Sunday, 27 February 2011

Sneaky work post

I am about to leave, though, so it's not too bad...

Forgot to say that I'm staying in the flat this weekend, so therefore no blogging until I get to Dublin (if the boyf is kind enought to lend me a laptop). Getting up very early tomorrow!

Met Jumanji last night for supper (Nandos times) after a somewhat stressful day packing, buying mini-toiletries and trying to get Euros. She walked into a window, which cheered me up, and we had an epic trek loooking for frozen yoghurt. Eventually found SNOG, and had plain yoghurt with raspberries, strawberries and brownie pieces. I'm having all fruit next time, very delicious!

Off back to the flat now to get things done before the morning. Quite sleepy after a bit of a trek to Wapping from Covent Garden last night, so lots of sitting around is in order!

Good evening!

Friday, 25 February 2011

Work-status update

Today was pretty much the same as yesterday. I am just about finished (pre-merciless edit) on one feature, have almost all the quotes etc for another (minus a vital interview with one of the protagonists in the story, but I've emailed again and can probably manage without it if I try), am almost finished with the info gathering on a third (just need to interview some locals tomorrow), and am trying to make a plan with the fourth. That just leaves one where I'm still deciding what to write about. Progress, I think! Stupid 'freelancing'.

Today I learned that tea companies are much happier to talk to journalists than the county council or the police. I'm not sure it should be this way around...

Right, I'm off to bed as I have various things to do tomorrow (one of them being more work!).


Work, more work and perplexing politics

This was me for today - lots of notes, lots of phoning people, lots of trying to make articles. Can't wait for it all to be over! I've been feeling quite literally buried of late, and stress doesn't make me productive, it makes me rebellious.

I really can't wait for Monday!

On an unrelated note: I try not to be a politics-pusher (in blogging as in life) and tend to subscribe to a general optimism that common sense will prevail (giving way to black cynicism at times, but let's not dwell on that). However, sometimes I just have to wonder what on earth is wrong with people. (This is happening most mornings at work, as two of the dreaded Dailys have been added to the pile to be cut up. I have to leaf through them incredibly slowly, because it's very difficult to tell the letters from the articles.) I know it would be a boring world if we all thought alike, but I can't understand some viewpoints at all. For example, as part of my research I found The Free Society. Isn't it interesting how often the word 'free' is rolled out to support every kind of political cause? Click around the website and you can learn that action taken against global warming is basically the same as the French Revolutionhealthy eating is a totalitarian plotliterature just isn't offensive enough and smokers are treated worse than terrorists. The site is pretty moderate by internet standards (try Jesus is Saviour for some proper baffling vitriol (I should warn you, it's pretty offensive)) but I am still perplexed. Maybe I'm just an oppressive, tree-hugging, sentimental, interfering, Scotland-loving Leftist fascist, though...

On that note, I'm off to bed.


Thursday, 24 February 2011


Nothing new really happened today. The computer system lost an obituary, and a man phoned up to ask about it. That was kind of the highlight. I did quite a lot of phoning, relatively speaking.

I've decided on my dream job! I want to write for guidebooks and take an all-expenses-paid holiday every week and email back my observations and ramblings. And I want to be very well-paid for it. I'm talking four houses and a jet-ski. I can dream!

In other news, the new big Channel 4 documentary series, The Agency, is not that exciting. I might give it another chance, but I was off doing other things within ten minutes this evening. I suppose I'm just not interested in models. Also, the office reminded me too much of work. They have the same phones! Not that I don't love newspapering, but I prefer to leave it in Wapping!

I'm very, very tired, so I'm going to go to bed now.


Tuesday, 22 February 2011

A return to standards

I didn't say what kind! I'm perpetually knackered at the moment, so I'm toning down the blog side of things a little bit for now. It's going to be hard to hold back! I am still going to post, but I won't be trying to come up with interesting things for you (and you may have noticed, I tend to fail there a little bit anyway!). Just for now, then there will be exciting Irish blogging and so forth.

Today was even more busy than usual. I think part of this was down to Cat, Olivia and I spending about an hour trying to sort my new computer account out. Still can't receive emails! Or use the picture editor. Later in the afternoon, just as I had returned from nipping out for some supplementary lunch (my budget is usually £2 a day for a drink and some crisps or something, and it gets me some vital fresh air so I don't feel too indulgent!) and picked up a huge stack of letters from our pigeon hole, we heard that we had to do a full page for the Daily Universal Register because the ad had fallen through.

The DUR is made up of lots and lots of little sections, each a (very) mini article but with about the same amount of research required, so it was crazy times for a while. I phoned round for pictures for Going Out, wrote probably the most gruesome Saint's Day ever to grace the paper (St Polycarp met an interesting end...I tried to tone it down), knocked out an Out Now (teeny-tiny book review/recommendation), sourced pictures for the Collecting column, found a Last Word quotation and wrote a Day Out piece about Aberfeldy in Scotland (which my father visits fairly regularly for outdoor-persuits-related work, and sometimes brings us along). While I'm still spreading Aberfeldy goodwill, visit it! I didn't realise until I had to write about it just how much there is to do in the area. So, next time you holiday in the (original) Home of the Brave, stop by!

