Friday, 30 May 2003

Big Bro

Its the season again, and I'm in trouble with the boyfiend again for being obsessed and I can't help myself but I'm lying in bed and watching it very late at night. have to hope that Jon is left in just so that he can continue to talk people to sleep with his fascinating sci-fi stories about how the universe works. Eventually it'll cause Cameron, the man with an iron resolve to be eternally nice, to turn round and smack him. Or perhaps Gos will poison him. I'm waiting for the honeymoon period to be over, when there isn't enough alcohol to get so over excited (probably next week cos they failed the task - so much riding on their endeavors to be crushed by Federico having to get a chewing gum off the end of the boat - let that guilt rest heavy on his shoulders) and shout so much. And I'm not convinced by everyone changing their minds about Anoushka - I still can't get over her judgemental once-overs during the first hour. And Sissy can't sing so she'll probably be the one who'll make a single. All there is to do again is smoke. And disappointingly all the chinese whispers end in birdsong coverup.

Amazing Anoushka Brain Facts

  • Lions have sex a million times a day

  • An emu's brain is the same size as it's eyes

  • Wednesday, 28 May 2003

    Great tits

    Everytime I sit down to post something while I'm at home I look up at the calender hanging on the wall above the computer screen and look at the picture of the little bird sitting on a blossom branch. And then I read the text beside it: "the great tit (Parus major) is the largest of the nine 'true tit' species breeding in Europe. Its glossy blue-black cap, white cheeks and yellow underparts mark out the great tit so distinctively..." I look at this probably every five minutes (concentration makes me do it) and everytime I always misread the title at the top of the text because I always read GREAT TITS. Its so distracting.

    Did I mention before that my dad is an urban bird watcher? He has developed a fascination for the birds in our garden over the last year or so, he fills up bird feeders, provides bird boxes, leaves bread when its mouldy, tries to influence which varieties will visit (not keen on the pigeons knowing where we live but doesn't mind the white doves or the mixed pigeondoves).

    People are Weird Day

    It happens periodically that you wander around doing your daily business and people present themselves in the most peculiar way. If I judge everything against myself as the norm (I am normal, all behaviours deviate from me in various degrees of weirdness) I end up where I have created ever expanding ripples around myself with people trapped into their wave of weird. Today was one of those days.

    I was at a disability discrimination act talk with my team and kept looking around myself thinking about the individual members: JP couldn't sit still for longer than 5 minutes, jumping up and rushing off to get something in the middle of the speaker's talk, snorting loudly and clearing his throat (really really irritating habit that he has); the angry woman, never missing an opportunity to pass blame or buck, be pissed off, complain, grumble, stick the knife in and twist it - shit man we are supposed to be adults, with responsibilities, paid at management grades and we behave like chip-on-shoulder teenagers at school. Then spent an hour and a half standing on the street talking to another member about her issues. Then on the 29 bus on the way home there was a man who was gradually sidling up behind a large bottomed woman and seemed to have the intention, when he got close enough, to touch it (fortunately for her, although she never realised his intention, she got off before this happened). Then through the open door of the Al-Mansoor Halal Special Tandoori restaurant (its confused) I saw a man arguing with someone behind the counter and the person who was behind the counter punched him in the head - I mean give them the customer service of the year award.

    Some days you just shouldn't be outside.

    Tuesday, 27 May 2003

    Whistle while we work...

    All last week I was on an intensive management training course - it taught me lots of techniques for thinking about my approach to my team: personality tests, what motivates me tests, my belief's cycle, team dynammics etc etc etc. All useful stuff but the hard bit is putting it into action - every word, tone, action, sentence has to be considered for what you are communicating in all ways - words, tone and body language. God being at work is going to be such hard work!

    Half way through the week on our second outing at lunch to a restaurant (we were packed off together as a group - strangers trying to find something suitably unpersonal to talk about that isn't about being management trained - sometimes strained) and two of the chaps decided that basically the course could be summed up, albeit very negatively: that whatever you do, whatever doesn't go right (the team doesn't understand the task, someone behaves negatively or manipulatively or cynically) - it all boils down to the fact that its YOUR fault - you aren't communicating correctly, positively, adultly and YOU are responsible for changing your approach to get the other person to behave differently. So its another stick to beat ourselves with.

