Thursday, 30 August 2007

Terrorist threat

OK I'm not a terrorist threat, but I could be.

OK I couldn't be; I haven't got what it takes.

My point is that nobody else knows that. You can't just look and me and say "Terrorist? Not a chance." And I did travel with my daughter's expiring passport...

It was only while I was on the flight from Dalaman to Gatwick that I realised something quite alarming.

My hand baggage had gone through two X-Ray checks. One imagines that anything that shouldn't be in hand baggage would have been discovered at one or other check.

I didn't think I should have been allowed on the plane with a penknife, even a small one, but I had been. I'd forgotten to pack it in the hold luggage. Oops.

It's a good job I'm not a major threat to security.

Tuesday, 28 August 2007


I like words. I'm not always sure about definitions and usage and, when I was reading the awful 'Wives of Bath' by Wendy Holden, I made a note of things to look up. Here's my list with words in context and my consequent conclusion.

Obduracy - ' the bus, with it's customary obduracy, failed to materialise'. I think this is used in the wrong context but could be allowed if one were feeling generous.

Papped - "...because someone from Intercorp's papped their penis?" I have had to guess this meaning as I haven't found anything adequate. I guess authors can invent words so this could be allowed but the apostrophe for Intercorp seems wrong, but I am no Lynne Truss.

Sinecure - 'What a sinecure she'd had there.' This is, to my mind, an obscure term that is, however, correct in context.

Dandling - '...dandling angelic infants...'. From Shakespeare no less, but new to me.

Hunkers - 'Jake dropped on his hunkers...'. This sounds about right, and is.

Mewling - 'And Rosa, currently mewling on the kitchen floor, ...'. Shakespeare again apparently, a faintly onomatopoeic addition to my vocabulary.

Odour - 'Following the disastrous dog incident, he was in worse odour than ever at Dunn and Dustard.' This sounded plausible but it was the first time I recalled seeing odour used in this context. Holden was right though - no fault found.

Holiday reading

I packed a fairly predictable set of books to read on holiday. My sister-in-law had a clear out at Easter and I picked up a handful of 'disposable' reading matter.

Most of my choices fell into the chick lit. category. OK all of my choices fell into the chick lit. category but there is significant variability within this genre.

There's the predictable, and Jill Mansell's 'Making your mind up' and 'The one you really want' does what chick. lit should. These were my first two reads.

My third read was a shocker. How Wendy Holden became a best selling author is a mystery. Her biography claims she used to be a journalist. Given this background I expected better than I got with 'The Wives of Bath'. The author should realise the umbrella genre is the literary equivalent of easy listening. I'm not frightened of complex language and I frequently use the dictionary to check the specific meaning of words I find in a text. I don't expect this to be necessary when I'm sat next to the pool relaxing. Some of the language used was inappropriate for the audience and some of it was just used in the wrong context. Perhaps she considered that language could have the same lack of credibility as the plot and characters.

My next book was a surprise, and a good one. 'Come Together' by Josie Lloyd and Emlyn Rees has a twist as it's written by a woman and a man and is written from both perspectives. I liked this book and it made me smile, a lot. It's not award winning literature but it is fun.

My fifth read was a swap from the bar at our resort. The 'Jane Austen Book Club' by Karen Joy Fowler struck me as a book that ambled through some reminiscences and mixed them with a weak storyline. It tried hard and was reasonably successful but it didn't result in a book I'd recommend.

I kept the unltimate chick lit. author for the plane home. Jane Austen's 'Sense and Sensibility' doesn't really suit a holiday. It requires my full attention and, as such, still contains a bookmark.

Monday, 27 August 2007

Passport control

After making it through the passport check through to the departure gates at Gatwick I was both relieved and worried at the same time.

I was happy we'd cleared one hurdle but concerned that the next time we might be stopped would be in Turkey.

At Dalaman airport we queued for visas and my heart was racing.

We acquired visas and had only passport control to complete. As soon as we were officially allowed into Turkey I wanted to exit the airport as quickly as possible to avoid the possibility of anyone realising their mistake.

We sprinted down to baggage reclaim, grabbed our suitcases and found our transfer minibus. We had made it.

An hour later, on twisty roads through pretty scenery, I was hit by a thought; we'd left the buggy at the airport. Fortunately we hadn't forgotten the children.

Sunday, 12 August 2007

Illegal immigrant?

We're almost packed. Everything in suitcases and bags and, yes, we have tickets and passports too.

The problem is that we may not make it to our final destination as intended.

Hannah's passport expires at the end of September, a fact I discovered this morning.