I am going to have to go to bed now, or the mists will descend tomorrow on my commute and someone will suffer the full force of my sleep-deprived crotchetiness!


Monday, 21 February 2011

Back to work

Yes, I don't have a photo and am fobbing you off with another kitten. A topical kitten! Trust me, he looks way better than I do right now. 

Also, the picture is from a site with one of the best names on the interweb: Kittens Kittens Kittens! Stare at that long enough and the letters lose all meaning. 

Stare at this long enough and you'll buy one

I was largely in charge of opening letters and answering phones today, but the readers are restless, so it kept me very busy! I also managed to get in about half an hour early (and about 15 minutes before anyone else in the Register). Still not sure how that happened.

Cat asked me this afternoon if I'd be happy to come back in March. It hasn't been finalised yet, but more journalising times are ahead! The Godmother picked me up from the station this evening and we had an Indian takeaway to celebrate. I am now 25% naan.

I am afraid to say I am absolutely knackered today, so that's it for now!


Sunday, 20 February 2011


I did some more work today, sent out more pleas for quotes I can use for articles and tried to organise myself for the Big Push (I have to hand the whole lot in scarily soon). But that is not very interesting, so instead I bring you shrimps:

I went to the shops for toothpaste and other exciting little errands today (mostly to get some fresh air and fend off muscle wastage) and ended up buying shrimps as well. 50p for a quarter. I remember when a quarter of sweets was 25p! Inflation in my lifetime!

I had thought these foamy little crustaceans were a sweetshop staple everywhere, but when buying pick'n'mix with Normandy when we went to see Black Swan I realised how wrong I was! She'd never heard of them, and dubiously added them to the tub on my assurance that they're really nice (and Bob's assurance that they're perfectly normal and edible). She didn't take to them in the end (more for me!), but it made me realise just how weird shrimps are. The closest sweet to them in texture is those foam bananas, but at least they're shaped like what they're supposed to taste like. Why shrimps?

I can't believe I've never thought about this before. I remember when I was quite young, I would look forward to going to Alien Rock (the climbing centre) as much because of the delicious shrimps available there as for the climbing (I never really took to climbing as a child. My father thought I was just terrible at it until he saw me climbing out of a ditch on holiday. I think the presence of ropes and chalk and funny-shaped plastic handholds at climbing centres just didn't do it for me) and running around with other kids. 

I suppose a lot of the sweetshop staples I know and love haven't made it overseas (aniseed balls! Humbugs! Murray mints! Strawberry laces! Sour worms! (Actually they do have those in South Africa, and they're much better) Cough sweets! Pear drops! Barley sugar! Those amazing burny cinnamon chews! Rhubarb and custards! Chocolate eclairs! Are any of these sounding familiar, non-British people?), but then they don't have those amazing Italian lemon ice lollies on liquorice sticks over here, so swings and roundabouts, I suppose. 

I'm going to stop rambling about sweets now. 


Still alive!

Today was pretty productive, you'll be pleased to hear. Maybe there will even be a reduction in the amount of complaining about how much work I've got to do (I wouldn't count on it...). 

I have managed to write most of an article about tea today. I didn't know I was going to until today, but I'm quite pleased with it so far. I think I will offer it to whimsical websites, and maybe a knitting magazine or two. 

In honour of the surprisingly inspirational nature of tea, here is a picture of me with some:

A new, exciting view (of the bathroom)
Note that I am still upright, clean and capable of smiling. All good signs!

Tomorrow will hopefully see the completion of the article. I also really do need to go outside as otherwise I am going to run out of toothpaste, which would be a Bad Thing. Maybe I will ask some old ladies why they think tea is still so popular, and what their top ten cups of tea are. Maybe I will splash out on some biscuits for a dunking experiment. I can't be held responsible for my actions under the influence of cuppa journalism. 

Do any of you have any opinions on tea? All views welcome, the more controversial the better!

Now I am going to go to bed, as at some point it has become midnight and I have become knackered.


Saturday, 19 February 2011

Truth is still in beta

Did I promise a proper post today? I lied. Instead, here is a picture of some shoes in front of a radiator, to remind me of how I probably won't be leaving the house this weekend because of all the work I have to do on my portfolio:

It will be interesting to see how sustained work in my free time and mad busyness at work affect my blogging abilities. Could go either way, really.

Also, nerd title? Nerd title.

That's it for tonight, but you're much too busy with your social life and being allowed outside to mind, right?


Friday, 18 February 2011

More title words

Another short pictureless post because of it being late and so forth (I dozed off a little bit). Tomorrow will be better!

I was feeling about the same as yesterday today - still not 100% but less awful. I was able to feel very superior for a while because a group of work experience people came round (I say people - they were kids, really (not that kids aren't people, I'm trying to be more specific)) looking for things to do at the Arts desk and I was doing all sorts of exciting things - reformatting pages, pulling up archived text and transferring phonecalls (which is new to me, at least). I felt practically professional! I'll be learning to do even more complicated things (starting with pictures) when I get my own profile, hopefully on Monday, although I was supposed to be able to log on today. IT is turning out to be as complicated as security! (I got my pass on Sunday, not sure if I mentioned it. It's pink and it goes beep! Also I can put money on it to buy food, and get into the fire escapes, which is useful in survival terms.)

