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NotJustAHatStand

People say life is the thing, but I prefer reading*
 

Lightweight

Friday, March 31, 2006

I'm writing this post at work (on my lunch hour of course!) so it may be a little shorter than usual.

I'm going to my uncle's 50th birthday party tonight, so I will probably be feeling a little delicate tomorrow. I'm not much of a drinker you see. Well, I don't really drink at all unless I have to - my 90 year old grandmother consumed more alcohol at her birthday party last week than I did.

Like many young people in Scotland (and the rest of the UK I'm sure) I used to like a good drink, and many of my weekends between the ages of 15 and 22 passed in a blurry haze of vodka, cider, wine or an alcopop of some description, including one disastrous night spent drinking -shudder- home-brewed beer. For the last few years however, I have had no inclination to get completely shit faced every weekend (for which my liver is profoundly grateful), and these days I would much rather have a nice cup of tea and read a book. No, really. Maybe it was MY 90th we were celebrating last week...

So anyway, I'm sure I'll be coerced into having a shandy or two tonight, which means I'll be pissed by 9pm, and will have a horrendous hangover tomorrow, despite consuming less alcohol than it would take to intoxicate a gnat.

WHAT?!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

On my way out of work this evening I nipped to the ladies, and when I came out, there were 3 women I know waiting for the lift (which is right next to the toilets), who stopped talking as soon as they saw me. I reckon they'd been gaily bitching about someone, until I rudely interrupted them, but you know what it's like when that happens - you immediately wonder if it was you they were bitching about... The thing is, they made no attempt to disguise it, and I felt like I was back in 2nd year of high school. I then had to get into the tiny lift with them for the interminable journey down to the ground floor. If ever there was a reason to take the stairs, that was it! Why oh why didn't I take the stairs...

To make matters worse, when I got to the bus stop, there was a very peculiar little Spanish lady there (amongst a crowd of other Spanish people), who insisted upon staring right at me, for most of the time I was waiting for the bus. She also managed to insinuate herself right up close to me - closer than I was comfortable with, frankly! So by the time I got home tonight, I was a little paranoid; people at work are talking about me and possibly listening to me pee, and I walked about town either a) with my fly undone, b) with a booger protuding from my nose, c) with spinach in my teeth or d) unintentionally talking out loud to myself, as I occasionally catch myself doing, though not in public. Not yet anyway.

No alternative?

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Approx 10,000 public sector workers in eastern Scotland went on strike today, and over 1 million in the UK as a whole, according to the BBC. They are protesting against proposed changes to their pension scheme, which would mean they may not be able to retire on a full pension at 60, like many other workers in the public sector.

Although I don't pretend to know much about pensions in general, and especially this particular issue, I support their right to protest against what they see as unfair treatment, however I wish they had managed to find an alternative to going out on strike. The same article on the BBC website has a long list of the kinds of people who went on strike, including street sweepers, refuse collectors, home care workers, bus and train drivers, and school cooks, cleaners and caretakers. That's a lot of people. People who do a lot of important work.

My own experience of the strike was limited to a long, frustrating journey to work this morning, and a long, soggy walk home in the rain this evening. I was half an hour late for work (despite leaving early - grrr!) and arrived home after a 45 minute walk (on probably the rainest, most miserable day of the year so far), soaked through from the neck down.

As usual with these things, the people who suffer the most are the ones who are just trying to get to work and earn a living. I can't see myself ever going on strike (although I may feel like it sometimes), but if I did I'd be safe in the knowledge that no-one is going to have their day disrupted by me not being at my desk, ready to give crappy IT advice ('Have you tried switching it off then back on again?').

Very nearly a disaster

Monday, March 27, 2006

As I've said before on this site, my cat Coco is probably The Nosiest Cat In The World. Unfortunately, this combined with my Significant Other's lack of common sense and short term memory has resulted in various near-disasters, involving cupboards left open, doors left shut, unattended candles and irons left plugged in. This morning, he got up early for work (leaving me snoozing, just for five more minutes) and went out, leaving the door to the airing cupboard open. It's not really an airing cupboard, it's just a cupboard with a boiler in it so it's nice and cosy. But we got a new boiler fairly recently, and the old one left such a big hole that we decided just to box it up, leaving a suitable gap in one corner for the pipes.

