Thursday, July 28, 2005

Accidents will happen

Soundtrack - Elvis Costello

Another unfashionable choice. Sorry everyone, I think he writes (or at least, has written in the past) great songs. He's clearly a very bitter man, but that's OK by me. I'm rather that way inclined myself.

Police presence in the capital is high today, given that it's a Thursday. If they're thinking of breaking the routine they've established so far, we've had it...

In other news, my shoulder is giving me gip. I think that all the stress in my body is travelling through my mouse-operating hand up my arm to my right shoulder. I desperately need to book that holiday, because I've started getting worried about taking over from Mrs Green. Pretty soon I'll have completely grey hair.

Spoke at length to Ms. Robinson last night. She has returned from a horrific hen weekend in Barcelona, which sounded more like a military tour of duty. Neither of us are terribly lucky with those sort of things. This particular event ended in a huge row (the last one, a combined hen/stag thing, ended with one of the best men punching the groom). Ms. R wasn't involved in either the row or the drubbing incident, I should point out.

On these occasions what should be fun inevitably goes wrong. The last hen do I went on was monstrous and I wondered how my lovely friend could possible know such a bunch of mental harpies.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Hated Wednesday

I thought it was Thursday when I woke up this morning. It has been draggy like Holly Woodlawn today. Awful.

Thanks to Mr G for sending me the link to this and also for letting me listen to 'America, Fuck Yeah!' from the Team America soundtrack. These are the only things that have brought a smile to my face today.

Actually, that's a lie...I had my first Krispy Kreme doughnut today. It was awesome, and as a result I'm back on the FlabtFighters diet next week .

Monday, July 25, 2005

Morrissey, a Doris Stokes for our time

The first verse of Panic seems somewhat prescient given recent events.

Anyhoo, onto real stuff. JJ and me went back to where I grew up on the weekend, in the South-West of England (Mid Devon, to be exact). I had a mostly OK time, although the weather was appalling.

Took Niece number two's children, AKA the Godchildren and/or The Small Monkeys, to the beach at Exmouth on Saturday. We had been at a wedding in the same town about six weeks ago - we spent a pleasant break between the meal and the evening reception messing about in the arcades and enjoying the sunshine.

What a difference a bit of rain makes. It was so grim, that even the kids wanted to go home, which is most unlike them. So that's what we did.

We had lots of questions about what it's like to be up here in the face of all the bombings and so forth. To which we mostly said - there's no point in trying to be careful, because you can't be careful. You have to be lucky.

Mum was on relatively good form. A lot of cake was eaten.

Was surprised to see Kipling's If on the wall of Sister number two's downstairs toilet. This struck me as sort-of incongruous, but I was pleased to see it nonetheless. Given the troubles she's been going through recently, I wonder if this piece of poetry has given her some comfort...I hope so.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Invisible man

Soundtrack: The Breeders (again)

My news is finally out. For those of you who are scratching your heads - I'm being promoted. My manager and close friend Mrs. Green is moving back to England's North and I am taking over from her.

It feels a little weird. I've worked with the lady for five years and it's going to be hard to say goodbye. However, she's still around until the end of August, so there's plenty of time to continue to enjoy her company.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


This morning, at Waterloo train station, I was shuffling along behind a sporty-looking but shabby middle-aged man. He was carrying a khaki holdall, probably with a gym kit in it - he had a tennis racquet under one arm. On the side of the holdall was (what I'm assuming was) his name, written in scruffy, uneven capital letters in black marker pen - ANDREW TURNBULL.

This got me thinking...what if labels didn't exist? What if we had to wear our own labels, instead of swooshes and jumping cats and figures of men on horses playing an arcane sport? What if we had to wear our names emblazoned across our chests? Or our job titles (heaven forbid)? Surely those two things define us more accurately than (the surely slightly threatening slogan) 'JUST DO IT'?

