Friday, 27 February 2009

I'm all growed up now!

I've bought furniture for my house. For the first time.

Virtually all the furniture in the house was either here when I bought it like the monstrous wardrobe that I spent ages painting white, brought with me like all my bedroom furniture or has been foisted onto me by my eager-to-help Dad and brother MwK from flat and house clearances.

A hotch potch of badly painted, chipped, ugly and defective pieces that wouldn't seem out of place in a mouldy old B&B or bail hostel in the back streets of Kings Cross.

However. I have decided that I should be able to find my own lumps of badly painted, chipped, ugly and defective furniture. And I have.

The Compton Hospice have lots of such pieces as well as ancient display cabinets, a truly awesome cocktail cabinet from the 1930s, a coat wardrobe from the 1970s and rows of old fashioned television cabinets which look okay from the front but have no backs.

The pastel coloured three piece suites and sideboards (some stupedous G Plan stuff from the 60s and 70s) can wait until I've finished using the front room for materials storage.

I've bought a drop leaf formica kitchen table - £10, a small chipped glass fronted bookcase - £10, one stackable chair that looks like it came from some church hall - £3 and two bedside cabinets - £5 and £20. £60 including delivery.

They are delivering on Tuesday between 10am and 2:30pm. Whoo Hoo!

I've filled in and delivered my job application, put cash into the bills account and found the ticket for my new coat so that I can pick it up on Thursday.

Now I've been paid, I really need to crack on with the work I planned to do. I want to have something to show for my two weeks off, after all.

I want

filler for all the holes in the middle bedroom walls

paint - white or magnolia, probably

sanding pads

nice curtain rails that have proper curtain stops not rusty screws drilled into the ends

half decent curtains - I need to measure the window, the Compton Hospice has a load of lined curtains from a B&B and I'd like to see if they're any good

I need to

fix the bottom drawer on the chest of drawers in my bedroom as the bottom keeps falling out dumping everything on the floor

fill the middle bedroom and landing walls

fill all the holes and joins in the woodwork

sand the walls in the middle bedroom and landing

caulk all the edges

strip the paint off the only remaining original door in the house

sand and undercoat all the woodwork

paint the filled and sanded walls - white or magnolia, probably

Right. That'll happen. Pigs will fly and I'll get the job I've just applied for.

Yep. Sorted

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Confessions of a Shopaholic

I went to the Doctor this morning.

I was greeted by a bright, cheerful, young man I'd never met before, who, carefully enunciating all his words, remained bright, cheerful and attentive throughout the consultation.

He carefully listened to what I was saying, summarised carefully everything I'd told him and handed over the prescriptions still beaming, but not before he went through the list making sure that everything was clear to me and describing what the drugs would do and which condition they were for.

I'd been handed an evaluation questionnaire and only got to look at it carefully after I was shown politely out of the office.

I could only truthfully mark the questionnaire 'good' on every question about the doctor's manner and attitude.

There was no room for 'suspiciously'.

I walked into town and went to Boots for the prescriptions. Instead of waiting, I went up to the banks to get up to date mini statements.

I was mortified. I hadn't used the Nationwide card for the Boots stuff. I'd used the HSBC card. I was now in debit by £7.83 after the Sainsbury's fry-up shopping had gone through.

I made an appointment to speak to an advisor. I was given a printed ticket telling me that the wait would be 20-30 minutes. The greeter told me that the wait wouldn't be that long.

Half an hour later I was still waiting. A man was loudly arguing with the advisor. He'd been charged bank fees after a direct debit was bounced because there were insufficient funds.

He was an older man. Balding, white haired, wearing 'smart casual' beige golf slacks and a grey blouson jacket.

There was a tie and the collar of a check shirt visible at the neck of the jacket and sensible shoes in muted grey blue tones. The whole ensemble suggested that he was retired.

You can bet that he was probably wearing a short sleeved shirt under the jacket and, quite possibly a v-neck jumper.

I listened in disbelief after this idiot broadcast his troubles around the bank in a thick Black Country accent.

After everything that's been printed, after everything that's been broadcast about bank charges he honestly couldn't see why he was at fault and why he had to pay the charges. He walked out with the matter unresolved and muttering under his breath.

I finally got to talk to the advisor after he'd recovered from Mr Numpty.

The advisor sat me down at his desk and asked me a few security questions stumping me at my work telephone number.

