Thursday, 30 April 2009

Meme! Hurrah!

As instructed by the bleach-festooned Emma at Belgian Waffle, a meme:

1. Are you a male or female: Female. A big one. So watch it.

2. Describe yourself: Tall, dark, too clever by half (in my head, anyway). Good teeth. Crap creaky twingy back. Fat arse. Over-use of foul language. Idle timewaster given half a chance.

Good singer, reasonable rhythm guitarist in the right light and if the song doesn't have too many barre chords and/or B flats (yes I am looking at you, Bryan Adams, you bastard.)

3. How do you feel about yourself: Generally fairly cheerful about myself, although deep and crashing spells of the blues have been known, sometimes even developing into full-blown depression. I had to go and see a counsellor and everything. So proud.

Usually pretty ok about physical appearance, but often fail the shop window test and recoil in shrieking horror at the glowering gorgon looking back at me. Have also done the "Ooh look at that grumpy fat middle-aged woman....oh lordy that's a mirror" thing when getting into lifts.

4. Describe your parents: Lovely lovely Mum. Tall (but not as tall as me, heh), cheerful, clever, funny, the kindest person I have ever met, an example to us all in terms of fortitude, hard work, good nature and quiet unstinting love and support. Love you Mum.

Dad was also tall (and significantly taller than me), funny, kind, honest and loved us all to bits. Died at the horribly young age of 36. I still miss him very much, and wish I had had the chance to get to know him properly.

Needed to stop typing for a bit there. Damn.

5. Describe your ex boyfriend/girlfriends: Lord, where to start. Or indeed stop.

Suffice to say there have been a lot, some gorgeous and lovely, some freakish and oiky, some intelligent, some thick as two short planks, most with motorbikes/long hair/leather jackets/rock star aspirations/other appealing features I am not prepared to detail on a blog read by my family.

6. Describe your current boy/girl situation: Happily married to the delightful Mr WithaY for the last 15 years, been together since 1987...more than half my life now. Gawd I'm old. He still makes me laugh (and not always whilst pointing).

I love him dearly. Life would be a much emptier, darker place without him.

7. Describe your current location: In my "study", surrounded by guitars, heavy metal cds, computers and bits of paper with song chords scribbled on them. Looking out of the window at the gathering dusk, watching huge trucks judder past the end of the road, making the entire house shake. Bastards.

8. Describe where you want to be: Gosh. I love being here, to be honest. Is that sad? However, would also like to be:

walking in the sand on Nauset Beach, Cape Cod,
in a posh hotel in a big city, living on room service,
in a cafe in Amsterdam, with some apple pie
on a canal boat in rural England, heading for a great pub
visiting friends somewhere sunny and not far from the beach
Shell Bay, Dorset
the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum at Singleton on a sunny late May afternoon

9. Your best friend(s) is/are: Mr WithaY. Without a doubt the best friend ever. Plus he cooks fantastic food. Result.

Also Bestest Mate, who I don't see as often as I'd like but who keeps my heart lifted with his enigmatic (and usually grumpy) text messages.

Mum and sisters, despite also being family are all people I would choose as friends.

10. Your favourite colour is: Purple. Or green. Or blue.

It depends.

I have a fab ring I bought for myself made up of about 25 different coloured sapphires, and the best thing about it is that I can twist it around to enjoy pretty much any colour I want to.

Ideal for someone who wears mostly black and grey, and likes to look at sparkly stuff whilst in meetings.

11. You know that: was not a good idea. Now pick up the pieces and don't try it again, you fool.

12. If your life was a television show what would it be called: "Hey! That's My Cupcake!" It would be a crime drama. With cakes. And banjo music chase sequences.

13. What is life to you: An opportunity to show off, eat cakes and laugh at my own jokes.

14. What is the best advice you have to give: Don't harbour regret, life is too short. Get on and do it. And if it all goes horribly wrong, learn from it.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009


You'll be relieved to know that despite having forgotten to book in my visitors for our meeting on Monday morning, I managed to get to Reception with a post-it note with their names on before they started hammering their fists on the floor and demanding to see my boss.