I'm sure you've guessed what's coming - when I saw the open cupboard door (and distinct lack of cats anywhere else in the flat), I figured it out pretty quickly too. Roo was sitting next to the nice toasty warm boiler, looking like she was about to settle down for a snooze - my greeting to her was less than friendly and she scarpered immediately. This left one missing cat. After calling Coco and searching the flat AGAIN, I deduced that she must have disappeared down The Hole. By this time I was having visions of the fire brigade becoming involved, and was on the verge of being very late for work, so the 10 mins I spent with my head in a cupboard, dangling cat toys down a dark hole, did not go down well. My fiance's name was being cursed to the high heavens.

Eventually I heard a tiny pathetic mewing from inside The Hole so I called her again, but no cat was forthcoming. I then hit upon the idea of rattling the box of kitty treats to fool her into thinking she would get one if she came out. Her head, shoulders and claws appeared instantly, but the space was too narrow for her to manouvre herself up and out of the hole, so I had to reach in, grab her by the scruff of the neck and yank her out.

She was fine - if a bit dusty - and I'm sure she was still munching a spider when I removed her from The Hole. I have a bet on with the fiance that she'll be back in there within a couple of days.

Where I've been #2

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Oh dear I've been quite bad at posting the last wee while haven't I? I've been spending lots of time with family the last few days, including my granny's 90th birthday party today. She had a lovely time, and even managed to have a wee dance (she's very frail and breakable). Unfortunately I have no photographic evidence of this as I forgot to take my camera with me AGAIN. I may as well sell the damn thing on eBay.

I've also finished a grrreat book by Ian McEwan, 'Saturday' (which I would highly recommend) and made some good inroads into my new book 'Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell' by Susanna Clarke, which I'm really enjoying. I hope to start posting some book reviews once I get some more time. I also need to start finishing some books - I have Virginia Woolf's 'Mrs Dalloway' and Margaret Atwood's 'Wilderness Tips' on the go at the moment. Wow, I REALLY need to get reading, don't I...?!!

Back to work tomorrow - BOO! The very worst thing about holidays is that they have to come to an end.

Where I've been

Thursday, March 23, 2006

I've not posted anything as I've been away with the Significant Other, and didn't have access to a PC. We were down in the Lake District for a few days, which was lovely (although very COLD). It was really nice to get away from everything for a while, and the Lake District is very pretty (especially covered as it was in snow!). The scenery reminded us both of Scotland. It's easy to see where Beatrix Potter got the inspiration for her stories. Unfortunately I can't post any pics yet as we forgot to take the digital camera :o(

It's good to be back, although I'm not looking forward to going back to work on Monday...

Coco's crime

Saturday, March 18, 2006

My cat Coco has had a strange fascination with one of my plants for a while now. Ever since I brought the plant into the house she's been fascinated by it. It's also one of her favourite snacks. It had started looking a bit bedraggled, due to all the loving attention it had been getting from Coco, so I moved it from the floor in my living room, to the top of a bookshelf in our spare room. I naively thought Coco would forget about it if it wasn't in plain view and at her exact eye level. How stupid I was. Ever since the plant moved, she's been formulating a plan to get at it in it's new home. Coco is the cat with the gammy leg, so she's not able to jump as high as other cats. Fortunately for her she has near-human intelligence and advanced problem-solving skills so it's not normally much of a problem.

So as I was getting ready to go out, I heard a thudding crash from the spare room. Thinking something awful had happened, I came rushing through to find this scene of carnage:



And there was Coco, on top of the bookshelf, with a look of extreme satisfaction on her face. It turns out, she's been jumping onto the chair that sits in front of the PC, from there she can jump onto the desk, and get to the drawer unit that sits in between the desk and the bookshelf. At this point her goal is in view, and it's just a short leap from the drawer unit to the bookshelf.

