Where there's a Willesden there's a way

Sunday, November 26, 2006

TGI Over!

It's very hard to get up early the next morning after a trip to TGI Friday's. Obviously I got the hell out of there at 10pm, but I was up until at least three washing my hands. Something about that place just makes me feel unclean.

I blame the staff. Why discreetly serve you food when they can announce at the tops of their voices, right in my ear, that they have a half rack of ribs and a cheeseburger, that's a half rack of ribs and a cheeseburger everybody. Pretty much interrupting everyone's conversation in the process.

Still, main thing is my mate was oddly cheerful, although I suppose it was his birthday. And as long as he enjoyed it then who cares about the irritating staff with their regulation quirky badges and incredibly slow and obstructive service.

Although I'm still expecting a woman in a red and white top to burst into my room at any minute announcing "Long Island Ice Tea. Who ordered a Long Island Ice Tea?"

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Nothing left to give!

I'm in a workshop on Adult Protection issues, which happens to be a pet subject of mine. I'm getting a reputation in Greenborough as being a bit of a policy geek. Which is just as well as I've been sent to this conference as the sole representative of my team straight after a sleep-in shift. It's made even harder when the workshop facilitator tells me I'm the only support worker in attendance, and everyone else there is at least as senior as my boss's boss's boss.

Still, I seem to be in the Greenborough Zone, as I'm doing most of the talking. And the senior people are all nodding in what I hope is impressed agreement. Because I'd like them to give fairly good feedback to my boss's boss about what a great team we are. And a new job in a different team wouldn't be bad either.

The Greenborough Zone is when I've been at work for *so* long I start forgetting what my flat looks like and give up on actually going home. For a while this is good (between 24-28 hours after leaving home), and then it's followed by the Greenborough Madness. Fortunately and unfortunately, Angella is joining me for the evening entertainment, so I won't be going to it alone. Neither will I be able to leave until at least 10pm, which is coming up to 34 hours after I left home. And I know I'll be cuckoo by this stage. I explain my dilemma to Angella, who lights up another fag and says "It sounds wonderful". I could use some of her enthusiasm at this point.

Sure enough, round 10pm I take money out of an extortionate cashpoint and drag Angella into a nearby club for that one or two rounds of drinks too many. And by 11.30 it's pretty apparent we're not going to get much past Earls Court.

According to my phone logs I called TfL information 3 times between 12.30 and 1.15am. I remember that, as we were in the middle of a pretty hefty storm, and my umbrella wasn't providing much protection. I'm starting to feel quite silly, as it's not like me to get lost in West London. However, Angella's still happy as ever, lighting a fag in the rain and saying "Look at that school over there, how wonderful!"

In the street in front of us there's a soaking man in a bodywarmer having a row with two passers-by. They hurry into a side street, and the man in the bodywarmer turns his ire to a sign saying wet paint. Unfortunately he then turns his attention to me, and heads a little too close to Angella. I'm just prepared to pull her out of the way when he suddenly runs into moving traffic. With a screech of breaks me and Angella head down the road in the pouring rain.

"That poor man", she says, lighting another fag. "What a wonderful storm though". Me and her see things differently.

Unfortunately the road we headed down has taken us even further from the bus stop we still can't find, and it's not even marked on the map. In fact, the only way I can think of to get home from here is to get a nightbus from Tyburn. Angella sits down, decides against another cigarette and announces "I'm fucking tired."

It's a bad sign when even her boundless enthusiasm runs short, and I sight the man in the body warmer heading towards us again. With a scarily smooth and decisive move I hail a cab, drag Angella into it and we head towards Marble Arch. "I got us lost, so I'm paying for it, OK?" I can only afford to be this principled on pay day. Obviously it's a scary £12, so I pay the taxi driver and ask him to never mention this again. And five minutes later we're on a bus back to Willesden.

At 2.30am, at least 38 hours since I last went home, I finally turn into Meteor Street, and run straight into my flatmates, one of whom is pulling up her jeans. I decide not to ask, and try to act casual. And obviously at this moment I slip on a wet leaf and fall flat on my back.

Yep, it's the Greenborough Madness. After this long spent doing work stuff, it's almost hard to conceive of doing anything else. During a very dull keynote speech at the conference, I worked out that I clocked up 49 hours this week, not counting the 3 sleep-ins (including a Sunday night) and the evening entertainment at the conference.