So hurrah.

Monday was a bit of a nightmare though. The early meeting (and subsequent meetings) ran from about 2 minutes after I arrived, until lunchtime, when I managed to acquire a sandwich from the cafeteria before everything was sold out; the afternoon was spent in more meetings, interspersed with dealing with tetchy phone calls from people.


I got home at about 9pm and more or less collapsed into bed, comatose.

Yesterday was interesting in a "not going to talk about it on here because it's work and I don't really want to get fired" kind of way. Worked at home today, looking out of the window at the glorious sunshine, and getting some of the washing done in between drafting stuff.

Had a guitar lesson this evening but I wasn't really in the zone, so it felt a bit disjointed and awkward. My gorgeous guitar teacher has left me with homework - I have to learn all the words to the Eagles' "Outlaw Man".

Annoyingly, it seems that one of the pickups on my Rickenbacker isn't working properly, so I need to take it to the shop and have them look at it. Gah.

Other news: Very little.

Oh, apart from Marks and Spencer totally taking the piss with their pineapple. Bite size pieces? Ha. Only if you have the jaw of a python and can dislocate it to cram the huge, practically half a pineapple, chunks down.

Monday, 27 April 2009


I was right. It's absolutely pissing down.

Aah, nothing says 'Monday' quite as well as getting up at 6am and standing on a rain-swept railway platform.

Except getting on the train and remembering that you were meant to book a group of people in at the office reception for an early meeting, and you completely forgot to do it.


Sunday, 26 April 2009

Lighthouse family

The glorious weather continues, which is disconcerting. It's been so long since we had any prolonged spells of sunshine - about 2 years, I think - that more than an afternoon of warm, blue-skied sunnyness makes me feel slightly awkward.

It's a bit like being at someone's house when they're out. You don't quite know what to do with yourself, so end up sitting somewhere quietly waiting for them to get back and make tea or something. Or is that just me?

Except at Bestest Mate's house, obviously, where I make my own tea and read all his magazines, whilst listening to loud music. Heh.

So. The Olympics are coming. Specifically, some of the maritime stuff is heading for Weymouth (look on a map, American readers), where a huge new road is being constructed on the way into the town. We drove past it yesterday and it was like a four-year-old's best day out ever. Enormous construction vehicles all over the place, scraping gravel into flat road shapes, diggers shifting stuff from one huge heap to another, cranes and rollers galore.

I'd have stopped to gawp properly but we were On A Mission.

Mr WithaY's drysuit had sprung a leak, so we had to take it to the shop and get it booked in for repair. Is there anything quite as boring as a dive kit shop, when you are a non-diver?

I ask you.

There are no clothes to try on, except huge complicated techno-suits which look like they take hours to struggle in to, and comedy rubber bootees which frankly I can try on at home when Mr WithaY is out*. There are no books to read, apart from dull technical dive books. There isn't even a place to sit and get a drink, unless you count the salt-encrusted sea-dog-frequented coffee machine in the corner. Ugh.

So, I amused myself by reading all the labels on the various lube bottles, and devising ways to silence the incredibly irritating Northern woman who was showing off loudly in the middle of the shop in a voice which put me in mind of Victoria Wood doing her "Gormless Teenager" character.

After we'd finished at the Shop of No Interest (Unless You're A Diver)TM we went on to look at Portland Bill.

Not a friend, a place.

It was lunchtime, so we went to the Lobster Pot right on the edge of the coast and had crab sandwiches. Mmmmmm crustaceolicious. Being fat greedy bastards we also had a cream tea.


There are some lighthouses and things on the Bill. And fog horns, apparently.


The lighthouse is mighty impressive, and there is also a funky monolith nearby.

lighthouse and monolith

I liked the monolith very much, although it did make me want to bash things with bones.


Mr WithaY had planned to go sea fishing today, but it was cancelled due to the weather. Check out the wild white water out at sea here...that's where he was supposed to be fishing.


