Saturday, June 30, 2007

Celebrity Lookalikes


I found this on the internet. You upload a photo of your face to the website, then it shows you some pictures of celebrities that look just like you. That’s the theory, anyway! I tried it with a few different photos of me and it wasn't amazingly accurate – it repeatedly gave me Mariah Carey (well, maybe on a good day, and with a bit of plastic surgery!) but mostly it seemed to think I’m Chinese! Oh, and I also look like Eric Idle. Great!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Clear Out

Raj came round this evening. He likes to read my Heat magazine (though would never admit it) so he read out bits of article to me whilst I cleared out the hall cupboard. I do love a good cupboard sort out, you always discover things… this time I found paint pots and brushes and they are now sitting out waiting for me to use them. Raj was planning to fly me to France on Sunday in his little stripey plane but, the weather being as blowy as it is, I think I will paint some walls instead.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Let Me Eat Cake!

This evening Charles and I joined his friend Madge for a concert in St George’s, Hanover Square. The music itself was unremarkable – nice enough, but not really worth travelling into London for – and I spent the evening fidgeting about on my hard pew to try and ease my throbbing backache, and wondering how soon the concert would be over so that we could go home. (Being the strange person that I am, however, I was also pleased to be there because I felt very cultured spending my evening listening to classical music in a church. Work that one out!)

My tummy was rumbling when we came out and I had the happy idea of saying goodbye to Madge and settling down at a nice, cosy table in a dark restaurant corner to canoodle romantically with Charles over coffee and cake before going home. A nice way to end a civilised evening, I felt. Unfortunately I didn’t communicate this very well to Charles.

“Is there somewhere near here that we could get something to eat?” I whispered invitingly into his ear.

“Yes, sure!” he said, looking pleased – then invited Madge along to eat as well. I suppose I should have expected that one, it’s only polite. But suddenly they were discussing entire meals rather than snack-ettes of cake:

“Do you fancy a curry?” Charles asked me.

“Um – god no!” I wanted a ten minute canoodle then home to bed, not an hour’s solid eating followed by rushing to catch the last train.

“What about a pizza?”

“No, not really!”

Giving up on me he looked at Madge. “Hey, I know a place that does good pitta breads and it’s really cheap too, shall we go there?”

she said… and I suddenly found myself being trotted halfway across London, up dark roads and down dingy alleyways to the bright lights and sleaze of late night Soho. Charles and Madge walked along chatting to each other and I brought up the rear, thinking, “Eh? Where we going? Where’s my cake? SOHO?!!”

Eventually Charles led us into a kind of MacDonalds-with-pitta bread place. All I can say is – dear god! The place was a post-pub Yob Land, packed with groups of drunken people milling about in search of a kebab. It was brightly lit by fluorescent strip lighting, the wipe-clean, plastic tables were all crammed together so tightly that once you managed to squash yourself into a seat you were pinned there indefinitely until the person behind you decided to move their chair, and the place had a grotty, take-away feel to it. As a bloke drunkenly dropped his coast on my head, my cosy vision of romance and cake floated away into the night like a pretty and unobtainable bubble, and burst into nothingness with a pathetically small pop. This place wasn’t at all what I had in mind – no canoodling, no nice atmosphere – and no cake! I really must learn that Charles doesn’t do telepathy and that I need to spell things out for him!

Last week, when Charles had visited this very place with another friend, he had been full of moans about what an awful, sleazy place his friend had taken him to. But now he was obviously having a change of heart because he eagerly tried to convince me how good the place was. Or maybe he was just hungry.

“It’s really cheap!” he said, “and look how much food you get for your money. And you can go back and fill up your pitta bread as often as you like – for free!”

Hmm, yes, because of course I’d want three extra helpings of crap!

Looking around the cafĂ©… restaurant… eaterie – whatever you want to call it – I thought I’m obviously missing something. Charles liked this place (at least, this week he did), so did Madge, and so did his other friend last week. So, apparently, did all the drunk people. But I could honestly think of no reason to ever come near the place except for sheer starvation of Ethiopian proportions. And even then I’d rather eat my handbag.

I think I must just be a snob (although I prefer to call myself ‘someone with taste’!).

Friday, June 15, 2007

How Useful!

In my building at work there is a brand new meeting room. It looks fabulous. It has a shiny new table in the middle of the room. It has lots of brand new, cushiony chairs, still in their plastic wrappers. It has a cosy armchair in one corner, and some nice, lush plants to add ambience. It couldn't be more perfect!