In theory, I thought, this shouldn't be a problem; it's valid for the period of travel. In fact I felt relieved because my worry was that it might have expired and we hadn't thought to check it.

At the back of my mind was a nagging worry that sometimes there's a requirement for a traveller to have six weeks or six months remaining on a passport at the point of entry.

I decided to check online and the website with the most information was the site for the British Consulate in Turkey. The exact wording was "Passports should be valid for six months at the point of entry."

I reviewed my options.

Getting a new passport before 6am tomorrow was not feasible. The word 'should' was used which seemed to me to be more of a request than a requirement. I decided we should wing it.

Best case scenario is on holiday, on time.

My expected scenario is that Hannah is denied access to the flight and we rush around on Monday sorting out the passport and booking new flights and transfers for Tuesday morning.

Worst case scenario is the unknown of Hannah being allowed onto the flight but denied entry to Turkey. I'm not exactly sure what would happen in this situation. I assume that she would be treated like an illegal immigrant, but I'm not sure. Maybe she'd be detained, maybe she'd be sent back on a return flight. I guess I might find out tomorrow.

Saturday, 11 August 2007


The place we're going for our hols has WiFi in the bar, by the pool and somewhere else. This means I could take my (work) laptop with me on holiday.

This is an attractive proposition as I like tinternet and all it has to offer. You may have noticed. ;)

I'm not sure the family would share my enthusiasm but I think I could get away with it.

There is, however, a part of me that thinks that complete removal from all things world wide web would be a real benefit of a holiday; a true holiday.

The main problem with this is that, in addition to WiFi access, there is also a PC with internet access available. I think the PC is in the basement.

I know what I'm like. If there's one thing I can't resist, it's temptation. I know I'll feel drawn to the basement. This resets the decision of the laptop.

What's worse for the family? Would they prefer that I disappeared for long periods of time off to the basement or would they rather I was with them but distracted, playing with the laptop? Decisions, decisions.

Friday, 10 August 2007

In charge of an ambulance

We wandered in to town today. We spent far longer in town than we had planned.

On our list was: a clothes shop, a book shop, supermarket.

Whilst in the book shop it became obvious that Hannah need the loo so we hastened our departure and planned to use the conveniences at Sainsbury.

As we walked towards Sainsbury Ethan noticed an ambulance pulling up outside.

As we got closer it had parked and people were getting out of it, some being directed into the shop by a security guard. The driver of the ambulance was using the remote key fob to try an lock the vehicle. She tried about five times and each time she checked by attempting to open the driver's door. Each time, the door opened.

I was getting closer and could see she clearly needed to go into the store, but couldn't because the ambulance remained unlocked. Without thinking I went up and said "Do you want me to look after it?"

She replied "Oh, yes please if you wouldn't mind."

And so I stood outside the supermarket, next to an ambulance, in charge.

The engine was running (with no keys in the ignition - weird) and the doors were unlocked. I don't really know what I thought I could or would do to protect the vehicle, but I stood there regardless.

It then occurred to me that we had been in a hurry to relieve Hannah of a need. I negotiated, Hannah waited and half an hour later the paramedics emerged with their patient.

I handed over control of the ambulance and we went on our way, but, for half an hour, I was in charge of an ambulance.

Thursday, 9 August 2007

Advice to a friend

If you are dating a woman and she wants to have a child with you, it's because she loves you. She's not looking to trap you. She doesn't just want a baby.

If you don't want a child then please be honest. Don't have unprotected sex on the basis that you can escape later. It's not fair to her, or any child.

If you don't love her and don't want to spend the rest of your life with her, then get out of the relationship and move on. There's nothing worse than the couple who stay together because neither wants to end things.

If she already has children, she is not looking at you as a ticket out of being a single mother, if she were she wouldn't want another child.

If you aren't quite ready for children but you might be in a couple of years then have the honest discussion. She may be thinking that her time is running out, and the magic age for this type of thinking is 35 because that's when fertility starts to decline rapidly. She may have decided that you are 'the one' but her biological clock won't let her wait a couple of years.

If you think your girlfriend has any of these ulterior motives then you clearly don't trust her. If you don't trust her, then you can't love her. If you don't love her, move on.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Tears of passion?

Is it OK to cry in the workplace?

Today was not a good day for me. In fact today was shitty. In fact today was one of those days when you just want to walk out of the door and never walk back in.

So when you're that fed up and frustrated, is it OK to cry?

Well I did. Not for long, and I took a walk outside the building to get my head together so I wouldn't be seen blubbing like an idiot (and saw a fox in the car park too, so not all bad).

