Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A repeat

I promised John a story about me and Reidski at a Swinger's Party - only first we are going to have to get ourselves invited to one. In the meantime though here is one of my favourite stories of Village Folk, which I wrote about before in the Other Place.


The joys of living in a small village where everyone knows everyone else.

On Saturday night (two years ago now, ed.)there was an engagement party in the village hall which turned nasty. This kid aged about 19 announced to a married father of four that he had been 'shagging your missus' and proceeded to share with him the details of how and when it was that he was shagging his missus. Said married father of four wasn't best pleased. Said married father of four was so displeased,and his response so 'physical' that the police were summoned,and he spent the night in the cells to cool down.

On Sunday morning they let him out and he started walking back home (eight miles) but the woman who owns the village shop was driving past and stopped to offer him a lift and he, rather foolishly, told her the whole sorry tale.

It seems that every Tuesday night for the last couple of years, this bloke's wife, Angie, has gone to the 'bingo' with Michelle. But it transpires, this was not exactly 'bingo' as we know it. What it actually was was a swinger's evening, hosted by Michelle, and advertised in various top shelf contact magazines. Angie was it seems, an enthusiatic partipant, as was the 19 year old spotty youth (yuk). Michelle lives in the neighbouring village, in the middle of an estate of semi-detached houses. One can only wonder what the neighbours made of the guests as they arrived in thigh length boots, or whatever one wears for these occasions. And on a slightly bitchy note, what on earth the guests thought when they saw their hosts (think 'Sean of the Dead,' and eliminate the living characters).

Of course, everyone in the village has heard about this by now.

A shadow of suspicion has been cast upon all the females of the village who have ever gone off to 'bingo', and an entirely new meaning has been attached to the word 'bingo' if the talk in the pub last night is anything to go by.*

Maybe this explains the spring in the step of the pensioners around here?

*And we still enjoy this story down the pub to this day. Though strangely Angie's husband never seems that amused by it - sense of humour by pass or what?

Don't mention the Autistic Society

It was a bit daunting when my supervisor and I arrived at the Conference yesterday. For a start, there were many more people than we had been led to expect would be there to listen to us. And then we couldn't find anyone we recognised. Worst of all, they didn't appear to be expecting us. Were we at the wrong venue and if we were, where the bloody hell were we supposed to be?

The answer to that last question turned out to be 'Downstairs.' Right place, wrong conference. We nearly found ourselves addressing the Autistic Society's A.G.M.

I do maintain that it is the kind of thing that could happen to anyone. (?)



(The rest of the day was a success.)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

As if a speech at the village school wasn't enough

On Tuesday my supervisor and I are leading a conference in London on the difficulties involved with helping young adopted adults who have been through the care system and who want to find their birth relations again as they are legally entitled to do once they reach the age of 18.

All we actually asked for was the opportunity to discuss this issue with the leading researcher in adoption reunions, but one should know to be careful what one asks for. The researcher's very unexpected response was - "Yes of course, come and tell us all (about 100 fellow adoption workers) about the difficulties you encounter." I am fairly terrified.

But here is a strange thing. The only ever previous time I have been to the venue I will be speaking at on Tuesday I wrote in my then blog that I had been to London and Reidski made a comment that he wasn't speaking to me any more because I had come to London and not met him for a drink. At that time the only communication we had ever had was via comment boxes on his blog and mine but I had a bit of 'a thing' about him, and his comment gave me the nerve to e-mail him and say I'd have that drink next time. Well, when I go to the venue on Tuesday morning I will be leaving from his flat. Life isn't all Cobblers. Some times life is bloody wonderful in totally unexpected ways.

Where to start?

I really do not learn. The reason I left my first blog was because it got me into trouble at work - or rather because some anonymous cunt (yes, first casualty of me going private is my language) reported it to a director of the organisation I work for and he didn't exactly see the funny side. Since moving here I have strived to never mention my job, in spite of there being so many great/sad stories that I often want to talk about, but one good thing I think is that such restraint can now officially be lifted.

(Any reference to person or persons in this place will of course be made with identifying details altered.)

But let me start with a story about management because this is what we talk about every day at work with certain phrases being much employed in relation to it...'Disgrace'....'Scandal'...'Obscene'..and more in that vein.

This week a leaflet we send out to adopted parents and kids twice every year as a means of keeping them informed was rejected by our media and communications department, not because it was inflammatory, not because it brought the organisation into disrepute (my own particular speciality apparently), but because it was the victim of cost cutting. Never mind that not every one has internet access - they want it to go out on e-mail.

I am all in favour of our organisation not wasting money but I would approach money saving from another angle.

