Friday, December 08, 2006

Christmas

I'm quite excited about Christmas this year. I think it might be a non-stop party. (Even more than my life during the rest of the year, of course). I already have a huge organic pudding sitting in my cupboard and a tiny live Christmas tree sitting in my mum's garden ( at some point I have to get her to drive it over- that bucket will never fit in my bike basket). Prepared or what? All I need to do is get some booze in, and Bob's your uncle. My friend at college is going to Madagascar for Christmas, though, and I must confess I'm slightly jealous. Mean-spirited of me, I know, since I myself am going to Pembrokeshire for four days. She's been telling me all about eating mangoes on the beach on Christmas day with her Madagascan boyfriend. Lovely. But I have a real good feeling about Christmas in London this year. I have already received a card, from a really scary stalker woman I have been trying to avoid since 2001. How does she have my new address? It had some pink high heels on the front and said 'Rock around the Christmas tree!' on the front (pretty unlikely, given the size of my tree). At least it didn't have a photo of my taken through my bedroom window tucked inside. For a moment I was frightened it would. Yes, this Christmas is going to be mental. All the signs are right. And the weather has been so correspondingly mental all this year that it pretty much has to snow. If you think I've brought the subject of Christmas up too early you obviously don't listen to Magic (all my blogs are about Magic recently). They started playing a Christmas song every seventh track on December 1st and are gradually upping the ratio. As if Magic wasn't shit enough already!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The sound of silence

Of course it's Remembrance Sunday and so everyone observed a minute's silence at 11 oclock. I was in the shower listening to Magic. Magic, like every other radio station, also observed the minute's silence. But like every other radio station, they don't actually transmit silence- they transmit the sound of all those people in Whitehall being silent. They are completely unable to give us silence unless there's traffic noises in the distance to remind us that we are listening to the silence made by the Queen, Tony Blair, a whole load of veterans and that guy who was the only living person ever to get the VC, and wrote a book about it. That's a special silence, guys. Remember, that's completely different to the silence you might get if you, say, switch the radio off.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Reading Week

It's crazy- I don't seem to have done any work so far anyway and suddenly I have a week off... Why has no one ever told me how marvellous it is to spend your time in a place where reading is regarded as work? (They certainly didn't think so at Newham library, the evil fuckers... they looked on reading, or even having ever read anything at all, as a sign of rebellion and anarchistic tendencies... but I digress) Although I have of course had weeks off before in my life, I have rarely since leaving school been given the chance to spend a week in my bedroom, maybe hobble down to Primark every couple of days, have a flick through some Shakespeare, play on my computer... I love it. Of course, the reason you never hear about what a wonderful time University is to do serious reading, get away from the torture of 9 to 5, enjoy a wee bit of intellectual stuimulation... is because only 18-year-olds go to university (by-and-large) and they're too busy setting off fire alarms in their halls and going to the union bar to enjoy themselves... Shut up, grandma...

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Counting your drinks

I've finally admitted that I have an addiction. All this time I've been firmly refusing to count my drinks because I don't want to face up to the truth. Now I've broken my toe at our party on saturday night I must confess the truth- I'm hooked. I can't live without it. I need it every day. Yes, my name is Frances and I'm a control freak. Maybe it runs in the family, or maybe it's just a sign of the times. But I can't even walk and I'm absolutely screwing because I can't play a more active role in the cleaning-up. The guys are doing ok, but they're doing some stuff wrong. Isn't it funny that I have cultivated a (rather successful) image of not giving a shit about anything for the last 8 years and now I am able to lie in bed all day I get up anyway and drag my arse into college? Well, at least I fight against it. And that's why I give such good parties. We filled four crates with bottles- we're estimating a thousand units of alcohol ( at least 250 of those are vodka) were drunk. I wanna have a party every month! Is everyone else having as many dificulties getting the blood off as I am?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

And hey, I just broke the golden rule of anonymity on the blog. Fuck it, I was only worried I'd get the sack anyway...

oh well, what the hell

I got one anyway. www.myspace.com/francesgrahl Despite my sister's very good point...

Preaching to the converted

Yesterday I attended a meeting hosted by John McDonnell in Hackney Empire. There were only a hundred people there; people were giving out flyers in the street during the day but who the hell takes a flyer from some fucking socialist power dude in a stupid hat (or whoever) and thinks oh, they're saving the Labour party, I'll pop along to that one after tea? Me, I guess. But I was definitely the only person in the room who wasn't either one of John McD's minions, a member of some factional leftwing group trying desperately to get their aims onto JMcD's agenda (What are you going to do about seizing the banks for the People, John?) or some sad NHS unionist obviously clutching at any straw that might drag the NHS back from the brink of a carpetbagger-and-golddigger feeding frenzy. It's a lovely thought that Gordon Brown might not be our only option (don't even go there, Reid). But the meeting ended with the audience being urged to rejoin the Labour Party. There is apparently no time limit for members to be allowed to vote for Party Leader. Join for a week! Now that's food for thought...

Friday, October 13, 2006

To dumb down or not to dumb down?

Duh! It was Ethan Hawke and Julia Stiles. In Manhattan. And a nice clip from the beginning of The Conversation, with Gene Hackman. Now I understand The Bard fully...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Gotcha!

I remembered how much I like Hamlet (especially compared to Romeo and bloody Juliet). Probably that's mostly because of the way Mr Mcleod (oh my god, the first person I've ever mentioned on this blog without using a pseudonym) taught it though. I don't know how my lecturers will tackle the same material; unfortunately Baz Luhrman has yet to make a trendy new version of Hamlet that will appeal to the Youth on my course. Maybe there's a cartoon somewhere?
Mr Mcleod: I shan't read all the parts today. Let some of you do some work. Who wants to read? Right, you can be the second courtier. And now we need someone as the first courtier. Yes, you. Who else is in this scene? I'll read Claudius, of course. Hmm, and Polonius. I had better be Laertes and Ophelia as well. Hmm, I think I can manage Queen Gertrude. Who would read Hamlet best? Right, that's settled.

On one memorable occasion he actually took his jacket off and stood up and came out from behind his desk to act a particularly important part. That was the first and last time I ever saw Mr Mcleod's legs. The speech was of course 'To be or not to be'. Today and yesterday it was Student Discount Night at Topshop. Twenty percent off everything. I bought some good stuff but am kind of tempted to go back and get some more... The place has got to be what Dante's Inferno would be like if he was writing today. New Flatmate has a George Foreman Lean Mean Grilling Machine. It's amazing. Best steak I've ever had outside of a restaurant. And vegetables. And toasted sandwiches. I've thrown my sandwich toaster in the bin. I've seen the grilling light. See below for my dream coffee-maker...

Saturday, October 07, 2006

return of the blog

I've been busy. Now I have the amazing luxury of wireless broadband in my room I can't imagine why I'd ever go to work again... is there any other reason to go to the office apart from to use the high-speed internet connection? And now there's noone looking over my shoulder! Tower Hamlets council are bastards! Take that! Go and see The Devil Wears Prada, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I looked in every shoe-shop in the world for flat black boots that aren't pointy, slouchy or overly butch. They don't exist. The fashion empire has dictated that modern woman must fall into three categories; pointy, slouchy or butch- and there is no grey area. Even though grey is the colour for areas this A/W season. I'm enjoying college so far, except that I really do have wrinkles compared to all my fellow students. I'm going to spend some student loan today on age-defying cream. And I don't know why, but beer is cheaper in the wetherspoons down the road than it is in the union bar. Pathetic. And I embarassed myself in a French class by failing to spot the difference in the vowel sounds in été and était. For an hour. Mostly I got them the wrong way round entirely. Of course the eighteen-year-olds were waiting to see what the rest of the class had got before daring to put their hands up whereas I, with four years of bravery on them, just put up my hand for the answer I thought was right. But I've learnt my lesson now. And by the way, there is no difference. The only vowel sound you need in order to sound French is the 'schwa' sound. Which sounds like Euh...

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

I'm back

in th UK. Unfortunately. If you read this and you know me ( and are not a member of my family, ok that's nobody then) please let me know your postal address. Cheers Problemshelved xxx

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Spaced out...

I'm thinking of getting a myspace. Apparently one fifth of internet traffic is now on myspace (I don't have any proof for that statistic, someone told me it in the pub last night). It's beginning to seem like a tempting proposition, like getting your own bedroom after sharing all your life. 'My own space to express myself'... can't do it today as my work blocks myspace. Everyone I know now has one, it's a crazy phenomenon. It's amazing how many bad people there are in the world. I always forget because all my friends are so nice. People need to start taking responsibility for being nice, it's so important and undervalued. I hear people saying horrible things all the time on the train, in the pub. Things about gay people, immigrants, 'pikeys', 'chavs'. It's not just a matter of thinking out your opinions before you open your mouth, or not believing what the Mail tells you, or not going along with what your neighbours say. Millions of people have made a conscious decision not to be nice, because they feel they can't afford to or don't need to or won't be until everyone else is. It sounds wishy-washy, but what single thing would improve our world more than everybody deciding to be nice?

This is the moment I've been waiting for!

Finally my last day! I celebrated early last night soI feel absolutely shattered...