Even though I was listed as "Unemployed", they still had the Big E details from when I used to work there.

Nope, couldn't remember it.

We finally settled on my mobile 'phone number.

This wasn't a spontaneous set of questions, there were a series of prompt windows popping up on his screen.

During a very stilted and unnatural conversation, during which he kept one eye on the screen at all times for more prompts, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that as I was in debit by less that £10, there was no charge.

There were no more direct debits to be deducted before I was paid tomorrow. Terrific, I said, making to leave, that's great.

Oh, by the way, said the advisor as casually as he could, did I have a mortgage?

I sat down again. Yes, with the Nationwide.

He made some adjustment with the mouse.

Credit card?

Yes, with the Nationwide.

Again, another adjustment.

Would I be interested in internet banking?

Nope. Not really.

There were numerous adjustments this time.

I angled for a quick glimpse of the screen. I was a "heavy user" of in-branch and ATM services.

While I was still there, I updated my employer and income details with him deleting entries and frantically adjusting various drop down menus.

I thanked him, finally, and walked away. I was at the door when I realised I still had my wallet in my hand and the advisor still had my bank card. I went back to collect my bank card from him.

Then, nearly three quarters of an hour after I first called in, I left.

On to the Nationwide. The debits hadn't gone out and I still had the best part of £55 still available.

I checked with the lady greeter at the front of the shop. She told me that the last direct debits won't go out until the 1st of March which leaves me with the £55 left in my overdraft.

Everything will be fine as long as I put all the money I owe for next month plus everything I spend today into the Direct Debit bank account tomorrow when I get paid. And I'm due overtime from the weekend before Christmas.

So I went window shopping around the charity shops and found at least one nice work shirt for £3.99 from British Heart Foundation and a great all wool, green, hooded coat by Elvi that would have cost upwards of £100 when new.

£6 from PDSA.

I bought it. And then found it was going to cost £15 to shorten the sleeves at the dry cleaners.

Still that's only £21 in total.

Later on, I realised that I'd lost the ticket.

I went on to window shop secondhand furniture and had great fun trawling through some very old dressing tables, cloth lined, curve fronted, glass shelved display cabinets and some very old sideboards and dressers.

I went on to the last shop of the day buying a yellow vest from the Compton Hospice. It will look good under some of the lighter and more summery shirts I've accumulated.

I went back to Boots, collected the prescription and went home.

Again, not much happened and I still didn't get around to starting my TO DO LIST.

Still, I got some stuff done.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

What I don't get

is spam mail.

There must be some idiot somewhere who keeps falling for these web sites that offer cheap medication, cheap replica watches, cheap computer software or degrees based on 'life experience'. Or else they wouldn't keep churning them out.

What is really irritating me is the fact that one of the addresses the spammers have spoofed is mine.

That's right. At least 20% of the emails in my Googlemail Spam box came from me. Apparently.

I'm selling myself Viagra, Cialis, other pharmaceuticals, replica watches and fake degrees.

What's really irritating me is that Google are still delivering it - despite me reporting it to them every chance I get.

They can't seriously believe I would send spam mail to myself, and yet, despite "softfails" aplenty, they keep letting it in.

I tried to filter it out but only succeeded in deleting the contents of my Sent Mail box - not good when I need to know which job I've applied for and who I've written to lately.

I have signed up to SpamCop and report as much of the mail as I can be bothered with opening.

Occasionally, I see a red warning header from Googlemail warning me that the sender may not be genuine. Usually with my address being used as the return path.

This means I've told Googlemail that the email is a phishing scam and they've still let it through.


Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Been, gone, took the fry-up food

MwK showed up in Dad's mate's van. He sat in the van alone to finish a sandwich he'd started, leaving me wondering where Dad was.

MwK had shown up alone and, he said, he was only here on a flying visit.

I told him that I'd been expecting them both for most of the day and had a load of food for him and Dad for a fry-up.

He said he wasn't hungry as he'd just eaten. Dad hadn't come as he wasn't going to be much help lifting all the kitchen pieces and MwK had to get back to a half finished extension that some other builder had left and he'd been called in to finish it off.

He called Dad from my landline and told him that he'd arrived, would be returning as soon as possible, would return the van to his mate and would pop round to visit him somewhere in the afternoon with the tools Dad had requested he bring back from my house. I could hear Dad mouthing abuse at MwK after he was told that he couldn't be taken shopping as well.

