Saturday, November 26, 2005

I've made a start on my action plan. I have phoned a couple of diving schools and made tentative enquiries about Try Dives. Fortunately, none of the Dive Masters have called me back with firm dates and times yet so I don't have to seriously contemplate buying a new cozzy or depilating right away. ( As Dynamo rather too graphically pointed out, you wouldn't want to look like Harold Shipman in a dust mask!)

I am already taking tips from that small hardy band of swimmers that see fit to cross the Channel and ensuring that I have a good thick covering of goose fat. Of course, I'm not sure that they would recommend that it is taken orally but roast potatoes just taste sooo much better cooked that way.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Self pity has now dispersed to be replaced by humility. I'm such a grouchy old bag sometimes, usually when something doesn't go my way and I've got too much time on my hands and nothing to fill it with.

I have formulated a plan of action, suggested by the lovely Dynamo. I am going to take up scuba diving!

It's perfect. Fit handsome wealthy young men in trunks. All I have to do is manage to squeeze myself into a size 8 wet suit and then hope that I don't use all the oxygen up just managing to breath before I even get into the water.

I'm sure to be a veritable mermaid. I just hope I don't get mistaken for a whale and harpooned on my maiden dive.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

The sun is shining. There's no wind. Everything is sparkling in the coating of thick hoar frost which the cold night brought with it. It is, in short, a spectacularly beautiful day and I'm stuck inside on the chuffing computer.

I did have plans but they have been cancelled. I suppose it's my own fault really. The catalyst was the phone call I made suggesting a slight rearrangement to the plans ( which we'd made weeks and weeks ago). All week I've been told to expect this morning's match to be cancelled due to the weather but as Sunday approached and no "Halt" call had been received, I tried to reshedule things so that I could do both. Within a couple of hours Coach Goodegg rang to say it was off after all, training too ( he must have been planning a big night last night).

I tried to reactivate the original plans and the only change to proceedings were that Sophie would come over in the morning rather than for dinner the night before ( Martian's rugby match also having been cancelled or abandoned due to the onset of precious old age, I know not which). This was fine. It just meant I'd heat up a Sloppy Guiseppe rather than the elaborate calorie-laden sauce that I had been intending to smother the steaks in.

Jack was out and likely to need picking up so I spent the evening pottering about, unable to fix on any one task satisfactorily, bored by the TV, bored by the PC, unwilling to finish my book right there and then because I hadn't found a suitable successor in Tesco and couldn't bear the prospect of going to bed with only the cleaning labels on my pyjamas to read, and unable to mask the passage of time by getting steadily pissed in the Shed so it didn't matter if I read the same page over and over again, partly because the Shed was at sub-Arctic temperatures and partly because I was expecting to have to turn out for Jack and his mates. ( He ultimately arrived home having begged a lift with one of his mate's boyfriends, so I didn't even have the chance to grab a quick fag in the car on the way there).

In the midst of all this ennui, Martian called in his irritatingly cheery tone, smuggly curled up on his sofa watching his new telly, no doubt draped all over Sophie, and sporting a silly hat as he appears want to do from the end of October to late Spring every year. He obviously wasn't ecstatic at the prospect of going to see the seals. Not just any seals but Britain's largest breeding colony of Atlantic Grey seals. The fact that he hadn't particularly been invited would not have registered any significance with him whatsoever. He'd have been welcome, at least as long as he managed not to try and drive from the back seat or he'd have ended up in the boot.

So he's managed to hijack both mine and Sophie's weekend. I'm now under house arrest. I know I could go out and I want to go out and enjoy the sunshine, but the thought of even suggesting it to Jack sends me reaching towards the medicine cabinet. Everyone else will be doing coupley things so I guess the only thing for it is to hide in the shadow of Ironing Mountain until nightfall when I can scurry out and sneak into the back of the cinema to watch the new Harry Potter movie without fear of scaring the kiddies - " Eek! Look, mummy - what's that hideous thing?" " Come away, dears. That's what we call a Spinster, they can be quite bitter, sometimes poisonous, their bark is usually worse than their bite. The latin term is Vacchus Solus Lacrimens Autopiteum".

