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Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Oh how quickly things change

I am reminded of the old Tommy Cooper joke where he asks the doctor how long he has to live.  "Put it this way", says the Doctor, "I wouldn't put on an LP". 

So it is with my working life.  Just as I am getting my feet back under the desk, finding the lay of the land and have run it up the flagpole to see who salutes, I am told that I have been "re-prioritised".  Now, in the Orwellian future, I am guessing that is either painful of life-limiting, but in the wonderful world of Starfleet it means that a group of people, some of whom one knows, and some of whom one has yet to encounter, sit on a conference call to make a "breakage call", which in layman's terms means they decide which customers they are happy to pi$$ off a bit so that the can pi$$ off another one a bit less.  And I am the pawn in that pi$$ed offness transference process, in that I am now to spend two weeks on another new account ensuring some big stuff gets done while the incumbent trooper is in sunnier climes.  The fact that the DPE commented earlier in the day that, as an observation, it did not look like me and my team were particularly busy, could be a contributing factor.  In fact others have already asked the question "does this mean they don't like you?".  The honest answer is that I don't think that that is the issue, however it is always good to retain a bit of paranoia just in case they really are talking about you.

So, tomorrow, I will be off to another office, without my tie (yay) but with a now-defunct train ticket for Thursday.  I wonder if the train operator will refund it?

I will also miss my usual breakfast of organic porridge, smoothie, seeds and falafal sandwich.  Oh well, I am sure someone in this city can sell me some food tomorrow.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Gherkins and quarters

This evening found me at the account quarterly meeting until nearly a quarter to eight, before adjourning to the Gherkin for drinks and nibbles.  I am obviously moving in different circles at the moment to experience such things, but needless to say I need not say less.

It was raining from my office to the meeting, from the meeting to the Gherkin and from the Gherkin to Bank tube station.  Whilst in France I did read about this rain thing, but there is nothing like experiencing it first hand to really understand that, once you have peeled back the glamour, it is basically just cold and wet.  If this is as much as a surprise to you as it was to me, then something or other.  Sorry, lost my train of thought there.  Where was I?  Squirrel.

I think I may go to sleep now.  Will get a few pages of the old novel in before I bid farewell to the day, and will hopefully not wake up until after 6am.

P.S.  Hello to Brad, hope you and Angelina are OK.


I had a funny old evening.  I had my room service, then fell asleep on the bed watching a thing about a boy who wants to be a model, and who also like all aspects of girl fashion, which is open-minded parents did not mind.  At 11.30pm I awoke, and thought I would put my tray outside my room.  I was a bit drowsy, it has to be said, and that is probably why as I turned to step back in to my room, I found the door had locked behind me.  I was in my socks, but at least I had my trousers on.  I then had no choice but to go and stand in line to speak to reception to get a spare key, in a foyer, if I can remind you, that is like an airport check-in area - large and very busy.

Note to any budding con merchant.  As long as you know the number of the room of your "mark", how long they are staying and the name of their company, you can get the key to their room, at the Cumberland at least.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

London, again

It is hard to believe that just five short days ago I was drinking red wine in France, beating the girls at Canasta and getting ready for another fantastic evening meal.  Right now, I am looking out the hotel window at Primark in Oxford Street.  

To be honest, this is the best room I have had for a while.  At least it faces outwards, and not inwards to the inner "courtyard" which contains the hotel's air-conditioning units, and I am talking the size of two London buses with every seat taken.  I feel blessed.

The first 2 days back at work were not so bad, but that is because the real thing has yet to kick in.  I plan to spend this second honeymoon period addressing some of that important-not-urgent stuff that gets stuck down the to-do list and never gets done, just before the full weight of chores are back on my plate.  I just need to find out what the hell they are, and I will get right to them.

In the meantime, and in case you did not see them, I thought I would reproduce the Top 10 jokes from the Edinburgh Fringe 2010.  I know you like a laugh (or else why would you be reading this) and the certainly made me smile.  Enjoy.

