Saturday, February 28, 2009

Geek Night

At some point in the pub a few weeks back a group of us book people discovered two joint loves.

First, a shared appreciation of that fine British sitcom that is the IT Crowd.

Second, a shared delight in raising our spirits and deflecting morose contemplation of our depressing lives, by taking the piss out of geek-boy G.

Putting the two together, an idea was born which came to fruition tonight. Geek Night.

A night of watching all the episodes of the IT Crowd back to back, whilst gorging on pizza and booze.

Or in other words, an evening helping G celebrate the culture of "his people".

A fine night it was too. They came, we ate, we drank (white wine obviously) and we watched all of series one and half of series two. Frankly we watched until K and I broke down and begged that the pause button allow some human interaction.

Which just goes to prove that generally girl's don't make as good geeks as boys.

Nice place to visit, but you wouldn't want to live there...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

With no let up from recent pressures, I'm straight into running a training course for our client for the next two days.

It's a course that myself and a colleague normally give to internal gr@duates and technici@ns, or more experienced eng1neers who are new to the industry.

I'm coming to this one a little blind, my colleague has done the arrangements.

Apparently we might have up to thirteen delegates; so I'm a little surprised when only four appear, but not nearly as surprised as it transpiring that they're Pr0ject Managers...

"Oh didn't I mention?" says my colleague.

Time to wing it again I guess.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Fat Tuesday

Work days have been 13 hours plus of late, which with 2 hours commuting on top, leaves not much time for anything other than sleeping and eating.

The chief reason for this was manic preparation for today's major meeting. I can't really go into the reasons why, but suffice to say several rabbits needed magicking from hats at short notice.

It's not often you come home from a day feeling distinctly satisfied, but if you'll allow me to wallow for just a moment...

In a nutshell we walked away with significant extra work for the team and right now that feels particularly good. Ever extra mouth that we can feed right now...

Ideally it wouldn't have needed me to wade in and do magic tricks at the eleventh hour, but at least we got the result. I think that's worth the additional stress and sleep deprivation.

I considered it also to be worth a true Shrove Tuesday blow out, so for the first time in years I did pancakes and mighty fine they were too (I've always been a devilish tosser ;-) ). I can also highly recommend the combination of banana and Maya Gold chocolate. Well, no point doing things by halves...

Saturday, February 21, 2009

FOMbling on a Saturday

If you have to have meetings on a Saturday after a long week of ..well meetings, best to have it with lovely people with lunch provided by the wonderful K of a the Dog Collars and Rabbit Corpses household.

As you know, I'm not a big fan of her lasagne, but I made an effort to be polite... ;-)

Friday, February 20, 2009


Timebandit is back visiting, this time for tomorrow's FOM meeting.

A group visit to the Punjab is a joy - some of my favouritest people in the world and an amazing aubergine dish I'd never tried before, but will definitely be re-ordering in the future.

One of our favourite waiters left the restaurant some years back. Having seen him around and about since, I figured the new beard represented a change. Don't think any of us were expecting this though.

We didn't feel it polite to raise the matter with his former colleagues.

Back at mine, a bit of a drink and some chatting, but being sensible adults and being mindful of tomorrow's task, for once we actually called it a night at a reasonable hour. Well fairly reasonable.

And this time I remembered not to put a spare hairdryer with the towels in the guest room.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


This week's book group choice is a real classic.

Without cheating, who can identify the book from the following quote?

"Mr ****, it was the footprints of a gigantic hound!"

Answers on a postcard shaped comment...

Monday, February 16, 2009

Something in the Cow Shed

I can't help thinking my team have been holding back information back from me.

Their tales of woe and please for sympathy would suggest that when they're dispatch up to the wilds of Cumbria for site visits, they spend long days in the freezing cold making the most of the daylight.

More recently, following urging from me to at least get somewhere warm for a break, confessions have started to come out of tea and coffee stops at a certain small farm shop.

The whole truth it appears is starting to out.