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Anything but work

As I slide through my penultimate day at this job I find my productivity is down to an all-time low. Unfortunately I'm bored of the internet already. All of it that's not blocked (and the proxy server I was using has mysteriously stopped working) is dull. There's a large pile of work I could be doing but my colleague and fellow temp has been shirking for so long that I want her to have a big heap waiting when I leave. It's incredible that I basically do next to nothing all day, yet I predict that when I leave tomorrow she will find her work-load tripled. Considering spending all of tomorrow writing her little post-it notes explaining how to do my job ('To photocopy onto headed notepaper, rotate paper 180 degrees before insertion into tray') and leaving them lying around where she'll find them. But she's recently acquired a dangerous looking paper-knife (definitely not standard niceday issue, must have been brought in from home) and I'm not gonna mess with that...

Phew!

Metro is releasing a free evening paper. Thank God for that. It's just what we needed- now London will actually look forward to going home from work! Is there actually enough Metro-style news to fill another paper? I mean, Metro traditionally fills its pages by copying and pasting from the Evening Standard from the day before. Now they could just recycle the same news forever. Maybe with different made-up celebrity gossip. Or what about a Metro that consists entirely of readers' letters? London Fascists, unite!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Moving house

Even though Flatmate has not yet lifted a finger to pack or clean anything ( I predict the packing will start the night before we have to get out- the cleaning will be left entirely to Lovebird and me) the move is going well so far. Phyllis came round with her car yesterday and took all my boxes to my mum's house. I hope it's not a bad idea to leave house plants at my mum's. There are about fifty plants in that house, and every single one appears to be dead. Killed by the smell, I expect. I really don't want to clean the oven. I cleaned it a couple of weeks ago and then asked the boys to only use it if they were going to put their food in a pan or oven tray. Doesn't sound like much to ask, does it? I caught Flatmate cooking four chicken thighs the other day in an oven tray he had made by turning up the sides of a piece of silver foil. Dirty bastard. The fat was running freely into the fire (or electric element). The last two times I moved it was me who had to clean the oven. And, come to think of it, the last two times Lovebird moved. Hmmm. Phyllis is moving some more stuff for us on Thursday night. She's also bringing round an axe so we can destroy the sofa on our roof. I want that job, let someone else do the oven! I've said this before on this blog, but that girl is an angel. I have a lot of stuff. Specially considering I threw out all my ornaments, all my junk and a lot of crappy old paper (chucking the P60s turned out to be a BAD idea). It's only clothes, books, cds and pictures. That's all I own, but there's a lot of them. Despite recent purges I still own upwards of thirty party dresses. The van's coming on Friday!!! Then the landlord... (at 4pm, but we've told Flatmate 2pm...)

Just trying to fill up space now

What have I done?

Somehow I published a blog that has messed up the shape of my whole blog! I blame the council, they ruin my life even without doing anything! I don't know what to do to remedy the situation- except keep blogging desperately until that nasty blog is banished to my history. I've already spent some time looking anxiously at the blog template without understanding any of the bloody html gibberish. But nothing. So what else can I talk about? Suggestions on a postcard to our usual address...

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

What I do all day continued

I haven' t done anything since lunchtime today. Instead I turned my stapler into a shark by sticking on teeth and eyes cut from post-it notes. It's wicked. Stapling has never been so fun. If only I had something to staple... Five more days of this job...

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Flatmates and checkmates

Had a tense meeting to decide on the fourth person in our new house yesterday. New Flatmate suggested;

"I know, let’s make the boys fight like gladiators in costume they’ve knitted themselves like Mexican wrestlers!"

Lovebird was after more of a debating club system; each of us have five minutes to state our case. I wanted them to be set three tasks like princes in a fairy tale. We drank our beer miserably. Clearly a democratic vote was out; Lovebird and New Flatmate each had their man, and no one wants me to have sole responsibility for any kind of important decision, least of all me.

Finally we settled on tossing a coin. Long interlude while they discussed the relative merits of sudden death and best out of three. I decided not to move in at all; instead to cut my hair (ok, unnecessary) dress up as a boy and run away to sea to seek my fortune. Was dragged back to earth (from swordfighting with Johnny Depp) by Lovebird handing me a sweaty two-pence piece. The tension mounted. I flicked it once- heads. Michel. Twice... we held our breath. Heads again.

N.F hurried off to telephone the glad news to Michel. 'Can you definitely commit to paying rent every month?' she asked... and then it turned out he couldn't, due to cold feet. Honestly! 'Give it to the other guy,' he mumbled. 'I might need to stay with my parents for a bit and save some cash...'

I guess the best man probably won at the end of the day.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Plus ca change

Went out for a drink yesterday with New Flatmate and Lovebird plus a firend of Lovebird's -call him Jean Paul- who wants to move into the spare room in our Hackney mansion (can't believe we're escaping West Essex suburban hell in only four weeks!). Atmosphere seemed tense- partly because New Flatmate's oldest friend -can we call him Michel- has just announced he wants to move into the room. And they won't both fit, unfortunately. Lovebird put everybody at ease with his customary charm and goood manners. Actually he didn't. But he did tell New Flatmate I had had sex with Michel, which, if my memory serves me rightly, I had not. Apart from that he was on his best behaviour... Jean Paul is a very pretty art student who has to leave his Shoreditch flat in the next few weeks. He's very softly spoken, erudite and sincere. He's 26 and an old friend of Lovebird's from his modelling days. Now they go to a lot of gigs together. Michel is 23 and has just graduated. He has a mop of red hair and could not be fairly described as softly-spoken. He's been friends with New Flatmate all their lives, and their mothers are best friends too. I don't know him so well but he's very good fun, even if you get the feeling he might not always wash up. I found myself doing what I like to do when everyone is acting like the Treaty of Versailles has got to be decided around that table tonight (and the topic of conversation is not me) -staring into space, drinking my beer, humming to myself, looking at the pictures. Not necessarily a constructive way to behave, but hell, I don't mind if you don't. Just booked flights to Carcassonne for our two weeks holiday. Lovebird is distinctly underwhelmed about that- hasn't even asked for the time off yet. All he can think about is our housewarming, which had better be the party to end all parties. I can't wait to go back to Andorra and get cheap booze in for it, or to wander round Barcelona. I hope there'll be time to go to Madrid but somehow I doubt it... I haven't had two weeks off in two years. Lovebird hasn't since the day I met him. It amazes me how people can get by without a holiday. Here at the council people take annual leave when they're sick to keep their sick records clean. Now that's what I call sick...

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

My boss

has a very hands-off approach to training. 'Have you ever photocopied from plain onto headed notepaper before? No? I'll show... no, don't worry, I'll do it myself later.' Thanks a lot. Back to the internet again.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

That'll be the day

Struck recently by the sadness of growing up and the leaving behind that comes with it. Rather a bizarre time to be so affected by this as I'm now sorting my life out (again) and doing all the things people tell me I should have done four years ago. (Thank God I can still do them, but THANK GOD I didn't do them then... Yesterday I went to the pub with a bunch of people from my sixth form. It's a most peculiar feeling to be with people you spent two years being sick with, pulling, bitching about, etc. now that the normal rules of adult behaviour suddenly apply again. You're thinking 'why have I got nothing to say?' but it's actually because it's no longer appropriate to mention that so-and-so has gained weight, noone has any hot gossip on anyone else and you're just not used to discussing art and music with these people. The only one with whom seemed most normal was my friend Hank. Although this is probably just because noone could help loving Hank. People he passes on the tube probably fling themselves to the ground and adore him as he walks by. He's been in the States for the past two years but he's moving home in September, probably... great news for London. Actually my former next-door-neighbour Celia was just as great as she always has been as well. Although I've never wanted to worship her with my body. She's a touch more ascerbic than Hank. Also visited my family home, thinking about parties that had been and gone. My little sister reminds me of long summer days where you're either guiltlessly doing absolutely nothing at all or partying your brains into mush. Things were so black and white in those days. Moods, friendships, everything was extreme. A girl I used to party with, Sylvie, came round and had a glass of white wine and some olives in the bright sunshine of the familial garden. I never see her these days and it felt almost like a wake for the people we used to be. She blames (partly) older men and I guess it's true that her boyfriend and mine are nearer thirty than twenty and not getting any wilder either... Today we have an interview with our prospective landlord, our new flatmate's mother. I didn't have a shower this morning and have been cycling around in dirty cotton shorts and a very skimpy turquoise bikini I got free from a magazine. I know Lovebird has ironed a shirt but... when I think about clothes touching me I feel sick. Almost definitely a part of growing up I haven't succumbed to- wearing sensible clothes. Although hardly any of my clothes have holes in anymore and when I dribble toothpaste down my t-shirt I now change it before going to work. I'm probably in a stronger position, Peter Pan-wise, than most people my age. Having spent the last three years working I know how great it is already to be able to stay out as late as you like and spend your money how you like. And somewhere along the way I somehow did grow up. And so now with my new, mature outlook, I'm setting out to enjoy student fun for the next three years. Whoopee!!!! The author has just received a university acceptance letter and is considering getting a credit card.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Sizzlin

My top ten things to do in London in the summer
  1. Go to the seaside. Proper seaside like Margate or Shoeburyness. There's a great cockle place in Leigh on Sea.
  2. Walk down to the Thames path on your lunch break, pull up your trouser legs, sit on the cool edge of the quay and dangle your legs in the breeze. Preferably drinking gin and tonics from tins.
  3. Spend the hottest part of the day in the BM. There's nothing cooler than a load of bits of rock stolen from hot countries.
  4. Drink beer on the Tatteshall Castle, a floating pub by Embankment Station.
  5. Go to Barnes and look at birds in genuine wetland environment at the Nature Reserve. Actually I've never done this, but I find the mere word 'wetland' most cooling.
  6. Have a picnic and play cricket at Greenwich. Drink beer, eat food, toss a frisbee around and sing along to your transistor radio. With all the people you love
  7. Go swimming at the Oasis Leisure Centre, on the corner of High Holborn and Endell Street. As mentioned in previous blog, it has a fantastic open-air pool, it's luscious. And since I mentioned this before as well, there's no better place to revive after too much sun than Freuds, a refreshingly dim underground cocktail bar where the mint never wilts.
  8. As befits the greatest city in the world, there are loads of great free live music events every summer. These are apallingly badly publicised. Go to the ones you don't think you'll enjoy. I guarantee you'll be surprised.
  9. Walk in Epping Forest. Then go to the Robin Hood.
  10. Cycle to work. It's actually incredibly breezy and a dream come true afte the revolitingness of the Jubilee Line/Sweatbox.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Hurrah!!!