1. Tim Vine: I've just been on a once-in-a-lifetime holiday. I'll tell you what, never again.
2. David Gibson (as Ray Green): I'm currently dating a couple of anorexics. Two birds, one stone.
3. Emo Philips: I picked up a hitchhiker. You gotta when you hit them.
4. Jack Whitehall: I bought one of those anti-bullying wristbands when they first came out. I say 'bought' - I actually stole it off a short, fat ginger kid.
5. Gary Delaney: As a kid I was made to walk the plank. We couldn't afford a dog.
6. John Bishop: Being an England supporter is like being the over-optimistic parents of the fat kid on sports day.
7. Bo Burnham: What do you call a kid with no arms and an eye-patch? Names.
8. Gary Delaney: Dave drowned. So at the funeral we got him a wreath in the shape of a lifebelt. Well, it's what he would have wanted.
9. Robert White: For Vanessa Feltz, life is like a box of chocolates - empty.
10. Gareth Richards: Wooden spoons are great. You can either use them to prepare food, or if you can't be bothered with that, just write a number on one and walk into a pub.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Mould or mold - here's to A Bad Man

Just a quick extra note to A Bad Man who pointed out my potential spelling mistake talking of the fungus-like growth in my shower as mould, when I should have said mold.  It seems that I am in good company, with a lot of people on the web having the same problem, and some of them not even agreeing as to the correct spelling.  I would say that, on balance, using the "mold" spelling would have made me most right as a British person, although I reckon at a push I could still consider myself belligerent and sarcastic (i.e. British) had I spelt it "mould".

I would have expected nothing less from the Bad Man but correctness, and I also wish him a speedy recovering from his hand job (he has been in hospital getting it fixed).

Bless you all

Bless all of you who continued to check my blog even though I have written absolutely nothing for two weeks.  I am pretty sure I know who one of you is, but not the other*.  

I have just had the thought that I could write a really short blog, but with dozens of footnotes, so that the main blog is very short and the whole story is told in the footnotes.  Having given it some thought, I realise that is a dumb idea**.

I did have a fantastic two weeks in France.  We ate croissants and French bread, which is the law, and drank red and white wine, ditto, and swam in the swimming pool at least three times each day*****, which while not law, is pretty damn sensible.  We have a suplus of inflatables, the best of which was a lilo for two with drinks holder one side and space for an ice bucket the other side, something like this.  Inflatables have become a bit of a holiday tradition, with the double bed joined by a single chair, a crocodile, a stingray, two rings and a dingy, plus a plane with the rings ripped off (long story******).  The latter is used only for the bucking bronco game, where you have to jump on it, legs astride the fuselage, and stay on for more than 10 seconds, which depending on how blown up it is can range from fairly easy to impossible.

Other than that, we visited markets, went to the beach, boogie-boarded whenever possible, and generally did not much very slowly.  

To say that coming back is a bit of a shock is like saying that Portsmouth FC are pretty bad at the moment.  I just hope that my work colleagues will take it easy on me, which is unlikely since my departure for two weeks is the reason they are in the mess they are in right now, having to pick up all my work etc.

So, onwards and upwards, as they say, and here's to the rest of the summer, and all that life will bring to our happy family.  

Love to you all (even Golfy) and hope to catch up soon.

* That last comment would have been funnier if it had not been true**.
** Well thank goodness for that, I was about to ask for my money back, and as the old saying goes, please don't ask for a refund as a refusal (or punch on the nose, depending on the establishment) often offends.  No offence meant***.
*** I am now nesting my footnotes, which any editor worth their salt knows is not a good thing.  However, in this case, I feel it warrants the comment that, as a rule, anyone who starts a sentence with "not being funny or anything", or "no offence meant but..." or "with the greatest respect" needs to be shot first, and have questions asked afterwards****.  And also as a rule mean anything but what they actually say.  i.e. "No offence meant, but you are a right tw@t" - that kind of thing.
**** Just on a point of order, you can begin to see why the cowboys became extinct if that was their policy.
***** The ladies did tend to attend the afternoon session only.
****** Not that long, they just got bust the holiday before last.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

insert title here

A cheap trick, but I really REALLY could not think of a title for this blog.  So, what I do is write a load of rubbish, and see where it takes me.

