Tuesday, 31 January 2006

flipping heck

[Longer than usual. Bear with me]


A while ago I decided that it would be good for me to get out and do a bit of temping, as part of my 'getting back to normal' process after so long being subject to panic attacks and general not-being-able-to-cope-with-stuff. There was also the 'climbing the walls being sat at home on my own while B and R are out working' thing.

So before Christmas, I made an appointment with an agency, updated my CV, cleaned my shoes, fished my one presentable suit that doesn't look like an antique from the early 1990's out of the wardrobe and ... promptly had a panic attack as I was about to get in the car to drive to the appointment.

Score: 0

A couple of weeks ago, I decided I was ready to try again.

So, I went though the same routine, this time with a different agency, one that I'd worked for a few years ago. I explained that I worked for myself, mostly at home, but had a bit of spare time and thought it would be good for me to get out and work with other people sometimes. I said that I was looking for long-term part-time placements, or very short-term full-time. Towards the end of the interview, because the woman interviewing me seemed so down to earth, I also added that I'd been suffering from depression and this was part of my rehabilitation plan.

It was definitely a good thing to have mentioned - she responded by telling me briefly about her impending gallstones operation and we moved on to discussing my CV.

Score: 1

Ten days ago, she called and offered me six weeks full-time work, starting in February, just as a 'this might be too long for you, but I thought I'd ask'. It was too long, she had no problem with that.

Last Friday, at 4pm, she phoned and offered me three to five days in a local high-school office, starting yesterday. She said it was a bit of copy-typing and some reception work.

It sounded fun and I accepted it.

Score: 2

Yesterday I turned up at the school, coped very well with the SIMS software they use, fielded phone calls from all sides, typed letters about detentions, exclusions and confiscations and went home, triumphant.

Last night, I lay awake all night worrying about going in again, and this morning, I couldn't manage to get out the door.

Score: minus several million

Hence, 'bollocks'.

However, I've phoned the agency and rather than confabulate some mysterious vomiting syndrome, I explained that it was just too stressful, as I hadn't worked for a while.

Score: 0

It WAS pretty stressful. It's a rough school.

But that wasn't really the problem.

The problem was that a few (a very small number) of the staff seemed to be really angry at the students all the time. The phrases 'little fuckers', 'little bastards' and 'scum' were all used to describe them in the office and the staff room.

While I was on reception, one kid came and asked for his mobile phone back - it had been confiscated earlier in the day because he'd been using it in class. He wasn't supposed to have it back until Friday and was having a sulky , low-grade grumble to see if that would help him get it back any earlier.

The woman I was on reception with put her hands on the reception desk and leant towards him and really had a go at him. In my opinion, it inflamed the situation. If she'd just said 'no, you know the rules, come back Friday, or get a note from the teacher who took it away', the kid would have sat there grumbling for a bit and then gone away. But she provoked him and he ended up telling at her that he would break in to the safe and get it back himself. He didn't shout. It was just low-grade rude twelve-year-old sulkiness.

He got a very definite telling off for his behaviour from one of the members of the teaching staff who I thought was very good with him - no raised voices, no shouting, ensuring the kid kept eye contact during the conversation.

No-one spoke to the member of staff about her behaviour. And it was really her behaviour that was the nail in the stress-coffin that meant I felt I couldn't go back.

Surely respect should work both ways?

The kids do often behave poorly, they aren't blameless, or little angels with no responsibility for their own actions. But, you can excuse them to a certain extent, because they don't know any better. And one of the reasons they don't know any better is that the adults around them aren't setting them a good example and don't respect them as individuals.

If we ever do eventually adopt children, they are probably going to be this kind of difficult child. I don't want their teachers or the school staff calling them 'little fuckers' behind their backs, or mine.

Thoughts? Am I right? Am I wrong?

I am quite distressed by this.

B and R are interviewing people for casual staff positions today. I am listening and making tea.

