Where there's a Willesden there's a way

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Waiting for another day

Amidst the chaos of my room, there's one shelf in one cupboard that's absolutely sacrosanct. It's where The Bag lives, waiting for the day it comes off the shelf and goes back to work.

The Bag is a present from my mum, and it's definitely a social worker's bag. Or at least a social work assistant's bag. For three months I carried it around as part bag, part prop, part security blanket. Holding The Bag and wearing my ID, I could walk into stranger's houses, challenge racist statements, and empower even the most challenging individual to develop their lives. At least, I tried to do all of these. But holding the bag, I could be as nosy and forceful as a social work assistant needs to be.

Anyway, another job has come up, in the team at Hemel Hempstead. I could go for it, and if I did I'd almost certainly get it, as long as I sort the driving thing out. But rumour has it they're not as close as we are, and I know it's going to break my heart to leave Borehamwood.

But no harm in applying. And until I make a decision, The Bag sits and waits.


After a week of traffic fumes and stale office air, I had the perfect antidote; a fast walk in the humid air on Hampstead Heath.

I think I've shaken off the worst of the ear infection, and after a week of taking it easy as much as possible, it was time to let rip. I walked in a straight line as much as possible, strolling through thickets, grassland, mud and craters, before finally emerging on the side of Hampstead Hill, which invited me to climb it as quickly as possible. It was worth it for the view that emerged as I reached the summit; the City laid out in front of me. I felt I could reach out and touch it. With water depleted, I felt less a god and more a very thirsty man standing at the top of a hill on the first hot day of the year.

And only 45 minutes from home. Posted by Hello

Monday, April 25, 2005

Damien Day: Alive and Well

Mog's feeling a bit used at the minute. That'll teach her to talk to journalists.

In case you didn't know, Mog currently teaches in an inner-city community college with a fearsome reputation. Today, the A-level politics set had invited local candidates in for a debate. BBC London were there to cover it, having told the school that it would be a feature on their event.

Mog turned on excitedly to find that the content was indeed political. It contrasted her school with a local city academy they described as "state of the art", followed by her school as in "a state of decay". All that was missing was the number of a donations hotline.

Never trust the BBC, is all I can say. Maybe Alistair Campbell was right after all. It'll definitely teach her students something about politics though.

Stop the world from turning!

Ear infection's back with a vengence this morning. I feel fine as long as I don't try and move too quickly, and as long as there's a bit of furniture to grab onto whenever the world starts to move. This must be what it's like to be old. Incidentally, I'm going to be 25 this weekend.

I don't think I did myself any favours at the weekend though. It was the two parties in a row on Saturday that really knocked me out I think. When you're trying to take things easy, ending up really drunk at a stranger's house at 2am is usually a bad sign.

Bearing in mind that having a shower feels mildly dangerous at the minute, I'm removing myself from any situations that could be unsafe. That means crossing roads, catching trains, walking long distances and, therefore, going to work. Right now I feel like such a liar, as I'm sitting comfortably in front of my PC, which I could easily do in Borehamwood. However, after going to the kitchen I find I need to lie down, which I'm definitely not allowed to do at work.

But as I'm not ill ill, just ill, I've set myself a modest plan for today; tidying up, clearing up the debris from my roast dinner yesterday (indian themed roast chicken, since you ask) , and, of course, the OU assignment that I really should have posted on Saturday. It feels mildly wrong to be working for myself when I've said I'm too ill to work for my employers, which is why I've gone to such lengths to justify it to myself in this post.

On the bright side, Supernurse is coming down this weekend. Having tenuous attempts to organise ways for my friends and family to celebrate my birthday.

Right, I think I need to lie down again. Then I might have a shower. I think...

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Need a spin doctor...

I've found I feel fine as long as I don't try and lift my head. Otherwise it all starts spinning a little more than is comfortable.

I'm getting the first couple of signs of an ear infection, about 14 months after the last one took me down. Manager was standing over my desk with a pile of typing when I suddenly fell through it, a concrete floor and about 8 levels of basement. I hadn't moved at all, and Manager repeatedly assured me she hadn't either. But it definitely felt like my office had turned into a runaway lift.

Sassy Nurse says its called vertigo. It might be time to get some antibiotics in.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Extremely nigh

The woman with the carrier bags outside tesco is wearing a huge board declaring, I TRUST IN JESUS, the sun's rays are streaming over the gasworks and the pigeons outside the deli have been replaced by four pure white doves. Possibility of rapture: medium to rising. Possibility of getting my money back from that stupid bet:falling fast.