    Back at work today for the first time in what seemed like ages I was thrilled to find only 7 voice messages on the phone (I hate the phone now that I have sole responsibility over one - it rings I HAVE to answer it because its my phone - I'm finding that the work phone is a torture implement - designed to ring just as I get to the most important and complicated part of a problem and am on the brink of cracking it thereby losing the entire train of thought), and only 18 email messages. But what messages...every one a misunderstood, poorly thought out answer to something that I was expecting to have been done already, arguments against decisions, misinterpretations, snidy responses.

    And I wished I could be back to the beginning of last week - no phone, nice walk down the Kingsway towards Aldwych from Holborn, past the florist and fruit stall, along a pavement of stone slabs with huge plain trees overhead...instead of trapped in Finsbury Park on the 3rd floor of a building with one corner of an open plan office, MY phone and a set of cranky staff and a big stick to beat myself with because its all my fault...sigh.

    Sunday, 25 May 2003

    The Blind lead the Blind

    At the Barbican before a concert a nervy looking man asked us if we wanted a copy of the programme for the spiritual/healing, mind body and self conference. Flicking through it to pass the time a poorly photocopied pamphlet fell out, first published in 1964 and it showed (in the days before computers when everything looked like it was typed on ancient manual typewriters - always times new roman, always slightly out of alignment). The Pamphlet was entitled, The Flying Saucers: a report on the flying saucers, their crews and their mission to Earth, by George King. It served to tie together for me the whole religious, yoga, occult thing.

    Published by the Aetherius Society, they believe in a Master of the physical body who resides on Venus and is called Aetherius. He is the Venusian Representative of the Interplanetary Parliament. "He has to be capable of metaphysical feats of pre-determined projection to other Planetary Bodies, in other parts of the Milky Way as well as to Planets within this Solar System".

    The few who have been specially chosen by him have been let in on the strictly classified discoveries regarding Interplanetary Lifestreams. The philosophy covered the reasons for visits to Earth (flying saucers come here from Mars and Venus as directed by the Interplanetary Parliament in order to make a metaphysical survey of Earth, "The seat of Interplanetary Parliament is Saturn. This Planet is the Tribunal of the Solar System - Note: This statement will be substantiated to terrestrial man at a date which coincides with his required evolutionary position."), about the spacecraft, the beings who man the flying saucers, and the crux of it - why we should be taking note. Basically Jesus, Mohammed and Buddha were all Venusians who came to earth to help us live up to the teachings of the Master (Aetherius). Oh and they don't have to eat because they live off the radiation from the sun, they are glowing, and wear seamless suits.

    So to summarise - make use of the teachings of your current religion of choice but remember that these teachings are just the tools of the Master and so you are basically following the teachings of Aetherius - which asks us to beat ourselves with our evolutionary backwardness, greed and lack of knowledge. And I wonder why religion has always been such an unattractive proposition to me.

    The Music's Within Us

    Was having one of those conversations that you have with strangers (talking to one of Bail's friends who was a musician in the Salt Perverts) where you know one thing about them and you try to talk about something relevant - we were watching the audience of a rap group and suddenly the whole audience moved in time with the beat - heads nodding with shoulder swings punctuating the vocal. The beats of some music connects to the rhythm of life in your body (his phrase - he seemed to be quite a hippy) and makes you rock.

    At the Barbican concert listening to the Boban Markovic Orkestra (see Seen - link left) the funky drumbeats, melodies and massive sound of this Serbian brass band drew people to dance - even those people who appeared to be uptight englishmen did their version of the swinging hips with arms waving in the air that you see at Jewish weddings. Something in the music connected with people's bodies and made them feel the music to which their reaction is dancing. It took me back to the previous conversation. That conversation moved on from the idea of music connecting to the body to the Millenium Bridge and the oscillation phenomenon. My mind somehow connected the two things - the pounding of hundreds of feet on the bridge set up a reverberation that caused the bridge to sway dangerously - so perhaps this connection to the life in your body can be transferred further into inanimate objects. Or music oscillates our bodies.