It was lovely onshore though, a bit breezy, but otherwise you might have been in the Mediterranean. Look at the colour of the water!

glorious coastline

And back to London tomorrow, where it will probably piss down with rain.

*They look divine. I might take a picture some day if you're good.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Raising the goblet

I have been at the National School of Government this week. It's like the School of Rock. But with less rock. And more government.

They have very severe views on car parking.


But on the plus side they have excellent blossom trees in between the classrooms, which made walking around the site in glorious sunshine an absolute pleasure.


I was so impressed I took a close-up.



We had an exam yesterday afternoon, marring an otherwise relaxing couple of days. The tutor had been telling us all how straightforward it would be if we just used our common sense, and how we'd all worked so hard that we'd be fine.



It was really hard and we all staggered out afterwards like the survivors of some hideous disaster where people had had to eat each other to survive. Many of us were ashen.

I actually finished early, and was able to flee the exam room, stepping outside with a sigh of relief. This quickly turned to dismay when I realised I had left all my course notes in there, and would have to wait outside till everyone else finished.


So, I waited till the others came out and then we all did that stupid "I put this for question 3, what did you put?" thing that you do, as if it ever helps.

No idea when we get the results, hopefully it's not too long to wait. The pass mark is about 60 percent, and if I can't get that then I am a complete dolt. But it has been known for me to demonstrate primo doltage before now.

The drive home, which I expected to be a complete nightmare as it was slap bang on 5pm when I left, was fast, tranquil and beautiful. The junction from the M3 onto the A303 is completely covered in primroses. Go and see it. Really - the whole cutting is bright acid yellow with them, and it's lovely.

Other news: While I was down at my lovely Mum's the other week the local news programme was running a story about a windmill. Said windmill used to belong to famous writer Hilaire Bollock, according the the presenter.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Festive. Not feet-ive

So, how has everyone been?

I really didn't feel much like blogging for a few days, but luckily the commute to and from London has stirred my bile duct sufficiently to type out a few sentences. And I am writing this on the train home, listening to the Alabama 3 at the same time.

This new iPhone is bloody excellent and I heartily endorse it. And if Apple want to send wads of cash in return for my praise, I will probably get ever more effusive.

Work has been really hectic. I went back yesterday after the Easter break, and was delighted to once again witness the Tamils protesting vehemently outside the Houses of Parliament.

I'm away from the office tomorrow and Thursday on a training course, so have been frantically getting all my deliverables to the people I promised them to. Managed it, too. Yay me.

I was supposed to be at home this afternoon, and head over to Bestest Mate's house this evening. The cunning plan was to stay there tonight and leave v early tomorrow to get to my course. Sadly Bestest Mate has succumbed to Lurgy and is apparently snotty and grumpy, so instead I will be getting up at Oh FFS Hours tomorrow and going from home.

Right. My hand's getting cramp.

Might tell you about the outrageous scallop-fest when I get home. If I can stay awake.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009


Had a lovely day down at my Mum's yesterday, all sunshine and Spring blossom, which was great.

Arrived home at about 9pm-ish to be greeted by Mr Withay looking very sombre.

When I asked what was the matter, he told me about this:


Charlie was a friend of ours, and a former neighbour. He ran a little but very successful business doing fine art restoration and picture framing. Most of the pictures on the walls in our house were framed by him. He would usually refuse to take money for the work, so we traded him venison sausages.

He only moved out to the Philippines a few months ago and was loving his new life.

He came into the pub a few weeks back on a visit to the UK, and looked like a new man - slimmer, browner, happier.

He was telling us all about his home in Bohol, how he was going scuba diving several times a week, how he'd just bought a new "tractor" - an ox of some sort - to help him with the work on his land, how he was zipping around on a little motorbike with his friends and neighbours all piled on the back.

I can't believe this has happened.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Captain, I'm sensing claws...

Once again, the police state the bleedin' obvious. To be fair, it is the Berlin police this time , but even so.

My favourite part of the story is the reaction from the police spokesman.

"The woman has proved herself to be careless by jumping into the enclosure," a police spokesman said afterwards. "Logic tells us that polar bears will do this type of thing in this situation."