The vaguely sinister Cardinal Ratzinger was just declared Pope Benedict XVI, and any hope of a more liberal approach from the vatican went up the chimney with the ballot papers. Preventing overpopulation will continue to be a sin, as the Vatican continues to ensure that a woman's place remains in a very over-crowded home.

Urbi et Orbi indeed.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Putting my big money where my big mouth is

After telling far too many colleagues about my dream last night, I gave into their suggestions and decided to put a couple of quid on it. Of course, Paddy Power are the only ones to be running a book, and somehow the idea of going into a Willesden betting shop this late at night (or ever) was just too much for me. So I went online.

I decided to put a fiver on Cardinal Audrys Juozas Backis (Lithuania) at 125-1. And a quid on the next pope being called John at 14-1. As a special bonus, I put another on quid Ratzinger to be the next Pope & choose the Papal name John Paul, and a pound each way on the colour of the next smoke plume.

I am never allowed to do this again....

And it's war!

After this mornings little surprise visitor to the bathroom caused a slight shaving cut and my flatmate to see more than he intended of me, it's time to go into battle.

I've bought some clever little balancing mousetraps from B&Q, baited them with some very crumbly Wensleydale, and await results. I have a plan in mind, of course. They're the nice, tame mousetraps that don't hurt the mouse at all (we've all seem Tom & Jerry), so depending on the time of night I'll either take them down to the countryside near Moor Park or the toilets of Cricklewood McDonalds.

There's a time limit on all of this; if it doesn't work I'm considering buying one of those scary contraptions off the Internet. The one on the bottom right is manufactured by a company called something like Sinister Industries, employing high voltage to extremely "humane" effect. Looking like some bizarre remnant of the third reich, it even comes with a little red LED which comes on when there's 'waste' to be removed. And if there's no results in a fortnight, or one more disturbance to my morning routine, those mice won't know the meaning of the word naqba.

Failing that, I'm trying to befriend next door's cat. He's a bit on the tubby side though.

We're wide awake!

I wasn't exactly looking forward to this morning. Back at work after two weeks, and they'll probably get me doing the photocopying or something equally insulting. And that lousy computer system will still be casting its long shadow over my closing days in Borehamwood. Given that I've been up for getting out of the team ever since I heard about my job shift downwards, I really fancied going sick or something today.

Anyway, I was doing pretty well, as you can see from the time. My prophecies (read 'weird meaningless dreams') shook me out of bed an hour early, and I jumped into the shower, washed my hair and was halfway through shaving when I ran screaming from the bathroom (barely) wrapped in a towel.

A mouse had gone straight for my feet. And I really don't like mice when I'm naked.

Sadly, this was the one morning when the whole house was up early. I really wish they hadn't seen that.

The vision thing...

I've had some uncannily spot on prophetic dreams lately. They've mostly been about my ex getting in touch by text (and I received a text from her five minutes after waking up...), but when I sat up at about 6am after dreaming about the identity of the next pope, I thought it was a good moment to make a coffee, compare the facts and get something written down. So here goes....

I dreamt that a Pope John XXIV was chose after two votes at the Vatican, and that he was a dane called Willis/Higgis. He was quite a big, jocular sort of man, and wore the traditional papal outfit supplemented with a thing around his shoulders in blue and yellow check. And a ruby ring.

Comparing this with the facts, it looks like I'm way off. There hasn't actually been a Danish cardinal for several hundred years. Although Audrys Juozas Backis, 68, from Lithuania bears a more than passing resemblance to the man in my dream.

Probably nothing at all. But you never know, by this time tomorrow you could all be falling at *my* feet!

Oh, and it wasn't Ratzinger. I can dream can't I?

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Blue Ducks

Finally made it out of Harlesden, and visited the Wetlands Centre in Barnes.

It's a bit of a shock to the system to find yourself in such an oasis 10 minutes outside of Hammersmith (via the catchily-titled Duck Bus), and even worse coming back. The centre has an observatory, themed to look like an airport departure lounge, and a huge array of habitats and residents, which you can see by walking round, or for the more elusive visitors, you can whisper quietly in a hide. Saw a white-headed duck- which has an unnatually bright blue beak, and two blue ducks, which apparently can't be seen anywhere else in the UK.

Alright, so it's not everybody's thing, but much more healthy than staying in all day. Everyone should go.

I feel like I'm having a bit of a blue duck week, to be honest.

Delete as appropriate

Cruising through the Hertfordshire countryside in the sun yesterday afternoon, a song started playing in my head. Much to the discomfort of my fellow passengers, I hadn't realised I was singing along.