Unlike my great-nephews, whom are aged six and five, my youth was largely unemcumbered by such worries as 'do I have the right make of trainers?'. However, that didn't mean that I didn't get teased for wearing the wrong kind of clothing when I was a kid. That's inevitable, I think.

Every time I am tempted by a new item of clothing, I'm going to imagine that I have my name written on it in black marker pen. That way, I should be able to work out if I really need it.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Rip it up and start again

Soundtrack: Exile on Main Street

Monday, and I still can't tell anyone about my news.

Weekend was pleasant. Nephew number 2 enjoyed the REM gig, and it was nice to have him stay. We didn't make it to the Wired Women festival (well, we did, but nothing was doing, so we left). Instead, we had a pint in London's finest boozer and mooched about town. I managed to spend over 20 quid in Fopp doubt that copy of Simon Reynolds' new book will keep me warm and fed when I run out of money in about a fortnight's time.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Pissing in the wind

Well, am working my butt off, but don't appear to be making a dent in the list of things that need to be attended to.

Last night I gave my 'things are afoot' news to a friend, whom then didn't react in the way that I had expected him to. I don't know quite what I expected (some kind of Busby Berkeley dance routine with flowers/feathery headdresses, perhaps?) but the reaction I received left me feeling a bit deflated.

It also made me question if I should really do what I'm about to do...

So that was great.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Totally girl powered

Thought I would mention the Wired Women event, happening over the weekend. Pandaman's band the Fun Sized Lions are playing, and there will be all sorts of other jolly things going on.

Get yourself down there.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005


There's stuff afoot here that I can't discuss as yet...will spill the beans as soon as I can.

In other news...JJ's office is closed for the rest of the week (owing to the road outside being a crime scene and all that). Which may mean my bike might be fully refurbed and ready to ride by Friday. Think 1950's Raleigh in racing green with a wicker basket.

No wonder I'm such a source of amusement to our more unimaginative friends.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Funeral for a friend(ship)

Friday 8th July

In all honesty, we were both overwrought and were not really in a fit state to attend Steve and Rich A’s mum’s funeral. I sat in the church sobbing when I read the order of service. They had put some really great photos of her in it, looking very glamorous (the poor man’s Joan Collins, her husband used to joke). Rich A gave a wonderful tribute that wasn’t too melancholic. Afterwards I had a good old chat to Barbakella’s mum and dad, whom were like a surrogate family to me when I was at university.

We were left with a bitter taste, however. JJ and I have a group of mutual friends. We have outgrown them – we both find them narrow. I walked into a scene in the kitchen where they were joshing with JJ, but I could see by the look on JJ’s face that it had gone well beyond joking. So we got out of there.

I've said this before: I don't want to waste my time on these people anymore. I think JJ may also be coming around to that way of thinking.


Thursday 7th July

Following the DS, I was hungover, tired and deaf in my left ear (much more deaf than usual, I should add). Not a great start. I wandered into work like an animal that had just got out of hibernation. I was just settling in to a morning listening to Anthony and the Johnsons (nice and soothing) when it started.

There’s a major tube/train problem at Liverpool Street.
There’s been an explosion at King’s Cross.

One of my staff rings in: I’ve been in some sort of a train crash. I’m not hurt, but I’m shaking, and I’m covered in some kind of black powder. Go home, I say. Please ring when you get back there.

Mrs. West rings in. Are you OK? There’s something going off up there. I’m fine, I say. All in one piece, nothing to worry about. Only by that point, I am beginning to worry.

I text two of my sisters (the other two are abroad) to let them know I’m OK, in the hope that one will contact my mum.

A colleague comes round. Her husband is up at Tavistock Square. There are bodies everywhere, he’s told her. The top deck has just been blown clean off a double decker bus.

Tavistock Square. That’s where JJ works.

I begin to panic. I check my mobile (which hadn’t rung) – a voicemail message from JJ. There’s been a bomb blast. I’m fine. Please call me when you get this message. I try to return the call. Nothing. And again, and again, nothing. The fatigue and the hangover combine with the stress, and I cry.