But, as a result, I thought I'd see what the web had to say on the subject. I didn't have to look far to find something that summed up my feelings on the subject.

The following was written by a man in response to a blog on the subject of crying in the workplace:

"Organizations of all stripes spend large sums of money and a lot of energy to create and promote new strategic initiatives, new visions and missions. The vast majority of those efforts are wasted because the strategies, visions, and missions are passionless and fail to capture any kind of emotional energy. The efforts are passionless because emotion is frowned upon in workplaces; intellect reigns. So, there is a business case for tears: no tears = no passion = dry and lifeless organizations in which emotional energy is suppressed instead of encouraged and then committed to organizational initiatives."

So there!

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Speed limits

We live on a one way street (well it's 85% one way). It's a residential street with a speed limit of 30 miles per hour. There are three schools at the end of the road and cars park on the side of the road making it quite narrow. To add to the confusion our road takes you towards the nearby ambulance station.

The council, in their infinite wisdom, have considered some actions to address two issues the street experiences: cars travelling at excessive speed, cars going the wrong way down the one way bit.

The measures under consideration are: narrowing of the road briefly at the section where the one way section begins, putting up advisory 20 miles per hour limit signs. The advisory speed limit of 20 miles per hour wouldn't be enforceable.

Their ideas might be OK but I got a better idea today to handle the excessive speed issue. On my way to work I pass one of those signs that flashes the speed limit as a reminder if you're travelling too fast.

I think that flashing the speed limit as a reminder is a bit tame. As I was walking along the street tonight and some idiot drove past at about 50 miles per hour, I thought "A**ewipe".

Unfortunately that pearl was missed by the driver, which lead me to my idea.

I think an illuminated sign with a variety of messages should flash up, roadside, when someone exceeds the advisory limit.

Messages I think might be appropriate (asterisks used to protect sensibilities):
C*ck s*cker
Shrimp d*ck

You get the idea.

Now I don't actually think this would fix the problem. I know if I drove along this street with this facility I would deliberately break the limit to see what message I'd receive. This doesn't matter though. I think people will always break the limit; this message board would serve to provide me with amusement in the meantime.

Monday, 6 August 2007

Leave her alone

I'm only vaguely aware of what goes on in Celebrityland but I have seen enough to gather that Britney Spears is going through a tough time right now.

From what I've seen, she's gone through, or going through, a breakdown. This is affecting the relationships she has with her child and her mother.

The celebrity rags however still seem to have their claws out.

Why can't they just give the poor thing some space and time to get back to normal, because even her version of normal won't be like this. Her mental health won't be helped by the constant sniping at her dress sense, hairstyle or behaviour.

Leave her alone.


If I'm told to do something by a policeman then (within reason) I'll do it and won't question the instruction.

I didn't realise I had this inbuilt conformity until I roleplayed a prison situation in which I was a prisoner. Don't worry this wasn't a sexual thing, it was a stay in Oxford jail overnight to raise money for Marie Curie Cancer Research. We volunteered to behave like prisoners and the prison guards were real prison guards who had volunteered their time.

The experience was realistic to a degree. We were in real prison cells but we got to choose our cell companions. I remember Sindy, Pettsie, Daniel and Alun sharing a hideous cell. We were inducted with a strict explanation of the rules. There was to be no booze but we smuggled some in despite being searched. Prison guards were Sir or Ma'am and when there was a roll call we needed to appear outside our cells ready to recite our roll number then "Sir" or "Ma'am", whichever was appropriate.

Whenever there was a roll call I was one of the first out of the cell, regardless of the time of the call. I had no problem with doing what I was told even though I didn't know what the consequences of non-compliance were. Sindy, on the other hand was our cell rebel.

When a male prison guard demanded a roll call she would call back with her telephone number and an instruction for the guard to call her using a very coquettish tone. They weren't used to this and the punishment was that our cell was turned over.

I would use this as a learning experience, much like Pavlov's dogs. Bad behaviour equals bad consequences. I think Sindy viewed it as more of a challenge. Our cell was turned over five times that night.

All of this should help you understand my discomfort today at being forced to break a rule and contravene authority.

Remember my car park rant? Today the ticket machine was not working, the text payment service was not working and the rail ticket office would not accept payment for the car park.

The lady behind the ticket counter said "Well if you can't pay, you can't pay..."

I didn't pay. I broke a rule. I've felt bad all day as a result.

Sunday, 5 August 2007

Not in the plan

It's Sunday and the weather is as it should be in August. The sun is out and I plan to take full advantage.

I don a bikini knowing our garden isn't overlooked and the only people I'll see, and that will see me, are Dave and the children.