A carefully typed notice has been taped to the door, which reads:
'For health and safety reasons this room should not be used for any meetings.'

Thursday, June 14, 2007


Girlie topic alert! (Boys, feel free to click away now!)

Why is it that, when you’re pre-menstrual... one minute you haven’t got the energy to get your fat arse off the sofa, there is just a vacant space where your brain used to be, you are feeling tearful, tired and downright grumpy… but then as soon as you scarf down a big bar of chocolate (well, OK, two!) it suddenly all goes away? Suddenly your brain is working again and you're capable of having a thought outside of "Myeurgh, I'm sooo miserable!" Suddenly you’re bouncing around the flat, feeling perky, and looking for exciting things to do (hoovering anyone?). Suddenly your grumps have gone walkies and you’re grinning at everyone on the TV as though they were real people...

It's odd! But yay for chocolate!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Being Civilised

A strange trait I have noticed in myself (and Charles admits to this too, so at least I’m not the only one!)...

Tonight we went to a small guitar concert. There we were in a little white room filled with rows of somewhat uncomfortable chairs, sipping orange juice, surrounded by an audience of elderly men with hair sprouting out of their ears and middle aged ladies wearing saggy cardigans and meaningful expressions, whilst we all listened to a girl play her guitar. And, whilst I do like guitar music, I have to say that the stuff we were listening to was a wee bit on the boring side. In reality I would have enjoyed myself far more if I had been lying on the sofa in my nightie, watching the final of The Apprentice, and scarfing down chocolate and cold milk.

Yet, instead of wishing myself elsewhere, I found myself feeling pleased that I was spending such a civilised Summer evening listening to a guitar concert in Richmond Park! I obviously have a strong ‘inner snob’!

* * * * *

Big things that happened today:

Charles got a new job (woo hoo!)
My work announced that they are having a re-jig and it's possible that I may be made redundant towards the end of the year (crap!)
Charles said, "WHEN we live together" instead of "IF we live together" (yay!)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

How to Be Happy

At work we are having a series of events for National Smile Week. This morning I went along to listen to a motivational speaker called Pete Cohen, who was talking about happiness. Apart from the fact that I got a nice goody bag that was full of balloons and cute little presents (wahey!), it was a really good talk, very positive and uplifting.

When the talk was advertised around the site I did my usual thing of letting my fear get in the way… I didn’t know anyone else who was going to the talk, so I told myself that maybe I wasn’t supposed to be there and everyone else would stare at me, maybe people would look on me badly for not being hard at work at my desk, blah blah blah… god my mind can be pathetic sometimes... but I like motivational talks, so I told myself to shut up and went along anyway! And funnily enough that’s pretty much what the talk was about – shutting up the voice in your head, choosing to do things differently!

One of the themes in the talk was that you are the person you choose to be. For example, if you tell yourself, “Oh I’m a real worrier, I can’t help worrying about stuff, that’s just me,” that’s actually not true. You don’t come out of the womb clutching your forehead and thinking, “Gosh I’m worried,” – you choose to worry and so it becomes a habit. So hey, choose to be a happy person instead! Makes sense!

My worst battle has always been with shyness rather than with happiness, but it’s a similar choice I think. When I was in my teens my friend fixed me up on a date with her brother, who I had liked from afar when I saw him sitting cross-legged in a field once. (Well I lived in a rural area, it’s what we did back then!!) On the day of the date she said to me kindly, “Don’t worry, I’ve told him you’re shy.” For some reason I felt I had to live up to the description of being shy as best as I possibly could. So I didn’t say a single word the whole evening. Just sat there looking a bit sad. He never spoke to me again, I can’t imagine why!

Conversely, when I first met Charles I wanted him so badly that I booted my shyness up the bum, took a deep breath, and went over to speak to him, trying my hardest to appear Miss Chatty-and-Interesting. I’m not sure how well I succeeded at that, but I know I’d sure as hell have got nowhere at all if I’d have said to myself, "I can't talk to him, I'm shy," and stood in the corner all afternoon looking at the floor!

Another thing Pete Cohen mentioned is that a lot of people see happiness as something to be earned. They tell themselves that when such and such happens I will be happy – when I have this house or that car, when I have achieved my business aims I will be happy, when I retire I will be happy. But of course that’s daft. You don’t buy a car, or reach the age of 65, and then suddenly PING! you are a happy person forever more! What changes your life for the happier is not what you buy, or have, or achieve, it’s changing your own perspective on the world around you. For example, I love writing this blog. But it’s not finishing an entry, or achieving a years worth of entries, that gives me that feeling of happiness, it’s the actual writing of the blog that does that. It’s ‘enjoying the doing’ – and I can feel that right at this moment, I don’t have to wait for a time way down there in the future when I’ve ‘earned’ it.