At the end of the second sentence, I still have no idea.  I can tell you that I have just rung room service who will be "thirty to forty minutes" but in practice could well be here in under twenty minutes.  I am hungry, so that is a welcome thought.

So, what was my day like today?  Well, it was busy, full of loose-end tying, and full of unexpected new stuff to consider.  I have a real focus to get stuff done before I disappear in to the sunset tomorrow evening.  And yet.  People keep getting in the way.  People keep tapping me on the shoulder, asking some dumb-@$$ question or other.  As Golfy would say, WTF*.

Room service has just arrived, in under twenty minutes.  I am GOOD.  And the food isn't bad either.  Not great, but good.  With not much choice, I have picked the best of a bad lot.  The check-in guy said I may get a questionnaire, and if I do, then I shall be offering them some words on the menu.  Sorry for the delay, was just eating my pizza, one of only four veggie things on the menu.  As Golfy would say, why the four.  Probably.

I am going to have a quick shower, then probably will retire to my boudoir and read my new book, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.  It turns out I did not know much about this book.  I knew it had been made in to a film, but I did not know that the author had delivered this as one of three manuscripts to his editor, before he promptly dropped dead.  And they had not even been published.  I also did not know, or if I did then I had forgotten, that he was Swedish.  Now, I love a bit of Wallander.  I love the dark, brooding nature of things, and I think, forty pages in, that TGWTDT will be the same.  I think I may have even watched the odd Bergman in my youth.  A colleague at work was also telling me how he liked Swedish films, but that is a different story altogether.

That's all for now folks.  Time to retire with my book.  Have a good evening, and do what ever it is that brings you pleasure.  But not that.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

So, what was it I wanted to say?

Having read yesterday's blog, I noticed a sentence starting with "so", and was reminded of one of my previous blogs where I committed to try, if not succeed, in avoiding the use of the word "so", particularly at the start of a sentence.

So, I have done some data analysis of my last 94 posts, and have found the following (and remember that 83.4% of statistics are made up on the spot):
  • I started a sentence with the word "so" 26 times, including once when I actually started a sentence with two so's
  • Of the blogs that contained a sentence that started with "so", the word count was 24% higher than average
  • there were twice as many mentions of the words Golfy and 'vannin' in blogs that contained the word "so"
  • every blog that did not include the word "so" was rubbish.

So, what conclusions can we draw from these findings?  What insight can we glean from the data presented to us?  What new thinking can I bring to my writing as a result of this information?

Well, obviously, keep using the word "so".  Write it as many times as possible in as many sentences as possible, and maybe even write it twice if I can get away with it (that idea is so so.  Ed.  ha ha).

So, I am now needing one other idea to finish this blog with a bit of pzazz.  As you may be able to tell, I am in my hotel room watching top gear, having just had my room-service dinner (haddock fish cakes and some funny lemon sauce, followed by penne pasta with green and red stuff), quite content knowing I am two paces from the toilet and no paces from a very comfortable bed.  

I suppose I can tell you more about my hotel room.  I booked via the Starfleet inter-galactic booking tool and this was the only one available.  A quick glance at the address showed it to be on Tottenham Court Road, so it passed my "hotel test" for being 1 tube ride away and a short walk the other end.  It is a Radisson, by the way, and very nice it is too.  I can collect some A-Club points in the process.  Unfortunately, checking the map just a little bit more closely reveals it is actually at the far end of TCR, a tube change and 2 more stops, or a walk.  I chose the latter, and with nothing specific to get home for, had a pretty good walk for twenty minutes.  