    Wednesday, 21 May 2003

    Shoot me if I ever mention the M word

    In the corner under the plasma screen where we're watching Celtic play Porta in the UEFA cup final there are two couples drinking together. The girls are drinking something orange and the boys are drinking Guiness. The boys fancy themselves as a couple of comedians. They are trying very hard with their bestest jokes to make the girls laugh. Its like a comedy contest. (I'm earwigging, forgive me). Turns out they're planning a best man speech - the groom is a fireman (which suggests there must be lots of appropriate material apparently), but they can't do gay jokes because there will be a couple of gays there (relations), the fireman jokes are a bit naff (hose jokes - heard em all before, although they were contemplating the shiny helmet variety!?!), the best man loved Les Dawson mother-in-law jokes but was going to be sat next to the mother-in-law later and it might be better not to get her back too far up before it all got many decisions and he's not even in the marriage couple.

    Theres a girl at work who is getting married in August - living together for the last 2 years, engaged just after new year, planning the wedding every day since then - we've had: the dress; the diet; the groom and other men's outfits (he's scottish, they'll be wearing kilts but not the family one because it isn't the right colours, and no knickers - the photographer said it might be a great shot to get them all with their kilts blowing up in the breeze, she thought "tasteful........NOT"); the wedding breakfast; caterers; reception venues; diet; bridesmaid's gifts; diet; honeymoon destination; hen night preparations; mother of the bride outfit + shoes; tiara; flowers; rings; diet; diet; diet. Such a fuss (I don't think I could even remember all the necessary things).

    If I ever got married I think I might go to Vegas, get married in a little chapel of love with an Elvis impersonator leading the ceremony. Just about tacky enough and no need to invite 100 relations. And you could probably afford the honeymoon suite of one of the hotels on the strip, watch the dancing waterfalls and the pirates fight it out before putting $100 into the elvis slots (Auntie Delores tipped me about the Elvis Slots when we visited Vegas with her - they were good for big winnings if you weren't me).

    Anyway, the double date seemed to be going very very well - they were drinking like fishes and paying absolutely no attention to the Celtic game until the last 5 minutes of the extra time when Celtic was in their loosing moments - except for the fact that one of the girls couldn't remember which one was Steve and which was Adam and one of the boys started talking about heterosexuals (I'm making assumptions but I'm assuming he wasn't one - management training this week - assumptions are bad). I left confused and the boyfiend couldn't believe I'd seen and heard all this, but there you go.

    Monday, 19 May 2003

    Monday's Life Class

    Went straight to drawing from the mammouth management training session I'm on all week. Was actually knackered. Standing at an easle started to be a real pain in the back. However, its a different kind of concentration. This week's model was some hippie/crusty chic - she had one of those interesting haircuts that are popular with alternative italians - a long bit at the back, short on the sides and over part of the top. Its amazing that however tired I am drawing is still enjoyable.

    "Theres a man, wearing a tie with a dead chicken upside down on the front AND he's a ginga! Who's gonna be attracted to him?" white haired gay man and female companion laugh to themselves. I pretend I'm not listening but steal a peek out of Tinderbox's window at the unfortunate who made such a fashion faux pas this morning. Who indeed?!

    Sunday, 18 May 2003

    Birthday Weekending 2003

    So its the weekend that I'm celebrating my birthday and neither the boyfriend nor bails could get it together to meet up with me. I was sitting in Picadilly Pizza Express having a pizza before going to the cinema alone when JD rang up. Told me to meet up with him and his bro to drink in Islington. They are lovers of cheap beer. And we met in a most delightful drinking hole called the White Swan at Highbury Corner. Its a Wetherspoons public house - largely frequented during the daytimes by aging alcoholics and at night by young people trying to be drunk before they hit the clubs.

