Wednesday, 28 May 2008

The Tuesday Tantrum

Good evening everyone, and welcome once again to The Tuesday Tantrum. Beg pardon? I'm sorry? Yes of course I know it's Wednesday, I'm not a buffoon. Do you want to make something of it? Do you want to come here and say that? Are you talking to me?

And anyway, its not my fault that I'm a day late doing the Tuesday post. It's Sir Alan Sugar's fault. If he was a bit more of a man, he'd have said 'No. Stuff off. I'm not moving to a Tuesday night for The Apprentice to be on television, and I don't care what sort of football match is on. It's not Tottenham, is it? Stupid television controller, you're fired!' That's what he'd have said, I reckon. Also, it's not my fault that I was really tired, because I haven't been sleeping very well, because when I'm at work I drink too much coffee, and in our coffee machine, you can have it extra, extra, extra, extra strong, and then that means that when I'm at work, I'm all whizz bang tiddly pom, and I don't seem to be able to come down at all because of the caffeine and I talk a lot and sometimes it means my sentences are really long, because I'm still a bit thingy.

And also, it's not my fault, because I can't be held responsible for everything round here you know, it's not like someone died and put me in charge of the world and made everybody do what I say and all of a sudden no-one can do anything without checking with me first, and if things don't get done then all of a sudden everyone's looking at me and going 'Well I was waiting for her and look at her, she's meant to be doing a blog or something and she can't even do that when she's meant to, so I don't see why I should have had to do the washing.'

Anyway, if you haven't already guessed, this week's Tuesday Tantrum is about whining.

Dear GOD, the whining. I work in an office for heaven's sake. Not a kindergarten. Not a home for people with challenging and debilitating illnesses, or even mildly irritating ones. Some of the people are mildly irritating. Some of them are like Olympic Irritants.

In case you ever work for me, I'll give you a few ground rules:-

I am a very caring team leader. But if you are late every day, I will lose patience, and I will not be interested that your alarm clock has broken/your girlfriend has dumped you/your car has broken down/you have a bad stomach. Just get up a bit earlier and do us all a favour.

I am a very caring team leader (see the theme here?). But if you have not done the work I asked you to, and this happens consistently, I will not care that the systems are slow/the telephone is busy/you've lost your pen/it's too noisy/you thought someone else was doing it/the moon isn't in alignment with Venus. Just get your finger out and earn your damn money.

I am a very caring colleague (ah, a subtle difference), but I am not interested in sitting and watching you bumble your way round the computer, hoping to stumble upon the right thing, while I'm POINTING AT IT WITH MY BLOODY FINGER, while you say that no-one's ever shown you, and how did I know that, and is it your job, and did you ought to speak to someone about it, despite the fact that you've been there years longer than I have, and that's what you get paid for.

Anyway, I think I'm done now. I might have been a bit whiny myself. Sorry about that.

Anything on your mind?

Monday, 26 May 2008

Well, That's Done Then

Bank Holidays then.

People are always campaigning for more Bank Holidays. Or random days off work. Or days to commemorate some obscure saint, a person of interest or Leona Lewis getting to Number 1 in America. I can understand it, really I can.

I mean, what could be better than a day off work, chance to do all of those jobs you've been meaning to do?

Get your decorating done, get out in the garden, catch up your chores? Go away for the weekend, do something touristy, go for a picnic?

All you people out there who've done just those things, you are my heroes. Really you are.

But did I really need another excuse to sit on my fat arse all day?

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

The Tuesday Tantrum

Good evening one and all, may I welcome you into the haven of all that is to be despised, spat at and generally moaned about. For today is the day of the tantrum, the day to let your hair down, and the day to poke someone in the eye, if that will help (which sometimes it does, but only if you can run really fast, and if it doesn't hurt them very much). If I can just make one small comment before I start, this is a weekly malarkey, but that doesn't mean I only have a tantrum once a week, it's just that I like to, well, focus.

When I read the comments to my last tantrum I was literally stabbing my finger on my desk and going 'Yes! You're right! That gets me too!' and I had a whole thing planned for the way that people can't even seem to speak properly now, and have a language of their own, and don't even get me started on the spelling, and even a topic as dear to my heart as that has been superseded by today's tantrum.