I fear for my life sometimes with her in the house - I'm sure she's going to kill me for the insurance money one day.

The Common Cold

Friday, March 17, 2006

I've not posted anything new for a couple of days because I've had the cold.

When I get the cold, my body really goes all out to make me feel, and look, as bad as possible. Not only does my nose get so blocked that I sound like Snuffleupagus from Sesame Street, but my eyes stream, my head hurts, and I can barely talk for sneezing. I have to blow my nose so often that within a couple of hours it's tomato-red and by the end of the second day it's so dry and scabby from all the nose-blowing that I have to slather vaseline all over it just to prevent it actually falling off my face onto the carpet.

Thankfully, there is a plus side. While other people can continue working, with just a bit of a sniffle and the occasional sneeze (although they may feel like going home sick), I begin to look like I may have a terrible disease, and my boss sends me home without me having to ask. She does cover her face with a handkerchief while she talks to me, but that's only to be expected...

Eeewwww!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

I was on the number 22 bus yesterday in Edinburgh, approx 5.15pm, and there was a man sitting at the front, in one of the sideways-facing seats (so he was in plain view of EVERYONE on the bus), and he proudly picked his nose all the way from Princes Street to at least Corstorphine.

And I'm not talking a polite little scratch when one of your fingers accidentally slips up a nostril - he looked like he was digging for buried treasure (and I suppose in his view, he was). But he would minutely examine the horrors he was extracting for a good few seconds before disposing of them. I don't even want to think about where they ended up.

People are disgusting.

Lord of... something or other

Monday, March 13, 2006

As I've said before (and probably will again, many times), I'm a reader. I will read most things, but I like to think I have quite high standards - I read literary fiction, and am trying to read as many classics as I can. The Significant Other is more of a light reader - he likes fantasy, science-fictiony kind of stuff, but I'm working on him. Why, just the other day I caught him sneaking a look at Pride and Prejudice...

Despite about 18 years of reading anything I could get my hands on, I had never read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, so when the S.O. and I got together, he encouraged me to try reading them. I did, and I loved them. When I saw his bookshelves crammed with what he said was more of the same, I got very excited. Here was a whole new bank of stories that I'd never read! (At this point the S.O. started backing away slowly, wondering how he could rectify the terrible mistake he'd made in getting involved with a twitchy bibliophile like me)

I started off with a David Eddings series called The Belgariad - it was great, kinda similar to LOTR but different characters, countries etc. I tore through the series and looked excitedly for my next read. I settled on something by David Gemmell I think, and got tore in. Well, this next one was just great, kinda similar to LOTR, but different names and... Hey! That's weird, this plot's almost exactly the same as the last one!

And then I realised. Here was another story about a bad wizard who has made a single object that will either destroy him or turn him into The Dude, and promptly misplaced it. Now it seems to me that if you're going to make something that gives your enemies the ability to turn you into a cloud of vapour, you keep your eye on it... but that's just me. Then there's the cantankerous old wizard who keeps the fabric of the universe together, the unlikely hero who comes good in the end, and the clown who's really a sensitive, tortured soul. Together they battle on in the face of seemingly insurmountable difficulties, but what's this? At the last minute, everything works out ok, the bad guy is turned into a harmless cloud of vapour, the unlikely hero becomes a king with a gorgeous queen and plump blonde children, and the wizard, robed in white, oversees all this with a kindly, Santa-like smile.

I can see the attraction of these stories, but it kind of takes the fun out of reading the book when you know the good guys are going to win out in the end, in EVERY SINGLE STORY. I know there are variations, but the plots seem to be broadly the same with similar themes, and after reading 3 or 4 of these books you get a creeping sense of familiarity - 'haven't I read this before?', kind of thing!! I guess it gives you a bit of a fuzzy glow when, after the monumental struggle between good and evil, you get the happy ending you're hoping for. Maybe in this sense these books reflect our hope that everything will work out ok in our own lives...

But I'd still rather read about Pip's misadventures in Great Expectations.