After a trip to the toilet and a quick cup of coffee, MwK started heaving most of a kitchen out of the back of the van. I could only help with the doors, drawers and bags of bits. There was even a fan assisted electric oven with its housing.

It's all piled up in my front room waiting for God know's when. He asked for £60 for the diesel and I told him I was skint. Pay day was Friday I could send him a cheque.

That was acceptable. £60 for a free kitchen. Yep. Acceptable.

He drove off after another quick trip to the toilet and a cup of coffee leaving me alone with the computer, the mp3 player and some cds.

20 minutes later, the doorbell went. It was MwK. Could he have the food I bought for Dad and MwK so that Dad didn't starve.


Oh, and did I have a cool bag to put it into as it was going to be a long journey.


Oh yeah, could he have the remains of the insulating roll that he'd seen earlier as he'd had to pull down someone's ceiling to fix a leak and it would come in dead handy repairing the damage.

Yeah, just hold on.

And that was that.

The rest of the day was my own.

And I did some more laundry, filed papers, arranged a home safety visit online by British Gas, registered my gas and electricity meter readings with Scottish Power and listened to the Radio 2 iPlayer.

That's it.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

A little reminder of a past life

THIS is why I left London.

The fucking tourists.

Watch this

It was the tourists. Always, always the bloody tourists.

Having to slow down or stop so that they could take photographs of each other at red 'phone boxes, by guardsmen in boxes by gates, by Downing Street, in Oxford Street, near Hyde Park, near buses, in buses, by bus stops, watching them hold up traffic as they stood in the middle of a busy street trying to get the perfect picture of themselves in the middle of a street, trying to negotiate around a gang of between 10 and 20 of them in matching cagoules and rucksacks blocking the pavements as they gather round a map none of them can read - you name it, I got sick of it.

Yes. I live on a building site in a red light district in one of the smallest and financially busted cities outside London. Yes. Money is tight and and it is grim and miserable here but THERE ARE NO TOURISTS!


I got a brief and fairly garbled voicemail from MwK. He's coming down on Tuesday with the parts of a secondhand kitchen he and one of Dad's mates had stripped out of someone's house.

It's good enough to refit somewhere else (like my place) and it's from IKEA so I should be able to add units if necessary.

Great. Not can he come down, but he will be coming down.

It's not like I had plans or nothing.

I'm skint, I've got to provide fry-up food for Dad and MwKs and Tuesday's plan is now rubbish.

This kitchen had better be good.


I'd never heard of Songsmith by Microsoft.

Until I read this article from the timesonline site.

Instead of producing music that would embarrass a children's television programme; smart alecs got hold of it and have rejigged some classic videos.

The Ozzy Osborne vid is hilarious.

Even funnier? The Microsoft ad for Songsmith.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Insomnia pays off sometimes...

It's 00:55.

I just heard this on the Janice Long Show on BBC Radio 2. It's stunning and it's going to be released Monday 23rd February.

I love it.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Throw away the thermal underwear! It's SPRING!

See? Snowdrops......and it's sunny.
Okay, there's still snow on the ground and it's perishing cold but these little snowdrops mean that Spring is springing.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

!Cute Alert!

I'm tweaking a number of entries which I'll get around to posting soon.

I'm a ginger. A redhead. Duracell. Gingernut. My eyebrows and eyelashes are white blonde and I dye them on a regular basis so that I don't look quite so weird.

Check these pictures out in this article by the Daily Fail. And check out the length of little baby Isla's extraordinary eyelashes. How cute is she?

Daily Mail article here.

Sunday 15th February 2009. PS. This is what I forgot to tell you. Guess who's been diagnosed as allergic to ginger?


No more zingy shower gels, no more curry cooking sauces, nothing spicy that simply lists "flavourings", no more Jamaican ginger cake, crystallised ginger from Holland and Barratt and no more gingerbread men. You'd be amazed where this stuff hides.

There's a cosmic joke being played on me somewhere and I'm not laughing.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

I'm quite the success story. Apparently.

I called the doctor's surgery for an appointment for a doctor's note and was given an appointment for late in the morning.

I then had to ring in to work and warn my boss that he was right - he may not see me until around lunchtime.