Public transport.

Now first of all, because some of the readers here aren't from the UK, I'm going to need to do a bit of an explanation. First of all, I have to catch something called a bus. You'll note the use of the word 'catch'. That implies that it is something elusive, something you have to work hard to get, something not always within reach.

That is a bus.

It's quite a big vehicle, which seats quite a lot of people, you can stand up on them too, and sometimes they have an upstairs as well, but there are stairs, not an elevator, to the top bit. It generally smells a little bit like a public toilet and so do some of the people on it. It travels on roads.

The other one is called a train. It is made up of a number of carriages, the people tend to smell a bit better, and it does not have an upstairs. It does however have a First Class, which you do not go in unless you are travelling on business and someone is paying for your ticket, or you are frightfully posh, in which case you have probably got your chauffeur to drive you instead of having to mix with those ghastly people. Some of them also have something called a Quiet Zone, which means you cannot use a mobile phone, talk loudly, play music or generally disturb your fellow commuters. And if you sneeze at more than a moderate range of decibels, you are instantly shot. It travels on tracks.

I should mention that where I live, there is technically a third option, called a tram, or the Metro. This is a sort of cross between a bus and a train. It goes on tracks, but the tracks are on the road. It is slower than a train. It is slower than a bus. If you are a brisk walker, it is slower than you.

Today's tantrum was inspired by my little jaunt yesterday, which turned out to be not so little after all. I caught the bus (on time-ish, not too smelly, no spitting), and then went to catch the train. I arrived at the station 15 minutes early - when you are a commuter, you find that you will leave your home approximately 5 hours before you need to, which allows for delays. So I built in a buffer for the bus being late, it wasn't, got to the railway station in plenty of time. The train was late. 30 minutes late, so I had 45 minutes to kill at the station. Apparently the driver hadn't turned up in Manchester, where the train started. Oh well, that's all right then. It's not as if we were depending on him. Oh, we were?

So of course I arrived late for the meeting, had the meeting, no lunch (oh that is SO another blog post) and got on the train to come back. It was on time. In fact I even had to do a little woman commuter jog up the platform. This is instantly recognisable as being the jog that a woman in a suit and high heels does to catch a train, and ultimately means that it is slower than actually walking, but you pinwheel your arms a bit more. Marvellous. On the train, train pulls away, no smelly people, buy a sandwich that is approximately equal in price to the National Debt, and settle in. Train pulls in at the first station, stops to let people off, let people on, and then pulls away. Except it doesn't. The pulling away bit. Because someone, further up the line, has thrown themselves in front of the train in front of mine. This is disturbingly more frequent of an event than you would imagine. We are made to get off the train. The line is closed. Nothing to be done. No offers of alternative transport, the swell of commuters ever increasing until we are packed like sardines on the platform, with nowhere to sit.

For two and a half hours. TWO AND A HALF HOURS.

When the line re-opens, I find that my train, my lovely train, has disappeared off the face of the earth. No train to Wolverhampton. I could go to Glasgow. Or Manchester. I expect if I set my mind on it I could go to Venus. But not where I live.

And that's why this week that my tantrum is about public transport. Because it's late, it makes me stand in the cold, and it doesn't drop me off at my house.

It's like being married again.

However on a much brighter note - the lovely David at Authorblog has awarded me a Post of the Day for Work is the Curse of the Drinking Classes. How lovely! So get yourselves over to see him, and see what other blogs he's mentioned too, they're fab.

If I were you though, I'd get a taxi.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Work is the Curse of the Drinking Classes

At least my work is. I made a very flippant comment in a previous blog post about my new job, and expense account lunches. I'm not important enough to have a company credit card, a company car, a company mobile or a company Blackberry.

And I thank god for all of those small mercies.

I can understand that if you're new to a job, then these little things would be a sort of status symbol, some kind of proof that you deserve to be taken seriously. When you've been doing a similar sort of job for a while, like me, you know that you don't need these to be taken seriously. Actually, what you know is that no one takes you seriously anyway, most of the time you're spitting into the wind, even more of the time you couldn't care less, and even if you did want to be taken seriously, you know that shouting and/or random acts of violence are the only way to go.

