Thursday, 30 November 2006

Any ideas

So does anyone have any ideas for 11th Anniversary, steel, presents?

Some ideas provided so far: Champagne, BBQ tool set, Watch, Toaster

Things I've bought so far: ....

I'm hoping we see something this weekend. If we don't he'll have to do without.

Normally we're both bad at remembering our anniversary but because we're going away it's difficult to forget, no matter how hard we try.

So any great ideas - let me know smart-ish.

I did think about buying and wearing a bow and saying he could have my heart because it was made of steel, but that didn't seem very anniversary-ish.

Wednesday, 29 November 2006

Second chance

I'm going away this weekend. It's always reassuring when you can find the hotel you've booked in a guide book.

I've bought two guide books. I'm not reassured.

A friend has recommended a restaurant. That isn't in the guide books either.

We're going away because it's our wedding anniversary – 11 years of suffering (his not mine). I don't want you getting the idea that we're a romantic couple who use any excuse to go away for the weekend.

I think that last year was the first time we went away for our anniversary. We felt after 10 years we'd earned it, plus Dave's parents offered to look after the children.

Last year the venue was Lille, which I can thoroughly recommend, especially near Christmas. We booked a fabulous hotel and had a great time until we got the telephone call from Dave's Mum telling us that Ethan was being admitted to A&E. This isn't the greatest thing to happen during a romantic weekend away. Needless to say we were on the first train back and, instead of a 4 star hotel; I spent the night on a camp bed next to Ethan in a hospital. He was fine the next morning, almost entirely recovered from his nasty chest infection.

So this year, Dave's parents asked if we wanted another chance, not necessarily in Lille, but the chance to go away somewhere. Given our form I didn't think Dave would be interested, but he was. So we're going away this weekend with two guide books that don't even mention our hotel. At least last year our hotel was in the book.

Tuesday, 28 November 2006


I am an idiot.

We had our second monthly marketing meeting of the year yesterday. Monthly is clearly a misnomer, biannual would be more appropriate.

One of the agenda items covered was Pulse. Allow me to explain for the uninitiated. Pulse is an employee survey conducted annually to test the mood of the workers.

Anyway, boss's boss explained some of the results by way of graph comparisons but made it clear he wanted to gain a deeper understanding of the reasons behind some of the scores. He recognised people may not want to open up in such a public forum and said he'd like to hear from just one or two people.

This is when I opened by big mouth (readers who know me will recognise my inability to shut up).

I suggested it might be helpful if we met in our work groups and then provided feedback on a one to one basis.

This morning following our team meeting we met, discussed what our input should be and decided on the person pulling together the presentation and presenting it. Guess who?

What a muppet. I have been bitching and moaning about workload, e-mail overload, inability to cope, losing control, losing the plot etc. And because it was my bloody stupid idea, I get the task.

So on Monday, which for the record is a vacation day for me, I have scheduled a meeting with the boss's boss to provide some upward feedback. Because I am stressed, overloaded etc, the only day I can make this fit, is a vacation day.

Idiot, idiot, idiot!

Monday, 27 November 2006

Catch up

Caught up with the girls tonight. I know a school night - what were we thinking. Well we don't need booze (although there was a bit) and we don't need a late night (I was home by 10:30) but we do need somewhere to chat.

The stories we share always amaze me and make me laugh.

Tonight my favourite was the grandad who fakes dying for attention.

Aimi's grandad live's with her mum in a granny flat, or perhaps it should be called a grandad flat. Anyway he's 90 and exceptionally bright, lucid, with it. His weekly shopping frequently includes items like mussels and champagne, far more sophisticated than my shopping.

Anyway at home he wears an alerter so that should he be taken ill and be unable to dial 999, all he has to do is push a button.

In the summer Aimi's mum nipped to the local shop and while she was out grandad pressed the alerter. Aimi got a call saying "Your grandad's been taken ill." To which she responded "He can't have been - I've just seen my mum go past our house to the shops." So, convinced that all was not well, Aimi dashed out of her house in pyjamas, to her mum's house to find grandad complaining he was unwell and had trouble breathing. Aimi phoned for an ambulance.

Well by the time the ambulance staff had finished discovering that nothing was wrong, one of the crew fetched a Guinness from the fridge for Grandad.

This wasn't the first, or last, time Grandad faked it. Apparently just recently he faked it again.

This time Aimi and her mum rolled their eyes and said "Grandad, you're not having an ambulance." Eventually they wondered whether he wasn't faking it and they called an ambulance and Grandad was taken to hospital at 11pm.

Aimi's Dad missed a flight to Dublin in the morning after a night on a plastic hospital chair by Grandad's bedside.

At 6am Grandad was seen by doctors who could find nothing wrong and packed him off home.
Aimi's sister called at lunchtime to see how he was and he said "On your way over, could you pick up a cod and chips from the chippy."

