Tuesday, 26 August 2008


Not so sure with the job at the moment… when I took it I suspected that there was a bloated monster bully lurking within that building, and sadly I was right – there she blows! While on the whole its not me she has her sights on, the very fact she is there, and I used to know her and how she operates, makes me feel a bit dispirited. Her gaze is like a lighthouse – pretty soon she will spot me in her deadlights, and then make my life subtly hell, as that is what she strives to do. Marvellous, I think, just what I need right now.

So am I debating… while I have no qualms about sticking this out – life’s too short, isn’t it? At least that’s my thinking…

The sort of songs I am listening to at the moment seem to reflect the way I am feeling – lots of Carpenters classics, and melodic harmonies - slightly bluesy whimsical songs, lyrics that ponder the future. I feel like I am in one of those rare moments in time when life can be viewed from two diametrically opposing angles – it can either look all crap, or all with a brink of promise. It doesn’t help that my moods swing violently between each viewpoint every day – one minute depressed, the next quietly optimistic. It’s all very strange…

I viewed a cottage at the weekend – oh it almost ticked all the boxes! It is in my favourite location ‘of all time’, very Agatha Christie, two bedrooms a decent size, a small courtyard garden (that was really a walled box with a pot plant) and within walking distance of a train station. The downsides are it has no bath, parking would be away down the road, and the front door opens straight into the front room. It is also opposite a pub – a very nice pub, so fairly handy, but could be noisy come spilling out time. It is a whole £150 cheaper than the flat… not saving a great deal there though, eh? I am going to arrange to see it again with J at the weekend – see it through his eyes, I might be cottage-biased and think all is lovely when it has rising damp and holes in the roof.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Of Twirl bars and packing

Almost through August! This is like the last bit of an exhausting relay race for me, thankfully I haven’t dropped the baton (unlike some – ouch) but have it in my grimy mitt and am running for dear life at the finishing line. This has been the summer of bills and scrubbing down the sofa looking for pennies, of recycling and stocking the hatches with Twirl bars before buttoning them down. I shall be so pleased to get to pay day in September and take a breather.

We have a moving date for the flat – going back in June we asked to be let out of our contract as the rent and electricity bills this airy flat racks up is extortionate. Yet only in September - and two days before my birthday – can the landlord release us, so we will be finally free from the huge bills! Sadly it doesn’t look like we will be able to afford deposit etc for a new flat when we vacate the old, which means in September I will be a year older, pot-less and back at my mum’s. That is not the right way of thinking to feel a confident, contributing member of society; it’s the sort of thought that wonders if ‘mad failed bag lady with 100 cats, lives in parent’s shed’ lies within my future. J has assured me this won’t be so, to which I nod and agree, while privately thinking ‘mad failed bag lady and partner, 100 cats, 3 dogs and a playstation, living in parent’s shed’.

But I am trying to stay positive – it really is near the end of this skint phase, as soon as the next pay checks roll in then we’ll be able to pay a few things off and start anew, and it will be nice to live somewhere that isn’t so greedy with our cash!

So – with that in mind I have started looking at flats and houses that are more affordable. Now this is where the first hurdle comes in – I like the type of cottages last seen in an Agatha Christie novel. I want a small and cosy little place, with a courtyard garden, a spare room for books and computer, trailing plants at the kitchen window and some sort of period detail. J on the other hand likes penthouses – the sort seen in some upmarket American HBO programme – all gleaming chrome, polished wooden floorboards and some sort of gadget that works the windows. Trying to marry these two ideas together is nigh on impossible – we both have to settle for a little less that our ideal. So I will go for a flat as long as it has some sort of quirk, and J will go for period detail as long as it is not too small. Together it boils down to wanting to be close to the train station (me), parking space (J), bathroom with window (both), space for bikes (both), dishwasher (me), good kitchen (both), and central heating (ME!). So far we have lived in 3 places that have all been lovely in their own ways, so here’s hoping place no 4 turns out to be a just as nice.