However, in the pecking order of our office, the one where I sit slightly above cleaner, but with less popularity than the trolley lady, I do get invited out to lunch. Quite a bit. In fact, twice this week coming. It sounds great, doesn't it?


Er, actually, no. You see, it's all right going out to lunch, but it's all the other stuff that goes with it that bothers me. For a start, I have to try and look business like, which is no mean feat. This means I have to dust off a suit, make sure I've got decent shoes on, and make sure that I haven't got toothpaste on my face. I even (horror of horrors) have to put a bit of make-up on, to let people know that a/ I'm a woman and b/ I'm only half as ghastly as I could have been. I also then have to sit in a meeting, looking both thoughtful and attentive, nodding my head at relevant moments, putting my finger to my chin and going 'Hmm' and 'Mmm mmm' as and when I feel some sort of business response is required.

And don't even get me started on the meal business. That's a minefield all of it's own. A quick glance at the menu, then a longer glance at what I'm wearing. If my clothes are black, nothing with a cream sauce. If they're white, nothing with a tomato sauce. NEVER, EVER, spaghetti. Nothing that requires twirling round a fork. Nothing with bones in, that might inadvertently get stuck in my throat, and lead to a paroxysm of coughing which results in fish hitting my guest opposite in the eye at a rate somewhat approaching the speed of sound. Nothing that I think I'll like, only to remember when it's in my mouth that I don't, and then makes me gag. Nothing that will fetch a filling out. Nothing that I'll get on my face, and only notice on the train journey home. And most importantly of all, NOT THE MEAL THAT IS MOST EXPENSIVE.

This is quite an art. You have to look at the menu, look at your fellow guests, and then try to anticipate what everyone will have. No good opting for a sandwich, if everyone else is going to tuck into a steak. Even worse to order the highly expensive, but beautifully presented, sea bass if your fellow diners are just having a quick Caesar salad.

And the worst sin of all; don't have too much to drink.

Don't get me wrong; I like a drink as much as the next woman, particularly if the next woman is Amy Winehouse when she's having a break from the crack with something a bit lighter on the possible custodial sentencing. But drinking at lunchtimes is something I do not do well at all. One glass of wine has me bright red in the face, two sees me a little more giggly than usual, three might have me discussing sexual positions and four will see me sliding off my chair. But it's almost the done thing to have something to be sociable, so I'll have to try and get used to it.

Wish me luck, won't you?

And can you really get your leg right up there? Let me see if I can...

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

The Tuesday Tantrum

Welcome to a new weekly series on things that are making me a bit cross. It does come however with a little bit of a proviso. For a start, I can't always guarantee that it's going to be on a Tuesday. I can't say for definite that it will be weekly. What I can say, is that there is always something that is getting my goat. When I called it a weekly series, I was a bit worried that I might not be able to do it every week.

Now I've thought about it, I'm more concerned that it might be hourly.

Today's tantrum concerns an apparent lack of literacy in the working population. Or more specifically, some people being unable to FOLLOW A SIMPLE DAMN INSTRUCTION IN AN E-MAIL.

I hate to lift a veil of secrecy over my employment; really I'd like you all to believe that I swan around, making executive decisions, and shouting 'Buy! Sell! Buy!' into the phone, while I twang my Wall Street braces. However that is very far from the truth. Lean in close, so I only have to whisper. My job?

Not rocket science.

I run a team of people, all well educated, all used to working in an office, all with previous experience of very imilar types of work. No one fresh from school, all with tongues in their head, all capable of making rational decisions. Sounds marvellous doesn't it? Because I've got quite a big team, because both I and they spend a lot of time on the telephone, it's quite difficult to get everyone together so that they can all be told the same thing at the same time. Thus I resort to the team leader's fall back position; I send them an e-mail. That way, they can read it when they've got a minute, and if it's important they can keep it so they can refer back to it.

Again, not rocket science.

I'll give you a little example, and paraphrase it very slightly so I don't break some previously unheard of privacy law:-


I know you'll all have noticed the problems with accessing certain data this morning. Systems are working on it, but they've managed to put a temporary fix in place. Double click on the icon below, and you will then be able to gain access. However, this will not save overnight - keep this e-mail safe so that you can click on the icon every day until problem is permanently sorted.