I'm still being stalked by that zebra print handbag. Its owner has taken to wearing a bright pink coat, which clashes horribly with the bag but she seems determined to stay true to its stripy hideousness.

I am contemplating writing an entirely different Public Affairs article to the one I had planned. It may be more relevant, or it may involve actually going to a council meeting. I really hope it's the former!

Hope everyone has a good Friday and is suitably casually attired!


Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Letter larks

Tonight is a short post because it is late and my mother has texted me to tell me to go to bed. I'm feeling a bit better today (not so headachey, which is good considering how much of my day I have to spend surrounded by giant computer screens) but my throat now has that bruised feeling that portends a nasty cold if you're not careful, so I am taking her advice.

I opened a letter today which said that Ed Miliband is an Antichrist, and so is Microsoft. I've opened letters from this guy before. The first one seemed quite reasonable, about computer ID numbers and software copyright fraud or something, right up until the point I realised that the author titles himself "King of Heaven". And he's not the craziest - at least his letters are on normal printer paper, not ripped-out calendar pages or torn-up Sky junkmail.

With this in mind, I've decided to offer a brief guide for anyone who's going to the trouble of writing in to a newspaper because they actually want to get their letter published:

1. Make it short. Even crazy letters have a chance if they're brief enough to fill a tricky gap on the page. Also, people like me who go through piles of letters every day tend to have quite short attention spans. Which leads on to:

2. Type it. At this point you should be wondering why you aren't just sending an email. If trapped in an internetless void, or out of arm's-reach of a computer, use your best handwriting (by which I mean your simplest handwriting - oldschool calligraphy may look pretty but it doesn't aid reading). It is true but perhaps reprehensible that every letter has a five second chance to get passed on to higher powers - if I can't decipher it in that time, it's going in the bin. (Also bear in mind that if it's in non-digital format, someone will have to type it up. As that's often me, I'm not even going to consider a letter that's going to take me ten minutes to double-check whether you were writing about cows, cauls, colds or roods.)

3. Don't be a obviously crazy, hyper-religious or a Tory. Your letter will be relocated to a garbage environment faster than I can snort derisively.

4. Refer to any previous letters or articles by date and title. Makes your letter much easier to publish, and you get brownie points for knowing the format.

5. Don't write more than one letter a week. It's only fair to share the limelight. Also, someone who writes multiple letters is at best extremely opinionated and underemployed, and at worse a nuisance.

6. Be important. We got a letter on House of Commons notepaper the other day and it was personally referred upwards by someone much more important than me (right speedily, I should add). Similarly, if you are a group of like-minded rabbis or chairmen or suchlike, you make the page look better with your fancy list of names.

7. Be funny. Everyone likes a laugh. (Although if I judge your attempt at humour sub-par or dangerously right-wing, your letter will of course be binned.)

8. Use your best spelling and grammar. If a mistake gets through our thin sub line, it makes both you and the paper look stupid.

I know I probably sound quite cruel and self-important, but very very few actual letters get into the paper - it's all about email these days. It's up to me to make sure as few letters bother the important people as possible (although I do try to get the good ones in).  Also, hard-copy letters tend to be the preserve of nutters and the aged, both of whom are a little hit-and-miss when it comes to scintillating correspondence.

I wish the editor opened his own letters, if only because then he'd see the card currently in pride of place on my desk, which wishes him a happy Christmas, a happy new year, a happy Easter and a happy birthday (with lots of kisses).

That's all for tonight, apologies for the lack of picture (the blog doesn't quite look right without them now!)


Tuesday, 15 February 2011

In case you didn't believe me about the soup

It's very green

I thought I'd share a picture of my delicious supper today as I am a bit under the weather and didn't see anything interesting in the course of my day. 

More travel excitement this evening meant I got home at 8:30, so I'm pretty dead. 

The most exciting thing to happen today was that my Going Out bit about an event in Northern Ireland got left in! I feel sorry for Northern Ireland, they don't get anything good said about them, and they're always being excluded from deals and competitions and the like. I hope that my mention of a photography exhibition helped a bit. I try to promote events that aren't in London or any of the big cities as much as possible. A lot of Londoners seem to think they are the centre of the world. For grumpiness, maybe, but not for fun!

I spent about an hour trying to come up with an interesting webpage for the Register this afternoon. I was already feeling a bit ill, but it was compounded by my internet nous failing me! I felt awful. Any suggestions/reminders of the best bits of the interweb would be much appreciated (especially if you have/know of a quirky blog that could do with a bit of promotion). 

That's about it for tonight. I'm going to try to have a proper early night, so I feel less fragile in the morning.


