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


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?

Avoiding work #2

Reasons I have given up smoking #4

My colleague J who chain-smokes untipped cigarettes has left my work, my lovely Mauritian colleague has given up 'just one when I get home' and the hot Russian security guards have all lost their contract. This leaves only one smoker at my place of work, and the thought of standing in the drizzle listlening to him talk about his boring boring love life... 'She's the one. She's the love of my life,' How long have you been going out? 'Two weeks,' or his boring boring social life 'We took loads of pills and sweated till we had to drink expensive bottled water at Antipodean night@Fabric' or whatever... leaves me absolutely cold.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Avoiding work #1

Interesting things I have done today

1. Laminated 2. Found out I am now in charge of the non-existent childrens book-club as well as the non-existent adults book-club. Basically I have to form them from scratch. I'm too tired to think about this now. 3. Witnessed a fight where a security guard actually attacked a customer. The guy was being racist and we've got a new security firm of kids from some government employment intitiative: what can you expect? Lovely to see my supervisor Camel, all of 5'3", trying to hold this guy back, though. 4. Recited Tennyson with my colleague Shell. Who knew I would find myself working with someone else who knows The Lady of Shalott? The mirror crack'd from side to side The web flew out and floated wide The curse has come upon me! cried The lady of Shalott. 5. Spoke to a woman who reserved a book in September for her husband and has come in every single week since then to ask about it. Until today no one bothered to try and locate the book beyond checking the reserves shelf. Finally I found another copy in a different library, but I hope it will be in time for the husband: the title was Overcoming Depression. 6. Drank instant coffee. Thank God my new healthy regime- no sweets or junk food, no cigarettes, only drink at weekends- still allows me to drink coffee. (Although fuck it, I can't tell myself what to do.) 7. Ordered books for next month's Author of the month: Ian Rankin and Jean Ure for the kids. For once I have chosen two authors whose books I actually like... Last month it was Josephine bloody Cox. 8. Had a row with an unpleasant adolescent about whether her homework diary was or was not valid ID. She invited me to telephone her mother and ask her, then became violent when I suggested that there was nothing to prove a voice on the phone really was her mother. 9. Played Bookworm. (The link game will take you there.) 10. Read Trollope behind the shelter of the Cool Readz section.


I love lizzie sooo much! BTW, does anyone want to buy a packet of malboro lights? £4, plus postage ONO.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

And they don't read any books, either

Kids these days have too much cash. The kids I work with are from the poorest, most disadvantaged homes in London, if not Britain, and yet they treat money as if it doesn't matter. (I blame the Government for giving their parents so little money that it's not worth budgeting.) When I was a kid and I lost my library card my mum would have to come to the library and stump up the 50p for me. This automatically (we're talking blood out of stones here) made it a Very Big Deal. I didn't have 50p. Ever. Several of the little buggers at my work, on the other hand, have had over ten cards in the past two years. They need the cards to play games on the internet, so they pay out and pay out and pay out like they don't care. What are their finances gonna be like when they grow up; especially if their incomes are like their parents' are, e.g. £55 a week? I've started punchingholes in the damn things and putting them on strings so they can wear them around their necks, but nothing helps.

Reasons I have given up smoking #3

This is a bit gross but... I am currently going through the process of washing all of my clothes because they smell of smoke. Every single jumper I own, every pair of trousers. I've febrezed my coat but might have to have it dry-cleaned. I have to separate the stuff that been decontaminated from the other things on the shelf. It's soooo long, I never want to do it again.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Cutlery Fund

I'm setting up a collection for poor people who don't have enough cutlery. This condition can have serious affects on both mental and physical and social well-being, leading to alienation from loved ones, depression, reclusion and in severe cases agoraphobia and knife envy. You not be aware that there are victims as near to you as South London. Please send cheques, postal orders and donations in kind to PO box 1673, London. You know you should- go on, fork out!

Reasons I have given up smoking #2

Allen Carr is a prat. I have to either give up smoking my way and show him, or write a best-selling book about how to give up and show him. WITHOUT HIS ANNOYING HABIT OF PUTTING SENTENCES HE THINKS ARE IMPORTANT IN CAPITALS.

Reasons I have given up smoking #1

None of the 'senior users' at my weekly Golden Time coffee morning smoke. And most of their friends are dead.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


I just spent a long time checking the CDs and found that several of our highly trained library staff think that Elvis Presley should be filed under ELV and Celine Dion under DIO etc., etc. When I mentioned this to a colleague he said 'Oh yeah, they're not like books you know. Red Hot Chili Peppers is RED, isn't it, so it's by the first name.' Am slightly disturbed that he can work in public libraries for two years and not realise that Red is not a band's first name. I had to go on the HMV website to show him I was right. I'm not actually leading up to anything with this, just pointing out that there are some very stupid people in the world, and I have to work with quite a lot of them.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Good Friends (watch out, this piece contains severe self-pity)