Tea is not stressful. I like tea.

Overall score from the whole experience: 1, I reckon.

It could be worse.

Sunday, 29 January 2006


Whilst I was looking for a photo of Taunton for last week's photo meme, I came across The Journal of a Writing Man. John graciously allowed me to use one of his pictures, and I have been popping back to visit him ever since.

A little while ago, he mentioned that he was getting rid of a couple of things via something called Freecycle.

As you know, I am a keen eBayer, and I assumed that Freecycle was something similar.

Well, it is. And it isn't.

The clue's in the name. It's free. You list stuff you want to get rid of; and if anyone wants it, they contact you. You list stuff you're looking for; and if anyone has one to give away, they contact you. There are rules against asking for money for things and for actually asking for items that everyone would like - for example, DVD players - and it is pretty well moderated.

I think it is a brilliant, wonderful idea and I have joined the two groups nearest to me - Liverpool and Wirral. There are adverts for everything from paving stones to vivariums to beds.

If you go to the main Freecycle website, you can drill down to find your local group - they are all over the world and spreading.

I'll be linking to this post from the ethical living section.

Friday, 27 January 2006

quick update

Still no cheque. I hate being lied to :/.

Last night we went to see Stan's Cafe's new show, 'The Home of the Wriggler' in Birmingham.

I really, really enjoyed it.

It is a telling of the stories of some of the people who worked at the MG Rover factory at Longbridge before it was finally closed down.

But the cast are telling us the stories from the future - what future and where, we're not sure. But it's pretty cold. And there doesn't seem to be any light-at-the-pull-of-a-switch.

The piece is entirely self-powered. The cast peddle bicycles and shake torches to illuminate the stage. We were pretty near the front and I was completely drawn in to the show. I enjoy words and stories about people and I enjoy post-apocolyptic fiction. Although the audience isn't battered with the post-apocolyptic nature of the setting, to me, it was very obvious. It was entirely up my street and I thought it was fantastic.

It is a haunting and poetic and powerful experience.

If you possibly can, go and see it. They are at the Mac in Birmingham tonight, Warwick Arts Centre next week and will have further dates during the year.

[/plug] :).

I am going to try to persuade B that we should go out for something to eat and a few drinks now - we've just had a brain-achingly complicated meeting with the Sarcastic Accountant, which I need carbohydrates and alcohol to recover from.

Have a nice weekend!

Wednesday, 25 January 2006

accentuating the postive #1

The first in an occasional series about channelling pre menstrual tension in positive ways.

1. Using your PMS to encourage debtors to pay you


Me: So, this £2,500 that's been outstanding since mid-November. It's bugging us now.
Nice Client: Our accounts department say that it will be paid in the pay run of 3rd February.
Me: Well, they said that about the pay run of 12th December and the pay run of 18th January.
Nice Client: Yeah, I know.
Me: We are seriously considering solicitor's letters now, you know.
Nice Client: I don't want this to affect our relationship, we've built it up over a long period.
Me: As far as I'm concerned, if we are working for you and you aren't actually paying us, we don't HAVE a relationship.
Nice Client: If you do go legal on us, you'll get paid quicker.
Me: We'll think about it. I'll need to talk to the others.
He phoned back later to say they are raising a cheque and he's going to fax a copy of it through as soon as it's done.

Lesson taken away: Shouting can be good.

Tuesday, 24 January 2006

winter walking

While we were staying in the Lake District just after New Year, we got quite a bit of walking in.

The hardest one that we did was starting at Grasmere and walking up past Stone Arthur, to Great Rigg and then back down to Rydal. It's a climb of about seven hundred meters and at one point on the way up, I did think I was going to die. Vic and B are in marginally better condition than I am and I had to push myself slightly to keep up.

However, once up there, the views were amazing. It was a fantastic, bright winter's day, with a clear blue sky and firm frozen ground underfoot and the endorphin-high from climbing that distance was fantastic.