    The White Swan has some very strange wood veneer on the walls, and a balcony with railings like they used to have in libraries in the 70s. As we looked over the balcony at the people below the boys noticed a girl wearing a white shirt and due to the angle you could see her bra, she was out on a hot date with a man dressed in a rugby shirt who had bought a bottle of cheap champagne (the big romantic gesture - useful for getting a chick into bed). Once they had finished the wine both were in the mood for more and the kissing started. There were groups of lads obviously getting as many drinks in as possible before going on (cheaper to drink here than in the overpriced clubs). Lots of spiky hair, bleached tips, shirts. Spring is coming and although the evenings are cold girls were choosing the short skirt no tights style of dressing - ease of access - return of the outdoors sex season. The largest group were celebrating the birthday of some identical twins - same haircut, similar shirts, same glasses, similar mannerisms, same physique - its always astonishing and fascinating when you see identical twins, I can't imagine having someone else in the world who looks so much like me.

    We did fortunately move on from this place, sadly only to the Hen and Chickens to listen to a rock band but by that time and having consumed lots of cheap booze it didn't really matter what we did.

    Thursday, 15 May 2003

    Late Night Shopping

    Dad has been counting sparrows. Apparently the RSPB is concerned at their declining numbers over the last few years (at least I think its them) so they've been doing some measuring of the populations. In order to do this they get all the people who are participating to look out over a particular hour or afternoon and count the sparrows. But you don't count individual birds, you have to count the number of sparrows seen together at one time (e.g. 5 at once etc). Then after the hour is up you fill in their form with the greatest number seen at one time and send it off. Somehow this gives them a measure of the numbers in the sparrow population. Its complicated but it is birdwatching sparrows...

    I was on the bus outside Topshop in Oxford Street this evening and the largest number of kissing couples at any one time was 3. If I knew the formula I'm sure I could calculate the population of kissing couples in London. Oh and by kissing I wasn't counting pecks on the cheek but proper eyes shut snogging.

    Wednesday, 14 May 2003


    Forgive me if anything doesn't quite work -I'm publishing for the first time and am quite scared...I'll try to fix stuff as I go along please be patient.

    Cafe 67 and the Greek Sopranos

    We lunch, sometimes in the aforementioned cafe. Its busy, makes great hot chocolate, has nice big windows. Theres a group of local greek businessmen from the fashion industry that use it for lunchtime meetings. Theres four of them, they boss the greek cafe owner round like he's a skivvy, half teasing, acting like fat cats. Kings of a small castle. I've watched them because they have become familiar (people I see in the neighbourhood). One has a terrible 80s mullet, one seems older similarish in style and manner to Des O'Conner and the third I can't define because I can't remember anything about him (very bland). Sitting with four colleagues one day eating sandwiches and drinking hot chocolate, not paying much attention to the work talk going on around me, I noticed the fourth businessman: black suit, black shirt, silver ring, the most fantastic eyebrows, very black eyes, very stylish designer glasses and hair greying round the ears. Suddenly developed a massive crush on this man. Something about the macho businessman confidence, something about the mediterranean good looks and suave dress sense. Something...

    Today Bails was off work and I suggested she come for lunch - she was very interested to see this man who I had mentioned to her. Met at Cafe 67 sat down to eat. Three of the greek sopranos were finishing off their lunch and left, sadly he wasn't with them. So we had our sandwiches and drank our coffee. A black soft top porche pulled up outside and The Man got out (didn't know he had this car...see yesterday's entry). She laughed, and her exact words have been ever since - I'm disturbed. No accounting for this weird attraction.

    Tuesday, 13 May 2003


    I'm 33 today, I was @ 1.30am actually. I've hated every minute of being over the age of 30 so far. Just feel like I'm inching closer and closer to some (imaginary) critical date at which point I will have failed to make a success of myself (judging against my own internal targets, naturally). I don't own a house, or a car, have any children or a husband. When we were little my sister thought that I'd have a great boyfriend by the time I was 18 ("knowing him, he'll have an open air car"). I sometimes think I haven't quite been totally committed to any of the boyfriends so far because they have all, every single one of them, failed to live up to this exacting standard. I have NEVER been out with a man who owned an open air car. I would like to be able to afford my own and sometimes try to imprint this measure of success onto my ambitions but it never quite manages to overimpose the one set in stone when I was 10. I also used to want to live in the cream coloured houses that surround Regent's Park - the ones with columns outside the doors and wraught iron fencing - that ambition was picked up from a 70s advert where three young people were walking down a similar street, a man and two girls - he was giving one of the girls a piggy-back, everyone was laughing (it was advert world) and I want an old fashioned millionaire was playing (I was too young to remember what was being advertised but the lifestyle was what I aspired to). But the property boom has put paid to me ever achieving that ambition. I sometimes think I'd just like to be happy (and I am mostly) but I'm not sure its enough, if you're the kind of person who is ambitious I wonder if you can ever really be satisfied and satisfaction with your lot is probably the basis of happiness.