For a start, if my Chief Executive decided that he should jump before he was pushed and decided to take early 'retirement' aged 53, I would not send him on his way with a pay off of £297,000 (enough to pay 20 teachers for a year) and a guaranteed pension of £97,000 a year. Offensive enough, but at the time he went the organisation was looking to make approximately 800 job cuts by replacing all admin jobs with a Call Centre and a typing pool, (only we weren't allowed to call it a typing pool - it was officially a 'Professional Support Team' - where they would do all the typing).
This was the bright idea of a very well known company of Chartered Accountants - Price Eye Watering or something like that. For their knowledge and expertise at making people redundant, by which of course I mean making organisations more efficient, they have been charging our organisation (funded by local tax payers btw) £1.5 million a month. Me, I wouldn't spend money on bringing in consultants because if I was appointing highly paid directors I would expect them to be well capable of making strategic decisions themselves rather than bringing in others to do their thinking for them.

Our departed Chief Exec was very keen on the new plan and so was the man who covered his post when he went.

Our NEW Chief Exec upon appointment a month or so ago was not so keen. In fact so unkeen was she, she scrapped the plan. It was perhaps unfortunate that at that late stage the Call Centre and Typing Pool that was Not a Typing Pool had already cost £35 million, not including Price Eye Watering's fees. Still, at least the previously Acting Chief Exec did the sensible thing in his circumstances and cleared his desk that same day - his circumstances being that if he walked he took £97,000 with him which wasn't bad compensation for a Job Badly Done. Back to me and my cost cutting ideas - I wouldn't pay for failure but maybe it is only poorly paid people that get the sack these days?

Of course it isn't only failures in local government that walk away with huge payoffs, is itMr Steve McClaren?.

And don't get me started on the England players - Peter Crouch being the honourable exception.

There was never the slightest possibility I was going to be able to avoid the subject of England was there?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Justice

though not as we know it.

I do wish that we were a bit fussier about which countries we choose to call our very good mates.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Unaccustomed as I am to public speaking

- as in, I have never done it before.

In September this year our village school opened with the brand new extension we had fought for 7 years to obtain. Today we were having an open day to celebrate our wonderful new building. I, as chair of governors,was asked if I would say a few words before the ribbon was cut, and I said that was fine, assuming that I could turn up and say a few thank yous, safe in the knowledge that it would just be the kids at the school, staff and a few devoted parents, most of whom I would know. I was due at the school at 3.00.

So imagine my delight when one of the women who have been organising today rang me up at lunch time whilst I was still at work to check I knew what I would be saying. "Yes," says I, "I have a rough idea." And then as an after thought, "How many are you expecting?" "Oh", she says, "well I have had about 350 replies so far, plus the children of course, and not including the people we have invited as special guests like our M.P, councillors, Director of Childrens Services, the press...." I think she carried on listing people who would be there after that but I had died of shock and my colleagues were having to give me artificial respiration so I didn't quite catch all the names.

Why, oh why, oh why had I not long since prepared a proper speech?

Any pretence at work was abandoned as I set about doing just that. The only advantage in finding out what I was actually going to be faced with at such a last minute stage was that I didn't have time to get nervous. And even though some bastard sabotaged the microphone (or maybe it was knackered?) I did it. I didn't forget anyone I needed to thank. I didn't inadvertently insult anyone. I did however make some people cry, and a lot of them laugh. And people were really nice to me about it afterwards.

So today I did something I would never have thought I could do. And that feels good.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Paxman on another Owen.

If anyone was unfortunate enough not to see Jeremy Paxman's programme about Wilfred Owen there is an article by him about it here.

It must have been good because after I had insisted on watching it I found my 16 year old checking out some of Owen's poems.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Euro 2008

I heard Owen Hargreaves say this week that he hoped England would get what they deserve in the qualification stages for the Euro 2008 competition. Well I bloody well hope we DON'T get what we deserve as I would actually still like to see us qualify.

When this lot was pulled out of the collective hat - Croatia, Russia, Israel, Macedonia, Estonia, Andorra and England - not many England supporters could have anticipated we would be reduced to supporting sodding Israel on 17th November in order for us to have an outside chance of qualifying. Hang on though - surely I dreamt that we failed to beat Macedonia at home last October?

I didn't????!!!!


Oh shit - we really are that bad.

On the same day as I was starting to put in place my travel plans for Austria I was sympathising with Reidksi over the fact that Scotland had managed to end up in the same group as Italy, France, Ukraine, Georgia and Lithuania, though I did fancy they could get a draw against the Faroe Islands. And now there sits Scotland, second in a table that contains both the World Cup Finalists, with 'only' Italy to beat to ensure qualification. Respect!