I am a literary snob, and I'm proud of it.

Let It Snow...

Sunday, March 12, 2006

This is just typical of Britain! We knew it was coming, and yet a few inches of snow has caused havoc across the whole of Scotland. Other countries seem to cope with severe weather, but we in Britain (as weather-obsessed as we are), apparently cannot. The transport system grinds to a halt and the roads are treacherous to the point of being unusable. 3000 clubbers in Glasgow, stranded after their nights-out, because they were unable to get a taxi/bus/train home! How do they manage in REALLY cold countries??! This is my back green after it snowed all night and all morning. It had started to melt by the time I took this at approx 6pm - doesn't look that bad does it?!

The Worst Waiter Ever

Friday, March 10, 2006

One who, despite asking TWICE what cake you want, and WRITING IT DOWN, still has to come back a third time to ask again.

APPLE AND PECAN YOU NITWIT!

Digestive Discomfort

Thursday, March 09, 2006

In view of yesterday's post, I was delighted to read this today (despite very nearly inhaling a piece of pasta), and I was reminded of this poem, which was doing the rounds via email not so long ago. It's written in Scots (I can translate for any who need it!), and contains one sentiment in particular that I may adopt as my motto: 'Where ere ye be let yer wind gang free'.

Tae A Fart

Oh what a sleekit horrible beastie,
Lurks in yer bellie efter a feastie,
Just as ye sit doon among yer kin
There starts to stir an enormous wind.

The neeps and tatties and mushy peas,
Start working like a gentle breeze,
But soon the pudding wi' the sauncie face,
Will hae ye blawin' a' ower the place.

Nae matter whit the hell ye dae
a'body's gonnae hae tae pay
Even if ye try tae stifle
it's like a bullet oot a rifle

Hawd yer bum ticht tae the chair,
Tae try tae stop the leakin' air,
Shift yersel fae cheek tae cheek,
Pray tae god it disnae reek.

But a' the efforts go asunder,
Oot it comes like a clap o' thunder,
Ricochets arrond the room,
Michty me! a sonic boom.

God almighty it fairly reeks,
A' hope a' huvnae shit ma breeks,
Tae the bog a' better scurry,
Whit the hell, it's no ma worry.

A'body roon aboot me chokin',
One or two are nearly bokin',
I'll feel better for a while,
Cannae help but raise a smile.

It wis him! I shout and glower,
Alas too late, he's just keeled ower,
Ye dirty bugger! They shout and stare,
I'm no that welcome any mair.

Where e're ye be let yer wind gang free,
That sounds jist the joab fir me,
Whit a fuss at Rabbie's party,
Ower the sake o' one wee farty.

My Blogging History

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Although I'm a newbie in the Blogosphere (and my site is a dusty, cob-webby little corner of the web that nobody wants to visit), I've been keeping up with a few good sites for a while now. The first one that caught my eye was chromasia, which was on a 'cool websites' list somewhere. Although chromasia is a photoblog, and I have little knowledge (ok, no knowlege) of photography, I liked the fact that there was something new to look at every day, and the comments/discussions were always interesting.

I then came across dooce (and consequently blurb) via an article on the BBC website about 'the girl who got fired because of her website', and I've been a devotee of both ever since (although I no longer read dooce at my desk as my workmates think I'm weird for occasionally snorting tea up my nose in laughter). I love Heather's sharp tongue, wit, and the fact that she will talk about anything, including her digestive system, and the problems thereof. I have a particular affinity there, as my own digestive system is a source of...shall we say, discomfort... for me.

It was reading dooce that made me want to have my own blog, once I saw what a great outlet it was for recording thoughts, stories, pictures, and anything that takes your fancy really. I've always harboured furtive aspirations to be a writer, but was daunted by the thought of sitting down and writing a novel. My little blog is perhaps not causing much excitement in the blogosphere (as you can see I've had ONE comment, and that was from my fiance...) but I love it - it's got me writing something every day, and thinking all the time about what my next post is gonna be. God bless the internet.

