Wednesday, 30 July 2003

The Office Toilet

Before we moved into this office the three units we occupy were refurbished. They put in the regulation number of toilets for the number of workers likely to be working here. There are 2 in next door's unit and 2 in ours. They have wooden toilet seats (slightly more upmarket than the usual I've been used to at work). But in the year that we have been working here we have had to replace the loo seats in both the mens and womens once and they are now broken again. This is not because we are using them too often.

I have thought about it long and hard and decided that it must be to do with the quality of the bowl itself. Let me explain. On my toilet at home (just for comparison) the bowl has a lip that is flat - the rim of the toilet bowl is at the same level all the way round. At work the toilet bowl's rim is angled downwards to the inside - so the outer rim edge is higher than the inner rim edge (i.e. the rim slants into the toilet). When you buy a toilet seat and install it - especially a wooden one which has plastic feet underneath that are flat on the bottom - you find that after a couple of sittings the feet tend to make the seat slip into the bowl slightly on one side and off the outer rim on the other. This gradually causes wear and tear on the plastic bolt (I'm sure these used to be metal) and it eventually snaps leaving you with a seat that is hanging on by one bolt. This is now a health and safety hazard (I have reliably been informed) because when you sit down, the seat is level but jerks to the side quite violently and could throw you off. This lobsided loo seat then develops a crack in the centre front which can trap your skin if you are not careful. Eventually the other bolt breaks. We now have no loo seat at all.

I am wondering if we will be able to find a loo seat that will not do this on these inferior toilet bowls. I suspect manufacturing companies have not thought to design a seat with angled feet to adjust to the sloping rims. Something to think about if you ever consider upgrading your bathroom suite...(trying hard not to be anal here - failing miserably most likely).

We have paranoia mirrors in the loos - they were bought from IKEA (UGHH - just mentioning it brings me out in a rash), they have a lovely wooden frame which is about 20cm thick all round and the mirror bit is about 15cms square - VERY small. They were bought by our Chief Executive - obviously not a man who needs to worry about bad hair days (he is practically bald). In order to see the whole of oneself one has to do a circular motion with one's head and shoulders. They were put up by a Handy Man, who must have been 6 foot tall, at his own eye level - one of the women working here is 5 foot 3 - she hasn't a hope in hell's chance of seeing herself in it. I can very easily see the top of my head, everyday I see the creeping grey hairs shimmering out of my dark crown at me. Thats all they are good for - examination of the inevitable onslought of grey. Either its that I can see them more easily in these mirrors cos they are so high up or my job is turning me grey. Can't decide. Everyone says they don't notice them, but I know they are there - because I can SEE them. (Am I sounding paranoid yet? Thought so).

IKEA - shopping for the masses - it just goes against my rhythm of life to have to follow the crowd and I always end up wanting to go back to something (I don't do it on purpose, its just the way my mind works) and upon turning round am faced with the rows of endless shopping trolleys marching forward - I feel like I am in one of those 1st world war movies where the man is sending his troups over the trenches to inevitable death row after row after row. I just can't get into the swing of the route thing. Its probably a personality flaw.

Tuesday, 29 July 2003

To Sit in Contemplation of One's Naval

Deliveries were planned in for AM - that means anytime between 9.00am and 1.00pm (12-1 is NOT AM but this was not worth pointing out). Deliveries were going to an address that is not my office but at a currently unfurnished and unstaffed learning centre - meaning I had to wait for the deliveries to arrive. Why is it that when something is being delivered they give you a date and a time scale (between ... and ...) but you are always the delivery at the end of the scale? Why don't they just say they will deliver at 1.00PM?

My naval is an innie, I can twiddle my thumbs equally well forwards and backwards, it took 12 police officers to arrest one bloke in the street outside the learning centre windows today, the carpet tiles are all the same colour but have been laid with grain going two different directions, all the light switches are at the front of the room apart from the central line which is by the disabled toilet...and then they rang up to say there's been a delivery mix up and they won't be coming today.

We are patient, we are calm. We are going back to do some real work.