I asked my boss if I could go home at 3 and she said yes!!! YES!!!

Share the love

I might set up a website like friends reunited, but to reunite people with people they never actually were friends with, but wished they had been. People you speak to when the tube is stuck in a tunnel, or at the bar. Friends of friends or friends of enemies. If you're Australian, TNT magazine has a service a bit like that on the back page where people leave messages like 'if you're the gorgeous blonde from walkabouts last week, call shane for a good time' (excuse stereotypes). I thought of this as a method of getting to know the Hot Australian Guy who sits opposite me, but It's just too open for my British sensibilities. No wonder the French think we only marry our cousins. Our cousins are the only people we can speak to without fear of rebuff. Had such a nice summery week. On Monday Lovebird and I strolled along the river Roding hand in hand out to Essex. Until we had to go onto Chigwell High Street to get the bus home from Chigwell, it was perfectly idyllic. Like a Constable painting, and nice and cool by the water. On Tuesday I went wit the gorgeous L to a fantastic open-air pool in the middle of Covent Garden. Who knew Camden Council runs this place at the Shaftesbury Avenue end of Endell Street and it's amazing. You can dive, there's space to sunbathe and it's only £3.50! From there it's no distance to Freuds, where we refreshed ourselves in the cool underground with delicious mojitos. On Wednesday I went for another walk with Lovebird, this time to Hackney to check out where we might move to. The sun was blazing on the pavements and felt amazing. Even more amazing was the couple of swifts halves in cool Hackney pubs, followed by a chicken shish kebab from the best kebab shop ever, by London Fields on Mare Street. I'm afraid we had pizza hut when we got in, as well. On Thursday (this is like the Very Hungry Caterpillar, but with booze) I went out with Shell to a great open-air gig at Canry Wharf. They're every night all summerlong. So lovely on the grass with rose and strawberries and cream. And the best takeaway sushi ever, from Itsu. I'm going out again tonight. Fuck the rent.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

My Job

is getting more and more boring every day. I kind of like how calm it is, but still... I guess as long as a job is still B.T.W. I'll stay there. You see what an effect it has had on me? Due to its somnolent languor, I no longer have anything to say! I'm just blogging so that I'm not working! Cool thunderstorm today, and thank goodness it's now hot and sunny again, as if nothing had happened. The sky went dark as night, and the lightning was real zig-zag shaped lightning, like in children's pictures. That's a really good thing about my job, I sit by the window overlooking the Dock, the DLR station and behind it the Thames. It's a marvellous view, especially for summer thunder-storms. Somethimes I surreptitiously stare out for hours 'watching the ships roll in'. Behind them, poeple with cranes are doing something to the Millenium Dome. Don't really care what very much, though. When I feel a bit tired of looking at the internet/ pretending to be diligent, I find some photocopying and wander down to the photocopying room. It's always a couple of degrees warmer ther than here in the aggressive air-con, and there's usually a few other 'administrators' as we are euphemistically titled, taking the air there and complaining about this job. I never complain... remember Newham library service? (see blog entries March 13 - May 13 2006)

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Making a statement

Completely by accident, I just found out that the closing date for late UCAS applications is tomorrow. Luckily, mine is all complete (including wry reference form my best teacher ever) apart from the personal statement, which is about ten pages long and still growing. As I have to prune, pare and finish it off tomorrrow, I would welcome any suggestions for good things to say about myself... I liked 'great artisitc and literary talent' from afore-mentioned teacher... a step up from 'wayward indifference'...

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

I’m convinced we make our own bad weather in this country. Every May or June, it seems, we get a week or so of dazzling perfect weather, hot as you like, blue skies, the works. Now some higher being is evidently laying this on, and wants nothing in return but for us to be happy. And for a couple of days it works, everyone wears white sundresses and drinks Pimms. But very soon, people start worrying and sweating. They get sunburnt and are kept up at night by their mosquito bites. And the next thing is, they all start saying stuff like 'I like the heat, but this is too hot' and 'it's not just hot, it's humid'. Suddenly everyone thinks they're being oppressed by the fair weather, no one can sleep, people leave sweaty hand-prints on the lift wall-panels. And the next thing, all that complaining and worrying and feverishly applying sun-lotion and whinging and fanning ourselves has built up such an oppressive atmosphere that there's inevitably a thunder-storm. For the rest of the summer we all have to be content with crappy breezy, cool, sunny intervals bollocks. It's our own fault British summertime is so crap.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Loneliness of the Long- Distance Blogger

I used some of flatmate's coffee while he was away last week, about half a packet, which I replaced with a full unopened packet. Then this morning I found I'd run out of coffee again, but when I tried to borrow some of his, I found he had carefully hidden them behind all the other food in his manky cupboard. Do you know, I wouldn't feel much of a twang if Lovebird and I were to suddenly move out... He (Flatmate) wants to read Thus Spake Zarathustra but is worried he won't understand it on his own. So every time I'm relaxing with John Le Carre he pops up and tells me how much it would cost if we all chipped in to buy a copy to read together. Four quid each, apparently. (With Flatmate, everything comes down to buying something in the end, whether it's reading Nietzche or camping out in the woods to gain spiritual enlightenment. Which he was meant to do all week, but he kept hearing animals outside his tent and so after one night he gave up and went to Preston.) How many times do I have to tell him I don't feel like reading Zarathustra? I feel like reading The Honourable Schoolboy and if he wants to join me in discussing it he'd be very welcome. I was slightly peturbed to realise this weekend, at my grandparents Diamond wedding celebration on the Isle of Wight, that I am in fact the most normal and well-adjusted person on at least my mother's side of the family. Which brings me on to mental health. My buddy Cat is coming to stay with us today, after a spell up North with her mum while she convalesces after some bad depression. (To my mind, the phrases 'up North' and 'with one's mum' don't describe an atmosphere conducive to good metal health, but there you go. ) But I'm slightly worried. During her illness she became exceedingly needy and instead of being friends like we had been, she mostly voiced her insecurities and moaned about her problems while I gave her a running commentary on my tips for a healthy mind and life-style. (Don't worry guys, I'll tell you them when I get a moment). But now the balance of our friendship has changed and I really don't like it; I feel like her mother. It's partly caused by this attitude to depression that it's inevitably chronic; Cat feels like it will always be lurking under the surface, even when she feels fine. Consequently she assumes that our new 'protector and invalid' relationship seems ok to her. Weird.

Friday, June 16, 2006

People really live there?

My favourite address in Tower Hamlets is (really) 1- 6 St Peter's Organ Works, St Paul's Way. Cheap but very funny.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

24-7 Flix

Well I'd just spent much of my hour in this vile internet cafe composing a really interesting blog full of philosophy and insight. But the computer crashed. Probably an overload caused by the many teenage boys filling the vile pink interior bashing away at computer games for as long as their fat suburban pocket money will last out. So I can't be bothered to say it all again now. Sorry. I'm having a party tomorrow night at mine. You're very welcome. Bring a bottle.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Why Why Why?

The guy who does the disco at the the Pub Quiz was asking for someone to host it next week at the very same moment as I handed our answers in. It was fate... Now I have one week to come up with twenty questions suitable for the clientele of the Fox and Hounds. I know Nothing They Don't Know. Apart from stuff they don't want to know. And I have to read them out as well; I've clearly let myself in for a lot of ridicule... What am I going to do? E-mail me your quiz question suggestions. The best one will get a mystery prize...

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Odds and ends

In my humble opinion, Arsenal should have won last night. As Thierry Henry (my hero/dreamboat) said, the ref was wearing a barca shirt. Actually, I know many interesting things about football, but no one ever asks me. Because love-bird knows everything there is to know about football (what was the score in the 1972 qualifier match against Hungary, darling?) and probably also because I'm a girl. Send your football questions to the usual address. I shouldn't have gone near the tequila yesterday evening. Tequila is for Bank holidays only: I don't know why I can never remember it at the time. Definitely not for the night before you start a new job. Now I'm doing that thing where you tell yourself the more water you imbibe the better you're gonna feel, and clutch huge bottles of evian while trying ineffectually to remember how to drink. It all seemed so easy last night... ...to be continued...