Aimi called round in the evening and said "Grandad, if you want a night out, just ask us. You don't have to call 999."

Sunday, 26 November 2006


I'm not proud to admit that I had a bit of a 'gover this morning.

Champagne, wine, Drambuie, G&T does not a happy head make.

Consequently I've been a bit slow today.

Was annoyed this morning to notice that in our hotel room the sink was blocked. I'd noticed it was slow draining last night but at 1:00am, full of booze, the last thing I wanted to do was wait for hotel maintenance.

I didn't understand why it had gone from draining slowly to blocked during the night. Mentally I was drafting my letter of complaint.

After I told Dave, we decided we'd ask the hotel to fix it while we had breakfast. Then I realised the soap for the basin was missing and I put two and two together. Sure enough the soap was covering the plughole. Mentally I screwed up my letter of complaint into a tiny ball and threw it away.

Friday, 24 November 2006

A child's view

As I'm going through the appraisal process at work I wondered if some of the principles could be applied at home.

So this morning I asked Hannah for some 360 degree feedback.
I asked her for three things I don't do very well and need to improve and three things I do well. This is what she said.

"You're not very good at tidying up." Too true.

"Daddy needs to be better at not giving me too much food."

"The floor cleaning - look there are two dirty bits." OK, she's right again.

I asked her what I was good at. She said "Everything, apart from the tidying and the floor cleaning."

I love my daughter.

Thursday, 23 November 2006

Not again

I hate having to do my own appraisal. It's past 11:00pm and I'm failing dismally to conjure the words for a third "key strength" and any "areas for improvement."

There are a gazillion areas for improvement but the secret is to find the biggest.

I have such crappy take home pay after childcare and tax, any pay increase is almost irrelevant. What I mean is that to have a significant impact on my take home pay, any pay rise would have to be huge in percentage terms.

Can't see it, can you? When Union agreement for salaried staff is 4.25%, that'll likely be the average for us. A few percentage points either way isn't a fortune (but is better than average of 1.something% last year).

Wednesday, 22 November 2006

How not to....

How not to do corporate travel.

Firstly, and one of the more important elements of the today, was the departure form the house at 5:45am. This is not something I recommend.

Karen had to leave the house 30 mins before that to get to my house and we agree that this is not a good thing to do to the body.

Whenever an alarm has to be set earlier than the norm, particularly if there's a deadline driving the alarm call, the body goes into panic mode. Karen and I agreed that neither of us had got anything like a decent night's sleep because our minds were worrying about missing the alarm.

So, bleary eyed, I opened the door to Karen and she transferred to my car and I drove to Southend to catch a flight to Cologne.

At this point I should probably own up to getting lost, despite handy map, and driving around the Aviation Business Park for about 10 minutes before figuring out that it didn't contain an airport.

Eventually once Karen and I had put our blonde heads together we found the airport and then we panicked because we were still waitlisted for the flight. Then, when I got called to check-in and Karen didn't, we started to hatch a plan for just in case she didn't get on the flight. She could get a lift back to Dunton, Dave could give Karen a lift back to our house (via nursery and after school club to pick up the kids) so Karen could pick her car up.

Fortunately we didn't need to worry. Karen and I boarded the plane and were able to sit next to one another and we settled down for a chat, as girls do. Along came Mr Somebody who did that thing when people get on planes and they think you're in their seat. He hovered, and looked at us, then looked at his boarding pass stub, then looked at us again until it became embarrassing and I had to say "oh, is it assigned seating?" Turns out I was in his seat. As if it mattered. Karen whispered "shall I ask him to swap?" I didn't think he was the type, so we left it.

We got the coach from Koln airport and arrived at our destination. Denis had warned me we might face a 10 min walk to the offices we were visiting. We soon realised we needed to get visitors badges. So we filled in a form with name, address, passport number – I kid you not. And then they wanted another form for the laptop. I was starting to get annoyed. I don't do bureaucracy very well.

The woman behind the security desk asked us where we were going and laughed when we told her – not an auspicious start. She then said she'd call for a shuttle bus. All of this made sense as Denis had said it was a walk away, so we sat and waited, and waited, and waited for about 30 minutes.

This made us late for our meeting and I hate being late for anything. Not a good start.

Lunch was followed by one meeting, then another, then a sort of free for all exchange.

It was a good day for meeting people. There are loads of people in the Cologne offices that I talk to, e-mail or have heard about and it's always very helpful to put a face to the name. We haven't got webcams at work but I wonder whether webcams would give the same benefit as a face to face meeting. I know communication is 90% non verbal but I get the feeling that a fuzzy image of a face doesn't really count.