I prepare myself though for the arrival of guests. I know my in-laws are due to arrive at about three o'clock. The last thing I want, is for them to surprise a bikini clad me. It would just be unpleasant all round. I'd suffer embarrassment and they'd have to look at me; not a pleasant sight.

So next to the lounger I put a dress which can be popped on as soon as I hear the car pull up at the front of the house.

I have a couple of false starts when I hear a car and check to see whether it's parking at the front of our house, but in both cases I'm mistaken.

And then, when I hadn't heard a thing, I see my sister-in-law, father-in-law, mother-in-law walking in through the back gates.

I'm like a rabbit in the headlights, immobilised.

As quickly as is reasonable the dress goes on, but the damage has been done. Wobbly bits have been exposed.

Saturday, 4 August 2007


I'm not very good at gardening.

I like buying things but that's almost where my enthusiasm dies apart from a brief resurgence when things bloom.

I suffer with fluctuating enthusiasm with many projects I enter. Plants don't appreciate this variation in care.

The tomatoes at the side of the house look healthy but they have very spindly bases because there was a time when they ran out of water because I'd forgotten about them.

The bamboo we planted today has lost most of its leaves because it has taken me over a week between the plant being delivered and me summoning the enthusiasm to 'do something'.

And there are some things in the garden I simply can't explain. The wonderfully fragrant white lilac is half dying. Half of the leaves are are turning yellow and brown and the other half are healthy and green. It as though the tree is split in two.

Maybe we need a gardener.

Friday, 3 August 2007

Birthday present

It's Dave's 40th soon. Normally something like this would throw me into a spin not knowing what to buy, but not this time. This time Dave has told me what he wants, and he even gave me a picture. Does anyone know where I can buy one?

We all love the internet

Some people love the internet a bit more than others:

12% of all websites are pornographic
25% of all search engine requests are pornographic
35% of all internet downloads are pornographic in nature

Every second 28,258 internet users are viewing pornography
Every second $89.00 is spent on internet porn
Every day 266 new porn sites appear on the internet

Sex is the most searched word on the internet
U.S. Revenue from Internet Porn in 2006 was $2.84 billion
72% of internet porn users are men
70% of internet porn traffic occurs during the 9-5 work day

There are an estimated 372 million porn web pages:
3% produced by the UK
4% produced by Germany
89% produced by the U.S.

Stats from:

Thursday, 2 August 2007

The English abroad

It occurred to me on the plane that I don't speak Spanish, or actually anything but English.

Sometimes I have spoken bits of languages. I have spoken very good French, reasonable German and a smidgen of quite a few other languages. Most of this is now forgotten though and so I have resorted to being the typical arrogant Brit, when travelling abroad.

So I arrived in Madrid with an office address to poke under the noses of taxi drivers. I figured that should convey the message that I want to go there.

Well I might as well have been speaking a different language. I know I was but you know what I mean. Taxi driver after taxi driver shrugged his shoulders, read the address again and escaped me as quickly as he could, allowing me to move onto the next victim.

I think it was cabbie number 10 who agreed to transport me, basically because the taxi controller just wanted shot of me.

Well cabbie number 10 was lovely - worth the wait. He knew where he was going, he tried some friendly cab banter and he was more than tolerant of my complete lack of Spanish.

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

The essential travel companion

Although I took Jane Austen with me today, she's not essential.

I arrived at the airport in good time today and sat with Ms Austen and a coffee until close to boarding time.

It was then I looked at my white shirt and saw a huge coffee stain. My instinctive reaction was to reach for the baby wipes which remove all known stains. But, as I was travelling for work I didn't have any with me. This was a mistake as baby wipes are the essential travel companion.

Anyway this wasn't a setback as there was a Boots store behind me so I went wipes hunting. Boots didn't stock wipes. I started to panic. I looked for alternatives.

The choices I had were make-up remover type wipes and wet wipes and, after some hesitation, I opted for the latter.

Because of the location of the stain I would have felt a bit awkward using the wipe in public (Think about it; Woman of average proportions drinking coffee - where would coffee land if it fell from the cup?) so I disappeared to the loos. I applied the wipe to good effect but was then faced with a new issue; I had a large wet area on my shirt. I knew this would dry though and I was feeling quite pleased with myself at having solved the problem. I had thought about shopping for a new top but I knew I'd miss my flight if I'd taken that route.

The irony of this is that when I reached my destination and needed a visitor badge I was handed a sticker to apply to my person. After I'd stuck it I realised it was in the exact same place that the coffee had been and would have obscured the stain completely.