Monday, 28 July 2003

Monday Blues

You know you need a holiday when you are knackered on Monday even though you haven't had a particularly frantic weekend. I feel exhausted. Need to be on a beach, thinking only about the surf breaking on the sand, collecting shells and reading a book. Sigh.

Came home and discovered that SS has decanted the TV to his room so that there is nothing to watch in the kitchen (we are a family of TV watchers - in the vein of always having it on in the background for compnay) which is very weird. I'm thinking about whether I should buy a new one for the empty space it has left (with all the wires trailing around on the ground and the video looking very lonely indeed) or demand he bring it back. This is the sort of thing that happens when Pops goes away. We have always had a TV in that spot in the kitchen - what makes him think it should all change just becuase Dad is not here? Unbelievable.
Monday's Life Class

Haven't seen this week's model for ages - he's a mime artist and holds himself like a ballet dancer - he's quirky and toned. Not sure about his brassy blond hair however (he used to be mousy brown). Class was very serious again today - the only usual crowd were M and me and a couple of others who aren't in the drinking gang. We got another snogging couple - he was european of some kind possibly German, he was attending class ONLY becuase his girlfriend was coming (this was weedled out of him by Ann who was trying to find out why he was drawing the lifemodel in felt tip pen and turning him into a cartoon character - not really a dedicated drawer...hum). At every pose change (this varied) they took the opportunity to have a kiss - sweet but sickly - we are here for the artistic merit of drawing from the human form. The snogging seemed so out of place when M and I were being dug at by another member of the class for making too much noise chatting. We did 15 mins, then lots of 5mins and finally got down to 30 second poses before doing a longer one again. Frantic. Its not helping my cricked back and shoulder but ne'er mind.

Monday Night's art class is brought to you by the Candid Arts Trust: open access sessions and more formal taught courses in both life drawing and painting. Behind Angel tube, Islington - first left down City Road. Contact: The Candid Arts Trust, 3 Torrens Street, London EC1V 1NQ, Tel: 020 7837 4237.

Saturday, 26 July 2003


Eating and drinking in the neighbourhood that is, in the immortal words of bails, so far up its own posterior. The bar of choice being the exclusive members only drinking hole Mono. Full of Crouch End yuppies - young eligible men and women (women attempting to portray upper class whore, men are aiming for media type urbane) who flit from group to group - everyone knows each other, mobiles ringing off the hook, squealy ooh factor, mauw mauwing over the cocktails. Excited babble. Pretentious? Never.

So after swanking about in the pretentious Mono in order to cross to the other side of the railway tracks back to where I live Bails and I bussed to Wood Green. Sitting chatting at the N29 bus stop outside Hollywood Green a completely different side of life passed us by. At one time Wood Green had no bars of any sort and suddenly they got three - Yates, Chicago Rock Garden and Weatherspoons. What a great combination. Chucking out time - several hen parties, lots of drunkeness, skirts so short you could see the girl's bum cheeks hanging out (minis and thongs - nice). Group thrown out of Chicago's half men, half women some kind of incident worked their way into fighting talk. One man removed his leather, and preceded to get extremely worked up until the police stopped and rushed in to calm it all down. Girl friends fighting amongst themselves about men. Arguments on the street. At least the street drinkers had all gone home (my first day at current job I was talking to AA about the drunks in Finsbury Park and was told in no uncertain terms that we don't call them that anymore they are street drinkers - so I remember this lesson always).

Good nights on all sides of the railway tracks. Gnight.

Thursday, 24 July 2003


When is a smoothie not a smoothie?

When its a lumpie. But this is not what was happening to Pop's smoothies today. They were very smooth. What they were was thickies. i.e. too thick to drink without a spoon. Attempted method of drinking - tip head back, open mouth really wide because you are afraid the ice cubes will fall down hit you in the face and fall out of the glass, wait for the contents to slide down the side of the glass (this is like watching that particular type of lava creep down the side of the volcano - thick sticky stuff that moves very slowly). Finally when your saliva is really running you have to resort to getting a glass of water. The remainder of my thickie is sitting in the bottom of the glass. It'll probably be like fool in a minute, all I need is some whipped cream to put on the top.
To Stub One's Toe... to see red.
This evening I mostly hopped about the kitchen saying FUCK under my breath (we don't say the F word in front of our father).