    The older I get the more disappointing receiving gifts becomes - nobody ever tries to suprise me anymore so I often get given exactly what I want (and these are often fantastic presents - state of art gadgets etc - which I love, so I'm not knocking them) but it used to be great when the gift arrived wrapped without me having an inkling what would be inside (my mum was the best gift buyer). Today my sister sent me a hand and a footprint of my neice (6 months) in plaster - which was great and boyfriend brought some long stemmed flowers with a fantastic fragrance into work (suprise, very romantic). So on the 33rd birthday the thoughts were perfect.

    Oh yes, and Jesus died when he was 33, as I was reliably informed by my father (strict baptist upbringing - well informed in these matters). Ever the optimist.

    Other People Born on 13 May: (in no particular order and forgive me if they're incorrect)

    • Dennis Rodman, basketball player - 1961

    • Stevie Wonder, superstar - 1950

    • Richie Valens, singer of 'La Bamba' etc - 1941

    • Harvey Keitel, filmstar - 1939

    • Arthur Sullivan, of Gilbert & Sullivan - 1842

    • Joe Lewis, boxer - 1914

    • Beatrice Arthur, deep voiced Golden Girl - 1923

    • Daphne Du Maurier, writer - 1907

    • George Braque, cubist painter - 1882

    • Jim Jones, cult leader of the People's Temple - 1931

    Monday's Life Class

    Life model was the original amazonian woman - the chaps love her - tall, olive, beautiful but with slight imperfections. Great curves to draw. Superb at posing, every one interesting. Man's ideal woman.

    The DJs were in the Salmon & Compasses. Its a convention once a month on a Monday. They convene to swap vinyl, listen to tunes and practice their art. One DJ ina club deck wanking, spinning the discs and whipping the crowd can be sexy, a crowd of them come across like train spotters. Get to hear some great tracks though...

    Smokers are part of an ever decreasing club, especially as they get older. The members of the club delight in the fact that they are engaging in a naughty activity, dicing with danger in a small way. A subgroup of this club is that of the roll-up smokers - always friendly, very generous, will always share even their last paper. Throw back to the hippie days I expect. Roll-up smoking seems to be an activity rather than an addiction - each lovingly rolled with care and attention. Not a fast hit, not hurried, not about the rush. Slow smoking. (still wouldn't want to do it myself however - just seems that all my rolling friends are much more laidback than the industry standard cancerstick smoking variety).

    Thursday, 8 May 2003

    Resurrecting Robyn Island

    Bails once fell in love with a South African man while on holiday in South Africa with her father. He came to England but couldn't stand it so she decided she had to go and live with him in Cape Town. So she left our shores for pastures new (I didn't want her to go but you can't stand in the way of true love).

    When she had been there for a month or two she invited me to stay over Christmas. They were living in a tiny studio flat in the burbs of Cape Town in the house of gay man called George who had a live-in lover and a lodger who were both gay drag queens. On performance days the boys would have to practice walking in stillettos and their breasts were cleverly made out of fleshcoloured tights filled with birdseed (these lay around on the sideboard when not in use). But I digress.

    The romance didn't last and when she was finally desperate to come home she booked a flight for a visit. And never went back. So on return to UK she needed a job and one came up at the college where I was working. So we started working together - both of us thought this might be difficult but proved to be great (we did meet at college where we had spent lots of time together so I suppose it shouldn't have been such a shock). Anyway I had worked there for 3 years and was getting quite tired of it all. We started to create a list of people we wanted to send to Robyn Island.

    Last night Bails came round for dinner because she was depressed. She reminded me about Robyn Island during the advert for the 100 worst celebrities. Our list had been all encompassing - politicians, work colleagues, family members, celebritites etc etc. We had gotten to the point where it wouldn't have been big enough. So we're resurrecting Robyn Island...

