Thursday, 31 January 2008


From my trip to Cardiff.

It was great. I did all the touristy stuff. Castles, boat trip, and (da-da-daaaaa) the Doctor Who exhibition! How great is that?

And, I went to see a couple of films. One was The Golden Compass, which was excellent. The other was I Am Legend, which was also excellent but which scared the bejeebus out of me.

Because I know I am a huge wuss when it comes to scary films, I asked the guy on the ticket desk if it was scary.

He said "No, not really."

I said " know...zombies..."

He said "Nah, it's like too to be scary."

If I'd seen him as I was leaving, a trembling, red-eyed wreck, I'd have punched him up the bracket.

Fucking liar.

Sunday, 27 January 2008



My system has been having "issues" since Thursday evening, leaving me unable to run various web-based programmes, or to access certain websites.

Not even dodgy websites, mind, just normal sensible ones. Like the BT phone directory, for example.

Various helpful mates have tried stuff and offered advice but to no avail. This morning I found a forum which tells me that Orange are renowned for having all kinds of problems, news to me, thanks a lot, and that this kind of crap has left various of their customers without services for anything up to 9 weeks.

So. Am more than a little pissed off.

Can't play on-line games, can't check some of my emails, can't look up phone numbers, can't use various other services I need.*


*Ok, want. But I am used to having everything in the world at my fingertips on demand, so it feels worse than it is.

Saturday, 26 January 2008

Good question

I was watching a great science fiction film this afternoon. "This Island Earth", which I think I saw when I was very young. I kept getting deja vu as I watched it.

It happened to be starting as I was flicking through the channels, and I thought I'd watch it and see if it was any good. It was great.

There was a square-jawed hero nuclear scientist, a glamorous yet brainy female nuclear scientist who, despite being one of the finest minds in the world, shrieked and fell over whenever anything mildy stressful happened, and a bunch* of aliens in improbable makeup.

I think what really made me decide to see it through to the end was this:

Picture the scene.....a small plane has been involved in a bizarre near-crash incident, the pilot (square jawed nuclear hero bloke) losing control and being engulfed in a weird green glow.

So far so good.

The next scene, hero and scientific sidekick mate are discussing this odd event, the phone rings and the hero speaks to someone who has been running tests on the plane.

Hero: "What? Nothing wrong with the plane?" (Pause) "Well, did you check the controls?"

I love the idea that the team of aeronautical engineers in the hangar might go "Fuck! If only WE'D thought of that! The Controls! Well, no wonder he's a genius world famous scientist."

FOr all I know, they could have, I suppose.

*A very small bunch. I think they had a limited costume budget.

Friday, 25 January 2008


Yes, I know I am probably mighty late to get to this , but it made me laugh.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Not alone

Slightly less grumpy about things than I was yesterday, but still pretty pissed off. Still, my team have come up trumps and proved once again how great they all are, so that's good.

I am off work for a few days next week, and really feel like I need the break. Christmas already feels like years ago, even though it is less than a month.

Mr WithaY is off on a jaunt to the Red Sea to terrify fish by looming at them in his wetsuit, so I thought I would have a bit of time to myself as well. I was invited but as I don't dive* and don't really do sun, it seemed a bit pointless to spend a week sitting on a dive boat. In the sun.

Had a disapppointing guitar lesson last night as I was too cross and stressed to focus, and too sad to sing. Still, my lovely teacher persisted and taught me the intro to Purple Haze, so I must make sure I perfect it before I see him again.

He's such a sweetie.

I need to find some local guitarists to play with, though, as it makes such a difference when other people are involved. If anyone knows anyone in this area, let me know. And Andy, get down to the West more often, you selfish git. Heh.

And on the bright side, the sun is shining and the fields are less flooded than they were.


And I have snowdrops in my garden. Spring approaches.

Other news: Met a fellow Magnum fan today. Yay!

*I have had a go, and enjoyed it, but my phobia about big fish means I can't relax under water for fear of being nudged by a huge finny bastard from behind.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008


Well, today has been interesting.

In an "interesting times" kind of way, rather than in a "ooh, how nice, an unexpected pleasant thing has happened" kind of way.