I have tried not to say the F word in front of father ever since I was 7 years old when I had refused to let one of the park friends ride my new bike and she had called me a fucking cow at which I cried. I cycled home and on recounting this story to my dad between sobs on the steps of our flat and he shouted at me, 'don't you ever let me hear you say that word again!'

I have torn the cuticle off my left big toe by scrapping the fridge door over it. It hurt so much my toe went numb.
Bus Driver's Nightmare

Its doesn't happen as often as you'd think considering the number of buses on London's streets at any one time. This evening we were sailing down the bus lane and a car had been a little too far on the white dividing lane and the bus clipped its wing mirror. It fell off. All the passengers leaned over to look out of the right-hand side (good job buses are designed to be able to lean at 45 degrees without falling over). Bus stopped. Bus driver collected his money and left the bus. Almost all the passengers got off and started walking to the next nearest bus stop. Details were obviously passed between drivers. After 10 minutes we were back on our way and picked most of the same passengers back up.

I've seen a bus in a head on collision with a car on a very tight s-bend. I've seen several wing mirrors torn off. I've seen a bus that had attempted to drive under a bridge that was too low (roof was torn off). But accidents are fairly rare considering the bus population.

Do careless bus driver's have their wages docked, like waiters? Or is there a bus driver's no-claims bonus scheme that London Buses run - money for not being in a collison? Carefulness bonuses might decrease the number of drivers who pretend they are driving an open topped beamer blaring loud music (fast but hard on the brakes). Its an idea.
Open Plan Offices

And so I am finally the last person left in the office. All goes quiet. Peace and calm descends.

I never realised how difficult it is to work in an open plan office before coming to this job. At my last work I shared an office with four people and I didn't find them distracting at all. When I first moved to this job I had an office to myself in the top of a building that was infested with mice (never saw one but they left poo deposits behind the keyboard every night). There were several other projects working out of the building so if you needed a chat you could go and disturb someone else. The only major issue with this space was that I wasn't allowed a key to the front door so if I arrived earlier than anyone else (as I normally did in the beginning) I couldn't go in (lots of burglaries).

However we were then transferred to new fancy open plan offices to be with the parent funding company. And BOY was that ever an intro to openplanism. There are not hundreds of people in the office (as there are in big office blocks) but about 10 people working in the same space. I can hear the people from the other end of the room talking on the phone or to each other. There are no screens dividing the space so if JJ wants me he just calls down the office to me (pet peeve - being interrupted by someone shouting my name to ask inane questions). MM wanders around and hangs behind you if he wants to chat and will strike up a conversation even if you never stop typing to acknowledge him (persistant). He likes to be controversial to get a rise. He wears his jeans belted too high up. SS has an office with a door but never remembers that the door slams shut because the window is open so the walls rattle whenever she leaves her space. AA the minister-to-be is leaving soon to study full time so we will be able to dispense with watching our p's & q's so much. DD & HH are related and bicker towards the end of a longish day. And the man with the porn star's name always asks, 'are you well?' when you walk in. The girls in the end office area are tres giggly. BB is rarely seen. All told a strange mixture of people. But its the constant babble that is most distracting and why I invariably stay later than anyone else so I can get some quiet time for working. The greatest time in an office is when nobody else is there.

Tuesday, 22 July 2003

Big Bore 4

And so, the end is near... Alas its all gotton so dull we forgot to vote in the sweep stake at work last week. Week 8 remains blank. And nobody even noticed.

But OH the paranoia - too much knowledge about previous BBs has given them things to worry about unnecessarily. Practically the only topic of conversation is the dreaded eviction and crowd reception. Pissed people arguing while thinking they are having a deep conversation.

I was having difficulty understanding why they were showing a repeat of the reward room from the weekend during the live bb broadcast last night (really - too many kalua's with orange on a Monday night messes with your head) - they were still in trilby hats, she still had a terrible blond wig on, they were still pissed on pink cocktails - its supposed to be live , thats why there is bird music over the talking. Wasn't until today that someone told me they were allowed in there 2 nights in a row, doh. Life is bad when bb can confuse you.
Monday's Life Class

Ann was back from holidays, new pack of paper had arrived, all was good in lifedrawing land.

