Wednesday, 12 September 2012


We encounter a cornucopia of forces in life. Some destructive, many compromising; they accumulate together, shaping us as people and testing us as humans.

J is certainly one of them.

In the two years that I have had the misfortune opportunity to work with her, it has been fascinating to witness the ever changing emotion by which she conducts herself.

Barely 26 with the grating attitude of a 13-year-old, she is the epitome of the phrase 'sticks out like a sore thumb'. Her perception of office wear, on a good day, often consists of neon patterned leggings and lace knit gypsy blouses. Her scalp is adorned with fiery red hair that would appear to sit comfortably on the head of Florence Welch, yet J looks as though she has lingered on the window sill too long leaving a shade that is more faded marmalade. Her purposeful laziness when it comes to her appearance is easily misinterpreted as endearing; that is until you get to know her and then it becomes all too apparent that she actually prefers the comfort of wallowing in her own filth. An unwelcome aura of questionable odour appears to linger about her person and has resulted in a series of unexplained office moves over the past year; let's just say that J never stays at the same desk for long. I am well aware that this description is more than likely coming across as slightly harsh but trust me, you wouldn't know. You really wouldn't know.

Despite her striking image, it is infact not J's appearance that takes the prize as her most recognisable trait. Have you ever experienced a fog horn being released through a cloud of helium? No? Then you probably will never be able to envisage the sheer beauty that escapes her lips every second of every working day. For this I pity you.

Should a kind, mild mannered and generous soul be hiding behind this unorthodox persona, I may have a felt a slight pang of guilt from my description. The truth is that J is one of the most manipulative, calculating women that I have ever met and still to this day, it frustrates me that I simply cannot fully work her out.

Skipping around the office and telling childish jokes, you'd be forgiven for thinking that she is nothing more than just a quirky young woman that has never really had the chance to grow up but look slightly closer and you'll be astounded at the way in which she is able to perfectly execute the hapless hippy. Don't get me wrong, I'm still slightly bitter at the fact that she knowingly claimed my favourite sunglasses one afternoon when I left them on the dryer in the unisex toilet, but that is by-the-by and a completely different story; a story that is still too raw to tell.

J is a parasite. Place her amidst a team of people and watch them unknowingly crumble; oblivious to the fact that J is the root of the issue. She will latch hold of negatives and run with them, drawing people in to plant the seed before completely detaching herself ready to watch the fireworks. 

Luckily, she has never been part of my team so I have never had the pleasure of having to manage her but, from my new office desk, I am able to sit each day and watch how intelligently she is able to gain her own way whilst remaining undetected.

Aside from a few heated run ins, I've never been forced to interact much with her but I'd be lying if I didn't admit that she provides an infinite stream of excruciating entertainment amidst the mundane confines of office life. In such a small environment, her actions are nothing more than an annoyance - a tornado terrorising a small Hebridean island. Place her in a larger arena and I dread to think the kind of damage that a girl like J could inflict. I often shiver whilst pondering the impact should she be suddenly thrown into politics.

Despite the fact that I struggle to comprehend how an enigma like J is able to function and survive whilst being forced to interact with others, part of me cannot help but feel somewhat jealous of her. Being able to bulldoze through life with a blatant disregard of protocol, not caring what others may think must be so refreshing.

Though we still undergo our daily routine of flashing each other a smile in the stairwell or exchanging the occasional good morning, I often think about J and wonder whether she knows that I'm on to her.

More to the point - I wonder if I'm the only one?

Sunday, 9 September 2012

The visit.

It seems that mother nature had a bit of time on her hands and decided to read my last blog post about the terrible Summer we have experienced. I woke up on Saturday morning half expecting to see a grey glow seeping in beneath the blinds and was surprised to find sunshine, glorious warm sunshine.

Adam was working that morning but I'd briefed him on making himself scarce for the afternoon as my Father had suddenly decided to visit. He used the (quite believable) excuse that he wanted to bring my ferret run up for me that had laid dormant in one of his greenhouses since Christmas but when he arrived and unloaded the car with his laptop and a brand new printer, I realised he had an ulterior motive. My dear old pappa is a very intelligent man with a hell of a lot of common sense but technology has never been his forte. I knew from the moment that he walked across the threshold holding a printer and wearing a grin the size of a small european country, the only thing he wanted was for me to install it.

