Tuesday, November 30, 2004
What is wrong with the above phrase? To most people, I expect, the answer would be a resounding: "nothing", but to me, it sounds wrong. Sometimes I wonder if I'm completely bonkers, but I'm sure that it *should* be: "the cat was sitting on the mat". I would *always* use this construction.
A few years ago, if I heard someone saying "I was sat..." (or, similarly, "I was stood...") I would assume that they were a Northerner, as I thought that this was Northern dialect, but it seems that this is not the case nowadays and most of my fellow Southern English friends (some of whom I consider as pedantic as me) have used this version.
The other day, a girl got on the train and motioned to sit opposite us at a table seat, asking the Big Fella in a cut-glass RP accent: "Are you sat here?" - it just sounded soooooo wrong!I guess the questions which arise from this are:
- Do I have any grounds for thinking that this usage *used to be* confined to Northern England or am I just making this up?
- Is it considered correct English to say "I was sat..." rather than "I was sitting..."? (I have searched for the answer in books of English usage and on the internet to no avail)
- (and most importantly) Why? Why do I care? Why does it bother me so much?
Monday, November 29, 2004
I've sold out.
For the first time since I've been down here, I've seen a job that I'm not overqualified for, that pays a good salary and that would be interesting.
IT Business Analyst for a company which uses AS400s/iSeries.
It's the bit of my old job that I actually found reasonably rewarding (though obviously not in the sense that it was actually worthwhile in any social/community/environmental way).
I've applied for it.
What am I doing? I just don't know anymore. I tell myself that it's a medium term thing - it will allow me to earn well and do something that requires some kind of brain power whilst I think about the long term. But will I end up, five years down the line, still doing it and hating it? I was supposed to be changing my career, but I'm going backwards. I wanted to leave the corporate world behind and work in public service - but having worked for the NHS on a temporary basis I am stunned at the inefficiency and wastage - could I work in this kind of environment long term?
Friday, November 26, 2004
a) An officer who supports senior executives
b) A senior officer who supports executives
c) Someone who officiates over senior executive support
d) An elaborate name for a secretary/dogsbody in the public sector
I'm not sure myself, but I'm going to an interview next Thursday to see if someone else thinks I can be one...
The obvious name for a cleaning product, non? Has anyone seen these adverts? Are they for real? Why is the man dubbed badly when he's already speaking in English? Who thought up the name? Why did anyone agree with it? I'm intrigued...
Wednesday, November 24, 2004
The Big Fella attempting to insert contact lenses this morning
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
... but something I hoisted out of my washer-dryer:
Further to my earlier correspondence on this matter, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for complying with my request to deposit said errant item into your filter zone.
Learning point from this:
Dear Bra-wearers (of whatever gender*)
Beware the underwire which sneaketh out from its confines and lurketh in one's washer-dryer, causing untold havoc and mayhem.
Love Witho, who speaketh from bitter experience!
Looks like I got away with it this time...
* Dear Witho is nothing if not inclusive. Oh sorry, that should read: "Dear Witho is nothing", period.
Monday, November 22, 2004
Hmmm, was supposed to get up at 6am this morning for a run. You see, this running club on Wednesday means that I've had to re-jig my running days so that I go on Wednesday evening, Saturday morning and yes, Monday morning. Yeah right. As if. And other two word American-style phrases...
Especially as I didn't sleep well last night. Kept waking up - every hour it seemed. On one occasion, the Big Fella appeared to be awake and asked me if I wanted a cuddle. I rolled into the crook of his arm and asked him if he was okay. He said: "I think they've found out about the first part of my plan... zzzzzzzzzzz". Hmmm, yes dear. I rolled back again. On another I had to wake him up because he had squished me right to the edge of the bed. On about the nth occasion, I thought "enough is enough" and set the alarm back to a more reasonable hour. Swapped breakfast for a snooze, thinking "I'll get something from the newly refurbished shop on the way to work" - except it wasn't open. Opens Thursday. Hungry.