I like to imagine him sighing deeply, and shaking his head sadly at the woman's carelessness.

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Tired and emotional

I am writing this post on my v funky new phone, which I am already hopelessly smitten by.

Yes I know it's sad.

Thursday, 9 April 2009


As is traditional with a holiday coming up, I have gone down with a cold. Arse*. I woke up on Tuesday with a really sore throat, but put it down to my extensive muttering about protestors making me miss my train.

Yesterday I felt tired and chilly, but assumed I was just well, tired and chilly.

Today, however, I have a proper cold. Headache, shivery, sore throat, slightly snotty in a kind of "Oh you just wait till you try to go to sleep" kind of way.

And I still only have half a mobile. I can receive text messages but for some reason am unable to make or receive phone calls. I shall have to call the helpdesk tomorrow if it doesn't resolve itself overnight.

*Not a cold arse. I have one of those too, being a girly, but a cold. Arse.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Tiger feet

Today I am mostly in between mobile phones.

I bit the bullet and got myself a new phone, because my little old Nokia was being erratic about battery charge life. Also, because I am used to the 2-hours-on-the-train-each-way madness now, I need something to amuse myself on the journey.

I have tried reading work stuff, but that can be dull, plus I don't get paid for an extra four hours work a day. I have issues about reading work stuff on trains anyway, because I know I always look at what the person next to me is reading, and I don't really want random strangers knowing what I am up to.

I have tried reading fiction, but I dislike my books getting squashed and bashed around in my rucksack.

I listen to music on my iPod, but that isn't sufficient to keep me entertained.

I have become a bit of a backgammon demon, as I found the game on my phone, and was beating the computer regularly on the Difficult level. However, the final straw came last week when the game threw up numerous javascript errors and failed to load. So. Time for a new phone.

I then ummed and ahhed about getting a little teeny laptop and a dongle to pick up internet access so I could waste yet more of my life on the internet. But I'd still need a phone. And an iPod.

What to do? What to do?

I decided to be a complete techno-geek, and I bought an iPhone. A pay as you go one, I didn't fancy being locked into a contract for two years. I will see how much it costs me per month, and whether it's worth it. The Apps store had better have a backgammon game.

Other news: I got caught up in the Tamil demonstration on Monday evening, which was interesting. I was walking to Waterloo from the office, as it was a nice sunny afternoon, and got to Parliament Square, where there were many, many police riot vans. Also horseshit, which indicated to my fine mind that police horses had recently been in the area.

I kept walking briskly, because I didn't want to miss my train. I knew that if I got stuck on the pedestrian crossings it could take me ten minutes to get round the square and onto Westminster Bridge.

I rounded the corner next to Big Ben, and there were hordes of angry flag-waving Sri Lankans sitting in the road, shouting stuff I couldn't decipher through megaphones. I kept walking, still determined not to miss my train, and ended up having to shoulder* through the crowd quite forcefully, as there were so many of them.

Finally I got to Westminster Bridge, hot, flustered and increasingly grumpy. A tape line was across the bridge, preventing people from crossing it, and many unsmiling policemen stood there.

"You can't cross here " they told me.

I looked at the people walking up and down on the other side of the tape and said "But I need to get to Waterloo station."

"Sorry madam, you must walk down to the next bridge."

So. I had to shoulder my way back through the protesters, down the steps, along the Embankment and across Hungerford Bridge. Took me bloody miles out of my way and meant I missed my train. Gah.

Too much bloody democracy, if you ask me.

Another thing. It is an illegal protest, given that there had been no notice sent to the police. Why, therefore, has it been it allowed to run for three days (and counting)?

*My shoulders, the top of most of their heads - they are quite a petite people, it seems

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Doing It Ourselves

It's been a big day in the WithaY household. Possibly one of those days that everyone remembers in years to come as The Big Day, in capital letters.

We own our very own proper lawnmower. Not a strimmer. Not a Flymo. Not an electric one. It's a proper petrol-driven, grown-up, lean, mean grasscutting machine.

