would much rather they just had some nice pictures with a voiceover. Just don't insult my intelligence (what little there is...)
- Any of the adverts on Sky (never on terrestrial) for stupid polyphonic ringtones, wallpapers, games - firstly because of the wimpish, simpering voices used and secondly due to the fact that, not content with winding me up just the once, these adverts always appear twice in any given ad break
One of my all time least favourite adverts is still the one for some Fajitas-making kit (can't remember the brand name - so even reverse psychology didn't work, did it Mr/Ms Marketing executive?), with the girl sitting at the table talking to her friend on the phone saying things like "yeah, he's cooking me some chicken thing" whilst her boyfriend prepares her fajitas. Her closing line is "I'll speak to you later - if I'm still alive"... She is the most sneeringly ungrateful disgrace to womankind I've ever seen, and that bloke should sprinkle a bit of arsenic in her fajitas and see how she likes that.
Another old fave (NOT!) was the old Renault Clio "Nicole!", "Papa!" series - God, I hated those, and swore I'd never buy a Clio as a result...
*doesn't reveal that she now drives a Clio, because that's hardly relevant here ;) *
There are so many more which have wound me up over the years but, as if by magic, knowing that I wished to list them here, they have flown the shambolic nest that is my mind...