There was only one thing about the return journey that stood out as unusual, and exceptionally unpleasant.

The stench of sweaty men as we got onto the plane was vile. I should point out that of the 86 seats available only about 6 were occupied by women.

Fortunately by the time food was on offer the smell had subsided, presumably on account of arms not being raised putting things into overhead lockers.

I think there's clearly a good case for the return of smelling salts.

Tuesday, 21 November 2006

Riding the rollercoaster

Motherhood has its ups and downs.

Not so long ago Hannah was going to be Mary in the school nativity. That was an up.

Today Hannah advises she's not going to be Mary anymore. That's a down.

I know that it shouldn't matter to me, and I haven't made a big fuss about the change, but I did ask "Why's that then?"

Hannah tells me she didn't want to be Mary anymore and it seems her accommodating teacher has acceded to Hannah's wishes.

It transpires that Hannah was required to look surprised as part of her role (maybe at the idea of an immaculate conception – I know I'd look surprised if I hadn't had sex and found myself up the duff) and she didn't want to look surprised, or felt she didn't know how to look surprised.

I tried to demonstrate that looking surprised wasn't as challenging as Hannah thought but I didn't dent her resolve. It seems it's irretrievable anyway as Millie is the new Mary and Hannah is merely a traveller en route to Bethlehem.

Maybe they knew we were atheists and were just looking for an excuse, or maybe they were just trying to "out the ginger." Either way, I'm heartbroken (and I don't know quite how I'm going to break the news to my mother-in-law.)

Monday, 20 November 2006

Smelly, smelly, smelly

Calling all budding lawyers (specialising in Health and Safety legislation) or maybe any Trade Union representatives who fancy their chances against a big corporate.

Over the weekend we had a bit of an accident at work. I don't know exactly what happened but there was evidence that something nasty had occurred.

The ceiling had collapsed in the area next to my desk and I say collapse but melted or dissolved could be better words. I think there must have been some kind of leak of some sort of liquid. There were dubious splatters on my desk and the floor. The area right under the leaky ceiling was sodden.

We had a couple of evacuees who decided they didn't want to get their feet wet.

At about 3:00pm I couldn't take it any more. The damp stench was overpowering. I called Facilities and said "This office smells." Lesley asked me where I was and explained carpet cleaners would be arriving at 5:00 to deal with the problem. I did consider asking if they had any Shake 'n' Vac but thought a) she may be too young to know what the hell I'm talking about and b) she might think I was a bit mad.

But it did occur to me that there are some rules about working environments and laws and things. Could I call for a walkout on the basis of an obnoxious, obtrusive smell?

Anyway the main reason I'm telling you this is that I'm worried about Denis. "Why?" I hear you cry. Well there are a plethora of reasons but the one that popped up today is perhaps more worrying than most.

Denis and I were discussing the stink of wet carpet tiles and Denis said "It smells like old men's pants." I said I wasn't in the habit of smelling elderly gentlemen's underwear so I wouldn't know. So he continued with "but you know what I mean…" and I said "Er, no." I think it probably smells like a wash you've put in the washing machine which has been washed but left in there, damp, for too long – take that smell and multiply that odour by about 40.

So does anyone know – does that smell like old men's pants? Oh, and can I sue for the physical and emotional distress caused by a) the stink and b) the implication that I know about elderly gent's undies?


It's blinkin' 4:00 o'clock in the blinkin' morning and I can't sleep.

I have the same stinking cold I've had for the last month, I'm stressed about work and I'm stressed about home life.

To remedy the cold I have a Lemsip brewed although I know that merely masks the symptoms.

Work stress is harder to deal with. That's the perennial too much work, not enough me but it's compounded by a meeting that will chew up Monday morning and the fact that I have a trip to Germany on Wednesday. The Monday thing is just eating into productive time. The trip is less of a problem for that because it might help sort a few things out. It's just that it's probably 5 years since I visited our German offices and I have no idea where I'm going. I have a sort of nightmare that'll I'll get the flight over and then I'll just spend the day walking around in circles getting more and more lost. Additionally it means getting up early, probably 5:15am which is just anti social, especially when I'm feeling run down with cold anyway.

I could start a rant about the new procedures that have been issued at work to help supervisors deal with sickness, but I won't, because I want to feed the good wolf (see yesterday's post).

Saturday, 18 November 2006

Feeding wolves

I read this today, bizarrely in Trinny and Susannah's Survival Guide (a birthday present - what are people trying to tell me?).

Clearly I would like to run my life feeding the Good wolf. Based on yesterday's experience (see blog) and also the way I've been a bit (understatement) of a monster today, I think I actually feed the Evil wolf.

As proverbs go, I quite like this one.