Finding myself and a colleague in the area and in need of lunch the other day, we found said farm shop and the full truth was finally revealed.

Not only does it sell fantastic local produce, but the small cafe is rather wonderful and is formed from half of the old stone cow shed. A glass wall lets you look down on the action, or for close-ups a web-cam is handily provided.

Although a close-up from certain angles isn't always what you want when you're eating.

I'll definitely be looking for opportunities to visit Low Sizergh again one day, if not to watch the milking then to get some more of a wonderful local sheep's cheese called Gabriel Blue.

And whilst the truth economics of the the faux-martyrs has now been outed, it's hard to mind when you get to drink tea whilst watching cows milked. Being a nice and forgiving boss, I even purchase some slabs of the rather scrummy looking chocolate tiffin to bring back for the teams. But they've been warned if I catch them with-holding rural idyll experiences from this city kid again there will be repercussions ;-)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

We came. we saw, we ate far too much pizza

The long anticipated girlie weekend finally transpired.

Passng swiftly over the fact that all four of us were free on Valentine's weekend, it was a joy to spend time with these lovelies.

After Friday night putting the world to rights at Caroline's, we ventured to the shops to do what girls do best on a spare Saturday, ie shop, chat, drink coffee, chat, eat Nandos and chat.

Caroline bought the fiercest pair of puce leather boots and Sally a gorgeous burgundy colour pair of suede lovelies. Both in the sale in Moda in Pelle and additionally helping each other out in the buy-one-get-one-half-price deal. Nice one. This is why it's important to hunt in packs.

Kathryn arrived at lunchtime, but caught up admirably in the most amazing purge of M&S I've ever witnessed. Fabulous items that looked so good on.

Myself I was persuaded into a teal coat that I would never have considered colour wise if it wasn't for my compadre's urging and a rather lovely, gathered charcoal grey top from Whistles.

Our evening's entertainment is provided courtesy of The Paintworks and comprises one part flamenco style band and one part laughing at the size of the amazing pizzas that take over our table.

Beautiful thin stonebaked style, with the freshest tastiest of quality produce as toppings. From sunblush tomatoes that explode with flavour, to amazing chorizo, rich gorgonzola and beautiful mussles (not all on the same pizza), the flavours are nearly as vast and impressive as the scale of the offering. Let's just say it was possibly a mistake to add garlic bread to the order and Kathryn took food home to her household.

Sunday was a lovely lazy morning followed by a lighter soup and bread lunch before it was time to get the train home.

A wonderful weekend that left me refreshed on so many levels.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Legless 50%

There must be many things to consider when electronically tagging a convicted felon.

Have you got the right person?

Is the tag operational?

Is it secured properly to the perpetrator’s leg?

Does it happen to be a false, removable limb?

The party in question claims "I didn't break my curfew once". Although I can't help but note that the past tense suggests he's only brought this all to light after the fact...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

On the move

In the course of 24hours my travel has been as follows:

Manchester – Warrington – Manchester – London – Manchester – Warrington – Kendal – Warrington – Manchester.

I knoweth not if I cometh or goeth.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Tracks, Twitter and Table

In the blue skyed sunshine of Manchester it's hard to remember that other parts of the country have and are suffering decidedly more wintery conditions and that therefore the decision to pre-empt further extreme weather conditions by reducing the Manchester to London train service is possibly a justifiable, even wise, decision.

The upshot for today is that one train per hour is cancelled, an extra half hour has been added to timetabled journey times and extra stops at Milton Keynes have been scheduled.

Virgin are however, being really helpful and flexible so by dashing out of the office promptly I get an earlier train and two hours later (no weather delays after all) I'm in London even earlier than planned.

As we passed through the midlands there was still snow by the side of the tracks and lying deep across fields - ah so it really does exist then.

Stepping down from the train at Euston, I'm about to phone the lovely Steve to let him know I'll be able to meet him at Liverpool Street shortly, when my attention is taken by a siren sound and an announcement that we need to evacuate the station . As we're ushered out a back entrance it becomes clear that there's some sort of fire alert and both the overground and underground stations are closed.