All work related, so I won't tire you with the details but it has left me incredibly frustrated and cross. Gah.

Other news...bugger all.

Monday, 21 January 2008



Found out this evening that one of our neighbours round the corner has had to move out of their house because they had water coming up through the floor! How scary and horrible is that?

AND, found out that a few years ago, the river overflowed the bridge just up the road and all the cottages nearby had to be pumped out! Gah!

I think (and vehemently hope) that we'll be ok, but it scares the bejeebus out of me.

Mr WithaY is, as always, being pragmatic and calm, but I am doing my famous "Daffy Duck With Hair On Fire" impression* about it all.

*You know, where he goes "ooOOOooh hoo hoo, ooOOOoh hoo hoo" a lot.

Lions and Tigers and Bears

Oh my!

Join in.

I was looking at the BBC website today and an article about a huge feral cat problem in Newport caught my eye.

As in, lots of feral cats, not one HUGE feral cat, terrorising the neighbourhood like a scabby, furball-producing Godzilla. Although I do like that idea.


I'll do the link properly later. If I can be arsed.

So, very sad story, loss of many jobs, closure of the industry, sad hungry cats, security guard forking out huge amounts of cash on cat food because all the little animals were used to being fed by the staff there, etcetera.

The bit that made me snort tea out of my nose was this:

"Just a skeleton staff remains and Gwent Cats Protection have stepped in to help them care for the cats."


Other news. Went to see my Mum and Youngest Sis and family on Saturday. Was very nice. Mum is planning on getting a laptop so she can hook up to the interweb* and see what all the fuss is about. We went to PC World (other PC retailers are available) to look at the options. Blimey it's complicated.

Was able to provide advice in a small way, which was good. And we got chatted to by a kind old chap who told us how fantastic he thinks webcams are. I really, really hope he uses them to keep in touch with his apple-cheeked grandchildren, rather than any other nefarious purpose**.

I was also allowed to open my birthday present early. Apparently Youngest Sis and family decided there was a gap in my life, only fillable by a large, soft, white bear. He's lovely. I made sure he wore his seat belt on the journey home.

Pictures to follow.

*If she finds my blog and then tells me off for swearing I might be grounded. So if I vanish for a week at a time, that's why.

**You know what I mean.

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Apt graffiti

On my way back from London today I saw two pieces of graffiti which seemed apt.

The first was "trains are wank". Simple, direct, undeniably appealing.

The other was "First is shit" which I assume refers to First Great Western, rather than First Class.

Unless it was a particularly grumpy First Class season ticket holder who'd had enough of it all.

The trip up was fine, really. It didn't rain, so we could walk from Waterloo to the office without getting soaked, we had two very constructive meetings, and we also had excellent Marks and Spencer sandwiches for lunch (pre-planning, always pays off).

It was the trip home that caused the problems.

I go to Salisbury, went looking for my train and realized with dismay and horror that I had a 50 minute wait. In the cold, in the rain (yes, thanks Weather Gods, you bastards). I think a small wail of dismay was emitted.

My hands were so cold I couldn't do the crossword, and I just sat on a bench on the platform, shivering and wishing I was dead. Or at home. Probably wishing I was at home, really, now I think about it.

So. Finally got the train, and was so chilled that I think the woman I was sat next to thought I had malaria.

Fucking trains.

Other news: Tried the Marks and Spencer berry flavour chewing gum. Not like gum at all really, more like chewy cough medicine. And yes, I wrap it and bin it when I finish with it, rather than spit it onto the street like an oaf.

Wednesday, 16 January 2008


Bloody river is scary again. It's flooded out over the fields below the next village, and as I drove home from work it looked like it might be in danger of coming right over the bridge and onto the road.

I think our house will be ok, but it is worrying.

I have to go to London tomorrow so am hoping the trains actually make it there and back ok.

Other news: Feel like I am going down with a cold, which is tiresome. Especially as I am going to have to do a lot of talking tomorrow.

Work is becoming a degree less stressful as I have my new team in place, which makes a huge difference. And they seem pretty enthusiastic so far, too, so long may that continue. Just wish I felt a bit less crap today.