One evening an old Cherokee Indian told his grandson about a "battle" that goes on inside people. He said, "My son, the battle is between 2 "wolves" inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith." The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: "Which wolf wins?" The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

Friday, 17 November 2006

Grumpy old bugger

I discovered something about myself today, and I didn't like what I uncovered.

I don't like Sainsburys. There are a number of reasons.

Parking is often a nightmare with many occasions of car park rage apparent.

It's difficult to find a suitable trolley (kiddie two seater), and once you find it the trolley is a nightmare to insert and extract children (shoes get stuck).

The whole store is less than 10 years old and it's falling apart. They have paper towels at the bottom edge of the fridge displays because they leak – yuk! The toilets are gross. The car park has signs that look they've been hit by a truck.

The store is poorly stocked which means I rarely go around the store and manage to get everything on the shopping list.

So when I'm doing my weekly shop with two children in tow it's not the most stress free experience. When I find something out of stock I vent my frustration by talking with the children. Usually along the lines of "Hannah, how many times have I said that I hate Sainsbury's?". "A hundred million Mummy." Or "How many weeks should we give Sainsbury's before we write and complain they haven't had this thing in stock, 12 weeks?" "8 weeks Mummy."

Now I don't want you think I don't ever approach Customer Services. In the few weeks within memory I've taken back yoghurts, oranges, grapes and strawberries that have been cultivating penicillin before the expiry date. I've also taken back milk bottles than have pissed milk all over my passenger seat.

Anyway, today after I'd vented some angst with Hannah, I overheard a woman talking to an assistant saying how terrible it was that I was just complaining without doing something constructive about it. I went over and joined the chat. Eventually the assistant asked what it was I wanted and, when I explained, she was able to demonstrate that they not only didn't have it in stock, but that they'd stopped stocking it. Now part of me wondered how the hell that helped me. The other part of me wanted to cry.

I realised it was probably true that I'm a bitter, twisted, miserable, old cow. There's always one woman like me in any neighbourhood. The kids in the area have a rumour that she's a witch and they're usually too scared to knock on her door. Er, that's me and I've only just realised it. I can be a right grumpy bugger.


A warning to all of the motorists who were inconsiderate to me today:

I will use my car instead of walking.

My car will contribute to greenhouse gases and will emit carcinogenic particulates. It will kick out stinky smoke every time I accelerate, contributing to both the number of asthma attacks and the increase in childhood asthma.

I will be in that traffic jam in front of you and it will be people like me that will be causing the traffic jam because we're only there because of you. We'll be the people you curse because we're doing the 'school run'. In fact I may change my car and get a 4x4 to further your contempt.

Why would I do this to you? Let me explain.

You see a mother pushing a buggy transporting a toddler and you can see she has an older child in tow. It's raining. What goes through your tiny brain? Well it doesn't seem to be "how great to see someone still walking even when the weather is inclement." No, it seems to be much more like "I can see a big puddle in the gutter. If I drive really quickly, really close to the pavement, then I can spray loads of filthy, muddy, skanky water all over that daft bird and her kids who aren't in a car."

I think I should be walking when I can with the children to teach them that the car doesn't have to be used for every journey.

From now on my mantra will be "Screw the environment. If there's a chance someone's going to ruin my day, I'll take the 4x4."

Well I'd like to have that attitude but I know I'll still walk, because it's the right thing to do. Sometimes I hate myself.

Wednesday, 15 November 2006


Go and see the new Bond movie.

It's good, although I do think Daniel Craig pouts too much and there was a bit too much nasty hurting people and an excess of lovey dovey stuff.

Note to self - ideal time to flog Casino Royale branded money clip on ebay.

Tuesday, 14 November 2006

Have a heart?

I had a chat today with Reiner who was going for his pacemaker check up.

Reiner lives in Germany where the healthcare system is a little different to the UK. I'm guessing pacemaker checks in Germany happen every 6 months or so. In the UK it might well be every couple of years. Am I being unfair the National Health Service? I don't think so.

I have a friend who's just moving to Germany. She's Swedish but her family have been over here in the UK for at least the last 5 years. She has lived in Germany before (her husband is German) and she was used to the German healthcare system before moving to the UK. She used to have smear tests every 6 months because that was what the German healthcare system advised to catch cervical cancer as early as possible. Before she moved to the UK she was told by her doctor that in the UK smear tests happen every 3 years. Why the difference? Well the doctor's view was that it was cheaper to do smear tests every 3 years and pay for the treatment of cervical cancer, than it would be just to pay for the higher cost of smear tests every 6 months and the reduced cost of less advanced cervical cancer. I hate the fact that this sounds plausible.

Anyway, I knew very little about pacemakers before chatting to Reiner but I know a bit more now.

Did you know?