Also, the Badger Bar in Rydal, where we were rendevouzing with Kate, serves fantastic beer and prompted Vic's comment:

"I'll take a whole badger please, Landlord! And leave the tail on!"

Here are some wooden sheep that we met in the Grizedale Forest, which is full of sculpture - usually wooden - that you just come upon as you are hiking:

Ringing people to ask for payment and threaten with solicitor's letters today. It's a horrible job and I have now prevaricated as much as I possibly can and need to actually do it [sigh].

Saturday, 21 January 2006


Polish Lodger's Girlfriend's Cousin has decided that Wallasey is actually the Shire and that the people who live here are Hobbits.

Her hypothesis is based on the fact that people don't travel. Not really even through the tunnel to Liverpool. And people who do - or have done - are viewed with same suspicion with which his neighbours viewed Bilbo Baggins.

Apparently, her customers and colleagues in the (very, very 'local') pub where she is working are constantly asking her for tales about her sojourning around the world, and 'oooh-ing' and 'aaah-ing' at her adventures and telling her how they would like to travel. And then they say that, of course, they never would, they just couldn't, leave Wallasey.

Leaving aside the whole 'Plastic' issue (people on the Wirral aren't real Scousers (Liverpudlians), they are Plastic Scousers, ie, pretend ones, shortened to 'Plastics'), it's a bit odd.

I noticed it when I first moved up here - partly because it's quite a similar culture the one I left in the valleys of South Wales, where people were reluctant to travel even five miles up the valley to the next town for work. I formed a theory then that it was to do with the landscape - the mountains of Wales enclose the people, they kind of grow in to the spaces between them.

Perhaps the Wirral is the same - it's bounded on two sides by rivers, the Mersey and the Dee. In days gone by, it was virtually an island.

It's kind of comfortable.

We have been invited to a 'Preparation For Adoption' course for three days at the end of February, beginning of March. It's too big and too exciting and too hopeful and too scary to write a whole post about - it's the make or break. After it, they decide whether they want to take us forward for the formal approval process. And we decide whether we want to proceed.

We are working away until Monday night, so probably no more posts until Tuesday.

Friday, 20 January 2006

me in pictures

I'm a bit discombobulated today, so, I've pinched a meme that Ms.Mac
had a little while ago, who pinched it from Cheryl:

Do a Google Image Search of the following and post the first (or favourite if you want to cheat, but label it so) result for each:

1. The name of the town where you were born
2. The name of the town where you live now
3. Your name
4. Your grandmother’s name (just pick one)
5. Your favourite food
6. Your favourite drink
7. Your favourite song
8. Your favourite smell

So, here are my results - Mouseover the images for the answers to my questions.

If you want to do it, tag yourself and leave me a comment so that I can come and visit.

Also, big thanks to John at Journal Of a Writing Man for letting me use his photo of Taunton.

Thursday, 19 January 2006

flowers for algernon

www.freefoto.comOne of my all-time favourite short stories* is Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes.

The story is written in diary form, by Charlie.

Algernon is a mouse, who is subjected to an experiment to make him more intelligent. Charlie is not very clever, but he wants to improve himself; he agrees to be subjected to the same experiment.

The experiment works.

First Algernon, and then Charlie, become enormously intelligent.

But then the scientists who are working with them discover that Algernon is losing his new capabilities. And Charlie checks their work and discovers that he is going to progress down the same path.

His diary becomes an expression of the realisation of what he is losing and charts his return to his old self.

Rather dramatically, I feel a bit like Charlie this week.

I've felt so good since we came back from our few days away (which I haven't written about properly yet). But at the moment I've got dreadful PMS, which seems to upset my mental state pretty dramatically. Along with all the usual symptoms, it also seems to make me much more fuzzy, much more likely to panic about things and much more depressed. Rocking, even.

It's a hard job holding on to the 'real me' that has been here for the last few weeks and I am pretty upset about it.

