Monday, 19 November 2007

Les Miserables

That’s what I’ve got. A severe dose by the looks of things. I spent most of the weekend feeling like a complete and utter waste of space, air and skin. I even spent nearly 4 hours working solidly on my first bit of chain-mail jewellery, which did keep me occupied and gave me some pleasure, but it just all seems so fleeting.

I’m back on the old hating myself thing. I’m managing to convince myself that people are just hanging round with me because they’ve got nothing better to do. God, I should know better than this, I really should.

I swear, this year’s knocked me back a mile. One thing after another, it feels like and I never give myself an inch. And why is that? Because I don’t feel that I deserve it. I feel like I’m always being tested and found wanting.

It’s utter bollocks and I should know that. I really should. I just need to convince myself that I’m worth that effort. God knows I wouldn’t treat any of my friends so harshly, in fact, I’d be the first one to shout if anyone else did. I need my inner voice of doom to shut the jeff up and listen for a change.

So, if anyone’s got any ideas on how I do that, I’ll be accepting answers on a postcard to the usual address.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

Lazy Sunday

At least, it would be if the people next door weren't making enough noise to wake the ruddy dead. I have no idea what they're having done in their house, but blimey, surely it shouldn't be this noisy! Hammering all day yesterday and what sounds like sanding the floorboards or something today. Wooyay.

Of course, they have every right to do whatever the hell they want in their own house. I wouldn't want to stop them. But it doesn't mean that I don't have the right to be decidedly pissed off at the fact that I can barely hear myself think. So much for soundproofing.

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Bizarrospam is back! Hurrah!

It would appear that spammers are becoming ever more creative with their 'offerings'. Another small selection of subject lines (and my immediate thoughts upon them) for your delight. Or something.

Recalling her features drove the monsters from my mind. - Your therapist appears to be doing you the world of good.

What is that ghostly face looking out balefully after him from behind the arras. - My mind, it is the boggled. And leave my arras out of it.

Protect your manhood! - Pink shirts are the devil's work.

Why don't you buy some drugs to be healthy? - I have all the viagra I'll ever need thanks - hotmail is sorting that one for me.

I just started having sex and my boyfriend keeps popping out when we do it. - I have no words. None. Other than to perhaps suggest that you tie him to the bed.

Beware of fake pills. - Sage advice. Thank you.

Can you let me know what you think about this, I would be very interested in what you think. communication as well. we have slang gestures. - I've got a couple of slang gestures of my own that I think you might like.

Marvellous stuff.

Sunday, 5 August 2007

Birthday fun

'Twas my 38th birthday on Friday, and a better day I have not had in a long time. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Which, I believe, is fairly customary.

I had the day off from work, which is always a good thing. We also had a visit from the insurance people about the bathroom ceiling. The man was in the house barely 10 minutes. After six ruddy months of waiting and he's there less than 10 minutes. That's what I call value for money. Pfft. Still, he decided that he was going to release the money for the repairs, so hopefully I'll have a bathroom ceiling before the end of the year. Hurrah!

I also spent most of the afternoon and evening drinking lots and having fun on a boat on the Thames. I was thrilled to bits with the number of people who were able to make it, people I hadn't seen for absolutely ages. That's mainly down to self-imposed exile and sheer immobility for two months of the year, but it was lovely to see them all again.

And I got lots of lovely presents and cards - all very much gratefully received. Among the gifts were a large cuddly Godzilla (to go with my little cuddly Godzilla - Big G and Little G), the original Godzilla film on DVD, a Samuel Z Arkoff box set (B-Movie heaven!), Man From UNCLE box set, Trumpton DVD, Mr Benn DVD, books, a mug, smellies, stationery and a beautiful compact mirror. I think I did rather well for myself there.

I also hope that this marks a turning point. I received the forms for my counselling yesterday too - so I'll be filling them out and sending straight away. This year hasn't had the greatest of starts, but here's to a much improved second half of it!

Sunday, 8 July 2007

Internet musings

I actually meant to post this last week, as it was fresh in my mind, but I got distracted. Pfft.