- Pacemakers are fitted using a local anaesthetic.
- They aren't fitted in the heart, but just under the skin, with wires linked to the heart.
- Batteries don't last very long (just a few years), and when they need replacing it's the whole unit that's replaced, not just the batteries.
- The pacemaker collects data on the heart's performance which can be uploaded wirelessly to a PC.

Monday, 13 November 2006


Today I received a request to approve something at work. This isn't unusual as I'm the business owner of an IT application so any changes need to be approved by me.

Now normally when I'm approving changes there are two stages. An approval for the launch of the change and a later post launch approval to demonstrate that I'm happy with the changes.

This process is defined by the IT Policy Manual (ITPM to the IT crowd).

Usually when I'm approving something there's something to look at, a preview link that shows me the impact the change will have. To me this is logical: there's something to look at and something for the basis of an opinion.

Today, however, I was presented with something that wasn't logical. Along with an approval request I was advised that the change, the basis of the approval request, was invisible to me. There would be no preview link that I could look at to check anything. Additionally there would be nothing in the back end of the system that our agency could check.

So I was approving something that I couldn't check or verify. Does that seem silly to you? It seemed completely bonkers to me, a waste of everybody's time.

So along with my approval of thin air I questioned the whole process and unsurprisingly I was told that it was a stupid scenario but we had to go through it because it was in the ITPM. I don't respond well to this kind of scenario. I have a little devil sitting on my shoulder saying "It's not right. It's silly. Don't roll over. Policy shouldn't be written in stone. This needs changing." I am aware that the reality is "One doesn't mess with the ITPM." I know my little outburst will change nothing, but it makes me feel better.

But what if, next time, I just say "No!"?

Sunday, 12 November 2006

Sunday mornings

Sunday mornings have started to have a routine.

At about 6:30 Dave's alarm clock wakes him (and usually me) up. At about 7:00 he's all set to go for a bike ride. He usually plans just over two hours of riding and I think the route covers 30-35 miles.

My plan while he's out is to attempt a lie in but somehow Hannah and Ethan (particularly Ethan) have a sixth sense and their body clocks wake them up, usually before Dave has even left the house.

I usually resist getting out of bed until Ethan's refrain of "Ne ner ner ner ner ner ner ner, ne ner ner ner ner ner ner ner, ne ner ner ner ner ner ner Batman!" becomes too insistent to ignore.

I drag myself downstairs, fetch milk in beakers and return back upstairs to wake the children. Wake is not quite the right word because they're already awake but I consider I'm giving them permission to be awake.

After reading a few books we decide it's time for breakfast, a decision that's usually greeted with a "Yehay!".

After breakfast they're allowed to play in their pyjamas. This morning Ethan decided to colour his face and a table in the dining room with blue and green pen. Fortunately it a small play table and the ink was washable.

After clearing up the mess that results from children eating anything, I start to think about breakfast for the grown ups. I have got into a habit recently of making a cooked breakfast for Dave as a reward for the bike ride and to fill the resultant energy gap. It's not an entirely selfless act. Let's face it, it's just as easy to do two cooked breakfasts as it is to do one.

So hopefully when Dave crawls in through the door he has a nice hot breakfast waiting for him and most of the washing up has been done.

But, nobody is showered, washed or dressed....he can't expect everything, can he?

Saturday, 11 November 2006


I went to buy something today.

The sales assistant said, referring to a price list, "We're doing a special offer this month. There's a 30% discount if you buy 6." I could see the same sheet of paper that she was referring to, and I could see another column next to one headed 30%. It read 50%.

So I asked "When are you doing a discount of 50% if I buy 6?"

"Er, I need to check with the manager."

A few minutes later:

"This price list is out of date, we don't do the 50% discount anymore."

I didn't buy.

Friday, 10 November 2006

Parental pride

I'm in shock. Hannah tells me she is going to be Mary in the school nativity play. I'm sooooo proud. Admittedly this story requires verification.

She started by telling me that she was going to be an actor in the Christmas play but she couldn't remember who. I admit I prompted her asking whether Miss Cleminson had said she was going to be Mary, and she said "yes". Now she also knew that Thomas is going to be the Innkeeper, and she swears that she is going to be Mary so I'm inclined to believe her.

Now there are a few things that surprise me about this news.

Firstly Hannah has red hair and we're not talking strawberry blonde, we're talking beautiful rich red hair with natural blonde highlights. Now I've seen many pictures of Mary and she has never ever been portrayed with red hair.

Secondly, we're atheists. Hannah goes to the most holy of Church of England Schools. Honestly, it's so high church it's virtually Catholic. The application form required a whole section to be completed by Father Bob. This section was omitted on our form because we wouldn't know Father Bob from Father Ted. Hannah got in because we happen to live near the school.