The talk was reasonably interactive, with the audience being asked to say or do various things. I got a clue that I might have a tendency to be a wee bit over-analytical sometimes when Pete Cohen said, “Turn to the person next to you and tell them what makes you happy.” I turned to my neighbour and said I am happy when I am in the moment, not worrying about the future or thinking about the past but just being fully in the moment. Blah blah. Everyone else gave one word answers! (The bloke in front of me said, “Beer!” Hmm, deep!)

Anyway, I thought Pete Cohen was bloody good! I felt positive and uplifted and ready to make changes. I was really disappointed when it came to the end of the talk, wanted to have a mini Pete Cohen to carry around on my shoulder all day spouting his stuff! But never mind, I will just have to remember the nice, positive feeling that I have now. And to stop listening to the duck in my head (yes, apparently there is one, quacking away in there!).

Monday, June 11, 2007

1950s Heaven

Dropping Charles off at his flat the other day, he sat next to me in the car for ages, rabbiting on about nothing in particular. I wasn’t sure why he seemed so reluctant to get out, and was about to nudge him through the car door, when suddenly he announced that he thought maybe we should live together. Woo hoo, you could have knocked me down with a feather, I wasn’t expecting that one!

Charles is very cautious about these things – “If we carry on getting on this well,” he said, “maybe in a few months time we should think about possibly moving in together. Maybe at the end of the year we could possibly buy a place. It might work. We’ll have to see.”

I must admit, I would have liked a wee bit more enthusiasm – something along the lines of, “Hey, I love you and I can’t live without you, let’s move in together right now… and, by the way, here’s a huge shiny engagement ring!” would have been more my thing. I can’t see the point of wasting all this time – if we’re going to do it, I just want to get on and do it! But you can’t expect a cautious person to throw his worries to the wind, so I’ll just have to make do with the fact that we have a vague plan for half a year away and be glad that at least we’re moving in the right direction! It’s hard – Charles moves so much more slowly than I do – I was ready for this over a year ago and I’ve had to dredge up so much patience to wait until his mind catches up with mine! (I have to say, he is worth the wait though.)

Anyway, we haven’t discussed it properly yet – so far we’ve just flung a few semi-humorous comments at each other, along the lines of:

“If we live together we’re going to have to do such and such.”

“That’s what you think – if we dooo ever live together I’m bloody not doing that, we’re going to do it this way!”



From these meaningful, adult discussions I have gleaned a few possible hurdles that we’ll have to overcome if our dream of ‘living together bliss’ is to happen:

One is that I have worked my way up the property ladder from my first studio flat with a nice balcony to my current one bedroomed flat with a secluded garden, whereas Charles is renting and, therefore, for him, anything with a mortgage is a step up. So he doesn’t quite get that I don’t want to go backwards down the ladder to some smelly old flat without a garden when I’ve worked really hard over the years to get this far. Hey, this time round I want a mansion and a private swimming pool!

I also get the feeling that Charles thinks it’s OK to try to make your partner (ie me!) act in a way that befits your vision of an ideal relationship – to change their bad habits (not that I have any of those, mind you!), and to make them have a sense of responsibility. Whereas I’ve learned that you can’t force anyone to have a sense of anything – it’s either there or it’s not – and if you try to force your opinion onto your partner, however well-intentioned you are, you will actually force nothing but power-struggles and resentments onto the relationship, and kick love merrily out of the window. You have to love each other just as you are, bad habits and all, for better or for worse! Also, having survived a very controlling marriage in the past, I’m a bit over-sensitive on this one, and therefore likely to over-react if poor Charlie-boy so much as suggests I should have coffee instead of tea one evening!