Meanwhile a group of Austrian football fans calling themselves 'For the Love of Football' have launched a petition to get their own side (who automatically qualify as joint hosts) to pull out of the Finals. They complain that when the Austrian team are on the field "displays of true skill... occur about as frequently as meteorite impacts." Or also according to the guy I heard on the radio - "As frequently as an articulate comment from David Beckham." I like these guys already.


It's a Funny Old Game as I do not believe anyone has ever mentioned before.

Eastern Promises



Reidksi and I saw this last night...most of it anyway. We arrived too later for the first throat slashing scene, and I had to hide my eyes behind his hands for some of the seriously gory scenes. I thought the nude wrestling scene in Women in Love was quite risky until I saw the sauna scene in this film.

Not sure about the film really. Certainly it was a gripping film to watch, atmospheric, and Viggo Mortensen was very good indeed (though whether his character was is open to debate), but the ending was poor and cliche ridden, and whilst I can happily accept the odd huge coincidence in my reading or viewing, there were one or two too many of those in this even for me.

Still, a good evening was had. A drink and bite to eat in one of Northampton's better pubs first, followed after the film by a second drink here which used to be a dive used by 14 year olds and is now very nice indeed - although I was bemused to read in the link that it is in the heart of Northampton's theatre land. What bloody theatre land? Although in all fairness it is next to the fire escape of our one theatre complex so that probably counts in Advert Land.



On another subject entirely - what a good job I just yelled upstairs to enquire if my sons were in fact thinking of going to school today at all. Both sound asleep and supposed to be there at 8.55. Panic has just ensued.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Weekend

Reidski and I went for a walk in Hampstead Heath yesterday. We were up near the Golders Green end, and came upon just by sheer chance this beautiful hidden garden called the Hill Garden.

This is one of the beautiful plants we saw.




There was also an avery which was part of a conservation project for threatened birds. I am really 'into' birds since I was in South Africa. (Have I mentioned my trip to South Africa at all?) So though I felt a bit uncomfortable seeing these birds in pretty small enclosures, it did seem they were doing some good. For example, they have some red crowned cranes - there are now only an estimated 2,000 left in the wild. Part of the reason for this appears to be that they make crap parents. They get so bored laying on eggs that they wander off to find alternative entertainment. Result = no chicks hatch. But at Hampstead in the next door pen they have some silky hens - known for their maternal instincts, and so when a crane lays an egg they give it to the hens to care for. Neat eh?

Talking of neat and breaking my promise not to mention S.A anymore. We saw these nests



built by the male weaver bird to attract the ladiees. Only it has to be a damn good nest to do the trick. Often the female bird will take one look at the pathetic efforts of the male and will just go 'Take a hike loser - not good enough.' And she will expect him to make another one, and if necessary yet another and another before it will meet her exacting standards. The female of the species huh? :-)

After the walk we had a drink here, but having read what the link says about the place I am only surprised they let us over the threshold. Maybe they thought Reidski was in fact George Graham. They wouldn't be the first people to make that mistake.


In the evening we had the most fantastic meal at Chez Gerard which featured the best French onion soup I have EVER tasted.

Thoroughly recommended for a special treat.

Well my eldest is desperate to get on lap top so I will love you and leave you.

Over and out.

So funny

I think so anyway.

Like totally.

Brassed Off - En Aranjuez con tu amor

Watched this when I got back from seeing Reidski today. What a moving and beautiful piece this is.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Friday

I am sure that somewhere in my blogging past I have already reproduced some of the jokes from Mark Billingham books. For anyone who doesn't know, Billingham was a stand up comedian but now concentrates on writing crime novels about a detective called Tom Thorne. During the series of books an underlying theme is about Tom's relationship with his dad Jim. At first it is about his guilt that he doesn't see him as much as he should, then his feelings when his very bright father is diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Two books ago his dad dies in an accident which is probably related to his condition. Now Tom is haunted by his dad in his dreams as he deals with his grief and loss.

I finished Buried last night. Part of the stuff about Tom and his dad have made me cry, but last night a dream that is recalled in the book just made me laugh. So here for a Friday morning are the jokes his dad was telling him about Alzheimer's:

"Do you know they have spent more money on developing viagra than they have on research into Alzheimer's?"
"That's terrible."
"You're telling me. I'm walking round with a permanent stiffy and i can't remember what I'm supposed to do with it."

"Alzheimer's wasn't all bad...you never have to watch repeats on TV, you can hide your own easter eggs, and you are always meeting new friends."

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Humm

As opposed to our match last Saturday, last night's match was one upon which I do not care to dwell. The men who were playing in our strip looked exactly the same as the 11 who started the game against struggling Bristol Rovers, but the difference was that this 11 could not play football. We were bloody awful and deserved what we got - we got beat. It didn't help my evening that I took along three Rovers supporters.