"When you get to where you wanna go
And you know the things you wanna know
You'll be so high you'll be flyiiinng."

The man in the next seat jolted me back into reality without even looking round to talk to me.

"In a moment I'm going to ask you to carry out an emergency stop..."

That's been happening a lot lately.

So now I'm back on the bus crawling through Harlesden and reflecting on my seventh unsuccessful driving test. It would seem that they're not particularly tolerant of harmless eccentricities like singing, tapping on the wheel or cutting up Ford Escorts. I blame The Man.

The Man is known in Watford as a particularly strict senior driving examiner, who failed me on two consecutive tests two weeks apart before I even got out of the car. In both cases I failed the bay park by a matter of inches and otherwise drove just fine. It was scant revenge to terrify him on the second test with a suicidal lane change.

Back to yesterday, and the examiner was young, tall and lanky, which I took to be a good sign. I'd traveled all the way to St Albans to escape my nememis, and he seemed a decent replacement. He introduced himself, and gestured to a previously empty corner.

"And this is The Man, who will be sitting in on our test today, unless you have any objections."

Somehow the correct response failed to come out of my mouth. It would have been something like:
"I'd rather you didn't, if that's ok. You're not a driving examiner, you're a human embodiment of all the negative chance events holding back my career, and that might put me off a little."

My instructor reckons he would have passed me if he wasn't being supervised by The Man. And it doesn't *sound* like I cut up that Ford Escort. She says I was just unlucky. Again. I make that 4-2 to the Forces of Chaos this year.

5-2 if you count the squash bottle full of urine that's rolling up and down the top deck of my bus. Probably best to keep my feet on the seats.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

In Somerfield this afternoon, which was absolutely the most interesting thing which happened to me today. That you'll hear about. It's the end of an era for the people of Willesden, as Saturday sees the last day of our tatty but loved supermarket. Somerfield has always been one of the fixtures of the High Road, and until now the area's resisted all those gentrified larger chains. It's becoming a Sainsbury's now, which is a sure sign the area's starting to go middle class. For now it's being run down, and as we wander around creepy empty shelves, it's time to wave goodbye to our old store and any possibility of following a recipe. Let's just say this evening's dinner was Egg Surprise.  Posted by Hello

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Ethical purchasing

I've been out shopping.

Lacking any real purpose for the usual drive I have at lunchtime, I I decided to go and buy some stuff. Nothing I actually needed, apart from the eardrops, but I decided to stock up on incense and ultra hippy wristbands, which I really needed to buy at the minute.

Make poverty history, that's all I can say. And earwax. Posted by Hello

The greatest love of all

I think I've had a bit too much to drink tonight. I was talking to the adverts again.

"...Imagine a world where your loyalty is rewarded, and the good offers aren't just for new customers."

"Please be O2. Please. Please."

"See our website to see what O2 can do for you."


In my life I've cheated and abused my girlfirend, argued with female relatives, and compulsively lied to my managers. But if there's one thing in my life I've been loyal to, it's my phone company. And it looks as if all my loyalty is finally about to be rewarded.

We've been together five years now. It's our anniversary next month.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Holiday starts here

Heading north into St Albans today, the first thing to loom up in front of me was St Albans Abbey, the yellow cross flying at half-mast. It may be a protestant church (now), but I think we all know what that's for.

Met up with Brother for lunch, and spent a refreshing two hours reading a book in the shadow of the cathedral and doing *nothing*.

I think I'm getting the hang of this holiday business. Posted by Hello

Saturday, April 02, 2005

There's a novel in this one...

Some things you don't need to know

If you're frightened of dyin'...

...and you're holding on...
You'll see devils tearing your life away.
But...if you've made your peace,
Then the devils are really angels
Freeing you from the earth"


Friday, April 01, 2005

April Fool

It's traditional for the jokes to stop after midday today. Evidently that doesn't apply to me as I'm still here, and time is rapidly running out for my managers to come out and say that my career leap backwards is just an elaborate practical joke.

If I do want a real joke, it's the fact that yesterday I spent the whole day ploughing through a pile of emergency duty social work calls, and today it's a pile of photocopying. Oddly enough I'm finding it hard to take an interest.

Yes it's depressing, but it serves as a reminder that no matter how much I want to stay, it's definitely time to leave.

But I've got a whole two weeks to sort this out. For now I just have to face the paperwork, whatever virus is taking over my immune system, and a manager who's yet to get into the spirit of April 1st.