Any queries, please give me a shout.

See? It doesn't seem so difficult, does it? And just in case, the e-mail was titled something like 'IT Issues - Important, Please Read'. Like I'd send an e-mail that you didn't have to read. If I wanted to talk and have nobody listen, I'd just get married again.

And did it work? Did it buggery. Some hours later, one of my team asked if anything had happened about the problem. I asked if they'd read the e-mail. Oh? Had I sent an e-mail? Someone else deleted it without reading it, someone deleted it after reading it, someone couldn't find it at all the next day, although they'd definitely seen it before, one person thought it didn't apply to them and another one hadn't clicked on the icon because they didn't understand the instruction.

As well as having the tuesday Tantrum, I'm thinking of having Firing Squad Friday; I'd do it earlier but I need time to go and buy the ammo...

So, does anyone want to join in? Anything on your mind today?

Let's have a little rant and get it out of our systems...

Monday, 12 May 2008

A Shadow of my Former Self

I wish.

One of the things I really wanted to do this year was lose weight. It's now four months from the time when I'll be going on holiday, and it will apparently be warm enough for me to not to have to wear a scarf. Indeed, there is the possibility that I will take my socks off. And even, maybe, be seen in some sort of swimming attire (which is nice, not just because I can't swim, but also because the fashion for knee length stripey costumes appears to have passed by). This means of course that I need to be at my best weight, looking gorgeous.

I wish.

The cause of my sad downfall on the weight loss front has been my new job. I could make up extravagant stories about the fact that I now have expense account lunches with clients, where we eat only the finest caviar, and quaff port. I could fictionalise my evenings and tell you that I work in such a high pressure environment that when I get home I have to order in a takeaway as it's already nearly midnight. I could delight you with tales of business breakfasts, executive brunches and early evening cocktails.

But none of it is true. My downfall is the staff canteen.

I get there early some mornings, early enough for me not always to either have had time for, or feel like, breakfast. But wait! All is not lost! The canteen is open for breakfast! With a selection of toasts, preserves, cereals and cooked breakfasts. I haven't always had time to make my sandwiches. But wait! The canteen is open for lunch! With a selection of hot meals, ready made and made to order sandwiches, crisps, puddings and chocolates.Sometimes in the afternoon, you've been working so hard that you need a little pick-me-up to get you through the rest of the day. It's a shame that the canteen closes after lunch, because do you know what would be really useful? I know! A lady coming round with a trolley! With reduced price sandwiches, chocolates, crisps, fruit (!), Angel Delight in pots, muffins, and my all time favourites, little pots of pick n mix sweets.

So today I decided enough was enough, unless I want to achieve fame and fortune in a Channel Five Documentary called 'F*** Me, That Woman is Fat.' I had a very healthy bowl of cereal before I left for work. I took a salad with me for lunch, and some raspberries to snack on in the afternoon. I had a beef salad when I got home tonight, and followed it up with a yoghurt.


But I reckon that Creme Eggs don't last forever, so I had to finish those last two in the fridge. But eggs? That's like protein, right?

I wish.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Another Country

I'm back. And this time for good.

Or evil.

Do you remember when I was 40, and I had a massive long list of things I wanted to do? I told you about it here? Well, I've been busy. And it's only May right? So I'm not even half way though the year yet, am I?

I'm also not even close to halfway through the damn list either, which is one of those things about blogging where you come a cropper. I mean, if you make a New Years Resolution and don't tell anyone, then who's to know if it's all gone to cock by the 4th of January?

So far, I'm well on the way to number 14, 18's a done deal, 21's looking good, 29, lots of you did (but you should really get your screen resolution sorted) and Belle's taking care of 17 and 26, but they're still in the future.

Which brings me to number 2. I'd like to go to a country I've never been to before. I was thinking about lots of places when I wrote that. Australia, Canada, New Zealand, China. And a little bit nearer to home Croatia, Greece or Russia. I've just booked a holiday for a week in September, but it's not to a country I've never been to before. It's Italy.