Monday Night's art class is brought to you by the Candid Arts Trust: open access sessions and more formal taught courses in both life drawing and painting. Behind Angel tube, Islington - first left down City Road. Contact: The Candid Arts Trust, 3 Torrens Street, London EC1V 1NQ, Tel: 020 7837 4237.

My usual tipple of choice is kalua and coke but on the suggestion of the barwoman at the Salmon & Compasses I was drinking kalua and orange - very nice.

Sunday, 20 July 2003

Style Icons

You will always be able to find people who are trying to be something harder than you. At a gig in Highbury on Saturday was amazed at how deliberate the majority of the crowd was in their observance of the 50s style thing. Girls were fully made up, puffy red unglossed lips, stillettos, pencil skirts and long straight hair in ponytails with quiffs or short curled just so. Guys with painted shirts and vests underneath, big turn-up jeans and crocodile shoes. Trying to recapture 1950s preppy girl and bad boy chic. So much effort to look just so cool. The fan-base of Pimp seem to be like all dedicated followers - they are sure that they are the original fans of something great - and will take great pride in reminding us all that they watched them in tiny venues around north london before they were discovered when they make it big. They are in the know, dress right, dance right and scream at all the right places. Its a exclusive group that makes them belong. And even the people who are desperately trying to be different are all really just trying to fit in (but with a less popular group). And to fit into this exlusive group makes them feel that they have achieved a pinnacle that lesser mortals are struggling to reach.

Saturday, 19 July 2003

Ladies who lunch

Been playing at this a bit during my time off. Very relaxing. Rue the day I didn't decide to marry a rich man, live in a grand house and lunch for a living (chance would be a fine thing). Been compiling my own list of Things You Only Know if You are not at Work: Crouch End at lunchtime is actually pushchairland; people earn their living by dogwalking; most people not at work are pregnant, recent parents or elderly; Ally Pally garden centre doesn't run out of tea apart from on the weekend; you can choose a space on the grass at the Park Road lido during the week.
NB's Birthday

Thursday was NB's birthday, he's managed to reach the ripe old age of 24 (god to be back there again - without the trappings that I had then though - we're thinking coming towards the end of first long term boyfriend nightmares, finishing college and being unemployed - if I had it to do all over again armed with the knowledge that I have now, actually not sure I'd want to go back).

He invited his regular crowd to eat with him at Sarastro in Covent Garden. Having been there before I was quite excited to go there again. Its a funny restaurant plushly decorated with many nooks and crannies - tables are on balconies or in turrets or tucked away. The waiters, dressed in formal black and white rush around with trays lifted over their heads. And opera plays in the background. They have swaths of fabric and gold leaf and paintings of sexual orgies in the toilet.

It all seemed to start out wonderfully - we were sitting on a huge balcony table looking down the whole length of the restaurant. But it turned out to be awfully disappointing - the food wasn't as good as I remembered, the waiters were overly pompous and the drinks waiter couldn't understand us, the music was soooo loud from a speaker right by our heads that we had to shout at each other over the noise (and they played one tape round and round so that we eventually heard the same arias 3 times), on closer inspection the decor was sort of cheaply done (couldn't help but inspect too closely because we were sitting so close to the ceiling) and to cap it all the chocolate cake ordered two weeks previously had been dropped onto the pavement on the way from the bakery earlier that day (this was the story) and was replaced by a lemon meringue pie sans meringue (very very tart) that just didn't cut it as a birthday cake. Oh the disappointment of it all. And it had been such a great quirky restuarant. Perhaps they were just having an off off day.