I'm thinking of giving up most of my friends. A huge number of them are away at University and I am increasingly hurt (I'm serious, sorry if you thought I never get hurt) by the fact that they never contact me. I do have some lovely friends who live in East London all year round, I'm not talking about them. However I'm getting a bit sick of being the bloody social organiser around which my uni friends feel they can orbit as they please whenever they happen to be home and a bit bored. Now they're in their second and third years most of them have exciting new lives I can never be a part of. This is absolutely fine and natural. They get a month or so holiday, I know they want to visit their new friends and hang out with their families, even go abroad to exotic places funded by their fat student loans and their doting parents (see, I'm not just hurt, I'm verging on bitter). However, over Christmas it just became a joke. Take a very good friend of mine, who we'll call Edna. I went Christmas shopping with her for two hours on about the 19th, but only because our mutual friend 'Phyllis' took the trouble to call me up and invite me. Then she couldn't make my drinks party just before Christmas, and didn't phone me on Christmas Day. At five o'clock on New Year's Eve I was just getting out of the bath when I got a text from Edna saying 'Do you fancy coming round for New Year's Eve? Just you and me and some beers'. Obviously, like everybody else in the world, I already had plans. Cavalier or what? The next time I heard from her was three days before she went back to University (her term didn't start for another week, but that's what they're all like...) and two days before I went back to work and college. She called me up and started the conversation 'Oh, Cool and Cooler (two vague friends of ours) are gonna take me out tonight and tomorrow night.' Yes? So what? I'm clearly not invited. 'But I heard Sex God (another friend who lives in America) is back in town.' I've already seen Sex God, because although he has about a million friends, he manages to be very loyal to all of them. 'So, if he can make it, maybe I'll cancel on Cool and Cooler one night and hang out with you and him.' WHAT!?! If it means she can see Sex God, she will cancel one night of fun with Cool and Cooler. And maybe see me at the same time. I fail to see how this is a tempting or flattering offer for me in any way. I suggested (in a nice way) that she phone me back after she speaks to the others (i.e. everyone that's higher up on her personal Friends ranking hierachy). She didn't. This is the worst example, but many others have acted similarly. I'm taking a course now and working full-time at the library. The course is the hardest thing I've done in my life, and my job is difficult and stressful, with long, antisocial hours. I'm a busy person. Maybe they all work sixty to seventy hours a week studying for their poxy degrees. Maybe going to the pub next door for a half of carling is the highlight of their weeks. Maybe they are hopelessly in debt, can hardly feed themselves, haven't had more than a week off in 18 months and spent their Christmas money on rent and their Christmas book token on course books. But why should I take on (or keep up) the work of making them happy when my life is shit, their lives are less shit and they don't bother with me? Answers on a postcard.

Lord Stratford

Tony Banks died last night. He had been my MP from the month I was concieved up to the general election last year. He also supported the same football team I do. He'd just been made Lord Stratford when he retired last year; after only a few months of leisure he had a massive stroke while on holiday. I've been so angry about senior Lib Dems using the media as a tool to push Charles Kennedy from power. Alcoholism is not necessarily something that prevents you from doing your job properly, any more than HIV does. And like HIV, it's NOT something you bring upon yourself, whatever my dear colleagues and flatmate might say. I know alcoholics with important, difficult jobs who have never let drinking interfere with their work, and there is very little evidence that Kennedy ever did. If he had, the chances of him having been made party leader in the first place are slim. That such a blatant coup can take place in Parliament with media and public support would make a sham of democracy in Britain if it wasn't for the fact that democracy in Britain has openly been a sham for a long time. However, back to Tony Banks. My next-door-neighbour was trying to buy cigarettes in Somerfield one day when she was asked for ID, which she didn't have as she was fifteen. Then the man behind her said he was sure she was old enough to buy cigarettes and they should leave her alone. As it was Tony Banks, the shop assistant did... Maybe it's better for a politician (and an honourable man, as far as that goes in politics) to retire aged 45 and enjoy his fat pension (Charles Kennedy entered the commons in the same election as Tony Banks, in 1983, though Kennedy was then only 23) than to stay working until he drops. My dad was muttering last night (my dad's main pastime is calculating people's pensions under his breath) that MPs get a 40th pension; basically that's a lot more than most people if you get in a good few year's service. What a shame Tony Banks never got to enjoy his.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

'Giving Up Smoking' by Wendy Cope

This is one of my favourite love poems; I think the sentiment is beautiful whether you smoke or not. It's absolutely simple; two parts, one composed of compliments using simile, then the second with its offer of sacrifice. But this sacrifice is much more real than any tearing your heart out or walking to the ends of the earth. And it's not to keep someone, or to prove something massive; it's just because she likes him.

Giving up Smoking by Wendy Cope

There's not a Shakespeare sonnet Or a Beethoven quartet That's easier to like than you Or harder to forget. You think that sounds extravagant? I haven't finished yet- I like you more than I would like To have a cigarette. This isn't just a random posting- I haven't had a cigarette since Tuesday. I didn't do it for someone else, but for myself. I can't afford to smoke (over a grand in debt and I'm spending nearly that on malboro lights each year) and my usual post-Christmas cough and cold spurred me on. Lovebird is being very good -no sneering- but the really helpful people have been the NHS. They come to my work every Thursday night and run a giving up drop-in thing. I was chatting to them and they invited me to come and see them. I get to tell a hot counsellor all my problems, then he gives me free nicotine patches. Can't wait to go back next week and soak up the praise for not having smoked. Isn't it funny how much easier something is if you've got to do it to prove something to someone else? Especially a stranger.