B is constantly reassuring me, saying that it will all come back in to balance again, once I've come on. But I'm scared it won't.

Being a bit mad** is fine so long as one is mad enough not to know that one is. I've gone through that stage on my 'getting back to normal' road. I'm currently slipping back from 'pretty good actually' to 'mad enough not to be able to control my moods, but not mad enough not to care'.

Quite frankly, it's a bit shit.

However, on the good side, I've been to sign on with a temp agency today for a bit of part-time work. It's partly because the extra cash would come in handy; and partly to get me out there in the world again now I am so much better, interacting with people. I made an appointment with a different agency before christmas, but had a panic attack and didn't get there. So this morning was a big step, and I achieved it, despite the Flowers for Algernon situation.

The agency might have a bit of work coming up for someone who can organise an Access database. Since I am a Database Nerd, I am keeping my fingers crossed that it comes off.

So, there you go. I am going to go to the Co-Op to buy some chocolate and then I am going to sit on the sofa and watch a crummy dvd all afternoon with a pot of nice tea.

And go read Flowers for Algernon, even if you don't think you like science-fiction***. It's great.

* I think there is also a novel or novella that came after the short story.
** Clearly not politically correct. Irony, humour, my way of dealing with it.
*** Good science-fiction is about people and how they react in different 'what if' situations, rather than simply Big Space Guns From Planet Zarg. Of course, bad science-fiction IS about Big Space Guns From Planet Zarg and there is a LOT of it about.

Wednesday, 18 January 2006

five wierd things

Madbaggage tagged me for this back in December and now she has tagged me for another one and I'm getting all behind ... so here are Five Wierd Things About Me*.

1. I often make an involuntary squeaking noise when I sit down.
2. I sometimes see dead people.
3. I always have to put the telephone to my right ear. The words don't make sense if I hold it to my left ear.
4. I am obsessed with poultry.
5. I don't watch TV. We don't have one.

Meme Rules: You're supposed to tag five people, but instead, tag yourself in the comments and off you go!

* Actually, five things other people seem to think are wierd about me.

Tuesday, 17 January 2006

compost wars

My husband has become obsessed with compost.

Polish Lodger's Girlfriend's Cousin and I have to check with him before we throw things away, to see whether it should go in to compost bin or the ordinary, actually-chucking-it-out bin.

However, as yet, he has not yet constructed his compost heap, despite having the wood for it.

So we have a large flower-pot in the yard, half-full of rotting banana skins.

It smells.

And there is green mould growing on the top.

If he hasn't got round to building his bin by the time the decaying vegetable matter reaches the top of the flower-pot, I am emptying it away while he's out and using the wood to build a bantam house.

The plans and instructions I sent away for arrived this morning and I am very excited.

I still haven't got round to phoning the environmental health and asking whether or not it's acceptable to keep a small number of hens in one's yard. However, I did read in Composting International* that chicken manure is very good for combining with ones compost, because it is high in nitrogeon. So I think I have suddenly got an extra card in my hand in the 'bantams or no bantams' discussion.

We are having people round for tea. I am going to go and chop vegetables and taunt B with the left-over, compostable bits now.

* A fictional magazine that contains the distillation of all the wisdom we have gathered in our Compost Research

Monday, 16 January 2006

sarcastic accountants and dog poo


I have just had a session with Brian The Sarcastic Accountant.

He phoned this morning and said "I don't want you to think that there is anything to worry about, but I think I should come over and see you".

Which was very reassuring. Not.

He arrived clutching the large box of accounts-related paraphanalia that we had sent over to him a couple of weeks ago and wearing a three piece suit and a jovial expression.

I felt like I was about to have a maths lesson with Ivan the Terrible.

He took me through the accounts, was mildly derisory about the fact that I don't understand how Journal Entries work and became extremely cheerful when I told him that our business plan was based around our life-goals.