This also means I will be off-line for quite a while… I am already gutted, and I have over three weeks left of broadband time! I think I will be able to post to here at work, so that should be ok – but I use a computer for everything – banking, travel arrangements, news, staying in touch… It will be a weird old time without access to the T’internet.

And finally, back to packing. I am trying to see it all with new eyes and think can I get rid of that? Take it to a charity shop? Chuck it? Recycle? Freecycle? I have been trying to whittle down piles of papers and old magazines – very reluctantly in some cases, as if I keep things its always because I think there is an idea in there worthy of further exploration! But now I have to show no mercy – space is not infinite, I am beginning to discover.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Life through a lens

Oh life, you busy thing you. If I’m not working all hours under the sun, then I am lying instead on the sofa like a wilting flower with an achy petal.

I am beginning to think my head is conducting some sort of internal eyes vs computer monitor battle – reading the screen at work seems to be giving me a headache, but putting on my glasses to read the screen now also gives me a headache! I think the computer monitor is winning, and the whole caboodle is conspiring to send me down into the depths of the nearest glasses shop.

I’m not a natural glasses wearer. I only need them for reading and even then only when my eyes are a bit tired, as I am typing this quite merrily without the addition of anything perched on my nose. Yet I have to admit that the words are clearer when I do drag on the dreaded glasses, as long as I stay looking at the screen and don’t attempt to look anywhere else. The instant I do its like I’m in the House of Mirrors at a funfair, everything seems all over the place, and I feel as blind as a bat. I also hate the feel of them pinching my nose, and the little snappy case, and the silly bit of cloth – it’s all so fussy. Yet I could never wear contacts – the thought of them make me feel ill. I’ve watched many a friend fish around for contacts that have slipped around their eye, something worse than many a horror film, and done my time patting around dodgy pub carpets to find the ones that mysteriously drop out. No, you can keep contacts. I’ll suffer the contents of the little snappy cases for a little while longer.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Blooming Doves

The doves are back. No... *voice tails off in despair*

Thankfully they are not back in the kitchen, but have been seen circling the flats in a rather haphazard manner. Poor things are probably lost - anyone missing a few doves from their coop lately? Not quite sure what that does for Sunday's analogy either -blooming doves.

Anyhow, today's lunchtime was again spent quietly in the vicinity of the Kensington Palace shop, on my secret mission. This was, as you may recall, to discover what is the tackiest thing you could buy if money was no object, and so far a heavy pair of silver crown diamonte cufflinks were the hot favourite. Today I had more time, and hence could be a bit more discerning, wandering from glass cabinet to tastefully arranged display, reeling back in shock at the amount of embroidered crowns one can fit on a toiletry bag. I paused for a long time in front of the Princess Diana bookmarks, and then hovered in front of a regally purple velvet bag with a crown design made of sequins. I admired it from all angles - yes, this was truly hideous. I then wandered back to make my comparison with the crown cufflinks and was instantly struck by their shiny magnificance. We have a winner folks, you just cannot beat the crown cufflinks.

This leaves me needing a new mission for lunchtimes... a circuit of the Round Pond? Or - yes, I have it. A walk of discovery. I shall make each lunchtime a mission to find something new - be it statue, church, blue plaque or something simply odd. I shall take a camera. I shall look like a spy. Good thing I'm not near the Brompton Oratory... but perhaps that is a tale for another day!

Sunday, 10 August 2008

When Doves Fly

When you live nine floors up, the last thing you’d expect on entering the flat is to find unexpected visitors. But this is exactly what happened to J’s mum when she entered her kitchen to make a nice cup of tea – she discovered two unwelcome bird guests had already hopped in via the window.

A panicked phone call to J, and there we were, en route to save a nice lady from a close encounter of the bird kind. Not that my role as a bird buster was anything to glorify – mainly I offered support from behind the closed door. But then J called me over to point out our bird guests – and two rather startled looking white doves peered back at me from the top of the cupboard. We couldn’t get close enough to read their tags, but holding back the net curtain did wonders – in a flap of feathers they were free and soaring away into the sky.