Maybe I'll go running tonight instead... then again...
We had a nice weekend though - which always makes Mondays even more difficult to cope with. My brother, sister-in-law (she of the specially commissioned mugs), nephew and future niece/nephew (currently "enwombed") came to visit for the weekend. The mugs went down well - as did the Salade Niçoise, Chili con carne and the Sunday pub lunch in a nearby village. My brother fiddled my Outlook so that I can get my emails in there again, even though I'm not connecting through tisc@li anymore. I hate webmail interfaces...
3 more application forms to fill in this week. Engagement/birthday/house-warming party next weekend. And Christmas shopping. Stuff, stuff, stuff and stuff.
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
In a fit of "being proactive" (it happens to me sometimes), I'm joining a running club. The reasons for this are several-fold:
- It will allow me to build up my running again, which has "plateau'd" of late, with the resulting increase in lard potential. Nothing to worry about, really, but I can feel myself turning away from the mirror at times and I don't want to go down *that* road again
- Its aim is to enable me to run a half marathon in April (argh!) - I'm not sure if I'll get that far, but watch this space...
- It will allow me to meet some new people outside of work
- It will allow me to do something in Taunton (other than work) *without* the BF
I lived in Southampton for five and a half years, working as an IT project leader and lead AS400* developer in financial services. I was well paid and well respected but got to the stage where I found my job utterly pointless and worthless and was starting to look elsewhere. I then met the Big Fella. We spent a few months conducting a reasonable-distance relationship (about 100 miles separated us - me in Southampton, he in London) but ultimately decided that the Sunday nights were too much to cope with. Fluffy knows what I'm talking about...
Since the main thing keeping us apart was my job in Southampton (he was quite happy being a teacher), I resigned. Well, I tried to, but they suggested I work from the London office so that I could move to London and live with him but continue to work for them. I did that for 2 months, but realised that combining a job I hated with commuting into the city on the Sidcup Line was not good for the soul. So I resigned again. Are you bored yet?
BF looked for a new job, as South East London was losing its appeal for him, and it never really had much for me - the plan was that he'd try to find something in Hampshire so that we could both move back down that way to be near my friends (who, as well as including one of his oldest friends, had also welcomed him into their proverbial "bosom"). He responded to adverts and wrote speculative letters to every school in Hampshire where Classics is taught - all to no avail. So he widened his search. Hence, or otherwise, we ended up in Taunton.
This is a very round-about way of saying that sometimes I feel isolated down here. I miss my friends and the social life I used to have in Southampton, I admit that freely. But when I think back to those Sunday nights, I know that I can't go back to that. I belong with the Big Fella, but have to admit that it's harder than I thought it would be starting over again.
So that's partly why I'm joining the running club (see, this *was* going somewhere...). It's about having my own pursuits, so I'm not totally reliant on the Big Fella. I'm not used to that - I have been independent for so long, but it's hard when you just don't know anyone...
Thanks for listening
(* an AS400, a.k.a iSeries, is a mid-range IBM computer, oft-used in the financial service industry)
Monday, November 15, 2004
*glances casually at site meter*
Hmmm, 20,000 eh? Didn't even notice that little milestone...
Weekend was good - because we were *expecting* problems on the train, we were pleasantly surprised at the lack thereof. The only problems we had were on the underground from Paddington to Euston Square. The tickets we were given for this purpose (a.k.a. "gate passes") either went through the machine with no visible opening of the barrier or caused the "Seek assistance" light to come on. Which meant that we had to approach ... *drum roll* ... *adopts deep, melodramatic voice* "The Functionaries".
