Where there's a Willesden there's a way

Monday, November 29, 2004

But seriously...

We're having some problems.

Manager's on his way out tomorrow, and my mate's still off work. And Brother's ill, which means he's going to be sneezing and feeling sorry for himself for a few more days.

But I've got some family things to deal with. So I'm going to take some time off work and try and sort it out.

And I might try and head up to Oxford again. I'm feeling quite Oxfordy at the minute. And there's a couple of friends I'd really like to see.

Bonsoir, old thing, cheer-i-o, chin, chin...

It's Manager's last day tomorrow, as he sails away to face another challenge. He's a bit of a troubleshooter, so it's probably a compliment he thinks his work is done. He's off to find another troubled field to sort out and leave us in great condition.

Although he also claims he hasn't done any work for a year. I'm taking that as a compliment.

Senior Worker wanted if anyone knew the words to "Goodbye-ee". She was heading for a social care joke neatly mimicking the words, and needed a starting point. It proved a good point to demonstrate the power of Google.

"Goodbye-ee, goodbye-ee,
Wipe the tear, baby dear, from your eye-ee!
Tho' it's hard to part I know,
I'll be tickled to death to go.
Don't cry-ee, don't sigh-ee,
There's a silver lining in the sky-ee,
Bonsoir, old thing, cheer-i-o, chin, chin,
Nap-poo, too-dle-oo,Goodbye-ee."

Apparently. I still can't decide if it's one of those sinister First World War Keep the Cannon Fodder Happy songs. Decide for yourself.

I think I'm going to miss the old git. Who's going to call me tubby and make me laugh now?

And give me a career. Let's not forget about that one.

December is all I can see...

Winter's here. There's no avoiding it now.

On my way into Asda, I passed a cute parisian couple holding hands wrapped in brightly coloured scarves and warm berets. I was imagining a glamourous view of an attractive winter, watching the stars and moon in the crystal clear sky, when my train of thought was interrupted by an old man with a hacking cough. Somehow, that seems more realistic.

Walking around Asda, the few shoppers who had bothered turning out were walking listlessly around the supermarket, half-heartedly piling shiny groceries in their trolleys, barely looking at the labels. In the queue, Band Aid 20 come over the sound system, so I hurriedly turned on my walkman. I was musing on how Thoughts of a Dying Atheist could easily be a Christmas song.

I know the moment's near
and there's nothing we can do
look through a faithless eye
are you afraid to die?

It scares the hell out of me
and the end is all I can see
and it scares the hell out of me
and the end is all I can see

Maybe it should be on my next Christmas Compilation. Along with Simon the Boxing-Day Arsenist 20.

Speaking to the man on the checkout, I asked why it had been so quiet.

"It's been like this all day" he said. "I'm not shopping myself, I've got credit cards to pay off."

"It's almost as if everyone just decided, for one day, not to go out and buy any rubbish."

He smiled.

"Imagine if everyone decided not to buy anything at all, and decided to do something better, like go for a walk in the fresh air, or go and see a film."

Looks were exchanged in the queue. I put my microwave curry in a bag, said goodnight and disappeared into the night. It was probably for the best.

Right you...

Working in and around Borehamwood, you can spend a lot of time tutting self-righteously at single drivers chugging along in an urban tractor. And now it's maybe time to do something about it.

So http://www.wastemonsters.org.uk/ seems to be the answer. The classic SUV ticket, redesigned for an audience that calls them 4x4s.

Time to fire up the photocopier.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Keeping OW!t of trouble

It's been a strange weekend. As payday's not until Tuesday, I've been mostly staying in, eating whatever I've got in the fridge, taking the occasional walk and just avoiding any situation that could possibly be challenging and expensive. The car fire and electrocution haven't helped.

Last night, for example, I was just enjoying a (free) ebook of Caesar's Column, when Brother pointed out a flash outside. Some ratboys had decided to set fire to a car outside, and as I went outside to investigate, a couple of explosions engulfed my back garden in a massive plume of fairly toxic smoke. I'm sure that can't have been healthy.

And today, too, its been raining, and I still have very little money, I decided to take a shower, and first decided to give the hot water a boost. I now have burns on my fingers, and a slightly elevated sense of my own mortality.

My friend tells me I was lucky. It was only 210 volts.

I'm always being told the majority of accidents happen in the home. So staying in is no defence against trouble.

Roll on payday. I've got £13 left.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Just the usual

Brother and I are on our way to an art exhibition in Brick Lane.

Being unable to find Sister we stopped in the nearest bar we could find. Which turns out to be a strip club.

A transexual strip club.

It's going well so far.

Problem is, I think the toilets are downstairs. And there's a velvet curtain in the way.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

"Cloying" seems the right word

By the end of day one only two of my first group were considering resigning. It's going better than i expected.

Given the almost messianic zeal for a new computer package or restraint technique trainers tend to show, it must be a weird experience to be taught to use Iris by someone who hates the system and isn't exactly crazy about computers in general.

My plan was to keep it simple. Yes, there's a load of fancy features. But let's face it, my group are never going to use most of them, and the majority are going to struggle with the essentials.

Of course, it would have been nice to have done more than an hour of training. The enthusiastically annoying woman who wrecked an entire fortnight in teaching me this system was supposed to sit in on my first morning and make sure I was ok. Of course, she's not the kind of person who can sit quietly, and within 10 minutes had completely taken over, confusing my team with all the things anyone who had worked with them would know they'd find irrelevant and confusing.