Anyway, last Sunday morning, as you do, I was watching the Heaven & Earth show. It's quite good, as religious programming goes. Anyway, there was a feature on the show about online churches. There are quite a number in Second Life, and they appear to be quite popular. There are also a number of online religious communities spread around the country. After the feature was shown there was a discussion with the studio guests, Nina Myskow, GP Taylor and some other bloke whose name I have completely forgotten.

Two of the people, unnamed man and Ms Myskow were really quite scathing about the use of internet forums and so on. Which got me thinking. I've been using discussion boards and forums for a good 5 to 6 years now and for the most part, it's been a hugely positive experience. I have met people who I now consider to be my closest friends. They have been there to support me during the bad times, celebrate during the good times and give me an alternative perspective when it's needed. Without that, I'd be a much lesser human being than I am today. I have grown in confidence (though, yes, that is quite fragile) and have expanded my horizons much more than I would had I not met them.

However, outstripping all of that has been the opportunities for so much fun and laughter. Which, frankly, makes life worth living.

To dismiss all of that with an airy wave of one's hand and wittering that people like me are sad and pathetic is to completely miss the point of all this. And strangely enough, it was the ex-vicar (GP Taylor) who was most in favour of online communities. Though thinking about it, perhaps with his background he can actually see the benefits rather than looking at the pitfalls.

Thursday, 5 July 2007

Rain and sunshine

The last week or so, the weather here has been rubbish. Veering from grey, cold and damp to bright sunshine. I have the heating on in my flat right now - and it's July for heaven's sake!

Wednesday evening was a case in point. I was working late (summer working hours, work extra during the week and get a Friday off every other week), so when I finally left, it was just in time for the skies to turn dark and menacing. Still, as luck would have it, I managed to get on the bus before the rain started. However, halfway through the journey, the thunderstorm started. I have not seen rain that heavy for quite some time. It was bouncing off the tops of cars, bus stops, the pavement, umbrellas and assorted folk like anything. And of course, when the time came for me to change buses, it was still going (along with the booming thunder!). So, there I was stuck half underneath a very crowded bus shelter and half underneath my umbrella, when the sun started to come out, way over in the distance.

And of course, sun + rain = rainbows! I managed to get a picture of a particularly spectacular one whilst I was waiting at the bus stop. The picture quality isn't brilliant, but that's cameraphones for you.


Best of all, it's a doubler! I get stupidly excited when I see double rainbows. But then, I think I'm just a bit of a weather geek.

Sunday, 17 June 2007

Blues. Again. Bah.

I know what it's all about today. Which is a bit of a change from normal, where I'm just a bit clueless. Still, today's blues are hard, since I can do absolutely nothing about it. I just have to ride it out.

To be honest, I've been dreading today for weeks. Ever since the signs for Father's Day started appearing in the card shops. More so than is usual, but I think that's also related to the other things that have happened this year. And how much I've wished my dads (yep, both of 'em) were there to turn to.

I know I'm luckier than a lot of people, in that not only was my real father an absolute hero, but my stepfather was too. Despite me not wanting him to be, when I first met him. Unfortunately, it sometimes makes it incredibly hard to deal with the fact that neither of them are here now.

Funny thing was, I managed to keep the tears away until I talked to my mother earlier today. And it only started when I just wanted to make sure they had known how much I loved them. I suppose it's the thing you worry about most. Making sure that the people you love actually know that. I think it's the one thing I'm most bothered about with friends and family now.

Though, on reflection, it's not entirely a bad thing.

Saturday, 16 June 2007

Finally! Success!

Yes, I have finally triumphed with British Gas! Sick and tired of the constant bills, despite not receiving gas from them for the past SEVEN years and mindful of the fact that they appear to have the determination of a pitbull with a bone, I decided to take action.

So, there I was, bill for £853.71 and other letter threatening court action in hand, as I rang their Customer Services line. After being on hold for a good 20 minutes, I finally got to speak to an advisor. Who, much to my surprise, was incredibly helpful and really very pleasant. A complete change to the last person I spoke to at BG and really not what I was expecting.

She said that I didn't owe them anything and that, since my name was not on the bills, I was not legally obliged to pay anything. She also said that she would remove the details from their database. So, with any luck, that's the end of it.

Thank the lord.