I did gleen some useful information however from the Australian contingent - just in case you ever go to live in Oz. The Aussies called a duvet a doona and they buy them and their covers from the Manchester Department in their equivalent of Department Stores. Weird. Lots of stories of when they first arrived going into John Lewis asking for directions to the Manchester department to be met with blank stares. Did Australian sheets always come from Manchester in the early days of settlement or is there some other explanation for this name for the bedlinen department? One of the party was also SOOO anal that he safety pins his duvet cover to the duvet in order to stop the cover slipping off!! Methinks he needs to get one with press studs on it. He didn't have any advice for keeping the feathers equally spread throughout the quilt all night though, aparently even those quilted into squares suffer from feather slippage.

Another story that tickled both the gay and Australian contingent this evening was the Metro article about the findings of a study in australia that masturbating is actually good for you. Masturbating can help prevent prostate cancer. So its official - at least 5 times a week but the more the better. You may be blind but you won't get prostate cancer, tough call!
Royal Botantical Gardens, Kew

Dad, sis, niece and I went over to Kew Gardens on Wednesday for a quiet stroll through the calm. Its a beautiful place that I've been going to since a child - with school on trips, with parents for picnics and now in order to look at the trees that were planted in memory of mum. Love the well kept lawns and the wilderness and the amazing plants.
Annual Leave

When is annual leave not officially a holiday? When you take a few days and don't go away anywhere. I've been tired, getting irritated and bored with work so I took a few days because my sister was down in London from Dundee with baby. Been doing the family thing with her and pops. Its been very relaxing. But she has been sleeping in the room with the computer so I haven't managed to post anything for the last three days.

Tuesday, 15 July 2003

Finding Me

I don't know how I managed it but this blog came top of the relevent hit list for the following search in google: hot gay football players bending over in there hot sweaty kit (I'm adding in to this post just to say - I have discovered this by looking at the stats for the site NOT by putting ridiculous searches into google myself - honest :-)). Remarkable. Its fascinating to me the searches that have led to the blog. It would suprise me if any of these people ever find what they are looking for judging by the way they conduct a search (just one comment: boolean operators). Patrick the Librarian (from where I used to work) would be horrified - he once gave the 25 learning centre staff a training session in searching (both internet-based and in books), can't say it was riveting but it probably led to better search technique than that. My only other observation is that 80% of people that find me would rather have found pornography and of the remaining 20% half own fish tanks. Interesting...
Monday's Life Class

In preparation for the class you choose an easle, buy some paper and charcoal. Only as I queued up today the paper was definitely running out. All that was left was some crappy coloured sugar paper. We were only allowed 2 pieces each. Paper panic! Moan complain. And most tragically it was every man's favourite life model. So, as with all bad workmen, I blame my tools - the paper was too soft so you could rub all the charcoal off again, couldn't get a good crisp line, hard to understand the bright areas because the paper was coloured. Complain whinge. We only did two drawings. Hour long poses. At the recent speed we've been working I was completely finished in 20 mins. Sigh. Hopefully class will be better prepared next week and buy a new pack of paper.

Sunday, 13 July 2003

Dhaliwal Cup 2003

The Dhaliwal Cup is held annually on a weekend in July, organised by the Man from Del Monte by Bow at a point close to Long Bridge in Regent's Park. Premise is that there are plenty of people in his group with birthdays in July and in order to celebrate they gather as many people as they know to picnic in the park. Alongside the eating are the annual Games.

The games begin with a tournament of football made of teams of willing players from those congregated (any number of teams are allowed and the structure of the tournament depends on the number of people who want a game). This year there were four teams. They were drawn into two knockout games, the winners of each of these games played each other in the final. The winning team gets the famous Dhaliwal Cup which the event is named after. The spirit of Dhaliwal is to eat, drink and join in (but not too seriously).

All players got very hot, one goalkeeper was wearing flip flops. But eventually a winning team came through the heat and the finals and was awarded the prized Dhaliwal Cup.

So then the fun games begin. The first up was the old favourite tomato & spoon race (in order to enable all to participate several races were run and I suppose tomatos will last longer when dropped than hardboiled eggs, or maybe the man from Del Monte by Bow didn't have time to hardboil them before setting off, whatever). Rules: keep the tomato on the spoon without the aid of a thumb (last year's winner confessed to this cheat six months later and was stripped of his medal), run up the course around the pole and back again. A competetor's tomato cannot win the race if it is launched over the finish line without being on the spoon of the runner. Officially competetors should stop running if they need to place the tomato back on the spoon. All winners get a raffle ticket to automatically qualify for the prize giving raffle at the end of the games.