Monday, 14 February 2011

Garden of Earthly Delights (well, butterflies)

Today was my weekday day off, and with it being gloriously sunny and all, I was delighted to join The Godmother and W on a short jaunt to Wisley. Wisley turned out to be a huge RHS garden (which charged £9.90 entry - free if you're a member (joining up is a mere £49, and they push it like anything)). It was gorgeously sunny, and there were a surprising number of flowers out. It smelled like Spring. I took a few pictures to share so you don't have to pay almost a whole tenner to see it: 

Lemons! Not nearly as fragrant as the orange blossom

Arum lilies
The big fancy greenhouse was on a butterfly kick - there was a big, steamy glass box full of pupas for butterflies to emerge in, big, brightly-coloured boards of butterfly facts about the place, a video loop of butterflies emerging from pupas and a section of greenhouse full of butterflies zooming around all over the place. The queue was pretty long, there were old people everywhere and it was extremely hot and humid, but it was worth it. I only got a couple of pictures, as butterflies are apparently not that keen on staying still:

A yellow one
(There was a spotter's guide available (only 50p suggested donation) but there's no need to get anoraky about these things.)

A black and white one
 The clouds were coming out in force as we left, but the rest of today has been pretty nice too.

This afternoon (after a lunch of the greenest pea soup ever), I made it into London for a visit to Journalism School. It's been a very long time since I was last there; I felt a bit nostalgic! Tornado was very pleased to see me and amazingly happy to wave off my non-attendance. It turns out he wants me to ask the Letters Editor to come and give out prizes. Hmmm. 

I had a bit of an Incredible Journey experience getting home. The Circle line was shut, which was fine (for me, at least), except that the overflow was packing onto the Jubilee line with a vengeance. I had to get the Jubilee line in the opposite direction to the way I wanted to go, and get the Bakerloo. Then, when I eventually got to Waterloo, it turned out that something had happened at Surbiton (on my route home, in case anyone's still reading at this point) - the station announcements said it was a 'delay', the announcements on the train said it was 'a person struck by a train', and then the station announcements when I eventually got to Woking said it was 'police activity', and when I was at Waterloo, I saw two policemen and a man in a hi-vis vest interviewing a man on an empty train that had just come from that direction - which meant that the only non-delayed train in that direction was even more packed than the tube, and when they eventually announced the platform for the next train there was a stampede. I made it in the end, though. 

I'm exhausted again just from typing that! Goodnight!

V Day

The only heart-motif thing I own
I am taking advantage of the fact it is technically tomorrow to wish you all a happy Valentine's Day! I know everyone hates and/or ignores it, but I hope that you all feel a bit special today! (/sap)

My parents told me off when I skyped them this evening, because I have entirely failed to send a card to Ireland. My excuses about complicated stamp systems and lack of free time cut very little ice. With the resultant guilt weighing heavy on my shoulders, I am dedicating this post to the boyf (who may even read it, who knows?) who really does deserve chocolate roses or something.

I was at work today (very narrowly - the front entrance was closed for some sort of loud drilling and hammering, so I had to go round the side, where they just about demanded a password. Due to my lack of fancy photocard, I had to show them my passport for 'photo-ID', although how that told them I was a non-violent temporary employee I have no idea), enjoying the quiet of a Sunday (apart from the Arts desk woman behind me who was the only person in from her section and, from the sounds of things, having the worst day of her life). I also experienced IT Support, as recalcitrant fonts were making it very hard to get anything done. I had a few long, mostly silent phonecalls with a man who remote-accessed by computer and found that there was indeed a problem loading pages, and then a very lovely lady came round and fixed it in about 5 minutes.

I also abridged a recipe for the first time (in an official capacity, anyway - my style of cooking tends rather to the 'Well, I've got almost half the ingredients, should be fine!'), so look out for that on Tuesday, hopefully!

I'm pretty tired after an evening of delicious butternut soup (made by The Godmother's own fair hand), sourdough toast, tea and TV, so I will sign off for now.


Saturday, 12 February 2011

A grand day out

I have spent the majority of every day this week in front of a computer screen, so when The Godmother and W invited me along on a day out to Alresford in Hampshire, I couldn't say no (even though it involved getting up quite early on a Saturday). 

We were off in the car a little after the intended 9:40 departure time (which may or may not have been my fault...) to pick up W's friend, who I will call C. With him on board, we made for Alresford, which turned out to be gloriously sunny.

The main mission for the day was to look at snowdrops, and we took a detour along a little lane on the way to see a riverbank absolutely carpeted with them. 

Arriving in Alresford, we parked in the station carpark, an ducked into the charming old station to have a look around, having sadly just missed the departure of one of the steam trains that still run through it. There were a lot of excited children and train enthusiasts, and the guards in old-fahioned uniforms seemed delighted to talk about engines for hours on end. 

After that, it was off to Brandy Mount, to visit a charity garden opening and look at lots and lots of different species of snowdrop. Apart from the onset on senility in the ticket-seller on the door resulting in some very complicated change-related negotiations, it was a very lovely garden. We saw masses of snowdrops, and tried to decide which kind we liked best. There was also a tea-and-cake shop set up in one of the garden sheds, which was doing a roaring trade. We each had a cup of tea and half a sponge slice with butter icing, as they were rather large and we had booked a table for lunch at the local pub, and didn't want to spoil our appetites. 