All in all, he described what we had given him as "messy, but not as bad as a lot of people's".

Which could have been worse I suppose.

I think we sorted through most of it; it turned out that one of the issues is that we are the first company in their stable of clients to be using Iris Bookkeeping (which I can't speak highly enough of, in terms of useability, customer support and price, just in case you are interested ... ) rather than other, better-known accounts packages. So he was learning from scratch as well.

Big sighs of relief all round, particularly from Brian as he was finally leaving the house, as he is allergic to cats and of course, the minute cats sense that they try to get as close to the allergic person as possible.


So, after he left I put some more stuff on eBay (plug, plug), drank tea and finished the web-page I was doing for my friend over the weekend.

And then R popped out to collect his five year old from school and brought him back here, plus toy car, while the three of us skirted around the edges of the business planning we are going to do tomorrow and Wednesday.

As they were leaving:

R Junior: Can I drive my toy car up the street?
R: No, come on, we've got to go and pick Mum up.
Me: And there's dog poo on the pavement.
R Junior: [plaintively] But it goes left and right. I could drive it round the dog poo!

In other news: Liam the Decorator has finished the spare room. Yay! That's IT now, we are done with building and decorating shennanigins for a few months. I am unspeakably relieved.

As part of our economy drive, we are drinking all the odd bits of alcohol we have left lying around the house, rather than buying any more. Tonight, it is the turn of the Ouzo B's parents brought him back from Greece ten years ago.

Wish us luck.

Sunday, 15 January 2006

new lodger and a view

We have new lodger.

Not a twenty year old french woman, sorry.

He's an IT contractor who is looking for digs in between being put up in posh hotels during the week while he is working. He told us that he wouldn't be using the room much, as he would be spending a lot of time away with friends and family.

I suspect some sort of expenses shindiggery; but he seemed a nice enough chap and paid us a deposit and two weeks rent up front in cash and is going to start a standing order on the first of every month.

Score, I think, all round.

Polish Lodger's Girlfriend's Cousin is mildly disappointed as he is not potential boyfriend material, but I think that's balanced out by the fact that she will still have a virtually private bathroom.

This photo is the view from our attic bedroom window. See the Liver Building there in the distance? I've made this one clickable so you can enlarge it. This is the main reason we moved up there - it's wonderful to wake up in the morning and stick your head out and see that fabulous skyline.

Betty was sat on the roof this morning just outside the velux window, making "come here and be killed" clicking noises at a large container ship making it's way up river. I don't think she's sorted out the difference between 'small' and 'far away' yet.

Despite it being Sunday, I'm doing a webpage for a friend today. B is working as well, so we'll have a day off in the week instead. I'd forgotten how much I enjoy the whole creativity-combined-with-logic process of website design.

And of course, the excuse to constantly drink tea :).

Thursday, 12 January 2006

shameless self promotion

In a fit of guilt / enthusiasm / chronic hard-up-ness, I've just put some random stuff and quite a few books I am never going to read again up for sale on eBay UK. They mostly fall in to either history/archaeology or healing/new age categories. Plus some good old ninteenth century naval fiction of course :). If you think you might be interested, please feel free to go and have a look.

Also, please don't mention the boots. They were a moment of madness.

[shuffles off, slightly embarassed by blatant advertising]