There are a few things that don't surprise me about this news: Hannah's teacher seems to think Hannah's very bright and a "lovely girl" and Hannah is usually well behaved. She also has an amazing memory, so learning lines wouldn't be a problem, although maybe Joseph has more lines because he's the one who talks to the Innkeeper.

So there's a huge part of me that's massively proud because when I was at school I was only ever a shepherd. There is another part of me that's thinking about the costume, and I've already been on the phone to my mother-in-law who thinks she has an old blue sheet, suitable for adaptation. We're thinking of meeting tomorrow at Bluewater to do a handover so that I have enough time to get busy with the sewing machine. I know you think it's sad I have a sewing machine but curtains and school plays were my reasons for buying.

I wonder if Woolworths sells Mary outfits?

Thursday, 9 November 2006

If you do that again....

On Thursdays I help another mum out by transferring her son from nursery to school. It makes Thursday lunchtimes a bit hectic but she helps me out on a Tuesday so it's worth the pain.

I was chatting today to her son and we talking about being good or naughty. He explained his parent's discipline system.

For his first offence he gets a yellow card. And from what I could tell, the only bad thing about a yellow card is that it means you've run out of chances.

For his second offence he gets a red card. Now the red card seemed very serious indeed because if he gets one of those then he gets taken to the children's home. I figured that was a threat that parent's wouldn't follow through on but it made me curious – what do you do when a child pushes the boundaries and gets a red card?

Well he told me he has been to the children's home and he told me stories about all the bad children and how he fought them and pushed them into prickly bushes (we were walking past bramble at the time).

You see I know the truth. His parents have bundled him into the car once and taken him to the children's home (in reality an old people's home). But once outside the children's home he saw sense, apologised and promised to be good.

What would they have done if he hadn't?

It's an interesting approach and one I wouldn't use. My children know I'll follow through with whatever I threaten, and Supernanny's naughty step seems to be a winner so far. I couldn't threaten them with a children's home for two reasons. Firstly I don't want them thinking I could or would do that and secondly I don't want them thinking that children in care are naughty.

Wednesday, 8 November 2006

Bra as universal storage

I am perhaps unique in this regard - do other women use their bra as a storage location?

I find it can be used to hold a multitiude of items. Some of these, I think are not too uncommon, for example a spare tissue (in my case for emergency child nose wiping). Such an item can be secreted into a cup and easily removed at speed when needed.

Many other items too can be held safe in this warm and secure location.

But I'd like to explain why I use this in preference to other places. Increasingly clothing doesn't have pockets. Most of the skirts I own don't have pockets and the same is true for some of my trousers. Tops, blouses and shirts hardly ever have any pockets either so it's not uncommon for me to find I am pocketless. Although sometimes even if I have a pcket I don't consider it secure enough. Some pockets aren't designed to hold things, they're designed for hands, so these aren't suitable for storage.

So what do I store in my lingerie, apart from the obvious?

Well train tickets are an obvious one because I need to be able to whip a ticket out quickly and store it just as fast. Handbags and purses are all very well but they require thought, effort, co-ordination, and placing anything there and wanting to be able to find it again quickly is usually a two-handed job, not the easiest when negotiating a crowded train or tube.

Money might not seem so obvious but if one is popping out without a purse or pockets where should one stash a tenner or a twenty? And don't say stocking tops.

A shopping list or other note is another easily referenced item if stored in the right place.
Lipstick is a tricky one and usually has to be stowed in the middle, if you know what I mean. I have been known to grab a lippy, stash it and take it to the powder room for a touch up (I realise that could sound rude, but it's not). Saves taking a handbag or a coat.

And the last item that springs to mind, which I don't recommend for reasons which will become apparent, is a small mp3 player. I did this yesterday in the gym. It needs the same method that one would apply for lipstick - sort of wedged, but it's not a reliable system. On the cross trainer after about 15 minutes I realised it was slipping and I ended up with my mp3 player dangling by the earphone lead, banging around near my knees. This is not cool.

Tuesday, 7 November 2006

Call me evil!

I did something a bit naughty today. And Dave reckons there will be consequences.

We have an unwritten but frequently spoken rule in our team at work: if you miss the team meeting, you will be allocated tasks.

Now I think that's fair-ish but that's because I usually try to be in the office on a Tuesday morning so I can attend the team meeting. It's less fair for the folk whose job it is to liaise with offices in Europe. They have to travel and it's not easy to arrange these trips to avoid Tuesdays.

Today we had a few people who couldn't attend. I don't really know why Denis wasn't there, especially as he turned up fairly soon after the meeting finished.

Anyway, I couldn't resist a little wind up. I told Denis that because he hadn't been there he had been nominated to pull together a presentation for our manager's manager for probably the end of the month. I told him that the format and date hadn't been agreed but that we'd discussed a few options. Tracey realized what I was doing and joined in with a few exaggerated ideas on the format for the presentation.