This week I have been an initially rather reluctant participant on a three day diversity and heritage course ( I had too much to do in the office to be able to spare three days going over stuff I thought I already knew). However I have to admit it has been excellent, and not only because one lunch was great Bangladeshi food, and another was even better Caribbean nosh. I often work with people who have been adopted into families that do not reflect their own ethnicity, and have frequently felt helpless as to how to help them deal with issues around their sense of identity, but the course has really helped.

One thing we had to do as an early exercise was to get into groups - I was with one white guy, a Bangladeshi woman, a Chinese woman and an African Caribbean woman. We had to produce a list of words used to describe people whose ethnic background is not white British. The words that we listed were mainly vile - although we had also to identify words which are not offensive - but whilst I hated the unacceptable terms we came up with as a white woman hearing them they are not directed at me. To be with a mixed racial group, the majority of whom would have felt the hatred behind such words personally was a very uncomfortable feeling indeed. How papers like the Daily Mail manage to make 'Politically Correct' such an insult is beyind me. Isn't it actually about simple humanity towards others?

On a lighter note Reidski came up to see me on Monday. I think we just laughed all evening. He's my best friend as well as the person I happen to be very much in love with.One thing we discussed was how a rock star avoids becoming a total prat. Most fail to avoid this as evidenced here,
and here, and here, and oh good grief - you don't even want to go here.

There was one person who we both agreed had not only avoided becoming a prat but had achieved a god like status, but if he hasn't yet seen the folly of this goatee I may have to revise my view.



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Monday, November 05, 2007

Stars of the Show Part 2

Sorry - is this cheating on my declaration not to post on South africa again? But I couldn't resist putting these photos up.







Sunday, November 04, 2007

Football team victim of daylight robbery

From our scene of crime correspondent:

Northampton Town yesterday put on a scintillating display of footballing skill, forcing the opposition, Southend United to defend for 88 of the 90 minute match. Northampton Town hit the post, hit the bar, and had ten corners to Southend's one. They were also - unbelievably in view of these previously referred to statistics, awarded a penalty for handball. It was perhaps inevitable as the team have had no opportunity to practise penalties since the dawn of time, that when the penalty was taken the ball hit the inside of the post and came straight out again, only then to be kicked wide of the goal.

Northampton Town failed to convert any of their numerous goal scoring opportunities, as an invisible force shield protected the Southend goalmouth.

On the other hand - Southend used their one and only corner to score the only goal of the match.




Games like yesterday's make me want to SCREAM.

Friday, November 02, 2007

The stars of the show

Probably time to draw a line under my trip to South Africa although you will have to excuse the occasional lapse into "When I was in South Africa blah blah."

I have come away with an enhanced appreciation of wildlife and have found myself paying much more attention to our native trees, plants, birds and wildlife than was the case before I left. I think in particular the trip has got me interested in birds, although I don't suppose I am likely to spot four different varieties of eagle round here as I actually did last week.

I am also more aware of how dangerous animals can be. We were told the most dangerous on the reserve to humans were probably the buffalo and the hippos which kill more humans than any other South African animal, but a ranger was killed there four years ago by a crocodile. His dog got into trouble in the river, and he tried to rescue it...unfortunately that was the last thing he ever did. Our ranger told us the only animals which hunt humans as natural prey are crocodiles and polar bears. (We saw the former, but oddly enough - not the latter.)

So here are a few more pics of some of the animals I saw. There were many others - rhino, hippos, wildebeest, a serval which was rare and far too camera shy to stick around and pose, a white tailed mongoose, monitors, various types of antelope, tortoise, turtles, LOADS of different frogs and toads (noisy buggers they were), and we did see a croc too. And I can't believe I haven't already mentioned this but I held a bloody great big millipede - bravest moment of my life!

Sorry to have gone on at such length, but it really was an experience of a life time.


THE VIDEO WORKS!!!! HOORAY!!!!

So video





Thursday, November 01, 2007

Steve Bell in the Guardian



is spot on with this.

I've had a piece of good news

I got a call from a policeman in Essex.

Going back to March this year as mentioned here, I had my handbag stolen, and as a result of that I ended up as yet another victim of identity theft, with mobile phone contracts and store credit cards being taken out in my name here, there and bloody everywhere.

Well what the nice policeman told me was that they arrested a woman who was caught trying to use a stolen card, and upon searching her found many cards which were clearly forgeries, and several cards which appeared genuine,one of which belonged to me.

She is well and truly nicked.

And I am just SO delighted.

I bet

no one will ever notice I am at home ill again with sod all else to do.