Functionary No. 1
"The Silent One":
Witho attempts to pass through barrier
Witho fails to pass through barrier due to malfunctioning Gate Pass
Witho shows Gate Pass to functionary:
Witho: "It won't work in the barrier"
Functionary looks at Witho
Functionary looks at Gate Pass for a long moment, fascinated by its very existence
Functionary looks at Witho again
Functionary shrugs shoulders
Functionary waves magic card over sensor and gate opens
Functionary Number 2
Witho attempts to pass through barrier
Witho fails to pass through barrier due to malfunctioning Gate Pass
Witho shows Gate Pass to functionary:
Witho: "It won't work in the barrier"
Functionary: points at barrier "Put it in then"
Witho: "I've just told you, it won't work"
Witho puts it in the slot anyway
As predicted not five seconds earlier, it doesn't work
Witho raises eyebrow at Functionary
Functionary finally deigns to let Witho through barrier
Now, when these obstructive forces are combined with the Circle Line running like a dog (you know when you get down to the platform and there's nothing showing on the board, not even trains you *don't* want?) and a pressing need to get to Euston on time for a connection to Milton Keynes, you can imagine the frustration... but it was not enough to dampen our spirits and the rest of the journey passed without mishap.
I'm applying for loads of jobs this week. I'm thinking medium term here - something to keep me going while I make my grand plan. The temping just won't do any more - my soul can't really take much more destruction!
I've gone for the "999" approach (or 911 for the septics), applying for jobs with the Police, the NHS (yes, I know I'm working there at the moment, but this is in a very different capacity) and the Fire Service. Oh, and a school, but that doesn't really fit in with the Emergency Services scheme. All IT jobs. None of them secretarial. Hmph!
Friday, November 12, 2004
Thank you for your valued opinions, listeners. I needed to prove a point. You see, I believe that my accent is (as Colin said) "generic" Southern, with hints of "London" when the mood (or context) takes me, but if nothing else, surely, unmistakeably English...
...and yet, dear reader/listener, since I've been working in Somerset, I have received a number of separate accusations of foreign-ness! Specifically, as indicated on the audio post below, of an antipodean or ex-colonial nature. I was *even* accused of using the Australian upward inflection at the end of a sentence! Heaven forbid!
*washes mouth out with soap and water*
So, why should this be? Okay, to a certain extent, my telephone voice is probably a bit more "RP" than when I'm chatting with friends. Maybe it's the fact that I say "nah" instead of "no" when I'm feeling a bit "London", which sounds, to the West Country ear, like I'm actually a bit "Home and Away". But the South African thing! I pride myself on being able to do a few accents quite well, but South African is certainly *not* one of them. That and Dutch - I just *can't* do a Dutch accent. Or Newcastle/North East. Never watched Byker Grove y'see...
Thursday, November 11, 2004
Wednesday, November 10, 2004
The bad news
The Big Fella and I can look forward to another weekend of farcical train travel. Our mission - which, unfortunately, we've already chosen to accept - will be to attempt to get from Taunton to Milton Keynes. Now, we had the choice of going via London (First Great Western) or Birmingham (Virgin Trains). Bearing in mind the last journey we had the displeasure of making using Mr Branson's sorry excuse for a train company (for which, I might add, we were reimbursed to the tune of £77.00 after a "Witho special" letter of complaint), you can appreciate why we chose to go via London, despite the obvious hassles of changing from one terminus (Paddington) to another (Euston).
Then this happened...
During my quest to discover the fate which would await us on Saturday as a result of the crash, I ended up slamming the phone down on National Rail Enquiries. Well, when I say slam, I mean I pressed the red button with some considerable force (it being a cordless phone) but slamming sounds so much more melodramatic.
Why would I do such a thing? Well, they are now an Indian Call centre, if you didn't know. Let's just say that both parties found it difficult to make themselves understood during that conversation. I don't often slam the phone down on people, which is an indication of how futile a conversation this was... I ended up phoning up the train company itself, but they still weren't sure of how badly our journey would be affected.
The upshot is, even if we decided to change our ticket and go via Birmingham, we'd still have delays on the Birmingham line due to engineering works.
Let's just see what happens, but I'm guessing I'll have something to blog about on Monday...
The Good News
Yes, I know that this is the kind of thing only someone over 30 would be excited about, but vanilla pods! At 10p!