That done, he had a nosey around the house, making sure that I hadn't lowered myself to living in squalor and quizzed me about money - his favourite subject. I was always awful with money as a child - it entered one hand and left almost immediately from the other; something my siblings never had a problem with. When I told him that I was moving away and had a job and new house, I think he half expected me to end up knocking on his door the following Christmas in financial ruin. He never says much but I think, in his own way, he is extremely proud of me right now - something that constantly panics me for fear of letting him down. It's funny when I think about it how I'm never frightened for myself, it is always the fear of what others may think. Then again, isn't that fear's fundamental basis?

The beautiful sunshine was too much to pass up so I threw on a vest top and we drove into the city and wandered around for an hour or so. Lincoln is such a wonderful place, especially in the basking glow of beautiful weather. More of a city by name than nature, it was once the capital of England and famed for being the location in which the Magna Carta was signed. Its medieval cathedral is magnificent and thought of by many to be one of the best in the country (the Da Vinci Code was filmed there). Graduating from beneath its stunning arches will always remain one of the happiest memories of my life. The cathedral quarter is all up hill consisting of ancient roads meandering between the most stunning medieval buildings and the shops are overwhelming; full of quirky little nick nacks and stylish boutiques - I can think of nowhere better to spend my aimless days.

Seeming like a good idea at the time, we then decided to take a walk down by the river with the view of ending up at a quaint little country pub I adore, The Pyewipe. It's strange how nice weather tricks you into thinking you're invincible and can achieve anything, so much so that I forgot exactly how far the river path actually is. Needless to say, we ended up walking miles, avoiding bicycles at every turn before arriving at The Pyewipe in a state of acute dehydration. At least I picked quite an apt end point right?

It was a great way to spend much needed time with my Father as he rarely comes to visit. When I do find chance to drive back home at weekends to see friends, he is usually busy running the business and it really is a case of ships in the night. As I touched upon in my autobiography post, we were never immensely close whilst I was growing up so this whole 'spending time with each other' malarky is still quite alien - even at the age of 23. It just goes to show that it is never too late to start and we should make the most of these times. It's alarming how rapidly your parents change as you get older too; we fool ourselves into believing it will never happen to the people that we know so well. Trust me, it does.

Now, here I am attempting to tire myself out in the hope of falling asleep early in preparation of another busy week. I'll be honest; I'm not sure that it's going to work - I think I just need to come to terms with the fact that I'm a night owl and I'm not going to be able to change that anytime soon.

I'll leave you with a picture of the Brayford Marina looking particularly pretty in the sunshine.

Good night guys, I hope your Sunday night sleep is full of positive thoughts and pleasant dreams!

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Spider September.

I'm not sure what it is about September that has always filled me with dread.

I think it stems from forgotten school days - those long fun filled Summers brought to an abrupt end by the creeping presence of the coming school term. September meant change; new classes, new starts, new friends. I've never been a fan of change.

Even now, as a fully fledged adult, September still echoes an identical premise. My first chosen job role, fresh out of education is one that works alongside the UK's schools. With it comes the August lull closely followed by the dreaded September; our busiest month.

September once meant new rucksacks, stationary, lunch boxes and uniforms - all designed to inject a slight hint of excitement into what can only be described as a month of pure misery. Now, as a 23-year-old slave to the wage, I am forced to endure this endless cycle in its purest form. Even the hugely anticipated novelty of a new shirt wears off within two days.

It is amazing, when you think about it, how many elements of day to day life revolve around the inevitable term calendar and whether or not the little tikes are in school. Traffic heightens, holiday prices increase and shopping centres become busier. In my current job role, the stress levels increase and morale goes down - something I'm sure you'll see reflected in the posts I make here. I love what I do, truly I do but believe me when I say that anything that involves children and parents is a logistical nightmare. They are impossible to second guess and impossible to pacify. No matter how much of an expert you believe you are in this field, you will always be proven wrong. They will always find a way to prove you wrong. At the end of each day I am frequently left pondering exactly how it is that schools  still manage to function.

Aside from the ebb and flow of the academic calendar, September always seems to bring about the seasonal u-turn. England, if it is lucky, gets just two weeks of great Summer weather at the most and, more often than not, these two weeks occur right at the end of August; right before September arrives and obliterates all trace of blue sky and warmth. September is a thief, a selfish wanton thief on a mission to dissolve all sense of Summer happiness in order to make way for the icy onslaught of Winter. As I type this, I understand how hyperbolic I may sound but in my much needed defence, it is not just humans that seem to be affected by this jobsworth of a month.