It was quite difficult to get a picture without any other visitors in it
There were lots of people there, wandering around, looking at flowers and buying postcards and suchlike. At one point we were skirting a pond and somewhat endangered by a group of visitors who couldn't understand the signposted one-way system, or perhaps just why it should apply to them. Thankfully we all made it through undampened.

Snowdrops weren't the only beautiful sight
 After leaving the gardens, we went to the local churchyard in search of the 'rather interesting' graves of French prisoners of war from the Napoleonic war. When we eventually found them, there were surprisingly many of them - a lot of the officers had been allowed to live with their wives in local billets, although they had a curfew of 9pm and a rather meagre allowance to live off. Quite a few died in England before they could return home, largely from diseases contracted in the West Indies, where they were taken prisoner, apparently. 

We then had a wander around the local shops. The deli was very exciting, but the antique shop was bypassed because of some truly horrific matching chicken-and-rooster cross-stitched cushions on display outside. The Godmother and I found a mill, some swans and a dead frog, and then it was time for lunch. 

A fine establishment
The pub was rather crowded, but had a very aesthetically pleasing French waiter and a rather alarmed-looking wall feature: 

Fawlty Towers, anyone?
There was also a very shiny spaniel (thankfully not stuffed) who followed one of the staff around in endless circles and patrolled under all the tables for scraps.

I had an artichoke and saffron risotto, which was very creamy and sophisticated, but sadly we couldn't sample their excellent dessert menu, as we had a train to catch. A steam train!

The 1500 service to Alton was not a cheap journey, but it was a charming one. The Godmother agreed to pick us up from Alton when we arrived, and with only five minutes to spare, we tried to buy tickets from the man behind the screen in Alresford station. Sadly, he was also a victim of the dementia epidemic sweeping the town, and by the time we'd negotiated the right tickets and change, there were seconds to spare. We leapt onto the train, and were soon chuffing out of the station, enjoying the scenery, the steam, and the noisy antics of little Grace and Evelyn in the seats behind us (well, the latter maybe not so much).

The only way to travel
The train journey was very civilised, with long stops 'to take on water' in the intervening stations. Upon arrival in Alton, the train was to turn back round to take its passengers back to Alresford, so we stood on the platform and watched the engine being detached from the front of the train, reversed away, and then brought back to be reattached to the back. It was quite a labourious and steamy process. The people who run the steam trains are all volunteers and enthusiasts, but it takes a lot of love to willingly climb down between a carriage and a steam engine and manually attach them to each other, protected only by a bright orange vest and flat cap. Eventually, amid much blowing of whistles and waving of flags,the train pulled away.

Returning to Woking, we had tea and ginger cake (from the Alresford deli) and watched the Scotland-Wales match. Oh dear oh dear. 

I have work tomorrow, but I am feeling mentally refreshed (who knew the British countryside could be such a restorative?). The sunshine helped a lot, too. 


Hacking at home

I got lots done on my portfolio articles today, and had a bit of a lie-in, too. I managed to get answers from the Forestry Commission and ASH are phoning me on Monday, allegedly. Exciting stuff! 

Not very exciting for you, however, so here is a picture of what this journalist wears to work from home: 

With shoes instead of slippers, to make it all a little less tragic
I think it's just about the right mix of 'professional' and 'probably not leaving the house'. It's important to be slightly smartly dressed as it improves your phone manner and helps you make your deadlines other people's problems. 

I also had cucumber sandwiches for breakfast and watched a bit of Snog, Marry, Avoid?. Is it just me, or have the people on that programme been getting steadily more terrified? And can't they have a little bit of variety in their counter-culture? Jenny Frost's roots are still defiantly hypocritical, too. 

That is sort of it for today. It was nice having a Friday off and doing some lazing about. 

Also, well done, Egypt. Just don't forget how the army being in charge of your government usually works out... 


Friday, 11 February 2011

The zebra stripes of doom

Today I bring you a website I found on my travels which illustrates what a cosmopolitan world it is out there: Lady MacSnood - Maker of Fine Handmade Snoods Yes, you read that right. Actually, the snoods do look pretty good quality, and it is nice to know that there is somewhere to find them should I ever need one. Maybe for am-dram or something...

Today was much like the other days of this week (I'm sure everyone must be getting very bored of my lists), except there was archive work! This was quite exhausting, because while the online archive provides a copy-and-paste-able text version of newspapers from the Olden Days, which is very useful for modern-day purposes, the papers have been scanned by a device which doesn't always appreciate the minor quirks and eccentricities of old newsprint. I spent quite a long time going through page after page changing all the 'c's back to 'e's, the 'li's to 'h's and the 'ni's to 'm's. There was some pretty interesting stuff in there though - advice in a 1920s newspaper never to pick a bridesmaid who was 'plain of face, or worse, ugly of figure'. Apparently georgette is the fabric for weddings (at least, when velvet isn't), and 'orchid' is a colour.

In other news, I am being stalked by a handbag. A very ugly handbag - possibly the most hideous in the world. It's a sort of red patent crocodile-effect square bag, with a big zebra panel on the side.