Well Denis didn't take this very well. I had anticipated that he might be a bit fed up, but his reaction was more than just upset.

I went around to our manager's office to confess, because I figured it wouldn't take long before Denis went in to Brendan's office to vent his displeasure. Well Brendan wasn't there so I nipped back to my desk and sent him an e-mail. I had offsite meetings in the afternoon so this was the only way I could pass a message on, a post it note would have been too risky.

My e-mail was titled "Call me evil!" and the reply came back "Evil". So this is a test. I know people in the office read this, but I don't think Denis does. If he does read it, his reward will be to learn that we were winding him up. If he doesn't then I consider this to be revenge.

I thought Denis and I got on. We sit next to one another, exchanging friendly teasing office banter and I'd not been aware of any problems. Well, seems I was wrong. Now we are different personalities. I'm noisy (friends reading this are thinking this is an understatement), Denis is quiet. Well he's trying to move. He doesn't want to sit next to me. He's had enough. And this was before I wound him up. Therefore, wind up = revenge.

Dave reckons I'm due payback. I'm not sure.

Monday, 6 November 2006


There must have been something in the air today or I must have been giving off unusual signals (or maybe they're normal for me, I don't know).

First thing today I had an e-mail telling me about a mandatory online course I needed to complete, subject: Integrity.

Now I've done these before. I think it has to do with some American law and this helps us cover our collective arse. Anyway, you can't cheat and jump straight to the quiz at the end, they know you haven't read the content. I've also tried opening the content pages and moving on very quickly to the quiz. The system isn't dumb; it knew I hadn't spent enough time reading content.

Now I have no problem with proving that I have integrity but I do object to the assumption that I need training to know what behaviour is appropriate. So I may have let slip a few expletives. Not too unusual in an office environment I think you'll agree. The next thing I know, Denis is suggesting I'd be really good at working on adult chat lines. Frankly I don't see the link, but that was the start of my day.

So having completed the Integrity course and quiz, and achieving 100% (demonstrating integrity clearly isn't a problem for me), Julie pipes up that I must have slept with my computer. What? Now actually, if I'm rational about it and if you think about it, I am wedded to my computer but we do have separate bedrooms.

And then there was the coup de grace. I can't remember what prompted Kevin's contribution to the day but he suggested I had slept with my boss. Now Dave and I don't have red hair, but Hannah does, and so does my manager, Brendan. I don't want you jumping to conclusions but I can assure you that Brendan was not present at Hannah's conception.

So there have been several slurs on my character today and I'm not sure any were deserved. Now Ford does have an harassment hotline for employees. Do you think I should call or wait to see if the attacks continue?

Sunday, 5 November 2006


I'm a sucker for a gadget.

A while ago we bought, OK I bought, a leaf blower. Our house has, and is surrounded by, trees, most of which lose their leaves around now. I hate clearing leaves and the concept of a gadget that does all the hard work seemed like a good one.

The thing has been used less than 10 times. It hurts me. It's so long ago I can't remember which bit is the source of pain.

It's got a vacuum function and when it's in suck mode it chews up what it hoovers up and then dumps the chewed up bits in an outdoor vaccum bag. There's some kind of whizzy blade thing that does the chopping. It might be a side effect of the whizzy blade spewing out little bits of stuff at hight speed that inflicts injury.

In blower mode it's fairly aggressive and it could be that it's this mode that causes me problems. It's supposed to just blow leaves I guess but it also blows small stones, and maybe it'sa these that end up hitting my legs and forcing me to suffer.

I must have used it last in the summer, although I can't think why, because I know that I was wearing shorts, which I now know I shouldn't. It's a bit like the strimmer, another gadget but we do use this one (although I hate it), in that it hurts me, especially when I'm in shorts mode. It strims things which is chopping them at high speed which have been known to be flung in my general direction at a high velocity – ouch.

Actually the more I think about it I think it's the suck mode that sucks. I think the whizzy chopper flings things at the vacuum bag with such force they hit my leg which is right next to the bag.

So don't buy a leaf blower sucky thing. But do buy something much cheaper which is fantastic: big hands. Well they're not sold as "big hands" but that's what they are. Two big bits of plastic with a claw edge and a strap to hold them to your hand. They might be called leaf grabbers, or something. Anyway they don't cost much. I can't remember exactly how much, to me it was just another gadget, but they were less than a tenner and they are brilliant. They're great for moving leaves around and for scooping them up.

Saturday, 4 November 2006

Beware children bearing books

Conversation in the back of the car:

Ethan: "I want to get out." Actually this was more like "get out" but I can translate.

Me: "You can't get out, we're driving."

Ethan: "I want to get out"

Hannah: "Do you want to get run over?"