Friday, November 18, 2005

I can't stand Theme Pubs. I hate all the twee props, the plastic-wrapped food, the fact that you could be absolutely anywhere and the place would still look the same. That was until last night when I stumbled into the Best Ever Dickensian Theme Pub in the World ( I exaggerate, best in East Yorkshire perhaps).

It was perfect, just like stepping back into the middle of the nineteenth century. There was a Bill Sykes type complete with Pitt Bull, a good handful of old crones of indeterminate sex, a buxom serving wench and a rowdy, jovial crowd of various pox-ridden and hideously-deformed characters. I suspect the secret of its complete authenticity has to do with the fact that no person in their right mind would ever set foot in the place without police protection and complete Tevlar body armour so the interior designers haven't had chance to give it a make over.

I would probably have had second thoughts about venturing in myself, especially as I was still in pin-stripes having gone straight from the office, but the row that was threatening to erupt between the patient St. Sophie and the incredibly bad backseat driver Martian made anywhere amongst a crowd inviting.

The purpose of our unusual mid-week excursion was to watch Mrs. Roger's husband, Roger at a comedy gig. I would probably have preferred to see him on one of his more regular, and probably safer, Jongleurs nights but they don't have one of those near me and I've never been invited at a weekend so it seemed as good a time as any, especially as I am planning on booking him for a do next Spring - it would be awful if he turned out to be Sheffield's answer to Chubby Brown and only the old men over 50 and boys under 20 laughed.

I have no qualms about it however. He handled the congenital mob deftly, even batting back such witty and dynamic heckles as " Well it didn't make your hair grow back!" ( Roger: And there's no scientific reason why swimming would, Sir!) Martian's ADHD was managed adeptly by formally declaring him Cheerleader of the Night, a role into which he entered with enthusiasm and vim, stopping short only of cartwheeling across the stage in his jock-strap ( which no doubt he would have been pleased to do but for the sinister bloke named Shirley leering lasciviously at him from the back of the room) So plans are now underway for my first comedy night. I need a name, something Phoenix Nightsesque to match my impresario status;

Tonight for One night only, brought to you by Cherrypie Chuckles....

Does that have a ring to it? No.

Got it! CheeryPie, of course!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

There were times last week when I seriously doubted my ability to make it through to the weekend in one piece and at liberty. My psychological state, delicate at the best of times but already weakened by my Little Infestation Problem ( now, thankfully a mere memory and compost for this blog only) had taken a pounding from all the nasty seasonal bangs. I spent most of the weekend of 5 November hiding under my bed and only ventured out when the stock of discarded Digestives was exhausted, by then it was Wednesday.

The rest of the week passed in a blur of work, raffle-prize hustling, ticket-selling and plate-spinning, remarkably nothing broke. My new mate, Peter "Len" Martin delighted my neighbour Alice by delivering the signed tea-towel to her while I was at work. She's still calling everyone she ever met to tell them she had a celebrity at her house. Jack had his trousers taken up on his posh new dinner suit and chose a black jacquard tie to complete his look and I managed to remember to buy some new hold-ups for the occasion. I could really have done with an entire new outfit but funds were, by then, limited and you can't make a sow's purse out of a hog's arse or however the saying goes.

Anyway, the night was great. I definitely had the best table. The handsomest, funniest, drunkest, best connected ( no prizes for guessing who was who) and more to the point, Paige won the Woolpack Tea-Towel.

I vowed to myself all last week that I wouldn't do it again. This is the last year I kept telling myself. My resolve was remarkable. So when they told me they were planning it on 18 November next year - I put it in my diary and blanked out the 2 weeks leading up to it!

Friday, November 04, 2005

I could barely face going into work this morning. I had spent an almost sleepless night imagining every orifice to be colonised by my new office squatters. I called my Lovely Boss at 7.45am to beg for an official leave of absence but he was conveniently away from his desk.