Saturday, 19 May 2007

Adverts, schmadverts

I used to be one of those odd people who would look forward to the commercial break. Those days are now long, long gone. If it's not Howard from the ruddy Halifax caterwauling like a cut-price karaoke singer, it's Michael Winner being a patronising cock in order to flog insurance. Where's the creativity in that? And don't get me started on those horrendous 'Brand Power' adverts. Helping you buy better, my arse.

There have been some really fantastic ad campaigns in recent times - the Sony Bravia bouncy balls/exploding paint ones, the Honda one where they took the car apart to make a Heath Robinson-esque marvel are both notable examples - so why on earth must there be so many bad ones? The recent Mark Benton adverts for Nationwide are fairly amusing (Hairy Little Cat, meow - never fails to raise a snigger), but then they're shoved up against interminable ones for car insurance or people willing to sue on your behalf because you fell over. Actually, there are certain of those particular ads which make me quite queasy - the ones with the 're-enactments'. Just like a shorter version of Casualty, though without the appearance of Charlie. Which may or may not be a good thing.

Blah, blah and more bloody blah.

I don't really have a huge lot to say at the moment, being as I've been off sick for the past three weeks with another sodding flare up of the sciatica I had earlier this year. I have to say, so far 2007 has sucked. Big style.

I've just been to the loo (slightly TMI there, but just indulge me for a moment) and on the way back to the living room decided to make myself a cup of tea. Spiced Chai Latte (part of the instant tea range from Whittards, which I adore) and I've just had to stop myself from crying. I am so fed up with everything. I don't think I've had a year quite this bad for a long long time and I feel like I'm struggling to cope. I know it's small beans compared with other people, but then, as I keep telling people, you can't compare yourself to other people. Down that road, madness lies (as Yoda might well have said).

I think it's just that I feel like a big, fat, useless failure. Logically, I know that's not true. I have my own flat (which I bought all on my own), I have a pretty good job and I have a lovely family. I also have some absolutely terrific friends. I just keep thinking that I'm letting everyone down - that I'm a constant disappointment. And I can't seem to shake it off, that big black cloud hanging over me.

I've made a start though. My new doctor (same surgery, but different doctor - I will NEVER voluntarily see my previous doctor ever again) is lovely. So much so, that I actually mentioned my weight to him. And he didn't make me feel like a total freak or a total loser. He was just lovely about it. I rarely mention it - even to my family or friends - because it's horrendously emotional and I really worry about not being able to handle letting those emotions out. I can't spend my life like this, it's got to change. So I made that first step. And it felt good. Realistically, I know that it's going to take time and that it's not going to be easy, but I have to do it. Otherwise I'll go under.

Monday, 9 April 2007

Releasing my inner librarian

I have spent all day faffing about here. It's an absolutely fantastic site and a wonderful way to lose hours and hours of your life.

Being a qualified librarian (and certifiable geek) I've been after a way to catalogue things like DVDs, books and so on, but this is much more. You can add films that you've seen (big or small screen), the TV programmes that you watch, music you listen to and so on. So far I've catalogued all my DVDs (100) but I've barely scratched the surface of my book collection (151 so far). I suspect that's going to take absolutely ages.

I've done some of the films I've seen and some of the TV programmes that I watch now and used to watch. I haven't started on my cds yet, so that'll be fun too.

And, in other news, this week has been noticeably brighter than last week. In fact, I've had a lovely Easter weekend just pottering about happily. And my back is improving all the time, which I think helps immensely.

Thursday, 5 April 2007

Oh how we love British Gas

Remember this?

Well British Gas are at it again. Or at least, that's what my suspicious mind suspects. I got home last night, there's a lovely note addressed to 'The Occupant'. This could be any one of the 4 people living in this building (in 3 separate flats), none of which are specified.

And yes, it's another disconnection notice. Just over a year since the last one. My gas supplier hasn't changed. It's still nPower, just as it has been for the last SEVEN years.

I have tried ringing the number on the slip, but 'Jasper' isn't answering his mobile. The nice people at nPower said that they must have the wrong address. I just suspect that they're trying to make a quick few quid. Muppets. No wonder people complain about them so much.