Another staff member makes it into the office. He says, don’t get too comfortable. The word is that the police station next door has a suspect package in it.

My Mum rings. Are you alright? Sort of. Well, not really. Then the fire alarms start up. I have to go now Mum. Sorry. I put the phone down, put my fire warden jacket on and pick up my bag.

We get ushered into Red Lion Square. It’s chaos, albeit the polite kind. I try to keep department members together, while intermittently calling JJ. No luck. People ask, are you alright? To which I say, yes, I’m fine, but it’s obvious that I don’t look it. I keep getting hugs from people I never would have expected to care, which is nice, but it sets me off even more. A puffy red face and a yellow high-vis jacket is not a great look.

I call Niece number 4, she is the only person I can reach. I sob down the phone. She is petrified.

A woman in a suit approaches me and asks, can I get to Oxford Circus for my meeting, do you think? I shrug, you can go if you like. Not safe, though. She doesn’t really believe me. Can’t say I blame her - I wouldn’t believe me either.

From there everything becomes a bit of a blur. We are given conflicting instructions about what to do. Meet by which Sainsburys on High Holborn? There are THREE in half a mile of each other, for Pete’s sake! Stay away from buildings with glass. HOW? Every building near us is constructed of glass and virtually nothing else! Me and Timbob manage to keep a pocket of thirty-forty workmates close to the MD, who keeps everything together.

We get the word that the building has re-opened. The suspect package may indeed have been the ‘box of kittens’ that one of my more moronic colleagues suggested it was. I finally make contact with JJ. He makes it over to my office and we begin a slow trudge through the drizzle to Waterloo, with a deputation of my colleagues.

The fast train is held for us to run across the concourse to catch it. We get a double decker bus home and JJ refuses to sit upstairs. He saw the destroyed bus in up close earlier that day. The subsequent TV footage shows blood up the exterior walls of the BMA building, next to the entrance that JJ frequently uses.

At home, we have a stiff drink and run through the what-ifs. The rest of the day merges into one long minute of rolling TV coverage and phone and text messages from all over. By the time we can bear the thought of emerging into the world, it’s evening. And it is beautiful. The sun is shining and it’s hard to comprehend exactly what has taken place just nine miles up the river.

For the record, I was absolutely terrified. And part of me will never forget how that felt.

A wounded heart and a makeover friend

Lots to say in a few entries, so I may have to split this up into segments. It’s been quite a few days, so I’ll start from Wednesday night and work forwards.

Wednesday 6th July

Went to see The Duke Spirit with Merv and Ms Robinson. We had a cracking chat in The Lock Tavern prior to the gig, where the phrase ‘Food Womble’ was born (noun; one whom consumes exclusively food in offices that the everyday folk leave behind). A colleague of Ms Robinson’s has never been seen to eat an actual meal, ever – she subsists purely on a diet of lemon drizzle cake and white chocolate chip cookies.

The support that evening came from Architecture in Helsinki, which I’ll describe in a cruel way and a slightly more complimentary way. The poor man’s Arcade Fire/like watching a class of gifted children give a music recital. A collection of about 12 people onstage, it was all very shambolic and quite irritating, with everyone swapping instruments like their lives depended upon it.

In contrast, the DS triumphantly played some stuff off the first mini-album (a prized possession), shook tambourines, wiggled their butts and basically trampled all over me. Me and Ms Robinson were down at the front frugging like a pair of demented loons. They are my new band crush. I urge you all to see them, right now.

Of course, that night now feels like it happened a lifetime ago.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Faster Hazelcat! Kill! Kill!

I've just found out that the QOTSA are playing a gig at 1 in the morning on Friday at Koko. Oh my gawd. Very tempted by that...but only 12 hours before the funeral, it's not really the done thing, is it?!