This makes a nice analogy for the novel… I sent it away this weekend. I was getting everything together on Friday, and it suddenly dawned on me that the date was 08/08/08 – surely that means magic must be in the air? So the novel has gone - I’ve set three chapters free to soar away in the post. Eek!

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Kensington Palace

Lunch times can be a little lonely when you are in a new shiny place of employment, but luckily for me, Kensington Gardens is proving to be my saviour. It is so nice to work somewhere within sight of the green stuff. Mostly I wander across with my salad (and my ‘ever so naughty, really won’t shift the belly’ bar of chocolate), and find a little spot to sit and read, but even on rainy summer days there are things to do.

Such as exploring the Kensington Palace shop.

This is free to enter, unlike the Palace, and you can browse around as many Royal postcards (50p for a posed Diana) and fleur de leys embroidered wallets as you can stomach. I had a good look around the other day, and wondered who on earth buys such tat? Or where do the shops ship the tat in from – is there a giant warehouse somewhere in Windsor that churns all this stuff out – lavender soap, crown cufflinks, porcelain corgi dogs? I wandered from one over-priced glass cabinet to the other, trying to decide what, if money was no object, was the worst thing I could possibly buy. So far it could well be the diamante crown cufflinks. I shall bee-line there tomorrow and make further enquiries. Perhaps a corgi will pip the top spot - there was one that did have a particulary nasty glint in its jewelled eye.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Pay day!

Got a welcome email the other day at work, asking me if I’d like to come along and collect my cheque. Like to? I was there at the ladies desk before she’d even depressed the ‘send’ key. So – thankfully, the bank account has had a puff of warm money blown into it, and what with that, and J’s cunning plan (he is rather good at cunning plans, much better than me) it looks like the rent is a done deal.

The electricity bill has stopped glowing as well, mainly because I dropped it behind the sofa. What? Ready Steady Bills – can’t see, won’t pay. I am sure this works until someone somewhere throws a switch and the flat plunges into darkness…

I’ve had Blur’s ‘The Universal’ whirling around my head for the last three days. This is mainly because it is not on my iPod. I’ve worked out that it doesn’t matter I have 250 songs of goodness and joy on my ipod, I shall always get fixated on the one that isn’t there, and long to hear it until all I have playing on the inner radio is that song, on repeat. So tonight I’ll acquire it (ahem) and tomorrow I shall listen to it once, and then get equally fixated on something else I don’t have.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Passing out before pay day

So there I was, back in the swing of commuting, working all the hours and attempting to further the redrafting today, when I decided to see how the bank account was holding up. I just checked it online and it’s plunged me into the pit of despair, a nasty gloom-ridden pit which currently is to be found circling around my chair in the spare bedroom. I still have two weeks to go before the first pay packet, with the certainty that it won’t be a full month’s wage, and the grim belief that I’ll be on emergency tax, and the rent is due in nine days and I’m £400 short.

Sadly J is pot-less as well as his new job doesn’t start until mid-August, so I imagine his first pay packet won’t be anything to write home about until the end of September. We’re doomed I tell you, doomed.

I can’t extend my overdraft any further as the bank won’t let me (tried it, computer said no), and the only option is to possibly get a credit card and hope against hope that will work, even though it will be yet another thing to which I owe money. This really has been a shit year for timings. I hope J has a cunning plan… can’t think for the life of me what it could be, though. We’ve had an electricity bill that is so red it practically glows, there will probably be another threatened court case via council tax in the not so distant future – and in the background I’m supposed to forget all this and happily write my novel! Oh it’s a joke – honestly, if this book ever makes it into the public then it has been written on the back drop of adversity, there has been so much angst in this past year I’m amazed I have even managed to write anything at all.

And the worse thing is my working week starts again tomorrow – only one day off this week so today has felt like a badly cooked half-baked Sunday. Time enough to do the weekly washing and iron a shirt, then you’re back in it, only of course with no money for lunch. I've had it with today, I'm going to bed…