I bit the bullet and decided to venture in after dropping Jack off at school (his Grandma had arrrived to give him a lift as usual but he spent too long tweaking his hair-do so she'd driven off and left him). There was still no news as to when Rentokil could be expected so I called their HQ to be told by some spotty-sounding youth that they couldn't fix a time 'cos it was raining. I was nigh on apoplectic!!! My entire office and source of the problem is under cover.

20 minutes later my hardened negotiating skills and dignified use of Screaming found another Rentokil YTS operative at my door.

It was instantly apparent that the only thing at risk of said offending rain was his carefully-sculpted purple bonce. He obviously wasn't happy to be there. I was less so - I left him to it while I made myself a rare coffee and sought temporary accommodation elsewhere in the office.
I was back at my insecticide-soaked desk an hour later. I was happier to smell of tar and risk heavy metal poisoning for the rest of the day than spend it itching scratching and dropping the phone every two minutes.

It had all left me feeling quite miserable and the resulting backlog of calls was threatening to cause my Competent Veneer to crack significantly. I had little or no patience with the third family member that wanted a theoretical discussion on why a party further down a chain was unreasonable enough to refuse to move house on 24 hours notice when they themselves were prepared to foresake their usual Friday afternoon drink with the lads to see grandmother decamped into her new home. I don't want to sound like I don't empathise with their position - I really do, but right then I was more concerned with trying to keep abreast with the 88 emails that had already colonised my Inbox while I had been temporarily Absent Without Itch from my desk and were promising to pose an even greater threat to my sanity than the mites which by then were making like dying flies ( Booakasha!). But with hindsight maybe I shouldn't have told him to Just Get Over It!

Just when I was seriously considering crawling under my desk to cry in a heap ( stalled only by the fear that 200,000 Bird Mites were doing that very same thing) relief came in the form of Brindley Balm - the only human face of conveyancing service providers who swept in and out armed with champagne ( a raffle prize) and a rather nice bottle of Bergerac ( a personal gift for me which I had no qualms about accepting and would have been opened and drunk at my mite-free desk as I continued to work until gone 10pm had it not been for the still lingering fear of miniscule entymological gatecrashers). That short and unscheduled visit had the effect of stabilising my mind and helping me gain my equilibrium.

And staying late at the office can have its rewards ( never ever fiduciary in my case). Just after 9pm I got a call from none other than the great man himself, Len from Emmerdale ( he used my first name!). He has a Tea Towel signed by his fellow cast members ( and him, too, I hope) as a contribution to my raffle.

And to think I very nearly stayed in bed!!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

I am infested!!! Or rather my office is overrun with Bird Mites ( Ornithyssos Minimus Mingingus to my new naturalist friends). I

noticed them on Friday, hundreds of them swarming across my mobile phone. I immediately called my rottweiler secretary who is the firm's leading authority on nits given that she has a very sociable 5 year old son. She declared my head louse-free and couldn't see any of the critters that I was starting to make a song and dance about.

Yesterday I decided to take action, assuming them to be dust mites thriving in the atmosphere created beneath my computer and moved all the files, some of which had lain there for weeks, and polished my desk, later asking the cleaners to give it an extra special go. I was horrified when I arrived this morning to discover the little blighters running relay races across my printer. I almost dropped the phone when I saw hundreds more pouring out of the spine of my desk diary as I made an appointment for a rapidly-dispatched client.

I couldn't find any Proper partners to authorise an immediate quarantine at first but eventually Paul agreed I could call Rentokil. They didn't come as quickly as I would have liked and I had to make another call before Matt, the Mite Man arrived and identified my problem, by which time I was itching all over as were the growing number of tourists from other departments that popped in to inspect my misfortune . I'd suspected the loathsome vermin that had been nesting on my windowsill might have had something to do with it and I was right.

Tomorrow it is WAR!!!