Had a nice guitar lesson yesterday. My lovely teacher is insisting I learn the barre chord version of songs I already know, so last night was Hendrix's "Hey Joe". It's a lot slower than the normal version but I'll get there in the end.

And I decided that "Bringing on the Hearbreak" works as an acoustic-y folk-y thing.

Which reminds me...who wants to come and see Whitesnake and Def Leppard? Spence? Andy?


Sunday, 13 January 2008


I am hacked off with the weather. We had freaky snow on Friday, bloody torrential rain most of yesterday, and yet more rain and high winds all day today.

Still, am working at home tomorrow so will avoid any floods with a bit of luck.

Other news: Am learning to play Def Leppard's "Bringing on the Heartbreak" on my guitar.

Hurrah for me.

Saturday, 12 January 2008

Gold! And cake.

Well, so many exciting* things have been going on. Where to start?

I have new glasses, which is very pleasing. They are much smarter than my old ones, and give me much better peripheral vision, which is good. And they make me look brainier, so I can impress people.

Had my hair cut yesterday and despite her taking about 4 inches off the layers, it looks longer than it did before. So that's a good result.

It snowed! I got home mid-afternoon and half an hour later it was like Narnia out there. All gone by morning though.

We had some mates round for dinner last night. Was intended to be a very casual supper kind of thing, but I decided to make a pudding, and things escalated.

I flicked idly through my Green and Black Chocolate cookbook and selected a pudding that seemed reasonably quick, and potentially impressive. I got creating, and it went in the oven in good time.

I kept checking the progress, as it baked in the oven. It wasn't ready when the recipe said it would be, so I gave it another 5 minutes. Then another 5 minutes. Then another 5 minutes.

Tempers (well, mine at least) began to fray.

Finally it was ready. Well, ready-ish. I decided to make it less bizarre looking by using some funky edible gold stuff I found.


Which could be used for other things as well as cake.


I finished laying the table, and as I put the paper napkins out, I said to Mr WithaY "This is how I define an informal supper".

He replied "What? By shouting 'The fucking cake still isn't ready'?"


Anyhoo, guests arrived and a grand time was had by all. Especially me. And the cake was a success.


Am a bit hungover today though. Can't think why.


*Assuming your expectations raised by the word "exciting" are not very high

Wednesday, 9 January 2008


Just got home from a rather trying day in Bristol. Had to meet my contact "in the coffee bar" at around "mid-morning".

Due to the hurried nature of our plans last night and my own crap sense of location, I ended up in the wrong coffee bar in the wrong building for 25 minutes, fretting that I would miss the meeting we had lined up with a Tremendously Senior Person.

Eventually, however, we hooked up successfully. Then I mungoed about killing time till we had the pre-meeting meeting (pushed back from 1130 to 1pm which was stressful as I had longer to panic), at which it became apparent that the Tremendously Senior Person we were briefing was labouring under a major and critical misapprehension about my project.

Once we'd resolved that, it was time to hurry up and wait some more till 3pm, when I got to sit in on the Hugely Important Meeting (quietly and meekly at the back, and only for 15 minutes, mind) while the great and the good decided whether or not to let my project go ahead.

They did.

So hurrah. I (and my team) all still have jobs.

God I hate train travel though. It's just that little bit less stressful than driving over there, but it involves so much hanging about. And you're either freezing cold (like when you're waiting on a rainy windswept platform for 25 minutes) or boiling hot (when you're in an immensely crowded train and don't have the space to take off your coat).


On the way there, a nice Welsh lady was sat opposite me. When the ticket collector came to her, she asked for a single to Newport.

"Only a single?" the ticket man said. "How are you getting back?"

"Oh I have a lift home" she said, smiling.

The ticket man thought about this for a moment.

"Tell you what, love," he said. "Get a return. It's only 10p more expensive... your lift might not turn up, and then you'd be stuck."

So she did.

What a salesman. I might nominate him for an award.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008


I have a new life plan.

I intend to discover a very elderly, obscenely wealthy, previously-unknown relative and ingratiate myself with them as soon as possible. There's no other way I can give up work before it kills me.

I don't play the lottery very often and have never even won a tenner, so that's obviously no use.