The final thing (and a biggie) is our very different views on money. Charles is a thoroughly modern man in that he thinks debt is a normal part of everyday life and, whilst he moans about having to make the interest payments on his credit cards each month, he’s the first to admit that if he managed to clear his credit cards he would quite happily run up some more debts on them. That’s what credit cards are for! He thinks just a month ahead, rather than months or years into the future, and doesn’t get the concept of saving money for when the bills come in, or of making your money work for you. Whereas I’m more granny-like in my views on finance – the thought of being in debt, even by a penny, scares me silly and I will do anything to avoid it. I will pick up pennies in the street even if they have dog poo on them. And I deeply resent the idea of handing many thousands of pounds of my hard-earned income over my lifetime to the banks when I could have bought myself a car, or a dream holiday, or even a house with that money – I think it’s daft that people choose to give an enormous wodge of their wages to the bank for the privilege of receiving nothing but threatening letters in return, and dying of a heart attack from reading their monthly bank statements. And, hey, if you’re not in debt the banks actually give you some of their money, and why would anyone not want that?! Basically mine and Charlie-boy’s views on money are poles apart – but the positive side to this is that, if we can get through this one, then I think we will get through absolutely anything together!

All in all, I actually think we’ve got what it takes to have a good, solid relationship. Charles, like most men, has a tendency to think he knows better than you do when you try to explain something, so he doesn’t always take on board exactly what you are trying to tell him. However, when he does listen he’s very good at it and listens properly, takes everything on board and thinks about it seriously. At these times he’s very nearly as good as a woman! He’s also the kind of person who you know will be there for you when you need him – he’s not one of those blokes who exits the room at top speed if he thinks you might have an emotion in front of him, but just takes all tears and unintelligible mumbles in his stride, opens up his arms and lets you snot all down his chest! What a man!

And, as for me, I refuse to let petty things get in the way of a relationship. I think that what matters is that you love and support each other no matter what. So I’m not going to make a big deal if Charles wants to pick his nose and flick bogies around in the shower. And if he decides he wants to change career and become a maggot farmer, or take up animal stuffing for a hobby, I’ll support him nonetheless!

I also think our preferences will work well together. I quite like doing the housewifely thing – cooking and cleaning, looking after the house. I was born in the wrong era – I would have enjoyed being a 1950s housewife, pottering round the house each day flicking a feather duster about, and greeting my hubby’s return from work with a welcoming smile and a tray of freshly baked fairy cakes. Charles, meanwhile, has more cerebral things to get on with. He often works through the night, going to bed at 5 or 6am, and housework is a frustrating chore that gets in the way of his work. So that would suit us both! (And the one thing I hate with a vengeance – doing the dishes – Charles is happy to do! Yee har!)

Anyway, proper discussions will commence shortly I am sure – we’ll do a few more “Hmph”s and “Yeah”s and see where we end up!

In 1950s heaven I hope!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Job Stress

Charles has been having so many problems with work, and particularly his bosses, over the past year or so. In recent weeks he has barely gone into work at all – he just couldn’t face it, and wanted to concentrate all his time on searching for a new job. He was even having chest pains, which worried me a little!

Anyway, things came to a head this week and he has been allowed to give zero days notice and just leave.

I think he’s really brave doing that, leaving without a job to go to. Lots of other (wussier) people wouldn’t. And I’m sure it’s the best thing too – he doesn’t have to go into work or argue with his boss again – after all, it’s stressful enough job hunting without that going on too!

I’m a bit worried about how he’ll do for money between now and his next wage packet though (which obviously is at least a month away and likely longer). I wish I could afford to just give him some dosh but obviously it would be a bit dim to get us both into debt, one of us needs to stay solid. But I’ll have to keep his food cupboards stocked up, make sure he doesn’t starve, at least! And of course, if it comes to it, he can move into my flat so that he doesn’t have to worry about rent.

Ooh, scary for him! Here’s hoping he gets a good job that he can be happy in, and quickly!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

New Book

Although it might not seem like it at times, I do actually have a brain (I just hide it well!) and I love to immerse myself in deeply academic history books, or to watch television documentaries on subjects as diverse as the chromosomal make-up of chimpanzees or the effects of rain on pyroclastic flow. But I also have to admit to a strong liking for a lot of the brainless crap that’s around – Heat magazine, celebrity gossip, who’s had a boob job, who’s shagged who. Charles, who is politically and mathematically minded, reads The Independent daily, and is Cambridge educated, needless to say doesn’t approve of the latter!

One of my favourite TV programmes at the moment is Katie and Peter, The Next Chapter. It’s total, brainless mush but I really enjoy watching it. And Charles, bless him, in spite of his deep disapproval of celebrity culture, reality TV, silicon implants (you name it, Katie and Peter has it!) went out and bought me a present of Katie Price’s (a.k.a. Jordan’s) autobiography because he knew I’d like to read it.

I thought that was brilliant of him!