Needless to say, I cleared the shelf...
Tuesday, November 09, 2004
I wake up. Bits of me are sticking out of the duvet and I'm cold. The BF has done his trick of rolling over and lodging some of the duvet beneath him, so I yank it back out again (without seeming to disturb him), snuggle down and go back to sleep.
My CD alarm whirrs gently into action, the volume fading up gradually as it attempts to rouse me into wakefulness, playing "Swollen" by Bent, one of my favourite tracks from a "chillout" compilation. The BF is vaguely aware of the gentle music and beckons me into the crook of his arm - I snuggle against his warm body, eyes still half shut. Every now and again, he plants a soft kiss on my forehead and pulls me in closer. From time to time, I lift my head up so that we can kiss on the lips. No words are spoken.
The cruel bleep of BF's alarm cuts through the tranquility and the BF switches the bedside lamp on. We both squint and blink as our unwilling eyelids resist opening. "Come on", BF mutters as he whips the duvet off, "time to get up"... He wanders into the bathroom and I struggle into my running kit, slowly, deliberately...
With Coldplay blasting into my ears, I set off into the dim morning light, plodding along at my usual steady pace, breathing in the cool, autumnal air, keeping an eye on the damp pavement below for any slippery patches of leaves or sticks which might trip me up. As I reach the top of the incline and turn, running alongside the park, I notice the moon, a bright crescent in the deep blue sky, together with two glinting stars, all arranged in a line. I smile to myself. I pass a zebra crossing, and note the Belisha beacons, blinking away, oblivious to the fact that there's no-one around to cross the road and, even if there were, there's no traffic to hamper their progress. It's at moments like these that I realise that I like mornings, particularly just before dawn. I used to run around Southampton common with my friend S. On our first circuit, the ducks in the duck pond would be silent, beaks nestling in plumage, an eery stillness to the water. But on the second circuit, as the sun began to bring a milky light to the morning, they would be babbling furiously, their cacophony heralding the start of the madness which is our daily life.
And so today, with morning "broken" as I reach our front door and enter the living room, a different cacophony greets me:
"Gay Bar" by Electric Six is playing on Kerrang. Let the madness begin...
Saturday, November 06, 2004
I think it was Legomen who said that if my blog were a TV programme, it would be Blue Peter (much to my dismay, at the time) but I think he may have been onto something, because (and you have to be a Brit to understand this one):
"Here's one I prepared earlier!"
Yes, the Witho-designed mugs have arrived, and I'm chuffed with 'em!
If you fancy creating some unique gifts, go here (UK). Pick your product, send 'em a jpg (could be a photo, or just something you've "rustled up" as above) and they do the rest!
Friday, November 05, 2004
I know, you're sick of hearing this aren't you. Ever since I started blogging, I have hated my job, even though I've had 4 different jobs since then.
The current one is for the NHS (National Health Service for any non-Brits out there) - not in a hospital or doctor's surgery or anywhere useful, I work for a "Primary Care Trust". I'm still puzzled over what it actually means (the words on their own have meanings, but when juxtaposed they just look a bit... erm... juxtaposed?) though what it seems to mean is a place where so-called "Healthcare professionals" have meetings, committees, symposiums (symposia?), forums (fora?), steering groups, conferences and sub-committees. A place where the paper wastage is astonishing. A place where people spend their days writing documents about what they've done, what they're doing and what they're going to do, without seeming to actually *do* much at all. A place where it is pointless people having email accounts because they are always in a meeting or out of the office but certainly never at their desk. A place where the ignorance of the best use of IT is profound. A place where they use Novell Groupwise instead of Outlook (is Groupwise *really really* shit, or am I just biased?)