Ice was still on the ground in some places and I was absolutely paranoid about falling over. Now I've got some idea about what the elderly and infirm go through. Jeepers.

I walked into the road to avoid the ice on the pavements and soon found that the jeans I was wearing were too long. My heels were landing on the hems and they not only formed their own slipping hazard, they were getting very wet.

I rolled up the legs so that they no longer reached the ground and ended up with two rolls of wet cloth flapping around my ankles in an amusing "passers-by-looking-at-me-funny" kind of way.


When I got to the surgery, I sat in the waiting room surrounded by a large portion of my neighbourhood. Obvious drunks, twitching addicts and a suspicious number of relatively young people limping unconvincingly or on crutches. All needing sick notes.


My name was called out by a young GP who was still relatively new and shiny. She looked less than half my age. Doctor Child beamed brightly as she ushered me in to her office.

I explained that I had sprained my ankle and needed a doctor's note as I'd been off for so long.

Dr Child automatically went for a heap of pads, picked one up and sat with a pen in her other hand.

I took off my boots, rubbery sleeve thing, socks and Tubigrip to show her the still quite swollen ankle.

Right, she said, she was prepared to sign me off for the rest of the week and I could go back to work on Monday or I could call in on Monday for a further sick note.

She then set about filling in the form.

Er, no, I said, confused, I wanted to go back to work. Today.

Ah, she said, confused. Excellent.

She had to look up what to do next.

Dr Child hadn't been working there for very long and she was so new that she had never signed a back to work form before. She was so used to signing notes for a bunch of workshy deadbeats and malingerers that I had completely surprised her. Usually, no one wanted to work or look for work and were hoping to get signed off for as long as possible.

In the end it was simply a matter of circling

"Need not refrain from work/seeking employment"

instead of the usual

"Needs to refrain from work until___________________" and then filling in a date.

She gave me general advice about exercise and looking after it and I assured her that I wouldn't over exert myself (as if!) and put everything back on again.

Most of the consultation was spent undoing and doing up my footwear.

I limped out, thanking her as I went and explaining how my trousers came to be looking so funny.



After I got to work it took a lot of admin before I started work. Flexi forms, self reported sick note and the doctor's note all had to be scrutinised and signed off by my line manager before I put them in the right in-trays/pigeonholes.

All I have to do now is remember to use the lift instead of taking half the day to climb the stairs.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Watch out for the AAAAAAArrrrrrrgh..........

Or. I could pop out to the corner shop for one last errand (milk) and fall over on the glassy packed ice.

My left ankle is a painful balloon and my right (car kicking) knee was sent backwards under me as I failed to negotiate the kerb.


Just that. Ow.

Painkillers mean that the painful throb is only slightly relieved and moving round the house is nightmarish.

Monday, 2 February 2009

This morning, I swept the pavement outside my house and laid down salt.

When I got to Wolverhampton Bus Station it was like a ghost town. I rang in to work to warn them that if I had to walk in then it would be a very late start.

Luckily, a bus showed up. It was over an hour late but for me it was just in time.

The day was spent working and carefully watching the snow fall.

It became obvious that the snow was not getting any better. It got worse. Getting home was going to be a nightmare.

I got to the bus stop for the last bus home and froze with a couple of other travellers as it arrived nearly half an hour late.

When I got back to Wolverhampton, I walked past my usual route home. It occurred to me then that we're not really equipped to deal with snow at all really, are we?

Then I laid down some more salt and holed up inside to keep warm.

And prepare for tomorrow when all the compacted snow will have turned to ice and we'll be breaking our necks as no one has put any grit down anywhere.


Sunday, 1 February 2009

Everything's coming up roses.........apparently

Confident Mars joins the Sun and success planet Jupiter in your sign this week, sending your self-belief soaring to new heights. You will know, with no shadow of a doubt, that nothing is beyond your reach. With mind planet Mercury moving in your favour again too, you will realise that something you have been worrying about in recent weeks was nothing more than an illusion. Meanwhile, the second stage of an important five-part opposition between Saturn, planet of the past, and your ruler Uranus, planet of the future, will pull you in two directions. Although the former may offer the reassurance of the known, it is only by embracing the unknown that you will find what you truly need. With so much currently on offer in the cosmic pipeline you must play your part by looking ahead, not behind.
So says the Mail on Sunday's astrologer.
Blimey! I really ought to buck up then, eh?