Spider September is utterly terrifying; give me a thousand schools or a bitterly cold Autumn any day. My only explanation is that, with children condemned back to their classrooms, some higher being deems it necessary to replace mankind's punishment with a sudden plague of eight-legged devil creatures. Even they hate September enough to decide that, instead of frolicking outdoors as they do the rest of the year, they would prefer to come inside and cohabit. Maybe they are just on the lookout for new friends or feel they are doing us a favour by cleansing us of gnats, yet in reality, they bring me to the edge of a nervous breakdown year on year on year. That unrelenting fear of little legs appearing on your pillow at night, scuttling across walls at the flick of a light switch - it truly is the thing of nightmares. That feeling of complete inadequacy that consumes me every time I squeal like a small girl whilst brushing my teeth does absolutely nothing for my self esteem. I'm not even sure I could cope in a foreign country where the wildlife makes ours seem a complete joy. I wonder how they feel about us? I wonder how they feel about September? Do you think they enjoy coming inside and snuggling up to those that resent them so much or is it a case of the better of two evils - humans or the British weather?

I guess, in a nutshell, that what I'm trying to say is that I completely loathe September and everything that this damn month encompasses.

And that is how I'm feeling today.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

A relaxing Sunday.

The garden looked particularly colourful today. It isn't a huge backyard but it's ours, tended by our creative hands and I love it. It's just such a shame that we have to keep that awful netting over the raised bed on the left because the neighbourhood cats seem hellbent on using it as their personal litter tray. We had such big plans for it too.

Summer seems to be clinging on for dear life. I say Summer yet, in reality, the only sunny warm weather that we have experienced occurred way back in April and then again on and off for the past week or so. The actual duration of 'Summer' itself consisted of torrential Autumn-like downpours and clouds; lots and lots of clouds. I guess I shouldn't be surprised having lived here for the past 23 years but it still makes me insanely jealous reading your blogs and hearing about the tropical climates in the far reaches of Australia, Florida, Texas and Japan. One thing I do hold dear when it comes to the crazy Northern European weather is that you never quite know what you are going to get. At risk of completely crucifying a well loved Forrest Gump quote - life really is like a box of chocolates.

The fact that the topic of weather has crept stealthily into this blog post may provide the hint that I haven't really been up to much this weekend. Despite a lot of relaxation in preparation for a manic week of 12 hour days at work, all we've really done is watch films, do some housework and pop out occasionally to peruse a few local shops.

I came terrifyingly close to buying an iPad today during an impromptu trip to Curry's and if they hadn't known better, anyone would think that Adam was on their payroll. He already has an iPad of his own but he is constantly trying his best to guilt-trip me into treating myself. The trouble is, I'm one of those annoyingly practical people that has to find at least 5 valid, practical reasons before I can justify purchasing anything. Needless to say, after 20 minutes of umming and ahhing, I forced myself to leave before I made any hasty decisions. I love my Macbook and I also have an iPhone - I just can't think why I would ever need an iPad. Maybe I'm just stubborn? I prefer the term sensible.

The trip wasn't completely void of fruits though; I bought a laptop table to match the lounge furniture - something I've been meaning to get for a long, long time. There have many near misses in the past with my beloved Macbook balanced precariously on my knee so it's nice to now have a solid table top on which to scour the interwebs.

The ferrets (yes, I'm one of those people) came away with a new tunnel too. I'm constantly on the look out to find new things to keep them occupied; they're like hyperactive children, permanently moving from one thing to the next and it takes all of my effort just keeping them engaged. I attempted to teach them to beg earlier; Fez mastered it well though I soon gave up on Moomin - I think she has some kind of learning disorder...

Aside from my uneventful weekend, I'm having so much fun surfing around and discovering an abundance of new blogs. Like I say, I've posted a lot in the past in various guises but I've never really attempted to reach out and get involved properly. I've read so many posts over the past few days; happy, sad, anxious, informative, abstract, poetic and it has really helped to open my eyes. I've also received some extremely kind comments on a few of my own posts and I whole heartedly look forward to discovering more hidden gems.

I hope everyone has a nice, relaxing Sunday and that the start of the new week holds well.