I realise that I haven't completely forgotten my way around my home town as I not only work out instantly that Euston Square is my best bet, but I can even orientate my way out the side streets to get there.

So, not 15 minutes later I've met up with Steve and we find a coffee shop that meets his strict standards.

Good to catch up, even if somehow he does drag me into Twitter-world.

My protestations that I haven't logged into Facebook for about 5 months fall on deaf ears. Apparently Twitter is lower impact and...well I'm not sure there were any other positives presented, but...we'll see.

One of the earliest messages received from a friend suggest it's a new way for us to trade insults...ah I see a positive after all, I may yet be won over ;-)

Next on to the Greenbelt Table meeting and then thoughts thought and shared is a rush to get back to Euston for an earlier than usual train to ensure I safely get back north.

Monday, February 09, 2009

The difficult goodbye

Letting people go is never going to be easy.

We've done all we can to put this off, but until the regul@tor and our main client work out the funding issues...

We remind ourselves that this is the risk people take when they take the extra money and go contract, but...

Week after week we pour over backlog graphs and resource schedules, but amongst the numbers and lines, I see people and livelihoods and...

We've done what we can, we managed to find work to take five down to four, but it's still four too many and...

The phone calls from agents have been received, department briefings have been given, the news is out and I'm not sure if I'm finding it easier or harder to look people in the eyes.

And at the back of the head, the selfish, nagging thought that you try to deny - how safe am I?

Not good times.

Upon This Tidal Wave of Young Blood

From Spread These Wings

1. Put your iTunes, Windows Media Player, etc. on shuffle (and if you use the latter, take a moment to pause and reflect on the error of your ways - 1iz).

2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.

3. Write the song name down, whatever it is, no cheating...

4. Share your answers via your blog (and if you fancy throwing in some you tube links...).

My iPod threw up the answers below. Bit hit and miss really, but a few amusing incidences.

Number 21 amused me particularly, not least because I can't remember the last time I listened to any F&F. Amazing what's lurking amongst the 10,000 plus songs on my iPod. I'm leaving it on shuffle for the afternoon and will go where it takes me...

1.If someone says, "Is this okay?" You say...?
Peter Street (Engineers)

2.How would you describe yourself?
Pentonville (Babyshambles)

3. What do you like in a guy/girl?
A Snowflake Fell and it Felt Like a Kiss (Glasvegas)

4. How do you feel today?
Shot Down (Nine Black Alps)

5. What is your life's purpose?
L’Inverno (William Orbit)

6. What is your motto?
This is the One (Stone Roses)

7. What do your friends think of you?
Super Inuit (Holy Fuck)

8. What do your parents think of you?
Fame Thing (Ultrasound)

9. What do you think about very often?
Mathematics (Cherry Ghost)

10. What is 2+2?
The Wheel (ยต-ziq)

11. What do you think of your best friend?
Satisfy My Soul (Bob Marley and the Wailers)

12. What do you think of the person you like?
A Thing Called Love (Johnny Cash)

13. What is your life story?
Sometime Around Midnight (The Airbourne Toxic Event)

14. What do you want to be when you grow up?
Style Break (Dylan Rhymes)

15. What do you think of when you see the person you like?
One Way or Another (Blondie)

16. What will you dance to at your wedding?
How to Disappear Completely (Radiohead)

17. What will they play at your funeral?
Rock ‘n’ Roll is Dead (Drumclub)

18. What is your hobby/interest?
Alchemy (Dan Smith)

19. What is your biggest fear?
Mirage (Nitin Sawhney)

20. What is your biggest secret?
You Can Have It All (Kaiser Chiefs)

21. What do you think of your friends?
Not Enough Naked Men (Fat & Frantic)

22. What do you want right now?
My Delirium (Ladyhawke)

23. What will You post this as?
Upon This Tidal Wave of Young Blood (Clap Your Hands Say Yeah)

24. Last words?
Nice Work If You Can Get It (Billie Holiday)

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Black Leg

In the interest of full disclosure, I should probably admit that as well as the rather magnificent shoes purchased yesterday, I may also have found a rather splendid pair of biker boots in the Kurt Geiger sale, that were in need of a good home.