conversations with my mother #060112

Ma: Hello! Do you want this half pig then?
Me: [brain whirring wildly back to a conversation three months ago] Err, yes, I think so. How much is it going to cost?
Ma: Sixty or seventy pounds I should think.
Me: Yes, okay then. Have you got freezer room until we come down again?
Ma: Yes, plenty. Edwin was going to have it, but he hasn't got enough room in his freezer at the moment, so Pig Lady has got half of one going spare and it's not a very convenient amount.
Me: No, I can see that.
Ma: Do you think you'll be wanting the head and the feet?
Me: [audible gulp] Why? Are they available?
Ma: Yes. Only last time she didn't put them in. I complained. You don't get much meat off a pig's head, but the dogs like it.
Me: [masking relief quite well] Well, in that case, I think you should have the head.
Ma: Right-oh. It IS quite messy. But your grandmother used to always love pig's trotters.
Me: Well, perhaps I'll try them, then.
Ma: What about the liver?
Me: Oddly, B and I were having a discussion yesterday about eating more offal. So yes please.
Ma: Right, I'd better phone her back then, she's waiting for me, because if you didn't want it, she'd have to phone around to see if anyone else did. Because of the half-a-pig thing.
Me: I'd better let you go then! Thanks!
Ma: Bye!
Me: [retires, afraid. To look up recipes for pig's trotters]

Wednesday, 11 January 2006

cat shaving

Pia, this is for you:

Me to Polish Lodger's Girfriend's Cousin: So, I took Betty to the vet, she's had her operation and she's got a bald patch on one side.
PLGC: [looks at Betty and then strokes her bald patch] Ahh, she looks so pretty! And it's so soft!
[short, pondering, purring-filled pause]
PLGC: ... Can we shave the rest of her?
Me: [collapses, speechless with giggles]

good life

B and I had a minor disagreement last night, over what to do with the bits of wood from the Wardrobe Of Despair.

B wants to use them to make a container for a compost heap.

I want to use them to make a very small poultry house, for three hens, to live in our back yard.

B feels that this is one step closer to The Good Life than he is prepared to go at the moment, despite the possibility of being able to do some Felicity Kendal role playing.

In a brief eBay foray, I then discovered that even small poultry houses go for hundreds of pounds. I am going to start making them and flogging them. I'm pretty good with a saw and a screwdriver and I need a project, since my Nun Silhouette Identification research was so swiftly fulfilled by Cheryl's link to Google Answers.

And by the time I've made a couple of houses and sold them, perhaps B will be more comfortable with the idea of keeping three Marans (which I am going to call Frank, Olive and Joan after matriarchs in our respective families) in the yard.

Tuesday, 10 January 2006

doom and despair

Yesterday, we dismantled the Wardrobe Of Despair and the Ceiling Of Doom.

The Wardrobe Of Despair has been in situ since we moved in and has clearly been constructed by someone who knows nothing about either carpentry or, indeed, wardrobes. Taking it apart was relatively easy and involved a crowbar, ten minutes with a drill and twenty minutes with a stanley knife to cut the carpet which had been laid around it down in to a rug, for the middle of the floor.

There were no doors to alternate worlds, no fauns, no fur coats, no centaurs, no christian allegory and no charming children. Just a very unpleasant piece of 1980's carpet and a faint smell of cats.

Liam The Vegetarian Decorator is coming next week to paint the room and then Polish Lodger's Girlfriend's Cousin is going to move in there, so we can rent the small room she currently occupies out to someone else - although no further news on the potential twenty year old french girl, much to B's dismay.

The Ceiling Of Doom is the last bit of the attic conversion shennanigins to come down. It's a suspended ceiling in over the landing that the builders had to punch through before they could cut the hole in the real ceiling for the attic stairs. We have been deliberating what we are going to do with it - repair it, or rip it down. Yesterday, we finally decided - rip it down.

R very kindly didn't go home and leave us to it, although he later regretted it and tried to kill me with a crowbar.

There was a minor amount of black filth and we now have eighteen inches more headroom over the stairs.

Today, the man has come to clean the carpets and once Liam has been next week, that will be that for a while. I am very much looking forward to having a house that is properly clean and not full of builders, decorators, cleaners or building, decorating or cleaning chaos.

We are all three of us sitting at the office table, drinking tea and watching the builders take down and re-build the bay window of the house over the road. It is like Abbot and Costello's Building Masterclass.

As a spectator sport, it rocks. However, it is so involving that we are running out of nice tea.