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

All those people who wear suits to work

don't actually need to in order to do their jobs. I know. I wore a suit to work both yesterday and today. Yesterday I worked in an office (the library's history, if you didn't know that already then you missed a great weekend of celebration, chiefly in the George) in my suit... Everyone in the room was wearing a suit apart from one man who appeared to be doing exactly the same job as everybody else. But he was wearing jeans, a baseball cap and an apallingly dirty pink t-shirt. Answered the phone just as professionally. Even attended a meeting (I made the coffee, wearing my suit). Noone even seemed to notice. Or maybe I imagined him. And all those men on the tube each morning with sweat patches slowly appearing through the pinstripe; they get to their desk, take off their jacket, remove their tie and undo their top three buttons. Some even roll up their sleeves as though about to undertake some real work. Why bother putting the damn thing on in the first place? Just one of those rituals that made Britain great, I suppose.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Solitaire's the only game in town

It's so annoying. I can no longer play solitaire because I'm so good at it there's never any variation. I f I lose I know it wasn't my fault, since I couldn't play any better than I do. I might as well flip a coin. I've started playing a dodgy version of connect-four, but although the computer keeps catching me out at the moment I know it's only a matter of time...

Friday, May 05, 2006

A bad day for decency

The BNP have won a seat in my borough. In my opinion, people are not 'driven' to vote for the BNP by nine days of scandalous politics. Nine years could do it, I suppose. But anyone who casts a vote for the BNP is committing an rascist act. I wish I lived somewhere normal and ethnically diverse and inner-city again, where the worst that could happen was Labour winning hands-down again.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Spring is here

and I'm still stuck in XXXX library service. It's such a bastard. Tomorrow is going to be the hottest day of the year so far, 25 degrees according to the BBC, and I have to work from 9.30 till 8.00. I'm gonna wear a bikini under my skanky uniform and strip off during my tea-break. Why are we sending all these foreign nationals to prison anyway if they're just as dangerous when they get out? Can't we just send them all back to where they came from; Somalia and Iran and Belarus, where the prison service really works? It doesn't matter what happens to them, after they get out, if the incarceration is stringent enough to cure them of lingering,latent criminality. Wow, I feel unsafe, knowing that (although the chances of me being mugged are exactly the same), it might not be by a British national!!!!! I wanna be attacked by one of my own people, Charles! Sort it out!!!! Actually, can't we deport all criminals? Apart from obvious good patriots like football hooligans, insider traders, BNP members and the Thatcher family. They're just doing it for the good of the country.We outsource loads of industries and services to India and China. We send the rest of our rubbish to Indonesia and Singapore to be recycled, why don't we send our rubbish people? A short prison term in Singapore with Gary Glitter will sort them right out. For more information vote Tory David Eveleigh in Forest Gate South. David, a Gay Jewish Fascist who works for Wetherspoons in a pub which resembles a map of the British Empire in its clientele, probably wanted to stand for the BNP. But for some reason they're not fighting for Forest Gate. (Eveleigh, David Michael 24 Salmen Road Plaistow London E13 0DT Conservative Party Candidate)

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Where old librarians go to die

A customer just came up to the counter while I was running a search on the database for another customer, waiting on the other side of the counter. 'Bear with me please, I'll be right with you,' said I. The man looked at me and asked 'Are you busy?' I said 'Yes,' and carried on looking at the computer screen, typing in keywords to do with copyright and intellectual property. 'What are you doing?' 'Serving that customer,' 'You don't look like you're busy...' Do people do this in shops? Well, I suppose they probably do. But The Public's attitude to local council/ public service workers is so weird. I'll never get used to it. The other day I got into a real pickle with a customer. I was at a different library for the day, where I'd only worked for three hours previously. Sitting in the reference section chilling out. He came in and asked for the electoral roll. I turned to the colleague next to me and asked 'Where do we keep the electoral roll? She told me there was no copy in the library. Much surprised, I rang another colleague downstairs in lending. He told me there were no longer any copies- they'd been moved to the Town Hall. So, slightly bemused, I redirected the guy to the Town Hall. He said he'd just come from there and they'd sent him here. Right, I thought, I'll call the manager. Manager was on lunch break; spoke to Duty Manager. When I'd explained to the Duty Manager exactly what an electoral roll was, she told me we'd never had one. Customer was now becoming irate. I tried the manager's office again, got her assistant. He told me to try the Town Hall. When I came back from my tea-break twenty minutes later I found the customer was now being served by my manager. He had gone downstairs and asked in lending, been sent back upstairs and demanded to see the manager. She asked me to make a copy of a page from the electoral roll. I asked her exactly where I could find it and she pointed immediately to a shelf directly behind where I'd been sitting. Rather embarassing for everybody working in the place, if they only cared. I'd be the last person to claim that the customer is always right. But it's useful to bear in mind the possibilty that they might not always be wrong.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Smart Talking

Last weeek I was in Ireland, where I kissed the Blarney Stone and finally acquired the Gift of the Gab. If you haven't kissed the Blarney Stone, it's very high and scary. You lean over backwards off the edge of a castle while a dirty old Irishman holds you firmly around the chest. Also to get to Blarney I had to travel for six hours each way (one hundred miles) on Irish public transport, which is pretty Irish. Not since Croatia have I bought a train ticket only to find the buses are much faster and more reliable. Why build a nationwide rail network if it's not gonna be used? They should have just spent the money on coaches in the first place and not bothered with rails at all. But now I officially (although I didn't bother buying the certificate or photo, three and ten euros respectively) am eloquent and loquacious. It was worth going to Ireland with three people whose average age is 70 (my presence brought that down to a youthful 60) and a senile, incontinent and malevolent lap-dog who could tell which was my car-seat and piss in it every time to fulfil this lifelong ambition. Other ambitions now include:
  • Leaving my job for a new one where I can use the internet and where less than 33% of my colleagues have BO. Cos here, it's at least one in three. One in seven dribble when they think.
  • Being the queen of the world
  • Not having that feeling in the pit of my stomach everytime I hear the words 'council tax'
  • Tracking down every single person on this planet who tells you to 'watch yourself' when they mean that they are about to get in your way and should therefore be saying 'excuse me' and killing them
  • Getting a six-pack. (Obviously this is to compete with someone I know who has a six-pack. Why else would I care?
  • Finding the perfect summer dress. I saw a red one with white spots, sleeveless with a scooped neck and a mini-skirt in Ireland. Anyone who knows where I can buy such a garment in London, please let me know.

I keep meaning to have a party now I'm not actually starving through poverty. My sister had a great party a couple of weeks ago while my mum was on holiday. When she got back from holiday she assumed it was me! (That's a great compliment to my sister, I think.) But since I have my own home it might be slightly less sad to have it at my own, spacious and comfortable flat. ( Who cares about Lovebird and flatmate? Not me!!) Well, I'm still undecided. Suggestions to our usual PO box, thanks. Maybe fancy-dress...?

One of my best friends from school called me on Wednesday night. She's getting married this weekend. I remember us designing our wedding dresses together in the back of maths class in about year nine. Seems like yesterday- she's by no means the first girl in my class to get married but the first of my friends. I hope she's really happy. Dunno what to wear for the wedding- shalwar kameez ( but mine is a bit risque for the afternoon) or just a skirt (but I might look like I didn't make the effort.)

It's so nice to see the sun shining again. And not to wear horrid black tights. The council has planted beautiful orange yellow and red tulips all around my work and in about a week it will be warm enough for me to eat my lunch in Central Park. Not the one in New York, obviously. A different one.

My work is closing for six weeks for (half-arsed and cheap) refurbishment from next week. this is the bestthing that has happened to me for ages. I still have to come to work (God knows I need the money) but the public aren't allowed in the building. So we can play music and eat doughnuts while working!!! Even NOT WEAR UNIFORM!!! I can't wait.

I might even be able to blog a bit more regularly during that time.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Time V Money = No Contest

Bravely didn't call in sick yesterday. Instead I came into work, hung around doing nothing for two hours, then went home sick. I have no idea what that proved; it did mean that I missed having a fry-up in the cafe with lovebird and his friend JC, instead I had to fry my own bacon at home. Less calories? I doubt it. I bought three Easter eggs (early to 'prepare' for Easter): I have now eaten two of them. Sainsbury's were just messing with my head with that whole 3 for 2 'offer ends April 5th' shit. Fuckers have now 'extended the offer'. Extended it so all those weak people out there can replace the Easter egg they didn't have enough respect for Jesus to keep their dirty, greedy hands off. Well, they (Sainsbury's) can fuck right off. As an atheist I can eat Easter eggs as and when I want and not feel guilty. Three more days of work and I can go to Ireland. But mysteriously work is no easier because of that. I have a little nest behind Horror; every afternoon I spend half an hour there reading Janet Evanovich. It helps a little. But I can't stay there any longer that 30 minutes or someone might realsie. Annoyingly, since I established this routine some of the other assistants have taken to having a post-prandial gossip, for approximately 40 minutes, in sci-fi, right next to my cubby-hole. They have no sublety and they're dangerously close. When they get caught I'm probably going down with them. I miss all my college friends again. had the cutest text from Liam: he called me grrrl.Makes my worries lighter to think that someone out there thinks of me as a grrrl... More later. For now, upstairs to the hell hole.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

How long can this go on?