Next up was the infamous Blind Man's Fluff. This year blindfolds replaced the bin-bag-on-head (don't show the children) method. Two-people teams are called for - one is the eyes and the other has the blindfold on. The eyes guide the blindfolded partner up the course, round the pole and back again without touching them but by shouting directions. This game is not advised for entrants who don't know their left from their right. A fair amount of confusion is expected in this game - last year one particular contestant ran off at a tangent heading straight for a family picnic, the family's expressions got more and more concerned as the runner didn't seem to realise he had veered off the course and he couldn't hear anyone shouting at him to stop. The winners this year were brave souls who ran at full pelt despite being blindfolded. However there were injuries in this game - one incident of elbow in the eye on the start line. The elbower eventually came in first and the elbowed felt this was a tactic to scupper her attempts. However as the bruise became apparent across the picnic area the elbower obviously felt deeply guilty and forfeited all his winning raffle tickets (and yes we do know it wasn't deliberate). Last year's injury was a similar collisional event - ML and CR were well ahead of the pack only to turn round the pole and be confronted by having to run through all the trailing competetors at which point there was a terrible collision and split lip or bloody nose (can't quite remember the extent of the injury) occured which was evident for several days afterwards. As a team CR felt it was necessary to go again just to get back on the horse so to speak - and they got through without incident this time although in a rather nervy manner.

And to round the event off was a bout of Waterbomb Volleyball. Two teams 6-7 on each side, one waterbomb. The waterbomb is thrown by one side to a competetor on the other side, underarm only, not higher than 7ft, with the aim of it breaking. The catching side tries to catch the waterbomb without it breaking and throw it back across. And so on until the bomb explodes. Whichever side is wet loses. The man from Del Monte by Bow tried to give advice on catching the waterbomb (sort of allow your hands to scoop it out of the air as it goes towards the ground) but not everyone wanted to listen. Good game!

Great fun had by all. Looking forward to next year. The Dhaliwal Cup games are now closed for 2003.

Saturday, 12 July 2003

All Staff BBQs

Its the season - towards the end of the academic year, summer term, when someone from the finance or admin team suggests an all staff party (for the education/regeneration department). The weather is nice so it becomes a barbeque. They hire a marquee in case it rains. They get in lots of alcohol and invite everyone from the department. Tickets cost £5 and include 3 alchololic drinks vochers and food. My line manager bought all her staff team a ticket so we went. Somehow CC and TQ even with the offer of a free ticket decided they didn't want to come (poor show).

Generally at these things the staff from the finance and admin departments have a really great time - they can let their hair down, have a few drinks and relax together. They know each other well because they generally are in their jobs longer, and work in the office everyday together and theres quite a lot of them. Line managers try to have a good time by taking off their suit jackets and rolling up their sleeves. The post room staff are popular because they are the jokers and everyone knows at least one of them - they were in charge of the music - we had all the greats from a certain era - red red wine, tainted love, bit of Madness (they were an islington band after all - of course we love 'em), couple of soul classics, hotel california to name but a few. So these largely late 30s early 40s admin/finance/postroom staff get on down and have a rip roaring time.

Tickets said 4-9pm, I arrived at 5.00. The man who was in charge of the barbeque was wearing a huge red and white plastic apron and had only just lit the charcoal which in my opinion was very poor planning. I got a huge plastic beaker full of white wine and decided that out of 40 people I probably knew 3 of them.

Which brings me to my point. When you work off site (as I do) and you are lower management (which I am) and from your direct department the attendees are your line manager (who I like) and the finance officer (who you get on with but have to goad into doing the work you need him to) you find that you are standing around with your bottle of beer or plastic beaker of wine feeling uncomfortable trying to prise snippets out of the strangers who you see fleetingly when you drop into the department (to pick up petty cash, come for a meeting etc). I don't know these people, we have no interest in each other and its very different from opening a conversation in a bar with someone - what to say? whats an acceptable opening line (you work with these people)? can you tease, joke? So you to resort to tactics like talking about the spread and why are they called hamburgers when they are always made of beef (the lady asking this was lost for words when told it was actually a lamb burger).