In my defence I would like it noted that:

a. they were in the sale reduced from £130 to £40 (bargain!).
b. I've been looking for a decent pair of biker boots for ages.
c. my spa ratio (shoes per annum) had dropped to seriously low levels in the latter part of 2007.
d. I don't need your approval.

The dilemma now is that I don't currently have any skinny or straight cut jeans that will suit.

Last night, over curry, the wonderful K advised that Matalan do some cheap as chips skinny black Falmers. Cheap is good (the downside of a high quality shoe habit is the impact on one's disposable income), so today I pop to the shops.

I eventually find a selection of likely sizes (QA in cuts not being a Matalan forte) in the pile of randomly labelled and stacked jeans and head to the changing room.

As I peel off the last pair I notice what appears to be huge bruise on my leg. I start to get alarmed as closer examination reveals that the bruise spreads over almost the entirety of my lower leg.

And my other leg.

And my hands.

And...what's this here? A label tied on the jeans advising that you wash before wear as dye may transfer to other items.

They ain't kidding! I'm left unsure whether to be cross that they're so shoddy that I need to head straight home and shower, or relieved that I don't have some terrible leg illness.

They are however hideously cheap...even after you factor in the cost of a washing machine run and an extra shower.

Saturday, February 07, 2009


A Greenbelt Volunteer curry tonight at the Shahenshah. It was one of those unfortunate situations where the order people arrived in meant that the two 'groups' of volunteers represented were separated in the seating arrangements.

It would have been nice to chat with some of the people I didn't know, but on the other hand it's never a hardship to spend an evening with the lovely Festival Operations crew.

As for the curry itself, not bad, but I wouldn't be rushing back (though thankfully no evidence of the cockroaches etc that it was busted for last year...).

Attitude can be purchased

The late and very great Kirsty MacColl understood the need to match the footwear to the moment.

Bette Midler apparently once claimed that if you "give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world".

That may be overstating things a little, but with a difficult work week ahead (for reasons I won't go in to here) these little beauties should see me through.

Friday, February 06, 2009


P&S have the day off and after an afternoon playing in the snow on Cannock Chase, they head to the snowless north for an evening with yours truly.

The Cedar Tree was always one of our favourite restaurants and tonight the food is gloriously fresh and tasty and I remember why.

And isn't fattoush just the best salad in the world? Even saying the word is a pleasure for the mouth.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

The Feminine Gospels - Carol Ann Duffy

Book group tonight and some more poetry.

I think I have a mental block when it comes to poetry; I believe on a fundamental level that I don't enjoy it and experiences to the contrary seem unable to dint that worldview.

I left reading the Carol Ann Duffy collection to the last moment, finding any excuse to pick up other reading instead.

Once I did finally submit, I loved every page.

Learning curve of a newt.

Sunday, February 01, 2009


After a little sleep the four of us head to Greenwich for an early lunch. Pizza Express with some of the loveliest ladies in my world - top times.

After J heads home, E and I show G around Greenwich, a quick troll towards the observatory and around the market. Efforts to convince her to buy a silly wooly hat fail, but she does find a lovely dress.

As we walk over to the riverfront the rejection of the wooly hat starts to feel like a mistake as within a space of minutes blues skies and sunshine give way to swirling snow cloud and Canary Wharf disappears in front of our eyes.

We have an American Beauty moment as the winds swirl the first tiny, light flakes of snow across the paved river front in mesmirising eddies akin to the northern lights.

It's truly breathtaking, but so is the biting cold, so we head back to E's for some final goodbyes before G and I wend our various ways home (my journey nearly comes to disaster as I fail to find the correct local overground rail station, I just make my Manchester train in time and hence can find E's admission of "oh sorry I'm terrible with lefts and rights" very entertaining!).