Like most people selling a product or service, she's convinced that her product is going to become the centre of our lives and just can't see beyond that.

Still, it was nice to hear everyone sit round and slag her off. And Sarky Nurse can do the *best* impressions of her.

I think my colleagues are getting a bit idea of exactly why I went nuts whilst stuck out in Stevenage.

Monday, November 15, 2004

If it's Hatfield, it must be Monday

The guy opposite me on the bus looks like he wants to give me a slap. Funny, I want to give me a slap too.

I'm heading to Hatfield for Day One of my Iris training. It's not unheard of for me to go into a training course half dead after five hours sleep (disasterous journey home and poorly timed bout of insomnia). Except of course I'm running the training. Shit.

From my previous post you might have noticed that I have a few reservations in teaching this big budget behemoth to my brilliant but only partly computer-literate team. And last week's staffing crisis precluded any lesson planning on my part. And I don't where the place is, so I'm hoping I can keep my wits about me when I get to town.

On the bright side I can blame my mum. I always need a drink after asking her advice:
"Well, I'm not going to say it, but you had all that time to learn to drive when you were 17."
"But you did say it."

It's either the smart phone, the flat hair, or the Cappucino-shaped travel mug (probably the least cool thing I've bought in my adult life), but I feel a right berk this morning. Maybe a slap would help.

And I'm praying that's not my breath.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Love, death and Asperger's Syndrome

My mate's mum just died. I feel really helpless.

Usually when shit things happen there's something you can do. Somehow buying and delivering a sympathy card doesn't seem enough. I'd like to think my own experience gives me a bit of insight, and I know you just have to be around and be prepared. Much as I wish I could protect my mates from horrible things I know I can't.

A young guy wandered up to me and Barnes in the pub on Sunday. He had a pretty good introduction prepared, then he seemed to run out of conversation and look at the ground. I was beginning to suspect Aspergers. When Barnes came back from the bar he was telling me about ther colours of different banknotes.

"It's getting dark in the evenings."

"Yeah, you notice it once the clocks go back."

"It's traditional."

"I don't have to be here", he told me.

"Of course you don't. No-one has to."

"It's traditional." A long pause. I started to write a text. "I'm going to die one day."


"One day."

"Does that bother you?" Psychology 101.

"It's traditional. I don't know why."

"Everything's got to die. That's the point of being alive."

"It's traditional."

"It's more than that. Summer wouldn't exist without winter. Daytime wouldn't mean anything without knowing nighttime is coming."

A long pause. "It's traditional."

Death's probably scarier if you can't do abstract concepts. I still stand by this cycle of life stuff, and day will always follow night, Spring from winter and, at least in terms of atoms it's spiritually and scientifically true. But unless you buy into the reincarnation of the soul or the promise of eternal life, it's not much comfort on an individual level to know your loved one's molecules will live again.

Shopping for sympathy cards was a trial. They're full of nice, poetic images about passing over to the Other Side. Very comforting if you believe in an Other Side, otherwise you need to keep looking.

I think I looked at one card too many.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Extremely fucking nigh

They say you get the leaders you deserve. In which case Americans are self-gratifying, war-mongering cheats who can go and fuck themselves.

Alright, to be fair they didn't elect Bush.There's pretty overwhelming evidence Bush's cabal of psychotic zealots fixed it last time, and no sign that anything has changed. Vote rigging, intimidation & disenfranchisement of minorities. Saddam would be proud.

It's hard to imagine how much damage a second Bush term will do. But soon we won't have to.

International law, treaties, human rights and the environment- all guaranteed to go out the window with renewed vigour.

And they wonder why none of us are paying into pension plans. Or giving up smoking.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Everything's not lost

Well, we're screwed. All we've got to look forward to is another 4 years of war and hate. Right?

"Protect and survive" was insprirational. An ordinary couple, getting on with their lives in the way all of us do. Against the inconvient backdrop of total nuclear war.

What's going to happen is we're going to get on and live. Most people don't know about human rights violations in the West Bank or the growing frustration in the Middle East. Or the missing Plutonium stockpiles in Russia.

The rest of us will take advantage of the peace we've currently got, and accept the situation we currently enjoy. as the norm, and live, love and raise children as if that's all there is. And not read newspapers.

And hope WW3 doesn't sneak up on us.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Ten four

I'm struggling at the minute to come up with something original to say about the election.

Short of the usual Bush-bashing (which I really have done to death now) and lots of cliches like "Too close to call" and "electoral irregularities." Yes, us Europeans are never going to understand the flag-waving and continuous pandering to patriotism, the unconvincing attempts by two rich white men to be men of the people, or how anyone could take either of the wooden puppets seriously. But it's a different culture entirely over there where "public" and "liberal" are pretty mcuh insults, and within a different political culture and we have to trust in our American cousins to make the right choice. Which is obviously to dump the half-wit they've currently got.

From the massive queues outside the polling stations it's pretty clear that whatever's being said is being said loudly. Do I hear a distant echo of '97 and "Things can only get better?" Well, you never know. At the end of the day, too close to call, down to the wire etc. Wow, it must be so easy to be a copy writer on ITV news.

How about this one then. Sun disappearing behind an all-suffocating black cloud. Caption "If George Bush wins tonight, will the last person on earth please turn out the lights?" It's probably been done before.

Let's face it, everything else has been.