Check-in was quick, aided by a cheerful employee.  Room service selection was the usual small choice, big price.  However I ate well and fairly healthily for under my dinner allowance, so it passes the room-service test with a creditable 6/10.  There are not so many TV channels as my usual, so 4/10 for that.  The room is well furnished, so 8/10.  The bathroom has a bath, and no mould, and free bath hats, which the family find very useful, so 9/10 for the bathroom.  Coat-hangers are the "cannot be stolen" variety, which is good for hanger attrition, but not so good for my Gloria Hunniford trick for running a hot bath and steaming my shirts on hangers in the bathroom, to save having to iron them.  So 3/10 for hangers.  Also, no biscuits, so 1/10 for that.  Overall score is... sorry, am I boring you? 

Anyhow, gonna sign off now.  Have a good evening, and speak again tomorrow.

P.S.  I wanted to tell you a hotel-related joke, but found these instead.  Nothing to do with hotels, but quite funny, if a little old.

Q: Are you sexually active?
A: No, I just lie there.

Q: What is your date of birth?
A: July fifteenth.
Q: What year?
A: Every year.

Q: What gear were you in at the moment of the impact?
A: Gucci sweats and Reeboks.

Q: This myasthenia gravis, does it affect your memory at all?
A: Yes.
Q: And in what ways does it affect your memory?
A: I forget.
Q: You forget. Can you give us an example of something that you've forgotten?

Q: How old is your son, the one living with you?
A: Thirty-eight or thirty-five, I can't remember which.
Q: How long has he lived with you?
A: Forty-five years.

Q: What was the first thing your husband said to you when he woke up that morning?
A: He said, "Where am I, Cathy?"
Q: And why did that upset you?
A: My name is Susan.

Q: Do you know if your daughter has ever been involved in voodoo or the occult?
A: We both do.
Q: Voodoo?
A: We do.
Q: You do?
A: Yes, voodoo.

Q: Now doctor, isn't it true that when a person dies in his sleep, he doesn't know about it until the next morning?

Q: The youngest son, the twenty-year old, how old is he?

Q: Were you present when your picture was taken?

Q: So the date of conception (of the baby) was August 8th?
A: Yes.
Q: And what were you doing at that time?

Q: She had three children, right?
A: Yes.
Q: How many were boys?
A: None.
Q: Were there any girls?

Q: How was your first marriage terminated?
A: By death.
Q: And by whose death was it terminated?

Q: Can you describe the individual?
A: He was about medium height and had a beard.
Q: Was this a male, or a female?

Q: Is your appearance here this morning pursuant to a deposition notice which I sent to your attorney?
A: No, this is how I dress when I go to work.

Q: Doctor, how many autopsies have you performed on dead people?
A: All my autopsies are performed on dead people.

Q: All your responses must be oral, OK? What school did you go to?
A: Oral.

Q: Do you recall the time that you examined the body?
A: The autopsy started around 8:30 p.m.
Q: And Mr.. Dennington was dead at the time?
A: No, he was sitting on the table wondering why I was doing an autopsy.

Q: Are you qualified to give a urine sample?

Q: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?
A: No.
Q: Did you check for blood pressure?
A: No.
Q: Did you check for breathing?
A: No.
Q: So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?
A: No.
Q: How can you be so sure, Doctor?
A: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.
Q: But could the patient have still been alive, nevertheless?
A: Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and practising law somewhere

Elementary, my dear Watson

So I read with interest Golfy's review of Inception and will get it on my growing list of films to see.

I also saw his review of the new, Modern Sherlock Holmes.  I seem to be in a minority of one about the show, although that is between, me, LO and Golfy, so still a healthy 33% of the vote.  I didn't like it.  All the fast camera stuff and intensely clever things Holmes noticed left me cold, and I also was unsure about the modern setting.  The only thing I did like was how it was set in modern times, yet at the same time with the chinese circus, it did have a sense of the old at the same time.  Perhaps I need another episode to persuade me.

I am about to take the train to London for my usual Tuesday to Thursday stint, and am looking forward to my porridge tomorrow for breakfast, and also to finishing Thursday evening, getting the train home and packing for our 6.30am departure Friday morning.

Have a good day/week, and speak again later.