Sunday, 1 April 2007

Happy Birthday Dad

It would have been my dad's 63rd birthday today. And I would have loved to celebrate it with him. Unfortunately, that's not going to happen, because he died 11 years ago. The reason I say this is because I've been thinking about him an awful lot of late, for reasons I am about to explain.

This year hasn't had the happiest or easiest of starts. My boiler finally gave up the ghost, leaving me without heating or hot water - and necessitating the expenditure of nearly £3000 to get the problem sorted out - I ended up (after laying out £500 in a desperate attempt to coax the old one back to life) getting a brand new one installed, which has been functioning perfectly.

Just after that was sorted out, my bathroom ceiling collapsed. There's a very long story attached, involving one of the stupidest people it's ever been my misfortune to meet, the previous owner of the flat upstairs who really couldn't give a damn and the new owners, who weren't told of the various failings of the previous tenant (aforementioned stupid person - who managed to burn a hole in the bath. Seriously.) That's still waiting to be fixed, so I currently have a big gap in the ceiling, through which I regularly get falls of rubble.

And then, just as I was getting my head round those two little 'problems', I ended up with a slipped disc and attendant sciatica. I have NEVER experienced pain like it and I never want to again. I was away from work for four and a half weeks, the longest I've ever been off sick. I have now been back three weeks and I am still snowed under. And my back/leg is not totally healead. It'll take a long time, these things generally do. And I am making pretty good progress, all things considered.

The one thing I tried not to think during all this year was 'Oh god, I want my dad.' Because it just makes it worse. I think today's brought it all out because my thoughts naturally drift his way at this particular time of the year. And because I know he'd have made it all feel better. He'd have dried my childish tears, given me one of his bearhugs and sorted it all out. He was always there. And frankly, I have sometimes have no idea how I have managed without him. I miss him every single day and for that there is no cure.

Time heals, or so the saying goes. Up to a point, that's true, but there are wounds that stubbornly refuse all efforts, scar tissue that remains resolutely painful. Things you learn to live with. You don't get over them, just accept that they are there. Some days are better than others, so you just have to steel yourself to get through the bad ones.

So there you have it. It's that day again. And I just want to say that I love you, Dad. More than I could ever hope to put into words. And I have to hope that you knew that.

Monday, 26 March 2007

Fashion tips for numpties

This evening, as I was waiting for my second bus (having shown myself up on the first one by appearing to have a seizure - I was trying to rid myself of unwelcome attention by an arachnid) I noticed a shifty looking character waiting at the same bus stop. He was clad in a white tracksuit top, black tracksuit bottoms and brown brogue type shoes.

BROWN shoes? With black trousers? That's all kinds of wrong, right there. Not to mention that it just looked terrifyingly odd to be wearing fairly formal shoes with tracky bottoms. You would think people would know these things. Or maybe they just don't care.

Maybe I'm the freaky one for thinking about it quite so much.

Sunday, 25 March 2007


You can't buy this in any shop, apparently. And I should know because I've seen the advert about 15 times today. And it's driving me ever so slightly round the bend.

Quite why anyone would want to buy a set of cds that include dodgy covers of such things as 'I Will Always Love You' and 'Nights in White Satin' done via the gift of pan pipes is beyond me. But perhaps that just speaks more about my bitter and twisted nature than anything else.

I've also discovered that any advert featuring Jamie Oliver gets my hackles up immediately. I can't even put into words exactly what it is that annoys me so much. I think it's the way he always seems to be showing off - 'look at me, just tossing all this stuff together'. Gimp. And don't lean over everything. I'm sure that's not hygienic.

Thursday, 22 March 2007

I am back in the land of the (barely) living

At least, that's what I have to keep telling myself. After adventures in the land of sicknotes, I returned to work last Monday. And from the chaos rampant at work, you would think I had been off for months, rather than weeks. Okay, I know it was 4 and a half weeks, I know it was not well timed, but heavens above, do people not have initiative to use?

My colleague coped admirably with my absence, though given that we are already doing the work of three (possibly four) people between the two of us, you can imagine what he's had to deal with. And of course, once you're back at your desk, people automatically assume that you're totally tip-top and up to full speed. Nope. Nuh-uhh. Not a frickin' chance. I'm lucky if I get to quarter-speed. And then it's with a following wind.