A bit like this, except more horrible (and more red)
I keep seeing it on escalators, and on the Overground. The woman carrying it is always in black, which just makes the bag stand out more. Two days ago, I noticed it going down the escalator next to me. Yesterday, it followed me off the Jubilee line on my way home. This morning, it followed me onto the Overground. It's everywhere.

This is disturbing for a number of reasons. Why did it choose me? What does it want? How has its owner's commute managed to coincide so precisely with mine so often? What does she keep in there?

I'm going to go to bed now and try not to have nightmares.


P.S.: It was the boyf's birthday today, so happy birthday to him! Apparently he is having a nice time. Now I just have to come up with a (nother) present!

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Short but sweet

Got home quite late tonight and am therefore predictably tired. Also my wrists are sore, because today I added typing up letters to my list of jobs, and the computers have special orthopaedic keyboards or something which have really stiff keys which are prone to sticking (especially the delete key, for some reason). I wouldn't say I am the world's fastest typist, but today was just embarrassing!

On the plus side, I experienced another journalistic perk today, as Cat gave me this as I was leaving:

A thing of beauty
It's a chocolate fondue set. Now I just have to stock up on marshmallows and fruit and decide which of my friends I like the most!

In the interests of repaying this kind corporate gifting,  I should say that chocolate is always nice, and chocolate named after a famous naked lady is bound to be romantic on Valentine's Day. 

A very happy birthday to Jumanji, who is pretty awesome and deserves to be celebrated (just as soon as I have time/money/both!).

Right, bedtime is imminent, so it's goodnight for now from me!

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Just like magic

Today, we have an illustration of the transformation that takes place every evening when I get home:

Post-work wear

I know, terribly slobbish, but I need comfort dammit! Today was another busy day (although I've yet to see a non-busy one - even Sunday was reasonably intensive) and I did quite a lot of running around. I even took a letter up to the editor's secretary, in case he wanted it! Normally, the only person to read all his letters is me, so I'm sure it was a treat for him. 

Pretty much the minute I walk in the door, I start shedding every vestige of presentability. The first thing I do after dumping my bag in my room is to shrug on the hoodie and gilet combination, and it just goes downhill from there. I do like getting dressed up, but if there's lounging to be done, you can bet I'll be suitably attired. 

I finally finished Blood Hunt yesterday, and am feeling a little bit bereft without the wryly recounted bursts of violence to keep me entertained on my commute. I'm going to have to find a new audiobook, I think. (I love real books, of course, but the problem there is that they take up space and weight reserved for my lunch.)

I'm trying to get a proper night's sleep (again), so I'll sign off for now.


Monday, 7 February 2011

In which I am excited about a newspaper

(Almost) all my own work!
I know it's sad, but look at it! So beautiful! 

I got a bit of work done on my portfolio today, but decided against going in to Journalism School until I actually have something decent to show the Tornado. I miss my friends there, though! I'm beginning to forget their faces... It's very strange to go from seeing them every day to getting a vague idea of their lives from facebook updates. Really need to organise to see them! Also, Bob is leaving to go travelling. He told us a while ago, but his last day is on Wednesday, which means I'm not going to see him again before he sets of on his adventures! We will miss him and his collusion against the Tornado! Postman might be pretty but he's not as good!

I've been incredibly boring this past week and not seen anyone, which is rather tragic in itself. Next week, Jumanji's and the boyf's birthdays will be occurring, so I will have to get my act together for those, albeit probably belatedly for both as I am having to prioritise sleeping at the moment or I spend the day with my eyes feeling very hot. 

Apparently there is an awesome War of the Worlds sculpture in the centre of Woking and I have never seen it! I really don't know anything about my current home. 

I am quite full of stirfry and have to get up early in the morning to make another page like this and open more letters and answer phonecalls about dead people, so I will say goodnight for now. Goodnight!

Love is just a four-letter word

This evening, I am predictably knackered. It's weird - when I'm actually at work, time flies and I'm always surprised to find it's the end of the day, but by the time I begin my commute home, all the unnoticed hours catch up with me. It's better than the other way round, I suppose. 

Today was a lot quieter - there was only one other person in our desk cul-de-sac when I got in (early, you'll be proud to hear!) and he was outraged that I should have to be in on a Sunday. A couple more people made it in, including the other girl who I have most to do with, who I will call Olivia, because she looks a bit like an Olivia even though it is not in fact her name. I worked through a big pile of papers, cutting them up as usual, then it was mostly coming up with stuff for Tuesday's Register page, proofreading things for tomorrow and learning the phone system. Luckily, my first-ever caller was a very matter-of-fact old man who phones in all the time and so knows the system, so it was very easy. Three obituary-worthy deaths came to our very small team's attention today, and caused varying degrees of panic. 

I would now like to muse about love, or, more specifically, Valentine's Day. 