As soon as we got back from the DIY shop, Mr WithaY went out and cut the front and back lawns, then stood looking out of the windows in all parts of the house to admire his handiwork. Every now and again he would sigh contentedly and say "Have you looked at the lawns yet?" in case I had missed the beauty that was The Cut Grass.

I tried to join in by pulling up some weeds, but got bored and left the two of them alone together, roaring round the garden in a mist of grass cuttings and fumes.

We also bought shitloads of paint to decorate our hall and stairs. We decorated them in a bit of a hurry when we first moved in, because it was all so depressing. The walls were covered with what had once been rather nice paper, but over the 30 years it had been up, it had got discoloured and filthy. The paintwork was pale brown from years of heavy smoking in the house, and everything was slightly sticky.

So, we stripped the walls, scrubbed the paintwork, which was actually white (mostly), put up thick lining paper and slapped on a couple of coats of pale pink emulsion. Worked a treat, and really warmed up the place.

Eight years on, the rest of the house has been decorated to a much higher standard, usually by professionals, and the hall and stairs now look, frankly, shit.

There is now a collection of tins of paint, new brushes and rollers waiting to be deployed. The plan was that Mr WithaY and I would do it* over Easter.

However, today, during the course of a visit to Father-in-Law WithaY, Mr WithaY mentioned ever-so-casually that he was going fishing all day on Friday. Oh, and diving all day on Sunday. And he is away for work on Thursday evening.


So, looks like I will be getting on with the decorating on my own, which is a bit of a shame, because I am of the "fuck it, near enough" school of decorating, and Mr WithaY belongs to the "micro-millimetre perfect" school of decorating.


Saturday, 4 April 2009

Flower power

In my last post I meant to talk about my big night out, but got sidetracked by the whole phone idiocy thing.


What with the lighter evenings, my newfound confidence in finding my way when walking around London, and a bit less stress and anxiety in general, a mid-week social life seemed to be a good idea.

Monday nights are now officially "stay in Chelsea" nights, with my lovely mate, but things aren't ending there. No, indeed.

I had a call from a former colleague who was in London for a couple of days, suggesting we meet for a chat and a catch-up after work. So we did. And it was lovely. We met, went to a pub, had a drink, caught up on all the stuff that is going on in our work lives respectively, then I dashed off to catch my train and he headed off to a late meeting. How civilised.

When we were arranging where to meet he said "I'll wear a red carnation." Sure enough, when I arrived, he had a flower in his lapel, albeit a rose, not a carnation. Anyway, he gave it to me, once the joke was over.

I walked back to Waterloo Station admiring the lovely riverside views, and smelling my flower, which has kept the scent right up till now. I think it's the same variety as one we have in the garden, which lasts for ages and smells wonderful.

The old chap sat next to me on the train noticed it, so I let him have a sniff*.

When he showed his ticket to the conductor there was a lot of banter. He had used an automatic ticket machine, and pressed the Young Person button instead of the Senior button. The conductor asked him for evidence that he was under 25. It was all very good-natured, and made people smile.

But oh lordy, that conductor liked the sound of his own voice. He made announcements over the intercom system roughly every five minutes, detailing what the next station stop was, where you could go from there, what the chief local attractions were, who he knew that used to live there. It went on for bloody ever.

The train divides at Salisbury. The front half half continues trundling on to Exeter, the rest of the train gets detached and stays in Salisbury. It's not complicated.

We had every single possible permutation of that information that you can imagine over the 90 minutes between Waterloo and Salisbury. At least ten times.

Other news: Mr WithaY and one of our neighbours were moving a shed** around this afternoon, which was awkward, so they apparently ended up "turning it into a sedan chair." Now they think they have the basis for a sound business venture - sedan chairs to take you home from the pub.

I'll let you know if they make a million on the back of that.

*That's not something you get to say every day.

**"It's liftable by two people, but not by one" was how it was described over the phone. I am guessing that appies to most sheds, surely? If one person can lift it, it's a playhouse. A small one.