Same old same old...

Monday, March 06, 2006

As I read this when I got to work this morning I was struck by the familiarity of it - 2 or 3 times a year we hear stories like this ('3m may starve in Africa' etc etc) but nothing ever changes. We've become immune to the pictures of tiny infants with swollen stomachs and gaunt skeletal faces - we watch the news and say how terrible it is, but then we head off to Starbucks and pay a fiver for a cup of coffee and a muffin. Africa is a harsh place to live - the average life expectancy in Niger is 44 years old, in Zimbabwe just 37. This seems incredibly low, and yet these were the first two profiles I looked at, picked at random! The debt that cripples many African nations combined with political unrest and (in some cases) corruption in government make it hard to see how things can ever change.

I supported (and continue to support) the Make Poverty History campaign, and was staggered to see the 225,000 people that marched through my home town on 2 July 2005, to make a statement about world poverty. There was a feeling that ordinary people really could effect change, and I, along with many thousands of other people via MPH, lobbied the Prime Minister to commit to cancelling the debt of poor nations at the G8 summit. Understandably the G8 was eclipsed by the bombings in London on 7 July but for reasons best known to themselves, the leaders of eight of the richest nations in the world decided NOT to cancel the debt of the poorest nations and improve the lives of MILLIONS OF PEOPLE, at a stroke. Mind you they did have a good time spending the £12.7 million quid it cost to have the G8 in Bonnie Scotland.

The atrocities perpetrated in London are no longer in the news but horrendous stories continue to come out of Africa. Like the one that startled me out of my morning daze today, '11m face death as drought worsens'. I really hope things change for the poor souls in Africa, but I can't see it happening in my lifetime. So I'm off to donate some money to Oxfam, please feel free to do so yourself here

Back to the grind...

Sunday, March 05, 2006

How can it possibly be Sunday night ALREADY? It seems like 2 minutes ago that I was prancing home from work on Friday night, looking forward to two days leisure... And yet all I seem to have done is watch crap TV (with the exception of Kevin Spacey and the PM on Parky yesterday, and Planet Earth on BBC1 tonight), and do housework. And the thing is, my flat is STILL a mess!!

And why is it that time behaves in such a strange fashion - draaaaagging sloooowly by when you're at work, and whizzing past, like one of those tea-trays they play on at the winter Olypmics, when you're at home.

I wish I could work from home - I'd be quite happy with my job if I could do it in my slippers and PJ's.

Minion of Satan

Friday, March 03, 2006


Right after this photo was taken Roo ate my liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti...

Choosing books

Thursday, March 02, 2006

I'm an avid reader. I love books. I love books about books, and everything about books. I am steadily filling up my flat with books, in the hope that one day I will be able to make a fort out of em and hide from everybody. Thay way I might get through my (very extensive) reading list.

Choosing books from the bookshop is a bit of a dilemma for me. On the one hand, I revel in the knowledge that I'm getting to take a new one home with me but on the other, I know that of the thousands of books around me, I have to leave 99.9% of them in the shop.

Sometimes I go in and don't know where to look - every book I see I want to pick up, fondle, and take home. I spend LOOOOONG minutes narrowing the field down to 3 or 4, and then EVEN LONGER agonising about the final choice, weighing up the reasons why I should buy this one, or that one, and working out when I might next have a chance to buy the one that I'm going to have to leave behind. It's at this point that I normally see yet another book that throws a spanner in the works, and my fiance leaves my side to go take a seat (or more recently, hands me £20 to just buy both AND HURRY THE F*** UP! Hence the reason I'm marrying him).....

Other times when I go into the bookshop, books seems to just jump into my hands and say BUY ME BITCH. When this happens, I can't refuse. It happened today (World Book Day, appropriately enough), Margaret Atwood's latest offering, 'The Tent', had a very determined little voice with a dry Canadian accent. It also advised me on the state of my investments and gave me a great recipe for clam chowder.

Not that I'm ever bored at work, but...

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Things to do when you're bored at work:

 
   

*Logan Pearsall Smith



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