But you're owed the saga of my sick note. Oh boy. A tale and a half. First week, I waited until the Wednesday (even though I didn't need it until Thursday), rang the doctor's surgery early in the morning. The first receptionist I spoke to was a beauty. I said 'I wonder if you can help me, I have a serious problem with my back.' At this point she interrupted me with 'Don't we all? I've got a really bad back.' I was so stunned I couldn't speak for a moment but carried on regardless. I explained that I wasn't in any fit state to go back to work and could I get a sick note. No, I couldn't make it to the surgery, the doctor would have to come out. Blah blah blah. Anyway, it turned out that the doctor was busy, so could I ring back later. Which I did, went through the same rigmarole and finally got through to the doctor. He was rubbish. Admittedly I already knew that he had all the bedside manner of an air raid, but there you go. He grudgingly agreed to a sick note for a week after I'd had to argue the toss. He also said that he'd write me a prescription for some painkillers and stuff. Lovely. Great.

Only not quite. Then came the small matter of attempting to get it picked up. First they said, we'll send it. Then, no, we can't do that, it's not policy. Could I get there to pick it up? My eyes were rolling so hard they nearly fell out at this point, but I patiently pointed out that if I'd been able to get up there to see the doctor, I might not even have needed a sick note. Pfft. So, I had to try and arrange to get the sick note and prescription collected. Unfortunately, the earliest this could be done was the following Monday, due to a combination of me being a div and other people being busy as busy things. Unfortunately, I didn't actually get the painkillers and stuff until the day after when a friend popped over to see me and went to the local pharmacy.

If I'd had the drugs earlier, I might not have needed a further sicknote, which I attempted to get on the Wednesday. By the way, this is the first time in my entire life I have needed anything like this and from the runaround I got, I will be making damn sure it's the last. So I started ringing at 8.45 on the Wednesday morning, explaining that the doctor wanted to see me, but that I was unable to get there, due to being in severe pain and whatnot, so he would have to come out to see me. And was told to ring back later, because he was busy. So I did, at which point he was in a meeting. Rang back, he was still in the meeting. Rang back, he was on another line. Rang back again, to be told that he wouldn't give me a sick note, because he needed to see me. At this point, I burst into tears and explained that I'd rung several times to explain this and yet all I'd been told was to ring back later. The receptionist was very nice and spoke to the practice manager, and they booked me in there and then for a home visit. Naturally they couldn't say when the doctor would be arriving, but it was definitely on his list.

So I waited. And waited. Then waited some more. Until 9pm in fact, when I pretty much gave up on it. I'd not done anything to eat or drink in case I missed him, so was feeling pretty grim. So I rang the next morning straight away and spoke to the practice manager. And asked why the doctor hadn't turned up. She was very good, said that she'd been there and seen that it had all been booked in and everything, couldn't understand what had happened. I said that I was now sans sicknote, in a bit of a state, naturally and still in pain. So she said she would hand this over to the doctor on call for that particular day. (The previous day, it was my own doctor who was on call. The one on whose list I am registered and who shall henceforth be known as Dr Shithead.) And give him his due, he rang exactly when he said he would. Backdated my sicknote to cover the correct days (in addition to being a grumpy arsehole, Dr Shithead had also started the sicknote on the wrong sodding day. Gimp.) and was the very model of politeness. And then, guess what?! They actually POSTED the ruddy thing out to me. Honestly, the mind, it just boggles.

When I went back the next week (I could actually sit for a few minutes, so risked a taxi ride up the hill), I saw the lovely new doctor (who I will be seeing from now on. Dr Shithead will be a distant, if annoying, memory) and discovered that there's only a sodding pharmacy IN the surgery itself. And that they have a collection/delivery service for people who are housebound. Words fail me. They really do.

I only hope that the next time I need to call on the services of a doctor, this particular practice has raised their game considerably. Muppets.

Monday, 19 February 2007

Lumbago, lumbago, they drink it in Tobago...

Or not, as the case may be.