Monday, 9 January 2006

christmas on the farm

I haven't written about our time with Ma and Pa in Somerset yet - and now it seems ages ago. So last year.

We went down on Boxing Day and had a really lovely break, despite Ma being quite tired. She'd had a lot of floristry work and holly wreaths to make in the run up and on Christmas Day had just collapsed in to an armchair with the turkey.

B and I cleaned the house, as she hadn't had time to do anything for a couple of weeks and the dust-and-dog-hair build up was a bit intimidating. Aunt Edith was due to visit on the day after Boxing Day for a few days, so we had to persuade the dogs that they had to give up their chairs for the interim so there was room for everyone to sit down.

Last year, they were the two new puppies and they were very good entertainment value. This year, they are much larger, and don't keep still for long enough for you to get a photo. They've started sheep-dog lessons and are apparently quite good. However, they still think they are puppies and like to sit on your lap. This is quite un-nerving, particularly if you are trying to drink a cup of tea at the time.

The other people who have grown up are the chicks. In the summer, they were tiny, fluffy, traditional-type chicken babies. Now, they look like their father.

ALL nine chicks were cockerels, which was astonishingly bad luck. There are only three left now, as they have gradually gone in to the pot. However, the remaining three walk around three-abreast and seem to loom over the horizon at you, particularly if the sun is behind them. Also, when they run, their footfalls sounds like a scene from Jurassic Park. They have also inherited their father's tendency for arse-pecking. I can't see them surviving much longer.

So. We walked, we ate, we drank a bottle of wine that Ma had been given ("I don't know why she gave it to me dear, she said it was to thank me for all the things I'd done during the year, but I don't think I DID anything. Anyway, is it nice wine?") and we generally chilled out.

We chatted with Aunty Edith, who was very happy with the book on Henry VIII's sisters we'd given her. I'm on a winning streak with her at the moment - she is eighty-six, an ex-primary school teacher who is fiercely independent, very open-minded and very intellectually rigorous. She has never been married. Picking books for her is great fun - I just choose interesting books about women's history or literature that I'd enjoy myself.

Our Christmas Haul this year included:

  • smashing knitted gloves from Polish Lodger's Girlfriend's Cousin, fingerless ones with a flappy bit that folds over to make them in to mittens.
  • a very posh propelling pencil from Natalie
  • hiking boots from Kate and Vic (of which, more tomorrow)
  • six classy sherry glasses from Natalie's godmother, and finally
  • a flower-pot watering system for our pots in the yard, from Ma and Pa. (Me to Pa: "Thank you very much for our present!" Pa: "What did I give you?")

Last night we ate the last of the christmas cake and today we are back in the office.

I am actually quite enjoying it.

Friday, 6 January 2006

ally of borg

Right, then, where were we?

In response to Milt's enquiry, we are back.

We arrived home at lunch time yesterday and I immediately got sucked in to Wireless Networking Hell.

This is similar to Ethernet Networking Hell, only with less cables to trip over. Although as it contains more invisible vibes that melt your brain, I am not sure which is worse.

Just before christmas we realised that we had to buy a new hub, because one of the ports on the existing one had stopped working. It was already quite inconvenient because we had five computers to connect up, in four different potential locations and there were cables strung around the house like the inside of a Borg ship.

So we took the plunge, I flexed my eBay bidding finger and we triumphed in a very cheap auction for a Linksys wireless hub and notebook connection card.

It arrived very quickly, on christmas eve, with the power connection missing.

I phoned the company to let them know and they posted a universal adaptor out to us, which arrived while we were in Somerset.

I couldn't face setting the network up then, so I left it until yesterday when we arrived home from the Lakes. By which time, yet another universal adaptor had arrived. Which incidentally they don't want back and which I may therefore be putting on eBay myself in the near future.

Twenty four hours and several tantrums later, it is all working. Since I am even boring myself now, I won't give you a blow-by-blow account of how I wrestled with the dragons of Static IP addressing and XP Internet Connection Sharing, wrestling them bravely to the ground and stabbing forks repeatedly in to their eyes.