Friday, 3 April 2009


Yesterday, in the course of my usual work duties, I had reason to call a number in Scotland. I dialled 0 for an outside line, then started to dial the phone number. Halfway through, the number started ringing, before I had finished dialling it.

How odd.

I hung up and dialled again. Same thing happened. I tried a third time, and this time I got cut off before I finished dialling. Hmmm.

I used my mobile to check that it was actually a valid number. Yes, it was.

What do we do when we have a phone/IT issue in the office? We call the helpdesk. A very nice chap called Andy answered, and I explained the problem. He thought about it, and said he'd have an engineer check my extension number and make sure there was no technical fault. He said he'd call me back later and let me know.

Later, Andy rang me.

"There seems to be nothing wring with the line" he explained. "You need to email the technical team in *Elsewhere in London* to get them to check that your phone isn't blocked."


"Yeah, it could be that the extension you use is blocked from calling numbers abroad."

"Abroad? Scotland? Oh, and Wales, yesterday, when the same thing happened."

"Yeah, you need to get the phone unblocked. Call me back and let me know how you get on."


So. I emailed the address he gave me, and within 15 minutes I had a reply. The reply told me, in no uncertain terms, that trying to call a number that began with 090 was not allowed, as they are usually premium rate chat lines and comptetion lines. However, if I sent them the full number and confirmed that it was a valid work requirement, they would unblock my phone so I could call it.

What the sodding arse was he on about? An 090 number? What? Who mentioned that? I hadn't told him what the number I was trying to dial was, where did he get 090 from? I was stumped.

A while later, as I composed another email, having put the phone fiasco temporarily on hold* I realised where they'd got the 090 from.

When we write an email, we have to put the date first so that we can find things in the filing system. I had titled my email 090402_Bloody Useless Telephone System (or something similar.)

They had looked at my email and assumed that I was trying to dial 0902402. Fuckwits.

"Hello? Is that 090402?"

"No, sorry, this is 090327 - you've got the wrong date."

"Damn, I keep dialling the past, I do apologise."


*See what I did there?

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

I don't want to go to Chelsea

That's a lie. Chelsea seems to be rather nice. The bits of it I have seen so far, anyway.

Wednesday already. Where does the time go, eh? Well, stopping up in London certainly made the first two days of the week fly by.

I stayed at my mate's lovely Chelsea flat again on Monday. It is great to be able to actually enjoy a bit of a social life after work, rather than spending hours on the train. I even managed to walk to and from her flat without having to admit defeat and call a cab, which was nice.

We went out for an Italian meal, and had the most fantastic HUGE wooden board covered with antipasti, which was a meal in itself. However, being brave girls, we scarfed it all down and then managed to cram in a main course each too.

They sell pizza by the metre at this place, with one person's portion being a 25cm size. So if four of you order a pizza, you get a metre long pizza delivered to your table. What a great idea. All food should be sold that way.

"I'll have 2.5 metres of cheese please...we're having a fondue party."

"Hm, just 25cm of eggs this week, I'm not making any cakes."

"How much spaghetti do we need? 10 metres? Really? Ok..."

I ordered a calzone with ricotta cheese, ham, and whole teeny tomatoes in it, and the bloody thing was bigger than my head. Which is pretty big, let me tell you. I managed about two thirds of it, then had to admit defeat.

Should have got a doggy bag, I could fancy it now.

Mr WithaY and I are planning a trip up there later in the month, and I will have to take him to this place and see what he thinks of it.

Other news: Had some cabin hooks fitted to the French doors in the kitchen, so when they are open in the summer they won't slam back and knacker the hinges.

When we had the doors put in, I asked if they were going to fit hooks, and they said "Ooh no love, you won't need hooks! These doors'll stay where you put them."

What utter bollocks.

First sunny day we had the doors open, a gust of wind slammed them back against the wall and the hinges were distorted so badly that the doors wouldn't lock again. Mr WithaY had to spend bloody ages with a screwdriver tweaking them back to normality.

So, now they have hooks.

We finished the lovely dinner party goulash tonight. Mmmm. Beef.

Right. Bedtime, as I have to be up at 0-ffs-hours tomorrow.