Yesterday evening I was feeling every inch the retired riot grrrl, knitting on the train while listening to the latest Sleater-Kinney. how very Bust of me. It was all going well until my dull next-door neighbour got on the bus at Richmond and then proceeded to try to hold a conversation, despite the fact that I was concentrating quite intently on the yarn in front of me. Like a child, I feel quite sure that at one point he went out of his way to put me off my stitching deliberately so I could devote time to listen to him.

He freaks me out. He's an accountant (one that specialises in internal auditing, apparently, which I think says it all - the kind of accountant who finds that you've been ordering twice as many biros and reports you to your HOD). He's in his mid-forties, single, balding and creepy. This glorious package is topped off with a big fat superiority complex and a snide manner. He has gotten on my nerves for a long time now - I dread seeing him on the bus. He only has three topics of conversation: his work, real ale pubs and the small estate where we live. Yet he has no interest in anything I say to him, I might as well be a deaf-mute.

*the rest of this message was edited on the insistence of JJ. The killjoy*

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

I can see you, your brown skin shining in the sun...

My internal jukebox was on random shuffle mode this morning when I was coming into work. Variously, I had Police Truck by the Dead Kennedys and Rape Me by Nirvana playing, as well as snippets of The Boys of Summer by Don Henley. Quite the unholy trinity, but there you have it...

There's something 'bout the Eagles I like (as the song almost goes). I think Hotel California is an amazing song. I'm sure I'm not alone in liking them, but no doubt I'm going to be subject to some derision from people for saying it. It's on par with saying you're a fan of the work of Harold Shipman. Singing drummers though, eh? Great idea.

Some more news. I am off to Steve A's mum's funeral on Friday, in order to give my support to him and his girlf (and my long-standing pal) Barbakella. Feeling sad for them at the moment., also sad for Steve's brother Rich A, whose band are on the cusp of real proper chart success. I bet that's feeling bittersweet at the moment.

Off to see The Duke Spirit tomorrow night with Merv and Ms Robinson. Looking forward to that. Off to see Miss JoJo's play on Thursday, Nephew number 2 coming to stay on Friday for the weekend (off to see the band whom I can't bring myself to mention), so it's shaping up to be a busy time.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Party Fears Two

Before I go any further with his blog, possibly it would be best to explain myself.

I can't give much in the way of specifics, but the first half of this year (from a work point of view) was tricky. In short, it involved quite a serious argument with a colleague. I had considered this person a close friend, but I don't now. As a result of what happened, it's made me aware of whom I want to ally myself with and conversely, keenly aware of the people I don't want to waste time on.

With that in mind, I did a vanishing act from Friday's work do before it descended into the inevitable standing-around-in-a-bar-with-the-usual-suspects thing. As I said to someone this morning, all it would have been was 'same shit, different pub'. Instead of inevitably being party to numerous embarrassing incidents, I had a pleasant half pint with Mrs Green, and then on to the West End where I met Jez for a bit of a chat and some more booze.

That's not to say the work party wasn't any fun at all...I saw some old pals like the (soon-to-be-married!) Pandaman as well as Mr Boyle, and the inestimable Dr Spamela. Old favourites like DL and others made the do pleasant; just not pleasant enough to go on afterwards to watch people I have no fondness for behave like twats.

In other news: Smudge Junior, a boy called Louis, arrived on Friday am. Mum and baby are both doing fine. Very much looking forward to meeting him soon.

Just heard details of Gay Shame from Young Radish. It sounded like a riot. Never mind, we'll be going to the Kate Bush tribute night in October. Only three months to wait.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Gravity, it just holds me down so quietly

Soundrack: The Delgados

Jeez, it's all kicked off at the place I go to to earn money to pay the mortgage. I swore I wouldn't mention that place in the blog, but it's unavoidable, mainly cos I don't really have time to write this at the moment. So much stuff to do here.

To add insult etc. the hateful work summer party occurs this afternoon. Not looking forward to it, but the appearance of The Lancet's own Dr Spamela will help me. Mainly, I'll be avoiding the usual suspects, keeping my head down and making a quick getaway.

More next week.