You know that old saying about trouble coming in threes? Well, if this isn't my third, then I dread to think of what's next. Oh yes, I have lumbago (or sciatica or whatever the hell the diagnosis du jour happens to be) caused by a slipped disc. Actually it's a ruptured or 'herniated' disc, according to NHSDirect. Whoo.

Anyway, the fact remains that I am now stuck at home, unable to walk very far, unable to stand for terribly long and only able to sit for a minute or two at a time. It's a vast improvement on this time last week, when it all started. I never, ever want to experience another Sunday like that, it was terrifying.

The worst of it all was that I thought I'd just strained my back. On the Tuesday I'd been shifting some crates (after our very temporary office move - we moved again the next weekend so didn't bother unpacking) and felt a bit of a twinge. It got worse on Wednesday, so I ended up staying at home Thursday and Friday. I thought it would just go away on its own, y'see, so just dosed myself up with painkillers and heatpads. And until the Sunday, it seemed to be working.

However, one very restless night later, I'm left with crippling pain in the back of my leg, virtually unable to move. The only position that seemed to bring any respite at all was lying face down across my bed. Oh yeah, tres attractive. So, after a hysterical phone call to my aunt, and a panicky phone call to a friend begging for more painkillers, I managed to call out the local emergency doctor. Who was ace. Diagnosed it straight away, gave me a prescription for painkillers and managed to calm me down, which was no mean feat in itself.

Suffice to say that I'm still off work, though thankfully able to at least communicate with the outside world via the gift of broadband (and a very, very long cable). It's uncomfortable to type though, so I'll leave it there for the moment and tell you the saga of my sick note next time.

Friday, 2 February 2007

Housing woe

I think this will probably be the theme of 2007, by the looks of things. Not content with replacing the boiler - which now is a thing of beauty and oh, so quiet - I now have to have a new bathroom ceiling, as mine collapsed two weeks ago.

The feeling of utter dread as I gazed upon the rubble strewn floor is one I simply cannot describe. No words would do it justice.

However, I am proud that I didn't sink into a snotty, crying heap on the floor. I simply informed the neighbours, took some photographs (insurance purposes - though they've been handy for sharing the pain) and then started clearing up.

Our glorious managing agents sent some folks round to have a look-see on the Saturday morning. Whereupon they announced that they would be 'making it safe'. This pretty much meant that they just pulled down some more of the ceiling. Woo. And, indeed, yay. Would have been nice had they put some covering down, but what the hell, I must look like I need practice at cleaning.

And now I don't know what's happening. I need to talk to the people upstairs again (leaking bath caused the problem and is fixed, but temporarily so, as far as I'm aware) because after two weeks of having a gaping hole in the ceiling (and stopping the odd rubble fall with my head) I really, really want it sorting out.

Anyway, photos. Feel free to gasp in horror (Does she really use that shampoo? Blimey!) or shake your head sadly in sympathy. Either's good.

Saturday, 6 January 2007

Boo and indeed hiss

New Year, New You? So much for that. I'd settle for heat and hot water right now to be honest.

Oh yes, 2007 is starting off in great form. I got back to London on Thursday afternoon, to be greeted with a non-working boiler. And it's still not working. I'm hoping that the gas engineer blokey will be able to get here this afternoon to fix it, I really am. Otherwise it's Monday morning.

Having said all that, it also looks like I will need a new boiler anyway. The one I have is now 11 years old, and has cost a huge amount of money to fix over the past couple of years. I was quoted a price yesterday - of £2040 - for getting the new boiler, installation and powerflush (for the existing radiator system). Which is a HUGE amount of money. So, as long as it works for the time being, I'll be having a look around to see what else is out there.

Still, glass half full time - at least things can only improve from here. And at least I now have some NICE new neighbours. Let's face it though, I was definitely due that, after the last one!

Tuesday, 2 January 2007

New Year, New Post...

It's been a couple of months, so I thought it was time to write something. Anything, really. Of course, now I'm sat here I have no idea what I actually feel like writing. Not the best start really, but there you go.

Well, last year was interesting. A year of ups and downs really. And of finding friends in unlikely places. It ended on quite a depressing note for me. Due, in part, to a combination of working too hard and sleeping too little. I really need to sort that out, it's getting a bit much really. Especially when it leaves me so little time to think up things to blog.