I'm so fed up of not having any money. I'm fed up of my flatmate. I'm so fed up of my job I'm tearing my hair out. And I'm really really really fed up of not having this blog to moan at. It's like my therapist. I've been realising I have issues both with assertiveness (don't laugh) and anger management. People who have been saying I have had issues with anger management all my life can fuck off. These are new issues. Basically, where I would once have happily gone ape, I now think of the consequences of my actions. This leaves me unable to act on my anger, but unable to do anything else either as I usually am so furious I can't speak or breathe. It's a bastard. My face goes red, the pounding starts in my head, and then I think 'don't say that, you'll lose your job and then how will you pay the council tax?' And all I can say is something like 'OK, then, that's fine.' And the I kind of internalise the rage. And by the time I've calmed down enough to clearly and assertively explain my point of view, I've already caved in at the height of my wrath. So I'd just look stupid changing my mind. This is a huge problem, especially right now, where none of my problems are earth-shattering any more, but all of them are niggling and infuriating and highly frustrating: Problem 1.) My flatmate has completely stopped talking to Lovebird and me. Lovebird and him had invited a friend over on Sunday night, but flatmate texted him (the friend) that morning to say he couldn't make it, with no explanation offered. Then he spent the evening in his room. He spends all the time in his room or at his girlfriend's. He only comes out to prepare food and to wash. When he thinks we're not around. This is a wonderful solution to the problem of Flatmate being a tosser, and I am truly grateful to him for making this sacrifice. God knows how he'll get out of the situation. Not only was he in the wrong in the first place (mostly very clear-cut council tax/rent issues) but he's the only one losing out by his sulks. (Apart from the playstation having gone into his room with him.) Actually this is not a problem at all, is it? Hallelujah! Problem 2.) I hate my job. But in 7.5 working days I will have ten days off. In Ireland, no less. That's only 61 hours left to work. Doesn't seem so ba- yes it fucking does. This is not a problem that's going away unless I make it go away. So self-inflicted. So when I said above I was internalising my anger, in this case I should only be blaming myself anyway. And of course XXXXXX council for providing such an atrocious library service to it's quarter of a million council tax payers. (OK, not all of them pay council tax). Fuckers. And I can blame this crappy council alone for bringing out my OCD side. I have to wash my hands every ten minutes!!!! There are GERMS EVERYWHERE!!!!! Where are my antibacterial wipes?!?!?!??!? At least the pay's better. BUT THAT DOESN'T COMPENSATE FOR THE AMOUNT OF IT I HAVE TO SPEND ON BEER AND EASTER EGGS TO CHEER MYSELF UP AND CALM MYSELF DOWN AFTER A DAY IN THIS ABSOLUTE STINKING RANCID SHITHOLE!!!! I feel slightly better now. Problem 3.) The usual. Money. But I can't blame First Direct, who are lovely people. Actually I can only blame myself here too. Well, obviously I blame society, for not respecting library workers enough, and that bastard council again, for not paying me what I'm worth (although I guess since the only thing they're asking me to do is 'look busy' that's not a particularly skilled occupation) But I have enough money, oddly enough. I've just got into the habit of stressing about it and now I can't stop. Beat that for a stupid problem to be tortured constantly by. Problem 4.) Shit, do I have any other problems? I gave up smoking, didn't I? OH yeah, the TV's broken, but I'm rather enjoying that. And it's only the aerial, so when we want to ('we being the two GROWN_UPS living in my house- hah, take that, Flatmate) we can just buy a new one. Pas de probleme. I do have a slight ache in my left ankle, though. I think I'm the happiest person alive!!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

101 facts about dinosaurs

So I’ve suddenly got a new job; it’s always a shock to walk into a new place of work and observe the staff’s little group idiosyncrasies. This lot are classic old-school librarians and therefore incredible case studies. The whole group is there.

There’s the couple of giggly girls who only talk to each other, studiously patronized by the rest of the staff in general, who enjoy the superior feeling of writing them off as air-heads. Based on the fact that they read fashion magazines at lunch while the other library workers enjoy the odd spy thriller and dipped into Jack Kerouac at university, and could even locate Kerouac for you on the library catalogue if they wanted to. Which they don’t because they don’t like the way you look and they were busy reading the TV guide before you walked into the library and started asking them stupid questions.

The only interesting thing about these two girls is that they are the only normal, sane people who still work in the library. There used to be some others, a long time ago, but they left because of the cuts. Now there’s a motley crew of misfits and obsessives that can be roughly divided into two groups; those that can’t leave as they are unemployable in the real world, and those that don’t want to leave because they are psychotic.

Next in the pecking order comes the rather sad pale, skinny lad who could be any age between seventeen and twenty-nine. He only speaks when he is spoken to, when he is gloomily polite and extremely helpful despite a complete inability to meet your eye. He cultivates a morose, worldly cynicism about everything apart from graphic novels and his passionate hatred of the council. If he ever realized what a cliché he was, he would probably kill himself. He lives with his mum.

The supervisor who irritates everyone and has an appalling sense of humour to match her appalling, hoarse, booming laugh is hated by everybody in the building. A shared loathing of this woman brings manager and dogsbody together, united for once in an unbearable urge to put their fingers to their lips and sternly say ‘shush’. For some reason, perhaps a bylaw set in stone back in the dark ages before the cuts, nobody ever stands up to her. She rolls in late every morning on her bicycle, never does a tap of work, complains constantly about being undermined and/or overworked and applies for promotion every year and never gets it. Her main topic of conversation is her son, who is 13 and has recently been suspended from his fee-paying school for sniffing glue. Her main occupation is shouting at teenagers at the top of her voice across the library to stop eating, drinking, chewing gum or, best of all, to cut out the noise.

The very tall African man who works the inquiries desk is greatly respected by the rest of the staff because he appears to have a social life, a real, proper social life of the kind you conduct outside of working hours with real friends, not just people you work with. This consists of going to places like bars and restaurants in the evenings and then complaining the next day that he feels tired. His colleagues are not overly jealous though; they know that someone who is as polite and helpful as he is to library users will never get anywhere in life. It must be something that he picked up in Africa, he can’t have learnt that kind of tolerance and patience on this continent. The other day he actually looked up a book for someone with body odour, who didn’t say please and didn’t have his library card on him! Everybody knows Andrew Carnegie never meant us to serve people like that. He also loves the archaic library computer system because it makes him nostalgic for the days before Windows.

A very serious woman comes and goes around the reference section, but it was only recently anyone realized she was a member of staff. She has very long sandy hair in a plait and a long, thin face, and is studying for a degree in Russian Literature by correspondence course. She runs the toddlers group in a very quiet manner. She doesn’t like to be touched, especially not by the toddlers. She often spends her tea breaks wandering around putting books back into exactly the right place.

The Assistant Librarian (not to be confused with Library Assistant) is well into his sixties. Actually, no one’s ever asked, but he’s been well into his sixties for so long now that he might just be well into his seventies. He’s very proud of his alpha male status in the building, not realizing he only keeps it by tacit agreement of the rest of the staff. He is the one who unlocks the big oak doors in the morning and the one who closes them at night. He also enjoys telling adolescents off and sharing trivia about the library building and the history of the area to anyone who will listen.

The Head Librarian wishes they would change her name to Library Manager, it sounds so much more modern. She’s new; has only worked in the borough for seven years and so has yet to earn the respect of other head librarians across the borough, despite frequent email communiqués. She doesn’t understand why there’s never enough money or why the staff aren’t excited about their roles. She wishes so much she could modernize the library but her hands are tied. So she mostly sits in her office where she doesn’t have to listen to her staff moaning and bitching, and reads novels which she thrusts under the desk when someone knocks. No one ever knocks. Each time a new temp. is hired to cover a desperate shortage she prays she’s found an ally who will help her get loans up and make her name as the Librarian who changed the face of libraries in the borough. Each time she is disappointed. She comforts herself with the fact that she is the only person in the building with a happy, normal home life and looks often at the framed picture of her smiling husband and their two adorable little girls on her desk. Actually she is wrong here; both the cleaners are happily married with lovely children.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Not Dead

No, I'm just hibernating for a bit in the warm cocoon of the worst local library service ever to hit a London borough. If you can guess which library service I'm referring to, let me know. There's a prize for the correct guess; if you're a member of it I'm so sorry for you that I'll waive your fines. Just joking... Had to face an awful dilemma this last week: if I'm not being paid to look at the internet (the internet had not been invented when this library bought its computers. Actually the internet had not been invented last time this library cleaned its keyboards. Sticky...) Anyway, if I'm not being paid to look at the internet all day, do I still want to blog? I've finally decided yes. After all, if I don't have the World Wide Web to grumble at, my flatmates find me much harder to live with... so expect something roughly once a week. Jesus, I'll have to type it at home in my own time!!!!! The things I do for posterity, and what has posterity ever done for me? Other news. I've taken up swimming. Right, now I really have to go and wash the grime of a million grubby fingers off my hands. And next time I post in this place, I'll wear rubber gloves.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Girls just want to have fun

You know when you hear someone's name for the first time and then you hear it three more times in the same day? I saw her in the National Portrait Gallery with a lot of cleavage showing, then when we popped into the Lord Moon of the Mall later that day to rejuvenate and play ITbox there she was on the wall; had died round the corner of 'a most wicked dis-ease' (cervical cancer). Then I was looking up the Tower of London this morning (old people club shit) and she popped up again; confessed to murder and was sentenced to death with her husband 1616, pardoned 1622. I should use the internet more often to learn history, it's such a useful tool. I guess people blog so they can spend hours on the internet without ever making contact with any other real people. Spend time with yourself: so much more rewarding than chat sites! Oh, just me then.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Wow.