Instead, in other news:

  • Betty has been to be spayed today. We're not supposed to give her anything to eat until tomorrow and she is wandering around walking in to doors whenever we go out of the room, mewing piteously. If we ever have any children I am going to be the mother in floods of tears at the school gates - I felt like I was leaving her at the guillotine this morning at the vets.
  • The BT engineer has come and installed another line, Lodgers, For The Use Of. It is much cheaper than you might think and also means that we can choose not to answer the business line after hours.
  • Talking of lodgers, Polish Lodger's Girlfriend's Cousin is moving in to the bigger room we have just vacated, and we have someone coming to look at the small room tomorrow. She is twenty and French. My script continues to write itself.
  • I have managed to install the software on my laptop so it will talk to my camera-phone, so I have some photos of various things to upload - the view from the new room in the attic, Ma's dogs, walking in the lakes. (Which was excellent, thank you very much for asking).
  • Also a big smoochie thank you to Rhys, who has included me in his nominations for this year's Bloggies. He is fab and if you haven't already, pop over and visit him.

And that, for today, is all.

I go to eat pasta, drink sherry and watch Poldark.

Sunday, 1 January 2006

happy new year

Happy New Year!

Rather than last year, when we went to bed early with chamomile tea, we went to dinner with some friends of Kate and Vic's. There were eight of us and it was a lovely evening.

Not sure what I'd like to do next year, apart from continuing with the 'Having Fun and No-one Crying During the Festive Season' theme.

We are going away yet again tomorrow - to the Lake District for a few days with Kate and Vic.

We're staying at the Watermill Inn at Ings until Thursday. There is definitely no internet access, so there will be a bloggage pause until next weekend.

However, I can say with some certainty that there will be real ale, very good food, open fires and maybe even some walking.


I hope the New Year brings everyone all the good things that you could possibly wish for, along with a generous helping of love, laughter, health, wealth and happiness.

a pox on both your houses

And now, a romantic interlude.

Three years ago, in the early hours, B and I were walking home from a New Year's get together at Dani and R's.

It was the end of the Best Christmas Ever. We had been in quarantine for a fortnight, because B came down with chicken pox on the 20th of December. We were actually quite pleased, because initially we'd thought he was covered in flea bites. He'd done a gig on the 18th and 19th in a hotel in Park Lane in London where he'd kipped under the stage. Apparently some of those posh hotels are notorious among the technicians for having carpets rancid with fleas.

We spent our christmas wrapped in blankets on the sofa, drinking whiskey and applying calamine lotion to his spots at regular intervals. B wants me to add that Piriton tablets were his best christmas present ever - they stopped the itching completely. Kate was in hospital with a bronchial infection, adding to her impressive knowledge of the possible textures and colours of flem. So Vic was Last Man Standing. He posted our christmas dinner through the cat flap. We had no family stress, no pressure to socialise, nothing. It was great.

We'd bought three dozen pigs in blankets for the Annual Christmas Get Together and hadn't gone because of the pox, so we lived on them. I will never be able to eat one again without flinching.

Anyway, New Year was the first time we'd been out in company.

Coming home, it was pelting down with freezing rain.

Opposite the garage on Edinburgh Road, underneath the lamp post with the 'No Dog's Fouling' sign, B proposed to me.

He said "Go on then, shall we get married?"*.

I was so drunk, and so surprised, that I had to lean against the lamp post for support.

The next day, we were both so badly hung over that we skirted round the subject for the whole morning in case we'd imagined it.

But it turned out that neither of us had. So on January 3rd, we went to the registry office and got the paperwork sorted for a very low key ceremony the following April.

And then, dear reader, I married him. Chicken pox scars and all.

* He'd also proposed a lot of other things during the previous year while we'd been dating, a few of which I went along with ;).