My job is to provide secretarial support to these "healthcare professionals". This translates as:
- printing out their emails. Yes, printing them out. All of them and all the attachments, however big. Then looking at them and highlighting the bits which look important, like dates or bits which say "please provide the following information by next Tuesday", then putting them in a folder and putting the folder on the boss's chair
- taking messages from endless disgruntled telephone callers who *must* speak to [insert boss's name] as soon as possible, but who haven't a hope in hell of speaking to [insert boss's name] because [insert boss's name] is at meeting X followed immediately by steering group Y and then she's off to conference Z...
- having people say "who am I speaking to?" on the phone (because I'm the temp and they don't recognise my voice and they expect me to recognise theirs immediately and even when they tell me their name, they reel it off so quickly because they think I know (or even care) who they are)
- being called "Nicki" (hint: this is not my name)
- being called "Judy" (hint: this is not my name)
- receiving emails from the boss saying "can you print this for me please". My mind boggles at this - when I was a "professional" (and I was for a time), I would *never* have contemplated emailing someone a document and asking them to print it.
- and the most thankless task of all: trying to organise a meeting between groups of these people. Bearing in mind that the attendees are either practising doctors, nurses, or the aforementioned "healthcare professionals", this is no easy task. Add to this the woeful lack of meeting rooms in the building and it's no wonder that my heart sinks every time someone asks me to organise a meeting. Especially when no-one puts their availability in Groupwise or uses the mechanisms which are in place to help them.
- trying to interpret the muttered dictaphone-based blathering of an ex-doctor
- sending emails from 2 different email accounts (due to not having my own) and, even though I sign off with my name and title (such as it is: "Witho - dogsbody/pondlife"), receiving replies saying "Thanks Jane" (hint, my name is not Jane), "Sorry Lynne, I can't make this meeting" (hint, my name is not Lynne) and so on and so forth.
I can't do this shit any more...
Tuesday, November 02, 2004
Well, that's one word for it I guess...
Before you ask, this is *not* the photo I am be posting in response to Billy's request: "I would like to see what inaminate object in your home has the most sentimental value". I just spotted it at work and it tickled my... er... never mind...
I'm currently doing two jobs for the price of one at the NHS - one of which is supporting a team of Community Nurses (including the ones who go around schools)... hence, the above item.
So, Billy, sorry I've taken so long doing this. I've thought about it a lot, but always came back to the same thing...
I was *going* (hint, this is not the final choice) to use this:
Remember my ex (French) boyfriend? These are all the letters he wrote to me. They've only recently come out of "storage". Just seeing the carrier bag into which they had been stuffed several years ago brought back a lot of memories. We were separated for 13 months when he did his military service on the other side of the world (New Caledonia/Nouvelle Calédonie) which is where most of the letters were written. The others are from when I had to return to England to finish my studies. I haven't read them since the (first) break-up. But hey, I've moved on from there, which is why I *won't* be using this as my response to Billy's request.
What I *will* be using is this:
This was taken 10 years ago. It is a photo of me and my mum, taken at my brother's wedding. On this occasion, my rule about posting photos of people without their permission cannot apply - unfortunately, she's not around to ask... (click here for more).
Monday, November 01, 2004
- Text boxes. Unless you're doing some sort of diagram, or a document which will be printed once and never amended electronically, you probably shouldn't be using a text box. I would suggest using a table
- There are these things call indents. These allow you to indent a paragraph, believe it or not. Amazing isn't it? This would provide a useful alternative to your having to put a carriage return at the end of each line, then pressing the spacebar a few times to line it up (inaccurately) beneath the last line. I know that's what you'd do if you had a typewriter, but this is not a typewriter - it's so much more...
- Word can do a table of contents for you. This means that as the document is amended, the page numbers referred to on the contents page will be updated appropriately. If you decide to go your own way and manually type in the contents, you risk annoying the poor bastard who has to amend the document in future. That poor bastard is me.
- Similarly, Word can do automatic numbering for you. See above re: poor bastard.
- When you sign a letter on behalf of someone, put the "pp" in the right place, otherwise you reveal your ignorance.
- Don't call your tin-pot document a "form" unless it behaves like a form - i.e. allows the user to tab between fields to fill in the details.