Sitting in IT and a woman comes up to pay for her printouts. 'How much are they?' 'How many pages have you got there?' '4.' 'That's 40p please.' 'Oh, are they 20p each? '

Look out of the window sometime...

My old people were discussing Africa today. Good grief. When they were in school they used to put a penny in the box every week to give the Africans clean water, and now guess what? They still don't all have clean water! Must be their own faults then. The problem with the black man is that he's lazy. Cue interminable reminiscences about how hard it was to run your business and look after your property in South Africa in the early nineties.

When I delicately led the conversation away, they turned to the numbers of Them living around here these days. I said brightly 'Would anyone like another cup of tea?' At this an old man stood up and addressed us all; 'All I want to say is, when was the last time you climbed to the top of a bus and saw a white face?' He then left, slamming the door behind him. The problem is, these old people don't realise that the reason they 'never see a white face' is not because there's so few of them; it's due to poverty. My old people are poor. So are a vast number of immigrants to the borough. There are 196106 people in this borough; 100799* of them are white. Many of these white people are pretty well-off. However, these well-off white people don't ride on buses. They don't shop in the market. They don't go to the library or hang out in the street during the day. They don't wait until after 9.30 to use public transport. That's because they're at work, like all the other successful, professional, middle class people of all colour and origins in this borough. The people who aren't at work, or who work night shifts and other antisocial hours, who can't afford to drive or use the tube and so sit on the 25 or the 15 bus all the way in and out of town, who are queuing at the post office at the same time as my old people; they're the ones who are predominantly non-white. Is anyone surprised? No; it suits everyone else to have this underclass doing the jobs we don't want. Everybody except very poor old Eastenders living on a pathetic pension; they alone don't benefit from these cleaners, caterers, casual labourers at all. They just see their East End has changed and their lives have got worse in the process. Can you blame them for not looking further than their next-door neighbours for the cause? I suppose they must be pretty short-sighted to completely ignore the shadow of Canary Wharf looming over the whole borough, a symbol of what’s really making all these people live in poverty.

*2001 census

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Last Known Configuration

Had my hair cut; it took four hours but was worth it. The student cutting my hair was very tall and kept complaining that he couldn't get his hand around to cut my hair from the neck upwards. If he's got problems with me at 5'11 how is he ever going to cut the hair of someone normal sized? I love the language they use at Toni and Guy. At one point teacher told Beanpole to sub-divide my hair into rotating radials. Do you need GCSE maths to study at T&G? I thought you only needed eight grand a year and some really fashionable boots. Come to think of it I have GCSE maths and I'm not sure what rotating radials are. But whatever they are they look good. Popped into Lovebird's work afterwards and met his colleague, a noted poet. Lovebird thinks he's great; I thought he was extremely rude and smelly. Sitting slumped on a low stool in the corner of the shop staring at customers from under one of those brimmed fishing hats, he looked exactly like the kind of old-school tramp who sits in bookshops to stay warm. Not particularly impressed by his poetry either.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Well I never

Someone told me yesterday that I only use this blog to moan. Well I'm sure that's not true at all. Actually, on Tuesday 21st February 2006 I published two postings of entirely happy, up-beat content. So there. Anyway, here's all the great stuff that's going on in my life at the moment. Please do not hesitate to let me know if you're happy now.
  1. I'm getting my hair cut next week. For 6 months I've been cutting it myself; it works out OK-looking but takes bloody ages. So I'm very HAPPY to announce I'm off to a salon for a sharp new cut.
  2. I really LIKE being inside my work on a cold, crisp sunny morning. The beams of white sunshine through the coloured glass panels are almost church-like.
  3. Last night Lovebird and myself stayed in and ate pizza and drank beer. It was wonderful. Lovebird was in ectasy because Channel 5 was showing 40 Most Embarassing Moments of the 80s. Lovebird's favourite things are TV countdowns and 80s pop music. I was in heaven because of those little Terry's Chocolate orange eggs. It's the best packaging ever. You get four eggs in an orange egg box and you scoop the gooey stuff out of the chocolate egg with a tiny plastic spoon. It really doesn't get any better than that.
  4. I've been reading Villette by Charlotte Bronte and was pleasantly surprised to find I liked it better than Jane Eyre. The heroine is way cool and the hero a hundred times more real, likeable than that fool Rochester; you kind of breathe a sigh of relief for Bronte's new attitude to men.
  5. There is the HOTTEST man sitting opposite the reception desk at my work today. Chizzy and I haven't been able to get hardly any work done today because we've had to sit here and monitor him. He's tanned; kind of Mediteranean with longish brown hair. About every two minutes he runs his hands appreciatively through it; we're trying to see if we can make him do this using only the power of our minds.
  6. Yesterday some of our unruliest little children (and amazingly, one boy of twelve who can't read or write but normally won't admit it) were temporarily calmed while I read them the new Lauren Child book: for oh, at least twelve glorious minutes all was quiet in the children's library. Bliss.
  7. I'm going to Ikea tomorrow. OK, this not that exciting, but I've never been before: anything could happen! It's curtains for me!
  8. Puns make me happy, and I have made several today. Oh shit, I'm running out of stuff to be happy about now, aren't I?
  9. Hot Guy is stroking his hair again.
  10. In 38 minutes I can go home and enjoy my weekend...

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

hazards of the job

In-post training Came to work this morning to find my boss had enrolled me on a 6-week course at another library on Deaf Community and Culture. I spend every Tuesday morning off-site and wind up taking an exam; thanks a lot, big Zee. And stupidly I forgot to milk it, and came back to work as soon as the class finished. Whereas with a little bit of thought I could have spend a happy hour every week being paid to check out Whitechapel market. It's only for some kind of deaf-awareness-quota-box-ticking-equal-opps-stats-bullshit my boss has to complete. In future I'll remember to keep the receipts for my cappucino and claim it as expenses. Working with the public Just got into the lift as a member of the public got out. (Normally I remember not to do this, but I was holding a heavy crate of books) The smell of body odour hit me as the doors closed. Had to hold my breath (and my crate of books) all the way down. Thank God it's only one storey. How do people get like that? A professional atmosphere Just spining a few books. One large-print book looked like this: Antonia FRASER Marie Antoinette On the front-cover was a picture of an 18th century lady in a tall white wig. Someone (i.e. A LIBRARIAN) had stuck a post-it to it marked 'please spine: ANT'. WHO THE HELL IS WORKING WITH ME THAT BELIEVES MARIE ANTOINETTE IS STILL AROUND AND WRITING BOOKS ABOUT ANTONIA FRASER? I need to know who did this so I can educate them. Or at least, stop being left alone with them. Missing Persons My colleague Bavissimo has vanished. This is not the first time he's taken time off to pursue his own mysterious agenda. But the supervisors' behaviour hints at some kind of foul play. No one will answer a straight question about his whereabouts. When pressed, they have conflicting stories. 'He might be working at the BBC.' 'I think he's gone to a wedding.' 'Wasn't he sick?' 'I can't talk about it,' So obviously the grapevine says he's been sacked. The thing is, if they don't tell us, our instincts are to sympathise with him (fuck knows it could happen to any of us) whereas if they told us the truth, we could form objective opinions. Unless the gossip was really really juicy... in which case they're just being selfish. Iniatiative wins over common sense every time I have a colleague; call her 'Happy'. Happy only works part-time, twenty hours a week. Consequently (although she's a supervisor) no one ever knows what she should be doing and she's not telling. Occasionally Happy gets a bit bored chatting to her friends on the phone or listening to Hindi film soundtracks and Celine Dion in the workroom. And what does she do then? She tidies up. Prances through storerooms and offices poking into boxes and folders that people have left there because they're TOO BUSY WORKING to organise all their stuff perfectly. And because she's part-time she hasn't a clue what any of it is there for. And doesn't seem to realise storerooms are there to store stuff in, not to look good. So we're constantly catching her chucking stuff out; books, leaflets, personal things, card-board boxes, papers; anything she gets her hands on. And her cry is 'I took the initiative! We can always buy some more.' Firstly. Initiative is an asset but not a reason to do stuff. I could take the initiative to walk out of work and go shoe-shopping but it wouldn't look good on my CV. 2nd: Buy some more? That's your children's fucking world you're destroying by buying more stuff than necessary. And poor people's council tax you're spending on it. 3rd: Happy is the only woman on an all-male supervisory team. And to be honest, she's not making women look good. All the supervisors are lazy but a girl who spends all day conforming to stereotypes and then opts to spend her time TIDYING UP instead of doing something constructive... she might as well have just married one of them to have the same influence on what goes on at the library.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Bits and pieces