Grand though it has been, my freakish raffle-winning ability is not sufficient to support my jetset* lifestyle. There's only so long you can live on Christmas cake and cheap wine, after all.

It has been frankly mental this week, and it's only Tuesday. Gah.

My new staff arrived and have made themselves busy stealing furniture from other bits of the office and trying to get phones that work, which is great. I feel like Fagin from Oliver Twist.

I'm going to be dashing about a fair bit over the next few weeks, as well. Am in Bristol tomorrow and London two days next week, so lots of lovely train travel to look forward to. GAH.

On the bright side, we had the garden hedges cut yesterday so the place looks much smarter. Soon be Spring.

*I have been on a jet. That counts, right?

Sunday, 6 January 2008


No, not between my ears. Between posts.

Either my life has got even less eventful and interesting than before (can you imagine such a thing?) or I am getting lazier about blogging.

Hmm, shall we have a think about that?

I remember reading* that the average life of a blog is about 6 months. Well, this one has been going since March last year so is slightly over that. Hurrah for me.

I think it might be that I am getting a fair bit of feedback from people about what appears here, so it could be making me think a bit more about what I write.

Or I might just be really lazy.

Anyway, enough of that.

Made some more scones today which worked nicely, so hurrah for that. Other than that little burst of domesticity, the big activity of the day has been painting my toenails purple. But, as my Mum said, at least I can still reach them. Can't see them when I stand up, but I know they're there.

Also, took down all the Christmas decorations yesterday, so the sitting room feels huge without a tree in the corner.

And Mr WithaY met our neighbours' new labrador puppy. 8 weeks old and as cute as a button, apparently.

Ah, puppies. And on that heartwarming thought, I'm off for some chicken jambalaya.

*fuck knows where

Thursday, 3 January 2008


Oh yeah. Was almost wiped out this morning on the way to work by a FUCKWIT in a dark blue car who was tanking along the road with NO FUCKING LIGHTS ON.


I mean, every other road user had lights on. Even the doddery old galoots with Nissan Micras had managed to find the right switch.

I was behind one of said doddery galoots (2 of them, and a huge dog up on the back seat glaring at me), so decided to overtake. It was a nice long straight bit of road, I waited till the hidden dip was past, nothing in sight for miles, and then put my foot down to go past.

And hey, guess what?

Heading my way at 80 miles an hour was said unlit, unseen till the last moment, fuckwit. I managed to get past and back onto my side of the road with, ooh, several inches to spare, and flashed him angrily.*

He's probably still wondering what my problem was.

If I see him again I will force him off the road and explain it to him. Slowly.

*With my lights. Tch.


I was listening to the radio yesterday lunchtime and caught the tail end of a piece about clowns. Specifically, people who have a phobia about them.

The basis for the story was a recent study* showing that many children (and adults, I assume) were frightened by the depiction of clowns in children's areas in hospitals. On the walls, in pictures, and most of all when they arrive in real life, trailing clouds of glory. And inevitably, there was a phone-in, with people calling to share their experiences.

So far so good.

Then the clowns started calling**.

First up, there was a female clown who had lots of positive examples of how her work had helped cheer up children in hospital. She was even mildly engaging, not something I expect from clowns.

And then it got interesting.

An angry clown ("30 years experience!") called. He was furious that there were all these untrained, unprofessional clowns just turning up at hospitals and frightening children.

He was vehement that "proper" clown makeup is not scary. And that a real "experienced" clown, with at least, oh, 30 years behind the whitewash bucket is a good thing, and wouldn't terrify anyone. Least of all a sick child, possibly suffering under the aftermath of hallucinogenic pain relief drugs. No, not at all.

I love the idea of all these unqualified clowns, with their slapdash balloon animals and half-arsed unicycle riding, bumbling round hospitals.

Accidentally pulling IVs out of people, dropping heavy weights on people who just had their appendix out, tripping over the guy with both legs in plastercasts, giving the psychiatric patients the heeby jeebies just by sitting quietly in the cafeteria.


If only they'd been to clown college.

*If I was a better writer I'd have found the study and linked it. Couldn't be arsed. Sorry.

**And isn't that something you never want to overhear said by the person sitting next to you on a train?