And I'm going with him.

I would like to say the process was straightforward. I'd also like to say that I've just won the lottery, but that's not true either.

We'd skated round the subject for a little while but eventually agreed that we would like to go on holiday together. In a burst of enthusiasm that I normally reserve for cheese or cheese related products, I whizzed off to the travel agent to get a brochure to give me some ideas. We talked about when we could get away. Golf played a far greater part in the decision than one could imagine, frankly, but eventually, we decided on the middle of September. We both wanted to go somewhere warm, and somewhere where you can do things. You know, things. A bit more than a beach holiday, if you like.

I came up with a wealth of suggestions: Morocco, Egypt, Greece, Italy. We decided on Italy, so then the searching could begin in earnest. Or so you would think...

I went back to the travel agents and came up with enough Italy brochures to fill, well, fill a travel agents. He went to the travel agents and picked up a brochure. Singular. I perused them at length, came up with an idea of what sort of area I'd like to go to.

I think he watched the football.

My decision was carried unanimously, so I went back to the brochures to draw up a short list of hotels, based on price, location, amenities, the usual sort of thing.

I think he watched the football.

I took all of my brochures out with us one night, and we skimmed through them while we had a drink. The next morning I left them for him, with the corners helpfully turned down, so he could see which ones I liked. I'm not a control freak (quiet at the back); I told him that there were loads to choose from, and I'd welcome any other suggestions. The weekend was a Bank Holiday, so there was loads of time to look through them. He didn't. I do not think that men like to look through brochures, nor make decisions.

Maybe that is only certain men.

We met up at my house to finalise the booking. In a fit of frustration the night before I'd sent him a text message telling him to 'LOOK AT THE DAMN BROCHURES'. It perhaps wasn't very polite. But he had taken me seriously this time, and made a page of useful notes. They mainly centred around one hotel, which was his favourite. It is too expensive, well over the price range that we'd set for ourselves. I'd discussed this with him before. It was only cheaper in one brochure because that was a flight from Gatwick and it didn't include a transfer from the airport, and for all I know, you had to stand on one leg while you booked it, to get that price. It was also booked up entirely for the week we wanted to go.

I told him all of this, and we went to trawl the internet. I pulled up a website showing a hotel that I liked the look of, that we could afford, and that was free the week we needed.

'It's not really like that other one, is it?' he said.

No, it isn't. What about this one? It's a bit more expensive, but still within our budget.

'It's not really the same as that other one though, is it?' he said.

No. because it's in our price range, and we could stay in it for the right week.

I would like to say that this stopped after two hotels, but again with the winning the lottery thing.

Finally, finally, we decided on a hotel. No, it's nothing like that other one, but by this time I'd have slept on the beach. We started to go through the booking screens, decided to pay the supplement for the room with a view, rather than the room with its own polluted atmosphere from all the Vespas on the road outside. No need to book an in-flight meal is there, I said, skipping past it. He looks at me in some horror. I reiterate to him that the flight is at 10 past 6 in the morning. We will have been at the airport since 4. The only food I can imagine eating at that time is a kebab. And usually I have to have had a fair few lagers to work up an appetite for it. I try to look at it from his point of view.

You know, the wrong one.

'Well, I suppose when I go on holiday with C, she always makes me a bacon sandwich to eat at the airport' I remark wistfully.

He looks at me with renewed hope.

'Shall I ask her if she'll make us both one?' I say, thereby dashing all of his hopes of me as a domestic goddess.

The meal costs quite a lot of money. That's as cheap as we could get something at the airport, he says. Yes it is, if we have foie gras and lobster, but I don't think they do it in a kebab.He makes a final bid for the meal on the plane.

'But Aldo Zilli's making it!' he says, with a note of triumph that is clearly meant to be the casting vote. I do not think that a meal that is inspired by Aldo Zilli means that he's going to be at the front of the plane, whipping up some sort of gastronomic delight. I think we'll be lucky if it's a variety box of Rice Krispies, but I also think you have to choose your battles. A meal on the plane it is.

And finally, we're booked.

It might not be a country that I've never been to before, but a lot of it's starting to feel like uncharted territory...