Almost no one I have spoken to about this most expensively romantic of days has been excited. In fact, most people have told me they hate it. It seems a bit extreme to hate a day, even if it has been commercialised or what have you. I theorise that people who hate Valentine's Day fall into 17 distinguishable categories:

1. Single people who feel it puts pressure on them to be in a relationship/justify their lack of significant other

2. People in relationships who feel it puts pressure on them to be better at their relationship

3. People with hayfever who are suddenly ambushed by roses on all sides

4. People who say they hate the commercialism but will happily buy gimmicky cards and other such tat for other occasions

5. People in too many relationships who are worried it's going to get them caught

6. Matadors

7. Single people who want their friends to stop trying to set them up with people

8. People in relationships who really want to break up but haven't found the right time to say so yet

9. People who hate everything on principle

10. Pedantic heart surgeons

11. People whose other halves have expensive tastes

12. People who find dining out intimidating

13. People who don't like overly fancy chocolates but now have to pretend to enjoy them

14. People who don't like champagne

15. People who have never been romanced/wined and dined/surprised with scattered rose petals/serenaded/the star of an 80s teen flick

16. Waiters

17. People who are friends with couples

I think that just about covers it. Personally, I don't hate Valentine's Day - it is rendered pretty obsolete by being only a few days after the boyf's birthday, which is much more important. I can understand why people don't like it, but you only have such a strong reaction if it means something to you, surely?

Also, I watched the film Valentine's Day, and not only did it present a very unrealistic view of relationships in general (not to mention American airport security), I couldn't help but notice that in the process of getting their happy endings, the main characters managed to ruin a lot of other people's Valentine's Days (especially that florist guy). The scene with all those flowers and vases and so forth scattered across the road and abandoned was an example of poor customer service that would make Mary Portas' nostrils turn white.

Glad that's cleared that up!

Going to sleep now, before all the good dreams are taken.


P.S.: Yes, you may be jealous of my reclaimed-jumper paperweight from Shetland!

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Just look at the kitten

Today, I am being very lazy as I should have been in bed some time ago as I am working tomorrow. I don't mind working on a Sunday, as the shops etc in England tend to be rather unreasonable about opening on one of the two days off a week the majority of their customers have, so I don't think I would be getting anything particularly productive done.

I haven't done all that much today, to be fair, just got enough sleep for once and worked through all the things I don't have time to do during the week (well, some of them). I think it's important to spend time doing nothing sometimes. It's something to look forward to when you are dragging yourself out of bed in the mornings.

This is all getting a bit whinging, so here is a picture of a kitten:

From, which is apparently a real website. Do they have a union?

Hopefully tomorrow I will be busy enough to be interesting! Apparently Sundays involve lots of different jobs to weekdays, and there's almost no one there. I'm still a bit excited about Monday's paper - all the events I picked at random to promote, all my recommendations in the newspaper!

Happy Chinese New Year, by the way (especially to my brother who phoned me today to say that he is in London, but who I unfortunately could not be in town to meet for dinner due to his forgetting to tell me in advance. Oh well, another time!), hope everyone is excited about rabbits. I have the best Chinese Zodiac sign - the dragon, which is just far cooler than any of the other animals and also imaginary (although there is a theory that Chinese dragons are just the Chinese way of depicting lions. I didn't think they had lions in China, but there you go).

Right, bedtime, will update you tomorrow on what it is like at a newspaper which is not facing an imminent deadline.


Saturday, 5 February 2011

In the bag

This is absolutely not a cop-out post because I'm very tired and I just want to do something generic and go to bed. Honest!

Actually, I am still excited about the World of Work, and am trying to come up with new ways of blogging about it (with out going all-out paparazzi in the office... for now) so you can share my excitement a little bit. Thinking of pictures to keep you entertained with is difficult, though! Therefore, today we have a what-I-keep-in-my-handbag-as-a-technically-employed-person post. Excited? 

Diverse things, mostly to keep me entertained on trains
(If you think anything is missing that would enhance my working experience, please let me know!)

In no particular order:

1. iPod. Yes, the basic mp3 player with no bells and whistles but lots of music and battery life. Currently playing a lot of The View, and Blood Hunt, which I have almost finished. It's helping me improve my Scottish accent!

2. Camera (the case is standing in, as if I could take a picture of my camera with my camera, I would be magic indeed), always essential in case something interesting happens. Blogging is extra pressure to have a more exciting life! It won't be long before I'm organising flashmobs and provoking passers-by just to have interesting things to photograph and post. 

3. Wallet (the white thing that says NANA in red). Beloved of cashiers and other random strangers, my wallet is still doing sterling service after probably too many years. Sadly a little empty at the moment, but I've resolved to be good! (You may notice that I did not, in fact, take the bag back. I'm trying to make up for it.)

4. Notebooks, pens etc. For keeping track of what I'm supposed to be doing, jotting down passwords and phone numbers and general writing purposes. The pretty swirly one is seeing most use keeping a record of where I am in Blood Hunt (audiobooks are much harder to pick back up than ordinary books).

5. Umbrella (the purple thing). Never leave the house without it. This is Britain, after all. 

6. Pocket mirror (in the little red and gold bag). Vanity is important, especially if you like poppyseed bagels or any food that isn't tooth-coloured. 

7. Keys (under pen and wallet). Pretty self-explanatory, really. 

8. Lipstick, lipgloss, nail polish. For essential upkeep on the go. 

9. Pompom hat! Seeing a lot of wear at the moment, especially as it has been incredibly windy recently (you heard it from the Register first!) and I don't like having to brush my hair more than three times a day.