So you slip off at the earliest possible convenience after eating your designated 2 veggie sausages (barbies can be rather uninspiring sometimes for a vegetarian and because the cook was slow they took a damn long time to get ready) to the nearest possible bar to wind down from the pressure that it all was. So I found myself in the Hen & Chickens across the roundabout. Phew.

Much later in the night I found myself at a colleague's house party in Finsbury Park (this is a colleague I share office space with). House parties are the things of legend and we all have stories to tell about them.

The one where rival gate crashing gangs were let in at different doors and met on the stairs at which point a huge fight broke out and the trifle was thrown all over the house. Ending with the teenager's parents lining everyone up and giving them individual lectures on respect for other people's property.

The one where RM snogged everyone in sight.

The one with the CHEESE GRATER and the bindi bitches. Oh ALRIGHT I'll tell you if you won't hold my misspent youth against me. Olly, GS and I were at a party in Kings Cross, the house was swarming, we moved from room to room and kept bumping into these girls with matching bindis who were very stuck up and would push past you all the time. Finally we took refuge in the kitchen just to keep away from the rest of the people. We found one of those cheese graters that I have never seen anywhere else but at my house - the grating part is on the outside of a short cylinder with a handle to wind round with your right hand, there is a jointed handle part for the left hand which has two ends that go together - a compartment to put the cheese in and on the other end something to press the down over the cheese - when you grip it firmly with the left hand the cheese is held against the grinder and you wind with the right hand so the cheese is finely grated and comes out from the middle of the aparatus (I'll take a picture to add later cos this explanation is really too complicated). The cheese grater became the source of all our amusement that evening as we discovered that the toilet was through the kitchen (bad conversion). A steady trickle of people came through the kitchen asking where the toilet was. If they were male we would say its here but you can only use it if you put your penis in the cheese grater. Some left. Some told us to F off. Eventually as the light was coming up someone agreed! And he did and GS poked said willy and he got a hard on... (Like I said - DON'T HOLD IT AGAINST ME, we were young, it was very late, we had all been drinking).

The oriental themed one where we danced all night in a tiny courtyard garden and they let fireworks off the roof of the outhouse and we all got covered in hot ashes - very dangerous but quite exciting.

Anyway, enough reminiscence, the current house party was very much like a student party - the original invitees were there by about 11.00 but when the pub chucked out everyone from the Faultering Fallback (pub) arrived and quite a few more besides. It reminded me of the time that GS & flatmates held a party in their flat in Brighton and stuck a poster on the wall at college to advertise it - nobody (even the hosts) knew who most of the people were, and all sorts of oddballs whiled away the early hours of the morning there. So once again that evening I felt like I had nothing to say to anybody and slipped away as soon as was possible.

Friday, 11 July 2003

Tips for Bad Back Sufferers

When you have an episode which renders bending over almost impossible you will find that it is hard to tie up your shoelaces. When struggling with your shoelaces you will also find that having tied them they will undo more easily because you are unable to tie them properly. If you replace your laces with elastic you will be able to tie them up before you slip your feet into them, the elastic will stretch to enable your foot to go in but will still be tight enough to hold your shoes on comfortably.

This tip is brought to you by Papa Duncan.
Southbank Summers

I'm spending a lot of time this summer on the Southbank. Today Dad took me to see Edmond, staring Kenneth Branagh, courtesy of the cheap tickets subsidised by Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London.

So we met after work outside the National Theatre. Lots of other people were meeting there too - sitting crammed onto a patch of fake grass with their beer in the last drops of evening sunshine. The city boys loud and obnoxious after a hard days work winding down, talking on mobiles, eyeing up chicks (albeit mostly hippy chicks). Theatre goers arrived early. Stragglers remaining from the earlier outdoor free performance (which I think were the Men In Coats - cos I've seen them before and one of them was loading up a car nearby). Jugglers, hippy entertainers, died hair, ethnic trousers and patouli.