Ethan: "Out"

Hannah: "Do you want to die?"

Ethan: "Out!"

Hannah: "Do you want to come home in a box?"

Ethan: "OUT!!!"

Me: "Hannah, where did you get that from?"

Hannah: "A book at nursery "Sunshine Cat" where the cat got run over and they put it in a box and the children all wrote in a letter and the box was buried."

Ethan: "OUT!!!!! OUT!!!!!"

If ever you come across the children's book Sunshine Cat, then beware. You will need tissues. It's so sad. Some of the nursery staff can't read it without blubbing.

Friday, 3 November 2006


Halloween has come and gone but the left over candy remains. I bet every household does this, apart from the people that go out on Halloween rather than stay in for fright night fun. You buy in sweeties and chocolate and you get lots, just in case the whole of the town knock on your door. The last thing you want is the local neighbourhood thinking you're tight because when they knocked on your door the cupboard was bare.

And then the night comes and maybe there are only a couple of knocks, or maybe none at all. But regardless of how many times you're summoned to your front door, you're never quite sure whether there will be more people. So to be on the safe side you always make sure there's a decent amount of the sweet stuff available for whoever might turn up.

And then on the morning of November 1st there's the dawning of the realisation. There are a lot of sweets in the house. And this is where you have choices:
- Give it to the children and watch slowly as the sugar takes hold and turns your little darlings into hyperactive monsters from hell, who won't sleep a wink or eat a decent meal until the mountain of sugar has been consumed.
- Eat it yourself and feel the guilt, the sugar buzz and the inability to sleep.
- Throw it away.

I'd like to think no self respecting person does the latter because that's just not normal. And whilst I have some sympathy with the people that give it to their kids, that's not me. I like sweets. Actually I don't like all sweets, so, for future reference, here are some of the sweets I like:

Jelly babies
Fruit pastilles
Those sherberty lollies (just looked them up – Mega lollies or Double lollies)
Space dust, but not too much
Revels – but not peanut
Dolly mixtures
Candy necklaces (not tried candy thong or bra but I know they're available )
Marshmallows, especially dipped in chocolate

Available from:

But the best sweet ever…..Lovehearts I love the fact it's a yummy sweet but it's fun too. And it's kept up with the times, Lovehearts now say e-mail me among other more modern suggestions. I think Lovehearts are more romantic than chocolate and sexier:

Thursday, 2 November 2006

I'm not old!

You know you're old when:
- You mention it's hot and there's a chorus of "Hot flush dear?"
- Your platinum highlights are natural
- Your two year old son calls you Grandma and nobody who hears him bats an eyelid
- You're the only one in the gym on a Sunday night
- The gym's a 10 minute walk away and you drive there and back
- All your friends know about magic knickers
- When you ask a chemist for help with wrinkles/dark circles around the eyes and she says "Too much wine, not enough sleep?"
- You drink half what you might have done at age 18 and you're making a fool of yourself on a dance floor and have to leave early because you're feeling very ill
- You really can't remember a lot about anything
- People at work are talking to you about the early retirement because they think you're eligible
- When you look at the Alumni for your schools and colleges on MySpace you're the oldest one there (OK Darryl and Nick – you beat me but not by much )
- People use the words mid life crisis when they hear you've been doing pole dancing for exercise.

Wednesday, 1 November 2006

Going down

Apparently MySpace is on the decline. Numbers of visitors are down month on month.

Now I'm sort of late to this whole MySpace thing, but I'm not going to be impressed if a year from now MySpace is so naff it has just a million or so users.

Something like that could happen very quickly and it wouldn't surprise me if something bigger and better did supercede the current MySpace phenomenon.

I think that websites that make it big and then fail generally do so by becoming too corporate.
MySpace is already doing something to prevent uploading of copywright content, well for a whole bunch of users that's their reason for being here.

MySpace is also becoming too open to fraud and spamming. I'm fed up with Friend Requests from people or groups that are solely interested in publicity. Roger by the way is an exception which just goes to show that spam is only spam if it lacks relevance, ditto junk mail.

An individual who has been surfing through profiles, found mine and thought "she's interesting, we have something in common" is what I consider to be a genuine request.

A group or organisation that uses software to blast profiles is simply a cynical abuse of a community space. Worst still are the people or organisations that seek to extract e-mail and password information for fraud.

I think MySpace should be investing time and resource in preventing spam and fraud. So get on it Tom. If you don't act now you will alienate your fickle users and they will leave, in droves. If this happens then I'll leave too, because I'm like the rest of them. It's a herd mentality and we all go where the the masses go. We'll all leave to the next community space that offers the same as MySpace but more. I don't know quite what the more is yet but that's for the next generation of billionaires to figure out. I don't know what extra funtionality I want or need. I need someone to show me.