That is all! (For now... my life is a constant battle between the desire for a functioning shoulder and unstrained back, and the need to have as many of my possessions as possible on me at all times.)

Today, I did quite a lot of pretty technical stuff, importing, cutting and formatting On this day stuff for the next few papers, putting in more work on the Monday page (which is really coming together now, despite our having to extend it to a full page as the ad didn't sell. I'm so proud!), phoning round for pictures for the Monday page, cutting up and filing the day's papers, sorting through the letters again, skim-reading a book to summarise and conducting a phone interview with the world's most boring couple. I also met The Godmother for lunch (fish and chips, although sadly I didn't have space for chocolate sponge and custard afterwards - why does Friday have all the best foods?), and we talked shop, which was fun. 

Now I really do have to go to bed, so goodnight! Hope everyone has a very excellent weekend.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Happy St Patrick's Day! (I may be a little early...)

Irishness, apparently
Today as I was leaving my very lovely...(supervisor? Boss? I'm not really sure what to call her... she gives me things to do, anyway. I'll settle for calling her Cat, which isn't her name but she does a great cat's-eye eyeliner flick)... gave me these, which were a present to the newspaper, I think, from Kerrygold, the butter people, in celebration of St Patrick's Day. They're a bit early, but that is how things are in newspaperland - I spend most of my time confused about what day it is, because we're always working on the paper for the next one (and sometimes even further ahead - I've been doing the Register page for Monday. The way things are going, everything on it that doesn't have a name on the bottom will have been researched, written and formatted by me. Look out for it! Also, nothing is happening on Monday. Anywhere. Which is a shame, as apparently it's the nation's favourite sick day. I suppose all the skivers will just have to stay in bed!).

The butter wil come in handy, I'm sure, and I have mixed feelings about the cupcake. On the one hand, cake is awesome. On the other, this particular cupcake has been made with stout and has Irish Cream Liqueur in the icing, and as far as I'm concerned, putting alcohol anywhere near sweet food is sacrilege. I don't even approve of pudding wine. So I'm not really sure if I should eat it... (I'm told that last year, they sent turkey-flavoured cupcakes, which sat on an absent journalist's desk for 3 days before they were tracked down. I honestly can't imagine what those would be like.)

It's very nice of Kerrygold to send out free food, so I'm linking to their website here in case you want to go and look at pictures of happy Irish farmers and cows and so forth. It also has an online recipe book, for all you budding Superchefs (and the real thing, of course)!

The sheet of paper explaining about the cupcakes and how nice the butter is included a little paragraph about St Patrick's Day, which is a 'special day' to 'celebrate with all things Irish', such as 'Street parties, Guiness drinkers and revellers dressed in green'. I'll have to seek these out next time I'm over there!

In other news, HRH King Arthur Merlin Pendragon is back, this time under the alias HRH King Samuel. I'm onto him...

Right, time to sign off and head for bed.


Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Another day, another nutter

The happy worker
I did promise a better post today. Therefore, you get a picture of what I consider appropriate workwear (there are people in the office in jeans! Just saying), and a list of things I did today:

1. Cut up papers (all the newspapers (well, all the good ones, I noticed a distinct absence of Mail or Mirror...)) and filed away their letters, register sections, obituaries and court circulars.

2. Came up with a list of recently-published books to use in later Out Now-style corner

3. Filed preprepared obituaries (it was a bit weird. There were tons of them - Steve Jobs, Nelson Mandela, The Edge (not to be confused with David Evans the politician), Prince Charles...) 

4. Rang round for press copies of the above books. Repeatedly for some - the Penguin press office has about 7 people in it and they were all out. It was amazingly easy to get hold of most of them, though - people were delighted to send me free books! 

5. Went through the letters (today: a 17-page letter addressed to 'Dave' (Cameron) from HRH King Arthur Merlin Pendragon (who can spell neither 'mafia' nor 'paedophile'))

6. Tracked down some TV and radio programmes and a DVD for Monday's Staying In bit, triple-checked the details and wrote up summaries

Quite tiring! All interesting stuff, though (well, maybe apart from the filing - there was a literal mountain of it). Looking forward to tomorrow, although I would be even more if I didn't have to get  up quite so early!

Not much else to say... I had some very delicious bacon-laced spaghetti for supper and am ready for bed!


Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Working girl

Tea for tomorrow! I should probably take some jaffa cakes too... I think I have enough to share
The tea is for The Godmother and W, I should add - that particular stereotype is holding off for now. In fact, I keep being offered tea or coffee! I'm working with some very lovely people. I say working - today I did a lot of looking things up on the internet (one area where I can safely say I'm a pro), double-checking things, and going through letters. Sadly no properly crazy ones today, just an old lady who was determined to set the record straight about when marshmallows came to the UK. 

I compiled a big list of wedding venues, and have made an important decision - if get married and actually have money to spend, I will be doing it either in a castle in the highlands (some of them are quite reasonably priced) or in the roundhouse in London how cool is this? 

I am (predictably) very very knackered after today, so must plead exhaustion and a proper post tomorrow (when I may even have my very own swipe-y identity card!).