    And the inhabitants so far are: Bail's stepmom, Bail's sister & bro (she was having a bad time with life in general whereas I haven't yet contributed to the list apart from adding a couple from the aforementioned advert), Peter Stringfellow, and if he's there Bails had to add Geri Halliwell (despite the fact she's been out of the press quite a bit), and list goes on...

    Tuesday, 6 May 2003

    The Taurean Takeover of the World

    Its birthday time at work again. Far too many of us has a birthday around the end of April, beginning of May. At previous jobs it was generally the birthday person who provided treats of some description and nothing much else happened - the few people who may know would wish you a happy one. At my current work the office manager sends round a card (usually 4 at once for all the chaps whose birthdays fall within a week of each other) that we all duly sign and for some reason this makes it a huge deal. We are currently also in a spate of people leaving. I am starting to get confused as to the appropriate sentiment whether good luck or many happy returns.

    Probably half the office has a taurean birthday. I also know a lot of taureans outside work (I'm not making a judgement about their characters just interested in the fact that I know lots of people with birthdays around this time of year) leading me to think about whats going on at the time all these taureans are conceived and it probably does coincide with summer holidays.

    Sunday 4th May Midday

    Sunday 4th May midday, a full grown seemingly healthy plain tree outside next door fell over with a huge thud that sounded like a bomb going off far away. The tree fell downhill (towards our house) - the canopy was half over the pavement and half over our front wall, the branches pushed up against the front downstairs bay windows. Fortunately we could still get out of the house. Remarkably nobody was passing by, no cars were crushed and nothing got damaged apart from one window sill getting chipped. Caused a lot of hoopla though. Much leaning out the window discussing with neighbours and passers by.

    Overheard in Forbidden Planet

    "Before I satrted playing bass I always played air-guitar but now I play air-bass..." Teenage boys discuss.

    Friday, 2 May 2003

    Leaving Do

    It was a colleague's leaving do yesterday - he had a party at a local cafe. We collectively gave him a set of golf lessons and some golf balls since this is something he wants to do in his retirement. Never understood the golf thing - closest I've ever come is that I am addicted to a card game called Golf Solitaire by Jack Griffin that I play on my pda. My handicap is down to 6.4 after getting off on the wrong foot trying to figure out what the game exactly was (internet download didn't come with instructions). I used to be addicted to Dope Wars where I was a very successful drugs dealer able to make millions in a matter of days, (got to wear a great coat in that game).

    When I grow up...

    At this leaving party I had a conversation with two chaps, one younger (ES), one older (D) than me, about dream jobs. When I was at primary school all the boys had wanted to be firemen - one girl's dad was a fireman and always came on our trips out to museums etc because he worked shifts. He was a hero, especially to the boys - he once gave our class a tour around his firestation. Sure enough, D had wanted to be a fireman when he was a boy, his other alternative was a... you guessed it -- train driver. ES couldn't understand the appeal of train driving (boring stuck in the cabin all day going up and down the same tracks), when he was a boy he had wanted to be an astronaut - which we pointed out was, at the time, the latest dynamic heroic mode of transport. Train drivers, in their time, were sexy in comparison to working in a factory or being a miner (they went at great speed, in a huge machine, steam, blowing the horn etc). And in between train drivers and astronauts were pilots. But it interested me that the dream jobs as youngsters were linked to travel, being able to reach beyond the boundaries of our everyday lives to other places across the world, or out of this world into space. Little people with big dreams.

    The Quest for Self Discovery

    As a perpetual soul searcher I periodically make use of online personality tests as a tool to enlightenment. This week I did the Rheti Sampler Personality test on the Enneagram Institute website. It told me a I had a basic type 7 with a wing of 6 - enthusiast (entertainer) type which means I am extroverted, optimistic, versatile, spontaneous, constantly seeking new and exciting experiences - which all sounds good to me - until we get to the bits about problems with impatience and impulsiveness, fear of being bored, in a perpetual state of motion but best of all prone to flamboyant exaggeration (who me?)! Bails roared when I showed her, especially revelling in all my (in her opinion) spot on personality blips.