  • How embarassing that I just looked for a book for over half an hour, was unable to find any of the thirty-odd copies on the sytem, called two other libraries and they couldn't find it either. And what was the book? Cinderella. (I tried explaining Cinderella wasn't looked on as a particularly good influence on your little daughter anymore, but the woman was having none of it. Neither would she accept Prince Cinders by Babette Cole, one of my favourite children's books ever.)
  • I love it when the weather starts off miserable; cold and drizzly and grey; and all morning you feel it pushing against the windows to upset and oppress you. Then you step out for your lunch break and the sun bursts out like something from a bible illustration. All the horrible English puddles and damp are made beautiful. There's a rainbow so long and clear there might really be a huge pot of gold somewhere in Bromley-by-Bow. It puts a smile on my face... and believe me, it's not often I aprove of English weather.
  • I just found out yesterday that ipods only work with ipod headphones. Had I wanted an ipod in the first place (I'm old-fashioned and still rely on a good book on my way to work) this would probably put me right off.) You're not allowed to use ipod technology unless you show it off with the trademark white earphones, the dumbest status symbol since Louis Vuitton luggage.
  • Reading an interesting collection of essays called On the Move about feminism for young women today. Some of them are ghastly (Oona King bigging herself up) and some of the schoolgirls writing are pretty depressing but overall they're pretty good. At seven years old and talking a lot about the end of Thatcherism and 'Girl Power', it's already a bit dated...
  • Good luck today brother... let me know how it went. And if you want to come on the trip to the Tower of London tomorrow, meet me at my work 9.30 with your library card.

In today's Metro

Australia brings back death sentence
"Earlier this week, the two ringleaders of the so-called Bali Nine were sentenced to death by firing squad. Australian prime minister John Howard said: 'Let this be a lesson to every young Australian.' "
Shy superstar finally speaks out
"Singer Chris Martin dropped to his knees on stage and said: 'It's hard for us sometimes because we're English and don't get to admit we are great, so tonight we'd like to agree with you for giving us these awards.' "
And my favourite... Metro publishes Real News
"New Zealand: A love rat tried to make up for his infidelities by sending his girlfriend a plastic rodent with roses in its mouth for Valentine's Day."

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Are you the Housing Association?

Someone told me I could pay my council tax here. You haven't got any computers left? Are you sure? What about upstairs? They're fully booked? What about upstairs? Can you show me how to print? My daughter needs help finding the CBeebies website. Do you have any books on the Housing Association? Where can I get a cup of tea? I've just been evicted. Can you help? I've just been knifed. Can you help? Can I leave my football here? When are you going to do face-painting again? Have you got a boy-friend? Is this the Citizens Advice Bureau? Can I get a Leisure Options card here? How do I apply to use the computers? Can I log on to the web here? How much are the DVDs? That's too expensive. When are you going to switch my electric back on? Are there any jobs going here? Can I see the manager? Are any of these CDs for sale? Where's the toilet? Where's the baby-changing room? Can I have change for the snack machine? Why was my son kicked out of here yesterday? Can I use the phone? Can I send a fax? Why won't MS Messenger work on these computers? They let me do it at Stratford library... Can you help me with my CV? Have you got any books on learning English? Can I have the free DVD out of the Daily Mail?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

I said that I would do it and indeed I did.

I passed my final teaching practice today. Nothing can stop me now. Ahahahaha. Ze vorld ees mine. Ha.

Monday, February 06, 2006

And that was January 2006

  • I kept my New Year's resolution not to smoke, but not the one about swimming and exercise or the one about not being bitchy about Asab at work.
  • My blog of the month was a librarian and my site of the month the inspiring illustration friday.
  • My house was very very cold.
  • I neared the end of my bloody course, only to get ill just before the last hurdle. Oh well, the end's in sight now.
  • I thought very hard about my financial situation. And could not find a solution. Suggestions/cheques/postal orders welcome.
  • I selected Paula Danziger and (hooray!) Josephine Cox as authors of the month at my work. Mostly because we had a lot of copies lying around going nowhere fast. This month; Jean Ure and Ian Rankin. Any suggestions for my new Book Club's reading matter would be gratefully received. Actually it's getting urgent since I have to order the books yesterday. They need one serious book and one trendy.
  • I decided to keep this monthly list. This blog is kind of a diary, but definitely a very jumbled one, with a random mix of stuff written for me and stuff written at other people. So it's not a bad idea to think about what's been going on at the end of every month- straighten my head out a little.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Additionally

Don't call someone for six weeks until you want something and there's no reason why they shouldn't have changed their number and not told you.

What I do all day

Under 5s Group & Toy Library Join parents and carers for a chat over a cup of coffee and help your child choose the latest books, CDs and DVDs with our friendly and caring staff.Every Thursday 10:30 – 11:30am

Golden Time Goes Platinum… New and Improved! Our weekly coffee morning for senior users. Come along to enjoy a cup of coffee or tea. Chat with staff and other Idea Store users. Golden Time has never been so exciting. Come along and enjoy new books, local history, monthly movie matinee, discover computers, games music and lots more. Every Friday 10:00 – 12:00 noon Book Group Discuss your favourite books with fellow readers at our free monthly meetings. Last Friday of the month 10:00 - 12:00 noon Chatterboox club Discuss your favourite cool reads and find out what fun reading can be. Join the Chatterboox club today – for teenagers and children aged 8-15. Play reading games, write reviews, take part in competitions and win prizes! Every Saturday 2 - 4 pm

Funny tricks the mind plays

You have a job that only requires you to be actually working for about 30% of the time you are in the building (not counting tea-breaks). You have spent a long long time dividing up the hours you spend at your desk into the most energy-efficient use of your time. 30 minutes work. 20 minutes bookworm. 30 minutes research new book-club. 40 minutes write blog. 5 minutes google random things you wondered about in the night. 30 minutes work on course. 10 minutes stare at passers-by. 10 minutes read and answer work-related emails. 20 minutes read and answer personal emails. And so on, and so on. The really strange thing is that once you construct a system like this, your mind gets desperate to cheat on it. Hey look, you can't stop me, I'm gonna stare into space during allotted book-worm playing time! Hah, that's really fucked up your day! Well, no it hasn't, mind, because I'm going to be sitting here until four o'clock and if I have to spend less time messing around I can always mess around extra tomorrow! Or the day after! And even the work-related-work I complete, usually people are surprised when work is completed on time in this place, even if the public or some other bunch of freaks are relying on it or it's really important. I wonder if I won the lottery or something and had nothing to complete ever, that voice in my head would still be there going Hey, don't put the kettle on! You know it's too much effort! Don't put the kettle on! Ha, you didn't put the kettle on and now you're gonna miss valuable sunbed time! Which will make you late for those Buffy repeats you planned to watch! It's like a kind of mild self-hatred, I guess. But the part of me that hates me and wants to ruin my life is just not as clever as the part of me that doesn't. Another triumph of good against evil...

Friday, February 03, 2006

In which I am even more self-righteous than usual.

My friends Are angry and hurt by me and my life at the moment for two reasons. 1.) I’m at last doing something for myself. They’ve been doing things for themselves for years. Sixth Form, University, backpacking, working in China, the list goes on, all part of their final goals to have wonderful lives and be rich and successful. I somehow drifted into Sixth Form and drifted out again. Never said no to a drink. Never let anyone down. Would always go out and party or stay home and mop up tears for the price of a pint. And then as they marched into their Gap years and university applications and I found a job and a place to live, the only thing that changed was that I was now buying the pints and my house was the new Party Central. Now I have at last made a choice for myself that will help me move along the path of my own life. I’m being selfish. I want recognition for how hard I’m working. I can’t go out during the week. Or at the weekend unless its free and planned well in advance. Their spreading around the country didn’t hurt our friendships, nor me seeing them only in the holidays. Well, surprise, the social coordinator extraordinaire hasn’t got the time to call people right now, or even remember when your terms begin and end. How odd that now we only meet when you have nothing else to do. Grant me the right to stop drifting and do something for myself sometimes, guys. 2.) I’m at last doing something for other people. Something that actually matters. I’m not Mother fucking Theresa. But I’m important. My job is important, however low my salary is. I have more fucking responsibility than any of my colleagues; I make changes at my work, changes that affect poor people’s (not poor because they’ve spent all their student loans and their next parental handout doesn’t come till the end of the month, poor because their lives are hard and unpleasant and everyone in British so-called Society has let them down) lives for the better. I’m completely drawn into the kick of leaving work every night knowing that I’m actually doing something good. It’s as addictive as hedonism, believe me. So the hedonism is drifting away on its own; rather fortunate since I can’t afford cigarettes any more, let alone long nights at the pub, buying rounds, having ‘famous’ parties. I’m not claiming I’ve grown up or I don’t enjoy parties or anything of the kind. And fuck know I could do something way more self-sacrificing than being a librarian, in name at least. But I have been sucked into doing something every day that is worthwhile. And maybe even if you can’t help holding that against me, you’ll remember what I said when it’s time for you to start looking for your fat graduate salaries. And this course is part of it too. So what you’re living on baked beans and only drinking in Happy Hour. Just being born in this country, just speaking English as your first language, just having shoes and clothes and food and an education and the knowledge that your children won’t starve or go hungry; well, just look around you before you get yourself into a flap about me not answering the phone to you or coming to visit you. You’re in the top ten percent of the richest, luckiest people IN THE WORLD. Put like that, it seems less important whether I return your text messages or not, doesn’t it?