What I'm trying to say is "Would anyone mind if I stayed in bed today?"

Just saw this on the newswires.


LA- Officers from the LAPD were last night appealing for information about the whereabouts of four men following the death of a 48-year-old man in a bizarre traffic accident.

Police report that the man was killed instantly when his car overturned several times after being hit by an improvised explosive whilst driving through a large empty building site, causing severe head and neck injuries and burns to 80% of his body. The explosive device was thrown by a man described as wearing a baseball cap and an 80's style leather jacket. He escaped from the scene with three associates in a distinctive black van with a red trim motif. The driver of the van is described as a heavily built black male wearing a large amount of gold jewellery.

Eyewitnesses described that the dead man, who has not been named, had worked as part of an extortion racket targeting fearful members of the local community. A local shopkeeper who did not want to be identified for fear of reprisals told reporters that the wanted men had apparently been held prisoner for several hours by members of the gang before escaping and luring them into a deadly ambush. "I knew he was dead the moment the car overturned and burst into flames", the shopkeeper told NBC news, adding, "The whole thing seemed to happen in slow motion."

Police warn that the four men are highly dangerous and believed to be armed. The spokesman would not comment on whether the incident is linked to a number of violent deaths which have occurred throughout the state including the slaying of four men in a shootout at the derelict dockside, and an incident in a remote community in May when five members of the same family were killed when an improvised bulldozer crashed through the only gas station in town.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

In case you're wondering....

I'm working 1.30 today through to 5pm tomorrow. Which is why I'm putting off getting out of bed until the last minute.

Still, think of the happy faces of the service users. Nah, just the money...

Shiny Shiny. Shiny.

My 18 month contract is finally up, and it's time to say goodbye to my lovely s700 and hello to the shiny new n93.

For those of you who aren't absolute gadget geeks the N93 is the first phone to be able to use Wifi, has a fantastic quality video camera with a proper zoom and a flash and can hold up to 2Gb with the card Brother's getting me for Christmas. Which is pretty cool.

What's even cooler is that I might be able to actually use the phone in my flat. Annoyingly, despite having a transmitter within 10m of the house, there is no reception at all in my room on o2. Which has resulted in 18 months of walking round the kitchen shouting "Hello? Hello?". And having to make phonecalls under a tree in the garden, which is just no fun in the snow.

On top of that, my lovely phone broke within 5 days of getting it, meaning that I can't hold it up to my ear like everyone else with a mobile, but have to plug in the handsfree kit before I can talk. O2 offered to repair it, but would leave me without a camera or mp3 player for a months, which seemed too heavy a price to pay.

As a result of this I miss about 50% of my phonecalls, which does tend to irritate my friends a little.

So now I can be just like everyone else. Just a little cooler.

I'm outa here!

"Hey Chief, here's my annual leave request form."
"Cheers, when do you want off?"
"How many days in February?"

Due to a slight oversight on my part and working pretty crazy hours, I seem to have forgotten to take any of my annual leave since I arrived in Greenborough. In fact, every 9 weeks I seem to build up an extra week of time owing. No wonder I'm popular with the Chief at the minute.

So I thought a month off would be the way forward. Besides, February's the shortest month, so it's not asking for much.

Now I can finally write that novel about a disfunctional supported housing project...

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Special Day

Smooth B's looking a little uncomfortable right now. This isn't unusual for my bestest friend and drinking buddy as he always looks like that when I tell a story. However, on this occasion he's sitting on a stage in front of all his friends and family. And his bride is 2 hours late and counting.

Mog, Mr Mog and Brother are exchanging loaded glances. Finally Mog cracks and says it:
"Maybe she's...."
"Don't! Even! Think! It!" I snap back, a little too loudly. From the way people at the next two tables are looking at me I may have made things worse.

This is my third Hindu wedding, however, after the disaster of the last two I'm very glad to have a little posse around me at the minute. We're all feeling a little out of place, but the wedding is fantastic and after a while we all kick back and start to enjoy ourselves. Of course, I lose Brother when the chocolate fountain gets switched on. There's a very good reason why the staff are wearing brown shirts.

Of course the bride finally showed up, as did the wine. And I ended up at the front of the family-only civil ceremony in a little side room. I think if I was any more of a girl I would have started crying at that point. In fact, I was so loved up I even bought a round.