Saturday, January 28, 2006

And I'll say it again to make sure..

Mary Partington for NUS women's officer. See blog entry below (22/01/06). She is the daddy. Become your institution's NUS delegate and go to Coventry (hotel, food etc all included) in March to vote for her. And the link is... Mary.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Trying to solve society's problems

I like to play devil's advocate a little bit with my old people's club. Although we (finally) have an Asian guy, (representing 50% of the borough's population on his own) they're mostly kind of cockney Sun-reading I don't mind who lives next door to me but a lot of them are defrauding their benefits it's a fact it wasn't like that when I was young old people. (A marked improvement on the people who live near me, who are mostly I do mind if they live next door to me that's why I moved out to the suburbs and oh shit now they're making money and moving out here too and what's that going to do to the value of our semi kind of people, without age to explain it). But anyway. On Friday we were talking about Young Offenders. You know there's been that case of those teenagers who beat that guy to death. Now it's all controversy over their jail sentences being too short; they could be out by the time they're 29, or something like that. So I was saying that those kids didn't need prison, they needed help. British society has let them down, just like it's letting down all the poor kids who come to my work everyday, and their elder brothers and sisters who are no longer even allowed through our doors. And nothing can bring back the guy they murdered. My old people did not agree; hanging was mentioned. I said prisons are rough for young people; they said they'd get the best help inside. In fact that England's prisons were if anything too soft on youngsters; once a child is 8 (eight!?!) he has reached the age of reason and should be treated as an adult. We were discussing this and then I realised that I was probably the person there least qualified to even open my mouth on the subject. They all live in this blighted area and have done most of their lives. Two of them do loads of community work (not that I don't, but theirs is unpaid, several are ex-servicemen who served in WW2, most are grandparents, one is a nun and one worked as a prison chaplain all her life. They know disadvantaged kids. They have been disadvantaged kids. Some of their kids were disadvantaged kids. So who am I with my bleeding heart to contradict their informed opinions? Ok, I still did and do contradict them, but it's always a shock to me to realise my opinions are not all always necessarily entirely correct.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

January Blues

I guess we've all got them. But I've got them worse.
Beat the January blues with the group to liven any party! From the choreographer and owner of the first ever Village People tribute come THE VILLAGE PEEPLE! With a 60 minute show featuring non stop disco classics etc. etc.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

What do I tell my boss?

Everybody should have a varied repertoire of reasons to take a day off work. Really, it's only poor lying and a lack of creative thinking that lets the whole workforce down by rubbing managers' noses in it too thoroughly. So, twenty things you can call in sick with, to recycle over a yearly basis (and if you pull more than twenty sickies a year, even I think you should rethink your career.)
  1. Flu
  2. Food poisoning 1 (dodgy kebab/curry/scampi last night)
  3. Serious exposure to children with chicken-pox / mumps.
  4. 'Personal problems'
  5. Sprained ankle while decorating the attic (play up humour)
  6. Gastric flu (no one knows exactly what it is, so take two days.)
  7. Red spots
  8. Liver/ heart pains
  9. Diarrhoea
  10. Explosive diarrhoea
  11. Dizziness upon attempting to get out of bed.
  12. Concussion
  13. Food poisoning 2 ( I should never have eaten the egg rolls at that wedding. The whole party has gone down.)
  14. Blinding headaches.
  15. Temporary deafness (play this up when phoning in)
  16. Pain 'down there'
  17. 'That' tummy bug that's going round
  18. Broken finger
  19. RSS
  20. Develop and maintain a physical condition that regularly gives you pain, that your GP insists you always go and see him about; but that is a little bit mysterious and nothing you could be hospitalized for. My 'dodgy' kidneys (which are actually a bit fucked up) give me all the time off I need; even let me go home early/ come in late when I feel like it.
So there you go- there's no need to wear out that cough/cold or do what my colleague does; say 'I can't come in- I'm sick,' then drop the phone. Together we can build a bank of 365 minor one-day illnesses; and then no one would ever have to go to work again!

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Reasons I have given up smoking #6

I drank a whole lot of white wine and some gin last night with Lovebird and Connor, another non-smoker, and my head is completely clear because there was no smoke in the room.. Smoking makes your hangover much harder to control; you are less aware of how drunk you're getting and that muggy fuzzy head you get the morning after can't be cured by normal hangover cures like coffee, fruit, fry-ups or paracetemol. (I'm still on some kind of health kick so I just had a grapefruit this morning instead of some greasy breakfast.) Here's what I said the morning after:
"There's no room for class in my ideal society. Or money, come to think of it. Flatmatewas wasted last night and declaiming that the ruling classes are a necessary part of any society; a hierachical (good word, huh) structure is needed for those workers who cannot make their own choices or motivate themselves to improve. How did I wind up living with such a reactionary pile of nonsense? His girlfriend (who hasmoved in for a few months) buys the Daily Mail. I guess Flatmate needs to justify the fact that he works for his Daddy, a confirmed member of the ruling classes who has made his fortune out of pushing up theprice of poor-quality housing for all Londoners. Prat. Last night.I stayed home to work and didn't do a single bit of my assignment, due in Tuesday. Then Lovebird and his adorable friend came in plastered so we had a few drinks and the two of them slow-danced together to the Beatles. Thank God I'm coming to the end of my course. Actually I can even fail this one and still pass the whole thing. Maybe I won't do it at all... do you know any good games/activities/tasks to improve intermediate reading or listening skills? Don't worry about your social faux-pas... I went to a librarian party on Friday, said it was dry to the woman running it, slagged off the DJ (a tutor whose lesson I had to observe the next day) within his earshot, made a sarky remark about strings of emails to the woman I have to get a teaching job off (who never answered the hundreds of emails I sent her before I started the course), called a senior tutor the devil and laughed at his dancing and finally got rollicking drunk in front of my boss and said he was so cute I'd like to put him in my pocket. I'm never gonna make Head Librarian at this rate. But I did have a good time. I'm going on a trip with an ESOL class next week, on a boat up the Thames and walking around the Pool of London (Tower Bridge to London Bridge). Then we're having a sleepover at my work; I get paid to sleep.What an exciting life I do lead. My tutor gave me a real bollocking on Thursday when we fed-back about the lessons we taught. My lesson was actually better than everybody else's, which she admitted, but I guess she's on to me. Once more I had to hear a whole lecture about wasted potential and not enough effort, just like being back at school. Hello, I work seventy hours a week! I'm doing what I have to do to pass the fucking course, sue me if my lessons could be better. I'd rather sleep occasionally. "

Friday, January 20, 2006

Eight days a week is not enough to show I care...

I'm working six days at work and two days at college this week. I need the money but I'll probably have to buy some new shoes just to reconcile myself to being at work more hours than I spend asleep. Lovebird is getting a bit tired of this (not the new shoes, he just spent fifty quid on a book), but there's only three weeks left of my course (thank you God!) then our lives might just become a little more relaxed and normal (although I've been telling myself that for years and it hasn't yet happened). I work very hard, and have many shoes.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Gosh, I don't have a life, do I?

My friend Shell asked me to go out on her birthday. I refused automatically because I have an assignment due on Tuesday so I need to be fighting fit on Sunday. Then I realised that I would never ever ever have done something like that when I was at school, or even a year ago. Now I stay in every bloody night; a librarian party is the highlight of my week. The important question is, are the assignments any better for it? I'm not convinced. To be honest, I'm not sure I even feel any less tired. Just more worthy.

Reasons I have given up smoking #5

I have a hot Irish counsellor who I tell all my problems to every week. Then he gives me nicotine patches on the NHS. I think I'm getting addicted to him.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Islamofascism

is a word I have just discovered on the internet. (Context: 'pussy-footing around the rising threat of Islamofascism.') I'm not giving a link; it only encourages them. Google it if you wish to be sickened, for all I know Anti-Islamofascist-bloggers are a rising threat. So nice to coin a word that saves you from having to justify yourself, isn't it? Oh, everybody knows about Islamofascism- with a name like that it's got to be bad... I was actually searching for a poem by Tennyson, but there you go.

Bookie nights

There's a party at our borough's flagship library this Friday night; for some reason no one wants to go. Even my old buddy Camel reckons he's got better things to do (things like lay laminated flooring, Camel has unfortunately grown up recently, a great loss etc.). The girls at my work would rather be at the pub! There's going to be a disco; and of course better still, everyone is going to be bitching about the 'restructuring'; People who are losing their jobs after thirty/forty years in the library service, people who are desperate to gain promotion through other people's downfalls (and a little arse-licking goes a long way in this borough) people like me who would lose their jobs if anyone else ever realised we existed, people who hope new jobs are going to be invented for them because they're not happy about their demotion. Hopefully the mayor and the big boss will be floating around trying to disguise their awkwardness about all the people they've stabbed in the back; a bit like that dinner when Macbeth first sees Banquo's ghost.
...the time has been, That when the brains were out, the man would die,
And there an end; but now, they rise again, With twenty mortal murders on their crowns, And push us from our stools... (III, iv)
Plus a disco! What more could you want?