So congratulations to Mr and Mrs B. And cheers for the free bar.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

They do that round here...

Big Truth's berating me for taking a slow Friday night trip through scummy South London Suburbs.
"I mean where the hell are you now? And how come your phone's still working in Sevenoaks?"
"It's not Sevenoaks? And it's only my oyster card that's screwed."
"Well where the hell are you then?"
"I don't know, I lost count at New Malden."
"You've been at work since yesterday morning, it's Friday night, I'm going to a lesbian bar and your housemates have each brought a hot Scandinavian cousin home. So why the hell aren't you in West London?"
"Something to do with Uncle points. And it's not my fault my sister lives in the middle of nowhere."

Really, I should have complained about being in the middle of nowhen. Somewhere *way* beyond the borders of what could possibly be called South London, I'm hearing a lot of things that I haven't heard in a long time.

"X isn't here at the moment, can I take a message? No, I'm not sure where she is."
"Well, apparently she left work an hour ago but I don't know if she'll be wanting food. Let's wait till she gets back until we cook."
"Well, I waited for him for about an hour but he didn't turn up. I don't know where he got to."
"I hate that when you're running late and someone's waiting for you."

In desperation, I finally blurted it out: "Does no-one in this house actually have a mobile? Every problem you've had in the past 24 hours could have been solved by a simple text."
"Yeah, I thought about it, but I'm just worried if I got a mobile people would call me on it all the time."
"We settled that one years ago. We all decided to say sod it and buy one anyway. And now the culture of how we meet, travel and chat has completely changed and you two just seem odd."
"Well, 10 years ago no-one had a phone and we all survived."
"Yep, and 10 years ago staying in touch was a lot harder. And I spent too much time waiting for people. Just buy a sodding mobile."

My frustration grew a little later when I remembered I had a laptop full of photos of their son's first 4 months of life.
"Yeah, I'll get these to you...do you have any, um, technology?"
"Not really, no."
"How about if I print them out for you?"

It was maybe a little harsh. I've just got so used to all my technological aides, and am finding it hard to imagine life without being constantly in touch. Maybe I miss out by never being out of reach. I'm just wondering if there's a 1990's Amish movement I missed. Maybe there's more out there.

I'll keep an eye out for those next time I get on the slam-door train down south...

Friday, November 03, 2006

It must be hard being my boss...

My supervision is getting increasingly surreal. The Chief is clearly quite heavily dosed on flu medication, and it's possible that I might have spent a little too much time with my service users lately. So it's tricky to discuss sensitive issues at this time.
"Now just one last thing, [your client] has been making comments that you kissed Big Truth in front of him." Yes, he didn't stop talking about it for 3 hours after I'd kissed my colleague goodbye.
"Oh, yes I thought that might come up." Worse still, we'd been outside a pub at the time.
"I know you and her are friends, and that you usually do kiss each other outside of work when you see each other..."
"I know, and we don't usually do it in front of the clients, but this time I think we both genuinely forgot where we were for a second."
"It's really easily done."
"I know, and before we knew it we had our clothes off...."

I'm so glad I've got a boss who knows when I'm joking. At least 90% of the time.... I was also joking about coming into work still drunk the day after the stag night. And yet, for some reason, she gave me that day off.

Now, where was I? Seriously....

Electra, my housemate, hadn't seen me in two days when I crashed through the front door and collapsed tantalisingly close to my bed. This wasn't exactly unusual, so you'll understand why blogging's been a little slow lately.

I hadn't been home for two days because I'd been at work overnight, and I was drunk because Smooth B's been made redundant with just two weeks to go until his wedding. Under instructions from the future Mrs B to ensure he returned home safely I took a bullet for my friend. Several liquorice flavour bullets, to be precise. But I achieved the aims of my role, as we social workers put it. This was to listen to the pretty depressing story of his redundancy, agree that his company are, indeed, bastards, and of course make him laugh and remind him life doesn't suck. Knocking myself unconscious with strong drink wasn't exactly part of the plan, but it certainly counted towards the latter aims.

Yesterday wasn't the greatest day ever, and so maybe it's a relief that I can't remember a portion of it. And maybe it's a relief that I can't quite remember the electronic trail my debit card left around the pubs and clubs of west London.

I would say I'm never drinking again, but it's Smooth B's stag night on Saturday. My liver is never going to forgive me for this....